To the halfway point in the draft of Cold Winter

Good news! Another night of 5k+ words!

I’ve talked with Derek over at Homunculus Editing Services, and he thinks we may be able to fit an edit in before the holidays. That’s good for me; it gives me motivation to get things done more quickly. I am taking PTO from Wednesday to Friday this week at work, and I expect I’ll be striking keys and storyboarding like a madman. Wish me luck!

Updates and Goings On

Wow. It’s been a year since I’ve posted anything. That’s not very nice of me. What the heck have I been doing?

Well, as I’ve mentioned in the about section, I earned a PhD in CS with a focus in artificial intelligence, and I’ve had a very busy couple of years pursuing my interests in computer science. During that time, I’ve worked with nearly a dozen PhD-candidate students in one of the finest universities in the world, and it’s been very stressful, busy, and also fulfilling. I’ve traveled a bit around the world (Berlin this year) and the US with trips from coast-to-coast. All that traveling and also my wife quitting her job meant that money was a bit more tight and cutting back on publishing costs became pretty necessary (Lucifer’s Odyssey’s production costs were in the thousands, and I don’t want to produce a poorly revised, edited, and created work).

In that time period, I’ve talked with people from diverse backgrounds, heard their stories, and also caught up on a lot of movies and television shows. I can’t claim it’s all been focused on writing because writing has definitely found its way to my back burner, but during all of these interactions I’ve thought of stories.

I’m still writing fiction in a much reduced mode right now. My main writing outlet has been via open source coding projects and building middleware and software libraries in my primary field of study. But writing fiction is still there as a creative outlet (even if video games like World of Warcraft are invading my limited free time).

I apologize if waiting for the final chapter of Lucifer’s Odyssey has been frustrating. It’s been pretty frustrating for me too: not because I don’t love the characters and story but because so few other people appear to and it’s so expensive to get such a complex book right. It’s more likely that my next book will not be the final chapter of the Primal Patterns saga, but instead the first chapter of Alex Winter’s story. I did extend the rewrite of the Winter Phenomenon/Cold Winter by another 1k words or so this past weekend while my nieces were visiting my wife and I.

Why am I working on Cold winter and where is it going right now? Well, with what I see in book sales and pop culture, the romantic angle is more likely to resonate with new readers. The story is likely to be more simple and less chaotic. I mean, I enjoy Chaos a lot and believe life really does have a delightfully random nature to it, but I’m trying to tone down my randomness a bit. I think it will make readers feel more comfortable and more willing to take a chance with the next chapter or even the next book.

Is it the right move? No idea. I don’t think finishing the Primal Patterns series is going to really boost its sales much at all. The first book is just too hard for the majority of book readers to get into and love. People won’t make it to the third book, and the third book is going to be so vastly different in tone, emotional anchoring and direction that someone who loved the first book may not even like the third. I have no idea.

Anyway, that’s where things stand. I have no idea when either book will be out of first draft, but it’s likely that no novels will be released this year. My financial situation has improved somewhat, and I may be able to afford a cover artist and editing in shorter works. But novels are a lot of work, especially given my time constraints. We’ll see.

Book Review of Scriber

Now that I’m back to writing, I’m also back to reading fiction–hoping to learn and reflect and generally just being entertained. I have a backlog of books that I’ve been wanting to read, and the first one I picked up was Scriber by Ben Dobson. I believe I picked up this book when it was free for a brief period of time. Scriber has an excellent review score and history with over a hundred people posting positive scores to Amazon and Goodreads. For the most part, I completely agree with them. Here’s a breakdown of the story without a lot of spoilers.

Scriber is a story of a classically trained historian, outcast from favor, trying to survive in a medieval fantasy world despite his faults and past. He just so happens to fall inline with a group of female soldiers who have a date with destiny. Scriber has all the right elements of a classic fantasy tale: a larger-than-life heroine, vengeful spirits, lost magic, a moving story and an epic quest. The character building, especially for the protagonist, was extensive, and for better or worse, you understand his motivations and shortcomings. I finished the book, including the epilogue and prologue, in a sitting that was only interrupted by sleep (started on a Friday night and went into Saturday). It held me in sway.

There were very few typos (maybe a handful), and the story was very solid. The only reasons I am not giving this five out of five is because I was never surprised with the story. The flow was very formulaic, and you’ll know not only who is going to die but also who is going to stay together chapters before the action unfolds. This can be a rewarding experience in itself for many readers, and I certainly didn’t mind the comfort of knowing what I was getting into. The other downside to this was that so few of the many characters were fleshed out (and there are a lot of characters). They were one-dimensional except for the protagonist, and this helped with predicting who was going to survive and who was likely to bite the bullet.

Despite those notes, this is solid storytelling by a promising author. I’d definitely recommend the book to any fans of traditional fantasy. And for the price point ($ 0.99), you really can’t go wrong with picking up this book.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What a long, strange trip it’s been!

