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Debut: Wednesday Night Writes

This week was an exciting week. I started a new regular feature on my Twitch account called Wednesday Night Writes. On this one hour segment I answer questions about starting your own fiction publication. These questions were sent to me by Zach who was thinking of starting a publication. I also answered questions as they came up in the live chat.

This program is designed to by like virtual programming you’d find at a convention. I hope to have discussion panels, author interviews, and much more. No idea is off the table. If has to do with writing or publishing I want to talk about it. You can join me on the show, make suggestions, or email content like Zack did. You can do that here.

I air the show live on Wednesdays at 8pm PST (it will move earlier later in the year). After 24 to 48 hours, I will put the live video in its entirety on YouTube. You can join the chat, follow my schedule, and get notification when I go live by following on Twitch.

I won’t always share the videos on the blog here, but because this was the debut I wanted to share it. You can watch the video here:

https://youtu.be/BmOYGN5Enyk

Please share the videos on my Twitch and YouTube Channels.

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Ramping Back Up

When you’ve been in a creative slump for a number of years, you don’t just fall right back into it. Well, maybe you do but I don’t. And since inspiring myself to get out of the slump, I haven’t written anything on a story yet. This despite the fact that I have set aside 2 hours per weekday for writing.

But I have been ramping back up slowly. I have got more active on my Twitter, posting there far more regularly. I am blogging weekly now, as I really wanted to do. Reading nightly has become a thing for me too. The next step I am taking is integrating writing talks and novel readings into my Twitch Live routine.

But the words won’t come out when it comes time to write fiction. I open the files, I’ve even reread a few pages of past writing from the novel I need and want to write. But when the time comes, the words just don’t happen. And largely I think a few factors are at play here.

First, I really am working through the publishing need with myself. I honestly think it feels like I need to do it. I know I am a broken record about the closure of Factor Four Magazine. But, it bums me out hard anytime I think to write. Even when I sit down to blog I think about it. Overall, I think this is making my own creative writing slump. I’ve worked out that my sudden passion write again, in bubbling some need to publish again as well.

Second, I haven’t had that inspirational visit to conventions for a long time. That’s been hard as well. The people, the environment, the social aspect, and best of all talking on panels, all inspire me to keep creating. But, those things are not possible for right now.

But I am tackling this on a few different levels in order to slowly ramp myself up into what I need to do. One thing I am doing is I will start once or twice weekly readings of my novels on Twitch live. I am nervous as hell about that. Even in live readings, I get really apprehensive about. But I am going to try it out. One hour reading on Sunday night. Depending on the feedback I will go to twice a week.

I am also going to do some live vlog type stuff. Thinking about Wednesday night Writes, in which I talk writing to my audience. I am thinking about what the visual aspect will be. Also thinking of doing interviews with other writers and publishers. And panel discussions on topics in the writing community. I plan to make that a weekly feature, starting next week.

I think rereading my works will really help get my mind in the frame of the storyline and ready to write again. If I get a good response to the readings, then maybe that confidence boost is what I need. The other thing that my mind has done, is begun to think about some small amounts of revenue that could be generated from streaming live. I am hoping that I could funnel that towards more creative passions.

And while reopening Factor Four Magazine seems like a pipedream at this point, I think it is important that I recognize the possibility and let my mind dance around there. But I also need to focus on what my goals are. This year that goal is writing, reading, and streaming. So I need to get aligned with that. That doesn’t man that I can’t think about what needs to happen to return to publishing. It just means that I need to explore that AFTER writing time.

We are only four weeks into the new year. No reason to be hard on myself. We are slowly ramping things back up. Social presence is important too. And this blog is great for exercising my mind and my thoughts. I am going to get there, I will be successful, and it will be worth it to do it at my pace.

Much love and thank you for the support.

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Separation of Passions

Last weekend I started to explore a new passion of mine. I know it seems like odd timing given my post about setting goals and sticking to them. But I do have a logic around this choice. But it has brought up some questions about separation of the arts we partake in.

Let me start with the… well the start. I have begun streaming on Twitch. You can find me there streaming games I like to play. In the post I referenced above, I mentioned that video games are something I have to set time aside for. So, to me, streaming games offered only a little more time commitment while also allowing me to build up some type of social community.

I have talked about the community that KailelleXD has built on his streaming community in Twitch. I realized it was something I wanted to do, and I realized that I could offer something unique with my perspective and my passions. And I even thought maybe I could mix some writing related streams into the mix.

But there in lies the question, and the topic of this post. Should my Streaming aliases by separate from my writing and publishing? Should I have a separate Twitch social media platforms from my writing platforms? What are the advantages to separate and what are the advantages to linked?

