New Years Resolutions 2017

For Us, and this is the Imperial “Us,” last year was a full-fledged, no-holds-barred goat rodeo. Lots of famous people died, even more, not-so-famous people passed away, and then we elected the first Ompah-Lompa to the highest office of our country. And let’s not forget that 2016 is expected to clock in as the hottest year in more than 136 years of direct atmospheric measurement.

Despite the fact that we could be looking back at the burnt and tangled wreckage of our cluster event that’s not what this post is about, is it? Nope! We’re looking forward, because gosh darn it, 2017 should be better.

So, without further adieu, here are a few of my New Years resolutions.

Take Aral Backpacking

Have you any idea how troublesome it is to locate appropriately sized backpacking gear for a six-year-old? Seriously! As a result, I’m banging the rust off some of my ill-used sewing skills. Our first box of supplies showed up yesterday, and I’ve opened up the Pfaff.

I’ve read a small collection of articles lately that all center around the “problem” of young people staying indoors too much. First, this makes me feel old, namely because now aged enough to see two generations of young people growing up under my branches. For instance, this article in Outside — “The Outdoor Industry Has a Millennial Problem” — posits a number of causes for the drop in younger people being involved in Wilderness, but my older son Justin recently informed me of the only reason that really matters.

In a recent phone conversation, he told me that he doesn’t really know “How to plan a bike tour.” In his possession, he’s got some of the best gear for this purpose ever constructed. He’s been on a couple of nice long ones, enough to know that a bike tour is largely just an exercise in improvisation between disparate locations. I about sprained my eyes rolling them, but I listened all the same. That’s what old people are supposed to do.

It seems that I may have made some mistakes raising the first one. Go figure. I let him labor under the misunderstanding that getting outside requires precision planning and forethought. It doesn’t.

Rather, what you need, he has in spades. An ability to learn from your mistakes, an abundant sense of wonder, and a warm jacket. Alright, maybe some warm socks too. But seriously, that’s the bar of entry to this and many other outdoor endurance sports.

Aral and I have been walking a lot. He just completed a 4-miler (long for him at 6) without even noticing that it was indeed longer than most of the walks he’d previously done. He finished with a smile on his face. So, Mr. Thyer, how to you teach a kid that he can pass the bar-to-entry for backpacking. We’ll you put a pack on his back and march him up the trail.

Continue Primal Lifestyle

I probably need to write up a review of this, but yeah wow, I’m doing so much better. Last Septemeber started a “diet” which essentially got me out from under the consequences of the Standard American Diet. I’ve lost a lot of weight, I’ve kept this weight off too, but even better, I’m not always inflamed. My face, my foot, my sinuses, even my fingers are significantly less bulky. My joints move easier, even when they’re cold.

Tess bought me a pressure cooker for Xmas, and she’s been saying that she wants to join in the fun. Now all I need to do is teach Aral to like eating nuts.

Recover and Publish Short Stories

John Hancock's Recovered Short from Immortality Chronicles

John Hancock’s Recovered Short from Immortality Chronicles

One of my favorite things about publishing through Windrift Books is that after a pretty short period of time all rights revert to the author. Amazon’s relentless expansion of lists means that there’s a place for short stories. Great Stories In One Sitting breaks down reads, based on their length, by the approximate time it will take most people to read them. A lot of Samuel Peralta’s authors have been floating to the top with stories they’ve published previously through him.

GOAT (“Greatest of All Things,” in case you didn’t know) was my contribution to the acclaimed Doomsday Chronicles. It’s gotten great reviews next to the other PA fiction in that collection, and I had the best time writing it. Consequently, I’ve begun to develop one of the supporting characters from that story by writing more about him. Murray Biyaal is a sort of MacGyver hero of the Navajo Nation in a crumbling Western future.

I’m going to start with GOAT and plan to self-publish a whole series based on this cast.

 

ALT.Chronicles Legacy Fleet

 

ALT.Chronicles Legacy Fleet

ALT.Chronicles Legacy Fleet

Sometime last night another anthology dropped. This one is a little different and very special as a result. It’s already hit #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Worlds > Science Fiction & Fantasy and we got there in less than 24 hours which may be a new record for a Peralta gig.

Featuring stories by Nick Webb, Will Swardstrom, J.E. Mac, David Adams, Ralph Kern, Patrice Fitzgerald, Kev Heritage, Jon Frater, Matthew Alan Thyer, Peter Cawdron, K.J. Fieler, Joseph Robert Lewis, Christopher J. Valin, and Felix R. Savage. Edited by Therin Knite. 

