December 2014
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Whats In A Name?

Still floating around here, although a certain John William Johnson has contacted me and informed me that he has been publishing under the name of J. W. Johnson for twenty-five years and he will take whatever action he deems necessary to protect his name. I’m not sure how I am going to handle this news. Personally, I am not egotistical enough to think that I am the only person on the planet that goes by that name. From black poets early in the last century, to songwriters  and photographers and artist’s, there are several people using that name. I believe there is even someone in the porno business from all the x-rated spam I get. Luckily for him (I guess) my writing skills are not polished enough for him to have anything to be worried about and I’m not sure about how I feel about trying to publish under a name that people wont recognize who I am. Writing in a different genre from what he does may be enough of a difference to seperate us, but I dont know. ‘Guess I’ll let the publishing company figure it out.

      It really doen’t matter what name a work is published under. What matters is the work. I promised one lady reader that she would love my book one day (sorry your comment got lost when I got hacked). It wasn’t a vain promise that she would love my writing, it was a promise that the book would be written. Whether it’s under this name or some other, I cant tell you. In the mean time I’m going to keep writing and keep polishing until it gets published.

Health Care #2

I’ve got a simple solution (right). I see that they are talking about passing something and then tweaking it to make it right, like I suggested earlier(although some suggest reforms never come, which is not true. It just takes time). Why not do like we do when my wife has two sets of shoes she can’t decide on? Buy both sets. In other words, pass the two best bills,  senate and house, and then see which one works. Better yet, pass both and then take the best parts out of each one. It’s not brain surgery.

      I can hear the screams now.  “Too much big government”, but answer me this–who else is going to fix it? The for-profit insurance companies?  Think of all the people it would put to work. Honestly, if they do it right, it would be better for everyone, doctors and patients alike. As you can tell, I have  no sympathy for the insurance companies.

Health Care

I refrain as much as I can from going political on everyone, but… WE have to do something about the health care system. It is broken. Unfortunately the government we put in charge to do the things for us that we can’t do ourselves, can’t come to an agreement on how to fix it. Personally I don’t think it’s going to be possible to reach an agreement on what is right or what is wrong. I am thinking they just need to pass something and let the pieces sort out as they may. In other words, do something and if it doesn’t work, fix it. I’m not talking eight years from now either. That’s a cop out. Insurance companies are raising rates more than thirty percent in some states when they are already posting billion, yes I said billion, dollar profits. Dont think it can’t happen to you. Wait until you get the notice your rates are going up thirty percent for no reason and tell me how it feels. In a quote from  [info]e_moon60  “The bottom line is that what we have now is not working except for the people who profit from it: the health insurance companies and their Congressional cronies, for the most part.”

What can we do personally you ask? Contact your congressman and tell him we are not taking no for an answer. Tell him, or her, that they either get it together and do it, or else. You would not believe the power we have if we pull together. Write your congressman and tell them they either get it done or they are out. I’ll even provide you a link

Do it now before something else comes up and you forget.

Avatar Endorsement

There are so many reviews out on Avatar that I see no need to add my own except to say what an amazing achievement and movie it is. I can honestly say it’s the best movie I have ever seen. Being a science-fiction kind of guy, it was right up my alley. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the beautiful world of Pandora and I honestly cared about what happened to the characters.

It just amazes me at some of the negative reviews I have heard about it. Have we become so cynical a society that we cannot take a simple story and enjoy it? I’ve heard the term “it’s been done before” but I hate to tell you, they have All been done before. Have you never heard: “Every story worth telling has already been told in the bible”? Well, I have. It’s just how they are presented is what is different and James Cameron has done an incredible job of presenting his while throwing in a high idea or two about conservation and humanity. If you don’t like his simple story you surely won’t like mine, but that’s not going to keep me from writing it. If I were to have 1/1000th’s of the success he has had and make a story half as good I would be happy.

So, go see it. Enjoy the beautiful 3d cinematography. Root for the good guy. Hate the bad guy. Enjoy the love story. Go be entertained. That’s what it’s all about anyway.

Author Interview; Peter Hodges

I lost some data this week I’m afraid. Teach me to not backup my site. Shame on me. Here is the interview I had up. Unfortunately I lost the comments at the end of it.

Author Interview; Peter Hodges

Do you have any advice for an author doing his first author interview?

Relax and be funny? :)

How do you find time to write? Are you a denier; as in no tv or games until you’ve written, or do you steal a bit of time here and there?