Right now I am keeping them together. I had two Twitters when I ran Factor Four Magazine and it was tough to manage two of them. I also am not sure if I want to set up another Facebook page, as they are terrible at presenting information to followers anyway (unless you pay). And finally, the idea of a second YouTube for highlights seems silly.

Starting with the YouTube, I honestly don’t use it much for writing so that could easily become a streaming showcase. But I do eventually want to go back to doing readings, vlogs, and Q&A sessions. All things I intend to do on Twitch, eventually, for a live audience. I have seen artists using Twitch to showcase the art process, and I wonder if writing can’t cross into that realm.

Writing is less visual than the visual arts… obviously. But couldn’t there be a chance to do something fun with readings and other interactions. My thought is like convention panels, but virtual, and one time. If 2020 showed us anything, there is an opportunity to do things virtually.

Twitter on the other hand has been very writing and publishing focused. So I have been almost feeling like I am crossing a line by posing Twitch content. The other side of this argument with myself says it is my Twitter and I can do whatever I want on it. And obviously there is an opportunity to build an audience that may cross over with each other. I certainly have noticed a videogame fandom and Science Fiction fandom overlap.

This website and the blog have always been writing focused, and I am not sure that I will dive too deep into the streaming world on here other than to briefly mention it. But I am not sure I want to create another website for myself that is around streaming. Besides the Twitch site capture about all I need from a streaming site.

Facebook, well they are useless for promoting the artist and content creator anyway, so that’s not a real concern. But there is a new factor to consider. Discord. Discord is really popular in the streaming world and I see a huge value in the writing world to create writers groups within it. I thought about creating a discord for Factor Four Magazine before I closed it.

The final factor is that so many people within the Twitch community stream behind aliases. I have one too. This is a lot for the same reasons as writers use a pen name. I don’t write under a pen name, and so if I combine the social presence it will be easy to determine who I am in real life.

However, the way I see it, since I am already out there in this community what would be the difference. And my Twitch alias is something I’ve used for years. In the end if someone wanted to know who I was, they’d find out.

Overall, I don’t have an answer yet. But I feel like I need to get to an idea very soon. If you have any input, thoughts, or ideas please let me know because I want to know what you think.

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Breaking the Habits

You can probably search the internet and find plenty articles about the good habits that a writer needs to have. You can probably even find some blockbuster (writer’s block busting that is) ideas to get you writing in ways you never thought possible. Maybe you even found this post in one of those searches.

But what happens when you have habits that are interfering with your ability to start new habits? In this case, the habit of writing regularly. As they say, “Old habits die hard.” But why is that? What makes us stick to our old ways over the new? Even if we enjoy the new, we tend to fall back into the past way of doing things.

I’ve read articles that say a lack of passion or a lack of dedication are to blame for this. They’ll tell you that if you want something you need to be dedicated, and if you’re not achieving it you must not be dedicated enough. Your passions are misplaced.

BULLSHIT!

These people make you feel as though you’re not good enough. You must not really be the writer you thought you were. Worse of all, they offer little more advice than to pull yourself up and get it done. And after a number of years of feeling in a slump with my writing I realize there is little truth to the idea that I lack passion or dedication to the desire to write and be a writer.

So I thought I would take a moment to offer my perspective and how I am working to get myself back on track and break down my old habits. Will it work for you? I promise nothing.

First, identify what it is you wish to achieve. This may sound simple, but don’t make it about a large goal. Make it about a simple solution. Rather than, I want to write 10 novels this year. Think, I want to write X minutes a day. You may think, I want to market myself more. But instead think, I will dedicate one hour twice a week to self promotion.

Next is recognition that you’re not achieving what you want to accomplish. Time gets away from us all and it can be very hard to recognize your missing opportunities to improve. Don’t confuse this with procrastination, which is actively putting things off. When you say I want to write X minutes a day, it can be easy and the end of the night to not even realize you didn’t accomplish the goal. You didn’t intend to miss out, you didn’t even notice, but it still keeps happening. The problem is, one day turns to one week, turns to one month, and next you know, nothing you hoped for was done.

Now that you know what you want, and you recognize you are not achieving it, take a look at what it is that is keeping you from doing it. What takes up your time and keeps you from that goal? Identify the pitfalls, but also recognize what you have no control over. Don’t expect to change things you can’t change. You won’ t ever be successful if you do that. But what you can look at is your other obligations, and see if there is a balance. You can even find some you’d rather not do anymore and work towards elimination of those roadblocks.

