Author Archives: warpcordova

About warpcordova

Born in Orange, California, author Jason Cordova has written books ranging from the fantastical realms of fantasy to the militaristic side of science fiction. His latest should be out soon. Really. You should probably buy it. Check Amazon . Demand it at your local store. Pay for his kitten kibble.

Pants On Fire

So I was reading Kate’s Blast from the Past today and realized, as someone who is so deep in two different novels that I’m having a hard time separating fiction from fact, that I am indeed a pantser as well. This is rather obvious to those who have met me in person

Person #1: You know Jason Cordova?

Person#2: Yeahhhh…

Person#1: He’s a bit… ADHD, isn’t he?

Person#2: That’s an understatement.

So being an extreme pantser is definite up my alley. Sure, I might write out a rough outline and maybe some key plot points (“Yes, that guy must die… soonish”) but when an idea hits, I typically run with it. This is great at some times (see: Kraken Mare, Corruptor) and horrifying at others (see: Wraithkin, the pantser novel which took 8 years to write).

I’m not going to criticize anyone who is either a plotter or a pantser, however. In the end, as Kate said, it matters not which route you take, because you are writing a novel. Really! So long as you meet your word count goal for the day/week/month/year, who cares how you do it? Pantsers and plotters unite against procrastinators!

(I’m one of those, too)

(Shhh don’t tell my readers)

Now, while I’m a pantser when it comes to the actual writing part, in my worldbuilding I’m more akin to George R. R. Martin and a historian. My detailed history of every novel I write is detailed to the extreme. Zim, a very handy wikia program I use (and is free!), works very much like wikipedia for each and every novel. Every single universe has a bible, from which I use all the information from past novels to build a detailed history of the world. The most extensive bible is for my in-progress YA series, of which there are eight books planned. The thinnest is actually The Warp, because… other than a general “idea” of what the end game is, I’m making it up as I go along.

Is this the best way to do things? Yes? No? LIke I said before, it doesn’t matter. Not at the end. The readers usually can’t tell, and you don’t need to tell your publisher a thing. It’s pretty much between you, your muse, and the hundreds of people…

…who read…

…MGC.

Son of a b*tch!

Okay, no one tell my publisher. Please? He doesn’t need to know that I fly by the seat of my pants when writing.

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A Dreamer’s Dream

As you read this, the Dragon Awards come barreling down upon us like a freight train. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think that I’ve ever really gotten over the whole Hugo Awards thing from 2015. I know I should, and a better person would, but I’ll be the first to admit to being a spiteful man who had been through too much in his life to easily forgive personal attacks.

That being said, it’s Dragoncon weekend and I won’t be there. Why? Well for multiple reasons, but the main one is there are just too many people.

Like many authors, I don’t do too well around large groups of people. Now, I’ve been in front of a few hundred people to over a few thousand at one time without problem. How, you might ask? Because I’m not in the middle of said crowd with wall-to-wall people crushing down on me. I’m on the outskirts, looking in.

I’m not quite certain where this dislike of large crowds came from. When I was in high school and college I had no issue with concerts, sporting events, or even a pep rally. It was just a thing that I was going to, no big deal. Even while in the Navy I was okay with being crammed in a tiny space with a bunch of other people and nowhere to go for weeks on end.

Nowadays I hate being in the middle of any group larger than 15. I’ve spoken with many other authors who feel the same way and I’ve started to wonder if being an author requires them to be anti-social. I know most authors are not the, uh, easiest to get along with (“cantankerous old bastard” is the term used most often) but is it because we’re just curmudgeonly by nature or is it something else? Is it that we are required to live in worlds of our making for so long that when we delve out into the “real” world we turn sour because the real world sucks?

I’ve dealt with this feeling for years, personally. I watched Back to the Future Part II when I was younger and damn it all to Hell I wanted my flying Delorean! It’s 2017 and the best we got is a fidget spinner so yeah, I’m severely disappointed with the way our “future” is going. To counter this I got back into novels where the future is hopeful and promising.

