World Fantasy 2011

on Monday, October 31, 2011
So I went to World Fantasy 2011, and got back late Saturday night. The convention actually went until Sunday afternoon/evening, but due to both cost and time we had to cut it a little short. Despite all this, I still got most everything done that I intended. Rather than burn you out on an obnoxious essay, I'll instead present highlights.

- I was able to meet with Sara Megibow, Jessie Cammack, Eddie Schneider (who we always seem to find at every convention) and Joshua Bilmes. We also spoke a little with Liz Gorinsky, Tom Doherty (who we also seem to find at every convention...imagine that) and a handful of other editors from other publishers. Overall, it was a great experience.

- We also got a decent chunk of time with some of my favorite authors (local or otherwise) including Jessica Day George, Patrick Rothfuss, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Eric James Stone, and Cinda Williams (which is especially cool since I spent a lot of time talking to her last year, and since then she's had two books on the NYT bestseller list! Congrats!). We also (randomly) ran into Larry Correia on the way back to our hotel from Jack in the Box, which was awesome.

- As part of this I got my Kindle signed like mad. I posted most of them to Google + and Facebook, but if you don't follow me I'll try and put them up here as well.

- I had a tweet re-tweated by Neil Gaiman. Yeah, I know that's a stupid thing to be excited about, but it's cool. Neil Gaiman is also quite a cool person, who bothered to talk to us a little bit despite being super busy the entire time.

- Most of the agents/editors we spoke with said they would like us to send them stuff. I never actually pitched to anybody, but in truth I kind of...don't really try. I'd much rather try and talk to people and enjoy their company then try and sell them something. Maybe I'm missing the point of this "cutthroat" business, but everybody I talked to was both very much human and fun to converse with.

- I actually used Twitter to make some contacts. Oh, and I got an iPhone last week, and it's already been worth it if just for that. :D

So...what about the panels? be honest, most were extremely underwhelming. We actually spoke with Dan Wells about it (since they scheduled him on the first panel of the Con and he ended up missing it) and he made a comment about being burned out of panels and I'm inclined to agree. There were a few notable ones (a panel on feminism and woman's bias in fantasy/young adult, as well as a panel on the foundations of steampunk by...the founders of steampunk [from the 70s/80s before it became this big fad]), but overall I was generally unimpressed.

However, Connie Willis interviewing Neil Gaiman was completely fantastic and a lot of fun. Neil told a story about how he was in a hotel writing American Gods, and the Bible in his room was messed up, so he called downstairs saying his "Bible was defective." Also, when asked about advice for aspiring authors, his main comment was to just keep writing new things. Essentially: "Write something, do a minor edit, and send it to everyone you know while you write your next one. It's an editor's job to help you fix it; don't do it all yourself. Just keep writing and sending and eventually you'll sell."

I thought this was great advice, especially considering how reluctant I can bee regarding sending stuff out before I think it's "fixed" or "finished." While I do think some agents/editors can be extremely picky (they have to be; they sift through tons of stuff) they are all just normal people who like to read and can understand the potential of a work even if it isn't there yet. It helped me gain confidence in my writings, and motivate me to submit it to everybody.

So, even though we were only there for a few days, I had a great time. I also got like $400 worth of free books that I somehow managed to haul home (thank goodness we flew Southwest, which allows two free bags, unlike every other airlines that charges for the first check-in bag), which is one of the reasons I love World Fantasy.

Overall, lots of fun. Next year it's in Canada so I'm still indecisive, but I'm fairly sold on going to ChicagoCon/WorldCon this year. Also, these cons are a lot more fun when you actually know people, and I think it's finally getting to that point.

If you have any questions, throw 'em in the comments. Oh, and I started Naught But Glass but only wrote the prologue. I will be "officially" starting it tomorrow for NaNoWriMo, but more on that later.

World Fantasy and Pitching

on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So I've been weirdly quiet about this for...I don't know why, but I am indeed going to the World Fantasy convention in San Diego this year with Jason, and we are leaving tomorrow morning. I'm very excited to make contact again with a lot of the people I met at WorldCON, as well as hopefully meet a few new faces. Last year was a good bit of fun, even though we only talked to a few people, and I'm certain this year will be even better.

