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Where have you been?

I know I have been a really bad host lately. I keep inviting people to the party, but then I never show up.  I’ve been less than active on this blog and not very active on social media either. So what has been going on?

Well, I’ve been a bit down about things. I have not felt very validated as an author and have been in one of those self induced moods where I hide from the world.  But, I’ve come back out from my cave, and I didn’t see my shadow. So I think that means I am able to break down this barrier and start working on what I enjoy. And to start, I put out this blog post.

So what have I been up to?

DetCon1

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Well, lets start with the biggest of things that kept me away.  And that is DetCon1. Most of you know how excited I was about being part of the participants for this great convention. And it was really a good time.  I got to meet some great people, break down my fear of reading in public, and even got a few great compliments.

One of the things that was so cool was I got to meet, and for just a little bit, talk with John Picacio. He is one of my all time favorite artists and we talked for brief moment before he was off to do more Guest of Honor stuff.  But, he happened to know who I was.  We’ve interacted a few times on Twitter, and I guess he seemed to remember me from there.  I also attended some of his panels, including one where he broke down how he did “Girl with Microphone”, which is one of my favorite art pieces (bottom left of the picture below is my print copy which I won at the art show!).

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I also spoke to Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld at some length after one of his panels (the day before we sat on a panel together). Clarkesworld, and Neil, have been a great inspiration to my work on Plasma Frequency. And Neil was very much aware of my publication and I was so pleased to know that. He also shared some great insight with me into his own experience in the business and I was quite surprised by things I learned from him. Needless to say, it made me feel as if Plasma Frequency was doing some good in the Science Fiction short market world and I can’t wait to push forward.

Photo by Al Bogdan

Photo by Al Bogdan

I also had a panelist on my first panel tell me that I had a “Stephen King vibe” to me. I took that to be a compliment and he seemed genuinely surprised that I had not hear this before.   Perhaps that means that I am good on these panels and can be invited back for more.  I don’t believe I have signed up for WorldCon in Spokane, so I better do that now.

I had a big fear of reading in public.  I am not the best out-loud reader and I notice if more and more as I get older. I stubble over words when I read out-loud to the kids. So I was really worried.  I did have a reading, but it was late and not many people showed up.  I went last, and many people walked out during my reading. I don’t know if that was from boredom or from it being close to the end of the panel. I hope it was the later.

Plasma Frequency

Oh, this magazine of mine. It is always on the list of things that keep me from writing, but that is a good thing. We are starting year 3 with the publication of Issue 13 on September 5th. We are making some changes to the publication this year. And just like last year we are letting our readers choose half the stories we publish in the Year 2 Anthology.  You can vote on those here: LINK.

We really need the support of our readers if we hope to continue. So we are also asking for your ideas and thoughts in our survey that is just before the story voting.  We are also asking you to pick the cover artist for the anthology.  So if you have read Plasma Frequency at all, please go complete the survey.

A Day Job

So I got one of those again.  Which is good because I was out of a good paying job for sometime.  But I have one that pays pretty good now.  I am still in physical security.  The job is boring, has lots of down time, and the hours really suck.  But, I did finally get a laptop this last week.  So I can now  make use of the down time.  Can’t do much about the bad hours right now.  It is just hard on family time, especially once the kids are back in school.  But, I will make use of the downtime to get things done that need to get done.

A new cover for Volition Agent

Volition Agent eBook

So, I finally decided I needed to do something about the cover for Volition Agent.  The original cover wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t enticing buyers either. So I had Rebecca Treadway at ATRTink redo the cover.  What do you think?  I think it is awesome while still using the model and photographer that worked so hard to get me the first cover.  Also, you can now get Volition Agent on Kindle for just 99 cents. So go pick up a copy here: LINK

Family Time

So I touched on this when I mentioned the new job.  It has meant that when I am off work, I am spending time with the family. This is because I know that time won’t be around when all three kids are in school on my days off and I don’t see them. Especially since I work 18 of my 40 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  So I have been spending the time with them exploring Washington state, our new home state.

My Health

My health hasn’t been so good as of late. I am thinking my gallbladder is acting up. I was in a lot of pain off and on while at DetCon1 and lost 10 pounds in the week I was gone.  Which is odd, considering you don’t typically lose weight on a vacation.  I can’t see a doctor until 2015, unless something changes and I can get insurance before then.   That is a long story.  But I have to have them run a whole series of tests on me, because I am also dealing with some other issues health wise.  All in all I need to make sure I take care of myself.

Feelings of Failing

I touched on this at the start of this blog.  I can’t help but feel as though I am failing at doing what I love. Writing is so much fun to me, but I am just not getting the attention of readers. I recently discovered that none of my books have even broke even. And that is a bit of a sad fact of being a self-published author.  And when you feel like you are failing is can be difficult to motivate yourself to write.  So while I have a whole list above of valid reasons that kept me from writing.  This funk is the real reason.  The rest are just excuses.

So what is coming next?

Well, finally adding a laptop to the equation should help me get back into the swing of things. I will be able to get more writing and Plasma Frequency business done when I am away from home. And that is a huge plus.  It also means I will be able to finally start putting words down on the sequel to Dissolution of Peace, which is starting to be on pace to be a lot longer of a novel than the original is.  I am still trying to think of a good series title for this series.  Any ideas from my readers?

I am trying to keep my chin up.  DetCon1 was a huge boost to that.  I think once the kids are back in school, and before the Washington rain hits, I’ll take this laptop out to one of the great state parks here and use nature as my inspiration to start putting the letters on the page again.  In the meantime, I think this blog post is a good re-connection with the writing world and I’m ready to get things rolling again.

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DetCon1 is Coming Fast!

If you follow me on on Facebook and Twitter, you no doubt have heard me mention DetCon1.  You may have even gathered that I am pretty excited about this.  And, it is just over two weeks away!

What is DetCon1?

