Pardon Our Dust

So the previous site looked a little low end. We just upgraded our WordPress membership and we’re working on making this place look pretty. However, you never look good when you’re in the middle of the perm. You look good after the perm. So consider this our perm phase. The site will look janky, changes will happen often, but in the end it will look beautiful. Please endure.

Book 3 Plotted

Book 3 is plotted out! I had two major issues, one with POV and narrative style, and the other with a massive plot hole that I just couldn’t rectify.

I kept thinking I had to fix them both through action, as they revolved around Dameneh from G’desh. Then I realized, no, the best way to fix it is complete and utter inaction. If Dameneh isn’t in Book 3, everything is fixed. So he’s no longer in Book 3. I’ll miss him and everything, but I’ll find a way to survive.

I still need to flesh out locations and characters for it, but at least I have the major chapters and events all lined out. It will primarily follow one character, but there may be some omniscient in there in regards to the villain.

book 3 will be my NaNo book, so I have 20 days to prep it. I plan on doing the finishing touches of prep while in Guatemala. Should be a fun November. I’m also thinking this will be the longest of the three books. The fourth will probably be shorter, but the fifth will be a massive creation.

It’s good stuff. Hope your writing is going well.


I’m pretty sure I harp on this. I’m fairly sure if you went back a year, within that on one of my sites, you’d see that I spoke on the benefits of research. Do you know how many writers don’t feel they need to research? “I’m pulling this out of the fabric of reality and weaving it to my own desire. Research is for buzzkills.”

No. Research is to give context, ground the story, and make it not suck. There are very few stories which do not require research. Very few. Even when Thoreau or Emerson wrote about the great outdoors through hippy free expression, guess what? They did research! Sure it was going out to an abandoned cabin to hang out with trees and shrubs, but research takes a thousand forms.

I thought of this last night at 1am, but I didn’t have the faculties to produce a work at that moment in time. Why last night?

I’m part of an elite writer’s group, that you can join, called The Phoenix Quill. We always call it TPQ, so I figure I need to capitalize The. Anyway, we are on our third anthology. The idea behind it is to give writers experience in the writing process, as well as having the chance to submit their work and have the work looked over. There is the possibility that it will be rejected because they are fortunate enough to have that many writers applying.

I was going to do a southern gothic crime short story, with some voodoo in it. It was inspired by Cornell in Luke Cage and the overall feel of Mafia III. I was even writing it. I liked it, but it felt really dirty. For authenticity there’s a way they speak, and they use a lot of words I’m not even allowed to use in public.

Then I found out there are quite a few southern gothic pieces being brought together. Shoot. I don’t like being one of five submissions. What could I do?

I was drawn to Kubo and the Two Strings because I loved that movie. I thought of Samurai Champloo because I love that anime. I mean, who wouldn’t? I thought about the criminals and the Yakuza.

Similar to black crime families in the bayou, I know very little about the Yakuza. Research time! I still didn’t have a story in mind, or how the plot would twist, I just knew overall what I wanted. I saw a guy in a gambling den.

I read up on the Yakuza. They would have their gambling dens in abandoned temples on the outskirts of town. Now he’s in an abandoned temple. They would cut off finger parts to show atonement for bad deeds called yubitsume. The story will start with some guy making things “all good.”

They have full body tattoos (apparently even the tender groin parts) through a painful process called irezumi. They usually wear clothing to hide the tattoos in public, but privately when playing games, they’d leave their shirts around their waist to show the tattoos. Now he’s in a room with friends, shooting dice privately, his shirt drooping at his waist.

Finally, the Yakuza have a lot of places they fund, but few places they run. Now he’s sitting in this temple where they do some gambling, but for the most part there are runners telling him how his other operations are going and if he needs to step in and fix things.

Two hours of research. Reading, looking at pictures, bouncing ideas off Dana, and boom. I have the first scene. I’m going to watch some more movies and documentaries, but I’m already plotting out three gangs and I have a loose idea of how I want them to run and control the city. I’ll create the city to give control points and that will feed future conflict. I also know that I want the Yakuza to help the city from some outside threat, as the organization has helped with relief efforts in the past. Not all bad guys are bad.

