The Brain

Writing

In interest of keeping my promise to write about writing, I decided to share a new tool I ran across. It’s both a software and an app called The Brain.

This is something known as “mind-mapping” software. I’ll be honest, my initial reaction was NO! My mind doesn’t work that way, that’s crazy, no way can I make that work.

Then I recognized a classic case of OFS.

What’s OFS?

It’s Old Fart Syndrome. You know, that thing when an older person automatically rejects something just because it’s new, without even bothering to try it.

So I looked The Brain over and decided to give the free version a shot. And I discovered that this Brain thing makes a really handy outlining tool. (See how I brought that back around to writing?)

Anyway, I’m not too good with it yet, but I think The Brain is going to be a great help as I forcibly re-learn how to be more plotter than pantser.

Think I’ll save those terms for an entry when I’m on my computer, not my phone…

About That Writing Thing

Writing

Sometime about a zillion years ago, I decided to get back into writing about writing. I made a few posts about writing, how I generate worlds, and such, but I was just too damn sick to keep up with the idea.

Well, I got fixed. Literally. And now my body is finally returning to normal. I even caught myself feeling sane last week! (I know, right?)

Anyway, all babbling aside, I feel better these days. So I’m going to get on with the writing about writing thing.

Posts about writing I made in the past:

Writing Is For Writers

Oh, That Muse…

Worldbuilding 101: The Basics

Promo: Read An Ebook Week

Promo, Writing

Um. Yeah. Dumb me kind of forgot it’s okay to promote my own stuff on my own damn blog.

If you see a red glow off in the distance, it’s just me blushing.

So. After a bit over a year of living on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, almost all my ebooks have now returned to their proper home, Smashwords. (The ones that aren’t there are awaiting new covers.) And as luck would have it, they went live on the first day of the big annual sale. They’re all either free, or half off.

fb promo 3

NaNo Winner!

Writing

I did it! I finished my NaNoWriMo project today, at an officially verified wordcount of 50016. This, despite the moment of panic when I discovered the Scrivener wordcount does not, in fact, match up with the NaNo validator. In fact, it was off by about 250 words. That part sucked. “I’m done! I’m done! … oh shit. No I’m not.”

If all goes as planned, I will be editing/revising The Apex Mage in January. Ish. Who knows if I’ll get to it. Because I’ve got a guilty secret. The sales were just too good for my self-control, and I bought the Elder Scrolls Online. It’s a gorgeous world in there, and it may take me a while to come out of it…

WIP Chapter 3: Calla-hound

Black Eagle Rising, Writing

fallen eagle leaving

Nika pulled the horses to a halt on the rise just outside the city. From up here, near one of  the big watchtowers, she could see everything.
Not pretty.
Behind her, if she chose to look, at least a dozen columns of dark smoke reached for the sky. Funeral pyres. Really big funeral pyres.
To either side, the view was nearly as bleak, although less smoky. This close to the city walls, the big manors of the ultra-wealthy sprawled in safety and splendor, with regular patrols to keep them protected. Or at least that was what used to be there. Now, the big buildings remained, but most of them were vacant, some even smoking hulks where untended fires had run rampant.
Shit.
Her brain felt… numb. The single word took more effort than it was worth.
Resolutely, Nika turned forward, towards the future. The wide, paved road, showing signs of neglect after two years of the Blue Death, stretched ahead of her. She’d never traveled the whole thing, not even close. When she was younger she’d been out in the field, true, but her Division had served the settled lands around the capital. This road ran right out of the Dominion, according to maps. It led through the settled lands, through precincts that long ago had been neighboring countries. In the early days of the Dominion, acquisitive rulers had developed the skills of conflict, taking over the nearby kingdoms and demesnes.
They hadn’t stopped there. They kept going, for hundreds of years, until the Dominion encompassed nearly the entire known world. A long, long way away, straight ahead on the Great North Road, she’d reach the frontier.
But would she make it that far? Whole lot of effort involved in going out of the known world. Might be better to give up, lay down on the side of the road, crawl under a bush and die.
Forward, Nika demanded of herself. She nudged Wraith. The horse obediently stepped forward.
“Forward,” she said aloud, a mere faint and broken whisper. Berry, laden with supplies she’d purchased during the two days it took to get out of the enormous city, stepped into a walk with his buddy Wraith.
Forward,” Nika said again, this time in a real voice, with real determination. She’d decided to live two days ago. Nothing had made her change her mind yet, not for real.
With the horses in motion, Nika kept her focus forward. She didn’t look back at the smoking city. Instead, she remembered how it had looked the last time she entered from this very road.
Huge. Mind-bogglingly huge. Auros held roughly a million people, the largest city in the known world. It had started as a small coastal fishing village, but grown beyond all recognition for nearly a thousand years, ever since the arrival of the first of the Shining Ones. The city spread along the coastline, up and down hills, along the wide and slow River Went. Different neighborhoods showed distinct architectural styles. Walls tried to contain the city, then succumbed, becoming just another part of the architecture. Currently the outer curtain wall served as more decoration than protection, given the estates sprawling outside it.
The horses started down the other side of the hill. Behind them, Auros vanished from sight. Nika sighed with relief, then immediately felt guilty. She shouldn’t feel relieved that her home was left behind for good. It just wasn’t right.
But she did.
Something broke into her sad thoughts, and Nika halted the horses again. What was that?
A sound, a faint scrabble and even fainter whimper.
Nika dismounted. Before she could investigate the sound, her body decided to stretch without her telling it to. Stiff already, even though she’d only been on the road two days. She felt good, though. She felt alive.
Then she dropped to a crouch, trusting the horses to remain standing, and looked under the hedgerow lining the Great North Road. A pair of eyes gleamed back at her.
“Hello,” Nika said, extending her hand.
Another faint whimper, and a dim flash of pink as the animal licked its nose.
“You’re a dog, aren’t you? Come on out, I won’t hurt you.”
A short while and a good bit of coaxing later, a bitch dog crawled out from under a bush. Hesitantly, but with confidence that increased as nothing bad happened, she sniffed at Nika’s extended hand. Big, solidly made, although quite thin. Black, with a big muscular head, short hair…
“You’re a calla-hound, aren’t you?” Nika scratched the bitch’s head, relieved when the nervous creature allowed the touch rather than snapping her hand off. Calla-hounds were a highly prized breed, capable of herding, guarding, and hunting. This one must’ve belonged to one of the big estates along the road.
The bitch whined, then licked Nika’s hand.
“You look hungry. C’mere, I’ll give you some jerky.”
Nika dug some jerky out of her saddlebag, nearly lost her hand after all as the hungry dog lunged for the food, then returned to Wraith’s saddle. Maybe the world wasn’t all that bad, not with horses and now a dog to keep her company on her fool’s quest.
The calla-hound fell into an easy jog beside the horses as though she’d done it all her life, occasionally frisking and looking cute to remind Nika that she would be happy to eat more of the jerky.
“Crazy,” Nika muttered, shaking her head at herself. “The world ends, and you decide to travel and pick up a pet. Absolutely crazy.”
But for all her mutterings, Nika felt better with another four-legged friend by her side.

