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I’m Still Here

Wow, it’s been two months since I last posted.  I wish I could blame it on being sick twice in as many months, or the holidays, or the craziness of our lives… and I could.  But the real blame lies squarely on my unwillingness to make a post for those two months.

I’m a creative person, as you may have guessed.  I’m also a Cancer.  This means that I’m exceptionally sensitive about things.  And the fact is that my stats for this blog are dismal at best.  So for the past several months I’ve been suffering from a case of “Why bother?”.  Childish?  Perhaps.  Unprofessional?  You bet.  But it’s my personality, and it’s not something that I can change easily, if at all.

In any case, I’m here to try to get back on track, because books don’t sell themselves.  Nor do they write themselves, and that’s one thing that I can assure you of – I have been writing over the course of the past two months.  Blood of the Father is still chugging along at my normal slower-than-it-should-be pace.  But I was also (and still am) juggling multiple projects for my webcomic, including a print book that I will post about here at a later date.

So, I’m over the “Why bother?” phase and back into the “Let’s do this!” phase.  It is 2016 after all, and I promised myself that I would be pushing me harder this year than I have been.

Onward!

Cyber Monday Special

So, I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon with a Cyber Monday special on my favorite book, Fantasy Noir.  If you use the coupon code “JU59Q” at Smashwords, you can get the ebook, normally priced at $3.99, for a crazy low price of $0.99.  If that doesn’t tempt you, I’m not sure what will.

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I promoted something of my own earlier in the week, and now I’d like to promote somebody else’s something.  A good friend of mine and fellow writer has started providing ebook and print formatting services.  Madeline Claire Franklin is not only an exceptional writer (seriously, check out her books), but she has been self-publishing since 2010 and knows the ins and outs of making a book look polished and professional.

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Let me tell you, this is not a service to take lightly.  I hate formatting my books (mostly because I’m using an antiquated version of Word XP) and it takes up time that you should be doing other things, like writing.  For a reasonable price, Madeline will do the work for you, and she offers a few extras for a only a little bit more money.  Believe me, I  know how to do all this stuff, but even I’m considering taking her up on this the next time I need to format a book for print (which I absolutely hate doing).

So, whether you’re a newbie to the world of self-publishing or a veteran who doesn’t mind paying for someone else to do the dirty work, take a look at what Madeline has to offer.  We writers have to have each others’ backs.  As the Canadian television character Red Green used to say, “I’m pulling for ya.  We’re all in this together.”

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I’ve been very quiet on the writing blog front because I’ve been focusing all of my energy in a different, yet not altogether unrelated, project.  I recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign a preorder for the second print collection of my webcomic Bardsworth.  The campaign will also help fund the printing costs of the book.  Take a look at my intro video for details:

If you didn’t watch the video, basically you contribute any amount of money and you’ll get some kind of perk for doing so, but if you want the book you’ll have to contribute at the $30 level.  Please take a look at the IndieGoGo page for full details, though.  And if it’s not something you’re interested, please spread the word in case someone you know might be.

Thanks!

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Work on Blood of the Father continues to move along, if a little slower than I would wish it, but that’s par for the course.  And for the most part, I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out.  However, I still do have those momentary doubts that nip at me and distract me with their sharp, pointy teeth.

One of the doubts I keep having is that I’m using far too much exposition.  And, really, it’s less of a doubt and more knowledge; I know that I’m adding too much exposition.  And I keep telling myself that it’s still the first draft, that I’ll be going back and trimming the fat when all is said and done.  Still, though, thinking about all that word vomit makes me think that the real action doesn’t start until too late in the book.  And then, if I remove that exposition, the book will be too short.  Then I’ll have to add stuff.  Then… then… then…

Do you see the unending line of thought here?  This is what goes on in my head, and I’m sure it – or a version of it – happens to many writers.  The best thing I can do is to keep writing, even if it is exposition.  The story is in there, in that giant block of stone.  I just have to carve it out and put the fine details on it.

Although sometimes it seems to me that carving a statue from a stone would be far easier than writing.

Video Games and Writing

Lately I’ve been watching a bunch of videos on YouTube dealing with video games, whether it be top ten lists, historical looks at the industry, or rare collections. In the midst of watching many of the videos, I find myself sort of wishing that I was more of a gamer. I’m a retro gamer; I love my old Nintendo consoles and the older games will always be more of a draw for me. But some of the more modern games look amazing to me, not as necessarily just as a gamer, but as a writer.