So when you look at your next story and think you don’t need research, please, put in an hour or two. Also, join The Phoenix Quill. Apply for the Scoundrels anthology. It’ll be awesome.

Monsters: A Phoenix Quill Anthology

I love writing. You write, you pour your soul into it, you send it out, it gets accepted, and then you wait. It needs to be edited, layout is required, cover art, and so on. If you aren’t self-publishing and you’re doing everything yourself, there’s this long period from final edit to publication. I found that out with G’desh, though it wasn’t quite as long as I expected.

I recently wrote a story that takes place in Ji-Wei, the world of G’desh and my upcoming novels. Originally I wrote it two years ago just as a fun short story, but now we needed a monster story for a monster anthology. I didn’t have any other ideas for this piece or the anthology, so what the heck. I submitted, I had to do some edits, it got accepted.

Then days went by. Weeks. I honestly forgot about the project. I had to submit a photo and a bio, but they just used my bio from Heroes. Then today I received an email with the final layout. What?

So now it’s time to fish through that and check for errors. The cool thing about an anthology is there are a lot of people to look through it. Honestly, looking through your own work is a lesson in uselessness. Usually you will not catch your mistakes. Why? You wrote it. Your brain will compensate for what it expects to see, instead of what’s really there. Good brain.


There’s the cover to the anthology. It comes out late October. Aim is October 27th. I will be in Guatemala, but hey, published is published. Again. Fourth short story? Yes. Fourth. Now to get the second novel.

Anyway, hope your writing is going well and that you have or will reach that waiting point.

A Quick Travel Check-List

Journeys are full of incredible moments, ridiculous moments, and heart stopping moments.  The companions who journey with you will either make the trip worth while, or you’ll be waiting for the first opportunity to ditch them.

No matter where you’re headed, times of preparation are essential to survival.

If you journey on foot, you will need proper footwear.  Perhaps extra footwear.

If you journey by horse, you’ll need a sturdy companion who is not only saddle trained and trusts you, but one who has had plenty of regular exercise.  The horse must be absolutely dependable.

Or if you’re more modern, mode of transportation includes wagons.  Wagons must be sturdy and well made.  You will need room for extra parts in case your wagon breaks for some reason along the way.

What will you eat?  If you hunt your meat, you’ll need to have plenty of arrows in your quiver or a dependable knife in your belt or boot.  Have you considered salts incase you have extra meat leftover?  Don’t plan on killing something large that will slow your journey down.  Even if you crave deer or bear meat, ask yourself if this will be wasteful.  You should not kill an animal simply for sustenance to have one meal you crave, you should only kill if you have to.

What will you wear?  It is wise to pack three changes of clothes, and wash your clothes at night when you stop.  They can be dried by the fire, unless there is no water source.  However, if it is raining, all of your clothes will be wet.  Don’t change in the event of rain.  Just lather yourself in soap, and let the sheeting rain give you a refreshing shower, and wash your clothes at the same time.

Where will you sleep?  A bedroll is always a good idea.  Plan on having a mat, with a blanket.  If it is colder at night, use a lined blanket.  Sleeping directly in the ground will make you cold, having a mat will put some insulation between you and the ground.

What will you drink?  Always have a canteen around your waist that you can refill whenever water is available.  In order to clean the water, you can put a lump of coal into the bottle, this will help pull the toxins from the water so you can drink it.  Never collect water from muddy puddles, and always try to get it from moving sources of water.  Brooks, springs, rivers and lakes.  Never from ponds as they contain parasites that could kill you.

Make sure your weapon is not a burden.  You might have a jewel crested broadsword, but that is probably not a practical weapon to take with you.  A dagger hidden in your boot, and a light sword about your waist is enough.

Are you traveling with someone?  Be sure it is someone you will not grow agitated by on long journeys.