I even bought a silver sharpie so I can have freaking Neil Gaiman sign my Kindle. So that means I'm serious about this, guys. 

I'm certain most people who read this blog know what World Fantasy is, but if you don't the general gist is it's a convention of authors, agents, and editors that meet together to find new talent, enjoy each other's company, and shoot the breeze. You won't find people in costume (last year's it went over Halloween and even then I only saw one or two costumes) like at WorldCON, and it is a much smaller convention, but it's still a lot of fun.


So in preparation for World Fantasy I've been working on pitches. There's a great Writing Excuses episode on pitches that just recently came out, and I've been using that for reference. To put it basically, you have three pitches you need:

- An elevator pitch (a sentence, quick blurb)
- A slightly longer pitch (two or three paragraphs, just a quick summery or "movie trailer")
- A long pitch that goes into the most detail

Now, I never really thought much about pitching. I always figured that, should the need arise, I'd be able to just spurt something out. However, when I was talking with my wife on the car ride home and failing completely and utterly at even a sentence pitch, I decided I should probably actually work on this.

And I found some good and bad things. 

The good thing is that the sentence/elevator pitch was actually pretty easy. It took about ten minutes at most, and I never really did any substantial changes to it minus a few word choices. 

The bad thing is the two paragraph one is killing me. 

For some reason, this is really tough. Trying to find a focus with slightly more space, while still making something that is both compelling and easy to say is...difficult. It already has gone through more revisions than the actual book has, and I'm still not satisfied. 

I'm not even going to touch the long pitch. I'm going to assume (hopefully not incorrectly, like before) that I'm able to talk about my book for a decent amount of time without failing to hard. 

So now I just need some agents and editors to test this on. Hmmm....


A quick Naught but Glass update: I have yet to start the novel, though I've gotten a good bit of planning done. I also don't have any names yet, which is probably a bad thing (my design document has "the Hero," "the Sidekick," and "the King" in lieu of actual names). I'm hoping to start it tomorrow night before World Fantasy, however. 


Lastly, I'm finally getting to read some of the indie novels I picked up on Kindle (after I finish Hogfather by Terry Pratchett). So expect reviews of The Wars of Gods and Men by Brondt Kamffer and The Black God's War by Moses Siregar III once I finish them. As always, you can track my progress on Goodreads. So far: both books are excellent, and most certainly worth the asking price (Wars of Gods and Men is only $1, and The Black God's War is on sale this week for $2)

That's it from me. Expect a World Fantasy report one of these years (about the time my WorldCON post comes up. Yeah, that turned out real good).

Hollywood Formula, Titles, Next Novel

on Thursday, October 20, 2011
First off, I'd like to drop a plug (again) for Writing Excuses. If you are an author, you should be listening to every episode of this when they come out on Sunday. All the panelists are extremely knowledgable regarding the publishing industry, writing, and nearly every combination of those two you could imagine. They also do well in getting excellent guests that provide even more insight into writing and how to best approach, write, and sell your story. Plus, they've been nominated for a Hugo several times, which means it's quality.

I wanted to make this plug because an episode three weeks ago, The Hollywood Formula, is probably one of the most interesting Writing Excuses episodes yet. Basically Lou Anders from Pyr books does an excellent job in breaking down the basic formula used by Hollywood to pack their stories with an emotional punch. Basically, it's a system that has been found to best resonate with viewers in terms of characters, plots, and pacing. Most movies in Hollywood follow this formula to a degree, but it's main focus is that every story has a protagonist, an antagonist, and a relationship character. These three play off each other throughout the various acts in a certain formula in nearly every Hollywood film.

Point being: it was extremely interesting, but it also made me take a look back on my books to try to figure out who was who (or if the books even had these characters or followed the formula). The general idea is that the protagonist has a goal, and the antagonist (who is not necessarily the "bad guy") plays against these goals.


Humoring my own work for a second, I took a look at Steelgods 1, mostly because it was fresh on my mind. The protagonist was easy: Cevan, our viewpoint. But who was the antagonist?

