Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Jason Cordova’

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?

Read more

Of sequels, reviews and how not to behave

I’m up to my eyes with the final edits to Duty from Ashes and am determined that it will be out by Nov. 1st. That means my mind is so focused on the edits that little has gotten in the past week. Maybe that’s why I did something our own Jason Cordova may never forgive me. In my defense, he egged me on. I swear it. He told me that he would review a certain book if I sent him a copy. So I did. And, yes, I will link and explain in a moment.

A little background. In this day and age of social media, there is one truth. What you put out into the interwebs is always in the interwebs if you know where to look. That is a lesson a number of us seem to forget all too often. It is so very simple to take to Facebook or Twitter or any one of a number of other social media sites to express our outrage or anger over something.

As folks who live by their words, authors all too often forget this. Back several years ago, an author took to his blog and FB to blast his editor because he didn’t like the job the editor had done on his latest novel. Now, I’ve seen what some of the traditional press editors can and have done and I don’t blame anyone for the occasional blow up for idiocy but you don’t let yourself be so specific that anyone with just a bit of knowledge of the industry or a bit of google-fu can find out who you are talking about. In this particular instance, he named names and gave dates and got more than a bit profane. Within minutes, the internet exploded, his agent and others saw it and he was basically told to take it down, issue and apology and pray he hadn’t just killed his career. He complied by taking down the post and making a sort-of apology but for months after, people quoted the post because it was still out there in the interwebs for all to find.

More recently, there’s been the author who admitted she was so upset by a review of her first book she basically turned into a stalker. She used her computer skills to find out who the reviewer really was, tracked them down, called them and even went to the reviewer’s home. That is more than a little creepy and is a prime example of why there are fewer and fewer legitimate reviewers available, especially for indie and small press published books. (By legitimate reviewers, I mean those who actually read the book and post in-depth reviews that point out good and bad. In other words, those who aren’t just out for free books. Note also that I don’t include the majority of Amazon reviews that are left by folks who have — or have not — read the book in question.)

Then there are the authors who really go off the deep end and respond to negative reviews by calling names, resorting to profanity and generally making themselves look more than a little foolish. Sometimes this happens when an author goes after a blogger on the that blogger’s site. Other times, it happens in response to Amazon reviews. We hear about the former more often than the latter because of social media. However — and this is where I get to Jason’s review — there are times when an author acts so badly in response to Amazon reviews that he and his book come to the attention of reviewers and the results aren’t what the author desires.

For those of you who might not know, Jason is part of Shiny Book Review. SBR is one of the few review sites I trust because Jason and Barb Caffrey post their honest opinions about the books they read. Being an author who knows the importance of reviews — but who is always worried about what the reviewer will think — I figuratively hide under the kitchen sink when I know they are reviewing one of my books. What I have found is that they have always been fair and have pointed out problems where they see them. I might not always agree but I do consider what they say and I respect their honesty.

So, cutting to the chase, last night on FB, some of us were discussing a novel where the author has been a prime example of what not to do as an author when it comes to Amazon reviews. Most of us in the discussion had at least read part of the free sample and we had read the reviews and the author’s responses to them. The tipping point for some of us came a few days ago when the author, upset when a very successful indie author offered some very good advice, went to the listing for the other author’s latest book and left what can only be called a revenge critique and was then proud of it when called on what he had done. That sort of thing just isn’t done — or it shouldn’t be.

Anyway, during the course of the conversation, Jason said he would review the book if I sent it to him (full disclosure, I did taunt him with the comment that I was tempted to send it to him for review). I don’t think Jason expected me to follow through but I did and, well, we all owe him. He did the literary review equivalent of falling on a grenade for us. You can find his review of the book — the now, in some circles at least, infamous Empress Theresa — here. I guarantee you that, having read the sample on Amazon and having gone to the author’s website, Jason is right on the mark with what he has to say.

The lesson of all this is, if you put a book out there for the world to read, understand that there will be people who won’t like it. Don’t engage with them. Don’t go leaving revenge critiques. Most of all, if you invite teachers or others to read your book and leave an honest opinion, don’t then attack them when they don’t say what you want. (You can follow the link in Jason’s review to the Amazon page and the reviews and comments. I have never before seen a book with so few reviews and so many comments. If you go to the book’s website, you will find sample chapters as well. They are interesting, to say the least, especially when it comes to changing POVs, construction, suspension of disbelief and more.)

Anyway, go read Jason’s review. The lesson to take away from it and from the way the author has behaved on Amazon is that this is a lesson in how not to act if you want to be taken as someone who takes their writing career seriously.

