Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Until 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy (early) New Year!

The Kickstarter for A Sawmill's Hope succeeded. And it was close!

This means several things... First, I'm about to be very busy, which is good. Second, I owe everyone who shared and pledged and prayed and spread the word and supported and encouraged a huge Thank you.

For anyone considering Kickstarter or some other crowd sourcing endeavor, let me tell you what to expect if yours goes like mine did -

Expect a month's worth of anxious helplessness despite relentless effort, punctuated with small bursts of manic joy but smothered under a looming, suffocating sense of impending doom. Your self worth will take a beating. Next will come a single day of mounting tension and excitement, capped off with shrieks of elation and hollered gibberish. To counter this storm of emotion, you'll want to procure whatever celebratory articles best suit you and step onto your back porch for some peaceful introspection.
 And no, it doesn't matter that it's Monday night, Christmas Eve-eve, and your spouse is already in bed because (s)he has to work at 8 am. Enjoy your success right this moment. Because when you wake up the next day, reality will be standing beside your bed, staring you in the face.
Dozens of people expect something no less than totally excellent from you. And after all the promises you made and pretty illustrations and videos, you damn well better deliver.

So here goes.

By the way... thanks, guys. Stays safe during the holidays.


Monday, December 23, 2013

The last stretch of the Kickstarter!

We're in the final 12 hours and closer than ever! Now's the time to muster for a final push.

By this time tomorrow I'll be posting for my last time of the year, announcing the result of the Kickstarter.

Thanks to all you guys for clicking and sharing and pledging and believing and encouraging. Seriously, thank you all very much. I needed all the help you offered.

See you tomorrow!

Here's the link to the Kickstarter, look how far we've come

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tis the Season...

... to bring a new fantasy world to life!

The Kickstarter for A Sawmill's Hope has been crazy! I had no idea so many people would come out, and so enthusiastically!

I won't lie, each time someone pledges money, my vision grows a bit blurry, my breath a bit trembly. And I don't know why. Of course I hoped it would happen... that people would care. But did I really expect them to? Of course I believe in the story, and the future stories, and the world of Silexare. I always have! But until now, I didn't know others would. Is that why, when a total stranger makes a pledge, my eyes fill with tears? I couldn't say. What I can say is thank you.
Thank you from the sticky depths of my cavernous entirety.

But it's not over yet.
We're inside the last days of the project. And every pledge counts. Exclusive to pledgers are Silexare "easter eggs," produced and offered on the site itself for every ten percent we reach. These serve to enlighten, to entertain, and to reward your efforts, even if the Kickstarter falls short. A single dollar pledge will gain you access to them all.

If you haven't done so, visit the project and contribute. The video is two and a half minutes long. It takes less time than that to pledge. Skip the drive-thru meal you had planned and use that money to become part of Silexare's history. Your body and mine will thank you.

This might be the very last post you see here until December 23rd, when I announce the outcome. I want to thank all of you, whether you pledged money, helped spread the word, offered me advice, or consoled me during my emotional throws. You didn't owe me your time or efforts.

So, Thank you.


Click here and join Silexare's army.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Sawmill's Hope Kickstarter - Meet the Editor!

While researching professional editors for A Sawmill's Hope, I left no stone unturned. No stone available to me, anyway. I asked each forum I'm a member of for their two cents... I googled every combination of "fantasy" "fiction" "editor" and only-God-knows what other relevant word... But the way I discovered my editor, I would not have expected.

I'd learned online that professional edits run about $.02 a word, which sounds easy-breezy if you aren't familiar with typical novel word counts. But for my book that would come to over $2,000. And although that is daunting, I'm cutting no corners. I want this book to be as good as I can possibly get it or never to exist at all. Anne frankly, I don't understand any other way of looking at it.

So I approach Faceboot and say, "Any editors out there?" And among the responses comes one from my friend Jamie Cain.

If you're anything like me, you're immediately skeptical. Friend AND editor? Doesn't that mean conflict of interest? How honest will he be? What are his qualifications?
Now, I can't show you a bunch of beautiful illustrations or works in progress like I did when I introduced the artist. But I think some insight into Jamie's portfolio as an editor suffices as an answer to all the above -

He has over a decade of editing experience. He's principally edited dozens of books, in large publishing houses and as a freelance editor, and has worked as part of an editorial team on even more. Jamie's worked on every aspect of book production, from story brainstorming to developmental editing and proofreading... on books of fiction and nonfiction... Thrillers, Scifi, and (of course) Fantasy. He's served as editor for several New York Times best-sellers and for bestselling authors.
Jamie is also a writer himself, of fiction and nonfiction, and has published articles and book reviews.

Last and most important, he loves books. All sorts of books. And to seal the deal even further, he's an enthusiastic fan (although student may be a more appropriate word) of J.R.R. Tolkien, who is amongst my favorite authors.

Jamie asked for an excerpt to see if it held his interest. And it did. So I'm trusting him with A Sawmill's Hope. And I'm asking you to trust him, too.

The Kickstarter has trampled over the threshold of 30% funding. There are now THREE Silexare / A Sawmill's Hope secrets available to all who pledge - if only a dollar - on the Kickstarter site.

Things will move quickly this coming week. We're inside the final 10 days of the event. Do not be left behind.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Two hundred and thirty dollars from now...

...I'll post the next "easter egg" in the Updates section of the Kickstarter.

The pledgers have heard some things about Berdes and Lunglow.

This one will be about the Sky Island nation of Suvinor... How it matters to Darke's friend Brandal in A Sawmill's Hope. How it matters to the future of Silexare in the real world.

I don't mind telling you secrets. But you must pledge to be privy. You have to be (as Tex put it in her comment below this post) "smart and shrewd and slick enough to join the Silexare army."

