Book Review on Amazon: Genesis Earth by Joe Vasicek

on Thursday, June 30, 2011
Buy it here.

Joe's Blog

Amazon Review - Four out of Five Stars

The first thing I'd like to point out is I'm not an avid reader of the sci-fi genre. I love the genre in different forms of media, specifically movies and video games, but when it comes to READING sci-fi it usually isn't my first choice. So when I gave Genesis Earth a go I was pleasantly surprised by how engrossing and interesting it was, even from the first page. Vasicek has created a world that readers will find both technologically sound and incredibly interesting. 

The second point is how extremely well editing the novel is in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and general layout. Having read a handful of indie published Kindle books, a rather unfortunate stigma of the market is that most books have frequent grammar, spelling, and formatting issue. It is clear Vasicek spent a good deal of time perfecting this novel before putting it out on Kindle, which is a boon in and of itself. 

The basic concept of the book is that our main hero Michael has lived his whole life in a space station, in the shadow of his super-scientist father. When mankind opens an artificial wormhole and finds what appears to be an inhabitable planet on the other side, Michael accepts the task of going through with the only other crewmember, Terra, to discover the planet and basically see what's up. 

The initial chemistry (or lack thereof; they bicker frequently) between Michael and Terra is extremely amusing, especially with Michael basically looking for symptoms of mental illness in the girl. That was probably the funnest part of the book, watching Michael and Terra play off each other as their completely different personalities clashed frequently. 

Once they arrive on the other side of the wormhole, things go from "interesting" to "weird" to "wait what?" There are several rather startling reveals throughout the book that kept me reading just to see what Vasicek would throw at me next. 

I only have two complaints with Genesis Earth. First, the eventual chemistry (read: romance) between Terra and Michael seems phoned in. While I can understand they are the only two people alone on this starship and there was pretty much no way at all the book would NOT hook them up, the situations that lead to their eventual romantic interest don't seem to merit the sudden rush of fondness they feel for each other. 

My second complaint was that the viewpoint character, while extremely technologically competent (which I am thankful for; I know nothing about sci-fi) came off as dry in several parts. I can understand it being his personality, but frankly his dead-panning of certain climactic scenes sort of took the wind out of the book's sails. I think it would be AWESOME to read this book from Terra's viewpoint, as she is both unstable and incredibly interesting. 

Overall, if you are an avid indie reader, you really should pick this book up. It's a rather bright beacon of quality amongst a dark expanse of mediocrity. Even if you don't like sci-fi it should certainly be worth investigating, as the story is riveting and characters captivating. 

Also, I kept humming "The Final Countdown" by Europe every time their spaceships were flying around. Is that weird? Whatever.

Director's Cut!

Here are some random thoughts about the book that I didn't put in the review because they were stupid ideas.

- I kept waiting for one of the characters to turn into this crazy, psycho murderer that stalked the starship like on Sunshine. Then I realized there were only two characters so that made no sense.

- I also kept waiting for a Planet of the Apes moment where they land on the planet and are like, "THE STATUE OF LIBERTY!" Thankfully, that didn't happen either.

- I wasn't lying about the Final Countdown thing. Here, now YOU can listen to it.

- I've always been curious about faster then light travel, but no sci-fi games or movies really take into account the fact that if you travel that fast EVERYBODY ELSE GETS REALLY OLD. I liked how this book mentions that frequently.

- When you find out exactly where/when they are after going through the's pretty dang epic. Just saying, I didn't see that twist coming.

- I'm in Space. SPPPAAACCEE!!!

(stop at 3:30 unless you want to spoil Portal 2's ending)

This is my 200th blog post and it has NO POINT.

on Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Post 199, Part 5 is freaking done.

on Tuesday, June 28, 2011
After 10,500 words today, Part 5 - Purity's Saints is finished. Hooray! Party.
That leaves two parts to go. Hooray!
That's about it. Back to Rook, and then the clash of worlds.

Here's the start of Part 6. I'd be more excited about this but I'm sick and also tired. So there you go.

"With all the skill of a master surgeon, Rook rammed the shard of Gangrene into the Zealot's eyelid."
- Initation, Effulgent Corruption

Updates: EC is a trilogy, Nier is still awesome, I am less emo

on Monday, June 27, 2011
So, my apologize for leaving it on an emo post for so long. I'm feeling much better (though still depressed, but we could blame allergies).

