Well, I’ve made it to the big leagues. One of my books (that I know of) is being pirated. Arrrr.

About a month ago I was ego-surfing, because occasionally I find some interesting stuff. Unfortunately, this was one of those times. Buried quite a few pages into the search results, I came across a website (which I will not name here) that was offering a PDF copy of Fantasy Noir for download.

My first instinct was to contact the person in charge and ask them politely to remove it. Well, there was no contact information. So, seeing as though the file was being stored on Megaupload, I decided to contact them to see if they could remove the file from their server. Unfortunately, they required the actual file URL, which I couldn’t get because the offending site requires you to take one of several surveys in order to get to the file. I wasn’t prepared to give out my information and get possible adware on my laptop. So I did a WHOIS lookup to see if I could get the contact info from the domain registrar information. It was sketchy, almost certainly fake, but I used it to send a cease and desist letter anyway.

It is now seven days past the one month deadline that I gave to take down the file and it’s still up.

The next step is to email the registrar to see if this person has hosting through their service. If he does, there’s a chance that they can coerce him into taking it down. If he just has the domain name through them, then I’m stuck.

What I’ve been asking myself, though, is why do I care? I mean, beyond the principle of the thing, I electively choose not to use DRM on my ebooks. And I’ve always been a proponent of pushing free ebooks to gather interest in ebooks for purchase. And I think what it comes down to is that it’s one thing if I choose to offer something of mine for free and/or encourage people to spread it around, but it’s another to have that same something being given away behind my back.

In all honesty, I’m a hypocrite. I’ve downloaded music and applications, and even though I always have the intention of buying them outright when I have the money (and I have on many occasions), I’m still doing it. That doesn’t provide me much moral ground to stand on, or at the very least any ground that’s very solid. “Let he who who has not sinned cast the first stone” and all of that. So I guess all I can hope for at this point is that if someone downloads Fantasy Noir for free and likes it, that the person will either buy a legit copy of it or pay for one of my other books.

Otherwise, if you plan on reading any of my books, please pay for them. If for some reason you can’t afford a book you really want, or if you feel that the price point is unfair, contact me about it. I’m more than willing to listen to your arguments and possibly work something out. I’d rather you tell me to my face that you think $3.99 is highway robbery for what I’m offering than going behind my back and buying a “bootleg” version.

Then again, here’s a reality check for myself – how many people are actually downloading the illegally free version of Fantasy Noir? I’m gonna guess probably not enough to warrant this entire post. Wish I had thought of that before I typed it all out…

My First Creepypasta

I’ve had an on-and-off fascination with creepypasta for a few years.  I would frequent the /x/ board of 4chan specifically to read them.  Something about them has always, well, “creeped” me out more than a traditional horror story.  Maybe being on the internet gives it a more legitimate feel, as if there is a greater possibility of it being real.  I’ll be honest – I’ve actually gone to bed disturbed or scared after glutting myself on creepypastas at night.

So, being a writer, I naturally had to take a stab at it myself.  One of the “genres” of creepypasta that I like most is video games.  A few of my favorite stories are BEN Drowned, Polybius, and The Theater.  So I pulled a little bit of experience from something in my past (playing the very first Alone in the Dark computer game late at night, in the dark) and put together my very first creepypasta.  Enjoy!

Continue Reading »

My Moldy Collection

Even though I write primarily for electronic formats, I’m still somewhat of a purist when it comes to my own reading habits. I grew up with physical copies of books. There’s nothing I love more than being able to feel the texture of paper as I turn a page, to be able to study the illustration on the cover, to smell either new book smell or vintage book smell. Sure, they take up a lot of room in mass quantities and have disadvantages that their electronic counterparts don’t have. But I’ll take ‘em any day.

One of my bad habits (and I say that in a tongue-in-cheek way) is collecting old pulp science fiction novels. While fantasy is primarily the world I lived in while growing up, I always did have a spot for sci-fi in my heart, and that has grown over the years. Yes, I enjoy the big name stuff, the award-winning stuff, and the stuff that has been turned into movies. But more often, I enjoy the authors that not many people know about, the ones that thrived even in obscurity. Philip Jose Farmer is one of my favorites, and while he’s fairly well-known (especially for his Riverworld series), most sci-fi readers I talk to have never heard of him. Farmer’s stuff is sometimes way out there, sometimes downright absurd, but that’s what I love about the genre. When the sci-fi stuff gets too science oriented, I tend to lose interest. I’m more interested in the big picture themes, in the world that the characters live in, in how the characters behave.