So if, let's just say, five people were to visit the Kickstarter and claim the Silver Sampler package as their own, the Silexare army would grow irreversibly wiser.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Enriching the Kickstarter

Oh my gosh, please shut up about the Kickstarter!

I know, right? I promise I will. Not. I'm sorry. And I just turned your words into a link to the project.

So, in the spirit of distracting myself from the ticking clock, eternally slashing down the seconds between this moment and 8:00 pm Eastern time December 23rd 2013, AND in the spirit of letting my pledgers know I care, I've decided to offer 10 (ten) secrets of A Sawmill's Hope throughout the duration of the Kickstarter. The secrets will come in the form of "making of" factoids or just Silexare lore.

David, I want to help. But I only have a dollar.

That will help. This particular Kickstarter is fueled by dollars! And then you'll be privy to the lore!

For every 10% mark we hit (10,20,30... you get it), I'll post another secret, exclusive to the eyes of the Silexare army. And since we're at 25% as of this moment, two have already been posted (just last night... in fact, they're still warm).

A teaser of the first two -

1. Etymology and a bit of inspiration of Darke's hometown, Berdes.

2. Negative side effects of Moonstone mining.

More to come -

Etymology of the Trevet River.

Origin and etymology of Old man Hastr, Lesovik the Unwithering, Rusalka, Castoroccs, Spirits of the Pines - Setuar, Wretched Mers, Vedorant Goblins... 

Origin and inspiration of Seltys - the alchemist, Recher of Andyr...

Dude, those words all sound really cool but I want to see pictures of them.

As do I, dear one. Thus the Kickstarter. Go have a look.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG Dec 2013

IWSG, brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, occurs once a month and exists for writers to voice their insecurities and offer advice. The official website, www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com has been a priceless commodity in my studying and research as of late. I encourage any one interested in writing to have a look!

Hi. Welcome to the insecurity epicenter of the entire universe.

For those of you who've visited me lately, you know what I have going on and can probably guess my insecurity this month. For those of you who haven't, it's this - my Kickstarter for A Sawmill's Hope.

I don't want to mope and gripe about how torn up I am inside about the possibility that it will all be for naught. That's for my wife to enjoy for the next 19 days. Besides, it would probably be quite obnoxious and come off as a cry for pity.

What I will do is this. If you know someone who might enjoy the novel I've written, edited and illustrated, or the art or music I'm offering through this Kickstarter, or someone who just wants to see an indie author come up, please share this event with them! I'll give you at least one very virtual, possibly awkward, uncomfortably intimate, sexual identity compromising, internet hug! (complete with heavy breathing)

Here's the link in its rawest form - http://tinyurl.com/mzvev2u

Thanks, guys

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Sawmill's Hope Kickstarter. At last!

The Kickstarter has come!

Please click over there and have a look, even if for nothing more than morbid curiosity.

To each and all of you who have offered advice along this way, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hopefully this experience will result in me being able to return the favor! Thank you especially to Alex C and his crew who put together the Insecure Writer's Support Group. I learned so much from this site and from sites that it mentions!

Here's the vid... not quite as funny as the last one but more informative in my opinion.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cover Reveal and An Excerpt from A Sawmill's Hope!

So it's almost Kickstarter O' clock. And I've been working like a ... something that works... a lot. I'm sorry. I haven't had much sleep. (is it bad that I already had a label for 'sleep deprived'?)
I was up all night making a (hopefully) far more betterer video than last time

So now, I bring you.....

And here are the first two pages, for your eye's balls pleasures -

A Bow and a Book

It was dumping rain, churning leaves like an unending applause. Darke’s hair stuck to his cheeks, curled into his ears, ran down his forehead and tickled the bridge of his nose. But the rain had washed his scent away long ago. No elk would know he approached.

He crept past moss capped rocks, trying not to lose his step on soggy pine straw. Not trying hard enough. He climbed to his feet once more and collected his pine arrow. His legs were raw from rubbing against soaked wool. But his steps went unheard.

If he was careful, he could get within spitting distance of an elk before being noticed. He’d only had this opportunity twice. The first time was when he’d found out what his words could do. The second time he’d gotten too brave... No good in thinking about that now.

A rumbling grunt came from ahead. Darke stopped, slowed his breath. A buck probably, and not too heavy. Rut began within the week. Hunters with any sense wouldn’t travel alone in the forest then. But Darke wasn’t half as clumsy as them, nor as slow.

Rain thumped against Darke’s head, trying to blind him, almost succeeding. There was the red buck, twenty paces down the hill. Its sleek antlers reflected the grey clouds. Steam vented from its nostrils. Darke tucked himself behind a tall stone. He readied his arrow and pulled in a shaking breath, easing around the stone. He could easily end the elk’s life with this fletched arrow. Even without sharpened steel or stone on the end. From where he crouched he could put the arrow through its chest to splinter on its shoulder blade then shred the arteries above its heart. The beast would die before it hit the ground. It wouldn’t be the first.

But Darke didn’t want it dead. Not yet. He wanted to talk to it. He eased the string’s tension. The elk lowered its head to a pebbly spring. Darke slid over the rock, stepped forward and stopped. He was so close he could smell its fur. He couldn’t hear the rain anymore, only the pounding of his heart. He needed to clear his throat. Of all times! He tried doing it silently. The elk jerked to attention, shoulders tensing. Darke’s breath snagged in his throat. The elk’s eyes were wide, wild. They found Darke. If not for the steam from its nose, the elk had become a statue, had forgotten all but Darke. No point in waiting…

“Relax,” Darke said. He forced it out loudly, not like last time.

The elk cocked its head, its ears dropping. Its hazel eyes were fixed on him but tension had rinsed away.

It worked! Now what? The elk stepped backward.

