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.

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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Delayed

Today’s post is a little delayed. I’ve had physical therapy this morning and I have to take the cats to the vet this afternoon. Hopefully will have it up around 4 or 5PM. Until then, try not to break anything that we can duct tape back together.

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Small Press Co-Authoring Madness

Since we’re here, let me regale you with tales of old…

As many of the established readers of this site know, I’m still fairly new to the business. This coming November I’ll be celebrating 7 years since my first novel was published. Part of my highly exaggerated “charm” is that I have no clue as to the little nods and winks in science fiction that bigger names understand. I don’t get the geek humor a lot (I’m not of you, but adopted) and I don’t even understand why there are cliques in fandom now (outside of the obvious psychological need to exclude people when oneself was excluded from social functions many years ago, but that’s a different essay).

So believe me when I am surprised when people mock me when I say I’ve published the majority of my work with small press publishers. I don’t quite grasp their looks of horror when I share how many co-authors I’ve worked with over the years. I am, as they say, naive to the horror stories of small press and co-authors.

Don’t misunderstand, neither is all roses and cash all the time (God, I wish it were!). No, it takes a dedicated focus to succeed at either. To succeed at both takes a certain level of crazy that… uh… gets you invited to… er… write for the Mad Genius Club.

Son of a…

I first approached a big publisher back in 2005 with my completed novel “Corruptor”. It was a decent first novel that needed an editor’s touch (still does) but fit into the (at the time) needs of the growing YA/Teen subgenre. However, nobody would touch it and the book ended up being contracted with Twilight Times, a small press I had heard about through a friend. It was a lengthy book that didn’t fit into the “mold” at the time. You see, this was when urban fantasy was really taking off and people were saying that it would be the death of science fiction, so nobody was taking anything like what I had written except small houses. Unless I had werewolves falling in love with humans while battling vampires and vice versa, I did not have what they wanted.

While I have had troubles with one or two of the small houses I’ve worked with, all in all it has been a collection of very pleasant experiences. I don’t have the issue of being the sole person responsible for editing and publishing my books, as I could have had if I had gone indie. I’m still responsible for marketing myself, but the publisher usually has ideas that can help. They also design the cover art, something that I suck at, and often get truly commissioned art for the cover and nothing recycled (“Corruptor” and “Wraithkin” come to mind). The other added benefit of working with a small press publisher is that, unlike some of the bigger houses, you get paid far more often at rates that are comparable to that of going indie. It’s part of the reason I haven’t truly gone indie yet: I like writing, but I hate everything else that publishers can take care of for the writer.

As for working with co-authors… well, I can only say that I have had great success with finding them and working together with them. Everyone knows the insanity in a novel when Chris and I work together, and I have had great financial success with Eric. I worked with another co-author, though, who almost soured me on the prospect of writing with others back before I had “Corruptor” contracted. That was partly my fault, since I bought into the “hype” and ignored a lot of the lack of substance he brought to the partnership. Plus, he was a bigger name than I was, so it probably worked out for the best.

Why, you ask? Well, because working with a co-author is harder to make work than a typical marriage.

It is hard to write a book with someone. It takes more than setting your ego aside. It takes a full commitment to the relationship to make it work (oh wow, total marriage comparison). Both authors have to know the limitations of their collaborator, and be receptive to ideas that you might not initially think would work. You have to listen, and not simply wait for them to quit speaking so you can say a rebuttal piece. Active listening is key here, people.  For example…

When Chris and I wrote “Kraken Mare”, we pretty much rewrote the entire book (I’d completed about 35,0000 words before I called in for some help). Even though there was a lot of insanity (and by a lot, I mean immeasurable amounts here… crazy giggling while talking and plotting/writing) we realized that we worked well together. We would easily feed off one another, hound each other when needed, and come up with ideas that the other would never have thought of, and pop culture references that one of us might have missed. It was fun, enjoyable, and we’re planning on more projects in the future once our free time reappears.

All in all, you have to be more than a little crazy to do either. To do both, well, you have to be certifiable Mad Genius. 🙂

And now your promotional news. Jason has a book out right now that you should buy. For a measly $3.99 you too can pick up your copy of the latest, Wraithkin, from Theogony Books. If you have KU then it’s free! Pick up a copy and leave a review.

 

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