Saturday, October 29, 2011

On One Month Until Publication

So as of yesterday, I have about thirty one days until my first book goes up for sale, and I find out if other people like the story as much as I do.



All futile panicking aside, I am really, really excited about this whole thing. It is an incredible opportunity to put my work out there and to have the help of so many people to get this thing done. We have had a wonderful cover artist, an impressively dedicated copy editor, and friends willing to both give advice and help refine our efforts. I've been amazed at the amount of help and friendship we've recieved, and in case I haven't remembered to do so before, I just want to thank all of you for being there when we needed you.

Now we just need to get the edit done and format everything for release. Also, now that I think about it, if we mean to get Kingsley up in four months, we need to look for another batch of cover art and copy editing. Along with Mysteries and Iron Angels, that should be more than enough to keep me busy. Like I needed help with that before, right? See ya!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guest Post on My Writing Bug

So I have a guest post up on another blog! Chantele Sedgwick was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to do an interview on her blog, My Writing Bug. Her blog supports a lot of aspiring authors, and she has her own books in the works to be published. In my interview she asked me about my writing schedule, my favorite authors and a few other little tidbits. Thanks again to Chantele for her support, and I wish her luck in her own projects!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On a Crazy Baby

So, those of you interested in Sera news, she is now crawling all over the place and getting into everything. She's cruising, grabbing and giggling up a storm pretty much every time we turn around. For example, yesterday she pulled the fruit drawer out of the fridge, messed with a bag of stuff she found on the ground, discovered our DVD collection and made her way along the table we have in the living room without falling down.

How did the little bundle we brought home get so big already? Next thing I know she'll be talking. Oh, the humanity...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

On a Crazy Week

You know its been a particularly crazy week when you can't remember the last normal day at work you had. This week has been one of those, for better or worse. To all those who have emailed me and are still waiting on a response, yeah, I will try and get back to you by the end of the night. I just hope that I can make it through November, because at this rate I'm starting to wonder if my poor little brain can take it.

At the very least my writing schedule has been moving along pretty well. Hector Kingsley's second book, for now Mysteries in Whitechapel, has now reached the one third point, which means that I've already written everything that my writing group will see before I rewrite it for the alpha readers. That's always kind of a turning point for the story in a lot of ways, and I am very glad to have reached it. I'm also all the way through the second draft of Badger; now I've turned it over to Emily for a preread. She always gets the good stuff first (mostly because at that point it isn't that good, and she's an excellent editor.) and she's liking it so far. Iron Angels' third draft could be going a bit better, but I've nailed down Susan's character a bit better and I hope to have it ready by the end of October to send out to alpha readers.

All in all, things are going well, just really, really busy. I hope that all of you are keeping up with the challenges life throws at you as well, and I'll see you around!

PS. Here's the cover for Wolfhound as far as we've got it. Cool, huh?

Friday, October 21, 2011

On Wolfhound: The Cover and Possible Ads

So we've been working on creating ads and an official cover for Wolfhound. Well, at least Emily has (Thanks Em!). Here are a few of the ads that we've come up with.

And another...

And another...

And one more!

So those are the ones we've come up with so far. They all, of course, feature the art of Paul Hamblin, who is awesome. Let me know if there are other ideas you have for more ads, and I will see you around!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Bios

Bios are hard to write. I have now officially discovered why authors hate these things. I guess part of it is the fact that a bio is either a list of your previous accomplishments or a story about yourself, neither of which seems very comfortable to me at the moment. The list of credentials thing doesn't really work when your entire publication history consists of a contest I won at BYU and a degree that has nothing to do with writing. Not exactly the kind of resume that I want to introduce people to when I am just starting out.

The other way of doing it seems just as hard, but at least it has the advantage of being more personal. I think I will probably end up going with that one, since it would help readers get to know me and what I am doing. Still, it just seems weird to be writing something about myself rather than one of my characters. They're so much cooler than I am, after all.

In any case, hope all is going well for you guys and I will see you around!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On Bad Discoveries

Sera has made a pair of very unfortunate discoveries. First among these is the discovery that she can attract our attention by doing things we don't like her doing. That would be things like grabbing computer cords, banging her head against things, etc.

Secondly, she's discovered that I don't like having the hair on my legs pulled out. Combined, these things are bad news...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On Cover Art


AHhahahahahahahahaha! It's awesome!

Many thanks to Paul Hamblin, the incredibly talented artist behind this wonderful cover. See you later!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Updating Schedule

Alright, so the past few weeks it has been a bit difficult for me to update this blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Part of that comes from the fact that I have had such a crazy writing schedule outside of the blog, and another part comes from the fact that it is pretty hard to come up with three interesting blog posts in a week. I mean, my life does not seem so entirely interesting that I would need three posts a week to detail it to the world. Of course, rampant laziness is also a factor, but I flatter myself and say it is a small one.

Then again, a blog is always a good form of advertising and marketing, which is something that I will need as Wolfhound gets closer to publication. And I am loathe to lose those few readers that I already have.