Perhaps this is why I’m not a fan of the trend in YA for dystopian futures? It’s almost like the authors are telling kids “don’t dream because while you may have two hot hunks chasing you the future sucks”. Many authors in the MGC are in the same boat, eschewing dystopia for a more hopeful future. Not all, though, but most. I think it’s a common thread between us that we all write about brighter futures because that’s what we want.

(ed. note: while Jason prefers heroic space operas, he has dipped his toe into some dystopian features, so he’s not truly innocent in this… but we do know that he’s really wanting to avoid falling into this trap)

Coming back full circle, though, I think that this is why I love the idea of Dragoncon and, relatedly, the Dragon Awards.

Fans go to most conventions to meet their favorite authors and actors. Dragoncon provides both, but also provides an atmosphere which takes any fan back to a time of hope and celebration. A person can dream again at these cons. It’s… refreshing to see that in a time of volatility we can still come together and have fun.

The Dragon Awards seem to celebrate this, allowing fans to vote midst a wide voter pool and celebrate what they actually like. For famous authors and not-quite-there-yet authors alike, the chance for a coveted Dragon is affirmation that not only is their stuff read, but it is popular at one of the largest conventions around. It’s a chance for the dreamers to see their stories honored, no matter what their beliefs are. It can put together guys like Larry Correia and Eric Flint and say “Both of you are worth celebrating.”

It’s a dreamer’s dream come to life. I, for one, will join in on the celebration from afar.

Enjoy your Dragoncon, everyone. Hoist one for me.

Jason is re-releasing his first ever novel, Corruptor, on September 8, 2017. The sequel, Devastator, will be coming out in November. In the meantime, he wants to show off the cover for Wraithkin’s sequel, titled Darkling. He’s weird like that.

Darkling

 

 

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The Dragons Have Arrived!

…and boy are their wings tired!

*rimshot*

Dragon_Award-221x300

The Dragon Award… so shiny. Precioussssss…..

I received my ballot for voting in the 2017 Dragon Awards yesterday (I wasn’t without internet, only without a computer… and writing this by phone was impossible) and I wasted no time in perusing through the finalists and making some decisions. Other decisions, like Best MilSF Novel, are… a little more difficult.

How does one category cram so many good books in? I had to contend between Chuck Gannon, Mark Wandrey, and Brian Niemeyer. That sucks trying to choose which of these authors’ book I enjoyed the most. Alternate history? Ditto. Urban Fantasy? Faith Hunter versus Larry Correia and John Ringo? Good freaking luck.

As you might have been able to tell, I’m not really one of the cool kids in SF&F. I know, it’s really strange to see that when you think about how amazing I am *cough cough*, but yeah, not one of the cool kids. It’s kinda why I really like the Dragon Awards. It’s not about who is cool with the “in” crowd, but who is popular amongst the all of fandom, and everybody who wants to vote can, free of charge. It’s, well, pretty amazing. Everyone’s vote counts.

You still have time to register and vote. You can’t nominate anymore, but if you go to this link here and register to vote by Aug 28, your vote matters. No secret cabals in shadowy rooms filled with clove cigarette smoke and cheap bottles of Merlot dictating the future of the awards, oh no. This is a large open gathering of high-quality Honduran cigars with single malt scotch for all.

If, you know, that’s your thing. I’m more of a froo-froo drinker myself, and no smoking. I’m so boring.

Maybe that’s why I’m not one of the cool kids?

 

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More Than One Can Chew

I was literally just banging my head against the desk and trying to think of a topic for tomorrow. My desk is not the most robust of office equipment, so I did not try to put my head through the top as instructed by random Youtube guy. In order to attain the proper-sized knot on forehead I needed a less thorough approach. After all, I figured that with enough cranial trauma two brain cells might collide and give me something to write about.