“Stop!” Darke said. It stopped. Darke wanted to jump and clap. Instead he stepped forward, moving his hand beneath the elk’s vaporous breath. The elk stomped. Darke froze. It grunted, like a saw blade dragged over a dry stump. Darke tried to back up but thumped against the tall stone. The elk stomped again, shoulder muscles rippling like snakes beneath its coat. Darke’s tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. But he had to say something. “Um… Stop?”

The elk charged. Thumping hooves brought it the distance before Darke could leap aside. At least he got his knife in his hand. The antlers came at him. He fell flat, scrambled, swinging the dagger as he went. It met something, and not stone. Antlers clattered into the rock. Darke rolled over. The elk reared, groaning, kicking the air. A red stripe widened at its chest. So much for talking... Darke slammed into the beast, punching his blade deep, gripping at fur and limbs with his free hand. The elk bit his shoulder, hard. Darke’s knees shook and he gasped, expecting his arm to come loose. He stabbed again, this time higher. It caught the beast in the throat. He raked downward. The elk shivered. A hoof caught Darke’s chin. Trees spun around him and he was on his back. His knife was gone. He rolled and dragged himself with fistfuls of soggy needles, no idea which way he was going. The beast thrashed about somewhere nearby. Darke spat out a shard of tooth. His vision settled. Pain ran from his jaw to his neck, making his stomach jitter.

The elk was flat on the ground, chest pumping weakly. Darke pushed his back against a tree. In time the elk stopped. Darke was afraid to move. His shoulder felt like he’d been snatched up by moonstone tongs. The ache in his jaw encompassed his eyes. He poked a finger in his mouth, searched for the broken tooth. Not in front. At least there’s that. He exhaled and let the rain wash over him. A smile crept over his face. What kind of idiot puts up his bow to knife an elk?

But even as he sat crumpled in pain, he knew he’d try again. The next chance he got, he’d try it. Until he had no more bones to bruise and no more teeth to spit out. Until he figured out why. When he spoke to his prey, why did it listen?

 Thanks for coming by my blog and enduring through the credits to find this easter-egg of a thanks! The Kickstarter moderators are moderating my Kickstarter submission as we *speak. My next post will announce it's arrival from the digital stork of the interspiderweb! Have an awesome Saturday! I'm going to watch (and hopefully stay awake through) Catching Fire!

*not that we're speaking

Friday, November 15, 2013

Kickstarter 2013! - The video was supposed to be the easy part!!


The video is not the easy part.

I wrote a script. Cleaned it up. Typed it and printed it out. Rehearsed it. Thought of an elaborate, high-production movie... Scouted for locations... I even donned my good luck necklace from the Dominican Republic! I even combed my beard!!

Here's the only salvageable bits of my labor:

I'm in day three of trying to film this video. And it's finally occurred to me that scripts are just not my thing. And neither is video making.

So I'm just going to draw and shoot. It can't turn out worse than what I've done so far.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Kickstarter 2013 - Meet the Artist!

Hey folks.

I can't describe how stoked I am about this. I've been holding back introducing him and I honestly don't know why. I guess maybe because it seems too good to be true.

So here's the skinny - In middle school my art teacher's name was Mr. Bennett. Yes, he has a first name. No, I'm not telling. Just know it's a good one. So I saw him on Facebook and I friended him (because that's a verb). Anyone who teaches art is a cool mofo as far as I'm concerned. Plus, unlike a lot of Fabo, he has real stuff to say.

One day, while procrastinating on the ol' Farcebark, I see a post by Mr. Bennett on a piece of fantasy art. I follow the art to the artist, Tracy Flynn. And I dig his stuff. Because it's awesome. So I says to him, I says, "Maybe one day I proposition you for fantasy art." And he says, "Do it."

At the time I didn't have a plan, only free-floating desires... obscured by time... too murky to make out in any clear detail. But, as some of you know, recently my plan solidified... Like the tip of some great, sunken ship, rising to clarity from clouds of shimmering algae as the cinder block at my ankle drags me toward my inevitable destiny. Which is - self publish, do a Kickstarter.

Why David, wtf are you trying to say?

I thought you'd never ask.

Tracy Flynn has agreed to come on board as the illustrator for my (as yet, title-less) novel. He's agreed to sketch 20+ illustrations, one per chapter. This will be funded by the Kickstarter that I plan to launch in the next sixteen days. And if the Kickstarter fails, all is not lost. This train is moving too quickly to be stopped.

I'd like to give you a sample tasting... just the tip for now.

Darke, stalking an elk
When I gave Tracy the manuscript to consider taking the job, he said he was motivated to sketch from page one. I can think of no greater compliment, no clearer sign.

Darke's horse Flurry. Named after a winter storm.
Vedorant Goblins... You can tell by the smell. At least they aren't Redcaps.
Tahkaan picked an ill-advised moment to man-up. What's to keep that grindbear from clacking him to ribbons?

Vodnik ferrying the group over the Trevet river. What a miserable place to get seasick...

And my personal favorite thus far... As if validation was still necessary.

The fishman squatted on one of the taller rocks, busying himself with a stone dowel and a carved wooden bowl. Green sprouts jiggled on the bowl’s edge, as if somehow it still held life.

You can see why I'm stoked. What Tracy's pictures add to this story is beyond measure. Despite that most of these are still in their caterpillar stage, they've already taken me back to when I was a kid, mesmerized by artwork of other worlds. Only now it's my world. And it's coming alive.

Thank you for stopping by and having a look. Go to Tracy's art page on Facebook. It is a diamond in the rough, indeed.

Love you guys. Can't wait to share this with you.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG November 2013

IWSG, brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, occurs once a month and exists for writers to voice their insecurities and offer advice. The official website, www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com has been a priceless commodity in my studying and research as of late. I encourage any one interested in writing to have a look!