Now for that difficult part, the breaking of the habits. What are things you do that take up time that you could be working on your goal of writing? What are some mental habits you have that prevent you from getting started? What isn’t needed in your day? Be realistic with yourself. Don’t say you’ll make the kids eat PB sandwiches for dinner every day so you don’t have to waste time cooking. But instead evaluate other areas you use your time. Especially those where you lose track of time.

There is no magic trick for making bad habits go away, and there is no way to magically get rid of those things you’re doing instead of your goal. But once you see what you’re doing rather than getting your dreams done, you can tell where to start. Humans are species of comfort and habits make us feel comforted. It may not be daily habit, but a response habit to a stimuli.

I spend most of the last quarter of 2020 looking at this and trying to determine why I wasn’t writing. My goal was to write more. But that was too grand. Some days words just won’t come out. Other times the day just gets away from me. So I broke it down further. I just want to write more. Still not well defined. So I broke it down to, I want to dedicate time to writing.

I recognized why I wasn’t achieving that goal despite wanting to do it. First, I was depressed, and feeling a bit disgraced, from the closure of Factor Four Magazine so I retreated, subconsciously, away from writing and reading Science Fiction. But also, I was filling my time with scrolling Facebook, again and again and again. Seeing nothing new, but still doing it. I realized that was because of the lack of social connections I was feeling. And finally, I filled my time with video games, something I enjoyed. That was all in addition to my obligations to work, feed my family, help run the home, and getting my kids to their respective events.

I realized that if I dedicated 2 hours, between when I get off work until when I need to start cooking, to writing projects, I could accomplish more writing. But I worried about those days my wife wasn’t at work I’d rather spend the time with her. She has a preference to gaming. So I scaled my goal back a bit more. On the days she was working, I’d dedicate the 2 hours to writing. On her days off, I could use the time to game. I also didn’t want to eliminate gaming from my routine on any day because I enjoy it. So after dinner, on any day, is dedicated to free time until 9 pm. This allows me the time to game, or scroll Facebook.

At 9 PM it is time to wind down for bed. And so I dedicate the last two hours of my day to reading a book. One, I recognized I wasn’t reading enough to be happy. Two, I know how well writing and reading go hand in hand. And three, it allowed me the chance unwind in a way that is conducive to better sleep in comparison to checking my phone.

By putting this into a schedule I created some definition around my day. By piggybacking off of a required schedule (my work day) it was easy to transition from one into the next. And my wife calls me on her way home from work, giving me the perfect stopping point to begin working on cooking dinner. It creates the definition I needed to get started. And I already find myself running over from time to time.

Now the trick is not to fall into old habits. I caught myself scrolling Facebook during reading time just the other day. And it wasn’t until I was going to bed that I realized I never started the next book on my “to read” list. Don’t beat yourself up, recognize the need to fix it and try again the next day.

I have this weird idea that everything needs to start on a Sunday or Monday. So when I’d mess up on Monday, I’d think. I’ll just start it next week. Well, then I’d never get it done. This is another reason why I went with my wife’s schedule to start. She works a rotating schedule, so it didn’t have to by Monday to start.

I am still working hard to break the old habits. Today work ran late and I thought about skipping out on writing. Instead I realized I could write this blog post and still accomplish the need to work on writing related stuff. But I just as nearly said I didn’t have time and chose to walk away. It took the conscious effort to work out a solution. Dinner became chicken strips and fries, so I could throw them in the oven and finish this post up.

I hope this process helps you some along your path to achieve your goals. And I hope that it works for me. What are some of the tips and tricks you use to stay on point with your goals? Share them in the blog comments. I want to hear them!

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2021 is Here

“Well shit.”

Two simple words, but something I found myself saying a lot in 2020. It was a year of changed plans, adaptation, and all around fuckery. But perhaps what worries me the most was that in January 2020, I’d have never expected it.

And now we are 7 days into 2021 and if this was one of those free trial offers, I’d be canceling before my credit card was charged.

Sometimes we can’t control the things happening around us, but we can control how we react to them. I spend most of 2020 saying, “When this is all over I’m going to…” And I realized it was largely a depression based reaction to the entire situation.

But 2020 wasn’t all bad. I have many blessings that I many others may not be able to claim. And though the pessimist in my is gaging at the thought, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the positive.

First and foremost I did construct an office for myself in the my house which included wiring the home for ethernet. I am not a handy person and to complete another remodel feels good. It needs some final touches, but I was glad to accomplish that.

COVID hit my home, and while that isn’t positive, it was a blessing not to be hospitalized and that we all recovered. And the experience was enlightening to me as it was unlike anything I’d had before and offered a perspective into what some are going through.

