Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey readers! I’m getting this post ready beforehand, because when this hits, I’ll be at my brothers place for Thanksgiving, hopefully getting stuffed with Turkey and making a big old bowl of garlic mashed potatoes.

I hope all of you that have the chance are doing something similar and getting ready for a Thanksgiving dinner. This site has global reach and audience (I see those hits coming in from all over) so I know it won’t be everyone, but I hope wherever you are, you’re having a great time.

Lastly, Thanksgiving is a day when, traditionally, we’re supposed to express thanks for what we have. Some people pick something to declare thankfullness for. It can be anything, as long as you’re thankful for it.

So I’m going to say two things. The first is that I’m really thankful I got Jungle out this year. It was a colossal amount of work and a gargantuan effort … but it’s finally out. Colony has the sequel it waited so long to see.

Second, I’m thankful for those readers of this site that have stuck around, shared links, bought books, supported on Patreon, and otherwise interacted with this site in a way that keeps me from being homeless. It’s been a tight year this year, with the only way I’ve made it through quite a few months entirely because of income from my writing. So to all those of you that share these articles on Facebook or Reddit, or enjoy buying and sharing my books, or supporting on Patreon: I am extremely thankful for you guys. I have a roof over my head only because of that aid.

Thank you, and have a great thanksgiving.

And … since you’re here … What are you all thankful for this year?

Being a Better Writer Topic Call!

Hey readers! It’s time! Being a Better Writer is building a new topic list, so while you can, get what you’d like to hear about on it!

That’s right, it’s a topic call! While I get back to work on Axtara (coming along nicely) and watch the first few reviews for Jungle roll in (all positive so far!), I can’t forget that Being a Better Writer, as always, runs every Monday (barring the rare exception) and so will be back after this weekend!

So then … what do you, the readers, want to hear about? What writing topics would you like to see covered? Post what you’d like to hear about in the comments below!

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Shifting Gears

So, I’ve had a lot of people ask me the same question over the last few weeks, especially as work on Jungle wound down and slowed. Sometimes their wording is a bit different, sometimes it’s the same. But all of it boils down to one simple concept: Now what?

It’s not hard to see where that question is coming from. Finishing up a project like Jungle (now available for pre-order, just plugging that now) is kind of like reaching the top of a titanic mountain. First comes elation, then wonder at the grandeur … But eventually, as you sit there looking around, the question does arise in your mind of “Now what?”

Well, maybe I can answer that for the many people who’ve asked or have been wondering but haven’t quite gotten the curiosity to ask yet. Now what?

Well, I know what. Even if I’ve asked myself the question before. This morning, when I woke up, it hit me that Jungle was, for all intents and purpose, DONE. All that’s left is to upload the final file. And make a last-minute paranoia check that yes, it is done.

But … that doesn’t mean that I’ll be sitting around wondering what to do next. I already know what I’m doing next. I’ll be starting work on Axtara – Banking and Finance again. Which means once this post is done, I’ll be rereading what’s been written so far to catch myself up and then I’ll be working on getting that draft finished. Plus, I’d really like to do another chapter of Stranded, and then there’s Fireteam Freelance to start, which will be my next big project. After that, Starforge, and then …

Point is, I know what I have to do next. Writing, like other jobs, is a form of work. Which means no sooner do you get something done than you know there’s going to be something else to do. There’s always more to do.

But … if I’m honest, that’s not really what people are asking. Okay, some of them are. Some of them genuinely are shocked that writers plan ahead. Probably because they’re in that sector of writing experience where they believe that writing comes from a “muse” and once the project is over, that muse is gone.

Most people know that’s not true though, and that writing is work. So they’re not asking “Now what?” in the sense of “What will you do next?” Rather, they’re asking something that’s a bit more on-point. They’re asking “How will you do next?”

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The Pitfall with Patreon

Okay, I realize that this title may be attention-grabbing enough to start people off with the wrong ideas. So I’m going to make it clear right up front: I am extremely grateful and thankful to those of you who donate to my Patreon. There have been months where I’ve only gotten by thanks to the kind and generous donations of my Patreon supporters. Writing is … a tough job. It doesn’t pay great pretty much until it does. But I am forever grateful to those of you that donate a little bit of your income each month as a thanks for the articles I post. I couldn’t do Being a Better Writer without you guys (especially as BaBW is ad and subscription free).

No, this post isn’t to have issue with that. Rather, it’s to bring up something I’ve mentioned before. An issue with Patreon that’s, well, quite prevalent. And ultimately, a death sentence if someone falls into its trap. Which I’ve seen happen more than once.

It’s not the fault of Patreon, and I don’t wish to insinuate that. I believe it has more to do with human nature, and the idea of “being owed.”

Okay, so let me just dive right into things. Patreon, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a modern take on the “Patron of the Arts” idea. See, back in the old days of history, “Patrons” of artists would basically donate money to various artists, musicians, so that these artists would have money to live while they made their creations. You have to realize the idea of a musician selling records is entirely unique to our modern era. If a talented young musician, say a classical composer, wanted to be a classical composer, they could find a patron who would support them with money for living needs in exchange for the musician creating music. If they stopped creating, the patron would stop funding them.