I've chosen to self publish. This isn't the blog where I go into a ton of detail as to why. This is also not the blog where I talk about the electronic version of the book. For the sake of IWSG, there's one subject that has been plaguing me above all in my mad race to get the Kickstarter going for my book.

And that is - Who's doing the printing, Lightning Source or CreateSpace?

Why CreateSpace?

Amazon owns them. And there's no better way of having VIP service on Amazon (where lots of books are sold, last I checked) than by befriending their lil cousin CreateSpace. The setup fee is minimal, proof copy is like five bucks, and there's no exclusivity to their contract. Besides, Lightning Source is going to push me off onto their gimpy brother IngramSpark, who specializes in small publishers, moderates trade discount to 55%, and has NO visible contact information anywhere on their website!

So, easy choice, right? Then why even consider Lightning Source.

(And don't everyone attack me at once for regurgitating the consensus of the world wide web)

Quality. I can't tell you how many websites I've traveled looking for an answer. Dozens. Maybe hundreds. And the vast majority sing praises of Lightning Source's superior print quality over every other service. I wouldn't know personally, I've never seen examples of their work. I can only consider the source.
But even if everyone is wrong about their quality, I want a hardcover of my book to exist. CreateSpace won't do it. And this is something about which I will not compromise.

So, injure my print-book Amazon exposure, climb in bed with a clumsy toddler company, and sacrifice personal profit just to own the perfect copy of my book?

To answer that I need to determine my objective...

- I want to bring Silexare to life, one story at a time, consistently achieving the very highest quality so that readers might find unqualified delight, despite any costs or compromises to my financial gain.

Monday, October 21, 2013



Sorry I've been away so long. I realize that makes it seem like cobwebs are developing in my corner of the world.

I can assure your that's not the case.

I've been away for a couple of reasons. I finally finished editing my book after a straight up three-month hurricane of revisions. I needed a break. Also I've been plotting. Tossing ideas around. Scheming. Weighing my options. Planning a secret war. And I'm pretty freakin stoked.

I began to consider a Kickstarter project for my book - To seek help funding the bare minimum to get this book into the world. And so I watched some educational videos, read some stats, looked at some successful (and not-so successful) Kickstarter videos... and I began to realize that I really, really, really want to self-publish.

This is not the time or place for me to go into depth as to why I've abruptly chosen to self-publish. It's not because of chaffingly horrendous querying stats. In fact I managed to send two whole queries this time. One got a form reject, the other a full request.

I'm looking toward the future. Of marketing, publishing, writing, creating, contributing.

Currently I'm researching expenses. Such as
 - Professional editing
 - Marketing
 - Artwork (tons of artwork)
 - Printing options (softcover, hardcover, electronicover, you name it)

But I'm also researching incentives. I have no intention of being a Kickstarter leech!

So that's where I am now. Energized by raw ambition. Ready to smash any brick wall that stands before me. Gleefully ignorant of all the pitfalls before me. Expending my resources to their utter bounds to learn all I can of this process.

And please know, whatever knowledge I gain along the way, I'll share with you.
Right here.
So that if I fail,
maybe you won't.
And if I succeed,
maybe you can, too.

Love you guys.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

IWSG Oct 2013

IWSG, brainchild of mister Alex J. Cavanaugh (click his name for deets), occurs once a month and exists for writers like me to voice their fears and concerns.
And now, brand new to the interwebs, the official site of the IWSG!!!
Stop by, join up, introduce yourself! I know most of the peeps responsible for the site and I expect good things for us writers!
Although the official unveiling just occurred, the site already has tons of links and resources for writers. Well done, Alex, J.L., Susan, Joylene, Michelle, L.Dianne, and Lynda!

This is a hard month for me as far as IWSG goes. I'm not feeling insecure at the moment.

My first book is done. And by that I mean it's 99.7% as far as I'll ever get it until some editor or test reader suggests changes.

So it's finally time to stop stalling and embrace project # 2 wholeheartedly. I'm feeling excited about it. The only issue I foresee is that my writing time recently took a hit. Time I used to spend writing, I'm now either working or keeping the boy Simon.

I'll need to re-establish a writing work ethic once more. It shouldn't be too hard. Once I fall into the pattern, distractions fall away quickly. I may end up with only half an hour a day to write but that's better than nothing. It just means it will take a little longer to finish projects.

Do you have distractions you must tear away like a band-aid that's overstayed its welcome? Are there set times you write or does it occur in larger sections, less frequently?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Secret Life as a Video Game Composer

The Global Game Jam happens twice yearly, most recently being September 20th through the 22nd. It's an event where a couple hundred super geeks such as myself come together and break into teams to see who can create the best video game from scratch in 48 hours. This last one was my third Game Jam. They get better each year.

I'm going to try to put into words what excited me so much about this experience. There were twelve official members of our team. This is huge compared to other teams... And if you have ever tried working on a team of people, especially those who don't know each other that well, you know how much of a disaster this could have been. But it wasn't. At all. We were an oiled machine, working day and night, pausing only to run down the hall for food or to relieve our bladders, laying down on the floor in front of our computers only when our eyes refused to stay open a moment longer, then get up and get back to work.

Our team pretty much filled an entire computer lab. On the back row were the programmers - Ben, Mat, Josh, Stephen. Next row were the artists and animators - Ian, Leonard and Jessica. Holding the next row all to himself, a bit of a jack of all trades, was Jeremy. On the front were Bill, who was in charge of sounds, and me, producing the music. Britt, working with Jake as project managers, was the central communication between us... the motivator, idea filter and public relations.