These are the untold stories from the Legacy Fleet universe – a universe of conflict , of alien invasion, and of human resistance and courage in the face of overwhelming odds.Spanning a time between the First Swarm War – and humanity’s first devastating encounter with the alien race – and the events of the Legacy Fleet trilogy, these fourteen stories chart the human drama behind an epic 75-year vista of Earth’s expansion in space, and the dawn of the Second Swarm War.Stories like these:

A man mentally linked to the alien Swarm weighs the cost of reaching out to them through the link, to stave off humanity’s destruction…

A group of friends in the Air National Defense discover firsthand the terror in mankind’s first encounter with the deadly Swarm…

A destroyer discovers a dormant Swarm carrier, that suddenly awakens…

A training academy cadet finds her legendary strategy in ship-to-ship battle simulation inexorably changing her own life…

A flight engineer begins to uncover the truth behind a decades old conspiracy theory, that now threatens the survival of the human race…

…And nine more stories, from the creator and authors of The Future Chronicles, the #1 bestselling speculative fiction anthology series on Amazon today.

If you loved the movie, if you loved Legacy Fleet, you’ll love the television series. Because here it is, the entire season, this amazing collection of episodes, of short stories–Alt.Chronicles: Legacy Fleet.

The early reviews are excellent too. Take for example:

ACLF_Review

People are enjoying the stories, that’s great news. Right now the anthology is selling for $3.99 US which is about a dime cheaper than the cup of awful coffee I just paid for. I poured it out and will replace it as soon as I can get to the good coffee shop. Take a good, long look at that cup you’re holding in your hand. Can you afford to support the arts? Probably.

Chronicle World’s Legacy Fleet

LegacyFleet

Yeah, this is an announcement with a cover reveal. Coming in August from The Future Chronicles and the universe of Nick Endi Webb‘s bestselling trilogy Constitution, Warrior, and Victory.

CHRONICLE WORLDS: LEGACY FLEET


Chronicle Worlds: Legacy Fleet is Samuel Peralta, Nick Endi Webb, Therin Knite, Dave Monk Fraser Adams, Peter Cawdron, Patrice Fitzgerald, Kat Fieler, Jon Frater, Kev Heritage, Ralph Kern, Joseph Lewis, James McCormick (J.E. Mac), Felix R Savage, Will Swardstrom, Matthew Alan Thyer, Christopher Valin

Underachievement: A Gut Punch

Clawtank by Wan Amirul Adlan

Recently I caught a social media share from Samuel Peralta. He cross-posted a blog post from Monica Byrne, which details her plans to make a living wage from her writing via Patreon. An idea I have been pursuing with no small amount of enthusiasm. Who wouldn’t want to transform the bulk of their labor into a self-sustaining relationship with the people they service?

Other names in our genre are pioneering this new economy which, amongst many other things, makes their short fiction a viable creative effort. Kameron Hurley, N.K. Jemisin and Wes Chu — to name but a few — are all bringing in respectable incomes writing short stories at their own pace.

Since shifting to writing full time in 2013, I’ve struggled with many challenges, perhaps none as significant as my own obscurity. Finding fans, getting my stories in front of anyone willing to read them, has been a persistent difficulty. And the one thing all these examples have in common is an existing fan base.

Byrne’s introduction is a TED endorsement from Neil Gaiman coupled with a laundry list of traditional publishers and awards. Hurley’s introduction is equally littered with awards and publications. She has 433 supporters. And then Jemisin’s introduction opens with “Update: Folks, thank you. As of July 1st, I’ve quit my day job and started full time writer life. Let’s see how this goes!” She has 885 sponsors.

What does this mean for me? Honestly, I’m more than a little jealous, but let me be clear, I’m glad to see other’s achieving this kind of success. Since I finished Big Red Buckle in 2013 all I’ve been able to complete is a series of short stories for small and independent press. And make no mistake, I love writing short works. Watching as others figure out ways to make these words pay, even a little, is a vital sort of pathfinding and so I’m paying attention.

Right now I have two writing projects on my table. The first, Plague of Contentment, is a novel and hasn’t been anything other since I dreamed it up. As we get closer to the start of Kindergarten, I should be able to leverage more writing time and consequently more progress on this project. But PoC is clearly not well suited Patreon or similar platforms. It’s a thriller that requires careful consideration as put down each and every word.