Neither my wife or I lost our jobs due to the pandemic which was a huge concern at the beginning. The concern was more out of the unknown than anything else. But both of our employers did a great job of explaining what they were doing and how they were protecting us. So I felt reassured knowing what was going on. My wife had to report to work every day throughout this all. I’ve been fortunate to work from home most days.

The other advantage to working from home was getting the ability to be home with my kids more. In the past, work days often felt like I went to work, commuted, and then rested for the next day. But I feel like I’ve discovered more time to cook, eat as a family, and just enjoy family life. Though I must admit working and trying to track three boys’ school activities is really hard.

I was very late to the Animal Crossing New Horizons craze. Not joining the island community until late October. And a I think the hidden thing about that game is the community around it. My wife pointed out a Twitch streamer, KailelleXD, who has built a fun community around the game. And honestly it really made the last few months of 2020 bearable.

2021 Countdown ACNH style

I was really worried how a stressful 2020 would combine with a holiday season, and this community gave me a chance to unwind and have a little fun. While the game is certainly a fun escape in itself, social interaction was a nice change. Though again, I honestly miss in person interaction with people.

So 2021 is here, and it is starting off rocky, but I am hoping to put some focus back into my passions. I hope to continue a fight for change and I hope everyone has the best of health. I won’t go into a resolutions in this post, a reflections post is cliché enough, but I do hope to have a successful 2021.

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Why is Exercise so Hard?

I am really sorry this post comes late this week. I think I have a good excuse. In a way it inspired this blog post. So there is at least that much to say for this.

I have been really working hard to increase my exercise level. I talked about that some in this post. But it sure doesn’t seem to be coming easy and I suppose if it was easy for me I wouldn’t be around 75 pound over weight.

Back as a boy and teenager, I was incredibly skinny. I could eat just about anything and it didn’t seem to matter. I was also more active, playing Soccer through high school, riding my bike everywhere, and just playing outside most of the time.

But as happens with all of us, age has caught up to me. And I am far from an old man, but I am certainly not the teenager I was. When I got my first job, I developed a fast food addiction. I bought it all the time. I loved to cook, but the convenience of a drive thru wins. And then, frankly speaking, it is addictive and the portions are large. I have little control over myself when it comes to food.

Then I developed a coping relationship with food. When I am depressed, sad, stressed, or otherwise overloaded I have to have food. And not a salad.

Finally, I moved in to a more sedentary life style. I stopped sports, mostly because I’d reached an age I couldn’t play youth recreational soccer. I worked full-time, and slowly my job migrated to a sitting position as I advanced within the industry. And I started to develop hobbies that were more sedentary. Video game, writing, movies, reading all replaced sports, playing outside, and running around with friends. Last, I could drive now and I didn’t spend any time on my bike.

Then I discovered I had diabetes. And as they told me all the things I can’t eat, I realized I’d be miserable. And that made me just kind of think, well fuck em, and I ate more of what I shouldn’t.

But I knew it had to change and I set myself some activity goals. Mostly around the None to Run program. The problem with most exercise programs for me, is that I expect instant results. I expect to see something right away. And finally I generally don’t enjoy the solitary nature of exercise. I loved Soccer because I was out there with a team playing a game. The exercise wasn’t the reason I was there.

But there was something about this None to Run program that I really liked. It was slower progress than the Couch to 5K program. It felt doable. Also there was no focus on weight loss goals, or distance, just time. And my wife’s schedule change was making me change my schedule and the time was available now. And I stayed on that program longer than any other program I’ve tried.

But at 9 weeks in I had an injury. My knees were in a lot of pain by week 6 but I’d recover by the next day. But on the ninth week, I couldn’t recover and it turns out it was a real injury and I was out for several weeks. And now I am have a hell of a time restarting it.

Part of the problem was that when I started I had really thought that this COVID thing would pass and by this time I’d be able to run a 5K. And though I still want to do a virtual 5K, it just doesn’t feel the same as running that first 5K with a group of people. But there was something else.

The fear of getting injured again. It took a lot longer to recover from my knee injury than I had expected. Facts are your body doesn’t recover as easy when you get older, but add diabetes into it and recovery is painfully slow.

To satisfy my need for a group, fun exercise I also signed up for a spring learn to play hockey program for adults. It was going to be with a group of friends that I’ve developed through my son’s hockey team. I’ve never ice skated before, and so I planned to take some time on public skating.

I bought all the gear and the next week everything shut down due to COVID. Then suddenly on Monday they announced it would start today with small groups of less than 5 and a number of other safety precautions. Which was great, accept I’d never spend a day on the ice.

I signed up for a private lesson that was on Thursday. It started well, but I took a pretty bad fall. I don’t remember the fall, but after trying to skate again the instructor noticed something and we left the ice. Fortunately I was wearing a helmet.

