World Fantasy 2010: It was a blast.

on Sunday, October 31, 2010
World Fantasy was pretty rocking, but unfortunately I came back to three tests and a paper, all of which I was unaware of until literally an hour ago.

So I can't blog just yet. Maybe after getting some stuff done and calming down a little.


I'm in Ohio, sittin in a hotel.

on Wednesday, October 27, 2010
That's right fools. Going to World Fantasy tomorrow with my pal Jason (it starts at 3 oh boy!). So far it has already been an adventure, if by "adventure" you mean "total lack of sleep."


We left at about 11:00 to go spend the night at Jason's Uncle's house by SLC airport. See, our flights left at 6, which meant we needed to be at the airport pretty freaking early. So we were. Problem was we didn't get to said uncle's house until 1, meaning I slept from pretty much 1:30 - 3:45. That was it. All my sleep.

I then flew to Dallis for a layover and then to Columbus. Due to losing two hours, we got in Columbus at around 3:00 pm. Magical.

We got driven to our hotel (the Red Roof Inn, also the cheapest place in downtown Columbus and within easy walking distance from food and the convention) and unpacked, then traversed the treacherous Columbus landscape until we found a nice irish pub and ate a very late dinner/lunch there. Hooray!

We also found the Hyatt where the convention is going to be. It's only about two blocks away from us. No driving/bussing required!

I then came back and took a nap despite it being like 6:00. It was a weird nap. I woke up with no recollection of where I was or what was going on.

I should have just stayed asleep, because now it is 9:00 and I'm not very tired. Actually, I'm craving caffeine. Maybe they have a soda machine somewhere in this place...

The con actually doesn't start until tomorrow at around 3:00. I have no idea how we missed this; we could have flown in tomorrow. Actually, due to the flights/plane tickets, it would have cost a lot more, but still...

I'm excited. Lots of authors and agents seem to totally dig this thing and I'm excited to meet new people (and buy their books). I actually have an alpha copy of Steelgods with me, and I have an idea at a pitch, though truthfully I'm hoping to converse more than sell. Though selling wouldn't hurt...

That's it from me. I'm kind of bored. Time to read Codex Alera until my body realizes exactly how sleep deprived it is.

Also, Word 2011 for Mac is quite good. Way better than the awful 2008 version. That is all.

Steelgods: Almost Done. World Fantasy: Almost Here

on Monday, October 25, 2010
It's almost that magical time. That magical World Fantasy time. It's also that magical time when The Might of the Steelgods book 1 will be edited and read for blastoff. Hoo-ray!

Re-reading it, I really enjoy the novel, but I can't help but notice certain sections are considerably stronger than others. This is usually due to character interaction (where when Cevan is alone he's a boring turd, but when he's with others and talking things get great), which is good to know (protip to self: keep Cevan around other people in The Gears of Anbar).

Also the pacing is a little weird, but it might be just me. I honestly have problems forcing myself to stop reading, but the overall quality of the pacing and writing certain differs in sections. I have a feeling the final 1/3rd is considerably stronger than the middle 1/3rd (but then again, it is act 3 where everything happens, so...).

I also have no idea how to fix this if it is in case. That's what alpha readers are for, I guess.

It'll be done tomorrow. That's my goal, anyway. I'll probably do one final read-through skim on the plane to Ohio (and back) for spelling and grammar errors, then start printing it. By then it'll be November so Deadly Clouds will be going on in all its glory and horror.

Oh yeah. World Fantasy. Gonna be fun. Not going to stress out about it. Just going to enjoy myself. That's the plan, anyway.


Alpha Readers Wanted! The Might of the Steelgods

on Thursday, October 21, 2010
First off, the title was changed from Might of the Steelgods to The Might of the Steelgods. Yeah, not a huge difference, but it matters to me. Hush. 
Second, I should have this book editing by next Wed. If not, I'm going to edit at World Fantasy. It's going to be ready by November, I swear. 
Which means I need Alpha Readers! Yay!

So! Here's what you get if you want to be an Alpha Reader person! It's the same rules as the Paradise Seekers Alpha party all the way back in July. Read it, I'll have a list of questions (probably not as long as Paradise Seekers, since it doesn't have all the deep crap that Paradise Seekers has), and I'd like general reviews and ideas. Grammar, spelling, etc. are also appreciated.

You are allowed to be as completely harsh as possible. In fact, it is suggested. You won't lose my friendship if you tell me you hate my book. I will be sad and cry and shoot people in Call of Duty, but I won't hate you.

So! I'm going to print hard copies, including two exclusively magical hard copies that will look like actual books (with covers and binding and everything) funded by Jason because he is awesome. The rest will get the still-nice-but-not-as-nice spiral bound affairs. However, if you are fine reading an electronic copy, it would be preferred.