I’m a husband, a dad, a chemist, an avid reader, a video gamer, and a writer. I don’t get any time to myself until after 8 PM. I usually wind down for an hour or so, then I contemplate writing. I  usually write in spurts during the week. I’ll usually pick two or three nights and bang out between 2000-2500 words per night. I try to set a goal of 6000 words per week. If I haven’t met that either in revisions, re-writes, or new material, then I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. The nights that I’m not writing, I’m trying to read, hang out with the wife, or keep up with my PC Gaming habit.

Your Asimov and Heinlein influences are pretty obvious. Who else do you consider has a major impact on how you write?

I actually think David Drake has a large influence on the way that I write. I love the Hammer’s Slammers books; I think Northworld is one of the most underrated books in the history of science fiction. I like David’s spare style; he can say more in fewer words that anyone I know. In those few words he can convey the entire panoply of human emotion. If I don’t watch it, I find that my combat scenes read very similar to his.

I also value S. M. Stirling’s writing. He’s another author who doesn’t typically make ballots in the big-name awards, but his worlds are extremely well constructed and his plotting is usually really good. He’s not as character driven as David Drake, though, and I find myself writing very character driven stories and novels.

I know your friends with the fabulous Kate Baker. How does hearing your words coming from someone else make you feel and how much does it impact your writing? Is this something you would recommend to other writers?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without Kate. She pushes me, edits me, calls me on my bullshit, and eagerly awaits anything I write. She is more than a fan–she’s become one of my best friends.

Hearing the podcasts is helpful to me as a writer. Having someone read your work shows you how they interpret it. Did you get the rhythm of a sentence right? Does your work flow like you think it does on paper or in your head? Do descriptions and dialog work within the context of the story? A podcaster can help identify all of these.

I know you have several stories that have been made into podcasts. Have you ever considered going through some of the podcasts services that sell them? You probably know enough writers to come up with a set ala John Scalzi.

I don’t know enough writers that well to set up something like that. I’ve been to cons and made contacts, but I can’t say that anyone would want to be on board the “Pete Hodges Audible Project” just yet. Eventually, it’s something I would love to do. I believe that podcasts are a large portion of the future of genre fiction. There’s too much utility to them, whether you listen to them on the subway, on the airplane, in the car, or while on the treadmill. Having a good reader and good story is fulfilling entertainment that we haven’t seen since the death of the great radio dramas.  It’s a great idea, though, to come up with a set of podcasts from lesser known authors and market it as a package.

I know you attended Viable Paradise. Do you feel it made a lot of difference in your writing and would you recommend it to others?

It made a huge difference. My class was particularly talented. There are several members that I’m surprised are not already big-name authors. Just being in their company, attending seminars and critique sessions, was worth the trip. Then, to have the one-on-one instruction that you received from people in the field was an added bonus. I learned a lot of things about my writing there. The first is that I’m too damned wordy. I overuse adjectives. I like passive verbs. I open too many paragraphs with subordinate clauses. I had point of view problems. I learned what it meant to pace a story and how to get good dialog out of the characters on the page. It wasn’t enough that I could write solid prose. It wasn’t enough that I could write and publish articles in technical journals. I had to write a story that would sell. That’s a different ball game.

Sitting in the hot seat with John Scalzi criticizing my work was rough, though. That guy will smile as he tells you the fifty million things that are wrong with your manuscript, especially with his penchant for the dramatic. It hurts, because this is public among a small group of your peers (everyone goes through it), but after you swallow your pride, you realize that he’s mostly right and he’s trying to make you better.

My novel, Alchemist (which I’m trying to market now) went through a drastic change post Viable Paradise. The language is tighter, the characterizations more deft, the point of view problems largely fixed (another beta reader thinks I still have issues in a couple of places). I would say that 30-40% went under complete re-write, while the rest of it was heavily tweaked.

I know you’re getting close to breaking through with your first sell. I’ve read your work and know that some of your short stories at least should have seen print by now. Do you think it is going to be a matter of name recognition or just finding the right editor at the right time with the right story? How close do you think you are?

A big problem is that my query letters are not grabbing attention. I’ve changed my format (you can see the one I’m working on right now on my site) in an effort to grab the attention of the editors/agents.

I do think part of my problem has been timing. Shortly after 9/11 I was trying to market a military science fiction novel–not a lot of people were buying it (and hey, to be fair, it kind of sucked). I got tons of compliments on my style or my ability as a writer, but no real interest in the story. I switched gears to a fantasy story (a genre that take second fiddle with me to military science fiction or alternate history) and wrote almost as though I were writing an alternate history. I’ve got some great elements of world building in there, and the early review I’ve had from beta readers are that the characters certainly elicit the reactions I intended them to.