If you are making secret travel arrangements, resource the alleyways and the streetrats.  Chances are they know the easiest routes to where you need to get to.  They’re well trained to know how to use shadows and keep to themselves on secluded roads.

That about sums it up.  If you have any questions regarding a journey you may be taking, don’t hesitate to ask.  I am more than happy to answer them!


Reviews can both solidify and alter us. It is the fire that burns off the slag or hardens the steel. I haven’t had a lot of reviews, but I’m generally reflective which makes reviews mean a lot to me.

I read the first three pages of Drowning the Sands of G’desh before I put it aside. I had to stop torturing myself. The flaws look so clear when it’s in print, all those flaws you missed when it was a stack of paper on a table. I knew it wasn’t refined, and then I got called out on it.

As you can see from Amazon, I only have two reviews. Sure they commented on a few things, but for whatever reason it didn’t strike me like this one blog review. He said it lacked polish. I don’t remember if those were the exact words, I’m more of a big picture guy, but he was right.

I’m going to tell you now polish doesn’t necessarily mean you will make it big or not. Plenty of unpolished books are currently on B&N shelves. If we look at video games, the indie market is exploding. They are using graphics that belong on the NES. However, a good concept can get us beyond those polish issues.

Yet there are people who will always flinch from unpolished work. A lot of indie games I turn away from. I’m shallow. Not always, but a game has to have incredible pull for me to get over the looks.

In the same way, I know a lot of writers who will put a book down after the second error. They tap out because there isn’t polish. They can’t reach the story because the outside is too marred with errors.

While trying to convince you that you need to polish your work (especially with NaNo approaching, and all those people who like to show off first drafts), I’m also just going through my process. I need to be more careful. I need to work more on my editing skills and grasp of the English language. I have an excellent grasp on telling stories. My grasp on English, however, is poor. Not horrific, and in fact much better than a lot of people, but when spanned over 80k words, it starts to show.

May your drafts be a frenzy and may your editing be immaculate.

The Song of Ascending Hurskfjell

There was once a city in rolling green plains. It was larger than any city known to Hurskfjell and had massive walls made of iron, not stone. They believed in wisdom and had forsaken both strength and the ancestors. Upset with the people turning away, the ancestors banished man and charged the spirits with taking the races far from the city in the rolling green plains.

Vitr, spirit of wind, water, ice, and winter, was sent north. It was a cold and frigid place, and the spirits and ancestors knew this, so Vitr was given the hardiest races.

Man had to split between the four spirits. Though he was ill suited for the land, he had no choice. So was the price of the sin committed.

The ulfr, or wolf tribes, went due to their thick fur and ability to commune with nature. They were dear friends with man while in the city, and in the far north they would advise how best to live.

Craefga, a tall insectoid race, had built the walls of the city. They created all sorts of wonders, and it was said Hurskfjell was a vault of rare materials for them to dabble in. They went eagerly, no matter the risk to life.

Finally, the giants went along for their great size. Why would a giant of a man not go to a giant of a hill? They were twice the size of a man and had tremendous strength.

Vitr was not yet a wyrm, and its heart had not frozen over to man. When they arrived at the base of Hurskfjell, the mountain’s icy peaks off in the distance, Vitr said, “This is a place you may settle. It will have harsh winters, but there will be summer, where you can grow your food as you did in the south. Man, would you take this as yours?”

Shodnr was the leader of men. He consulted the ulfr and they said, “It is good that Vitr offers us this land. It will only get more vile the farther we ascend. Take it and live a good life.”

But Shodnr was a fool. His heart was closed off to the advice out of pride, and he said, “We are not soft. We will climb.”

The giants said, “We tire. Our heavy bodies take so much to move. Please let us rest.”

Vitr was disappointed in Shodnr’s answer, but it granted the giants the plains at the foot of Hurskfjell.

As they reached the Mid Climes, Vitr said, “These mountains are filled with metal and mineral. The metals can help build a great civilization despite the weather. The minerals will break apart in stew to give you nutrients, though there is little to hunt or gather. Man, do you want this place as yours?”