I ended up needing five Paradise Seekers copies, and I still haven't got one of them back. I'll probably have four or five The Might of the Steelgods to hand out. Anyone who wants an electronic copy can get one. I can provide .doc, .pages, or .pdf.

To sign up, either comment here, shoot me a facebook message, or email spam me at theuselessgod(at) All work fine. Thanks in advance for all those who help!

NaNoWriMo - Collaborative Book

I know I'm going to regret this, but I agreed with Derek and Jason (writing group 1.0...or I guess technically 1.2 since two people dropped off the face) to write a collaborative book in November. I have a hunch it is going to be...interesting, maybe terrible, but a lot of fun.
We figured out the basics of the world yesterday, which involves poison clouds and inversion layers that make people insane, and people who have to live on mountains above the clouds to avoid going insane. Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems.
How it will work is we each get a viewpoint character, each is a different civilization adapting to this world-altering situation. We then can do whatever we want with them, referencing whatever everybody else is writing at the time (as we are going to write all three at the same time). After about 20 days, we will spend the last 10 days figuring out the final act where everybody meets up and madness ensues. I'm guessing this is when the book is going to go from "decent" to "completely insane nightmare." Should be fun.
We should call it Deadly Clouds. The lamest title EVER. I love it.
The downside is this means you'll have to wait for Steelgods 2. Or you won't. I'm considering writing it over November AND December, as the NaNoWriMo book will only be allowed 30,000 words for my part, which won't be too hard for me to do. I can start The Gears of Anbar (and I'll have Alpha copies of Might of the Steelgods out by then) and work on it at the same time. Maybe it'll work. Maybe not.
Which reminds me, Alpha readers! Wait, that's for its own post. I'm just over 50% editing, and I beat down one of the crappy chapters. The next crappy chapter is almost here (and I have some necessary revisions for the last battle chapter), but other than that it's just basic edits. Again, this is why you have other people read it: they find crap that you can't, because I keep getting drawn into the stupid book, making editing an extremely biased affair.
That's it. Rock out.

Steelgods Book Two, Editing, and me wishing I had graduated already.

on Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Editing is going well. I've officially finished the first act (as in, finished it five minutes ago. Yay!) and am moving on to act numero dos. I've made a few minor alterations, mostly clearing up stuff and refining things. I've found an interesting phenomenon I'd like to share.

I discovery write. This isn't news to anybody. Something interesting about discovery writing is often I drop hints at things or terms that I think would be cool, with the intent to pick them up later. In Steelgods, I can do this a lot because I'm hinting at future books. Of course, this means I have to remember everything that just popped out of my head at any given time.

As you can guess, this leads to a lot of loose ends, or just random drivel that I thought was neat at the time and later discovered wasn't relevant. All my books tend to have a lot of this: I go into some cute little detail about the world that I think is totally fascinating, but it holds little relevance to the plot minus just being interesting.

And, I have to axe them. Like trimming a tree or a hedge. Yes, they are part of the world, but they are just poking out. They are still part of the "hedge," sure, but they make it look disorganized and scattered. So, even though it hurts, it has to go.

I remember having to do this a lot in Paradise Seekers. I even cut an entire character arch/scene (that nobody ever saw, not even my wife) because, despite being totally cool, it just didn't matter at the end. I was padding a word count, or fulfilling self-indulgences regarding the story. So it had to go.

That's mostly what my editing has been in Steelgods, aside from general spelling/grammar/sentence structure. Even now, I'm thinking of cleaning out a term that I use at the beginning and never re-use (or maybe I'll use it again), even though I know it'll be relevant in future novels.

Speaking of future novels, I've been doing basic brainstorming/idea dumping for The Gears of Anbar (Steelgods 2), and I like where it's going. I have another love interest lined up for dear stupid Cevan (don't cringe! It's going to be good), as well as some cool ideas on how to both develop Cevan as a character and the world as a whole. While Steelgods was certainly fantasy, Gears will jump it further into its true steampunk...ness. I mean, their gods are steel. Of course it's going to have a lot of steampunk in it. Because steampunk is cool. Even if I never do the "victorian era" that usually has to be tied with steampunk. Screw that, I don't know anything about the victorian era, and I never thought it was that interesting. Yeah, I'm ruining steampunk. Whoops?

Anyway, I'm excited. This is usually how ideas work: I have a title and a general idea, but no plot. Then I start getting little bits of things I really want, scenes and what not that I think would be cool. Very often only about 1/2 of these actually make it to the book. Then, a plot arises from all these points and the underlying point, including the ending that usually is the point of the novel. Once I have all these basic bits, I can write.

So I have a weeks before November to figure that out. We'll see how it goes.