End result was I got a mild concussion. There is likely some whiplash and other associated muscle injuries. I was told to avoid bright screens for 48 hours (thus I didn’t write a blog yesterday as scheduled).

So here it is Saturday, and I am taking it slow as I try to recover. No ice sports or physical activity until I have a follow up with my primary care doctor. It is suspected that I will need to stay away from activity that could cause head contact for several weeks. It is all pending another evaluation.

And so as I write this they are having the first learn to play class, and I am missing it. And I have to wonder, why the fuck is exercise so damn hard? Why does the motivation come and go? Why the hell can’t exercise solve the problems of a poor diet? (And I won’t get into my diet issues right now, but I am improving those). And how do I do all this without losing my motivation during an injury?

Why do doctors recommend losing weight to manage diabetes, but most diabetes medications seem to cause weight gain? The ones for weight loss never seem to work for me.

I understand this is a bit of a rant and complaining post. But I really hope that by getting it out there, some tips and tricks will come my way. Someone already suggested I start the None to Run program over from the start to try to spark the excitement again. Of course I may have to wait until I get cleared by the doctor now.

Any of my fellow writers, followers, and have tips? Does anyone know of a Couch to 5K equivalent for strength training? How to you find the motivation?

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Writing Updates!

I am hoping once a month to provide you all with some writing updates about things I am working on currently. This week the focus has been on submitting some stale manuscripts and starting up my writing again.

For those that don’t know. I choose to self publish my novels, with my short stories going out to various markets. This is a personal choice, and one I have discussed in past blogs. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t love to find a novel publisher and/or agent some day, but I am content with it being what it is.

Submissions

I have four short stories ready for publication right now. They are all flash fiction stories.

The first is a 633 word story called “Corporate America”. It was rejected once this week, but is already at another publication for reivew.

The second is a 1030 word story called “Diana’s Homework”. It too was rejected already this week and is off to another market.

The third is a 849 word story called “Possession of a Controlled Intelligence”. It is currently out at a market.

The fourth is a 878 word story called “Recruiter”. It is currently out at market.

So in my first week back to publishing I have 4 stories out to market with 6 total submissions, 2 rejections and 4 pending responses.

That already puts my count way ahead of all of 2019, because I didn’t submit anything that year.

In the first part of August I will give all the updates for my first month of submitting!

Writing

I thought when I got going on writing again, I’d focus on short story. Something in that 3 to 5k range. But as it would have it, I decided to jump right into a novel project that I’d started some time ago.

I am working on the third book in the Serenity Saga. I must admit I think I have been a little hesitant to write this one because it represents an end. I’ve always planned the series to be three books long, even when I wrote the original rough manuscript ages ago. I hate endings. And I love these characters. So I think I have just been stalling for the inevitable.

But I put over 5,000 words down in two days and I plan to write more over the long holiday weekend. This puts the word count right now at just short of 13,000 words as I type this blog post. (I do plan to get more in there between now and when this publishes).

It is good to be in the minds of Janice, Mike, Christina, and Francesca again. And I am already enjoying laying out the journey in front of them. I am a pantser, I can’t stand to plot, but with a three book series there has always been some plan in play.

It is a little baffling to me to think that their whole story started with a rough manuscript written in 2005-2006. This was before I ever took the idea of being a writer past putting this story down. It wasn’t until 2011, when I had a short story published, that I kicked the dust off that draft and essentially rewrote the novel.

And in October 2012, Dissolution of Peace was released. I can’t believe 8 years has passed since Captain Serenity’s story was brought out to the public.

The sequel, Illusion of Victory, didn’t come until 2017, three years ago this month. And for the first time, as I finished the sequel, I already knew the title of the third book. Revelation of Secrets.

I can’t wait to share this story with all of you. I can’t make any promise of a release date yet, way too early for that. I’ve been asked if this book will really be the last we see of these characters. I don’t know that for sure, but what I do know is that this book fully intends to wrap up the story line.

I will keep you all updated on my writing. Undoubtedly, as the mood strikes me, I will put together a few more short stories. I have a few ideas running around in my head. Some additional novel ideas as well, but those will wait for Revelation of Secrets to be written.

I hope you have a happy 4th of July. Be safe.

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New Year, New Me… in June

New Year, New Me… in June
The New Office

I think we all know by now that 2020 is just all types of fucked up. So I don’t see any reason just to hit the reset button on a number of things both personally and a professionally. It is time to pull out of this deep dive and get back on course. And no better time than now.

