The Known Worlds:

Science Fiction & Fantasy Author James S. Aaron

Intentions & Acknowledgements for 1/5/17

So I had already written a version of this and I hit “transfer” in Dragon NaturallySpeaking and it disappeared. Yay.

One of my intentions is to use dictation to write more, and this is a good example of what kind of learning curve I’m dealing with.

So that’s something I just learned about Dragon NaturallySpeaking. If you’re using the text recognition box and you enter a bunch of text in there like maybe 1000 words that you just wrote, don’t hit transfer. Especially if you’ve managed to click away from the document where you were going to enter text.

If you hit “transfer,” everything you just dictated is going to disappear into the guts of the computer and I haven’t been able to figure out where it goes. So I decided to stop wasting time trying to find it and just re-dictate what I said before.

That probably sounds like me whining but it’s all part of learning to use this new system.

So, acknowledgements since last week:

I meant to get a lot more done than I did but the holidays got in the way. Funny how that works. Every year I think that I’m going to have time while I’m off work and I find that I’m actually more productive when I know I need to go to work later in the day. If I have a whole day to myself, I don’t get anything done.

So the two things I did get done is I’ve completed 28,000 words on my heist story project which I have tentatively titled Dead Man on Laiklin Sartor. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Although I did think I would be close to done at this point. My word goal has been 40,000 words and I’m now very close to being done with that. Makes me realize the book is probably going to end up somewhere between 45,000 and 50,000 words, which is pretty respectable for a short novel.

The other thing I did was send two newsletter emails and I’ve been happy that they are more like a personal email and less like spam.

So one acknowledgement is that I did not get as much work done as I’d hoped to. And I also didn’t get up early as many days as I would’ve liked to. Wait, that’s two acknowledgements.

My biggest update is that I’ve been accepted into a mentorship program that is going to look at all of my output for the last two years with a critical eye and examine how I can increase my productivity and audience engagement.

I already had to put together a spreadsheet listing everything I’ve written for the past 2 1/2 years, which came to just over 50 short stories and about 450,000 words. I know some people are writing a lot more than that but it really surprised me to see how much I had actually written.

I then had to go through all of those short stories and determine different things about them, such as their emotional landscape, their imagery, word count, and how I felt about the project: did I think it was done, what I think it was going, did I think it was a candidate for a collaboration project if it wasn’t something that I thought was finished. It was a really good exercise to help me see where I’ve come in the past two and half years and where I would like to go.

The one day I did get up early was at 3:30 AM so I could be at a 4 AM class. In the class, we talked about what type of thinkers/writers we are and how we can use our energy types to leverage our output. We also talked about how different energy types can complement one another, which is important when you think about working with an editor or possibly a collaboration.

We have another class this Saturday going over a new outlining technique that I’m excited to learn.

Intentions for next week:

It’s already Thursday, so I don’t have a lot of time to get intentions done for next week but I plan to continue working on the current novel and I think I get pretty close to being done. I need to have a finished draft by the 16th of January and that seems like a reasonable goal. With the current number of words I am only 12000 words away.

I will also need to write another newsletter and my goal this time is to drafted a couple days before so that I’m not writing it the day of. I was happy with the email I sent last time but it had a bunch of errors in it that could’ve been easily avoided.

I also intend to continue getting up at 5 AM to write. I’ve been doing a better job at this although using my time effectively is the new challenge. It doesn’t do any good to get up at 5 AM and then spend an hour and a half surfing the Internet. I think a lot of this comes down to knowing what I want to write, so the outlining class is going to be a big help.

I also intend to dictate at least one session per day. The only way I’m going to get better at dictation is to do it, so I need to set a goal of making that happen.

Oh yeah: Happy 2017!

Intentions and Acknowledgements for 12/19/16

The weather didn’t want to play nice last week and we had an ice storm that set the whole area back about 100 years. Some people were without power for nearly five days. Luckily that didn’t happen to us, but I was shut out of work for two days. While that might have turned into writing time, it was really a lot of chasing pipes around the house to make sure nothing froze and keeping my chickens from becoming ice-pops.

Despite that, I did manage to write quite a bit. While my goal was to write a 15k novella to have ready before the 22nd, when another deadline sets in, I wrote 12k on what is most likely going to be a 40k short novel. I’m excited about that.