Now I’m going back to work. Duty from Ashes calls and I really, really need to get these edits finished so I can move on to the next project(s). What I wouldn’t give for a vacation.


Big Boy Panties

I literally had nothing to write about up until five minutes ago. Fortunately, this is the Internet, and there is always someone who is wrong on the Internet.

One of the things that has shown up on the Internets lately is something I’d like to call “I can’t handle words on a screen because I forgot to put on my big boy panties this morning.” (Yes, I totally put on big boy panties. Shut up.) They call it the “trigger warning”.

Seriously. You now need to put a warning label on a blog post or something because somewhere, somehow, someone might have a reaction to something that may or may not cause them to react in a way… that’s a lot of stinking cow excremental right there. Aside from our usual society response to any sort of speech which might deemed “racist” (oh yeah, I used air quotes when I typed that), we now have this burning need to placate individuals who forgot their big boy panties and now must be warned before reading something.

Maybe this should have started with “trigger warning”? Eh, if you’ve made it this far without following the Standard Internet Arguing Checklist (Skim until offended, then disqualify the opinion, then attack! and if that fails, skip to calling them a racist), then you don’t need a trigger warning. You are a grown up (yay!) and have decided that words on a screen don’t offend you. You, like myself, remembered your grown up panties this morning. I’m thrilled that you decided to do this.

dr who gif

But why do we feel the need to post about a trigger warning before we talk about everything? It’s absurd once you peel back the layers of the entire thing. Instead of dealing with something that can cause someone’s feelings to be hurt in a direct manner, people say “Trigger Warning!” and this allows people to avoid reading about it or, worse yet, form a judgmental opinion beforehand and proceed to read, waiting to be offended (because subconsciously, they know it’s coming… they were warned, remember?). To me, this is the most cowardly way to avoid dealing with a problem.

In a group, people are brave, so long as the group exhibits bravery, because the herd mentality forces the individual to join the group think. But alone? Bravery is much more difficult when one is alone, and being warned about a “trigger” is the last thing someone needs to be worrying about. Why? What could  subvert someone’s natural bravery (or lack thereof) and cause them to want to run back and hide within the herd? Well (straightens big boy panties here), sometimes people want to be coddled.

Oh wow. Yeah, I went there. I yell at people (a lot, in fact) about pulling out their “race card” and using it in an argument (see Standard Internet Arguing Checklist). I yell and scream when they race bait (see Sharpton, the Reverend Al). It seems pretty acceptable to call someone out when they’re doing this. But… playing a victim card? That’s a tougher one to denounce, because there’s a fine line between trying to help someone and being an abusive dick (note to self: find that line).

It’s one thing to warn someone who was recently in a nasty car crash that “there’s some guy who got decapitated in this next scene”. That’s being polite. It’s another to post a warning because there are some words which may offend them. It’s one thing to deal with PTSD; it’s another to be a permanent victim.

(straddle that line, boy… straddle it… straaaaaaaaadle it)

For reasons outside of my understanding, there is a belief that being a permanent victim is not a bad thing (damn it… there goes that line). Why is that? Why do people feel that it’s okay to allow oneself to continue to be a victim for a long period of time? Is it something in the water? Did those CIA mind control experiments really pay off? Is the collective emotional insecurity of group think really affecting people that much?

Or maybe… it’s something deeper. Perhaps people don’t want to face the ugly reality that is human existence today? Because while people are posting “trigger warnings” about sensitive topics (I don’t know what those topics are, since I’m an insensitive bastard… ask my mother), there is some really messed up sh*t in this world going on right now. Can you imagine a trigger warning on everything people might find offensive or get all butt hurt about?

(I had a funny thought just now… can you imagine the the Declaration of Independence having a “Trigger Warning” at the very top?)

Okay, this is starting to ramble a bit. Bottom line: big boy panties, on. Life sucks, deal. Victim card, maxed out.

It’s time to live dangerously, people. Think.

For those of you who hadn’t heard, Jason’s latest novella (coauthored with Eric S. Brown) came out this past week. “Kaiju Apocalypse” is currently available on Amazon.

The Collaborator

I can say that I am, without a doubt, one of the more difficult writers to work with. I’ve driven editors insane, caused publishers to roll their eyes upon hearing my name (it’s true!), and (accidentally) began to instigate the idea for other authors to give it all up (fortunately, they stuck with it and produced some amazing stuff).


It’s not as if I go out of my way to be difficult. Really, I don’t. I just don’t play well with others.