And there it was, like a beacon in the night, like Gondor calling for aid. The reason I was having so much difficulty coming up with what I should write about was because I had too much to write. I overbooked my time again, and this is something an aspiring writer needs to be careful about.

When you’re just starting out and you are trying to get your foot in the door, you say “yes” to a lot of things without really thinking them through. An anthology? Sure! Trilogy? Hell yeah! You are afraid to decline because you don’t know when these people are going to come to you again, so you keep saying “yes”.

Case in point: Matt Stone and Trey Parker said “yes” to every idea Hollywood threw at them when South Park got big. They did not decline a single screenplay they were offered to write or direct and, as a result, they found themselves booked beyond belief. This led to some issues and eventually they had to drop out of the majority of the projects. It didn’t hurt their careers to say “no” but, at the time, they did not know this. So like every single new writer, they simply said “yes”.

Now, I’m not in that boat quite yet, but that’s because I am very good at disseminating my writing time and I adhere to a fairly strict schedule. I have it on a spreadsheet (seriously, a massive one at that) and it helps me keep track on what is due next. I also have desktop “sticky notes” with timers and due dates to keep me on track. All this, plus a little bit of self-discipline (haha!), keeps alles in ordnung. 

So I’m going to tell you, new writer, that it’s okay to turn down that anthology because you have other projects going on. You don’t have to commit to 20+ anthologies if you feel you’re only going to get 5-6 completed by the deadline. Be honest and say “Thank you, but I’m swamped at the moment. However, can you keep me in mind for the next one, because this stuff sounds interesting.”

Trust me, editors will nod and thank you, and remember that you were upfront and really do want to participate but just can’t at the moment. If you know them personally, they’ll understand even more, because they already know how swamped you probably are. I mean, that’s what social media is for, right?

In the meantime, here is an anthology that I’m in. I encourage you to pick up a copy today. Just click the pic.

Fistful of Credits

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Open Crazy Month

Work threw a monkey wrench into my plans for today’s post, plus my research into the benefits of forming an LLC as a writer is incomplete, which leads me to…

This has been a crazy month. How are you holding up?

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Motivation

My turn came around quicker than expected this month. Bear with me as I’ve been battling this bizarre cold/flu/strep thing for the past week. I really don’t have anything today to talk about (boo! bad form!) so I’ll open up with a question:

Who motivates you?

For me, it varies. I can look back throughout my life and point to a number of people who said “Jason, you suck. You’ll never be a writer.” Which was fair, since my grasp of English was/is atrocious and I didn’t even understand the basics of story telling. In fact, I could say that being a writer was something I never considered past the age of 7. I was going to be:

  1. A professional baseball player
  2. A professional videogamer
  3. A scientist
  4. A teacher

Now, I actually managed two of those, and almost managed a third. Which is cool, I guess. But none of these scream “He’s going to be a writer one day!”

So who motivates me? Well, I’ll start off at the very beginning. Mr. Rawls, a blind 8th grade teacher at Sierra Vista Middle School. He was the one who continued to say “You are so good at lying about your homework you should write a book” despite my repeated assurances that my homework had been turned in. I figured out later that he would notch a corner of every paper as it was turned in so that he could tell who had turned it in on time and who had completed it during class.

It was a little nudge, nothing major at the time. More like the planting of a small acorn nut by a squirrel who had forgotten where he buried it. Incidental, and almost forgotten, until…

Max. My foster dad bought me every book I ever asked for. He had no issues with me buying and reading books. Didn’t matter. I was a huge fantasy junkie at the time so if I saw a Dragonlance-related novel I had to have it. So he bought it. To this day I would say that he helped feed the creative spark that would turn into a full-on writer (though again, at this point baseball was looking like a sure thing, so there was no writer looming on the horizon yet).

So who motivates you?

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Lost in the Sauce

Within every group there is a clique. With every clique lies the potential for an echo chamber. This, in a way, is a perfect way to get completely lost in the sauce.