Here are a few highlights of the past couple of days:

- Part 5 is extremely close to being finished. On that note...
- I finally figured out everything that makes Part 5 fit together perfectly, and finally has that "punch" I wanted every part to have. So far #5 has been...a thing that happened but doesn't really hit home in ways I want all the parts to. I want them all to be winners, and 5 wasn't. Luckily, with some brainstorming and awesome ideas I think it'll end with a bang.
- Effulgent Corruption will be a trilogy to tell the entire story. Book 1 (aka the one I'm currently writing) will be standalone, but the full story has been semi-planned in three parts. And on that..
- I figured out everything. Yes, everything. When I discovery write, I usually leave a lot of open threads just for fun and decide later whether or not to use them (or cut them). Effulgent Corruption has TONS of these, and for the most part I was worried because I couldn't tie them together. Well, that's fixed. Everything makes sense.
- Everything is awesome, this book is going to blow your freaking mind. By book I mean trilogy, but this book will too. They way everything pieces together makes me extremely excited, and being able to drop hints towards it in this book is a blast. It's going to rock.

I've been writing about 3-4k a day on Effulgent Corruption, with the hope that tomorrow I'll finish Part 5 and move on to Part 6. I can almost taste the ending of this thing, I just have to force my way through to the end. Then...editing.


I am still loving Nier, even though I lent my copy out. I managed to convince two friends (now three) to play it, and one just beat it and is raving about it. I don't know what else to say besides the story is completely mind blowing, the game works great, the music is insanely good.
I mean just LISTEN to it (crap gets real at ~2:50)

At any rate, I think everybody should play this game and get all the endings. It's a story that could only have worked in its current medium (games), which is something many games don't do (most games don't even care about stories, which is too bad). Nier is easily going down as one of my favorite games of 2010, and certainly one of my favorite games ever.


Aside from that, I got great feedback on Might of the Steelgods from a friend who was looking it over, and now I'm excited to both edit it and write Gears of Anbar. I'm also pumped for WorldCON, though I need to finish Effulgent Corruption before I really think too much about it. I'm also at work right now (4-10pm...ugh) so maybe I'll go write...right now? 

New writing group is going well and good, getting to read some solid stuff and also helpful criticism. That's about it from me; keep on truckin.

On not giving up.

on Monday, June 20, 2011
I've had a rough couple of days, certainly intensified by the lack of Paradise Seekers sales and general stress from work. Not to mention my car broke again (we are finally looking to buy a new one) having me drop a couple hundred that I'd much rather have for other things.

Giving up had been a persistent itch on the back of my mind, particularly after I graduated. I have currently made no moves to go to graduate school, though my major (Psychology) would probably require it for me to get a job that would both pay well and be enjoyable. I would much prefer to have a mediocre day job (or none at all) and have books traditionally published then go back for more school (though I'd love to work IN schools as a therapist, etc.), but the gamble incorporated with publishing in general is making this decision difficult.

I love writing for myself. It's fun, I get to tell stories I enjoy, and it is extremely fulfilling. I'd love to do it for a career.

I've been keeping my eye on the prize for quite some time now with no success. It isn't that I'm a quitter, it's that I'm wrought with frustrations. This is my sixth novel (and undoubtedly my best), but I have seen no success with any of them thus far. It's an annoyance, but such annoyances can certainly build up, especially since I don't have a career to fall back on should this collapse from beneath me.

Point: I'm in a transition state in my life and it bothers me. I should probably just be enjoying it for what it is, but I'm finding that too hard. I'm ready for something solid, a place I can hang my hat at least for a few years and know that is what I want to do. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem feasible.

Add to the fact that the day job is encroaching on writing (specifically conventions), and it's just a huge bundle of worms.

So I'm not giving up, not yet. It's just been a rather rotten couple of days (couple of months, truthfully) and since it was writing related I figured it wouldn't be all that awful to post it on here.

Now that I'm emoed out, know I wrote over 3k a day every day last week except Friday, where I had friends over and I wrote about 1.5k.

So I have that, at least.

Boring quote about BREAD!

A little bell jingled when she opened the door to the bakery. A large, flour-covered man raised a hand in greeting before turning and pulling a pallet of delicious smelling breads from the oven. Ciara felt her mouth water, the mixture of oats and honey tantalizing. There was only one other customer in the shop, a young man about her age who was eyeing the sweets.
“Cinnamon bread is my favorite,” Ciara remarked offhand as she passed by, remembering the treat from when she had been a child. “Make sure you have a glass of milk handy, though; it’ll stick to your throat.”
The young man turned, dark black hair running across his eyes. He wore clothes of an upperclass citizen but not lavish enough to be Kian: a red suitcoat with brass buttons. He had a goatee that accented his sharp features, nose like a hawk’s beak.
His eyes made a quick scan of Ciara’s face, Mark, and chest. He then gave her a small smile, pointing to another pastry behind the glass.
“I was actually thinking of the raisin-nut with the glaze. My fiancĂ©e is partial to anything with nuts in it.”
“If it’s nuts you want, you should probably just get a whole cake,” Ciara smiled, pointing to a particularly delicious looking one with an orange-glowing finger. “Unless she’s also partial to raisins.”
“She hates them, actually,” the man turned back, bending over to glance at the cake on the lower shelf. “But she didn’t want anything particularly sweet, just taisty. Honestly, she probably just wants something expensive and doesn’t care exactly what.”