So what do you guys think? Should I cut it back to two a week, Tuesday and Thursday, or do you feel I would be cutting myself short? Or are you kind of just ambivalent about the whole thing? Hope all goes well for you guys, and I will see you later.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On Marketing

I would just like to preface this post by saying one thing. I apparently suck at marketing. Apparently when people were lining up for talents before we came here, I was off eating cupcakes or something when this one was handed out.

I am trying to improve though. As of a few days ago I now have a Project Wonderful account, and I am already surfing around trying to figure out which sites I want to carry ads for Wolfhound. I just need the cover art to come through (any day now I hope?) and we should have ads soon after! I am even doing blog stuff! If there's anything else you guys think I should do, let me know. I am willing to branch out in order to make this thing work.

It's just too bad that all of this involves talking to people. Bah, my one weakness...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On Dwarf Fortress

Some of you may recall the post I did on Spelunky, that wonderful game where everything--and I do mean everything will conspire to kill you. Dwarf Fortress is a similar game with one difference: while Spelunky once in a while, out of sheer pity, may allow you to win, Dwarf Fortress does not. Mercy, pity, remorse, Dwarf Fortress needs nothing of these things, and you may hope for none of them here.

Dwarf Fortress is the product of a single developer, who I believe is a math teacher. That alone should give you pause, but the motto doesn't really give a whole lot of room for interpetation. When the rallying cry of a community is that "Losing is fun!", then you know that the game's going to be a little more challenging than your average game of Halo.

The point of Dwarf Fortres is to construct a colony of happy, productive little dwarfs in a particular region of a preconstructed world. Among the challenges you face include goblins, trolls, titans, madness, more goblins, magma, aquifers, flooding, drought, famine, lack of beer, hippy elves, more goblins... I think you get the picture.

Since it is a free, independently developed game, the original graphics are limited to some pretty obscure ASCII characters. There are some graphics tilesets out there that can make it prettier, but at the moment it looks like an impenetrable wall of characters when you start. Weirdly enough, though, if you play long enough it becomes perfectly understandable before long. Graphics, however, are going to be the least of your worries.

To say that the interface for Dwarf Fortress has a steep learning curve is kind of like saying that Mount Everest is a little hard to climb. The understatement is a killer. The person making this game has planned out nearly everything, from how the water flows downhill to how magma flows. He has modeled how injuries to dwarves play out not only in the general "blows to the head kill you faster" sense but also to the "if this guy hits the dwarf in the hand, he may lose feeling in some of his fingers for a while" sense. Wind, migration patterns for animals, social dynamics between dwarves and even the possible difficulties in providing healthcare for your settlement are taken into account, along with whatever possible disasters they might cause.

The number of possible failures are numerous. One fortress might fall when a maddened carpenter slaughters half your population, leaving the rest to fall into mourning, starvation and frantic attempts to survive. Another might succumb to a devastating assault by a goblin horde. Yet another when you accidentally build a volcano in the middle of your settlement (yes, you can!), while another might fall apart simply because of a sudden famine that leaves your weakened dwarves too vulnerable to fight off the elements any longer. The list goes on, but every fortress is a frantic, futile effort to keep your dwarves alive until finally your settlement is brought to ruin.

Yet in spite of the difficulty of this game and the sheer complexity of its mechanics, Dwarf Fortress is incredibly addicting. You get to design every aspect of your fortress yourself, and you quickly become attached to the stubborn, frustrating creatures you command. The online wiki helps make things a little less frustrating, and the fact that the game is free certainly adds to its appeal. If you have a few days to spend on a puzzle with infinite creative variations, I highly recommend Dwarf Fortress. And if you take me up on that, good luck. Don't let the giant cave spiders bite.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guest Post by Joe Vasicek: On Music and Writing

So today we have a guest post by Joe Vasicek, an independent writer who happens to be a friend of mine. His books are already up on Amazon, along with several of his short stories that he has graciously allowed you to obtain for free. Go check them out!

And without further introduction, here's Joe!

I have a mild case of ADHD, which means that I alternate between being hyperfocused on an activity to being distracted by anything and everything. As a writer, this can make things difficult, especially when I’m slogging through the middle of a draft where everything seems to suck. But when I get on a roll, the writing comes much easier, provided I can train myself to focus.

Music has tremendous power to cut through the distractions and focus my thoughts on the story I'm trying to write. For that reason, I usually put together a soundtrack for each of my books, and listen to it repeatedly while writing them. Over time, I gradually come to associate certain tracks with certain characters or scenes, so that all I have to do is hit play and let my mind take off with the story.

The trick is finding the right music. For any given soundtrack, there will usually be only two or three songs that really trigger that state of hyperfocus for me, while the rest just help keep me from getting distracted. It's partially about finding the song that evokes the right emotion, but it's also a matter of personal association and things that might have very little to do with the music itself.

For example, when I was writing an early draft of Bringing Stella Home, I saw this clip from Il Mercenario. The scene struck me powerfully, because it features a downtrodden, defeated rebel who is given a second chance and uses it to face his demons like a man.

In a broad sense, that's very similar to James McCoy's struggle from my book: his older brother and sister have been captured by spacefaring barbarians, and all he wants is a chance to prove himself and get them back. Just like the rebel from the movie, James gets knocked down repeatedly--and always gets back up.