(note: possible Steelgods 1 spoilers)

Well, Cevan's ultimate goal in Steelgods (and the entire series) can be summed up that he wants to live a normal life. The whole "Destroyer of the World" thing, having to always run away, the troubles with his family; he just wants it all gone and back to how it was before this all exploded. So who is the one ruining this goal?

Well, the book starts with the Peacemakers (the jerks saying Cevan is the Destroyer and hunting him down) kidnapping Devent and Rosemary, Cevan's step-siblings, and holding them ransom for Cevan's life. Cevan ends up training in a secluded town with a smithgirl named April, leaving her and getting into all sorts of trouble before confronting the Peacemaker in an attempt to save his family. Then a bunch of other stuff happens which I won't say because I don't want to go that deep into spoilers.

The thing is, when I tore this book apart, I began to realize something: the Peacemaker might not actually be the antagonist. It's true he is hindering Cevan's goal, but if you really boiled it down, the real ones who are keeping Cevan from having a normal life are Devent and Rosemary. They refuse to let him settle down, even when all three of them are given the offer at the end of the book. Because they are insistant on carting him around they end up getting captured, which also messes up the good thing he had going with April. While they are trying to keep him alive, they are basically thwarting his direct goals. Devent and Rosemary could be the antagonists in Steelgods 1.

This is further accented by the fact they are most assuredly the antagonists in Steelgods 2, but that's a different story altogether (literally).

So who is the relationship character? This is the one that is with the hero the whole time, who helps slowly persuade him/her towards a sort of final conclusion.

My first guess was April, even though Cevan leaves her, because she stays on his mind. But as I thought about it, I realized it could perhaps also be the Peacemaker (either the individual or the group as a whole). They force him to realize who he is, which is something he fights against the entire series. And at the end of the book, Cevan comes to that realization (at least to a better extent than he had at the very beginning). Maybe April and the Peacemaker are some sort of joint relationship character, tag-teaming. Who knows.

Enough self indulgence, but I found that interesting.


With that in mind, I actually structured the general ideas regarding my characters for my next dark fantasy project (which finally has a title) on this three character formula. And, when I did this, I came to a realization: the person I thought was the protagonist was actually very much the relationship character, and the relationship character is the protagonist! It was actually pretty shocking for me, but it fits regarding the plot I had considered. This formula also helped me iron out a good number of details I still had in limbo regarding this plot, which is good.

Oh, and I also got a title for it (woo woo), finally. Book #8 will be...

Naught but Glass

Cool title, right? Yes? No? Well, I like it. It fits what happens, and so we'll take it.

I also realized this book is extremely political. It's a good deal different than any of my previous books (though it might be more in like with Where Gods and Mortals Dance; both have very little magic and focus primarily on political conflicts), especially considering this is my first book ever where the deities don't directly have any influence on the story. Yes, I'm finally going to actually attempt writing a book where some god doesn't play a major role in everything. Granted, I thought Effulgent Corruption was going to be that way (I even killed the stupid gods so they wouldn't show up) and the jerks somehow managed to creep their way back into the story.

I'm also going to try my damnedest to make sure this book stays short; I'm shooting for between 100-150k at the most. The good part about this it it means I might actually finish it before the year ends. The bad news is...I'm going to have to try really hard to keep it short.


Aside from that, I'm currently plotting the basics, re-reading Steelgods 1 and hopefully submitting it soon, getting ready to attend World Fantasy in San Diego, and working. So here's hoping everything turns out for the best.

That's all from me.


If you want to try and get the first 20 pages of your (finished) manuscript edited for free, check out
Also they have a new book, "Writing YA for Dummies," which I will probably be reading shortly. :P

Editing: When a Character Changes

on Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I finished my overall edits for Steelgods yesterday, after about a month and a half. I'm going to go back through it again just to be certain I didn't totally ruin anything, but first I'm going to blab about something that came to mind during my editing process.