I’ve made an effort to attend cons to build my name recognition. I want authors, agents, and publishers to recognize my name. “Hey! That guy was at Dragon*Con and he asked intelligent questions.” or “Hey! I know that guy. He was hanging out with the Viable Paradise group.” I generally take promotional flyers with my web address and brief descriptions of my work (available as PDFs on my site).

As to how close do I think I am? Who knows, brother? I’ve got a couple of things in the pot right now that could yield some news before Christmas (I can’t talk about them for fear of jeopardizing them), but who knows. Maybe one of these fifty query letters I’ve sent out will get a hit.

Do you have any advice on how to handle rejection?

Smile. Make jokes about it. I’m running at a little over 70 rejection letters. I haven’t counted lately. That’s 70 people that are going to *facepalm* when I win the Campbell Award. (Just kidding.)

Do you have any words of advice for the aspiring writers among us?

Write, write, write, write, write! Try, try, try! I’m going to keep trying until the world unanimously agrees that I suck or someone publishes me.

Seriously, it’s pretty similar to what other writers have said. I continually improve if I write all the time. When I stop writing, it’s closely akin to when you stop lifting weights. I personally believe that you should experiment with a wide range of styles and points of view. Find something that works for you, then try to build your story idea around it.

I guess that’s about it. Wish I had thought up some more questions now.

Thanks Pete,

JW. Johnson.

Jeremiah Tolbert’s New Website for Authors

looking for a webdesigner is up at .  Jeremiah is an author who’s livejournal I read and his journal posts on writing are always top notch and get you to thinking. His photography is amazing and I have no doupts about his competency helping somone with their website.  If you are in the market for major talent that is hungry for your work, please check him out. Here is a link for his personal website. Check out the photography if you have any doupts about his talent.

WordPress update

Fubared  Lelee’s Treasure and it took me this long to notice. Sorry about that. Very unprofessional on my part. I’ll fix it as soon as I get the chance. Gonna try to make it to Conestoga again this year. Anybody wanna bet me something comes up and I have to miss it again this year? I will say not making a con has nothing to do with whether or not your writing.

Shot Down

Spirit Of The Ucanians was rejected. I don’t feel too bad though. He actually sent a short response and signed it himself. He said it just didn’t grab his attention. I cant control that (well, sort of). I’m just geeky enough to get a thrill from it. A personal rejection letter from a major publisher and not some form letter. Sad isn’t it. Funny thing is about five minutes after I read it I was surfing on the web, reading the various blogs I read, and lo and behold someone was talking about Harry Potter and how she was rejected about forty times before she sold it. Isn’t that crazy. How would you like to be one of the forty who rejected it? Oops!

I’m done rewriting it though. I’ve spent enough time on it and the charactors have all moved on anyway (if you know what I mean). I’ll just have to do some research and find some other markets to send it to. I’m going back to working on my two books unless another short story pops up in my head. Its funny to go back and read the stuff I’ve written before. Glad I never sent it to anyone. I definately knew better. I know I still have a ways to go now as well. The learning process never stops. They say you can tell a professional writer from the amatures by how much the manuscript changes when they rewrite it. A polished professional’s rough draft contains very few errors and needs little rewrite. I can’t wait until I reach that stage.


I try not to put my personal views *cough, cough* on here any more than I have to. I know I used to but after seeing other writers post their views and having it turn me off, I vowed to avoid it as much as I can. I know its hard to do when writing and I’m sure some of it comes out no matter how much I try to be just an entertainer.

On this one I have to write. A great thing happened today that I am very proud of. America has chosen character over color. I hate that it is so hard to believe. Long have I dreamed of the day when men (or women) could be just that.  No more black man or white man. Or race of any kind. Let us just be men and women. Today takes us one step closer.


Just want to update for everyone who comes and checks on me. Sprit of the Ucanians is being submitted Monday finally. I know. Thats a long time since I first wrote it. What can I say. I was trying to get it right. The guy I am sending it to is an award winning editor and I hope he looks at it like what it could be and not what it is. I’ve rewritten it three times but I know that I am an amature and need some professional help. Hopefully it’s close enough they at least look at it without  throwing it out.

On writing styles I have to admit I wish I sounded like Roger Zelazny. I just love the way he writes. The depth and breadth of his imagination had no limits as far as I could tell.  Just the shear volume of short stories and books  blow my mind.  I wish I could have actually met him and heard him speak. I guess I did in a way.

Unfortunately he was taken away from us way too early at 58 from complications from colon cancer. I’m sure those of you who knew him consider yourself blessed.