Also, I'm deciding if I'm going to write Gears and then leave the Steelgods series for a while, or keep going. It's intended for six books, but it seems silly to write series when the first book isn't published...then again I'd like to have three down so I can present them to someone if they ever ask. Can't hurt, right? Especially if I pump them out every month.

Effulgent Corruption is still on for Sanderson in January, though its going to take a bit for me to get back in the groove. I was thinking it over yesterday, and it was weird how much I'd forgotten. I remembered it eventually, sure (and I also remembered how much I like it), but it seems a bit distant now. Going back to it will be good. I'm considering scrapping the 20k I have so far and starting over, though. It was decent, but hardly up to par with my usual stuff.

That's it for me. School consumes everything. Not necessarily time - I usually manage to have a bit of free time - but totally all my energy. I get home at 5-6 every day, totally burned and ready to just do my homework and play video games. Which is why I should start writing again. :P

STEELGODS. I'll post the call for alpha readers soon, hopefully at the end of this week. I'll be doing the "collection of printed and bound copies" thing I did for Paradise Seekers, for those who hate reading on the computer. So if you are local, you can get a hard copy! If you aren't local...uh...I could ship it to you if you really wanted. Maybe.

That's it. Time to go write a paper.

World Fantasy

on Saturday, October 16, 2010
Also, I keep forgetting I'm going to World Fantasy Convention in Ohio in like...a week and a half. That's kind of a big deal. I need to print out some business cards to throw at random people or something.

I'm excited for it. I have heard it's pretty chill with regards to agents/editors/authors just willing to talk about whatever, which will be fun. I also hear people enjoy drinking a lot there, so I'd better bring my ID! (kidding...maybe)

I'll try and update my blog with a blow-by-blow while I'm there. I still don't know if our hotel has internet or not. We got a super-cheap one, and Jason and I are sharing a room to make it even cheaper (if he ever pays me back), so...that should be fun. Steelgods will be edited by then, so I'll have something to talk about I'd be willing to flash people should it be requested.

If not, I'm sure it'll be a great time none-the-less. If anything, it'll get me pumped for whatever thing I end up writing next.

By the Steelgods' Wicked Intentions!

Editing is quickening. Mostly because the chapters just past the first ones are actually in decent condition already; mostly just minor edits with regards to city locations (I hadn't written a full map yet) and a few terms that changed by the end of the book. Going well, most of the prose is decent too. Nothing I can't handle.

I finished Monster Hunter International, so expect a review of that soon. I wanted to run out and get Monster Hunter Vendetta the minute I finished it, but for some reason I restrained myself. I'll probably have to go snag it sometime; the first book was quite good in a cheesy sort of way. Very entertaining.

Starting Codex Alera on my wife's suggestion. It's by Jim Butcher, author of those Dresden Files books I have a love affair with. It will be yet another book I started, got about 100 pages in, and probably quit (Name of the Wind, Uglies, Way of Kings, I'm looking at all of you).

Also, The Scorch Trials, the next book in The Maze Runner trilogy came out last Tuesday. I should check that out as well sometime.

So many books to read, so many games to play, so much editing to do, so much schoolwork, and so little time. Hopefully I can get this all figured out.

Editing! Resume!

Bit from what I did today.

April lead me straight to the center of town, and gestured proudly at the landmark. A large metal tower, the gray metal reflecting the bright evening sun, jutted out from the cobblestones like a nail through wood. It was capped in a pointed, copper-columned tip, from which a light streamed. April spoke to me excitedly. 
“Isn’t it incredible? It’s the largest steel tower in Tempered, or so the bards say. Some even claimed it is bigger than most in the Steel-Imbued Domain. Go on, touch it!”
I stepped over a circle of flowers to reach the monument, shielding my eyes from its brightness. I placed a hand on the steel, it was cold to the touch and incredibly smooth. As I circled it, something peculiar bothered me.
“There’s no bolts, no couplings,” I noted, rapping it with my fist. It made a metallic, hollow sound. “What’s holding this together?”
“Nothing.” April’s grin widened. “It’s one solid piece of metal.”
I looked up the side. Sure enough, there were no lumps indicating bolts or screws. I scrunched up my brow.
“One solid piece? Wouldn’t it collapse on itself?”
April nodded. “It should. Both dad and I studied it for years; the thing should crumble into a pile of scrap, but it doesn’t. The story is they found it here, just sticking out of the ground, some remnant of a lost time. Maybe even a time when they made the Tinkers.”
I tried to look impressed. “Well, if you say it is physically impossible for this to stand, then I think I’m going to take a few steps back.”