I'm probably doing nothing to capture the essence of the experience, and I apologize. It was awesome. I personally love being at home, hate being out, especially staying out, when I could be writing at my house or kicking back in my recliner. And yet I felt absolutely at home in that computer lab. Everyone was like-minded. Everyone was friends.

I think one reason I enjoyed it so much (besides the obvious fact that I love telling stories, writing music and playing video games) was because of the constant amount of high, creative energy...

But for me, that comes at a cost. Both years I've produced music I had a similar cycle.

Friday -

I sit down once we've all agreed upon the game's theme. I lay out my musical snippets and ideas and look them over, finding the best, rejecting the rest. Then I start writing. I quickly get stuck... a stupid instrument, a riff that's just weak, an idea I just can't expand on...

Friday becomes Saturday - 

I wander to the art department to see the graphics they're producing. Something sparks inside me and I run back to my computer, laying down tracks.
Then I get stuck again. And this time I'm really stuck. So stuck that I wonder why I do it to myself. I grow quiet. Britt comes around and asks how the music's coming.
'Go ____ your face,' I say. Then I apologize. Then I wander around.
Bill says, 'Why do you do it?'
I say, 'I don't know.'
Eventually I give up for the night, settling down in a heap to catch three or four hours of slumber. I wake up feeling better. I sit down at the computer. I shift a melody over an uncharted chord progression... 
There it is. I'm through the cloud. I sit back, but not too far because I don't think people will understand why my eyes are filling with tears. I listen to the song over and over. A hundred times. I tweak and add and subtract and edit. Only then do I show it off. Only then is it ready.

We won, by the way. Well, as much as we could have. Our game was amongst the top 5 entries. We'll find out in a week and a half if we won first place or not.

I've mentioned this idea here before. How I love to compose music but I hate deadlines. I get so stressed out over them. But not like simmering stress, it's volcanic and all at once. And just as quickly, it passes, once the creative block comes down.

Will it be that same way with books? Once I'm writing, no longer just for fun and for myself but for a living, for the people to whom I owe books, will the process treat me the same way? Once there's a deadline? Can I handle that much pressure? Do I really want to find out the hard way?? 
And if not, why do I love Game Jam so much, despite the lows?

Here's a link to the song I produced for the game. This particular song was heavy on elecronica, light on actual instruments. If you don't like techno or video games, I can't guarantee you'll like it. But don't take my word for it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Next Big Thing!

My blogging friend and fellow fantasy author Brandon Ax was thoughtful enough to mention me in a post entitled The Next Big Thing. (Here's a link to his
Basically it's ten questions regarding your current project. For the sake of this post, I'll answer the questions based on my NEXT project... (Because I'm sick of talking about the edits I'm doing on my current)

Here we go! (as if I didn't talk about this book enough in April!)

1. What is the working title of your book? 
Turesia Split
(click to go to its page on my website.)

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? 
The idea came from my love for UFC and my love for Video Games. I wondered, What if the fighters had to kill their opponents before leaving the arena, and they were immediately revived (not unlike Mario)? This got me thinking about stats, strategies, residual scars, reincarnation, team death matches, human sacrifices - for the sake of pain alone not loss of life, and so on...
3. What Genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy, of course. And it'll get a bit gritty. Not so much erotic.
Whether it's YA or not, I don't know yet. I'm capable of maintaining a quick pace, with humor and quirkiness that would appeal to a younger audience, which seems to me like the logical determining factor... But as far as the specific age of my protagonists? Who cares? It's only a number. 
<tangent> I really hate that the market has built an impassable fence and we have to choose one side or the other. When I was a kid (and I mean as soon as I learned to read) I read every book that held my attention, regardless of the age, race, gender or species of the protagonists. What a stupid way of categorizing books.</tangent>
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?
When I started with this book, I had some clear ideas for this answer. So much so that I drew sketches of the different characters based on certain actors. But as I wrote the book, I got to know my characters better. I didn't like the faces I'd chosen for them. I didn't want my characters to be limited to an individual but (as Brandon Ax said) I wanted readers to form their own opinions. That's the magic of books, after all.

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?  
A runaway priest from the west meets an escaped gladiator from the east, triggering a civil war.

6. Will your book be self published or represented by an agency? 
I just want to write. That said, I'd really prefer to have someone (a publishing house) do a lot of the other stuff for me (even if it involves them taking a chunk of the profit). 
But if I write a book worthy of being read, and am unsuccessful at finding representation, I'll self publish.

7. How long did it take you to finish the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft is only about 80 percent finished. And that took four months.

8. What other books would you compare this book with in your genre?
Tough question. I spend a lot of time reading outside my genre. Despite how odd this might sound, I aspire to write Joe Abercrombie for younger audiences. 

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This seems a lot like #2... But I'll try to answer differently. 
I looked at the world map of Silexare and found an area I'd already developed some history for. The gladiator / UFC / east versus west idea was perfect for this continent. And it was isolated enough that I didn't have a ton of additional world building to do. (Which is good because I'm a hella procrastinator)

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
I aim for edgy YA fantasy, with dialogue that snaps, locations that are fresh - think tropical volcanic island, and monsters that would make Pikachu crap his little electric britches. I'd also like to shrug off traditional fantasy gender roles. In this case, the runaway priest is the boy, the escaped gladiator the girl.

Thanks again, Brandon Ax, for giving me the opportunity to put this into words! I didn't have a one sentence pitch before this. At least now I have the workings of one! 

Now to nominate some other bloggers for the hotseat...

I'm going to call out Mark Noce first, from Mark Noce Stories. He has intelligent things to say, he's a new father, and he recently went to San Fransisco. I can relate to at least two of those!

I want to call out Carrie Butler over at So, You're a Writer... because she's clever and helpful. Also, I read an excerpt of her NA Paranormal Romance - Strength on Amazon and was impressed by her writing.