Effulgent Corruption Quote

on Thursday, June 16, 2011
I forgot to tail end one on the previous post, but rather edit it I'm just giving this its own post BECAUSE IT'S MY BLOG AND I'M CRAZY.

Ciara felt very self-concious, but she wasn’t going to hide who she was; not now, not ever. “It was mine. I was a Kian in Finalia, before a Corrupter took me and sold me to that bastard Deviar.”
“A Kian?” Nierta laughed, gently taking Ciara’s Marked hand in hers. “With this? Is Finalia accepting Marked as leaders these days, or are you already going mad?”
Ciara considered a response, but before she could Kika interrupted.
“She isn’t mad, Miss Nierta. She’s…she’s Marcus Divinious’ daughter.”
Nierta’s eyes widened further, and she stared up at Ciara’s face in surprise. Ciara blinked, expecting the examination to last only a minute, but Nierta kept staring. At last she couldn’t take it anymore.
“You…are you a Saint?” Nierta whispered.

- Effulgent Corruption - Hope

Effulgent Corruption: 0 Nathan: 1

I'm winning the war on terror. And by terror I mean my book trying its damnedest to kill me. That's right, book! You won't beat me!

Point being I'm churning around 4-5k a day despite work and all that other junk. I haven't ignored gaming or other life things completely, but they are sitting back on the "hiatus" section of...stuff.

What probably helped is I have a clear outline of what Part 5 has left, and with that I can say it's around 50-60% finished already. According to my rough estimate, I have about (does a quick brain check) 7-8 "parts" left, and can usually churn out 1-2 parts a day (depending on how long or if I get distracted by the characters doing their own dumb things).

After that we have Part 6, and then Part 7 is the grand finale, where basically all our viewpoint characters ram into each other and nothing good comes of it. AWESOME.

So I'm winning. I'm not dead yet. I will finish this book or die trying.

Effulgent Corruption - I will finish this book if it kills me

on Monday, June 13, 2011
I'm frustrated. Not with Effulgent Corruption, I think the book is going very well. I'm frustrated because of how damn long this book is taking to finish. It's been almost six and a half months since I started, and I still have a decent distance to go. The thing is also a massive 250,000 words already, and probably has another 75-100k left before it'll end.

The only reason this is causing such irritation is I had plans for this year. Plans such as writing five novels, for instance. Writing Steelgods book two. Having EC editing before WorldCon in August. Those kinds of plans.

I know the year is only half over, but it still rubs me the wrong way. I am aware that I edit Paradise Seekers and epubbed it in this time. I'm also aware I have a job that sucks away my life. But those excuses only prove to further agitate me.

Point being: I need to finish this book. Which means I might do something drastic.

Drastic like quit video games for the rest of June. Really. I'm CRAZY. 

I've been thinking it over. Once Part 5 is finished Part 6 will go by fairly quickly. The final part (Part 7) is basically where everything collides and wraps itself up all nicely. That will go by fast as well, especially since the end will actually be a foreseeable distance away.

This isn't the longest I've spent on a book. Truth be told, for the word count, I'm running at about my usual pace (minus the "one-month YA explosions"). I just can't help but think I could have churned out two books in this time had they been shorter, and that bugs me. But quality over quantity, right?

We'll see how it goes. I'm between games and have no real commitments (minus jobs, church, and piano lessons). If I could write 5-6k a day I'd probably get this finished by June's end. Can I actually do it?

Dammit, I've got to try at least.

Now that you've heard me getting all emo, know everything with the book is going well. Writing Group: Summer Edition is fun and good motivation. I'm just ready to move on.

Here's a bit from what I wrote yesterday.

Deviar suddenly ran up the stage, raising a cane into the air to a smattering of cheers. He had changed his clothes – gone was the brown riding garb and in its place were a hideous collection of colorful garments. He even had a red flowing cape, clashing horribly with his blue ruffled shirt. Ciara couldn’t hold back a small snort, and she caught Kika giggling as well.
“He looks like a peacock,” she whispered as the idiot slaver paraded back and forth in front of them.
“He looks like a fool.” Ciara shook her head. “Does he think Kian dress like that? Is he trying to be dignified?”

