Monday, November 3, 2014
For starters, I am now single. My girlfriend of approximately four years (discounting the three months she was seeing someone else before agreeing to a serious relationship with me) dumped me last Sunday. Via text message. I won't go into detail beyond that little gem, nor will I expound on her cheating on me on Valentine's Day with the guy she'd been seeing.
So, as you can imagine, my life's been a mess for, if I want to be honest, a year now. With that in mind it's a small miracle that I got Reagent Protocol finished and published this year. Now, that particular book hasn't been well-received, and I have some ideas on that, even though I still think the story and characters are in some ways superior to previous works. One of these ideas, simply put, is a lack of feedback while I was writing it.
Not so simply put, I have a method for writing that probably is a little less self-reliant than it should be. When I struggle with a sentence, or if I wonder about a passage, I like to ask people to read the parts in question and give me some feedback. Frequently, the simple act of posting the questionable content in a chat window, e-mail, or what-have-you, gives me insight. This insight usually leads to small changes, but the feedback I get from the friend(s) I shared with is frequently invaluable to me.
The fact that I don't have a professional editor to help me is also a reason why I find this particular exchange so useful and valuable.
I won't lie and say that the feeling I get when my friends ask me for more of the story to read (especially when it's unsolicited) is unwelcome. It's very encouraging, actually.
I've had none of that for a very long time.
The net result is that I wrote the last half (or more, I can't remember) Shawn Doolish part of Reagent Protocol without any appreciable amount of feedback and an unbelievable amount of personal stress from an unhappy relationship. Actually, I wrote the whole think with no real feedback. The reasons for this are several-fold. Many of my friends are no longer in my life in any way. Most of those have moved on, or at least moved away from the only ways I had to contact them. Of those remaining, none of them have the free time they used to, so I can't ask them to do more than peek at a line or two once in a great while.
Some of you would ask, why not ask the girlfriend for her help? Well, um, that's a good question, actually. It warrants a good answer. I'll give one, just not quite yet.
During the last two years I haven't been exceptionally productive, writing-wise. Actually, that's incorrect. Since I published Subject 12, I haven't been very productive. I wrote The Grand Granger and Reagent Protocol in these intervening years, but neither is especially long, nor particularly successful. Oh well, as teenagers say all the time. But I haven't been very productive, it's really that simple.
So, why? I've been distracted, depressed, busy, and in a relationship that appears to have been far more one-sided than I'd ever thought. My girlfriend was rarely supportive of my writing. Or of me, for that matter. When the chips were down and I really, truly needed support because my world was collapsing around me and it wasn't entirely internal, she was there for me. That's something that I respect her for, but as for the rest of the relationship it just didn't work. I threw everything I could into it; I changed behaviors and goals, spent money I couldn't afford to spend and barely had, sacrificed friends and damaged relationships with other people I cared about, drove an hour to visit her two and three times a week, and found myself including her in every decision I made whenever she was around (other than the food I ordered at restaurants), all just to be with and try to make happy a woman who felt that she was making me miserable. At least, that's the story she tells. To be honest, I believe she was unhappy with herself and her medical problems, and her refusal to compromise on virtually anything drove me batty. I wont go into more details, but I will say that her cheating on me wasn't the worst thing that happened, even if it felt like it at the time. The things she's accused me of indicate such a negative opinion of me that I honestly don't know why she wanted me around at all, and to be honest with myself, it really hurts to think someone I care about thinks so badly of me.
It was, in short, a bad relationship. It ate up my life, leaving me little else to subsist on. That little else did not include much writing; I did get some done on various projects, but not enough to say I did enough, and the quality has, no doubt, suffered from my distraction and stress. We fought constantly. Due to this relationship I've gained and lost over sixty pounds in the last year. If that doesn't tell you what my life has been like, I don't know how better to explain it.
That's not to say it was all bad. We did share some good laughs, some good times, and some good food. If I hadn't been trying to show her that I was changing, I wouldn't now own a fedora that I wear a lot (though it's borderline amazing that I found a hat that fits me). Yes, I said a fedora, not a damn trilby. If you don't know the difference you should look it up, because pimps, hipsters, and neckbeards wear the trilby, Indiana Jones and Humphrey Bogart wore a fedora.