The year started off bad for me. Closing Factor Four Magazine was pretty hard on me. I was already in a creative slump with my personal writing, but when I lost the magazine it was kind of an end game for me. And that decision was made at the very end of 2019. Not the best way to close out a year and start another one.

The depression was real, but I made myself a couple of promises entering into 2020. Some plans to keep the depression at bay and to refocus myself and my life. The end goal was to return to my own creative spirit.

The first was that I’d run a 5K by the end of the year. I’d start my None to Run program in April with a hopes to be ready by summer for my first 5k. It is a 12 week program so I planned to be ready by the end of June.

The second was to make an effort to stay connected with my best friend by seeing her at least once per month. We used to work together and I saw her 5 days a week. When I changed jobs in 2017, that stopped and it wasn’t easy for me. I have a phobia of messaging people out of the blue, let alone inviting them out. I worry I seem clingy, needy, overreaching, and maybe even a pest. I never think that people think as high of me as I do of them. And I figured if I committed to one outing a month with her, I’d start to break down some of those walls. My job offers very little social interaction now, and I need the interaction despite my inability to break the ice.

Well, as we all know, COVID is a son-of-a-bitch. Working from home, everything is closed, and the general fear of the unknown all came slamming at us all early in the year. My wife is an essential worker and has to go to work every day. I used to work one day a week at home, and five days a week seemed great. No commute, even though I just bought a new car for a more comfortable commute, seemed like ideal.

Wear a mask, it isn’t that hard.

But as weeks went by it becomes obvious the impact it has on you to be at home all the time. I worked in my home’s “media room” and after awhile, working in there meant I didn’t was to be there after work hours. Which meant I didn’t want to do some of my favorite things like gaming and watching movies.

Of course, there was no way I was able to see my friend once a month and that goal was shot. It was a real bummer for me and kind of made me feel like I had nowhere to turn anymore.

My son’s hockey team was making a playoff run and that was canceled. I lost the interaction with my fellow hockey moms, which was a fun source of social interaction while enjoying my son’s hockey.

I was able to start my None to Run program early, but around week 9 my knee was injured and that put it on pause to heal. And I still really haven’t picked it back up yet. The lost momentum is more to blame than any injury now.

One of my first weeks on the None to Run program

In general life just seemed to be on pause.

I did decided to start a long needed home project. To take one of the really large rooms and create an office. Where once was my son’s really large bedroom and a tiny utility room, would now be a place for me to work that was separate from the other areas of the house. My wife and I decided it was a good use of the time and stimulus money. Plus we needed to fix some unsafe electrical work.

That project was longer, harder, and more costly than I expected. It drained my savings (which is a new source of stress) and took a lot of hard work. We added Ethernet and coax to the entire house and made the electrical safe again. It took two months to complete, though it felt like ages.

But this week I was finally able to work in the new office space and it has me suddenly inspired. It feels like a space to create, build, and relax. And despite working in it all day, I am quick to switch from the work laptop to mine at the end of the day and start creating.

Add that, my middle son, who is quickly becoming a very avid reader, has started to read my books as well. And talking books with him has been enjoyable. This combination has lead to a sort of “ah-ha” moment.

So this week I fired up my personal laptop for the first time in months. It took ages to power on and update. But once it was ready I needed to get the creative juices flowing. And I knew where to start.

I was right here at this website. I needed to bring the old blog over to the website for a more seamless experience. And I needed a website I could update easily. And so I’ve spent my week working on this website and I’ve decided I need to make some other promises to myself.

Ultimately I need to hold myself accountable, but I also hope that by sharing the journey with my friends, family, and supporters you can help me.

Here is what I need to do:

  • Get physical. Run again. Both my job and my hobbies are sedentary, and I need to change that.
    • Starting Monday I will go back to my three day a week regiment working to get myself back up to Week 9 conditioning for None to Run.
    • I will commit two days a week to injury prevention training.
    • I will find a strength training regiment that works for me.
    • I will get at least a Virtual 5k in this year.
    • I will find other group physical activities that I enjoy.
  • Read again. I need to read, I love to read, but somehow I never make time.
    • I’ve set a low goal of 8 books for the rest of the year.
    • My website as a currently reading section on the left, watch it to be sure I am reading like I should.
    • Rather than spending hours scrolling my phone, I’ll set aside a minimum of an hour most days to read before bed.
  • Write again. Oh how this one seems to be obvious, but also the most difficult.
    • I am going to get back into my once a week blog habit. When I blog regularly, I always wanted to write more.
    • I will go into the short stories folder of my remote drive, and get them submitted to places. Sure, I’d love to be paid for them but more importantly I just want to get them out there. Move on from them.
    • Set to work writing the third book in The Serenity Saga. It is overdue and needs to be brought to life.
    • Remain active on Twitter so I can stay connected with my writer audience and they can hold me to my progress on these goals.
  • Work out some ways to be more social despite trying to remain safe and healthy.
    • I have to work out a way to communicate with my friends and push aside the feeling that I am being bothersome.
    • Undoubtedly some of my friends will be reading this. Their support will be helpful in bridging the gap when I am too scared to do so.
    • Maybe a once a month video call with a few of my friends isn’t too much to ask after all. Maybe I can figure that out someway.
  • This one is the least measurable and probably the hardest one to obtain. But I really want to return to publishing in some form.
    • I don’t know what that looks like.
    • I should allow myself to continue to think of ideas.
    • Valid ideas should be fleshed out to see if they are possible. If they aren’t move on, if they are explore it.