The simple answer is the DetCon1 is the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).  But for those, like I used to be, who are not sure what that means, let me clarify.  WorldCon, to me, is the grand daddy of all Science Fiction conventions.  Well, when WorldCon is going to be outside North America (this year it is in London), there is also a NASFiC.

This year, DetCon1 is being held in Detroit at the Marriott Renaissance Center from July 17-20th.  If you have not thought about going, it is not too late. I strongly encourage any author, publisher, or fan of Science Fiction to attend.

Why should I go?

Last year I finally made it to my first convention. I went to Lone Star Con 3, last year’s WorldCon. I figured I’d go big or go home.  And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. I walked away with a wealth of knowledge for my writing, my business, and my reading list.  It was an entire weekend of fun and it cost me almost nothing.  A small membership fee (way less than $100), hotel and a flight.  But the things I learned made it all worth it.

Anyway, I made up my mind that I was going to go to every WorldCon I could attend.  There are two reasons this is a good idea.  First, it makes me get away once a year.  Second, WorldCon always moves around.  Thus making it a great way to see new places.  I really loved San Antonio, and I would never have thought to go there if it wasn’t for the WorldCon.

Well, as I mentioned above, this year it is in London.  And my move to Washington made it just financially impossible to go.  But even if you are going to London this year, you should also go to Detroit.  The conventions are at different times, just so those that can attend both have that ability.

But here is why you should go:

Panels: DetCon1 will have four days full of panels.  What are panels? A group, typically 2-6 people, discuss a assigned topic for about an hour.  The topics at DetCon1 are very vast. They range from Literary to Scientific, Music and Art, and on and on.  You get to hear experts, novices, publishers, artists, doctors, and other qualified individuals discuss these topics and offer their advice.  Sometimes, if time permits, you even get to ask a few questions. And many panelists are willing to talk to you after the panel, if their schedule permits.

I went to so many panels at WorldCon. And one thing I knew I wanted to do was to speak on a panel. Why? Well, like this blog, I like to help people, and I do that with my ideas and thoughts.  Panels are a great way for me to share those.  And, I applied to be a panelist at DetCon1 and they said yes! (more on that soon).

Workshops:  Where panels are more of a one way communication, a lot like a lecture, workshops are more of a two way street.  You work with others to develop a certain skill or item.  There are a number of these and they vary in type and style.  While you learn a ton of stuff from panels, you practice a lot in Workshops.  These are often intense periods since time is limited. But I love the fast learning method.

Film Festival:  I wish I had known about these earlier when I was at Lone Star Con, because I missed some good ones. Film Festivals show short films made by talented folks. The one I attended showed ten different short films in about an hour and half.  They were amazing!  This is a great way to take a break from the hustle of the convention and see some excellent media art.

Art Show: I could have gone broke at the Lone Star Con art show. And Detroit has some awesome artists.  The Artist guest of honor is one of my favorites, John Picacio.  My hope is to get a chance to meet him and maybe (finances permitting) pick up something of his.  But even if you can only look, I can assure you you will fall in love with the art at the convention.

Kids Programs: This year I am going alone. But last year I went with my whole family and the Kids programming was a life saver for my young kids.  DetCon1’s programming appears to be the same way.  Kids can only take so much adult stuff before they go nuts. Kids programming is built just for them and includes a number of crafts.

Dealers: Merchants of as much variety as you can imagine come to the convention to show and sell their stuff.  Of course you won’t leave without a book or two, but there are also shirts, comics, patches, jewelry, and other great things to buy. I don’t know what dealers will be at DetCon1, but my wallet is already opening.

Also, I discovered some great writers by browsing the Dealer room. The books are excellent and I wound up grabbing a few new names because that was the point. To experience something new.

So much more: Exhibits, Parties, Masquerade, Gaming, and so much more.  DetCon1 is certain to have some great exhibits to check out.   I missed the Masquerade at Lone Star, so I hope to attend this one (but I have a busy schedule already).  I also missed out on a lot of parties last time. I didn’t find out about them until late Saturday. So I hope that I can attend a lot more this time.

So you see, there are more than enough reasons to to go to DetCon1.  You can register online for the full four days for just $75 for adults, $25 for kids (4 and under are free!).  So if you can get to Detroit, you see the value is there.  Not sure if you want to register online, you can do so at the door too.  They also have one day memberships that vary in price based on the day.  So please, go check it out!

I almost forgot the biggest reason you all should go!

I’ll be there. I applied to be a participant this year, and was so honored when the programming staff selected me as one of their participants.  I am even more honored by how many panels they have have assigned me to.  So it would be great if a few of my fans, and fans of Plasma Frequency could come out and see me.

Please note, the below list of panels is not final. Although the programming staff say it is “done” (their quotes, not mine), these things are always subject to change.  You’ll want to check the program when you check in.

Of course when I am not on a panel I will be attending them, and also I will be around looking at all there is to see.

So here is where they have me scheduled (*again subject to change so check the final program).

THURSDAY (17th)

The Very First Thing: Story Titles

Description: How do writers choose story titles? What makes a good title? Who gets to decide what the title will be? And which comes first, the story or the title?

My thoughts: I am lousy at titles, and I have had to adapt to that failing. So I hope to get a chance to discuss how I break down my title block and finally put a title on my stories.

Time: 7pm in the Nicolet A Room*

FRIDAY (18th)

Iron Author Detroit – Late Night Edition

Description: Watch four authors compete for the title of Iron Author Detroit! Witness their efforts at turning the Mystery Ingredient Word into an SF/F short story in five minutes or less. Judge the resulting tales through the magic of the Audience Applause-O-Meter. Who will reign supreme?

My thoughts: I am the Moderator or Emcee for this one. I am excited about this one too. I love short fiction, which is why I publish them. So, getting to see four authors write a story in five minutes or less… oh man this is going to be great.

Time: 10pm in the Nicolet B Room*

SATURDAY (19th)

What am I Looking For?