There was a time when video games were simple, yet still had crazy stories attached to them. I mean, Yars Revenge for Atari – which is one of my favorite Atari games – is repetitive and really doesn’t make any sense, but it actually has a story! Obviously, as technology advanced and allowed games more room to grow, the stories actually fit in with what was happening on the screen. Then, at some point, the majority of games became the story.

ff6For me, my all time favorite video game story is Final Fantasy VI (which was released as Final Fantasy III on the SNES when I was younger and first played it). This was my first real interaction with a game that was mostly story, and a great one at that. It had a fantastic setting that meshed magic and technology (a premise that I stole for my first serious story), it had characters that were fleshed out and believable, and it grew in scale as the story progressed and became absolutely epic. Yet, at the same time, it was still fun and lighthearted in many aspects, echoing some of my favorite fantasy authors like David Eddings.  I may be biased and it may be because I’m so far removed from the game at this point (haven’t played it in way too long), but I don’t recall having any problems with the writing in that game. The same could not be said for the next few installments in the franchise, however.

Nowadays, the stories combined with the exceptional graphics capabilities available make games more or less interactive movies. I know I’m behind the times in writing about this now, but my life and circumstances haven’t allowed me to shell out for new consoles or powerful gaming PCs in order to play the newest of the new games.  I typically don’t get to play games until long after they’ve been released.  In any case, it does amaze me to think that at some point, jumping into the video game industry as a writer would have been a very lucrative career move as well as a satisfying creative life.

Perhaps someday when I have a little more time to do so, I can actually start playing some of these games and immerse myself into the stories. By then, though, who knows how far video games will have advanced? Perhaps we’ll have reached the peak of the visual works and then people will be forced to up the ante on the writing, making even more amazing video games to play.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to kill a half-hour here and there by playing The Simpsons: Hit & Run.

I wasn’t planning on writing about any EPs in doing my album reviews, but I made an exception for this particular one. Firstly, The Four Postmen is a band that is pretty special to me (more on that in a moment). Secondly, it’s a really fun EP. Thirdly, it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want.

4postmenMy discovery of the band is kind of a fun story. When Katie and I were living in California, she was listening to a Moxy Fruvous album while in the costume shop at school (she was getting her Masters in costume design). The shop manager said that if she liked that band, he knew a guy in a similar type of band, and not too long after that he asked us if we wanted to go to one of their shows with him. We said yes, of course, because it had been a while since we had gone to any shows. We got to the venue rather early, so we decided to walk to a local restaraunt and grab some dinner. Lo and behold, the entire band showed up at the same restaurant, and we ended up eating with them! They were all really nice and super funny guys, and it was fantastic intro to them.

We became sort-of groupies after that first show. It was hard not to. Their shows are goofy and energetic, with a lot of banter and joking around in between songs. Not to mention that most of their songs are silly or at least humorously creative. Not being able to see them anymore was one of the hardest things about leaving California (I’m not even joking about that).

The Four Postmen are pretty much straight up rock-and-roll. Their earlier albums are much more acoustic, almost early Barenaked Ladies sounding. Subsequent albums have had much more energy and traditional rock elements (i.e. electric guitar) in them. Most of their songs incorporate harmonies between the members, and it’s hard not to sing along.

5-Pack Volume 1 has (surprise) five songs, and they were all songs that we heard played at numerous shows. It begins with “The Karaoke King” (written for an independent movie of the same name) and ends with “Parachute”, the two most energetic songs on the EP. “Bed a’Nails” and “Drivin’ Me” are a little more subdued, and are similar in their sarcastic and cynical (but still fun) lyrics. “Coffee Girl” is Katie’s all-time favorite Postmen song, and it’s a ballad of a man in love with a coffee barrista, and it’s chock full of coffee puns (and inappropriateness).

The Four Postmen are a band to listen to when you’re in a good mood and feeling a little goofy. Once you learn the lyrics, it’s impossible not to join in on the singing. And after a while you really learn to appreciate the wordplay and overall writing of the songs. They are truly underrated geniuses, and I’m glad I got to see them as much as I did when I had the chance.

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