But I seem to be getting a little off-topic, don't I? Sorry, I do tend to ramble.
At this point I should answer the question I asked earlier. Why couldn't I ask my girlfriend to read what I wrote? Because she didn't like it. Any of it. She says she enjoyed The Grand Granger, and I believe her, but there was nothing else she found entertaining, amusing, or at all interesting. She constantly got after me about my writing -- that I was complaining about being blocked (I didn't do it that often, but, yes, I admit I said I was blocked and it was bothering me.), or that I needed a "real job". She said I was waiting around for something good to happen, hinting that I needed to give up on my dream. She'd moan about how she lost the manuscript for her book, a poem collection, and never let me forget that at some point I apparently compared her work (which I've never read, I want to add, because she never shared) to someone else's (which I never did, having never read hers) whose work I described as being in an archaic style. Okay. So, I should give up on my dream because she lost her manuscript and gave up on hers. That was my takeaway.
Why would I get support for something important to me when she secretly hates that I'm trying to do what she couldn't bring herself to do? So, no matter what, I couldn't ask her for the support I needed, and having lost (and driven away) friends that used to do it for me (and would make her jealous that they were doing something she patently refused to do), I had nobody to do it for me.
This situation hasn't improved, but I'm going to try and work around it.
As for how I'm doing, I have to answer with a simple, "I'm okay, thank you." and not expound too much. I really am okay. I'm a little depressed, I'm pretty lonely, and I have two nights that I have to work between ten and fourteen hours apiece without any real break. It's decent money, but it's a couple of long nights, and this is the first year that I won't have any visitors to help break up the monotony. On top of this, I've watched almost everything I care to on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. Did I mention it's not a hard job? Well, it's not. My duties include staying awake, walking around, and making sure the drunks don't go through the area. Actually, I'm responsible for making sure people don't come in and steal or break stuff. But what it amounts to is keeping the drunks (Friday and Saturday night at a hotel with a bar, in a college town. Need I say more?) out and telling people to come back in the morning.
Those nights, though, are going to be very difficult for me if my brain decides to take a trip down memory lane. Or if it decides that it's time to go over every failed relationship I've had, and remind me of every mistake I made in the last one. You know, typical post-breakup stuff we all go through.
Anyway, I apologize for spending so much time talking about something other than what I've been writing. I just wanted you guys and gals to know why I haven't been talking much, doing much, or writing much. I also guess I just wanted to show everyone that yes, I'm a human being too, with all that entails.
Thanks for reading and for your continued support!
Friday, September 12, 2014
I found this gem while digging through old compositions on my desktop. I really need to spend more time on my desktop.
In any case, enjoy! Posted as-found, corrected only for formatting. I call it "Butcher Bullet" for reasons that will become obvious.
Monday, August 4, 2014
First off, I want to touch on what I do for research. I frequently do hours of research (though to be fair, it's done online and some of it comes from Wikipedia, so you can give me as much credit for accuracy as you wish) for small details, just to make sure they're right. For example, the Sanskrit I used for Skorpion's gloves in Reagent Protocol and the mythology associated with the word I chose for poison took me over two hours. That doesn't seem like much, when you consider the years some people spend researching certain subjects, but most of these people are doing research for entire books, or series, etc, not just a small aspect of one. I could have picked almost anything, but I wanted something different, perhaps unique, to make the book stand out. Besides, I do pride myself a little bit on accuracy, even if it is fictional.