I bring this up because I went a long time without adding to my collection, and this past weekend I picked up a couple of books and realized how much I love seeking them out and how much I love diving into a book I’ve never heard of by an author I’ve never heard of. My finds included a book of short stories, The Planet on the Table, by Kim Stanley Robinson. My limited research showed that he is a fairly well-known sci-fi author (famous for his Mars trilogy), and after reading the first story in the collection, I’m hungry for more. The other book was more a fantasy/alternate history book called Too Many Magicians by Randall Garrett. The book sounded intriguing, and my research on the author was entertaining (I won’t say anything – visit his Wikipedia page and read for yourself).

Anyway, one of my dreams is that once I have a house to live in and we have a library (because we will have a library in our house), I will have a section primarily dedicated to my old pulp sci-fi books, regardless of how we have our books organized. I don’t collect many things as a hobby, so this being my one big thing I’d like to see them all in one spot. And then someday my kids can look at me and go, “Dad, why do you have all those moldy pieces of paper hanging around?” And I’ll shrug and they’ll return to their digital media.

I thought it might be fun to let you guys in on the writing process I use for Bardsworth, my webcomic. I typically talk about writing in the sense of traditional fiction writing, but they way I write for a four-panel comic strip is a bit different than how I write my books. My webcomic is long form, though, which means that it follows a continuous story. So in that respect, it’s like a novel, and because of that, some of the techniques I use can be employed in traditional writing.

I guess the easiest way to do this is to break it down into steps.

1.) Daydreaming. The way my webcomic works is that there is an overall plot, and within that plot are individual storylines that may or may not link with the plot (if they don’t, they typically have some link to character development). Most of my storylines start off with a question or a premise. “What if someone found a doorway to another world in the back of their closet?” “What happened to this character to make him like that?” “Let’s see what happens if I team these two characters up together.” Once I have that initial core idea, I let it float around in my head for a while to build up smaller ideas around it.

2.) Planning. This is sort of an optional step for me. Sometimes I can roll with an idea and just start writing. Other times, like recently, I have to sit and list out all the possible directions that the story can take. Some I’ll use, some I’ll toss – it’s just a general brainstorming session.

3.) Writing. The meat of the process, which I’ll break up into sub-steps. When I first started Bardsworth, I would try to write within the context of the four panels. What I got from doing that was stilted, oftentimes forced, dialogue and jokes. Years later, I started using a combination of free writing and heavy-handed editing, and that’s what I do today.

a.) Free writing.  I’ll write as if I’m writing a movie or TV script, and I won’t worry about panel constrictions. If a conversation takes a long time, so be it. If jokes take longer set-up time, so be it. I don’t worry about it at that point, I just write.  Whatever I think of goes on the page.

b.) Editing.  When I’ve got a good chunk of the story written (or better yet, the whole thing), I go back and start breaking it up into smaller pieces that work within four panels. This often means I have to hack dialogue, remove actions, and add bits and pieces to make things work. If things still aren’t perfect, I don’t sweat it just yet. There’s still time to tweak things before the strip goes live.

4.) Sketching. I work digitally, but before I do anything on my computer, I do a rough draft with pencil and paper. This gives me an opportunity to see the story visually played out. It helps show whether or not the dialogue meshes with drawing, and if not, I can tweak one or the other.

5.) Drawing. This is the last chance I have to change dialogue. I’d say maybe ninety percent of the time I don’t have to change anything (except maybe a word or two). The other ten percent of the time is usually because the writing wasn’t polished enough following step 3. Very rarely have I ever had to publish a strip with dialogue that I wasn’t happy with. Most of the time I can rescue it at the last minute. But the bottom line is that the writing process doesn’t end when I pick up the pen (or stylus).

I think that it’s important that I shared this because many people think that doing a comic is drawing pretty pictures or scribbling funny gags. And sometimes it is. But for a comic like mine, and for many people I know, it’s mired deep in the writing process. The art, though important enough in its own right, is secondary.



Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Today is the birthday of one of one of my favorite authors, the late David Eddings. Born in 1931, he passed away in 2009 after a successful (in my opinion) life as writer of fantasy. He penned the famous series The Belgariad and its sequel series The Mallorean, as well as several other series and stand-alone books.