Blogging instead of editing because ITS MY LIFE AND I'M IN CHARGE

on Friday, October 15, 2010


Been doing school and Starcraft 2, mostly. I figure I deserve at least a little break right? No?
Editing is going atrociously slow, which is really, really bad. Tomorrow I might binge and try to get a good half of the novel done. Again, this isn't major edits (minus perhaps the two "suckage" chapters), but it's enough to clear some continuance issues (like I discovery write and what I think of at the beginning doesn't always translate to the same thing at the end) and get it suitable for an audience that won't just poke me and say, "you spelled this word wrong. Idiot."

I was thinking about how a lot of times I've written stuff, only to go to the movies/buy a game/read a book and find bits of my ideas that were so unique when I thought them up in this stupid thing I've watched/played/read. Then I realize that, since the bastards beat me to it, I'm technically the poser now. What gives! The whole Paradise Seeker is secretly The Maze Runner suffered from that, but there are still a lot of bits that correlate unintentionally.

Now I know nothing is wholly unique. Pretty much anything you write is going to steal bits and pieces from other works. Truthfully, one's entire artistic experience could be considered a patchwork of all the media he/she has ingested, and then you sort of blenderize it, throw in a dash of your personality, and BAM, witches brew of your next book. That being said, I don't think people care much if they are reading the same book over and over (if they did, we'd only have like two books), but they certainly can tell if you blatantly ripped something off.

I'm just frustrated because Steelgods coincidentally had a lot of really, really weird crossover with an anime show. I actually only watched 10 minutes of the damn thing, and over six years ago no less, and still there's weird stuff. Ah well, I'll fix it eventually. If I end up caring.

Not writing sucks. Editing is a decent placeholder for that vacancy, but it is hardly substantial. I'm considering just taking Canyon Story (not the real title) and just barfing out a quick 50k thing without any planning allowed at all, just to see what it becomes. It'll probably suck, but an idea dump wouldn't hurt, and then I'd at least be writing something.

Maybe I could even try sci-fi. That would be new. Except I have no idea how to write sci-fi. That could certainly be interesting.

Well, I've blathered for a while. Enough talk, have at you!

No blog posts in a bit.

on Thursday, October 14, 2010
So much for daily updates. But you know what?


on Sunday, October 10, 2010
Here's a confession: I've always thought NaNoWriMo was stupid. I have literally no idea why the idea makes me so jaded. I didn't even know the damn thing existed until two years ago when somebody was like, "Hey! It's finish writing your novel month! ARE YOU GOING TO DO IT?!" At first I thought this was just some guy wanting me to finish my book (which it kind of was), but then I found out it was a real deal. Huh.

Let us now dive deep into the mind of Nathan Major, and try to find out why he thinks NaNoWriMo is stupid. Since I haven't really dug down to find whatever is spawning this deep-rooted contention, this might prove interesting. Especially since all my initial thoughts only produce positive correlations with the idea, but I still roll my eyes whenever anybody mentions NaNoWriMo. Hmm.

I think the first thing that bugs me is the fact that people do it and write something terrible. Now, I know this isn't fair at all to anybody. My first few books weren't great, and I honestly am a bit shamed that I touted them around as something halfway decent. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that has something to do with it. A lot of people, after writing their 50K, decide they are "real writers" now. They shove that thing everywhere like it's God's gift to literacy, when actually it's just some crappy thing you wrote in a month because everybody else was doing it. I don't want to read that. 

That kind of leads to what also might have me so jaded: everybody is doing it. Now, I'm willing to bet it has a fairly low % turnaround for people who actually complete their novels. I'd say 5% at the very best out of everybody who decides to try it. But, for me, knowing everybody else is going to write a book in the month kind of...cheapens it if I do it. I'm no longer being unique or special (Steelgod September, anybody?), I'm just doing it because it's a cool thing to do. I don't think of myself as non-conformist very often (I shop at freaking American Eagle, Aeropostal, and Apple Computers for crying out loud), but doing NaNoWriMo really seems forced. 

Actually, that might tie in to what is really, really the reason I hate NaNoWriMo. It's the same reason why I think "Black History Month" or "Breast Cancer Awareness Month" is so stupid: why can't we be aware of black history or breast cancer all the time? Shouldn't we be? Are we really so stupid we have to be reminded in order to get anything done, and then forced to have an entire month designated to that? NaNoWriMo is like that to me. It's something that, if you really were serious about writing, you should be writing or editing every day anyway. You shouldn't need to have some fabricated, titled month force you to write. If you have a great idea, write it now. I've heard people say they are "waiting for NaNoWriMo" to write something. Why the crap are you waiting? Freaking write that now! And don't tell me you are busy; I'll bet you money everybody has at least an hour a day to themselves. Get your butt off the couch where you are watching Sex and the City for the eighteenth time, and just do it. Don't make someone else make you.