Description:  Agents and editors talk about the sorts of projects that interest them individually and answer general publishing questions.

My Thoughts:  I am so honored and so excited for this panel. Obviously I will be representing Plasma Frequency on this panel. But,as of right now the other panelists are Diana Pho of Tor books, Kate Baker and Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, and Sam Morgan who is an Agent.  Now, Clarkesworld has always been a publication I have admired and has been what I aspired for by opening Plasma Frequency.  So to sit on a panel with Neil Clarke and Kate Baker. Man, I really hope they are there and that aspect doesn’t change. However, I am also excited to represent the semi-pro market on this panel. This is a good one to attend if you’ve wanted to know what it is we are publishing and why.

Time: 1pm in the Mackinac East room*

+/- a Shirt: Starting a Business

Description: How to lose your shirt (or maybe get rich) in starting a business.

My Thoughts: This one wasn’t on my initial itinerary, but I am glad they added me. Plasma Spyglass, my company, is my second business. So I am excited to talk about what I learned from my first failure, and what I know from Plasma Spyglass to be successful.

Time: 3:00pm in the Ambassador Salon 1*

Reading: Flores/Haynes/O’Riordan

Description: Richard Flores IV, Michael Haynes, and Daniel O’Riordan read from their work.

My Thoughts: Of all the items on my list, this one I am the most nervous about.  I don’t know which novel I will read from, but I am leaning towards my most recent one, Broken Trust.  Readings are a great way to hear a book in the author’s voice. That was how I discovered the Split Worlds Series by Emma Newman.

Time: 6pm in the Joliet A room*

SUNDAY (20th)

Hobbies as Research

Description: The best way to write about something is by attempting to do it. But the problem with doing this is that it can be easy to let the research take over the story. How do we balance the story with the fun factoids and tidbits we learn while doing things we plan to incorporate into our novels? How does doing it ourselves lend authenticity and credibility to the story?

My Thoughts:  This is a subject about balance. Obviously research is a big part of writing. But knowing what parts to share and what to leave out is a difficult thing.  This will be a great knowledge builder for new and experienced writers.

Time: 11:00am in the Mackinac East room*

*Remember these are the times and rooms as they are scheduled today. DetCon1 can change these, so please check your programs. And please come see me.

 

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Broken Trust Updates, Trailer, and Tour Schedule

IQ8 am now nineteen days into this big release party and I thought I would share a little progress report for those interested in knowing how it is going.  The release party has taken a lot of work. I scheduled over 275 Facebook and Twitter posts promoting various aspects of the book.  I created 12 trivia facts and 12 image graphics with quotes form the book (like the one you see on the right). Scheduling all the giveaways for the Book a Day in May was also a lot of work.

So far I have given away 18 paperbacks (one had no entries) and there are still a bunch more to go. I got a whole box of books here to give away and I don’t plan to keep them laying around the house. So make sure you check the giveaways section of my website for chances to win.

For a little bit of fun I have also created a couple of quizzes you can take.  Click the images below to take them.  Lots of fun.

Take the quiz to find out which of the characters you are. Click the image to find out.

broken trust quiz 2

I don’t think this has created all the  buzz I hoped it would.  So far I have no preorders, not even from family, even with the big discount. I don’t think people are too comfortable preordering. Someday I hope Amazon will let Createspace users choose an advanced publishing day so people can preorder through Amazon.  But it is what it is.

Below you will see that I have a book trailer ready for Broken Trust. I am really happy with this one.  I didn’t make it myself as I did with Dissolution of Peace and Volition Agent.  I used Fiverr.com to find someone to do it for me.  I absolutely love it and hope you do too.  Please make sure to like in on YouTube.  Broken Trust will be out on May 29th!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Qi75S4kbpl4]

Of course there are still 12 more days left in the party including the Broken Trust Blog Tour. I am really excited about this one.  Below are the dates and my stops.   I will also be doing a Twitter Interview on May 27th where you can ask me about anything, not just Broken Trust stuff. Have questions about Plasma Frequency, one of my other books, questions about writing, or just something fun to ask.  Tweet those questions on May 27th to @Richard_Flores4

May 22 Meredith Mansfield’s Blog – Guest Post
May 23
May 24 The Chronicles of ChrisLandia – Review
May 25
May 26 Anya Breton’s Blog – Interview
May 27 Twitter Interview
May 28 INYË ÓLËA ATA – Guest Post
May 29 I am Write – Interview
May 30 Little Miss Reader – Broken Trust Excerpt
May 31 Flores Factor Blog

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Broken Trust Character Bios

In my last two blog posts on the topic of Broken Trust, I’ve stressed a lot about  how much thought I put into the world.  What I’ve neglected to mention is how much thought I put into the characters as well.  I like characters, not just in my own novels, but in any story I read or watch.  I enjoy characters, I enjoy they way people interact with each other, and I enjoy watch my characters form bonds and break trust (Don’t worry there are no spoilers below).

Typically characters are the first to form in my head when I start a story.  I don’t even have a place for them most of the time.  But once a world is formed I tend to have plenty of characters to put into it.  It is part of the reason why my novels tend to revolve around several main characters. With Broken Trust, I did something a little different.  I actually wrote out a bit about each character, including descriptors and a brief biography.  I thought I might share that with you now.

Wonder which of these characters you are?  You can take the quiz to find out.

Liam Fisher

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 220

Hair: Black

Eyes: Brown

Description: Tall with dark hair, kept real short.  Before the mass extinction he would have been heavyset, but he has lost much of the weight both due to low food supplies early one, and the hard work he has put into constructing a city-state.

Bio: Before the world changed, Liam was married with a child on the way.  He lived in the old city just outside of Lagoon Hills.  He was a well respected physical security expert and has vast amounts of knowledge on “hardening” buildings against physical security threats such as terrorists, thieves, vandals, and corporate saboteurs. He was a fan of survival shows on TV, though was never a survivalist.  A quiet person, he kept few friends.  Though once you get to know him he is very loyal to those he keeps close to him.