When I say I’m a fan of his, you have to understand that I don’t mean that I’ve read every single one of his books. As a reader, I’ve always wanted to read a diverse number of things, even when there are authors that I love. This means I tend to jump around from author to author and from series to series.  I think this has helped me in my own writing because I’ve been exposed to a number of styles and ideas. But I digress.

While I haven’t read everything Eddings put out, I have read The Belgariad numerous times. In fact, I would make it a point to read the entire series once a year in order to inspire me and put me in the right frame of mind for writing (haven’t in a while, though, because my copies have been packed up due to multiple moves from place to place). That series has been one of the single largest inspirations to me, most especially in terms of dialogue. Eddings’ dialogue was brilliant; it was fun, it was to the point, and it was simple. It made the characters seem real and made you care about them more. When I write dialogue for my own characters, I do my best to channel what I learned from Eddings.

In addition, I admired his world-building skills. He took real cultures and ways of life, and adapted them into fictional ones, giving his fantasy world a feeling of believability. I would have loved to have seen his notes on said fictional cultures, because I’ll guarantee that there were things that he never actually put into the stories.

I regret never contacting him to thank him for being an inspiration to me. In fact, I didn’t know he had passed away until a year or so after the fact. I was pretty devastated by that and ashamed that I hadn’t known. But he still lives on for me in his books and my own writing. I feel, a little sheepishly maybe, that Blood of the Mother was almost my “thank you” letter to him. The first draft of a letter, anyway. I have many more to write.


Other books worth checking out by David Eddings:

Polgara the Sorceress and Belgarath the Sorcerer – Two tie-in books that take a more in-depth look at two crucial characters to the world started in The Belgariad.

The Redemption of Althalus – a stand-alone novel centered around a jovial thief name Althalus who become entangled in affairs of the gods. (Note: The book echoes many aspects of The Belgariad, and has received mixed reviews to that end, but I’m a big fan of it).

Stupid Characters

Don’t you hate it when people do stupid things?

How about when characters in a book you’re reading do something stupid? Or a character on a television show or in a movie? Doesn’t that annoy you? It’s certainly one of my biggest pet peaves.

“Wait, why would he go in there without his gun??”

“Didn’t she learn the dangers of that magical sword in chapter six??”


I think many times when this phenomenon happens, it’s a case of the writer directing the course of events. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I’ve said in the past that this is unacceptable when writing characters. If a character has proven himself or herself capable of making dumb mistakes, then that’s one thing. But if the character has never shown that sort of inclination and in the course of the story makes a stupid mistake or misses a key point of information that he or she should have understood, then it’s the writer taking you for a ride, and I don’t personally like the steering wheel being jerked out of the hands of the characters.

And I get it. When you’re planning out a story, you have a pretty good idea of what you want to happen. In your head, it’s perfect. And then you start writing it, bulldozing ahead with your perfect idea, but unaware of the damage you’re causing around you. Characters do and say things for the benefit of you, and suddenly become inconsistent and confusing. Sometimes it seems like they just do something for no apparent reason, leaving the readers to scratch their heads. But worst of all, when you plow forward with your perfect idea, you lose the opportunities for other ideas.

Every one of my stories – every one of them – started off going in a particular direction in my head. Then, when push came to shove, I’d get to a turning point with a certain character and the plan would come to a fork in the road. In one direction was my original idea, already laid out for me to send my character down. But it would mean forcing the character to make a decision that they normally wouldn’t. In the other direction was… well, I never quite knew. But that was always the direction that made the most sense for the character to go. And from there, a new story idea arose, sometimes birthing new characters, new places, new sub-plots.

The general rule of thumb for me is that the character knows more than I do. I’m just the monkey typing away at the keyboard. Ook ook.


Until I get completely back in the saddle with posts for you to ponder, I thought I’d at least give you an update as to what I’m up to. Sadly, the answer is – not much. I’m still trudging through my Bardsworth novel at a snail’s pace. I haven’t had much of a chance to sit and do any solid writing. I’m really hoping to change that soon.

In the meantime, since I’ve now “officially” launched Fantasy Noir, I’m going to focus on putting that out there for reviews and such. Perhaps do a giveaway on Goodreads. Speaking of which, if anyone who has read Fantasy Noir (or read all three of the Mystery, Murder, and Magic novellas) wants to write up a review for me, that would be super-appreciated. And please spread the word!

Once I get a little farther with two aforementioned things, I’ll start thinking about more projects seriously. I have things simmering on the back burner, but there’s no point in talking about them at the moment.

Thanks for sticking with me!


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