My apologies for the lack of updates. Life has been busy for my wife and me as we have been purchasing our first home. My job is going great, and there’s a lot of responsibility there with leading a large group of researchers and students.

I plan to get back to work on writing. Actually, an email from a fan named James started me back up into the editing process for the 57k words currently in Shadows of Our Fathers (feel free to thank James :D). In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting the first three chapters of the draft, as they become “ready”, and you can feel free to comment on them. Believe it or not, I take comments very seriously. I’m still learning my craft, and suggestions I find on Goodreads, Amazon, and other places often find their way into me honing my skills. For this reason, Book 3 of the Primal Patterns is going to be different–as are the other two books I’ve started for the Winter Phenomenon series and the book tentatively titled Our Criminal Future.

Why different? Well, it’s been pretty obvious that the way I had been going about writing was flawed. Even after paying for deep story edits of my book, Lucifer’s Odyssey was fatally flawed by lack of description, internal thought processes, and direction that held back and ultimately thwarted readers from being engaged in the series. The reviews and comments on sites like Goodreads, Amazon, and other places bear this out. The upvoted Amazon reviews that every reader sees (and ultimately result in fewer people purchasing the book or entering the series) have killed almost any chance of the series gaining traction, and the premise of the series (an alternate history of Lucifer and Jehovah) was perhaps too controversial to even be attempted in a first book, before any reader could trust me to deliver a good story. And the truth is that I probably wasn’t ready, as a writer, to bring that story the light it deserved and needed in order for it to have a chance to become more popular. I have zero friends who have finished the book (even friends who loved Zelazny and sci-fi). Even my wife can’t complete the first book. And this means that there has been no one I could really trust to help me become a better writer, so that I can write this kind of epic story properly.

So, I put down Shadows of Our Fathers and focused on other stories. Some of the shorter stories like Elves and Goblins: Perspectives of a Father’s Rebellion were not only attempts to highlight social issues like segregation and universal healthcare, but they were also my attempts at applying what I had learned from comments on Lucifer’s Odyssey, The Goblin Rebellion, and Angels and Demons. Other stories like the one in the Pride Collection were more emotion, expression, description and an attempt at a more understandable story that might reach audiences better. This continued into Hallow’s Ween to try to connect with readers better–though at this point, all of them have stalled as far as sales. But despite these setbacks, I appreciate the comments and harsh words because they help me realize that what I’m doing right now is not good enough. For those who have enjoyed the work I’ve done so far, don’t worry. I’ll keep working at it. I enjoy writing too much to ultimately quit it. My other career requires a lot of technical writing and that has been it’s own reward, but fiction is something I’m very passionate about. I love story telling. I just know that I’m not where I need to be in my fiction-writing ability.

The downside of that rationale is that I realize I have done readers somewhat of a disservice by putting out Lucifer’s Odyssey and The Goblin Rebellion before they were ultimately finished–before my skills as an author had been honed properly. The thousands of dollars I had put into editing and artwork were not enough to save those inadequacies and that’s a truly sobering thought–that no one, even someone who specializes in fixing authors, can save the work but myself at this point. Which means that, ultimately, I will probably have to redo most of Lucifer’s Odyssey or simply move on to other projects. The compromise at this point is to complete at least the first trilogy of the Primal Patterns to give readers some closure.

Of all the stages of the writing process, editing is by far the most arduous. You’ve put your ideas out on a medium, and like taking an idea out of Plato’s Forms, the implementation is flawed because you, the instrument, are flawed. And because you are the instrument of that realization of the idea, you are hopelessly inept at seeing and fixing the flaws. You almost have to have another expert come by and fix your instrument–the mechanism for which you bring idea to reality–or, and more likely in my case, you have to learn how to fix your own process of realization.

Anyway, I’m back to editing right now. The next step will be continuing the story of the Primal Patterns, closing up the trilogy, and moving on to a different story–hopefully one that has some chance of reaching a broader audience.

Free books for Halloween!

In celebration of Halloween, arguably the most awesome holiday in existence because everyone dresses up like someone they’re not and gives away free stuff, I’m giving away all of my books for free until November 2nd. That’s right. I apparently don’t need money, and you need free books, so share these Smashwords coupons with a friend and celebrate Halloween in style–by sitting on your favorite cushy chair and reading some fun, free books! Also, check out for other authors who are giving away Halloween books for free!

Hallow’s Ween
Smashwords Coupon: VR38H (100% off)
Smashwords Link: Download

Talented teenage witch Chloe Hallow seeks the heart of the love of her life, but when her attempts at a normal conversation fail, she falls back on what she knows best: alchemy. The resulting spell leaves an indelible stain on the small magical community of Squirrel Hill, but every year, her enduring legacy touches the world.