After the world changed, Liam struggled to cope and was contemplating suicide when Talya found him.  Though Liam barely knew Talya he went with her in search for a place to live and the two quickly became close.  Liam and Talya discovered a group of survivors and together they founded Lagoon Hills.  The people wanted to make him their governor, but Liam didn’t want to be a leader.  They pressured him into taking some leadership role so he suggested a Council of Leaders, in which he is part of a five person leadership role.  His job is to keep the militia maintained and the people safe.

Talya Brooks

Height: 5’10” (5’11” if you ask the people he commands).

Weight: 145

Hair: Light Brown

Eyes: Hazel

Description: Considered tall for a woman, and very fit.

Bio: Before things turned upside down Talya was in the armed forces.  She has intentionally kept her reason for departing secret and most don’t bother to ask. She has no family anywhere nearby, if they are even still alive.  She has dated several men in her time, but nothing serious ever came from any of them. She has an advanced knowledge of defensive tactics, weapons, and tactics. Many would have seen her as the life of a party, very popular and having many friends.  But the truth was, she has few true friends and recognized this.  She is an avid runner and ans a result has stayed very fit.

After the world went south, Talya went searching for people she knew.  She found Liam and took it upon herself to care for him in his distraught state.  She is Liam’s right hand and most trusted adviser.  Though technically his second in command, they tend to command the militia together.

Rachel Tabor

Height: 5’3″

Weight:  115

Hair: Brown

Eyes:  Brown

Description: Short, thin, and has a plain look.

Bio: Before the end of the world, Rachel was an Army wife.  He husband was deployed and when the government collapsed they didn’t fly him home.  He was left behind with the rest of the troops to fend for himself.  She studied to be a Teacher in school, but was never employed as one.  Rachel was once a rather shy person, and may still be, but the Army life has forced her to come out of her shell to make friends.  She lived on base housing, so she was the last to be exposed to the effects of the rest of the world’s suffering.

The military was one of the last things to collapse in the government, and when it finally did most of the world had long since though the government was dead.  Rachel was given a choice.  Stay where she was and continue on with life the best she could, or take a ration of gas and go where she wanted.  Rachel chose to head south to her hometown.  Though she knew most every one was dead, she had head rumor of one particular person she once knew.  Liam Fisher, her one time high school sweetheart, so she set out to find him.

Take the quiz to find out which of the characters you are. Click the image to find out.

Take the quiz to find out which of the characters you are. Click the image to find out.

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Where is Lagoon Hills?

Image by Richard Flores IV

Image by Richard Flores IV

So often, when I write stories, I stay pretty ambiguous about where the locations are.  With Dissolution of Peace, space was a vast enough location that specifics were rarely needed on specific earthly locations.  With Volition Agent, I tried to keep the cities generic because I wanted the story to feel like it could have taken place anywhere.  But I did touch base on a few cities to give a general location.

With Broken Trust, I picked a specific location that I knew.  The world of this story is vast and there are countless cities I could have written in.  But instead I picked Lagoon Hills.  And where is Lagoon Hills in relation to today’s world?  Right outside of Vacaville, California.  I took a few liberties with the location, adding a river and more a circular motion of the hills.  I also distanced it from the freeway a bit.

Growing up in Vacaville, I’ve been to Lagoon Valley Park many times.  I’ve driven past it more times than anyone could count.  As a child I would ride my bike out there all the time.  And as I got older, driving out there with friends was always something fun to do.  The location isn’t really a lagoon in the text book definition.  I guess it would be a lake?  But it is one of the smallest I’ve seen.  California is a drought ridden state right now, so it is even lower than I remember it growing up.

When I was putting together the world of Broken Trust, I realized that I needed a location for the main city.  I knew that Liam was going to be a person who was defensive minded.  And when you drive by this little lake every day, you can’t help but start to see some of the advantages to establishing a new city there.

Of course, the location is fictitious, and though based on this location they aren’t exactly the same.  But that is the joy of fiction,

Picture by Richard Flores IV

Picture by Richard Flores IV

especially fiction set in the future, you get to take certain liberties on the location.

But this location has more that just a defensive posture I was looking for.  It also had a key factor:  Being surrounded by population centers, but not right on top of them.  Lagoon Valley is about an hour from both Sacramento and San Francisco.  One of the things I theorized in creating this world, is that when everything was said and done, and the world as we knew it was over, people would eventually want to band back together.  And chances are they’d head for the major population centers.  More survivors would be in the major population areas, just by the odds.

It was important, though not completely shown in this novel, that Liam and his friends be the biggest-little guys.  I wanted them to be surrounded by other groups of people, or City-States, because it becomes an important part of both Broken Trust, and any possible sequels.

Another reason, I couldn’t resist a chance to give a little shout out to my hometown, where I lived most of my life.  So that is the behind the scenes on the location of Lagoon Hills.

Don’t forget, you can preorder Broken Trust now until May 28th. m It released worldwide May 29, 2014.

Would you want to live in Lagoon-Hills? Or are one of the other City-States better for you?  Take the quiz to find out.  Click the image below to get started.

broken trust quiz 2

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Surviving “The End”: How Broken Trust Came to Be

One of the most common questions any author gets asked is, “Where did you come up with that idea?”  Well, that might be second only to, “When are going to bed?”  But the truth is each idea comes from someplace new.  The number one source for my short stories is the dream realm.  But oddly enough my novels never come from the things I dream.

Broken Trust is no different than my first two novels, in that small ideas slowly grew into something larger than life.  But Broken Trust is very different in one key way, the world in which it happens.  I spent more time working on the world of Broken Trust than it took to write it, edit it, send it to beta readers, edit it again, and have my editor fix it.  That is something that was new for me.