Lastly, usually after NaNoWriMo, people just stop. They decide they are done; they've written a book! They'll write another next November. Again, stupid. If you really care about this, write frequently. Nobody got good writing one book a year. In fact, some people don't get good writing three books a year. Trust me. It takes a lot of practice. If you just write a 50k book every November, the quality will never improve. It'll just be crap forever. 

So there you have it. It still makes no sense. NaNoWriMo has tons of perks. It forces new-writers or those who have problems starting or trapped in outlining write. It gives people a finished thing to show off. Once you write one book, it is exceptionally easier to write more. It provides a community that will support and give feedback and force you to keep pumping out the words. It could also (for some of us) let you know that writing just isn't your thing; you aren't cut out for it. Look at how many good things there are for NaNoWriMo! 

So why do I still think it's dumb?

I don't know, so I'm going to test it. NaNoWriMo 2010: Nathan's doing it. He's writing Steelgods 2. Or Canyon Story. Or something else. Point is, I'm going to get all up in this. I'll sign up on the site or whatever. I'll try to get people to do it with me. Do community, all that crap, see if it really is all it is cracked up to be.

Then, when December 1st rolls around, I'll let you know how I feel about it.

This should be interesting. 

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Story Review

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Developer: Ninja Theory


What's this? I'm reviewing a video game? Well, not quite. See, I just finished Enslaved, a game that I had extreme biases against before picking it up. I played the demo, liked it, and decided it was worth a rent.

Blurb review for non-story stuff: The game looks fantastic. Andy Serkis, the actor for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, is now with Ninja Theory using the same tech to make their characters. It really, really works. They move like real people, but what is best is their faces. It's easy to convey basic emotions in games - anger, fear, sorrow, etc. - but it is harder to show deeper emotions, like remorse, envy, or a subtle hurt. Enslaved does this perfectly.

Now, a review of the story, which I felt was one of the best parts of the game (especially the fantastic ending).

It's loosely based on the Journey to the West Chinese fable. Anime-heads might realize that the original Dragonball was loosely based on this fable as well (I've only seen maybe two episodes of it, so I can't comment). You play as Monkey, the story starting you in a slaver airplane taking to you Pyramid, where...the slaves go. You don't find out until the end. The world has been destroyed and you are in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, overgrown by plants. It is very beautiful, despite the ruin.

Anyway, you manage to break out and crash the plane, and after you find a girl named Trip. Trip has put a Crown on your head, a headband used by the slavers to kill insubordinates. Trip has programmed it so she can control it and also, if her heartbeat stops, the crown will kill Monkey. Pretty much forcing him to do what she wants, which is to take her to her home. Thing is, home is 300 miles away.

Trip is a young, nieve teenager. Monkey is a hardened badass who is both extremely athletic and agile; Trip knows full well she needs him to survive. The world is comprised almost entirely of mechanical creatures (nicknamed "Mechs") that have every intention to either kill you or make you a slave of Pyramid. Needless to say, you spend most of the game killing mechs.

What works so exceptionally well is how Monkey and Trip, who start off detesting each other, end up forming a sort of relationship. It isn't romantic, per say, but it is certainly a fondness that could only have happened after miles of treacherous road together. It often starts with Monkey back-talking Trip when she gives him orders, snapping out at her, and even the basic animations to carry and throw her are rough and uncaring. By the end of the game, however, they'll actively ask how the other one is doing, check to see if they made a jump or not, and just talk. Watching these two characters interact was one of the best parts of the game.

Too often in games and books we see affection blossem too soon, too late, or at the wrong time. Everybody knew Trip and Monkey would see more eye-to-eye by the end, but despite the cliche it worked just so damn well that I didn't mind. Also, most of the scenes (especially a really, really well written one near the end of the game where Monkey and Trip are alone) stay true to the characters, despite everybody knowing they care for each other. Monkey is rough, world-weary, and rarely shows any emotion aside from anger. Trip is very emotionally attached but very optimistic. When the two at last sort of confess how they feel for each other, it isn't a blunt smack to the face. It's extremely subtle, but it fulfills that want. Monkey and Trip now want to stick with each other. Maybe not for romantic love, but for a dependence that is (at last) mutual.

This also leads to the completely steller ending. Many people have complained about it ("people" in this sense being gaming review sites) because it left a lot of things open. I think those people wouldn't know a good ending if it slapped them in the face. The ending is, literally, perfect. It does come a bit out of left field, but if you were paying attention to the many, many subtle hints littered throughout the game, the huge twist makes perfect sense. In fact, those are the best kinds of endings, the ones that you first are like "huh?" but then are like "oh wow. I see how that works. This is brilliant." 

Yeah, game reviewers are stupid. Good thing I'm here to clear that up.

