Category Archives: Uncategorized

My ConCarolinas Schedule!

Hey all,

If you’re in Charlotte, or can’t resist coming to town the first week of June,  come on over to http://www.concarolinas.org/

Here’s my schedule, or as final as they get before the fun starts. And FYI, I’ll be doing an hour long talk on Intellectual Property and protecting your art. Friday at 3:30.

Friday, June 2

3:30pm Legally Protecting Your Art  (Presentation)
6:00pm I, For One, Welcome Our Robot Overlords (Moderator)

11:30pm The Dark Side of the Internet
Saturday, June 3

10:00am Raising the Next Generation of Scientists (Moderator)

1:00pm Colonizing Mars (Moderator)

4:00pm Visiting Our Neighbors
7:00pm The Science of Star Wars
8:00pm Mental Health and Wellness for Creative People (Moderator)

11:30pm Evil Geniuses For a Better Tomorrow
Sunday, June 4

10:30am Hollywood and Science
12:30pm Folklore and Urban Legends (Moderator)
1:30pm How Science Fiction Influences Science Fact

My Ravencon Schedule!

A quick update – my RavenCon schedule this weekend! With updates!

Friday

 

5 pm (Panel) Where Do You Get Your Ideas? / Room G

5 – 7 pm (Private, Optional) Meet and Greet for Guests / Green Room

7 pm (Opening Ceremony) Large Auditorium

8 pm (Panel) Successfully Writing About Horrible Things / Room L

 

Saturday

 

10 am (Panel) Writing Tools: Analog v. Digital / Room G / Moderator

3 pm (Panel) Self-Publishing 2017 / Room G / Moderator

5 pm (Panel) Cleaning Up Your Prose / Room G

6 pm (Panel) Fantasy In the (Modern) City / Room 8

 

Sunday

 

10:25 – 10:50 am (Reading) Room 4

 

Start to the Holidays

Hello all,

NANOWRIMO is wrapping up, and I missed my content goals on some new work by… well… Anyway.

The good news is I did do a few events, get to meet and hang out with some fun people at the Internet Summit 2016 and Big Fandom Greenville, and started recording the new podcast.

And I got a lot of editing done.

Anyway, Melissa was nice enough to let me do a guest post over at the Enchanted Alley. Check it out! https://enchantedalley.com/2016/11/26/guest-post-jim-mcdonald/

‪#‎holdontothelight‬‪

holdontothelight

 

I write this on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. I remember that morning all too well. I was supposed to be on site, but had a short week to volunteer for an event that weekend, so I had stayed home. I had a small TV in my office in the house, that I rarely turned on.

I’d scheduled myself a pretty light week, and flipped on the news for background noise a couple of minutes before 9 AM that morning, and the first cameras were reaching the Trade Towers. I sent messages to a few people in the office as we serviced several companies in the area around the towers, and activated some of our internal business continuity processes.

Like so many people, I was locked on the news, and saw the second plane hit. At first, I thought someone had found footage of the first crash, but no. It was the second hit, live.

I’d lived in Charlotte for less than a year at that time, but being a financial center, business around town began evacuating downtown except for critical personnel. It didn’t affect me as I didn’t work except out of my house when I moved here, as I was on the road most of the time, but it was all over the local news.

Before long, we had cleared out most of our offices as soon as we realized the United States was under attack. People were traumatized.

As I reflect on that day, and every day since, I look at where we are. We are still a nation existing in fear. We are in a fifteen year old global war with no end in sight. We entrust huge bureaucracies to keep us “safe” by treating every single one of us as a criminal.

And that’s before we get to our own personal lives.

I have had many friends in military service come back from their second, third, fourth deployments or more. So many of them show the signs of stress, of PTSD.

I then look at the people I know who have never been deployed. The friends I have going through the stresses of life – Illness, divorce, unemployment, trauma and so much more. I’ve had my issues with depression. With stress. With no longer giving a damn. I’ve always been able to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

Unfortunately I have enough friends that can’t get that far. Friends for whom the burden holds them down. Or in some cases pushes them to a permanent solution. I just work every day to make sure I don’t let myself go down that path.