You see I am a “seat of my pants” writer.  I don’t outline, I don’t plan.  I get the ideas in my head, formulate a story line, put the character into the box, and I let them play.  It isn’t the easiest way to write, I know plenty of authors who cringe at the thought of no outlines.  I even know many authors with giant cork boards used for plotting out their epic novels.

But, Broken Trust did have a little planning in it.  But it happened by accident.

Let me back up to beginning. I started a short story, I never finished it.  The story was about an ex-cop who survived a recent mass extinction event.  The event was caused by the over use of antibiotics leading to a super bug that devastated the human race in a short amount of time.  Anyway, I began to write about this man and what he was doing.  Eventually the goal was to lead him along to the end of the story in which he discovers a group of humans trying to rebuild some resemblance of a society.

And that sparked a thought in my head.  What would the rebuild be like?  So I started planning that aspect of the story.  I wondered about the whole world.  And I started to craft all these different population groups, with different government structures all around the world.  The world grew and grew.

And, well it out grew a short story.  It even outgrew the story I had originally planned to tell.  I decided that I wanted to focus more on the world several years after the apocalypse after many in the world were starting to shift from survival to rebirth.  And that was the initial start to what is now Broken Trust.

The story evolved even more since that point.  It became very much about how damaging to would be on people to survive in a situation like that.  It became about people taking on roles in life they never thought they would, and do things they never wanted to do.  It became about friendship, love, and very much a story about people. Characters who were supposed to be background and secondary characters jumped up and demanded more attention. And, as my characters often do, they took the sandbox I gave them and built a wonderful story.

The story is a lot like my other stories, in that it follows a three main character format.  The story has heavy romantic overtones, and has some of my trademark action sequences.

Be sure to check it out.  The book is available for preorder from now until May 28th.  You can get it for up to 50% off the cover price.  Preorder the paperback and I will sign it too.  It releases worldwide on Amazon May 29th.

Here is the book blurb:

broken trustEarth is no longer teeming with human life. After a major mass extinction event, the world is no longer able to function as it once had. Governments have collapsed and those that survived are left to figure out what is next for the human race.

Liam Fisher never wanted to be a leader. But after finding survivors, protecting them, and founding the city-state of Lagoon Hills; the people demanded he be their leader. Instead, Liam agreed to sit on a Council with four other leaders.

Together with Talya Brooks, the person who saved his life after the collapse, Liam runs the militia of Lagoon Hills. And though it was tough early on, the people of the city now live in relative comfort and safety.

But Liam is fighting his own personal demons: The loss of his wife and unborn son. Rachel, a past lover he never really got over, has suddenly arrived at the city gates. And the mounting stress of a neighboring city-state threatening war.

The people of Lagoon Hills are counting on Liam for their safety. Can he keep himself together and be the leader everyone wants him to be? Or will the people closest to him be the greatest threat of all?

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Updates: Moving, Depression, and Failing to Write

The Bad

I Don't KnowAs a pessimist, I’ll start with the bad first.

Some of you may know from previous posts, and if you follow me on social media, that I recently underwent a major move.  I moved from my hometown of Vacaville, CA to Auburn, Washington.  I’ve rarely left the State of California for vacation.  The farthest I lived from Vacaville was about 5 years in Folsom, CA about an hour away.  So needless to say moving two states away was a big move, and a little bit scary of one too.

To top it off, I’ve gone from a four bedroom house to a three bedroom apartment.  This is another big adjustment.  I am not used to neighbors walking around above me.  Or having to walk forever to the trash.  Or even the smaller size of an apartment.  My family has had to adjust to the smaller spaces and the lack of a yard, or other things we are used to having in a house.

Family is another thing that has changed a bit.  This move was originally planned for the middle of June.  When the kids would be out of school and there would be time for my wife to transfer her job.  But my landlord told us we needed to move right before the holidays.  I had already been fired from my job.  So after a long talk with my wife, we decided that it was practical to move twice.  Once locally and then again six months later in June.  So we had to accelerate the plans.

So Amy and I drove all our belonging up to Washington.  Amy flew back to California and I was left up here alone.  I got really sick (I had already been fighting a cold).  And in the end I didn’t get anything done in the first week.  Things like getting a job didn’t happen.  Then Amy brought our kids up after they finished out the schooling and started winter break.  Then Amy went back to California.  She has to keep working down there until her job transfers, a date that hasn’t been set yet.  So I spent Christmas with the boys.  This is the first Christmas Amy and I haven’t had together in over 10 years.  Even thought one of us always seemed to have to work, we saw each other.

So it has been hard.  I have been suffering form a bit of depression and though I know that is normal, I can’t really slip past it.  I find myself sleeping late, moping around the house.  I force myself to go out, but it isn’t as much fun as it should be.  And the main thing that has suffered is my writing.  I haven’t written anything in almost a month.  I haven’t even opened any of my projects to review.

There have been a lot of delays to add to a already depressed Richard.  For example, I had planned to have responses from beta readers on Broken Trust by December 1.  All but one reader bailed out on me and hasn’t even bothered to respond.  So now I am looking for a new set of readers to look over this.  If you beta read for me, I’ll send you a signed paperback copy of the book when it is released as a Thank You gift (US Residents).  Contact me if you are interested.

Dissolution of Peace CoverThe fixes on Dissolution of Peace are still delayed by the editor.  She is doing the absolute best she can, but delays keep jumping up all over the place.  Hopefully the second edition can be released in January, but I can’t make any more promises on that.

The sequel to Dissolution of Peace is slow going.  Perhaps I should explain why.  Aside from the depression and busy life I’ve had, I am not sure I like how the sequel is progressing.  Originally I wrote the manuscripts for three novels.  The first is now Dissolution of Peace.  The second occurred after a lot of time had passed since the end of the first.  I made a decision that I owed the readers the story that occurred during this time lapse.  So I decided that was what I would write as the sequel.  The problem is, it isn’t progressing the way I thought it would.  I think part of this is my own self being critical of my work.  Depression and a lack of interest in writing anything is probably a huge factor too.