Effulgent Corruption, Nier, and guest blogging

on Thursday, June 9, 2011

First off: I wrote a monsterously long blog post about character development in response/collaboration with Joe's bit I posted here. Read it now.

Next, I wrote 5k in Effulgent Corruption yesterday; an entire chapter. It was also an especially potent scene that I'd had planned literally since the book's initial inception, so writing it was extremely exciting and gratifying. I'm very satisfied with how it turned out, though I might be adding a little more to the end before the chapter break. Major revelation/twist with regard to viewpoint characters. EXCITING.

I write better when I write in chunks. I wrote 2k from 4-5pm while waiting for my wife to get done with work (we work at the same place but rarely the exact same hours, so if I get finished sooner I write in the lobby). Then I sat on my magical hill that is quickly becoming "hay fever central" with all the stupid grass and wrote another large chunk. Good stuff. I should get off work early every day.

Lastly, I beat the game Nier. I linked the wiki, but don't read the plot. Here is why.
This game has a GREAT story. I'm usually pretty jaded against JRPG plots. I enjoy the, but they tend to be seeped in melodrama and exposition rather than actually letting the reader/gamer discover things themselves.
The best part about Nier is it explains the final plot twist near the end, then explains NOTHING else. It forces you to put the pieces together, and when you do everything (including a prologue that seemingly had nothing to do with the rest of the game) snaps together into an incredible finale.
The twist also changes the truth about what you've been doing the entire game. After beating it you can replay it to learn more about one of your companions (you basically replay the second half with added commentary/cutscenes). But now that you know the twist, some of the things the game makes you do (which you did just fine in the first playthrough with no emotional attachment) are horrific. Rarely does a game make you own up to what you've done, but Nier does it an in spades. Once you realize the truth behind not only the bosses but the events leading to them you realize that nothing about the game was what it seems. But it still all makes perfect sense, which is a superb example of a well crafted story.
I'm rambling, but I'm going to go so far as to say Nier has the best story of any JRPG ever made. If not the best, at least the tightest. There is little to no filler and stuff that doesn't make sense the game takes care to explain over multiple playthroughs. It is exceptionally well crafted. I highly recommend it (plus you can get the game for about $10-15 despite coming out next year).
Know it's steeped in mediocrity, but the payoff is totally worth it.

That's it from me, enough about dumb video games. Nathan out.

Effulgent Corruption - More Crap

on Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I'm making another post because the first one has actually been in limbo since Sunday. I finally got mad and just finished it, which is why my rant ended abruptly and without a coherent conclusion like my books M I RITE?!.

Chapter 1 of Part 5 is done. This part might be longer than anticipated, but Part 6 won't, and Part 7 is just the end of the freaking book. Going to finish this thing if it kills me.

On the game front I've been playing Nier on Xbox360. It is basically like an adult Zelda game with horrible side quests (hey, just like Zelda!). It also has bad graphics and the gameplay is just so-so. However, it is a really well written game, excellently voiced, and has a very distinct personality. If you like games with solid stories, you should consider checking it out.

Also the music is great. Have a gander.

 Excited to see where Part 5 will go, but all my goodwill from Part 4 got eaten when I realized I don't have as tightly knit a plan for Part 5. It still works well, won't be as strong, unless I have a world shattering epiphany. I guess every single part of the book doesn't have to be mindblowing, but I'm going for consistency here, people.

That's about it from me today. Expect some more later. Again, trying to find a part that isn't a massive spoiler, but that might not be possible from this section. So you get something boring.

Ciara awoke to a sore head, throbbing face, and aching arm. Her revival into consciousness came paired with a reaction – one part scream, one part gasp – that shook her like a rattling doll. Her hands flew to her cheek, then quickly retreated as touching her face sent another pulse of pain.
Dead Six, she gingerly brushed against her face in an attempt to better understand what was going on. What has happened? 
Effulgent Corruption - Sold

Effulgent Corruption: Part 4 is done, I love writing.

I finished Part 4 on Saturday. It's...40k I think. Record time!

Part 5 needs some planning before starting. I'm going to try to keep it short, too. Finish this madness off in a reasonable manner.

Also I had an epiphany last night: I really FREAKING LOVE TO WRITE. 

Yeah I know, I'd figured this out before, but hear me out. I shall now elaborate. WARNING: SELF-INDULGENCE TO FOLLOW. ALSO IT IS LONG SO JUST SKIP IT IF YOU DON'T CARE.