I wish I could spoil the ending, but it's one you won't understand unless you play through the game. Needless to say, Enslaved, a game I thought would be little above mediocre, is easily one of my favorite games released this year. In terms of story, it blows just about every other game I've ever played away. There's more heart and real human emotion in this than any japanese RPG could ever hope for (and yes, I'm including Final Fantasy in that list). It's completely steller.

And look, I'm trying to give you a daily blog-post, so you get a game review. What will Nathan post tomorrow? Hopefully a Monster Hunter International review, since I'm about 1/3 of the way through it and the book completely freaking rocks. 

Also, Larry Corriea is awesome.

on Saturday, October 9, 2010
It is worth noting that Larry Corriea - gun nut, author, and just generally a badass - has made the New York Times Bestseller list. Jason and I had an entertaining conversation with him at Conduit about the New York Times Bestseller list, which makes him finally getting on it both ironic and totally awesome.

As he says in his blog post, this is a huge step for authors. Monster Hunter Vendetta being a bestseller will help push the rest of his career forward. Larry most certainly deserves it: he found a niche, wrote a great book to fill it, and now is reaping the reward.

Keep up the good work dude. Your books rock.

Editing Begins

My "postmortem" edit of Might of the Steelgods begins today! I'm going to try to cover at least two chapters a day, maybe three or four, in an attempt to tear through it. I also will probably rewrite or do extensive editing on two of the chapters I particularly despised. That's the plan, anyway.

There is reasoning behind this, and it is thus: I'm going to World Fantasy in Ohio with Jason at the end of this month. I'm a bit nervous, but I'm certain it will be a good experience. The goal is networking, obviously, and to find agents and editors that I can send crap too. Currently, however, I only have one project I feel comfortable sending out: Paradise Seekers. And while Where Gods and Mortals Dance would be a most excellent thing to go flaunting around, it requires rewriting a good 1/3 of the book. That's something like 60k, which would be very hard to do between now and October 27th.

However, Steelgods is already in decent condition, only having two main areas I think need work (minus general editing, of course). It is also more fantasy than Paradise Seekers, which is kind of a surreal YA traipsing around as a fable. I'm guessing it would talk all of a week or two to have it in good condition, perhaps even good enough to send out to willing Alpha readers. But most importantly, it could be something I'd be all for sending to an agent.

Which reminds me, like 75% of the people I submitted Paradise Seekers to never even got back to me. Come on, dudes! It's been like...four months! I have a SASE, just send a form rejection or something if you really don't want it! Just don't leave me hangin' like this!

At any rate, that's the current agenda. Quick edit of Steelgods, and in the meantime I'll spend my non-editing hours trying to figure out what the crap to do exactly with WGMD to fix it. If school and work weren't so damnably offensive into my writing time, I could probably have both done by the end of the month. I doubt that's going to happen, though.

What else to say? I'm considering doing some brainstorming to figure out another new novel to write, probably another standalone novel. I still have Steelgods 2 (titled The Gears of Anbar) and Effulgent Corruption planned out (as well as a very basic outline of The Truth Behind His Voice, the sequel to WGMD), but I'm...missing brainstorming. Maybe I'll dig up that old Canyon story I wrote a first chapter to back in June and see how that holds up. Get this: THE WHOLE WORLD IS A HUGE CANYON. ISN'T THAT COOL? No? Well, shut up! It's my idea, and I'm going to roll with it!

This has degenerated into me yelling at some unseen follower (all fifteen of you), so I should probably cut it off here. Done and done.

Not Writing Sucks

on Thursday, October 7, 2010
It's funny how quickly a hobby can become a habit, and a habit can become and addiction, and not fulfilling the addiction can cause withdrawals.

Point: It's been a week since I've written something, and I'm already going insane.

This might be in part with the fact that Might of the Steelgods, while having a resolution to the book, was left open for the rest of the series. I know my adventures with Cevan and co. are far from over, and that makes me really want to keep going with them.

Or maybe it's because I really like writing, and so not writing has become some sort of weird state of mind. It almost makes me wish I had some throwaway project to work on (which Steelgods actually was, but as I wrote it I become more serious about it) so that I could write and not care about the result.

According to plan, I should be editing Where Gods and Mortals Dance at about now. However, I have to do some serious planning before editing can begin, something I don't want to do. I want to write, not plan.

While I'm sure it will happen, it makes things interesting. Top it off with the fact I've been exceptionally busy (this week just won't end), and you have me wanting to just write and not care about if it sucks or not.

Anyway, the point is that I love writing. I spend much of my day thinking of future book/series ideas, or tinkering with the ones I've already written (or am about to write; Effulgent Corruption has had more planning time than any book to date except Lacrymosa). Not writing is weird now, even if I am enjoying the time playing Xbox or Starcraft 2. Hard to say.