What I really needed to to was to break the slump in my lack of writing.  With all this free time on my hands, I should be writing more not less.  And I should be writing for my own sanity.  Since most of my books are still packed, I need this escape.  As I have mentioned several times over writing is my stress relief.  But honestly, it seems to be the first thing I am distracted from when I get upset.

The Good

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I’ve wanted to move to Washington for over four years.  I’m finally here.  That part I am thrilled about.  This is very beautiful country.  I love the rain, the evergreens, the natural beauty, and the state parks.  Yesterday I discovered Flaming Geyser State Park which is only about 20 minutes from me.  I think I could spend a long time sitting there writing while listening to the rivers and streams.  And I’ll be exploring some more of the State Parks later this week.  My own apartment complex is nestled in the hills surrounded by trees and it is a beautiful setting.  I’ve posted a few pictures here.IMG_20131215_090431_970

The downsizing has also been good.  I’ve managed to purge a lot of stuff I probably should have thrown out years ago.  I made a lot of charitable donations before I left Vacaville with the stuff my family no longer needed.  It has also allowed me to better organize myself since my office has to be shared with my bedroom.  And when Amy does move up here, she won’t want my office clutter everywhere.  There are a few pluses to living in an apartment too.  Things like no yard to maintain, no trash or water bills, and generally lower electric costs.  The lower rent also helps.  Unlike Vacaville, the apartment rents in Auburn are cheaper than the house rents.  And the saved money will be going into our “buy a house” fund.  Something that is on my two years goal list.

There is good news from Broken Trust.  I have cover art for the novel ready.  Mallory Rock, a great cover artist, did this cover for me.  I had a lot of trouble with this cover.  I really wanted to see certain things from it.  But I couldn’t hit the mark.  Mallory managed to hit the mark with this one.  Even thought it didn’t hit all the check boxes I wanted, it did give me what I needed.  A cover that was amazing and reflects the feel of the novel.  Don’t forget, you can get a free signed copy by being a beta reader for this book.  Read an early copy of this book, give me your thoughts and suggestions, and not only will you help shape the book.  I’ll send you a free copy, signed by me.

broken trust

Dissolution of Peace got a very nice shout out on Twitter from @CWVanderReyden.  His rave reviews of my book led to another person buying the book.  This is the first time that I have known of a direct recommendation resulting in the buying of my book.  And it was a simple word of mouth review.  I appreciate those types of reviews and praise a lot.  In many cases they can be more valuable that the professional reviewer.  So please leave  a review of my books on Amazon and Goodreads.  And tell a friend.  They can really make my day when I find out about them.twitter shout out

I forced myself to blog today.  That means I finally wrote something.  I’m hoping that means that when I am done here (and done making my kids lunch), I’ll start writing again on the next novel.  I need to crank that out and get it going for release in 2014.  I had a lofty goal of releasing three novels in 2014.  I think it can be done with how far along Broken Trust is.  But it will be a challenge just the same.  But the only way it will be done it to write.

And though my wife is not here with me, I do have the advantages of Google+ hangout to see her.  And she will be flying up to see us to the end of January.  And we will just keep our fingers crossed that her job transfer comes quickly and we won’t have to wait out too much longer.  There are a lot of couples who have to spend countless time apart, and I just have to remain optimistic that this will all work out in the long run.

And that about summarizes this move for me.  We moved to Washington to make a change that we couldn’t do in California.  And now that we have made the move, I have to remain optimistic that this was the right choice and that it will all fall into place soon enough.

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I Don’t Have Time: Setting Priorities

008968716-clock-and-gears-looping-animat-713-57Time seems to be something that is rather slippery.  It is also the first thing people ask me about when they find out I am a writer. “How do you have the time?”  Other people who aspire to be authors will tell me, “I wish I could be a writer, I just don’t have the time.” I often find myself running out of time before ever getting to work on the projects I promised myself I would do, especially my writing.

But we all have the same number of hours per day.  We each get 24 hours.  I spend eight of mine asleep.  And since today is my day off from work, I should still have 16 hours to do everything I wanted to do… right? I woke up with that intention.  But, I’d already slept in an extra hour.  Than I spent another hour laying in bed wondering why I didn’t get out of bed.  I spent another two and half hours tinkering with Plasma Frequency‘s website, which was a projects I planned to leave alone for today.  I spent another few minutes thinking about lunch, and now I am finally sitting down to write this blog post.  I’m only about four hours behind schedule.

Now that I am typing I finally feel like I am getting something done.  But really, I had a lot more planned to do today.  I was supposed to write a lot more in my current work in progress and I was supposed to get some time to do a little more reading.  But in two hours from now I get the kids from school.  After that it is snack time, homework time, dinner time, and then I can relax.  No wait, next I have a sports league board meeting to attend.  Once I get home from that I have to get the kids to bed and go to bed myself.  I have a 5 am shift at work tomorrow.

What was supposed to be a day of writing, maybe even 5,000 more words written in my next novel, is actually going to wind up being little more than a blog post day.  Where did all the time go?  It went right out the widow with a lack of priorities.

When I was at WorldCon, I really wanted to be like these folks I saw on panels.  I wanted to speak, teach, and help other writers.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that this year.  What I was able to do was listen.  And when I really heard what people were saying, I learned.  One thing that really spoke to me came from a panel that I ducked into while waiting for the next one to start.  Unfortunately I don’t know the name of it, or who to give credit to.  But the speaker said, that you had to set priorities if you wanted to be successful as a writer.  And writing had to be a top priority.  Family should come first, keeping a roof over your head and meals on the table had to be next, and third you needed to focus on what you wanted.