I started writing because I read books and though 1. I could do better 2. I had a plethora of awesome stories to tell. I'm not really that arrogant, I swear, I just felt like I was capable of writing just as good as a published author. Or at least enough to give it a try.

So when I wrote Lacrymosa, that sucker was PURE. I wrote it by hand (at least about 120,000 words of it; the last 30 I finished off on a computer) in notebooks I bought from Walmart. In pencil. Legibly, so others could read it. Yes, that actually happened. It was over the course of an entire year, but I loved that thing. Writing by hand meant every word mattered, every scene had to be exactly how I wanted it, because I'd be damned if I was going to erase an entire page to fix a dumb mistake.

Harbinger was on the same vein. This was the summer after first taking Brandon's class and actually "getting serious" about writing. Up until that point I'd considered it a fun diversion or side job; after the class I really wanted to at least try to make a living off writing.

It was that drive that kind of burned me.

Where Gods and Mortals Dance was when I stopped writing whatever I wanted and started writing "for serious." I'd proved I could write a book with Lacrymosa, and I proved I could write one in less than two years with Harbinger. I realized that I could write, but now the issue was to whether or not I could write well. WGMD was an attempt to both branch out (it was a novel meant to be more political than violent, with a slower pace) and to write something I'd actually consider showing to an agent/editor (which now I don't agree with).

This was also about the time that writing became more and more of a chore and less of a self-indulging hobby.

I blame the fact that whenever you do something as a job you have a tendency to start disliking it. They tell you to "find a job doing something you love," but even if you love something doing it over and over and having it be what keeps your food on the table can always cause a level of stress. I'm not saying I started hating writing - far from it - but the mechanics were starting to bog me down. I had a good dozen hours of Writing Excuses on my brain, two batches of writing groups to take into account, and who knows how many college courses, training, and articles on writing I'd been rabidly consuming over the past years. Every sentence I'd write would quickly become self-edited, each scene picked apart before it was even written, every plot arch examined.

Now this is a good thing, unless it goes overboard. And considering I'd only done the basics of planning up until this point, I was totally overwhelmed.

It was this phase of my writing, the "it better be good because you'll never make a career out of it if you don't" that spawned WGMD, Paradise Seekers, and Steelgods. It also provided the base inspiration for Effulgent Corruption, though I'm glad now I didn't write it at that time. Stuff was good but not great; I was transitioning from "hobby-level commitment" to "I really want this to work" level, which was both stressful and exciting (I did write lots during that time).

So now we are here now. The initial bits of Effulgent Corruption were the tail end of that phase. I was frustrated with it constantly, enjoying parts but when I'd re-read them I'd decide it was the worst stuff ever. It wasn't until recently that I think I finally broke through.

It was probably during Part 3, Rook's part. Everything up until this point had been great but not grand. Things fit together but nothing "clicked," with the novel still a foreboding shadow of massiveness (which it still is, but that isn't the point). When I started Rook's part I had literally no idea where it would go minus the basics. I wrote a few chapters, things were going ok, but nothing was great.

Then I went on a walk with my wife to brainstorm because I was mad, and something clicked. Everything, including things discovery written for fun earlier in the book, all fit together. It was like I'd had all the puzzle pieces, each all fine and good, and I knew they should fit together but didn't know how. That night was when I saw the box and realized how it could all fit. It was an epiphany, to be certain.

This was also when I realized I could write a lot, enjoy writing, and still be a "business" about it. I don't know if I reached a certain level of writing (or a certain level of "not caring") but it was easy to just write whatever and roll with it. I could stop worrying about if a scene was perfect or made sense now; I can always edit it later, who cares. I have a story to tell, and I'm going to tell it regardless of whether or not it sells or is perfect.

So I sort of ended that abruptly, sorry. Just know I'm still very much writing, I'm going to finish Effulgent Corruption before WorldCON if it kills me, and...that's about it.

Expect some book reviews coming soon. Those awaiting ones I promised: I haven't forgotten, I swear. I'm just a slow reader.

Here's a bit from EC. Sort of spoilers, but I've done my best to keep it as small as possible.