I think all of this has built to lead us to where we are now. We are a wounded and traumatized nation. We have had economic upheaval, riots in the streets, extreme fear and mistrust of our political and law enforcement institutions, and we barely trust our neighbor any more. We have emptied our packs of the tools that helped us thrive to load them with the burdens and stresses of the world.

It is no wonder so many of us live on the edge of paralysis.

I write all of this not to push you over the edge, but to say it’s time to get your shit together. Me too.

It’s easy to say, but hard as hell to do.

It can be easy to live in our pain, to revel in it, cherish it, and nurture it. When you do, you are building a time bomb that will take you with it when it goes off.  You’re feeding that inner demon a buffet. It may be fast, or it could be slow, but either way it’s destructive. Nothing good can come of it. And at some point, even your closest loved ones either run away to protect themselves, or get sucked in and go down with you. I sometimes wonder if we nationally aren’t bathing in our collective pain.

It’s time for us to all own up to our problems, and work on them. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were you. You are made up of all of your experiences – good and bad, ecstasy and trauma. Just like me, and everyone else.  Learning to deal with your problems and accept your traumas in life take time. It takes having help.

Sometimes it’s a beer and wings. Sometimes that help comes in the form of calling a friend at 2 AM, and talking your problems through. Sometimes it comes in the form of a therapist or other professional.

Life won’t always be easy. Sometimes it down right sucks. Just don’t try to do it alone.

The other morning, I was having a hell of a time getting motivated, and something popped up in my Facebook feed.

 

These mountains you are carrying, you were only meant to climb. – Najwa Zebian

 

Since the first time I ever saw this, it seems to appear as a mantra for me when I need it. For me, it reminds me to drop all of the bullshit that weighs me down, and there’s plenty I carry with me every day. And as long as you put one foot in front of the other going upwards, you’re getting closer to the top.

I believe we all have a possible point of greatness, which few of us will ever fully realize. I also don’t believe there is an apex, just peaks we can reach to discover there is a taller mountain next. Like a mountain climber, you never can succeed alone. There are always sherpas (mentors) to guide you along parts of the path and help carry the burden. You travel with other climbers who can pick you up when you slip, and you do the same for them.

We have to help ourselves first to help those around us.

I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m up for the journey, and there’s still an occasional hurricane even when you’re just hanging out on the beach. Grab a surfboard, ride the storm surge, and have your lifeguards for the times you wipe out. And be ready, when you have a friend in need.

More contributors can be found by following ##‎holdontothelight‬‪ and through:

DisquietingVisions.com

MagicalWords.net

AscendantKingdoms.com.

-Jim

Resources:

 The National Center for PTSD

Anxiety and Depression Society of America

 

#HoldOntoTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOntoTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

 

Headed to DragonCon 2016, and a FREE Story!

We’re headed to DragonCon, and to celebrate geekdom and Labor Day, if you use DCon2016, you can get Gnomebody’s Business for Free at http://www.infinitylimitedgroup.com/downloads/gnomebodys-business/

But there’s more! If you use the same code DCon2016, you get 25% off ALL titles at http://www.infinitylimitedgroup.com/authors/ from James P. McDonald and Calandra Usher!

Offer good through September 18, 2016!

 

UPDATE!

Made it home from Dragoncon to find out a ghost in the machine had fun with the giveaway! So now, you can use code DCon2016 to get Gnomebody’s Business AND Home Summonings # 1 Bound and Hagged for FREE until 9/18, and 25% off everything else with the code Dcon25!

See you next year, if not sooner!

Arrgghhhh, Pirates on the horizon

Here’s another drafted segment from the upcoming (and yet unnamed) Business 101 for Writers.