Finally, I'm choosing Faith E. Hough because (you guessed it) she's smart, too. She reads a lot and has an optimistic personality... well, bloggersonality.

Ok, go!

(By the way, if you want a formal invitation to partake in The Next Big Thing blog yourself, let me know in the comments and I'll add your name to those above. I can do that. I know my password.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IWSG September 4th

IWSG, brainchild of mister Alex J. Cavanaugh (click his name for deets), occurs once a month and exists for writers like me to voice their fears and concerns...
I've taken the opportunity to whine instead.

My book is boring. I've read it a million times. And it's too simple. There are less than 20 relevant characters and they're all stupid. Thank God, I'm almost done messing with this book forever.

But my next book needs tons of characters. I have to invent an entire religion and a magic system and a government. I have to culminate a logically founded hatred between two nations that eventually breaks into outright war. I have to invent at least three unique races of creatures (not including random questing beasts) that could function in the world...or at least in Silexare. I have to write three romantic relationships - two of which being love triangles.

I've jumped off the deep end with this book. I'm bound to fail. It's going to be a huge train wreck. It'll never sell and I'll be stuck working here forever.

But at least I came up with a post for IWSG  :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Check your 6 o'clock...

(I've been incubating this post as long as I care to. It is what it is.)

We all have something lurking over us, breath murky on our ear, claws trembling in anticipation of flesh. 

"...Sin lieth at your door.  And unto thee shall be its desire..."

At best, this temptation wishes no greater harm than to delight us, but in a derailing fashion - choosing chocolate over the workout video, watching tv shows instead of writing, playing video games instead of parenting.
At worst, giving in would be unhealthy, immoral, illegal.

That said, discipline means something different to everyone. But it seems to always be the harder choice. The endless struggle. It starts the moment you become conscious that your actions are your own (which is later in life for some of us than others) and doesn't end until you exhale for the very last time.

Like gasoline to every automobile you've ever owned, tension is a universal solvent. That's why conflict is necessary in a good book. There's comfort in discomfort... because pain is relative. The smartest writers convince us it couldn't get any worse. And so, while reading a good book, our problems pale compared to those of our hero. We're comforted by how easy we have it.

www.wired.co.uk - The Zelda Project

A good lesson for writers, especially us nerdy, world-building, fantasy sorts, is that tension is key. We've all played video games where innocent music trickles from a sunny, blue sky and our chief concern is smashing all the pots to find rupees. And so when we attempt to translate that joy to the page, in all its neutered comfort, we overlook the most important subcutaneous inevitability: The  world's going to end if something isn't done!

When an author can sneak a whisper of unease into every burst of laughter, every tulip's shadow, every whistled tune, she's written something magical.

Though I have only my own experiences to rely on, I believe the people who don't understand the language of tension are those who've forfeited all discipline, given up any control over their lives. They're the leaves on a breeze (not to be confused with a leaf on the wind), the constant victims, having long since forgotten their own identities. Consequences no longer register because nothing's their fault. The world ended already and they'll be the last to know it.
If this refers to you, know that I'm not condemning you. There's a very real place for you in my books. It's just not the most flattering.

Are you able to weave your personal struggles and temptations into your craft, whatever it may be? 
Considering that this post is 100% rambling, I welcome discourse to convince me I'm wrong on any point I've made herein.

They say, "Write what you know." We all know struggle.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Into my process - A Sawmill's Hope

My work consumes my thoughts. And by 'work' I don't mean what I'm currently doing for a living. I mean life work. So I figured I'd share it with you. After all, my blog is nothing if not a personal challenge to write until I'm out of secrets.
If that involves including reference materials (ie. map, synopsis) that are spoilers to my current work in progress, let's just call them appetizers, shall we?

After all, we're told our whole life not to spoil our appetites by eating before dinner, only to find out that grown ups do it so frequently there's an entire section of menus dedicated to it!

 Darke and the Parandrus
I finished the 6th draft of this one year after starting it. Then I queried it to eighteen agents. This isn't a lot by any means. But I was too excited about my next book to keep up the grueling querying. Just because a man would make a great lumberjack doesn't necessarily mean he likes to dress in a tie and sit in an interview. He just wants to cut down trees!

So I left Darke on the shelf, assuming I'd come back someday. Then several things happened. The going got tough in book #2 (poor excuse to put it down but we're being honest), I read the First Law trilogy (which, in case I haven't mentioned, changed the way I look at literature), and an up-and-coming publishing house opened their doors for unsolicited book submissions (through October of this year unless I'm mistaken).

These three details turned out to be exactly what I needed to crack the dusty cover of Darke's story. And after six months on the shelf, it was dusty indeed. I read an excerpt, slack jawed, flabbergasted I'd ever asked anyone to test read it, ashamed I'd ever been proud to call it my own. The weakness was the story's voice, or lack thereof. It was all telling. I had no grasp of emotion save what was spelled out for me. If this had been someone else's book, I'd have thrown it.

Please understand I'm not being negative or pessimistic. It's absolutely healthy that I felt this way. I'd grown in those six months, as a reader and a writer. My standards were higher. And if I'm lucky, they'll only continue to ascend. Our personal best is only limited by the amount time and work we're willing to put into something.

So I decided to rewrite it. And this is how:

I took the five point of view characters and singled out their parts. Then I began to rewrite them one at a time. Completed are Aedron (whose viewpoint makes up 8% of total book) and Tahkaan (11%). In the works are Brandal (27%) and Darke (44%).
Lastly, of course, will be Recher.

(let's just say pink = spoilers)

The advantage of this is that I'm able to get deep into one character's head and follow his personal journey the entire trip through the Unwithering Woods. For each character to have a unique voice, I had no choice but to do this. And it's working so well, it's a technique I'll resort to again, for sure.