As soon as I'd made that connection, I knew that song would have to be in the soundtrack for my novel. For the next two or three drafts, it became the first track I'd listen to--the one that triggered me to start writing.

This song from the Halo 2 soundtrack makes me think of the mercenary team from the novel, who take James in and give him that chance he's been looking for. I remember listening to this on the Washington DC Metro while I was at my K Street internship, thinking of all the things I would put into the story as I worked on the third draft. Music can be great for focusing my thoughts in the prewriting stage, which is often just as important as the writing itself.

Another major song was this remix of a track from Shinobi III, featured on overclocked remix. I had my mp3 player on shuffle and this track came on just as I finished the last chapter of one of the early drafts of the novel. The bittersweet emotion evoked by the music paralled the emotion of the book's ending so perfectly, I can't listen to this song anymore without thinking about Bringing Stella Home.

A lot of these connections are so personal they probably wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to someone just listening to the music, but that's okay--these homemade soundtracks aren't for the reader so much as they are for the writer. In that sense, finding and listening to the right music can be a great writing technique.

In college, I got most of my music from Overcocked Remix. The site features over two thousand fan-made remixes and arrangements of video game music, and not only is it all free, but the quality is amazing. My favorite remixers are Zircon, bLiNd, and Phr4cture; they've also produced some independent stuff that is quite good, Zircon in particular. Well worth checking out.

Nowadays, I get my music from a variety of places. I've recently taken a liking to trance and progressive, with artists such as Armin Van Buuren, Tenishia, Protoculture, tyDi, Jaren, and others. Trance is all about emotion, and so is fiction--that's why we have genre categories like "romance," "thriller," and "fantasy" which revolve around the emotion the stories are supposed to evoke.

But really, it all depends. Every project is different, as the wide variety of the music in my homemade soundtracks attests. When everything clicks and the story just flows, it's pure magic.

To kick off the release of my novel Bringing Stella Home, I'd like to give away a free copy of the companion novella, Sholpan. When the spacefaring Hameji barbarians capture Stella McCoy and make her a concubine to their chief overlord, it seems as if she is powerless to resist. But by refusing to compromise her values, she finds friends in unexpected places, even as the dangerous world of harem politics threatens to destroy her.

To download a free copy, select your preferred format from the story's Smashwords page and input the following coupon code: SN58S (not caps sensitive). The offer expires in a week, however, so be sure to pick it up before the 13th.

Joe's blog is at He has all sorts of interesting posts over there, so check that out as well. In any case, your regularly scheduled nerd stuff will be back on Saturday. See you then!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On Cyberpunk

So I have been thinking lately about a cyberpunk novel idea. Why I would be wandering off on the subject when I already have so much to do, I have no clue, but the bits I've cobbled together have come from a few different sources.

Cyberpunk, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, involves a future setting in which the boundry between machines and humanity is explored. It tends to be pretty gothy, and the main protagonist tends to be a loner who hacks his way to victory against cold, unfeeling corporate overlords. Cyberpunk tends to be pretty dark, and grim as well. I guess the Matrix was a good example of cyberpunk genre in film, and there's a lot more out there.

My first exposure was a game that I ran across called Deus Ex. It was a pretty fun game, but kind of dated. A new prequel to it has come out recently called Deus Ex: Human Revolution. For those of you who like videogames, look it up. It looks awesome. Sadly I am denied the opportunity to play it since I have no console or TV, but the entire concept of the game is fascinating to me. The setting is in a future where mechanical augmentations--and later nano augmentations--are widely available. Something about that caught my attention, and I have been studying it for a while.

Of course, another source of interest in cyberpunk comes from the fact that cyberpunk is closely related to steampunk. My foray into the world of Hector Kingsley has so far turned out to go very well, so why not try a related culture?

I think that if I wrote it though, I would try to turn some of the conventions on their heads. That seems to work well for me. The only problem that I would see is that cyberpunk always seems to carry some kind of political context to it, and that might turn away readers. Oh well, I won't have time to explore it for quite a while yet anyway. I will continue to ponder it more. See ya!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

On General Conference

Ah General Conference. Always a time to listen to the prophets and reevaluate our lives. My life is full of memories of going to nearby stake centers to listen, or as the conference became available on the internet, gathering with my family to hear the words of the Lord's servants. I remember going to preisthood sessions on Saturday with Dad and Caleb, and listening to the direction the prophets had for us. Of course, I also have memories of spending half of conference doodling on some project or other as the hours wore on. Naps occasionally happened, as I am sorry to say. Let's just say that I wasn't always really good about paying attention when I should have. :)

This year I have to work during conference weekend. This will be the third conference where I only get to hear part of the talks. To put it bluntly, that really sucks. I've missed listening to each of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency speak, and it always feels like I am missing out on something that is extremely important. I'm sure it will be especially bad this time, since I am looking for a lot of guidance lately. With my baby girl growing up, uncertainty about my future career, and other questions spinning around my head like a tornado, I could use all of the direction I can get. Unfortunately I will have to wait for some of that guidance.

Let's just hope that guidance comes during the morning sessions, right? See you around!