A lot of people think that authors aren’t social creatures. They think we sit in a dark room with a cup of coffee, no windows, and a computer (or typewriter). They believe we will simply allow our creativity to flow with no interruptions, creating amazing characters and plots without any sort of outside influence.

That’s not true. I like people (usually). I just have a very low tolerance of them. It’s even worse when you try to write with someone. If you write with someone, things usually fall one of two directions. One is amazing, one is a nightmare. You can decide for yourself which one I think is which.


You can try to pick a fellow coauthor to write with, but things just… get in the way. Timing issues, speed, life, they all have a way of hindering one (if not both) of you. Personalities clash, or they can’t agree on what direction the character should go, or which way the plot is headed. They begin to bicker, and there isn’t any sort of flow to the book. The structure is disjointed and off, and in the end it’s obvious that two separate people wrote it.

That’s the sign that it wasn’t meant to be. It’s tough when you have to admit it, but in the end, it sometimes is a good thing. Better a clean break than a nagging, lingering annoyance of unfinished work.

But then there’s “The Collaborator”. Not just someone you’re writing a book with, oh no. This is someone who writes at the same pace as you, is on the same wavelength, and can expand upon a nugget of an idea you casually tossed out there while on your way out the door. The Collaborator is there with the basis of the idea you needed to drive the book forward, to look at something you hadn’t seen before. You feed off one another, almost parasitically (except, you know, without the parasite metaphor…) as you work together.

Quite frankly, it’s a magical thing.

And you… and you… and you… but not you. Oh, and you…

(I was just sitting here, actually rereading what I wrote above, and I realized that I made it sound like it’s some sort of strange commitment, like a relationship but without the benefits. I keep trying to reword it, but there’s no other way to describe it. So yeah, I expect quite a few comments below to be razzing me about my lack of explanatory skills. Thanks, Mom.)

But how do you find “The One?” (Oh man, here we go with the horrible allegories again… *cue snide comments*) Should you look for The Collaborator, or simply let them find you? Take out a bounty? Offer your second born? (nobody likes the middle child, apparently) How do you find that one (or two, or five) author who can see the collaborative project similar to how you do, but just different enough to make a good book great?

Let me share a story with you:

Last year, I was introduced to an author by the name of Eric Brown. Eric’s a horror writer, and while I can be classified as a horror writer as well, I tend to want to be a SF guy. Nothing really in common (he’s a married father of two, I have cats and a dog) between us, and though we share a like for David Drake, Eric is a much, much bigger fan than I. In fact, the only thing we really had in common is that we live in the southeastern United States (so we both are very familiar with kudzu). Eric and I chatted a bit, nothing spectacular, just “Oh hey, liked your books” kind of thing. Until one day he mentioned he wanted a new coauthor for a milSF book he was writing. Me, being the half-awake guy that I am, said “Hey, I write. Wanna fool around?”

(Holy crap I can’t seem to get away from these double entendres. Kill me now)

So we started a book, and in five weeks it was done. We were amazed. We liked working with one another, and we worked well together. We shouldn’t have, given our backgrounds, but we did. We both write incredibly fast, and his grimness and gore matched well with my humor and action sequences (surprisingly). Not only that, but we each brought a unique skill set to the table and applied it to the book. So we tried it again. And again.

We’ve written two books and are a quarter of the way through our third in less than six months. Yes, I have found… “The Collaborator”.

As I said, it’s a magical thing. You never know what can happen if you find “The One.”

(…seriously, Jason? That’s what you’re calling it?)

Srsly? Again?

(shut up, brain)

Jason Cordova takes on “Con or Bust” and more

My second post ever at Mad Genius Club was going to be a gentle, “Hey, cool. I’m part of the club now!” kind of post, until I was directed to something called “Con or Bust”. Sponsored by former SFWA president John Scalzi and grandmaster Mike Resnick (there are others, but those are the only two I recognized at a glance), “Con or Bust began as a response to RaceFail ’09, when people of color expressed the desire to help each other attend WisCon (a prominent feminist SFF convention).”

Their words, not mine. I quoted that for context.

I actually had to look up the RaceFail ’09 incident, which led me to attendees at WisCon getting butthurt about there being a lack of diversity in SF as a whole and wanted more programming dedicated to race topics. Not race in science fiction or fantasy, from how I’m reading this. Just race. Not sure how many people would attend this sort of panel, honestly. This is on top of the recent developments regarding unnamed patrons of the art demanding that we rid ourselves of the binary gender in all SF novels because it offends them, has cause my own personal landmines to be triggered.