Last spring, on a whim I started writing an episodic with the working title of Vex. A coming of age story about a brutal alien war fought on the ground by a small crew of gritty and broken soldiers who sacrifice their humanity to save humankind. This story is going fast, and it’s structured so that it can easily be broken up into pieces. Recently, I’ve brought an editor on board to help me polish before I make it available and I’m looking for an artist for cover work and other “rewards.”

I understand that my only way out of the obscurity in which I operate is to continue to write. More, more, more! Production is the only first step, but I have a sizable and growing collection of words that aren’t doing a damn bit of good for me. Many of them are short stories that won’t ever find a traditional market. So understanding this harsh reality is also, I believe, critical to my success as a writer. Traditional markets don’t buy short fiction and when they do it’s drastically undervalued.

Patreon offers me two potential benefits. First, it provides me a way to monetize my labor. In my short experience, income from my writing is as variable as the time I have to have to write it. Finding new fans of my fiction who are interested in supporting me as I write will help stabilize this aspect of my career behind the letters.

Second, the Patreon platform gives me a way to interact with these people, not just their pocketbooks. More than money right now, I believe interaction is what I need. Of the short stories that have gone to Peralta, I don’t see any mention of what I’ve written until months, six on average, after the publication date. And I’m not complaining, but I can see that people aren’t buying these anthologies to get the next story from me. That much is obvious. For stories I’ve published on my own, the interaction timeline is even longer. Finding reliable beta readers has become a bit of a chore.

So, right now I’m building a schedule and beginning to manage entry into Patreon with some very modest financial goals in mind. A hundred bucks a month is still a better per word price than what I’ve been able to bring home to this point. In the meantime, I’m researching. Learning how I might bring new people to my table. I need to learn how to be a more effective self-promoter while continuing to develop my bibliography. That’s going to change.

Doomsday Chronicles is Coming

Doomsday Chronicles

We’ve seen the teaser and if this is the cover art for the next Future Chronicles release — Doomsday Chronicles — it’s considerably wetter than my contribution GOAT. I like it all the same.

Right now the schedule reads that the collection is due out on the 26th of this month. I don’t believe that Sam is jumping through the pre-order hoops for this one, although, if release is delayed until March this may be my misunderstanding. This collection has some big names including, I believe, 2016 Nebula nominee Ken Liu. I’m looking forward to getting my ARC.

I was counting up the short story words I’ve written over the last few years when I realized that I could easily put out my own anthology. With a little rework and a good editor, it might just qualify as a “volume.” There are enough words these days I’d likely kill a few trees in the doing. A realization of this sort is just what I needed too.

Another important bullet point of awareness. Quite a bit of what I’ve written occupies a unique space in the genre — molecular manipulation, gene engineering, life bent in the service of humanity — previously I had not considered this niche as part of my domain. Apparently I write about this intersection of intelligence and design all the time; it most often accounts for the fantastic in my stories.

So, on the eve of my next book release, a moment of self-realisation. Inching toward consciousness and mindful creation.

Buck Up, Buttercup

AuthorRank12315

Peak Chronicles Effect – end of 2015

I took this screen capture near the end of December. What you’re looking at is a combination of things, but that huge spike — from relative obscurity to in-genre notability — is the primarily a product of inclusion in Samuel Peralta’s Galaxy Chronicles. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking on this, how it affects me and my plans, what it should mean to me moving forward.

From the peak (around #70 for science fiction authors) I have since declined. I’m fairly certain that if you asked any reader, even Chronicles regulars, “Who is Matt Thyer?” they’d be hard pressed to place my name. So besides that singular moment of self-gratification which the anthology provided for me, I’m uncertain how much good it did for my career as an author.

Still I am reluctant to view this one moment, in what I hope will be a long and eventually prosperous career, as an indication of anything. I have another short story coming out in February, and I’m particularly proud of this one. Early readers have given it kudos; specific kudos, in fact, the best kind. And Samuel has been hard at work, developing even better ways to promote the collections. This most recent peak and the eventual fall in popularity is simply a false bluff on my way to a summit.

Still I wonder, am I making wrong decisions? Instead of publishing through small and independent electronic presses should I be seeking an agent? A traditional press? Should I feel proud at being featured as an Amazon Best Seller or should I hold onto my stories until Big Ink finds me and pushes me to the top of the traditional lists?