The ulfr again said, “Take it, you fool. We live and die beside you, and if you do not take this, surely not even Vitr’s kindness and power can save us from an eternal winter.”

Again Shodnr was proud. “We are not smiths. Leave it to the insects. We will continue north.” Shodnr spat, and it froze before striking the snow covered ground.

The craefga said, “We thank man for his kindness and will burrow deep within the mountain. Here we will craft great things and create a city even better than where we had been.”

At the peak of Hurskfjell, where even Vitr shivered from the cold, the small group came to a halt again. At this point man and ulfr were furious with Shodnr and the few he took council with. Vitr saw it, and pitied them.

Vitr said, “There is no farther to go. This will be your grave, but I am kind to your people. I will create a land where winter does not touch. It will have four seasons, and each will take an equal share of the year. Outside of that land you will find death. Winter never ceases here, and even the blizzards rarely hold out. May man and ulfr find life survivable.”

Shodnr boasted, “This does us well. We will colonize this entire mountain, from the top down, and the ulfr will guide us to victory. We are not as weak as you think.”

Vitr said nothing more. It created the realm for man to live and went off. Ulfr and man both griped about Shodnr, but warriors were on his side and silenced them harshly. Then Shodnr said, “We will start here. This will be known as the city of Shodnr, for I have founded it with a great vision. Once we have gained our strength, we will head out and create more homesteads. Man and ulfr will be great, like we were before.”

So did Vitr bring his people to Hurskfjell. So did man decide to suffer greatly by their own hand. So did ulfr ponder if they truly wished to stand beside man.

NaNoWriMo: I plan

NaNo is coming up, and I plan on participating. If you’re keeping score, which you likely aren’t, this will be year three of me saying I’m going to, when in reality I don’t. I won it four years ago, and after that, I’ve sort of been keeping my own writer hours.

However, novel two is taking its sweet time, and I want to have an edit finished before November. I like giving a month for things to sit, so it would be perfect.

There are two types of people in NaNo: pantsers and planners. A pantser is someone who flies by the seat of their pants. I do it from time to time, but usually for short stories or highly experimental and whimsy pieces. It’s easy to straighten out a time line when there are only 10,000 words. Less so when there are 100,000. Don’t get me started on the dozen random characters I forget about completely.

When I work on my novels, I plan. I need to. It’s not that I plan every scene, every action, and so on. I understand you need space to grow. But a garden doesn’t grow correctly when you just randomly pick seeds and toss them on the ground wherever your hand may shuffle them. You church the ground, pick out the rocks, ensure good soil quality, make rows, plant the seeds accordingly, water, weed, and so on.

I know who my characters are. I know my setting and what type of people are in which types of areas. I understand the culture. There is an overall direction for the story, with major plot points which need to be hit. However, they’re rarely hit the way I foresee, and half the time they’re not hit at all and I have different major plot points. That’s fine. The plan evolved, but it remained true to the story and took into consideration past story points.

I’m bringing this up because I just finished the original Destiny game. There’s a character, the Stranger. She just poofs for the next two years. We haven’t heard anything from her. Yet she was some strange time traveling lady who had big plans for us. You don’t have big plans for someone and abandon them for two years. Many people think Bungie was so lambasted on her that they just wrote her out.

This got me thinking about Desmond from Assassin’s Creed. He was getting interesting. The real world story was progressing, and he was the only good part in Assassin’s Creed 3. They killed him to make way for an apocalyptic event. Later I read they killed Desmond because people weren’t relating to him, so they wanted to get a new protagonist. You. And for the next three core games they would phase the real world out more and more and pretend nothing happened in the first three core games.

I understand that a part of it has to do with the audience. Players didn’t like it. Yet often times it feels more like a lack of vision and planning for the future leads to the fallout of these story lines. Desmond didn’t die because the people couldn’t relate to him. He died because Ubisoft forgot they had to do more than create a game in some really cool time period and then shove in a real story on top of it. Honestly, with how it progressed, they might as well forget modern times all together.