Let me give you another, specific, example of the research I do. When attempting to find some way for Shawn to forge the one ring (couldn't resist) he made in Reagent Protocol, I watched a demonstration of something called crucible steel. When I say demonstration of it, I mean a demonstration of everything from the forging of a sword from the steel to the actual refining of the ore. That's where I got the idea for the oven he melted the ore in, actually. Okay, that's where I ripped the idea from. I just added a little magical pizzazz to make it fit better. If you have any interest in seeing this demonstration, I can highly recommend an episode of Nova where they make a Viking sword roughly a millennium ahead of its time. For those of you with Amazon Prime video streaming, you can watch it through that service in high definition. You'll want Nova Season 8, episode 11. If you're anything like me, just watching the sword getting forged is very entertaining, but in the finest traditions of the Nova show, it's also very informative and moves along at an excellent pace. If you're not a Prime subscriber but you are a Netflix subscriber, you can watch it there, too, if you'd like. Just do a search for "Secrets of the Viking Sword" and it'll come up fine. If you don't subscribe to either, you can watch on PBS's website for free (assuming you're a resident of the USA or have a proxy set up properly to view content). I found it fascinating.
So, if you've ever wondered why I'm so specific about certain details in my writing, it's because I have reason to be.
Anyway, speaking of Reagent Protocol, I have plans to eventually add another short story to it. After all, I've only showed what, arguably, are success stories for those seeking redemption. Not every story has such a happy ending.
Moving on to the future (don't want to disappoint people by not coming through on that), my plans seem to fluctuate with whatever I can create at the time. At the moment I'm working on a (hopefully much more successful and, outlined, much longer) followup to The Grand Granger. I'm in very early stages of the rough draft, but we'll see where the tides take us. That's not to say I'm not also pecking away at Guild Files: Rogue, but it's definitely taken a back seat. Why? Sociopaths are easy to create but hard to write.
Take from that what you will.
On that note I'm going to wrap things up. Yes, I'm still alive. Yes, I have reasons, and reasons aplenty, why I haven't been more talkative or creative lately. No, I'm not going to share them. They're personal and this isn't a blog about my personal life.
Thanks for reading and be sure to tell all your friends about how awesome at least some of my writing is!
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
The first thing I noticed about him was his hat. I supposed this was intentional. Everything else about his clothing was hard-wearing, worn, and possibly even a little shabby. From his almost-olive-drab t-shirt, blue jeans that had holes in one leg, shoes that looked like they'd seen better months, unzipped jacket that looked tough enough to stand by itself when taken off, three-day stubble, and single ring gracing the middle finger of his right hand, I'd have been forced to say he was halfway to vagrancy.But there was more. His beard was growing out from a neat trim but was still well-maintained. It was a fussy style, too. His sideburns grew down his jawline, along his jaw, and into a goatee. His neck, which looked like his razor needed replacing, was shaven – aside from the stubble. His hair was long, but he'd pulled it back in a loose tail so it wasn't in the way, and just starting to gray a little at the temples.His middle was thick, like he was used to eating big, or at least heavy, meals, but not so thick as to make someone think he was fat. His legs were well-hidden by the jeans, but the thighs looked ever-so-slightly strained over the muscle moving when he walked. Actually, when he paced.He kept his hands in his pockets, but he hooked his thumbs into the belt loops just above them, like he was used to resting his hands on something hanging off his belt. His eyes darted from door to door and looked out each window. He never looked over his shoulder when he changed direction, but you could tell his awareness was keyed up.He didn't pace like a caged animal as he waited for his clothing to finish getting mauled by the industrial washing machine. No, he moved too slowly and deliberately for that. His pace was measured and cautious, like he'd grown used to watching where every footfall went. He never moved in one direction too long, either. He didn't turn his head, he turned his whole body to check behind him. And there was more. Whenever he didn't have his hands in his pockets, his thumbs locked in his belt loops, he moved his arms in a curious way. They swung like coiled springs, ready to loose their tension in less than a heartbeat on anyone incautious enough to come too closely.I felt the corner of my mouth curl ever-so-slightly in a half-smile.The hat, though. His jacket was faded and starting to fray around the cuffs, his shirt had bleach spots from a hurried hand putting the cap back on the bottle, his jeans were torn in several places on his left thigh, and his shoes sported soles that were obviously more than half worn and the bodies were starting to deteriorate, but he had that damn hat. Everything else he was wearing was obviously hard-used and designed to take it, but the hat was new and, aside from a few stray cat hairs, well-cared for.It looked good on him, don't get me wrong. It just stood out like a sore thumb, and nobody could say it was laundry day and that's why he was dressed down. He was far too comfortable wearing the shabby clothes to be that image-conscious.The hat was a fedora. Not a damn trilby, a fedora. There's a big difference, just so you know. Anyway, it was black, with a smaller brim than I would have expected, but nothing too obvious. It rode his head comfortably, and he was patently used to wearing it because he didn't hit it on anything he could have.It just seemed, well, odd.His right leg was minutely stiff and he had a barely-discernible limp from it, but nothing that would disqualify him from a ten-kay march.No, the more I watched him the more I came to the conclusion that the deliberate movement was to conserve energy, that the thickening middle was from eating habits from long periods of privation and heavy exercise rather than laziness, his hat was a peacock tail, and that this man had spent some serious time first in the suck and then in the shit. And, like so many other veterans, still spent part of his time there. At least he did in his own head.He didn't engage anyone. The only time I caught his eye I could see a stare that went beyond the horizon. I didn't try to hold it. He wanted to be left alone and it was the least I could do for someone who still hadn't come home. I left him alone to continue his solitary march through hell.