The industry of storytelling is significantly disrupted, yet I feel an unmistakable current of hierarchy within my end of the creative process. The writing between the lines is that unless you publish via the traditional route, your works lack validity within the market.

This morning Hugh Howey took a break from gallivanting around the Caribbean aboard his catamaran and posted The State of the Industry. He talks about several salient points specific to today’s publishing industry, but, in particular, he writes the following:

As a writer, the new publishing industry brought an infinite increase in fulfillment. And I don’t mean with income, as I never sat down to write my first novel in order to earn a penny. In the old world of publishing, my stories would have gone unread. There wouldn’t have been a blog to post them to, social media to share them by, or email to send to friends and family. There was no Kindle store to upload them to, or print on demand service to make a real book. No ACX for audio. My voice didn’t exist.

I realized something vital when I read this. In the bad old days of publishing, my stories and my voice would have gone utterly unnoticed. Had I been born a mere generation earlier it’s entirely possible that I’d have a drawer full of manuscripts labeled “Frustration and Disappointment.” When they laid me to rest, perhaps they’d tuck all these stories into the box with me so that so that I’d have something to work from in my next incarnation.

As it is, literally thousands of people have read some of my work. Wow! Let me repeat that, thousands of people have read at least some of my stories. That’s a pretty incredible artifact when I unpackage it.

I started keeping journals interspersed with made up stories back in the 80’s on long trips into the backcountry, on volunteer stints building trail with the SCA, and while working in the kitchens at Anderson Camps. I kept on writing in college, throughout all my experiences in the Army, and thereafter as a “professional.” I didn’t write any of those words because I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t write these words because I wanted to be a best seller, or famous, or even because I wanted to bathe in a J.K Rowling-sized pool of money.

I never expected that anyone would ever read any of it, and the fact that a couple of thousand people have tickles me endlessly.

Sure, since leaving Microsoft and those golden handcuffs, I’d like to turn my words into money. But more important I love to tell stories, so the opportunity of combining my vocation with my passion is truly revolutionary. Many thanks to Hugh for pointing this out! Many thanks for Samual for giving me this opportunity.

A Ubiquitous Award Post

Welcome to the new year. It is that time again, and 2015 was a pretty good year for me as a writer. Things got published. Things are eligible for awards.

Essays

Invisible 2 Cover-Full-689x1024 I contributed an essay to Jim Hines’ second annual anthology Invisible 2: Personal Essays on Representation in SF/F. He informs me that the collection is eligible for the Best Related Work.

Flash Fiction and Short Stories

"Walk to School"

“Walk to School”

Dispatches from the Future: B-list: Over the course of the year, I wrote a growing collection of flash fiction. As part of his recovery from kidney surgery and Inktober my friend and Army buddy Jeffrey Witty completed a illustrations for many of them.

  • I believe that this collection of stories would qualify for either Best Short Story or Best Fanzine. There are fourteen episodes within the collection, all of them are under 2,000 words (they’ve always been freely available on Wattpad).
  • Jeff’s adroit illustrations are also eligible for Best Fan Artist.  His ink work is really quite excellent; as the author, I can’t tell you how nice it is to see your words looking back at you.

Tokyo Yakuza #11: Mob Dance (6,027 words) qualifies for Best Short Story. This was a fun little project done as part of an independent tabletop game release.

Novellette

“Ser Pan Comido”

Galaxy Chronicles: Ser Pan Comido (9,891 words) is arguably my best and most popular published work of 2015. I really enjoyed collaborating with Samuel Peralta and Jeff Seymour and the Amazon sales boost this anthology produced was amazing to witness (my Amazon Author rank peaked at #71 in Science Fiction … Wow!).

  • Despite my self-doubt surrounding this story, it has done remarkably well. The collection received some excellent reviews and my contribution was called out more than once.
  • Jeff’s approach to editing was a pleasure and I hope to repeat the experience with some longer works that are on the way. If you’re filling out your ballot and need suggestions for Best Editor please consider Jeff and/or Sam.

Summary

That’s it for me (and the many people that I collaborated with last year). If you’re running behind and can only nominate one work may I suggest that you consider sending Jeffrey Witty to the vanguard. His work is good, and I’d love to motivate him to do more. He’s been secretly scripting and illustrating The Big Red Buckle and I’d love to light a fire under his can to get this done in 2016.