Intentions for this week:

  • Publish a blog post.
  • Send out newsletter.
  • Finish short novel.
  • Write 1000-word comedy piece based on the prompts:
    • MMOC (Massively Multiplayer Online Christmas)
    • Sentient Snow
    • (I’m going to try and cram them both together.)
  • Attend Wordos Holiday reading
  • Finish another 15k on short caper novel
  • Get up on time and write in the morning.


I’m really excited about the amount of work I got done this week. If I can keep up this kind of output, I can definitely look at publishing a short novel a month. It’s all about knowing what I want to write. (Writer’s block is a lack of plotting/planning.)

I took part in a book promo that added an additional 4000 subscribers to the newsletter. I’m going to keep tweaking the newsletter format to make is useful and fun to write.

Last week was a big launch week for me, with Ground Private Parvel, Dead Miner’s Mother, Hawk of Destiny’s Fist and The Expanding Universe all appearing on Amazon on the same day. While my sales haven’t been huge, I’m getting more reads in KU than I ever have, and had more sales in the last week than I had all year on Emerald Emergent and Voices in the Woods. So I think I’m on the write path. This year is all about producing work, not so much marketing in terms of expensive covers/etc. I want to write a lot, maintain the newsletter, and establish great habits. Boom.

See you next week. . .

“Loop” by Alex Andreev

Lots of cool stuff here:

Akira Background Paintings

1971 Star Streak Motorhome at the California Automobile Museum

This one is in the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento permanent collection. It has been for at least 5-6 years. It is a hand built, one of a kind RV built by an Air Force officer with several engineering degrees.

It is based on a 1971 Olds Toronado chassis and has OEM trim from Cadillac. The panels, glass and such was all hand fabricated. The drivers location feels very much like an aircraft cockpit. It was designed to fit in the mans garage and after he and his wife put over 100,000 miles on it touring the U.S.

Star Streak

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Intentions and Acknowledgements for 12/12/16

First, the big news: I have six books up for pre-order on Amazon right now:
















And I’m very excited about this. I’ve set some tough deadlines with Incident at Trinsa and Suldrun’s Fire, but goals only help me. I’ve also written a good portion of Incident, so hitting a 90 day deadline is completely doable. The Expanding Universe Anthology also drops this week, and my hope is that it’s going to drive attention to the other books available.


Write 15k story (tentatively titled the Laiklin Caper but don’t like the title.) It’s going to be about Irrinat Jessin and how he ended up in Prowling Thunder. Takes place on the orbital Laiklin Sartor in Garalan system. I’m looking forward to writing about the Garalans.

Send out another newsletter. I’m trying another mailing service, so I should be able to get more info about what works and doesn’t.

Attend Storymongers and Wordos groups but won’t have any work to share.

Ride my bike to work. I’m starting my new years resolutions early. I think I’ll have more to write on that but it will be it’s own post.


I actually accomplished everything I meant to do last week. I got the books finished and in before the deadline, sent out the newsletter, and took part in my writing groups as I normally would. So that feels really good. I didn’t do any new writing but it was an editing week.


I’m trying some small bits of advertising for the new books. Since Ground Private Parvel was in Kindle Scout, Amazon is going to send an email out to everyone who voted for it.  I’m also trying an Amazon ad and will have an ad on Quick Sips Reviews. It will be interesting to see what kind of attention that gets, good or bad. For QSR, I’m advertising The Hawk of Destiny’s Fist, which is currently on Instafreebie as a way to get newsletter signups.

I may also be taking part in a mentoring group for authors. I’ll post updates on how that works out.


Story Idea: 1970s Crashed Cessna in North Carolina

“Winter Walker”, Jakub Różalski‎, digital, 2015

“Burned” by Simon Stålenhag [Digtal Art, 2016]

James S. Aaron Newsletter S01E01: Free Ted Chiang, $0.25 Forever War, Good Intentions

I’m going to need your help forming a habit. I started 2016 with the plan to write a weekly newsletter and it’s now December. So I’m going to update this plan for 2017. I don’t know why I find things like this so difficult to write, but the only way to get over it is to write them and hit send. As always, please let me know what’s useful and what you’d like more of.