Well, there you have it. By the way, if you're not following me over on Google + you're missing out on a few things.
If you want updates on Rogue or Reagent Protocol then follow me there or on Twitter, because I post there more than I do here.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Monday, March 3, 2014
Since I'm mobile I'll keep this as brief as possible. Reagent Protocol, the second book in the Guild Files universe, will be done in a few days. The cover is holding me up at the moment. While I'm sure many of you reading this wouldn't care what I used for a cover, it's still important for overall sales.
On another note, to all those who find this blog via Google, looking for my second Guild Files book, stop by and drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Don't forget to read the preview if you want. Make sure the book is something you want before you buy! Thanks for reading and thanks for your support!
Since I'm sure at least one person reading this is interested, my personal life is still a shambles. I'm doing the best I can and trying to continue getting my life back in order (a very long-term project), but my emotional state can only be described as "in turmoil". It's impossible to keep this from affecting my professional life, but I'm doing what I can to minimize the impact. While I'd like to go into detail, I won't. It's not really important and it's personal. I won't go dumping personal details on you because this isn't Facebook or Myspace.
Now, with that out of the way, down to business. Several years ago I wrote a book about a PI. I never named this character, nor did I even have a title for the book. Sound familiar? It should. I already admitted that I suck at titles.
I wrote this book back in 2006 or so. That was well before I started working on Subject 12. As such, any resemblance between the two can be attributed to good ideas, bad ideas, or just plain cussedness on my part.
I needed a break from Reagent Protocol because of my emotional state and the association I was developing between the story and the problems going on in my life at the time. So I took one in editing Triggerbreak (not the original title) for publication. Why I did this after such a long lapse between when I last touched finger to key to edit the book is a question that has many answers. I've touched on my money problems. I've touched on my need to get my life in order. I've already said I needed a break from what I'd been doing. I've also always felt that the story, while a little rough, was worth publication. I've even started work on a sequel to it, though I haven't worked on it in months if not over a year or more. But it's definitely a secondary piece; the Guild Files universe is where I'll be doing most of my work because the story I've been writing is far from over, and it won't end even after Rogue is finished, though much will be made clearer about Hammer and the, let's face it, strange title of Subject 12.
So, the question on everyone's lips at the moment has to be "What is Triggerbreak about?" Well, it might not be, but work with me here.
Let me post the jacket blurb I already posted on Google+. Which, for the record, you should be following me at because I really do post more there than here. And Twitter. Probably should be following me on all three, actually.
I hadn’t liked my brother-in-law from the moment I met him – I liked him even less when I found out how he spent his Saturday nights. I’d never even heard of Turk before he cracked one of my ribs and the local Mafia boss put him in his place for it. I’d never met Betty before the night I saved her life.
Tracer was the best fixer and information broker in the city. She was the go-to girl and everyone knew it, even if they couldn’t afford it. She was probably the best ally I had. Nick ran the Gentle Arms Hotel; he was the high priest of the only Holy Ground in this godforsaken town and my best friend. Jared was crazy, an ex-spook, and the most trustworthy man I knew.