My friend Volker asked if I'd look back at the story a year after the rewrite and consider it garbage once more. In a way, I hope so. It'll only make it better.

Are you your own best critique? What are you doing right now to grow better at your craft? And I don't mean maintaining your craft, I mean taking it higher. Because if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

IWSG August 3

Insecure Writers Support Group, August 2013

Wow, it's been a long time since my last post.

But I've been writing nonstop. I've picked up my first book once more, the one I started about 20 months ago. I finished the 6th or 7th draft of it around November of last year and started querying. Got one full request. Then I let the book rest for about 6 months, while working on the second. But after reading some fiction that changed my way of writing, I decided to rewrite to the first. I'm about 72% done.

The story was never its problem, more like the way it was told. And I do mean "told." There was no emotion in the characters, no motivation made apparent. It's written tight third person, ideal for when you're alternating viewpoints (five in this case) and you want to truly captures their struggles. But my first attempt failed at bringing out the characters.

I'm pretty sure I'm closer than ever to understanding how to capture the characters' struggles. You have to suffer alongside them. And this requires really getting to know them which, for me, only happened after half a dozen drafts and then a waiting period.

This post isn't quite so insecure as my last. But I'm sure there's some insecurities buried herein... Like, "What if I do all this work and the book still isn't good enough?" "What if the best I can make it still falls flat to those who read it?"

I guess the answer to any question such as these is the same. I sat down to write Darke and the Parandrus / A Sawmill's Hope just as clueless as I could be. And over the course of that first year, I read tons of books and articles on writing, watched writing videos, listened to writing podcasts,  spoke with professional writers, agents, editors...

Long story short, if my first book goes nowhere, it won't have been a loss.

What about you? Is your first story destined for greatness or the chopping block? When do you know it's the best it'll ever be? Did your first book get published? Is it everything you dreamed?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

WRiTE Club 2013!!!

Once again, WRiTE Club is going on over at Cruising Altitude 2.0!

Basically it's a short story contest, with randomly selected entries brawling on Monday and Thursday for your viewing pleasure!

The difference from this year and last is that all entries were filtered through a series of experts who narrowed them down to a mere 32.  This means the contest will be far shorter and the entries you read will have met a certain professional standard.

Feel free to head that way and read some amateur fiction!  If you want to vote, you'll need to sign up first (just look for the sign up link below the other voters).  If not, I'm sure the writers would appreciate whatever constructive criticism you have to offer.  I'm trying hard to curb the snark and keep it as constructive as possible... I may have failed at that last year.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG - Backward motivation

I love writing.  I love creating and designing and, frankly, being impressed and falling in love with my creations.

But lately, that's not what's inspired me to write.

I work a lot.  My full time job is IT professional at a tech school.  My part time job is at a kayak business on the Broad River, hauling kayaks around for 10-12 hours in the Georgia sun.
(This isn't including playing bass in a band or fixing friends' computers on the side.  Those don't happen frequently enough to wear at me.)

Both jobs have their perks.
At the best of times I like both jobs, or at least tolerate them. Most of the time they kind of balance one another out.  Just when I'm tired of using my brains all day, tucking my shirt in and being polite, Friday comes around and I'm at the river in shorts only, screaming and laughing, driving a short bus down a dirt road with a trailer full of kayaks, going 40 mph, missing trees by the span of a flea's knees.  Then, just when I'm sick of hauling kayaks around, sweating in the dirt, Monday comes and I'm sitting in the quiet of my office in the AC.

But at the worst of times, I hate my jobs.  And it's this hate that has directed by butt to chair more than once to write and write and write until my fingers ache and the heat of the laptop boils the blood in my legs.  It's at these times that desperation seeps into my work, for better or worse, and I write like I have no choice.  This is, of course, because I have no choice.

Is this healthy motivation?  Is my love of writing simply the product of my hatred of traditional work and schedule?  Are you, too, motivated by what chases you and not what you chase?? 

I'm curious to know.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Finding Friday - Skyrim Writing Practice

Specifically for you writers.  I realize it's not Friday.  If it were we wouldn't be searching for it would we?

I wrote some yesterday.  Added a cooking scene to Brandal's intro.

I got home and wanted to continue writing.

I used my laptop, so as to kick it with Jantzen in the living room.  He decided to play Skyrim since we weren't watching a movie.  For some reason, My Box wouldn't sync up with my latest files I'd edited on a different computer... In fact, there was no "Brandal edits.docx" whatsoever.

I'll just watch Skyrim and wait for it to sync.

Watch.  Wait.  Watch.  Wait.  It became obvious the sync wasn't going to happen.  I'd have to go to another computer.  But it was already 11 pm and my rump was tucked nicely on a pillow on the floor between the couch and the futon in the write-friendliest pose you could imagine.

I watched more Skyrim, contemplating my dilemma.
Then I opened Word and just started writing.  Here's what came out.
[It's pretty rough. For the sake of this post, it hasn't been cleaned up]

                “Hold this.”  Mink handed off several random bits of armor and potions to Lydia.

                “I’m sworn to carry your burdens,” she said, not lacking sarcasm in the least. 

It’d be better if she just didn’t speak.  Everything she said irked him. 

                They arrived at the fort.  As predicted, it was overrun with bandits.  The first ran out with a mean looking club, followed by an old brigand with white hair and a wooden shield.  He had a sword but wasn’t quick enough to put it to any use.  Lydia was less than helpful, firing arrows into the group from thirty paces off.