For those who already know, I can find editing difficult at times. Not editing sentences or even scenes, to be honest; those are easy. The edits that are the hardest for me, I've found, are character edits. You know, where that one guy you really liked when you were writing the first draft just isn't working, so you have to either completely change or cut him. Or that guy you still like, but everybody in your alpha reader group said you'd better change him or they'll burn your manuscript. Those edits.

And what is surprising is that, for me, this is really hard. 

This is probably more of a personal issue than anything, but I tend to get particularly attached to my characters. Plot? A little, but not enough to know when it needs to be changed. Scenes? Those are easily malleable. Setting? If the story dictates it be tweaked, I will willingly oblige. But when it comes down to my characters, I get stuck in a quagmire. What is it that makes changing a character's personality so difficult? Even if I know full well it is for the better?

Take for example, Cevan, our viewpoint character in Steelgods. In the first book, my idea of Cevan was he was a spoiled little twit with lots of potential. His viewpoint was meant to be endearing in a way a puppy is: always trying his hardest, but he's a puppy so he can't exactly save the world. Cevan made a lot of really, really stupid mistakes in the first draft, but I felt that was a part of his character. It was who he was, and in a series about massive character growth, Cevan had to start pretty low in order to become the "Destroyer of the World."

The problem is, while this works good in theory, in execution it can be aggravating. With the exception of George R. R. Martin fans, readers tend to get really pissed off when their favorite characters (especially a viewpoint character in a first-person viewpoint) makes really, really awful decisions. While Cevan isn't a total moron, he came close at times, making decisions any rational person wouldn't make. His incompetence, while helping to show how much he improved by the end of the book, was more of a literary crutch than an actual character trait.


So now we have new Cevan. He still makes stupid decisions. He still makes rather glaring errors. However, he isn't convinced he's stupid. He still manages to react to situations rather than being a passive observer. His improvement is still obvious, but he now has things he's good at to counterbalance his fallacies. He may be awful at swordfighting and generally being brave, but at least he's extremely determined and can...sing?

The other problem with Cevan in the first draft was he was an empty shell, much like Sam in Paradise Seekers. I'll make no excuses for that: our viewpoint in Paradise Seekers is not very well developed. He fell into "Cevan-syndrome," which basically means he was there to advance the plot, and not to actually be a well developed character in the book. This was something I hoped to remedy after a billion drafts, but it never reached the point I'd hoped. He's halfway there, but doesn't quite reach a point where you care about him.

This has also been changed in the new Steelgods to fix Cevan. As I changed his reactions, that also means it changed how he thought about the situations he was put into. Cevan is (this is not really a spoiler) thought to be the Destroyer of the World but a malevolent group of magicians/lunatics called the Peacemakers. As an added bonus, the Peacemaker's counterpart, The Gears of Anbar, also want Cevan for some reason. So he basically is going to run his whole life, safe nowhere, until he gets captured and killed. Great life, huh?

Well, first draft Cevan never really addressed the stresses that would come with that kind of thing. Well, he does, but it's near the end of the novel. He just never reacted appropriately to situations, which made him both unbelievable, an unreliable narrator (even though the book is technically first-person omniscient), and unsympathetic.

All of these issues were (mostly) resolved in The Gears of Anbar, which is how I knew how messed up Cevan in Steelgods was. The juxtaposition of these two characters was in such contract I couldn't help but see all the problems.

What was the point of all this? Um...what was I talking about before? Oh, right, why it's hard.

So all these edits sound like worthwhile things to Cevan's character, right? I also had to make substantial changes to his stepsiblings, Devent and Rosemary, to make it so they actually had motives and personalities and the reader actually cared about them. The problem was, I've read Steelgods 1 probably 5-6 times since I wrote it. I re-read my novels frequently, picking them apart without actually using a red pen (I read them on my Kindle), digging through them in attempts to identify flaws to address when I begin later projects. This is a good technique, and I stand by it, but it has one fatal flaw: I get really connected to my rough drafts. Even with all their problems, this is the way I now see my characters. So when I go in to change them, I feel like I'm killing somebody I know.

This is a problem.