Maybe I should just write some random crap and be done with it. Sounds like a good idea.

Starcraft 2 September, or, why Starcraft 2's Single Player Ruined Jim Raynor

on Sunday, October 3, 2010
Warning: Will contain some Starcraft 1 and Starcraft Brood War Spoilers (but not Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty Spoilers)

Disclaimer: Just because this might be considered a "negative" assessment of Starcraft 2, don't be fooled. I freaking love the game. It's probably the most excited about a game I've been in a while. Playing with friends is a blast, the single-player campaign kept me entertained throughout the whole experience, and I can see myself playing it from now until the expansion (Heart of the Swarm) comes out. This is just an assessment of Starcraft 2's story in relation to Starcraft 1 and Brood War.

Why Starcraft 2 Ruined Jim Raynor

Jim Raynor, for those who don't know, is essentially the "main character" (amongst a veritable throng of main characters) representing the Terran race in the Starcraft cannon. Raynor is an all-around likeable guy throughout. He was a small-town marshal on the also small-town planet of Mar Sara, who gets swept away by dreams of rebellion and freedom by revolutionary Arcturus Mengsk. However, as Mengsk's tactics grow more and more questionable (luring the ferocious alien Zerg to Terran worlds that oppose Mengsk and allowing the aliens to wipe out the populations), Raynor and his girlfriend Kerrigan begin to question Mengk's true loyalties. The final breaking point is when Mengsk abandons Kerrigan to the Zerg during a mission, which results in Jim fighting through Mengsk and becoming a renegade. Mengsk then becomes emperor of the Terrans and embarks on a plan to destroy not just the Zerg and Protoss, but Raynor as well.
Shortly after, Kerrigan is revealed to be not dead, but instead taken by the Zerg and changed to be their star warrior. Granted, this doesn't please Raynor much, but he knows better at that point than to fight her.

The thing about Raynor in both Starcraft 1 and Brood War is the fact that you are never really "alone" with him enough to see what makes him tick. This, in my opinion, is a good thing. It becomes a staple of Starcraft storylines that, should the crap really hit the fan, Raynor often shows up to help the good-guys overcome. During the Zerg invasion of the Protoss homeworld of Auer, Raynor shows up to help simply because he's become friends with some of the Protoss. This is despite the Protoss higher council wanting him to help them; Raynor just does the right thing when needed. At the beginning of Brood War, when Auer is collapsing on itself and the Protoss are warping to the Dark Templar world to escape, Raynor courageously volunteers (with his Protoss friend Fenix) to stay back on the ruined world of Auer to close the gate behind the fleeing Protoss.

So while Raynor often shows up to help during the worst of times, you don't really ever get to see what makes him tick. He's the "Gandalf" character of the Starcraft universe: you don't know how he has this army, or how he knows to be in a certain place in a certain time, but you certainly know he will be there if crap really gets ugly. Because of that, he has both an aura of mystery and a huge deal of respect and badassary (yes, that's now a word). Even when Fenix is killed in Brood War (by Kerrigan, of all people), and awful things keep happing to Raynor, he still puts on a good face and keeps coming back to the fight. In a game rife with characters who aren't what they seem, and where nearly every "good" character has some terrible dark underlying goal or flaw, Jim Raynor really steals the show.

And then, they made Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty

First off, what the crap happened to him? The left is his portrait from Starcraft and Brood war. You get to know this guy. You like this guy. And on the right (and in the title image) is the "new" Jim Raynor, complete with voice actor. That doesn't even look like the same person!

Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty focuses completely around Jim Raynor, to the effect that you are Jim Raynor (being a faceless "commander" in RTS games just isn't cool anymore). In it, you start with Raynor, four years past Brood War, drinking in a backwash bar and dreaming of a revolution. Well, pretty soon that revolution kicks off, and away Raynor goes on his epic adventure to extract revenge on Mengsk. Of course, Kerrigan (who has been surprisingly absent since Brood War), decides to show up in the middle, and prophetic Protoss revelations about the upcoming end of the universe don't make things easy. It's a quality popcorn plot, that hits all the right notes with regard to the plot itself, and also administering substantial fan-service complete with cliffhanger ending.

And it completely ruins everything I ever liked about Raynor, and what made him the centerpiece of my Starcraft experiences. 

Let's go back to saying Raynor is like Gandalf. In Lord of the Rings, there was a very good reason Tolkien didn't go into detail about Gandalf's past. He doesn't even go into detail about his amazing resurrection, magic, or...well, anything. Gandalf is Gandalf because he must be: he's one part plot-device and one part mysterious badass. Explaining Gandalf would take away an integral part of what Gandalf is. It would completely destroy the character. 