I am paraphrasing, and again I apologize that I can’t figure out who said this.  But it really spoke to me.  I’ve spent my recent years trying so hard to be so successful at something, that I am not being successful at anything.  In recent years I have tried two runs for City Council, I volunteered for a sports league’s board or directors, started a magazine company, published two novels, took a trip to Texas, got a promotion at work, started two other novels, and took on coaching a soccer team.  This is just some of what I am doing.  And all of it means that I am trying to do too much.

Now, let me factor in that lazy time.  You know the time I check Facebook and Twitter every ten minutes.  Or the time I spend just sitting on the couch watching TV that I don’t even really care about.  The aimless internet browsing for no real reason.  Or the time I spend just plain sitting on my ass doing nothing.

So I decided to set my priorities in order.  It is time I consider what I really want in life.  I want a family that loves and supports me, which I have.  And I want to contribute real value to the science fiction and fantasy community. My goal is to write quality fiction, and publish quality magazines.

My first priority has to be my family.  There is only so much time any of us has on this planet and I don’t want to remain forever locked away from my family either.  So I’ve committed to try to get out to more family vacations.  When I went to WorldCon, that was the first vacation my family had together since my wife and I had our honeymoon.  Ten years of no vacations made things rough.

My second priority is to keep my family fed, clothed, and sheltered.  Right now, that means I need the day job.  It pays for those vacations I mentioned above, but it also pays to keep the lights on and the roof over our heads.  So for the time being working a “real” job is a priority.

My third priority to become a successful contributor to the writing community, namely in science fiction and fantasy.  I do that through two methods.  I publish short fiction through Plasma Frequency and I write my own books.

Everything else is not that important.  I enjoy volunteering with the sports league, but I don’t think I will coach after this season.  The time I have to volunteer will be spent on the board of directors.  Facebook and Twitter are important to my writing, but not more important than writing itself.  I will continue to do my best to blog weekly, this is after all writing.  But the aimless TV watching for no reason (I’m not giving up Sharks hockey) will have to stop.  Reading is an important part of writing, so I think I can squeeze that in where it fits.  I can read while I wait to pick up the kids.  Or while they are doing their homework.

I also intent to buy a laptop or tablet I can write on.  Right now I do all my writing on a desktop and that limits the time I have to do it.  Hopefully getting more portable will help.  But I don’t know when I will be able to do that.

All and all, priorities have to be set in order to succeed.  Will I always stick to this plan?  No.  But if I try I know I can be very successful.  It just takes time and hard work, and I am prepared to dedicate both to my goals.

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LoneStarCon 3: WorldCon from a First Timer’s Point of View

LoneStarCon 3, or the 71st Annual World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), was held from August 29th to September 2nd, 2013.  Those who know me, know I have been trying to get to a WorldCon for three years.  After missing Reno and Chicago, I was finally able to go to San Antonio, Texas for this year’s WorldCon.  I was excited and nervous.  I have not been to any type of convention before, but I was ready to lose my con-ginity and experience a Con for all it was worth.

Location

First let me talk about the facilities.  WorldCon was held at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in downtown San Antonio.  There were also many events, including the masquerade and the Hugo Awards held at the Marriott Rivercenter hotel.  The Rivercenter Hotel was also the hotel my family stayed at.

IMG_0533The convention center was very big.  There were certainly enough rooms to host tons of activities going on at one time.  There were three floors of activities going on at any one time, with the main Exhibit Hall being located on the ground level.  The exhibit hall has very well laid out with the art show as you entered.  There were several exhibits, the dealers room, as well as the different Con bidders tables.  They also had the ballroom in use.  The panel and reading room were always quickly turned over by the staff of the convention center getting everything ready for the next event is a short amount of time.

IMG_0522The Rivercenter Hotel was beautiful place to stay.  The rooms were comfortable and clean.  The staff was very helpful.  The one time I had a problem in my room the staff was very quick to reach a resolve and took care of me to make the remaining time I stayed there comfortable.  The only complaint I had was that I was not allowed to use the luggage carts.  When I was ready to check out, I attempted to get a luggage cart from the lobby and I was stopped by one of the employees.  They told me that an employee had to use the luggage carts and that I had to call them when I was ready.  Of course, after several days at a convention I was fairly broke, and I really didn’t want to tip a bellman.  I know this sounds cheap of me, but I was simply out of money.  In any case, that is really a minor issue from such an phenomenal hotel.

The hotel Grand Salon and conference rooms played host to many nighttime activities at the site.  There rooms were a pretty good size and the facilities were always ready and set up for the next activity.

IMG_0244All the facilities were located within walking distance on the magnificent River Walk.  I never had to set foot on any busy downtown streets.  The river walk led to everything I needed to go to, including shops and dining.  It made for beautiful scenery to start and end my days at the convention.  However, once the weekend really started, the river walk became a congested mess.  to make matters worse they had set up these tacky displays that took up the walkway.  Then people stopped to look at these booths and the whole thing became a mess.  I was really surprised no one was knocked into the river.  Now keep in mind none of this is anything that the LoneStarCon 3 could control as the Riverwalk is a completely separate entity from anything involved in LoneStarCon 3.

Overall the facilities for LoneStarCon 3 were excellent.

Programming

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Next, let me talk about the events and exhibits.

IMG_0579The exhibit hall was a huge facility.  They had a mock up of the Starship Enterprise bridge.  It had been put in the program that there would be times we could take pictures in the Captain’s chair.  I really looked forward to that.  However the display never had a schedule listed, and every time I was in there (which is a lot of time) there was never anyone staffing that display.

They also had Doctor Who display with Daleks and the TARDIS.  My kids loved that display and they always wanted to check it out.  Taking pictures was hard, since it was a closed off display.

The other display my kids loved was the LEGO display which had a large display of the different displays.  They even changed it up regularly so you found a lot of funny things that moved or changed through out. They also made a giant LEGO rocket during the convention

The art display was stunning. No photography was allowed so I wasn’t able to take pictures.  But I could have easily spent several thousand dollars there.  I did buy one piece that is currently being shipped to my house. I walked through the art display more times then I care to admit.  It was really amazing.

