Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net

Meet the Moderator

Robert A. Sloan 

2002, Robert A. Sloan


Robert A. Sloan, Brokewriters Moderator, is 47, disabled, and living on welfare in subsidized housing while pending SSI.  From 1990 till 1998, Robert lived entirely on his earnings from crafts, tarot reading, street sketching, fan art, and running roleplaying games. A move to New York to take his writing career more seriously landed him in a homeless shelter when he discovered that odd jobs would not support even a room in a residence hotel. Standing in line to get any benefits was always beyond his physical abilities, but in the homeless shelter, case managers brought the forms to him and he started the long process of getting SSI. Rags to riches to fun things, with rags to the next riches, is his lifestyle. 

For most of those years before the shelter, Robert didn't care that he was broke. Active membership in the Society for Creative Anachronism gave him an outlet for medieval crafts and barter that set him up in relative high style for living comforts and pure physical luxury, with most of it portable. At one point down in New Orleans, Robert ate reasonably well on $10 a week and preferred $5 shopping sprees in the French Market and fabric sprees at remnant tables. All of the computers he's ever owned were gifts or Frankensteins put together by numerous geek friends. Robert has always been rich in the good things that money can't buy. 

After many devoted years of missionary effort by the Masters of Unix, Robert is slowly converting to Linux. A slow learning curve for codes and abstract symbols slowed his geekishness, but Robert is a dedicated futurist who trusts the principles of Open Source philosophy and cooperative microcapitalism. He usually puts those high concepts into simpler words, and makes a great Crash Test Dummy especially for software intended to be user friendly.

Independent and thick-shelled as a Galapagos tortoise, Robert is plodding his way steadily into success on hard work and hefty word counts. During his shelter years he wrote approximately thirty novels averaging 200,000 to 300,000 words each, most of which need cutting or splitting into multiple volumes. Meanwhile, he waited out a five-year contract with a bad agent that would have taken 50% of all royalties on Raven Dance, his second novel and first serious SF work. Spring 2001 brought him out of the shelter, then he published Raven Dance through iUniverse. 

In its first year, despite little effective marketing, Raven Dance went into the black and paid its own expenses. Constantly reworking his business strategies, Robert now focuses his independent efforts on websites and paying small press theme anthologies. Launchpad #1: Love and Death is his first anthology project, soon to be complete. Robert also maintains two weblogs and http://www.selfhelpforwriters.com, which often features his photogenic cat, Ari. 

"I feel like getting into Forward Motion online was like making it to graduate school in the School of Hard Knocks. My writing quality soared to the point that all of my older material needs heavy rewriting to match my present level of skill. My attitude changed so deeply that I literally laugh at rejection slips and take pride in them. I couldn't even do short stories before I came to Forward Motion. Now my short stories are approaching the quality of my novels. I'm doing things I never thought I could do, and anything that's still difficult, I now trust I'll just learn how." 

Prolific, peculiar, and optimistic, Robert can usually be found late at night in the Forward Motion chat room, where he keeps company with others while he writes. Disability became an annoying, but useful, step along the road to full-time writing. Robert has taught several workshops at Forward Motion: Editing Small Press Anthologies, Come as your Character Chat, and Boost Your Word Count. Recently he made his first paid short story sale: "High Goth," sold to editor Simon Owens at Pegasus Prose for the first issue of Sci-Fi Paradox.