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Posts by Jason Cordova

The Grim and The Bright

(Thanks for rescuing me. They were threatening to make me write romance novels as a form of punishment until I showed them one of my pen names and the Harlequin-esque novel. They hurriedly gave in to your demands and now I’m free.)

Part of the issue today with aspects of science fiction is that some authors believe that there is no hope in the future. This reflects in their writing, and their public personae as well. Far too often we’re trying to hook teens and young adults on gritty realism and bleakness when we should be offering them hope and escapism in a story. I know that the kids at my work don’t want to read a book about the grim realities of life. They prefer superhero movies where there is a chance at the hero to be a hero.

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The Weather Abides

I was working on my next Kin Wars Saga novel and got to thinking: we use the weather to set the mood, sure, but why? Everybody knows that if you have a funeral it’s supposed to rain, and a happy ending is a bright sunny day. Depressive days are flat, dull, grey and cold, while snowy days are typically for celebrating holidays.

Is this a learned writing technique or do we instinctively do it?

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Stir the Pot

I don’t like to stir the pot. Primarily because I’ve discovered that the best slow cooker involves a pressure cooker and only 20 minutes!

But today I’m definitely stirring the pot with a big ol’ wooden spoon (we ran out of wooden assterisks, sorry) because Worldcon just went and jumped the shark.

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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…


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.

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.




The Dragons Have Arrived!

…and boy are their wings tired!



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?


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