I’d never heard of this phrase before I started working at my current job. Indeed, the opportunity (or need, really) to hang out with teens and hear the new slang was something I really could do without. I mean, who really wants to deal with whiny, petulant, complaining, self-absorbed, and entitled little turds?

…dear God, did I just really…?

Wow. 

Talk about unspoken comparisons and parallels.

Anyway, I watch these kids (who are mostly kids who have been placed at my work by parents as a “last chance” sort of situation) try to integrate with the local kids at the public schools here. It’s always amusing to see them, all confident and brazed in their knowledge, come back from public school on their first day, befuddled and dazed, wondering where the hell did all these rednecks come from and why they are viewed as curiosities. It’s hard to explain to these kids, who come from cities such as Philadelphia and New York, that country life is different than anything else they have ever done or will do in their lives. They were “lost in the sauce” but eventually they would either adapt or go home.

In a way, this is the current state of publishing. The advent of ebooks and the strong growth of indie sales, combined with the implosion of brick-and-mortars thanks to reckless business decisions by Barnes & Noble and Borders, has left the Big 5 in an absolute state of shock. It would be amusing to watch if I didn’t have friends who are currently contracted and/or published through said Big 5 and are terrified about their futures.

I, along with the others here at MGC, try to reassure these poor, frightened souls. I mean, it’s not every day someone comes along and punishes you for the mistakes made by others 10-15 years ago. They grasp at any chance of hope, which allows some more predatory publishers to string them along for long periods of time while they shuffle things around and try to make other things work at the house. Eventually the poor author is left to wither and die without any support, or they get fed up and start their own urban resistance and rebel against the abject tyranny  of their supposed god-kings.

Damn, what was in that coffee?

*peers into now-empty cup*

Mental note: get more of that brand.

One of the dangers of cliques (I’ll get back to the urban uprising in a moment, promise) is that the echo chamber can form one hell of a sheeple mindset. To bay and scream as a group should one of them get hurt or afraid. To yell and complain when someone feels wronged. To hide and bow their heads in servitude when someone comes along in a higher position on the food chain. It’s a herd mentality, which nowadays can also mean lost in the sauce.

Publishing has not always been like this and it’s allowed the formation of big publishing houses who used to treat writers with respect to now belittle them. This is a relatively new sales strategy in the Big 5, though. Traditionally publishing houses try to treat their writers with at least some respect and show decorum in order for the writer to continue to choose them to publish their novels. I mean, if I’m a grocery store and people like a particular brand and flavor of coffee, I’m not going to piss off the supplier of said coffee because then I won’t be able to sell it anymore after the supplier decides to go to my competitor instead because I am a bellicose asshat. That’s just bad business right there.

But with the Big 5 having a virtual monopoly on brick-and-mortar stores right now (yes, that’s what it is, don’t even try to deny it), they know that they can substitute any author with a new flavor. They think “Yeah, it’s not as good as so-and-so, but the plebes will drink it.” Sometimes they do, but more often they don’t. Then the publisher cuts established midlisters from their rosters while hiring more editors and bemoaning the age of digital piracy and the lost sales because of ebooks.

Does this sound as crazy to you as it does me?

Now, a few of my publishers who distribute through the Big 5 are freaking awesome and take good care of the authors in their stable because they understand business. They know that if they take care of their supplier, then said supplier will continue to produce more word crack. Fans will be happy and everyone wins. On top of that, everyone gets paid and there is no accounting magic involved.

So will the masses rise up and rebel against their tyrannical dictators who are cruel and harsh masters? Will they find their way out of the sauce and back to the light?

One thing’s for certain: I’m not lost in the sauce.

Not anymore, at least.

Promo time: Jason Cordova was a 2015 finalist for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Author. What does that mean? Nothing, quite frankly. However, he has quite a few novels and short stories out in print right now, and his latest novel, “Wraithkin”, is available over at Amazon. You should buy it. Be the trend setter. Be the hero you were meant to be. Click the picture below and BE THE HERO.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00045]

 

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