Bungie isn’t letting the ball drop on the story because the players responded poorly. They dropped it because despite claims of a ten year plan, something was dropped. Some part of their vision could not be hashed out the way they thought. Year two was an experiment. They came out and said it. We were given one real story, though it was fun, and then a bunch of tweaks. Even with year three upon us, what they could piece together was a quick campaign. It was a blast. I enjoyed some of the lore spinning, and we even see more clearly that Rasputin is basically the reason humanity is still alive, because he hamstringed the Traveler, something eluded to often enough.

Either way, I think a large part of me is really happy to remain small as an author. I get why the vision falls short. There is a core of visionaries and a lot of people making demands. I understand Ubisoft had a yearly release. I hope everything gets back on track with their new every other year schedule. Bungie…I don’t know. I’ve loved the game. It’s jogged my imagination beyond words. But every time a new expansion comes out, I finish it, and I reflect upon it in coordination with the whole, I’m just left wanting. I’m left with a massive story void in my soul.

So if you’re writing something longer, please, for all that’s good, plan. Have a vision. Then go forth.

Understanding Population

I’m watching season two of Zoo. Love the show. Sure the science isn’t even psuedo, but it’s entertaining. However, I can chuckle at the animal science. I mean, they reached a point where the animals are gaining magical powers. It’s like latching logic onto the X-men. I’m okay with this.

Then they start talking about casualties. One million dead so far. I nearly spit my last can of Coke Zero before I started my Whole30 round two.

Later on they ran a simulator. In an attempt to cleanse the world of sociopath animals, two million people would die.

So if the initiative went off at that moment, three million people would have died in response to what everyone is calling an extinction level event.

I’m hoping some of you at home are laughing. For those wondering about why this isn’t right, let me tell you something. There are over seven million people in the world.

Three million people dying would be approximately 0.04% of the population. In order to save humanity from an extinction level event, we would lose 0.04% of the population.

One hundred million people, give or take, died during the Black Plague. It’s estimated 30-60% of the population was killed off. Remember, they had very limited census abilities, so the numbers have a large margin.

The thing is, the way we as a society focus on stats, I feel like a lot of people in the world would be appalled at this statistic. They would say, “Three million lives to save humanity is unacceptable! There must be another way!”

A few dozen people die from a disease, and they call it an epidemic. As Jon Stewart said, in Game of Thrones that’s called a wedding.

Anyway, in your book, make the stakes actually matter. Or, I guess, have real bleeding hearts. Because they won’t die the first time they hesitate whether or not the villain’s redeemable.

As for me, if I’m given the opportunity to save the world, and the losses are anywhere under 50%, I’m pushing the button.


Antagonist Motivation

Motivation is one of my favorite things. Why did the bad guy become a bad guy? Why is he doing what he is doing?

I’ve been binge watching Gotham. Penguin wants to make his mother proud by being powerful. Galavan wanted revenge for a century’s old vendetta. Barbara wanted Jim back. Doctor Freeze wants to save his wife.

Jerome was my issue. He was just crazy for the sake of crazy.

I know he was to be Joker, or at least a proto-Joker. Joker’s motivation I appreciated. He is a counter to Batman. He is the other side of what can happen to a person when they are traumatized. Joker’s whole point is to show it only takes one bad day to make a person cross the line.

Jerome lacks all of this. There is no Batman. He’s not trying to be the foil of Detective Gordon. He just likes making people suffer. He is stereotypical evil with no battle. Pure evil villains are boring.

I hate when I see these villains. They are boring. The only reason they exist is to be taken down. It is a foil in the weakest sense.

Now that’s not to say there aren’t times where I think the pure evil villain isn’t appropriate, but for that to work, you need a beyond reproach hero. You need a paragon of virtue. In Gotham, we have no such figure.

So make your evil complicated. Spice it up with specs of good.