Elves and Goblins: Perspectives of a Father’s Rebellion
Smashwords Coupon: PH22Y(100% off)
Smashwords Link: Download

Aidan looks into the eyes of his dying son Elan, the last of his line, and curses the goblins who have marginalized his elven people into the meager forests. To find a cure and save his boy, Aidan must enter the forbidden goblin towns, but violating the peace could jeopardize more than just his family’s future.

Angels and Demons: Perspectives of a Father’s Rebellion
Smashwords Coupon: PH22Y(100% off)
Smashwords Link: Download

Heaven and hell are vying for human souls in vortices between humanity and the afterlife. When Lucifer and his demons overwhelm Archangel Michael and Gabriel, heaven is faced with the possibility of losing all souls on the planet. Reincarnated in heaven, Michael must fight his way back to Earth to stop the devil before he tricks humanity into harvesting billions of souls into his fiery kingdom.

Lucifer’s Odyssey (Primal Patterns 1)
Smashwords Coupon: You don’t need one. It’s free for the entire holiday season!
Smashwords Link: Download

A civil war rages across the heavens between Lucifer and Jehovah, but it’s not the story you thought you knew…

Lucifer languishes in an earthly prison, awaiting the apocalypse that will finally free him after 200,000 years. Before breaking loose, he discovers that the armageddon he set in motion will destroy the capital of Chaos, his home universe.

He travels back to Chaos and stumbles upon a bloody civil war devastating his homeland. The realm’s magic wielders are firmly under the control of a rival clan, and without their protection, Lucifer’s family is in mortal peril. As old demon clan rivalries blossom and a new hostile universe expands across the known multiverse, Lucifer is faced with not only protecting Chaos from annihilation but also saving his rightful place on the throne.

The Goblin Rebellion (Primal Patterns 2)
Smashwords Coupon: DC39S (100% off)
Smashwords Link: Download

Five years after the Uldram catastrophe, the elf Routan sits in a shattered home filled with the faded memories of his murdered children. King Elandril has done nothing to bring Lucifer and the demons to justice, and despite the assurances of the government, Routan remains convinced that the Elven Realm is in grave danger. Assistance comes from the creator of the Order Primal, and together, he and Routan will shake the foundations of the multiverse.

Updates and Free books!

You just saw “Free books”, and you’re just searching for clicky links in this post without even reading it, aren’t you? Well, I never… Anyway, there’s a couple of announcements that I want to make before you start clickety-clicking all over the page in hopes of finding your scavenged booty. Alright, I’ll admit I’m picturing you with an eye patch and a parrot–which, if you’ll pardon me for being so forward–is a nice look for you. Brings out your… eye…

Lucifer’s Odyssey is finally free on Amazon. This is apparently a two-month delayed anniversary present from me to you. Next year, I guess I’ll send my present with Fedex instead of snail mail or something. Also, Hallow’s Ween was released earlier this month to amazing fanfare. And by fanfare, I mean that my grandmother asked me if I was still writing, and I told her about the book, and she told me that the beans she had earlier that night were making her feel mellow and gassy. Since mellow is similar to hallow in sound, and beans and Ween are practically siblings, I’m pretty sure she was speaking in code about how she had already read the book and loved it so much that she was feeling winded and gassy from talking about it to all of her brutal bridge mates.

And she’s not the only one who gets to read Hallow’s Ween for free, either. I gave away fifty copies earlier this month on LibraryThing (sorry for not posting about it. I’ve been traveling quite a bit this month.) And on October 30, 31, and November 1st, I will be posting another giveaway here, on Facebook and on Twitter for like an infinite of them. Well, it could be a limitless giveaway because I’m not specifying any limits on the coupons and if you can get the 2-3 billion people in China and India to download the book during that time, I would be absolutely tickled pink. Or bright red. Or whatever color I turn when I’m tickled in excess amounts.

So, I have a link here for Lucifer’s Odyssey, which is free. And you can click here for Hallow’s Ween, if you’re jonesing for its awesomeness before it’s free at the end of this month.

Upcoming titles

The release of the anniversary edition of Lucifer’s Odyssey has gone well, and the book is now free on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. I have been making progress on Shadows of Our Fathers, and it is nearing 50k words, but I’ve also taken some time to work on other, shorter works.

Later this month, I will be releasing “Hallow’s Ween,” which is a fun origin story for the Halloween holiday and set many thousands of years earlier than you might think. Another series that may come out this year is tentatively titled “Our Criminal Future” and features a heroine’s fight against organized crime in the twenty third century.

I will continue to hammer away at Shadows of Our Fathers, but I’m extremely interested in getting started on both the “Our Criminal Future” and “The Winter Phenomenon” serials. I think the stories are more accessible, fun, and less likely to offend while still discussing interesting issues in technology and our future.


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