 

As you move forward in your career and get your work out there, you’re more likely to find your work borrowed, plagiarized, stolen, or outright pirated.
Arrrgghhh.
With the exception of a few Luddites and saints out there, we’ve all done it, whether it was copying a song off of a friend’s CD, ripping a movie from a torrent, or downloading a book. And I hate to be the messenger, but you stole it from the creator(s) and owner(s) when you did.
Now that you too are a creator of content, it can happen to you too. Once it happens, you need to carefully consider how you react.
If you are friends with or at least follow any number of writers and artists online, you may have already seen someone who’s not only had the problem, but has aired it out on their blog and all over social media.
In 2012 when I’d just started seriously writing again, a friend of mine who is a non-fiction writer posted a small rant about having found a book being torrented on a file sharing site. Then the second post hit. And the third. After a couple of weeks with at least one post a day, detailing what was a virtual seek and destroy mission, even tracking down some of the people who’d done the downloads and hitting them with an invoice.
Seeing this, I reached out to him and we had an informal chat to try and talk him off the cliff. As I dug in, it turned out it hadn’t been going on for weeks, but over two months.
I told him that as a friend and a writer, it it painful and feels like a violation. I then told him that if he was my client, he was being an idiot. For the record, it didn’t go over well.
After he calmed down and called me back, he told me that there had been over ten thousand downloads, and his percentage he wasn’t getting was nearly $30,000. His advance had been based on 5000 copies, and that still hadn’t earned out.
At that time, I made the following observations and I still think all of them hold true;
He had not written a word not aimed at the problem in over two months and was behind on deadlines.
His public reaction on social media had gone from where he had some sympathy to one where even his friends and family were tired about hearing about it, and he’d lost some followers of his work.
He had by far done more than required to protect his copyright, and had spent a couple of thousand dollars with his attorney in cease and desist letters.
And most of all, he hadn’t provably lost a dime.

I sense a number of you out there tensing up on my last statement. My argument is this. Having been in, around, and worked in technology for over thirty years, and raised in small business, theft is a cost of doing business. I’m not saying it’s right, but locks only keep out the honest and the lazy.

Having gone on this long rant has taken away sympathy for the problem, and makes you sound whiny and bitter. That doesn’t do much to keep customers and readers, much less attract new ones.
And knowing enough people that regularly torrent movies, music and books, I have a few observations:
A large percentage of material ripped from the Internet through file sharing is never seen, heard or read.
Of those who do consume the material, the ones who enjoy what they find usually also buy the movie or the book, or at least subsequent work.
Those who aren’t going to pay for it, never were anyway, and can always find something other than your stuff to rip.
Print media is not immune. Technology today makes it easier and faster than ever to scan and publish printed work.

Again, I’m not endorsing or condoning it, I’m just being a realist. And it may be a shock to you that it may not entirely be a bad thing when this happens to you. Just think, someone thought enough of your material to put it out there in the first place.

Now that we are all aware that some people in this world do not always act legally and ethically, here are some ways to take advantage of the systems and processes that allow for pirating of work.

Make sure all of your work includes links to your website, social media accounts, mailing list, podcasts, and anything else you can market.
Solicit reviews in your work. If they are going to steal it, at the minimum they can leave  you a review.
Use torrenting and other sites to circulate short stories and other mediums to attract followers and drive traffic to you.
Use the same sites to circulate promotional materials and solicit speaking engagements. Use it for free advertising.
Use them to circulate short videos and podcasts publicizing your work.
Circulate samples of work. I may, one time, have released a copy of a book where it cut off in a pivotal scene, and then had links where you could buy the full copy.

At the end of it all, you do have to protect your rights, and your property. In this case it’s your work, and your art.  At the same time, you can’t expend so much energy in the process, that you do nothing else. Creators must create. South Park may have given one of the best examples in the episode, “Christian Rock Hard.” One side was rampantly successful in spite of itself, and the other side refused to create in fear of theft and streaming.
But the good news is, if you don’t produce anything, there’s nothing to lose. And no way to gain either.
Arrgghhh, me maties.

My ConCarolinas 2016 Recap

ConCarolinas 2016, June 3-6 was a fantastic time this year! It was my first time as a guest there, and as I live in Charlotte, I can consider it a home con. I got to hang out and play some with local friends, got to meet face to face a lot more I’d known mostly online, and even got to meet a few fans and sell a few books.

But mostly, I ran my mouth. A lot. I was fortunate enough to be both on the Science/Tech track and the Writer’s track.