The weight of his sword was but an extension of his arm. Drake stepped forward, gripping it with both hands, mind suddenly awash with years of training and experience. The Corrupter blinked, her eyes black as pitch, and at the center of each eyelid was set a single shard of sparkling Gangrene.
“Drakon Lliar,” she said loudly, her voice showing no hesitation. “I knew I should have killed you in that cell all those years ago.”
“A pity, seeing as I’ve come to do the same to you,” Drake hissed, curling his toes and feeling the hot sand beneath. “Have you a hidden escourt of Zealots, waiting to spring from the sidelines to tear me apart?”
“Hardly,” the Corrupter smiled. “I don’t need them. Something you don’t understand, Marked, is exactly how powerless you are against me. You may think me thin or frail, feminine and petite. I am none of these things. I have been called the Ashen Destroyer, the Consumer of Marked. Minerva, the Maw’s Guardian. You would do better to smash your head against rocks in an attempt to crack them than raise arms against me.”
Drake gripped the sword tighter, refusing to take in the intimidation. “Talk more, ‘Ashen Destroyer.’ *spoiler sentence removed* You are the only thing standing between me and my freedom.”
“Freedom…” Minerva suddenly looked wistful, as if lost in thought. “Freedom…”
There was a silence, and then she spoke again. “You are a fool. So long as those Marks are in your hands, you will never be free. Your enslavement is determined; you are as much a prisoner as I am. Even if you are out of the Maw, you still belong to them. It’s too late for you.”
Drake wasn’t sure what to make of that. He grit his teeth, steadying the blade.
“Enough talk. You are the final barrior. Die like the gods!”
Minerva smiled as Drake roared, righting the blade and rushing the Corrupter like divine fire. 

Effulgent Corruption - Burn

Guest Post: Character Development in Sci-Fi by Joe Vasicek

on Saturday, June 4, 2011
(Blogger's Note: Joe Vasicek is a fellow author who also sports a red beard. He has published an assortment of short stories on Kindle and recently released a full length novel, Genesis Earth, complete with hot cover art on Kindle as well. You should go check it out; links to the novel and blog are after the article)

When it comes to writing characters, I like to keep two rules in mind:

1) Every character is the hero of his/her own story

2) Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end

The first rule basically means that if I wanted to recast my novel with any given NVC (non viewpoint character) as a VC, the story should be about them, not about someone else. It doesn't mean that everyone should be heroic; the Joker sees himself as the "hero" (or "main character") of his own story, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't think of himself as a hero.

The second rule is so obvious it seems like it shouldn't bear mentioning, but if you stop to think about it, you'd be surprised. When applied to characters and character arcs, it basically means that every character should have an origina and a destiny: some kind of backstory (including parents/siblings or lack thereof), and some sense of where their life is heading.

Backstory helps out a ton in figuring out a character's motivations: not just what they want but why they want it. For example, in Genesis Earth I wanted my main character (Michael Anderson) to be the son of two of Earth's most brilliant scientists. Consequently, I figured he would feel a tremendous amount of pressure to live up to their legacy.

But it didn't end there. These scientists had left with a team to create mankind's first artificial wormhole, but because playing with naked singularities is dangerous (seriously, don't try it at home), they had to spend several years traveling across space to get far enough away to experiment safely. Consequently, Michael has never set foot on Earth--but he's grown up with constant reminders of the planet, since his parents miss their home world so much.

From that, I figured that Michael would develop an unhealthy obsession with Earth. This connected very well with my original story idea, since I wanted him to explore an Earthlike world. It's one thing to describe a setting the way that anyone would see it; it's quite another to describe it through the eyes of someone who has a deep personal interest in what he sees.

For the main female character (Terra Beck), I wanted someone with the exact opposite set of motivations--someone who would provide conflict, and thus drive the story. If Michael wanted to go on the mission because of the pressure from his parents to be a world-renowned scientist, I figured Terra would just want to get away from everyone and everything. To give her that motivation, I made her parents divorced; in a small, enclosed community like a space station, I figured that a nasty divorce would be a hard thing to grow up with, especially if everyone on the station took sides. So even though Terra agrees to the mission, she doesn't really care about it.

Motivation is about more than what your characters want: it's why they want what they want. You can break it down by playing the annoying five year old kid and asking them "why?" over and over. Done well, it's inextricably connected with their origin and destiny; it grows out of their backstory and informs the sense of direction in their lives.

Strengths and weaknesses also grow out of origin and destiny. For Terra, I figured she would grow up as something of an outcast, hating everyone around her. Consequently, I figured she'd develop some disorders. One of the funnest parts of writing the book was taking an online diagnostics test to see what mental illnesses she was predisposed to. I did this after I'd finished the rough draft, so I had some sense of who she was already, and used that to answer the questions as if I were here. The test results gave me a ton of delicious material to work with.

So those are the things I keep in mind when developing my characters. I don't believe in following a set method or running down a long checklist, since every character is different. Sometimes, I just toss them in as I'm writing, and things turn out great. Other times, I take detailed personality tests and outline a long and complicated backstory. But every time I add a new character, I ask myself: "what's this character's story?" If I don't feel that there's at least the potential to write an interesting novel from their point of view, I stop and figure them out.