When I got up that morning all I’d wanted to do was get drunk, smoke a few cigarettes, and forget about everything in my life that had gone wrong. Seems somebody had other plans, though. That’s why they left me in a pool of blood with a head wound that sent me to the hospital.
Now, with two psychopaths and a hired gun trying to kill me, the question is simple. Can my friends and I pull my fat out of the fire before someone does more than just cave in the back of my skull?
Monday, January 20, 2014
Back to the flesh and blood readers. As I've been telling you, for the last few months I've been hacking away at the main story in my upcoming release, Guild Files Volume 2: Reagent Protocol. While I haven't fielded any questions, I'm sure there are some, so I'm going to try and answer a few.
First off, is Reagent Protocol a sequel to Subject 12? No. I already answered this, but I'll go into a little more depth here. While it's not a direct sequel (in fact, it takes place during the events of Subject 12), it sets up characters that make appearances in Rogue, and it expands the overall universe in ways that I plan on taking advantage of.
Second, is Reagent Protocol an anthology like I had discussed before? Yes and no. It will bundle Banshee, which you should be familiar with (if you're not, click that link), and the story I just finished the rough draft to, which is about Shawn Doolish, a 200 year-old shadow mage who has left the Villain's Confederation and joined the Heroes' Guild. Current word count on the Doolish story is over 67,000 words. Banshee clocked in around 10,000 words, so we're looking at probably around 80-82.5K words total when I get some reader feedback and do my editing. And no, I haven't done the Guild Intelligence file(s) for the main story yet.
Third, what does Reagent Protocol mean for the publication of Rogue? Well, obviously I haven't worked too intensely on Rogue while I've been working on Reagent Protocol. While I need to keep many irons in the fire so I don't get too burnt out on any one project, the lion's share of my attention does go to the project that I feel is of the highest priority, and that usually is the one that I feel the most inspiration for. In this case, Rogue just didn't make the cut that often. I'm still working on it, I swear, it's slow going. I do, however, plan on making it my next Guild Files release.
Fourth, do I still have plans for an anthology of short stories set in the Guild Files universe? Not as such, no, and certainly not immediately. I do, however, plan on possibly tacking another short story or two into Reagent Protocol, provided they fit the criteria for a Reagent Protocol story. I'll explain what I mean about that in the actual publication.
Fifth, is there any way you can read the rough draft and give me reader feedback? To be honest, possibly. I've had a couple of offers and, even if I haven't responded to them, I've heard them and remember them. The issue at hand is twofold. Of highest priority would be the fact that I need feedback both on the story as I've presented it. Is it good enough? Are the characters believable? Are they exciting? Is the story plausible within the constraints of the universe? Are there any gaping plot holes... That's a lot to ask of anyone, especially someone I don't know, and that doesn't even cover the other part. If you think you can handle all that and get back to me in a timely fashion (by Monday the 27th), I'll consider the first three people who contact me with a valid e-mail address. Drop me a line on Google+, Twitter, or in the comments here. Thanks!
Those were the only questions I could really think of, so I'll wrap it up here. I'd planned for a character map of the main characters, but this is getting long already and will only get longer from here.
Now, on to why many of you might be interested in reading this blog post at all, the excerpt. Keep in mind three things. This is a rough draft. That means what you see here may not bear any resemblance to the opening of the published story. Secondly, this won't be the same excerpt as you'd get from Amazon when I get the book published. That will, if memory serves, be substantially longer than what I'm posting here, and cover at least in part a different section of the story. Third, I will not change this when I publish. Consider it a glimpse into the creative process if you so wish. If it stays the same, then you'll know I did good. If it changes dramatically, you'll be able to see the difference. Also, though this goes without saying to anyone who has read Subject 12, there's a content warning for language. You have been warned. So, with those things in mind, enjoy!
Friday, January 10, 2014
No, this post is me pointing to my Google+ account. I'm trying to increase my direct interaction with my readers (that would be you), and Google+ seems like the most direct way I can. I know some of you would suggest Facebook, but I have numerous problems with that. Suffice it to say, Facebook is a non-issue, so we'll drop it now.