                “Could use a hand here!” Mink shouted, downing a potion.  His mace bounced off the first man’s head, laying him down unceremoniously.  A third joined.  He swung a warhammer nearly taller than himself.  An arrow dropped the old man, leaving only the warhammer to worry about.  Mink dodged, sprang forward, finally managed to trip the bastard then bashed his head in on the way down.  An arrow stuck in the ground next to his foot. 

“Lydia!” But it wasn’t hers.  The shooter hid behind crumbling stone, fumbling with another arrow.  Mink rolled aside, came up around a tree, dashed forward with a yell, just bringing his shield up in time to block the arrow.  Lydia got to the archer first but had no idea what to do with him.  He’d brandished a dagger and was backing her against a tree.  Mink’s mace made a terrific sound against the side of the archer’s face.

                A single swordsman met them inside the fort, shirtless and roaring.  His greatsword swung windmills around the room, scattering chairs and sending Mink diving for cover.  Lydia got a lucky shot with her stolen dagger, exposing one of his ribs with a swipe.  Mink let the sword bounce off his shield, nearly breaking his arm, and stuck his mace in the man’s groin.  The swordsman hunched and Lydia’s dagger thumped into his back.
                The fort was as Mink had expected, rough-hewn wooden furniture - barely more than functional, stale bread, dusty sacks of seed or rice, rusty weapons, poorly tanned furs.  In one room, a large hall with arched wooden supports overhead, was a wide table with a map stretched across.  It had handwriting scrawled here and there, maybe some kind of a plan of attack.  More likely an ambush.  A chest sat tucked away beneath the table.  Mink had Lydia stand at the doorway as he picked the lock.  Inside were Orcish weapons and a pouch full of gold coins.  He took the gold.

 I went back and read this and was a little bit delighted.
No, it has no instrospection, no buildup, no dialogue, no plot, no arc, no romance, and very little setting.  It's action only.  But what it taught me in a matter of five minutes, was immense.
It taught me how to differentiate foes while writing action.
How to account for several characters at once.
That it's ok to mention a shield and it do no good whatsoever.
That we're watching from Mink's POV and we aren't supposed to know what Lydia's doing moment to moment, or what the other bandits are doing or how many are left...

And if an action scene in a video game could show me this, what could I learn from a funny scene in a comedy or a tense scene in a thriller or a scary scene in a horror movie or a romantic scene in a romance?

Have you ever watched TV and attempted to transcribe what you're seeing?  If not I challenge you to.  It's better if it's something you can pause.  If you aren't a TV or movie watcher (or even if you are!) maybe find a window and just write what's happening in the world, filling in the details that aren't forthcoming.  When you can't work on your story in progress, what do YOU write?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Excuses.... and promises of things to come

I've slacked!!!
I'm sorry.  I missed DL Hammon's WIP it blog! (which I signed up for)
I missed contributing and participating in this month's IWSP! (which I've also signed up for)
And I missed my own 'Finding Friday' post!  (of which there are but two lonely installments!)

In my defense - and I hate making excuses! - My wife, Simon and I are on vacation on the other side of the country.  In case you weren't aware, our home is deep in the woods of northeast Georgia, in a NORMAL time zone.  Well I'm writing you now from the Sacramento Valley of northern Cali, cradled beneath the golden foothills of the Klamath and Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

And so my schedule and our days have been anything but routine.  But I'm going to get back in the swing soon and come see what I've missed 'round the sphere and hopefully give you guys some pictures to look at... hopefully in the form of another installment of The Refresh Button.  (I am on vacation until then... as much vacation as one can be on with a two year old three hours off his schedule!)

See you soon.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Finding Friday - Name Creation

This is just something I've been wanting to share with you fellow writers.  I'm sorry for leaving out you non-writers today.

Writing high fantasy, I try to invent new names as often as possible for my characters, monsters and locations.  Occasionally while I'm thinking of - or writing - a character, their name just appears on the page like POP! and it's perfect.  But sometimes, I can't think of a snazzy name to save my life.  For those situations, here's the tactic I've taken up for my current work in progress.

Think of one word that describes your character - for example awesome, naive, meek, obnoxious, etc.  Go to Google translate and translate the word to a different language.  My favorite languages to use are currently Finnish, Latin, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, and Norwegian.

For one of my characters I entered the word "Pure" because out of every character in my current story, she's above reproach.  The results didn't come back with anything that stood out so I tried "Chaste".  The first result in Finnish was "siveรค".  I loved it.  She became Syvea. 
Adenhelm, the lake of lava where human sacrifices are thrown, came from two words.  
Aden - Ahnden is German for punish or avenge
Helm - Holm is Norse for island and Heim is German (and Norse) for home
Fohrvilda, the nation run by barbarians, was pretty simple.  Feral translated to Swedish is Forvildad.
Kaedheim, the arena where prisoners of Fohrvylda are forced to fight to the death, was pretty straight forward too.  
Kaed - Caed is Latin for murder
Heim - Norse for home
A little bit backward from this is the island called Redemier.  The name sounds a bit grim, whether you pronounce it 'Red-eh-mire' or 'Reed-mier' and it should sound grim, the island is forbidden.  To step foot upon it is to die.  But the name came from
Vrede - Peace in Dutch
Mier - Peace in Slovak
In this case, the name is a bit of a spoiler, but only to a select few... I find this cool.

One reason I leaned so much toward Norse, Finnish and Swedish for these names is that a lot of the setting of the story takes places high on frigid, unforgiving cliffs over a violent sea.  The languages are only fitting.

The brilliant thing about this is that sometimes you'll use words that readers recognize, be it consciously or otherwise.  This can add depth to the characters and locales.

After you've settled on a name, I suggest doing a Google search on it.  It's a good idea to be aware if the name you've chosen is already in use or has negative connotations.

Do you have a name generation system or do you just "pants" it?  Do you fancy the idea of learning another language one word at a time??