New Release: FIRESTORM

Promo, Writing

I just finished the convoluted process of getting my new book onto Amazon, which means it may or may not be available on the official release day. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

firestorm_med


There are different kinds of fire in life. The fire of passion, the fire of loss, the fire of the entire world exploding. There is beautiful fire, and ugly fire, and the fire of shame burning through a soul gone astray. And there is the fire wielded by the hand of a mage.

Kai and Jericho have been in charge of the Eternal Empire for several years, now. Life couldn’t be better, as far as Jericho is concerned. He’s got a home,a stable routine, the constant companionship of the man he loves. But Kai wants more. He longs for the excitement of adventure, the uncertainty of life freed from the expectations of others, the challenge of making a difference.

In short, he’d rather be back in the Borderlands.

That’s where all the real fun is. Forget about the stable, civilized, boring Eternal Empire. There are hundreds of worlds, maybe even thousands, where life is little more than abject misery, just waiting for someone to come along and clean them up. But the Imperial Senate won’t allow any of his plans to go into operation. They certainly won’t allow him to do anything about the messes personally. Why bother? Borderlanders don’t matter, not when compared to the perfection that is the Eternal Empire.

Nobody saw the firestorm on the horizon.

What will happen when an explosion shatters the stable, predictable life Kai and Jericho have built for themselves? Will it lead to the end of everything they’ve shared? Will it bring utter madness in its wake? 

From stability, insanity. Dark mages. Demons. Invincible aliens. Powerful change is coming fast. But will Kai and Jericho survive?


Yeah, that’s right, people. It’s coming. And it might just explode your mind along with everything else.

I’ll send out the buy link whenever it goes live.

On Feedback

Random, Writing

I’m heading into the final stages of editing my overgrown story Firestorm, which means I’ve had someone read it and give feedback. This is an important process, I know. And it helps improve the final outcome, especially when one is self-publishing. Being a solitary writer can sometimes feel like shouting out into a vacuum, wondering if anyone will ever hear. At least that’s how it feels to me.

But this time the feedback made me realize it might be easier to go it alone sometimes. Wow. Made me feel like the shittiest writer ever, some of it, because I got the distinct impression that the reader wasn’t even reading my manuscript, but rather something completely different. Some of the comments had me going “Huh? What do you mean, being surprised by X? There was a whole friggin’ chapter about X earlier, how could it blindside you so bad?”

And yet, at the same time I want to forget all about other people’s opinions and just write for myself, I’m still happy I sent the sucker off to be picked on and misunderstood. Check it out. Every single time the person asked a clueless question, it pointed big shiny arrows at a flaw. Because if the area in question wasn’t boring or poorly written, then the person wouldn’t have asked questions about it. Right? Right. Plus, it made me think of something a friend said ages ago, about movie critics. Paraphrase: You don’t have to agree with the critic. If you know what they like or dislike, it can still give you a good idea if you’ll like the movie or not. So, and this is my interpretation now, if the critic hates lighthearted, silly space operas, but you love them, a bad review might be a nice indicator that you’ll love the movie. Especially if the critic rips on the character for wearing a spacesuit that looks like pajamas, but you love the cheesy pajama look on a bridge crew.

So I applied that manner of thinking to the feedback, and it helped a bit. What? You didn’t like that I left four millennia of history out of the action scene? I must have gotten the action right, ’cause I know you love slow, in-depth, detailed explorations of history. And you can’t figure out why a character would do something Not Nice? Awesome, I gave the character a flaw.

And yet, there’s that whole “shittiest writer ever” feeling… Argh. I’ll just keep telling myself it’s okay, the shittiest writer ever wouldn’t bother trying to find and fix the flaws.