So, if you want to interact, you can head on over to G+ and drop me a line. If you have a gmail address you have a G+ account, as far as I'm aware, so the cost for admission is pretty low. I don't know much about G+, not being a Facebook user, but I'll try to keep things either on-topic or at least light. I'm learning, and all this is pretty new to me, but I'm going to give it a shot. I'm not giving up my blog or my twitter, so you'll still be able to reach me either place, but G+ might get updated a little more frequently. I'm going to try.
Thanks for reading!
Saturday, January 4, 2014
I won't go into too many details since this is supposed to be about my writing and not about my personal life, but when my personal life intrudes into my writing and I let you guys down I feel I have to explain. As such, I'll give you the top two non-relationship issues I'm facing.
First, money. I don't have a regular job or regular source of income other than book sales, and those have sunk like the Bismarck, leaving me with little in the way of resources. Money worries, in short, are stressing me out. This makes me want to write more, obviously, but just because I want to write doesn't mean things come out easier or faster. To help remedy this situation I looked for some freelance writing jobs online and found that I was in so far over my head I couldn't see daylight. The systems for doing the work were confusing, the escrow fees were incredibly high, and the bid averages for anything that I'd be comfortable doing were so low that I'd be essentially working for free, especially with the escrow fees. I may revisit the idea in the near future, but what I saw was very disheartening.
Second, my place of residence is falling apart. I'm not really exaggerating, either. Half the electricity in the house is wired through the same breaker and simply flipping it on throws sparks in my face as it slams back off. Every time it drops below zero (like it does every winter for days at a stretch up here) I lose water. I've already had a pipe burst requiring the services of a plumber (more money gone) and spent days without power in the last couple of weeks. I'm currently without hot water except at one faucet, and that sink needs the drain replaced because water doesn't just leak, it runs in a steady stream out the bottom. While I'm moderately handy, I don't have the tools to perform the repair myself.
I have many other minor reasons that keep getting in the way, too. It's hard to think about being creative when all you can think about is how you are losing a person you love, how you can't afford to pay for things you need to have done, and how every other minor thing in your life seems to be coming up at once. My car's trunk stopped shutting and seems to pop open at the smallest bump. Just what you need when you're in the middle of an ice storm, right? I've lost almost 20lbs due to stress because I just couldn't eat, which I needed to do, but the reasons for it are very unhealthy. I just caught a cold that triggered another sinus infection flareup and if it hadn't been for some penicillin I could inject myself with, I'd be having extreme difficulty breathing right now with another case of bronchitis if not outright pneumonia, and I'm 17 days away from being able to see my doctor.
I need to relax and I need to write. I've managed a few thousand words lately that I'm actually happy with, so maybe I can have something ready for publication by the end of the month. I'd like to do that, both for all of you and for myself, and I need the revenue stream boost, but I can't make any promises. I've broken too many to you guys already.
Having said that, I will make a promise. I will answer any questions you guys ask. I'm actually hoping to hear pretty much anything from you guys, so I'm going to ask you guys for two things. First, if you have any questions, ask. The worst I can do is not answer you. Second, spread the word. Tell people about the book(s). You know Subject 12 and/or The Grand Granger is/are good. I'm sure you know some people who would enjoy reading about Hammer or Reg and Xii. Encourage them to take a look. You'd be doing me a huge favor, and I appreciate that.
And, I have some news about that inquiry I received back in 2012 regarding the movie rights to Subject 12, From the looks of things, the woman who contacted me left ICM Partners shortly, if not immediately, after contacting me. This not only means that I have a good reason for not hearing back, it also means I have no way to contact anyone within the company to possibly expand upon that inquiry. I do feel somewhat better knowing why I never heard back, but I just want to put the word out there that I am interested in representation, a movie deal, whatever. Just contact me with whatever you have to say and I'll get back to you ASAP. Thank you.
So, thanks for reading and for all of your support over the years. As I get this piece closer to publication I'll update you again! Take care and here's to both a prosperous and happy new year to you and yours!