Back to Raynor. We all know he does good things for good people. But what happens when you are Raynor? Wouldn't that just be a magical adventure, roaming the galaxy helping people, getting revenge on Mengsk, that jerk you wanted to kill since the first part of the very first game? Trying to help Kerrigan?

Well, no. Actually, it kind of sucks. Not only sucks, but it ruins Raynor.

Here's the thing: going around randomly helping people just...isn't very exciting. Not only that, in terms of a story-driven game, it seems rather pointless. Two major story arches just open and close during this game, and since the ending decisions are so dramatic, I can't see any of these characters ever returning. So what was their point? To gain new units, sure, but what else? To show us more of Jim's character? doesn't. It just shows that he goes from place to place, helping whoever will ask him for help and then continue on. What's the point? It makes Raynor seem like the biggest "gopher" ever. Where was this revolutionary, this guy who would "Save the galaxy at any cost?" Instead I'm gathering artifacts that may-or-may-not have some attachment with the overall plot, saying colonists for whatever reason (and ignoring all the others), and helping some psycho Ghost. Why is this? 

But that isn't the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that Gandalf bit. Jim in Starcraft 1 was an enigma, and because he was an enigma it let your mind go CRAZY about how totally awesome he must be. Planet hopping? Friend to both Protoss, Terran, and a personal stake against the Zerg? Betrayed countless times, but still gets back on his feet and fights? That's awesome!

But Jim in SC2 isn't like that. It starts with him drunk in a bar, wooing over a picture of un-Zerged Kerrigan like a cliche. He initiates the "rebellion," sure, but he hardly seems completely in charge. He fights with his companions, gets in lame slumps, and constantly dwells on the past. While I knew Jim couldn't ever live up to the expectations I'd made for him, it's like Blizzard just took the "generic put-down hero" out of every other story and applied it to Raynor. Why? 

This problem, the saturation of Jim with disappointment and cliche, ruined the game for me, and in so doing almost ruined the Starcraft story. Here's how bad it was: when I first got the game, I was super pumped about the single player. However, after about four missions, I quit it for the multiplayer. I had to force myself to get back into the story, because I heard the ending was crazy (it was). But come on...I waited over ten years to get back to this story, and it was so poor that after about five missions I stopped caring? Something is wrong here.

Blizzard saved themselves because, as stated, the Wings of Liberty ending is just so completely crazy that everybody is going to get the expansion just to see what the heck happens in the universe. But I'm now more interested in the universe, not in the characters. Raynor, the mystical, roaming badass of the first game is gone. There's some new guy with his name and his past, but it isn't the same. 

RIP Starcraft's Jim Raynor. I'd say I hardly knew you, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Now, I have no idea who Jim Raynor is. 

Steelgods, Where Gods and Mortals Dance, and other odd shenanigans


I'm revising my upcoming plan, and for those who care...well here it is. For those who don't care, too bad. You'll get a real blog post soon, where I talk about how Starcraft 2's story is total bollocks. I might write about something else, too, once I get past midterm season.

Here's the new plan:
1. Re-read Might of the Steelgods for very basic edits. Nothing major, then we'll let it sleep.
2. Plan and begin WGMD edits. This is going to actually involve a lot more planning than usual. I might not even get to editing before the end of October, but I'll try. Maybe a good goal is to get half of it edited.
3. Get Might of the Steelgods to an Alpha, get it out to people to read. I want to have it in a submission edit before 2011. Yes, I'm serious about this.
4. Try and finish WGMD edits before 2011, if possible. I'm not certain if it is.
5. Still do Effulgent Corruption for Brandon's class or Steelgods Book 2. That will depend on how confident in Steelgods I am.

That's it.

Fun Facts

- I have written three complete books this year. Two YA and one Epic Fantasy.
- Total I have written ~350,000 words this year. Considering it is said your first million are practice, I'm getting a lot of practice in!
- I have written almost completely consistently this entire year. The exceptions are during Winter Semester when I didn't write every day, during August when I was slacking with Effulgent Corruption, and right now when I'm on break. But I am editing.
- Actual time writing books from nothing was: 5 months for WGMD, 1 month for Paradise Seekers, and 1 month for Steelgods. So seven months out of 9. Wait, when did I edit then? I'm confused. Maybe it was 4 months for WGMD. Must have been; that sounds accurate (January - April).
- Out of the 15+ places I submitted Paradise Seekers to, I've heard back from four. Thanks for making my postage worth it, guys.
- Just because I'm insane, I'm secretly considering writing Steelgods book 2 before the end of the year. Just like pick November and go while Alpha readers have Steelgods book 1. Hmm...

That's it from me. Expect posts less egocentric soon.