Why? Because I believe Neil Gaiman was right when he said:

"Everybody has a secret world inside of matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world--hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe."

And that is one of the biggest reasons why I love being a writer.

Joe Vasicek is a science-fiction writer who pretty much knows what is going down. His novel, Genesis Earth, is an exceptionally well-edited and well-produced sci-fi extravaganza complete with wormholes, first contacts, space stations, and cryofreeze. Basically you've got everything you could ever want in a science fiction novel going on in here. You can grab it off Amazon for your Kindle and enjoy a fantastic read. So go do it. Now. I'm waiting.

Effulgent Corruption, ePubbing, Writing Group 3.5, word count explosion

on Friday, June 3, 2011
Churned out a decent 4k on Effulgent Corruption yesterday. Part Four is, at last, drawing to its close. It's about 1/2 - 2/3 the length of the other parts, which I feel is because I'm not bloating it down with unnecessary descriptions. As stated before, the editing of parts 1-3 is going to be something of legend.

Paradise Seekers is doing well on the epubbing scene. Sales are reasonably slow, as to be expected, but as an experiment it's been fun. It's forced me out of my "I write and that's it" shell and made me network, advertise, and sell myself. Even if I don't choose to continue using ePublishing as the primary method to distribute my work (I'm still shooting for the traditional route), I feel the experience has helped me significantly. Realizing your sales are almost entirely in your hands (at least the start-up) is good motivation to get out there and talk about yourself.

It's also garnered quite a few very nice reviews. Thanks to everyone who reviewed it so far; it's been helpful both to get the word out as well as helped me as a writer take advice. I really mean it: thanks a ton. (and if I promised you reviews, don't worry: they are coming. I'm just not an exceptionally fast reader :/)

My goal (as stated) is to finish Part Four by Sunday evening at the latest. I bet you are all tired of hearing about my goals. WELL, TOO BAD. I also have to brainstorm Part Five, because I have basics but nothing solid.

I will be "article swapping" with Joe Vasicek regarding how we develop characters (or something of that sort). He'll be writing regarding character development in sci-fi, while I'll be tossing my opinion on the fantasy end. Considering the reason I started writing is I read a chunk of fantasy and thought "these have cool worlds and stories, but why don't I give two craps about the characters?" this should be a fun write and hopefully an interesting read. I've always considered character development the single most important point of a story. Books that stagnate on plot can still be enjoyable if the characters are interesting enough. If that point falls into place, the rest will rise to meet it.

More later. That's a taste, a "teaser" if you will of what will undoubtedly be the greatest article you've ever read. So...get ready for it and hit up Joe's blog when it goes live.

We also are reinstating Writing Group, which I have dubbed version 3.5. It's basically the same group we had during Spring with the fat cut (minus Adam, who is never fat.). It consists of Derek, Jason, and Chuck this time around, and should be entertaining. Go summer writing. Also, if you live in Provo (or the Utah area and have Skype and a computer with a microphone) you can be part of this action if you REALLY want to. I'm not making promises at this point, but we might be able to squeeze one more person in.

That's it from this end. Keep it real, keep on writing.

Book Review on Amazon: Rising Fears by Michaelbrent Collings

on Thursday, June 2, 2011
(note: this is a copy of a review I posted on Amazon. You can read that review here. Four *s out of Five *s.)

Blurb Review:
Rising Fears makes for a suspenseful, breakneck evening read.

Full Review:

I'll openly admit: I am burned out of the thriller genre. I discovered it shortly after going to college, and after devouring every James Patterson book I could get my hands on (as well as many other from similarly-minded authors), I grew bored with the genre. There's only so many narrow escapes, near-death experiences, and ambiguous chapter breaks that one can take.

Rising Fears, however, grabbed me and hooked me right back in. This is probably due to Collings' masterful blend of supernatural horror with the pacing of a thriller novel, which made old ideas seem fresh and kept me reading until the end.

The town of Rising (get it? "Rising" Fears? Ha!) seems to be an idealistic place...until all hell breaks loose. The story follows James, an ex-LAPD who is having problems coping with the past deaths of his wife and child. As grisly murders and weirder and weirder circumstances begin plaguing the town, it's up to James to figure out what is going on...before he is the next victim.

The book is fast and keeps the tension up. It almost reads like a screenplay from time to time, which both helps and hinders it (depending on the situation). Good use of classic horror trickery such as the reappearing of a creepy object (in this case, a black crayon), haunting nightmares, and more keep everything fresh and deliciously creepy. It'll be hard to put the book down when you hit the second half.