So there you have it. It is a new year, new me… in June. I hope you’ll subscribe/follow this blog. Follow along on Twitter. And most of all, I hope you find your own ways to maintain your mental health during this unusual time. Please share you comments, thoughts, experiences, and tips below. I’d love to learn from you!

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Factor Four Magazine is closed

Sometimes you just don’t want to make an announcement and so you put it off hoping to find a solution that will prevent you from needing to do so.  Unfortunately, I can stall no longer.  Through teary eyes as I type this, I have to announce that Factor Four Magazine is closed now.  There is no plan to publish future issues of the magazine.

Publishing a magazine is a lot of work, but I really enjoy publishing other author’s stories.  But financially, the short story publishing world isn’t self sustaining.  And over all, I could no longer take roughly $10,000 a year from my family’s income to continue to buy the content we’ve become known for.  This is truly heart-breaking for me.  Not only did I love publishing stories, but Factor Four Magazine was starting to gain traction at an accelerated pace.

We spent most of the last four months attempting to negotiate funding from other private sources.  Unfortunately, traditional funding wouldn’t support the idea of another magazine because they couldn’t see a return on investment.  We couldn’t demonstrate a subscription base, the advertisement sales, and issue sales needed to be “a good investment”.

I’ve had very poor success with crowd funding, largely because everyone is asking for funding on their projects.  It is difficult to stand out.  And over all I didn’t think I wanted to put myself through the emotional roller coaster of thinking I could do it, only to fail (as I have done in the past).  And while we may gain one year’s worth of investment, what would we do in 2021?  I couldn’t see a long term future in continually asking for crowd funding.

It hurts to make this choice.  I apologize to all of our readers and writers who invested time with us for ultimately letting everyone down.  I am passionate about flash fiction in our genre and still believe is should be recognized for the art form that it is, separate from the traditional short story.  I am already exploring options to continue publishing but perhaps on a less frequent basis, such as anthologies or other methods.  I hope to see Factor Four return in another form, but I can’t promise anything.

I want to thank everyone who supported us, submitted to us, and ultimately believed we were doing something great.

Happy Reading,

Richard Flores IV

Editor-in-Chief

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August! Already!

Over the last few months, maybe even years, I’ve been saying I’d get back into blogging more regularly.  There was a time where I was really good at doing this and for some reason or the other, I’ve let it slip away.  I’ve intentionally kept my life busy and the result is that sometimes there isn’t the time.  And sometime there isn’t the desire either.  I blame depression for that.

Factor Four Magazine is a passion of mine and I’ve put my creative time into that.  Two issues are under our belt now and I’m really feeling positive that I have good systems in place to handle it.  I am still the only one on the magazine staff, so I do it all.  Social Media posts, readings, editing, layout, advertisement, subscription management, and more.  But you know what, despite all that I’m thinking of putting together another publishing project: An anthology for 2019 release.  No details yet.  But I figured you all could have the early “scoop” since you still come by and read my blog.

The moral here is that time goes by a lot faster than it used to.  Publishing has become my focus when I am not at my day job or being with my family, and some of my writing has slipped by the wayside.  I’ve not abandoned it by any means. I still have four short stories looking for a home.  Plus I still have so many novel ideas to get out.  The final book (maybe) of The Serenity Saga, a new novel, and possibly a sequel to Volition Agent (I was asked about a prequel too). I just don’t think it will be in 2018.  I mean, fuck it is August already!

Speaking of August, it will be a busy one for me.  2018 has been the year of Conventions, both in my day job and writing.  I don’t think I will have traveled so much in one year.  I went to Norwescon this year, that was amazing and I hope they will invite me to be a panelist in 2019. Also, later this year is OryCon.  I haven’t heard if they’ll invite me as a Panelist, so ask about me! But August brings two more writing conventions that I am excited to attend.