TIMG_0186hey also had a great display of Hugo awards and other items from the WorldCons in the past.

Each day was supposed to have a theme in the Exhibit Hall, but every day nothing really changed.  It was the same displays each day.  That or the changes were so subtle I never noticed.  Overall, the Exhibits were repetitive in nature and it might have been nice to see some more exhibits in there, there was certainly space for it.  I would say the Exhibits were good though.  I did enjoy most of them.

The dealers room was also housed in the Exhibit Hall, which I didn’t really like.  But the dealers were a selection of various different types of products.  I did purchase from the Angry Robot booth, Amy Adams’ booth, Pegasus Publishing, Epic Buttons, and Wire Rim books.  That was really just a fraction of what was there, and what I might have liked to buy given I had a bit more money.

I would say the dealer selection was great and the quality of the products was great.

IMG_0862Off to the side, where in my opinion they should have put the dealers, was the Con voting and booths.  Each year WorldCon members get to vote for the next Cons, in this case 2015.  I voted for Spokane, for the main reason that I can drive there easily.  Spokane won and I was excited to hear that.  We also voted for the NASFiC, which is held when WorldCon will be over seas.  WorldCon in 2014 will be held in London.  So I voted we have the NASFiC in Phoenix (again because I can drive).  However, Detroit won.  I also bough a supporting membership for Loncon 3 (London), in the small dream that I might be able to go next year.

The press booth was also in this area.  I stopped by there on my first day. I had registered as Press for Plasma Frequency because I am going to cover the Hugo Awards for our next issue.  The lady was not rude but she was very harsh with me, saying that I wasn’t allowed in the press booth because it wasn’t open for the public.  But when she same my membership, I guess she recognized my name from her list.  She was very apologetic.  Unfortunately, I had another harsh run in with someone when I got to the press area.  Clearly the press staff was under a bit of stress since they seemed to be so edgy.  None of it was big deal, but as a first timer and a first time press person is made me feel a bit unwelcome.

IMG_0664There were a lot of panels to attend.  I really wish I could get to them all, but I had trouble even getting to all the ones I wanted to go to.  The two social media panels were outstanding.  I learned a lot and I will be significantly changing the way I handle my social media pages.

The Self Promotion, Military SF, and writing combat were some of my favorites as well.  Though I wished the writing combat one talked a bit more about writing styles to use when writing combat rather than making sure you know what you are writing about.

The only panel I walked out of was Writing outside Genre.  It just wasn’t covering the topic in my opinion.  It seemed to be more about the panelists.  My other critique would be that the first time WorldCon panel, the panel for first time World Con attendees to learn about the program, wasn’t held until Saturday.  By then I had already spent two full days on at the convetion, and had missed out on a lot of things that I could have been taking advantage of.  Things like the parties and the Con Suite which I knew nothing about.  I could have saved a ton of money on drinks had I know I could stop by the con suite for water.

Overall though the panels were a wealth of information for me as a writer, and me as a short story publisher.  They had panels on both the craft of writing and the business of writing.  The program was diverse and I really wish I could have go to more, but the kids needed time with dad too.

Which leads me to the kids programing.  My wife did a lot more of that with them then I did.  The first day I spent a lot of time there and I really enjoyed the activities and planning that went into each activity.  But on Monday when I went in the I so furious with how unorganized the Lego Doctor Who stuff was.  My kids were by far the most excited for that event and it quickly turned into a mess.  It just was ever lead, and the kids took over.  My boys managed to get a Dalek built but couldn’t build a TARDIS because by that time the younger kids had been pushed out by the olders.

IMG_0876The childcare facility, Kiddiecorp, was a nice.  There were not a lot of children there and my kids had a blast while I enjoyed a date night with my wife.  As a member, the kids each got six free hours, though I think we only used three.  I am always a bit nervous about leaving my kids with any babysitter, but the Kiddiecorp staff was great.

I only managed to attend one Film viewing.  Though I watched Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope staring Brett Stimely and directed by Eric Tozzi.  I have a love for Ray Bradbury and Kaleidoscope is one of those stories that is difficult to imagine in a film.  But this film absolutely nails it.  It is fifteen minutes of genius and I really liked it.  From the fragments of other films that I saw, there was a ton of talent in these films.  The next time that I go, I will need to see more of the films.

I also had a chance to attend only one reading.  And it came out of surprise really.  I had attended a social media panel that had only two panelists.  One was a last minute addition, Emma Newman.  I absolutely loved what she had to say in that panel that I did two things the next day. I bought two of her books, and I went to her reading.  Emma did such a great job in the reading that I wished I had attended more readings too.

Until Next Time

When it came time for me to leave on Monday, I nearly broke down in tears.  I don’t mean that as some type of joke.  I literally was misty eyed. There was such a mixture of emotions from that trip.  I had so much fun, I learned so much, and yet I feel like I missed so much.  I was so happy to have a vacation with my family, something I have not had in ten years.  I was sad because I doubt I will get to London to do it again next year.  I was disappointed it was over.  I had wanted to quit my job and dedicate my life to science fiction. But that job is the only way I can afford to come out to conventions, publish my books, and keep Plasma Frequency going.  I was worried it might be ten more years before I can afford another vacation. I also have a horrible memory.  I don’t remember a lot about anything long term.  The thought of forgetting this family trip was the most frightening of all.  My memory issues scare me more every year, and no one seems to take  it serious. But I digress.  The convention was such a great time, both as a person in the industry and as a family vacation.  I can only hope that I can somehow continue to attend WorldCons for many many more years.

P.S. You may have noticed I made no mention of the Masquerade Ball or the Hugo Awards.  I plan to cover the Hugo Awards in depth in Plasma Frequency.  And, unfortunately, I missed the Masquerade Ball.

 

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