Crazy discounted thing:
Amazon is currently offering Joe Haldeman’s Forever War for only $.025. [Sorry, it appears the crazy discount is dead. I still recommend you find Forever War at your local library.]

I don’t know how long this deal is going to last, but my jaw dropped when I saw it, so I felt the need to send it out. You can also add the Audible version for $3.49, which is also super-cheap if you’re into audio.

Apparently, Google price-matched, so you can grab the ebook on the Google Play store for $.025 as well.

I haven’t read the Forever War since high school, but I remember it having a big impact on me. The metaphors on relativity, Vietnam, and what it’s like to come home after being in the military are things that still stick with me, even if it might be a bit dated now. It’s definitely one of the foundational bricks in the genre. Like I said, I don’t know how long this deal will last, so you can always grab it from your local library if I got your hopes up. I hate it when I see a deal and it’s expired by the time I get to it.

Free Ted Chiang story:
One of my friends described Ted Chiang as a writer who appears once a year, drops a story like a brick on the public, and then goes back to whatever he was doing. If you haven’t heard of him, he wrote the story that was the basis for the new move Arrival, called The Story of Your Life. It’s available in his collection: Stories of Your Life and Other Stories. I definitely recommend his collection, although another friend of mine argues that Story of Your Life is actually an argument for destiny. I can see that, but I was so gobsmacked by the emotional punch of that story that I didn’t care.

If you want to read a story with some of the same impact, but shorter and free online, here’s The Great Silence, which is about a Grey Parrot named Alex. You can also read one of his other famous stories The Lifecycle of Software Objects for free on Subterranean Press for free on their site.

Now that I’ve got you addicted to Ted Chiang, watch out for those bricks he likes to drop on reader’s heads with each new story.

Cheap Pre-Orders:





I’ve got a novella in a new anthology coming out December 15th called The Expanding Universe. The anthology is going to be 600 pages of new fiction. It’s currently on pre-order for only $0.99 until 12/15. The novella is called “The Iron and the Mud,” and it’s about an unarmed exploration vessel trapped on the other side of a wormhole with a military cruiser that doesn’t want to let them back through. Sort of Star Trek meets Star Wars expanded universe. It’s part of a new series I’m working on called the Known Worlds. You can check it out here:

What I’m Reading:

I went to the James Tiptree Symposium over the weekend, which honored Ursula K. Le Guin. I picked up a copy of her new book of non-fiction, Words Are My Matter. It’s mostly reviews and essays, short things around 1000 words each. I’m looking forward to jumping around in it. She didn’t speak at the symposium, and looked mostly embarrassed to have people effusing over her for two days, but she deserves it. I can read her sentences over and over again. I just re-read the Dispossessed, and while it’s certainly didactic and a product of its time period, it also keeps you moving. I can’t say I ever would have read a book about anarchism otherwise. She’s so good at the small details that illuminate huge ideas about how people live and the consequences of their choices.

I picked up a copy of Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, and am halfway through it. I’m enjoying it, but it’s definitely an idea book over a character book. She’s creating an alternate history about the Dutch Congo that’s important to think about but definitely not light reading. If enjoyed The Vohrr, Brian Caitling’s book about a mythical Congo, but wanted actual worldbuilding and more straight-forward prose, this is your book.

Kindle Unlimited Recommendation:

I wouldn’t say I seek out “clean” anything when it comes to fiction and wasn’t aware that Jeff Wheeler had carved himself a niche in “clean fantasy.” But a friend recommended Wheeler’s new series, and I tore through it in two days despite myself. His Kingfountain Series is a quick, easy read, based on the War of the Roses. If you’re a fan of Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, this is an interesting thought exercise: How would I write ASOIAF with very little violence and no sex, and still get the battles, the machinations, etc, and keep it readable?

I’ll be honest, I sometimes just wanted the characters to get it on, already, especially when some of their choices/tragedies are grounded in their chastity. But it was still entertaining. I especially liked the antagonist. Unlike Song of Ice and Fire, the good news is that the Kingfountain Series is finished. If you’re looking for something “clean” to share with an epic fantasy fan, this is an entertaining choice. Wheeler has a deep back catalog for fantasy fans looking for something new to read.

All right, so how’s that for a first issue of the newsletter? Thanks for reading. I’ll get this habit going for real this time.

Happy reading,

James S. Aaron