Patreon is the digital equivalent of this concept. Find a webcomic you like? An artist? A modder? Any sort of creative soul you want to support? You can support this person on Patreon, donating them a sum of money each month. The idea being if that 100 people donate $5 each, that creator then makes $500. So for the cost of a half-price lunch a month, 100 people can support their favorite webcomic creator, for example.

Cool, right? I agree. It’s a modern take on the “Patron of the Arts” formula.

But not one without its weaknesses. And it’s flaws. Some of which are, without mincing words, almost deadly to a creator.

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The Shifting Tide of Employment – Follow Up

Hey there readers! Sorry for the lateness of this post. I just wanted to get a bit more work done on Axtara: Banking and Finance before I had a work shift tonight. But speaking of work, remember that post I made about two weeks ago about how employment as we know it is soon going to shift completely as increasing automation quickly overtakes everything? The one where I pointed out it’s already happening and only accelerating, and we need to figure out how we’re going to adapt to it?

If you don’t, or haven’t read it, than you really should. Not just because it’ll give some needed context to this post, but because it may bring to light some things you didn’t know or realize and should probably be thinking about. It was called The Shifting Tide of Employment – The Sci-Fi Future is Already Here. It produced a lot of talk in comments here and on other sites where it was linked, because most people don’t realize how swiftly this change is moving. It’s not “when will it come” because it’s already here. Which is kind of the point of the post, along with a note that in my personal opinion, as a culture and a society we are not prepared in the slightest for the magnitude of change this will bring.

And then yesterday, things shifted again. In my first post, or at least in one of the comments, I compared the coming of automation to be an avalanche that’s already started. We can’t stop it, but we need to figure out how we’re going to weather it. It can be a good thing, or a bad thing, but we need to make those decision now, not later. A video someone mentioned in the comments (and I’ll link it again in this post for good measure) compares us to horses looking at the car and wondering if it’ll ever replace us.

Yes. The answer is yes. And this week, we moved a step closer. Take a look at this video from Boston Dynamics:

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Invisible Censorship and Books

I made an interesting and alarming discovery a few weeks ago.

Like most authors, I happen to love reading books as well. Between my local library, the occasional purchase, and my Kindle, I go through a good number of them every year. I have my entire life. Sands, in my small-town library, if I happened to be around the librarians would sometimes ask me if I knew a book a patron was asking about. I read a lot.

So, naturally, I gravitate to places online that talk about books. Forums that offer book reviews, or book chats, etc etc.

It was on one of these forums that I discovered an extremely disturbing trend.

Let me catch you up. One of the book places I hung out at quite regularly—or did, before this discovery, which all but killed my interest in it—was a place for book recommendations. It was pretty simple and straightforward: One person posts what they’re looking for, be it a historical romance with specific traits, or just something like what they’d already read and enjoyed, like Dune. Then, participants could post replies listing, detailing, or talking about other books that the poster might be interested in.

Good idea, right? I sure thought so. And so I went to it. It was fun dredging my brain sometimes for lesser-known authors or books that someone might have missed, or thinking “Oh, what was the name of that book!” and digging back several years through my Goodreads list to find it.

It was pretty good … Or so I thought.

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What Can You Do For Your Favorite Authors?

Apologies for this post being a little late today, but I wanted to get some other writing stuff done first. This week has been … chaotic.

But now it’s here. So then, what’s that title all about?

Well, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a bit of self-serving logic behind this. Because, after all, I am an author, and yes, I do like to see support!

But it’s a question I’ve not just heard from my own readers, or mused on my own about. I’ve heard folks in person talking about their favorite book saying “Well, I read it, I bought it, so I don’t know what else to do.”

It’s a legitimate question! After all, unlike musicians, authors don’t go “on tour” in the same way, doing “writing concerts” and mosh-pitting. And when they do go on book tours, they’re something that is free to attend. At most, people buy a new book to get it signed, but many of the people that show up already have a book they want signed.

Same with panels or conventions. The authors that come to those do so out of their own pocket. They may sell items in a vendor hall, but no one pays them for paneling or putting in appearances. It’s all voluntary.

The point I’m making here is that authors aren’t like a lot of other celebrities or purveyors of the arts. They don’t get paid for public appearances, they don’t get paid for gigs … They make money from their books, and their books alone. Maybe some movie rights if they get lucky. Or merchandising. But you’ve got to be big for those to happen. Big enough that the money is just extra on top of a very stable income.

They’re not like musicians where you can buy an album, then a t-shirt, then go to a concert … Authors, basically, just don’t have the same avenues of support other artists have.

Sands, we’ve almost come to expect that too. It’s just become  the culture of our society. Who would pay money to see an author in person? For that matter, just look at this site. No ads, each Monday a new article on writing going up, all for free. Because that’s just how authors are in society.

Okay, I don’t honestly want to delve into that too far. The point I wanted to drive home was, as I said, that authors are kind of in a tricky space, insofar as fans “funding” them. There’s not much to it but book sales and merchandising.

This is why, I think, you have so many people who read a good book, enjoy said book, and then think to themselves (or say aloud, as I’ve heard it before) “I really liked this author, but what else can I do besides enjoy them?

Again, this makes sense. If you read something you enjoy, chances are you’d like to read more of it. Which means you want there to be more created, so you want to support the creator and let them know “Hey, this is good, make more of it!”

But with authors, those avenues are slim. So, how then, do you support an author you enjoy?

Well, there are ways. Let’s look at a few.

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