Up until it was pointed out to me (again by John Scalzi) that being born white automatically entitles you to have a better start in life, I had been blissfully unawares that white people are so much better than everyone else. I’d been unaware that white people were better at sports, were smarter, worked harder, and generally succeeded at everything because of their skin tone. Nothing was hard and everything came easy.




Congratulations, you win at life.

Damn. I want to be that kind of white.

You can deride the previous paragraph all you want, but the message of diversity is one of preferential treatment. You can’t have “equality” with “diversity”, because diversity means creating equality through artificial means. It’s as simple as that. The moment you force people to identify as a color or race, you’ve lost equality, because preferential treatment is exhibited in order to create your self-perceived diversity.

Think about it for a moment. Don’t just skim this and draw a conclusion that fits your preconceptions. Actually sit down and think.

Okay, now that you’ve calmed down and had a chance to think, tell me: who are your favorite authors, and why?

You’ve probably named a few from the MGC off the top of your head, or perhaps another author somewhere else. Why is that author your favorite? Is it because of their tightly-woven plot structure, their fast-paced action, their compelling character development?

Or does your favorite author focus on diversity and race in their novel? Do they push the envelope with the GLBT theme? Is the primary focus of the story about society’s flaws in gender equality?

Odds are, you typically don’t go out of your way to find a novel about race and diversity. If it’s in the story, that’s fine, but you bought the book of the author because of the story. I recently read (okay, two years ago, but it was just that good of a book) a book written by Maurice Broaddus called “King Maker” which featured a cast of purely “people of color”. Did he beat me over the head with it? Not really, because his take on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in the urban fantasy element was so cool that I barely noticed. Should people buy it purely because it has “people of color” in it? Nope. They should buy it because it’s a good book, plain and simple.

Besides, when you get down to it, the book had a decided lack of diversity. It featured three Asian people, one old white guy, and the rest of the characters (including the main) being black. Did it matter? No, because again, I didn’t notice until I read the book a second time (for the review I was writing).

When I look at “diversity” in the SF/F arena, I see a bunch of faceless names. I have no idea who is what, or what their sex is, or what sex they prefer, or even if they enjoy being a sex (that’s a lot of sex in one sentence, by the way… awkward). I want a well-written, exciting book, not something being pushed because of the personal tragedies the writer was forced to endure as a nongendernormative individual in a world of gendernormative fascists (or something… I kinda lost my train of thought trying to type that word out), or the compelling struggle of some guy because his skin tone of .2 shades darker than mine.

That’s racism, by the way. Pure and simple, though it is thinly disguised as “equality”.

It is, really. Oh sure, you can quibble all you want about the actual definition of the word, but when you push someone’s race as the selling point of anything (instead of substance or quality of work), that’s racism.

Back to the “Con or Bust” people…

In the 1970’s, legend has it (I wasn’t born yet) that there were very few women actually attending SF cons. So cons, instead of implementing group-think and demanding equality through subversive means, decided to figure out a way to draw women to cons and have them spend their hard-earned dollars on… stuff (hey, I just buy t-shirts at cons. Some people buy swords and countries. It’s a free market and I don’t know what people buy at cons is what I’m trying to say). The problem fixed itself, and now it seems that women outnumber men at conventions.

The problem can fix itself, if given the proper room to breathe. Forming a committee to help the “noble savage” see just how good the other side lives is not the way to do it.

I oftentimes wonder if people look in the mirror and say “It’s not okay that you’re white. You have friends who are not, and you even have gay friends as well. The fact that you’re born white is bad, and in order to change, you must hate all that is white, because white is racist.”

Dear white people: you’re forgiven.

I know you never owned a slave (unwilling, that is… see, I have friends in– wait, never mind). I know most of you never insisted that there be two types of fountains for whites and colored. I believe you when you say that you’d never commit a hate crime, and that you’d never treat anyone else different because of the color of their skin. I believe you when you say that race is not a factor in your admissions process in colleges

So why the guilt? Why the urge to sabotage everything that people have worked hard for in the name of diversity? Why not simply take their name, sex and race from their admissions papers, applications or anything else, and judge with what is left over? That would encourage equality, would it not? But if you argue that this wouldn’t promote diversity, then true equality isn’t your goal at all.

It’s okay if you want to admit it. Equality, in its pure form, is a stone-cold bitch.

 *     *     *

Jason is a fellow author and Barfly. For more information about his books, check out his website. Also check out Shiny Book Reviews where he and Barb Caffrey offer up fair and honest reviews of newly published books.