Here was my schedule:

June 3 (Friday)
3:00 PM Crowdfunding your book
7:00 PM Tools of the trade: What every writer should have on their desk
8:30 PM How will the future be different from today
June 4 (Saturday)
9:00 AM eCommerce and the Artist Moderator
10:00 AM Women in Science in Tech (I know!)
11:30 AM Science Fiction to Science Fact Moderator
4:00 PM Extrapolating the Future Moderator
6:00 PM The business of marketing your writing
7:00 PM The future of robotics
8:30 PM Viruses, Hackers and Malware, Oh My
June 5 (Sunday)
11:00 AM Intersection of Faith and Science
2:00 PM The Singularity: When will we get there?

 

And there were a few other panels I was on I had to drop because I couldn’t be in two places at once. And I got to be the closer for the Broads Universe Rapid Fire Reading. And if I listed everyone I was on panels with, this post would be a couple of thousand words, and that’s just the people!

It’s been a long time since I talked this much, outside of the day gig running tech projects. And if it had been up to me at the time, I’d have probably added a few more. That said, there were a few of these discussions that were really important.

First, I’m going with Women in Tech. I was honored as the lone guy on the panel, with EJ the Enginerd, Erin Penn, and Jeanine Spendlove. We had a lot of people in the room, and if there was a down side, it was we had to shout over the band in the next room. Jeanine questioned why she was there, and I couldn’t believe the question. She’s a distinguished pilot and commander in the Air Force, and has broken more glass ceilings than kids playing Minecraft. We talked about the fact, you have to work to blend in, all the while working to break out and excel. We also talked about at the times when you want to give up the fight, and make a change. The big takeaway I’d like to share, and this is my own philosophy, Be mercenary. If you work for someone else, you’re selling them your time and your skills for a paycheck. If you don’t like it, or aren’t comfortable, there’s always someone and somewhere else than can appreciate you more. But don’t quit, just choose your battles wisely.

Secondly was a fun panel on the Intersection of Faith and Science. The good news was we’d been moved and didn’t have to shout over the bands any more. The down side was no one knew where to find us, and we lost part of the audience. I got to do this one with DL Leonine, Sherman Burris, and Gray Reinhardt. Always the heretical one, it was a great balanced conversation about religion, faith, and seeing God in the mechanisms of the universe.

And finally, one I wasn’t on, but I was able to sit in and listen. Writers and Mental Illness. In the last year, there’s more than a few in our community that have lost the battle. Hosted by John Hartness, with Tamsin Silver, Melissa Gilbert and Dr. Darin Kennedy, it was supposed to go from 10 – 10:50. Barely anyone left by the time we called it a wrap at 11:15, and we could have probably kept going for much longer. It was one of the biggest crowds for a panel all weekend, and even after it was over, there was a lot of standing around afterwards. And several people have started groups in the last week to make sure everyone has someone to reach out to.

If you weren’t there, you missed a lot. And thanks to everyone in the Tribe.

I’m editing… or should be

Book 3 in the Home  Summonings series is coming soon! Unbound and Determined.

In the interim, I’m working on a few other items, mostly editing.

Seeing as how I’m apparently one of three people on the planet not getting to Civil War this weekend, I decided to throw on a different property in the background for noise while I was editing.

Tonight’s lucky winner, the flaming pile of a mess that is the latest failed attempt at Fantastic 4. If anything, it succeeded at being the worst superhero film I’ve seen since the 80’s.

But as it got to the finale, I noticed something.

Victor Von Doom now looks like a tronified version of Darth Vader. He built a giant tripod and lit up a wormhole beneath it like an overgrown Bunsen burner. That’s finally when I started laughing.

An alternate universe of this version of the Fab 4 is responsible for Tolkien’s universe.

  • Dr. Doom founded his own world, and ultimately named his landing place Mount Doom.
  • The eye of Sauron? The wormhole, after it sucked the earth through.
  • The shire, and hobbits? Earth and people compressed as they are sucked through said wormhole.
  • And orcs? Something had to happen with DC as it was sucked through.

Back to #amediting!