My only complaint was it took me a while until I was completely hooked. The book starts with a bang, but because of its breakneck pace we hardly get to see "deeper" in the characters until near the ending of the book. This is a problem with the genre, not this book in particular, but the point still stands. Because of this disconnect it took me a while until I was fully engrossed, but when I was...boy, couldn't put it down. The ending is also a fantastic conclusion, that more than delivers on the promises made throughout the novel.

If you enjoy thrillers (or don't, but like a good read) then Rising Fears is certainly a book to check out. It's relatively short (I think I read it in about three hours), but considering you'll want to read it all at once that's a good thing. Pop this on your kindle, turn down the lights, and creep yourself out for an evening. You won't regret it.

Writing: On Location

on Wednesday, June 1, 2011
This is gonna be a weird post. I'm going to talk about WHERE I like to write. I don't mean like...the worlds I write in. I mean where I plant my butt when I'm writing. I'll also talk about how I brainstorm, which I actually am going to talk about first. This is what happens when an ADHD person tries to write a blog post.


Yes, this is actually how it works. As everybody here knows, I don't plan much in advance. I never, ever outline in an actual "document" setting (though I do have outlines, scenes, and basic plot structure in my head. I just never saw the benefit of putting it to paper unless I was afraid I'd forget it). I also have severe ADHD, as mentioned above, which means usually the stuff is up there, just jumbled. How do I sort it all out? By walking around!

Back when I lived in south Provo, walking around was basically how I figured out Where Gods and Mortals Dance, Paradise Seekers, and the initial ideas that became Effulgent Corruption. We lived in a butt side of town, but we were kind of on an "island" sidewalk-wise; I could walk about a quarter mile around my apartment and end up back home in about 15-20 minutes. We also lived right across from a cemetery, and it is my greatest regret I never actually took my laptop and wrote in there. Can you imagine the creative juices?


Now I live on a big fat, heavily urbanized hill. Which I guess isn't much different than my urbanized south Provo, except I actually have to walk up something. Frequently when I'm stuck I go on a walk with my wife around the block for about 15-30 minutes and just talk book. If you don't have a spouse, you can do the same thing but talk to yourself, except you might look a little crazy. But hey, you are an author, so you are crazy by default.

This has actually been a huge boon to me over the years. Often times I think writers (or at least me) feel cramped and repressed working in a dark, confined area. I swear it's like I'm banging my head against the computer sometimes hoping something good comes out. Going outside and just thinking about my novel without worrying about writing it is a huge help. Granted, if you are the person who has to write down ideas the minute they come to your head, you might want to bring a notepad or something.

So yeah, go outside people. There's a great, beautiful world out there with fresh air. Now get to it.


So I have a confession: I own way more computers than I should. Yeah really. But here's basically where I write:

1. On the desk with my desktop/Mac Mini. I actually prefer to do edits here rather than writing, because it's the only computer with an actual mouse and keyboard which makes moving quickly easier.

2. On the couch, feet on the coffee table. I write on the fat, old Macbook Pro here, which overheats and roasts my legs. This is my "default" writing position.

3. Anywhere I darn well want, because I have a netbook. This was probably the best writing investment thus far, and if you don't have one you should look into it. For a couple hundred you can get a decent machine (mine was $200 and I Hackentoshed it). It'll run word, wikipedia, and iTunes, so what else do you need? I got one particularly because it had a larger keyboard than most netbooks (93% a regular keyboard size, so I don't get hand cramps at all).

I've been writing outside on the porch, but I kind of...don't like that. I love writing outside (it's a new thing I discovered), but I also want to not be next to a house (and a lamp that attracts all the bugs in utah). Luckily, there is a big grassy hill with rocks right across the street, and magically my WiFi, which can't go like one floor upstairs, can somehow reach all the way over there. I wrote a fat chunk of Effulgent Corruption yesterday outside, sitting on a rock on a hill, enjoying the evening air while listening to Gladiator. I should probably post about the music I listen to, but that's another post.



So my advice to you, dear reader, is thus: go outside. Grab your laptop and go to the park. Go somewhere without internet (Derek, I'm lookin' at you). Force yourself to get off the web and into the real world. Then write, with the sun and the birds and the wind and all that good crap. Trust me, it'll be the best thing you ever did. I'm going to (assuming the weather permits) go to that rock across the street and write every day from now on. I already write daily, but I have a feeling that will help immensely. Seriously. Do it.

And buy Paradise Seekers (ha, you thought you got a whole blog post without my obnoxiousness didn't you? WRONG!)