SpoCon – Spokane, WA – August 10 to 12

I am really excited about this one because I will be a panelist, and moderator, on several panels.  You can see my whole schedule below, or you can click here.  I’d really like to see you if you’re there, so please come say hello.  I’d like to do a signing, but I’ve not committed to that yet, but both issues of the magazine, as well as my books will be on sale there. Space is still available, and you can register at the website.

 

Title: Should Kids Self-Publish?

Date/Time: Friday August 10th @ 4PM:

Official Description: What should young writers, artists and musicians (and their parents) be aware of before they distribute their work to the public?

Other Panelist(s): Kaye Thornbrugh

My thoughts: I am excited about discussing this.  My regular followers know of my son’s children’s book, Daddy is Tired.  But as a Self-Pub author, I am also planning to provide insight on that avenue of publishing.

 

Title: Flash Fiction: the Genre

Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 11am

Official Description: How do you define flash fiction — strictly by word count, or is there more to it? Our panelists reveal the ins and outs of this relatively new literary form.

Other Panelist(s): Voss Foster, S. Evan Townsend, Dawn Vogel, Stoney Compton, Dean Wells

My thoughts: Oh, boy.  I love flash fiction.  I love writing it, and I love reading it.  Of course, you know I took that passion into publishing it.  I’d debate the concept of “new literary form”, but certainly under recognized for the true art form that it is.  As moderator, I plan to focus on not just what is flash fiction, but why is it unique compared to other short fiction.  We will also touch on common pitfalls and how to address them.

 

Title: The Iron Writer Competition

Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 1pm

Official Description: The pen is mightier than the sword! Our contestants will take on the challenge of improvisational writing through several rounds of battle, each with a secret writing prompt. Watch writers test their story skills under time and pressure, for a chance at the title of Iron Writer!

Other Panelist(s): Remina Goude, Frances Pauli
My Thoughts: I am hosting another Iron Writer competition.  So far I have two contestants who will battle it out with a secret writing prompt.  We will have three rounds to determine the winner of Iron Writer!  I’d love to have four writers compete, but we have two already.  Not too late to join in.
Title: What Editors Want
Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 3PM
Official Description: From the first submission to an ongoing partnership, how can writers stay on good terms with their editors? What are some of the biggest turn-offs for an editor?

My Thoughts: We have a good group of panelist for this.  One of the challenges of what we editors want is that we are all different people.  As moderator, I am thinking I will let the conversation dictate the direction we take on this broad topic.
Title: Short Fiction in SF
Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @5PM
Official Description: SF is one of the last remaining genres where authors can sell short fiction. Although stories might not get the attention novels do, it it is a demanding form on its own. Our panelists discuss why short fiction is worth writing — and reading!

My Thoughts: Does short fiction not get the attention it deserves? I think Flash doesn’t, but the overall short fiction market seems strong enough to me.  I think we will be discussing why SF still loves short fiction, among other things.
Title: The Writing Habit
Date/Time: Sunday August 12th @ 12pm
Official Description: Authors share strategies to keep their work going, even when the pipes burst or your favorite show comes on TV.

My Thoughts: Dr. Glass is one of the Guests of Honor at SpoCon so I am excited to be on a panel he is moderating.  I just mentioned that I am struggling with the writing habit.  So I hope to offer a unique insight into my struggle and how I am working to overcome it.
Title: Impact of Social Media
Date/Time: Sunday August 12 at 1PM
Official Description: Sharing reviews, building buzz, linking and blogging… What impact does social media have on books and other creative projects? How can you make social media work for you?

Other Panelist(s): Grivante
My Thoughts: Social media can feel like a minefield sometimes. It can also feel like a lost cause when it comes to promotion.  But you can make it work for you as well.

WorldCon 76 – San Jose, CA – August 16 to 20

I had wanted desperately to be a panelist at WorldCon, but I got to that party a little late.  Though, I haven’t has very good communication from the folks there to know why.  I won’t get into the controversy here. I will say that to redo programming of a WoldCon this late in the game is not easy and I appreciate that effort for sure.

But, I am very excited to attend.  I haven’t attended at WorldCon since my first one in San Antonio.  San Jose is well know place for me.  I am originally from the Bay Area, and I visited San Jose very regularly when I lived there.  Of course you all know my fan status of the San Jose Sharks.  You also likely know that I am big fan of John Picacio, the Art Guest of Honor.  He also created the Mexicanx Initiative.  I, along with so many others, donated a membership to this cause. In total 50 memberships were sponsored so that we can ensure that the “World” part of WorldCon is represented.

All things aside, I am excited to attend WorldCon again.  I likely won’t get to Dublin next year, but I hope to attend the year after that as well.

 

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