I swear this had a point, but I totally forgot it. So we'll go with whatever I think up first, which is: changing characters is hard, probably the most difficult part of editing for me. It's amplified by the fact I discovery write the majority of my characters, so they really need to be fixed since usually every character's personality in the first 3-4 chapters is completely off from who they are in the rest of the novel. Still, reaching that distance required from a story is something I need to work on, at least for characters.

Anybody else have this problem? Are character edits harder for you, or other forms of edits? Or are you editing fiends and everything is really easy?

Terry Pratchett is pretty awesome

on Thursday, October 13, 2011
This cover doesn't really fit the book, but whatever.
I don't know how I managed to dodge Terry Pratchett's books for the past who knows how many years, but now that I'm finally sitting down and reading them I'm really enjoying myself.
So far I've read Going Postal and Small Gods, and am almost done with Mort (which is my favorite so far). Mort was an earlier book than the other two and I can sort of tell: Small Gods was a very biting satire of religion (and I'd think Catholicism, though I'm not going to make any assumption) but isn't very high on the "jokes per page" quota. Mort, on the other hand, a story of Mort who becomes the apprentice to Death, is consistently goofy and is throwing jokes out left and right. If I had to prefer a style, I'd say I like Mort better, though Small Gods made me THINK more than Mort did.

Going Postal was straight up weird. I don't know what else to say about it.

This isn't the first time I've tried Pratchett, to be completely honest. I got about 50% of the way through Good Omens, which is him and Neil Gaiman doing their thing. I honestly thought it read more like a Neil Gaiman book than a Pratchett book, though maybe they switched off chapters/characters because stuff frequently goes from weird to somber to weirdly somber as we bounce around viewpoints. I enjoyed the book a lot, but when it started focusing on characters I didn't care about at all (the witch-hunter) I sort of lost interest. I should pick it back up.

Granted I had the same problem with American Gods, so maybe it's Gaiman's fault. Though I can't fault the man for being extremely clever, which he most certainly is. He and Pratchett seem like a really odd mix, though.

Point being: check these books out. They are very entertaining. The best part is they are fast and light (unlike A Song of Ice and Fire, which I am stuck on the fourth books of) and I can finish them in a few days if I'm quick.

This is where I'm supposed to put notable quotes, but I can't think of any offhand. Needless to say, any book where Death quits his job and finds more job satisfaction in being a chef in a backwater restaurant is 10/10 in my book.

In personal writing news, Steelgods 1 is finally near finished after nearly a month and a half of pain and whining. Once it's finished I'll start submitting, while I write my next book.

And as a special bonus for all those who bought Paradise Seekers on the Kindle and liked the Steelgods snippit: since the odds of me posting it on Kindle are substantially lower than when I first put Paradise Seekers up (though I'm still keeping my options open), if you'd like a free, maybe-badly-formatted Kindle copy of the third draft of Steelgods just shoot me an email or a comment (or a Facebook harassment). I figured I'd reward you for being nice and buying my book. :) Though if I do sell it YOU'D BETTER BUY THE HARDCOVER. :P

 I'm getting excited to write again - anything at this point, I'm going crazy - so expect some more exciting posts hopefully soon. In the meantime, go read some Pratchett.

And now: Music Videos

on Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Ben Godby (a fellow writer and sort of mutual acquaintance) did a blog post a little while back about music videos. He made the argument that music videos should focus more on the band rocking out than actually telling some sort of a story. He argued the experience was to slip into the music, not to try and understand what the heck the music video was talking about when the song was something on the other side of the spectrum.

I disagree, though not entirely.

I really like music videos that tell stories. This is usually because I hardly ever discover music by seeing a music video first; usually I hear it several times and then go hunt down the music video. Most music videos are either just a band rocking (which is what I imagined so...that's good? I guess?), some make no sense at all (which sort of takes away from the song), but others go completely the other way and tell some sort of a story tied to the music video.

When the last option above is done well, I love it. It makes for both a good watch and a good listen, and I feel it adds to the song. The issue, of course, is that it is rarely done well.

Within Temptation's music videos (minus their most recent ones) are a good example of a band that "gets it." They add stories that accent their songs, but I don't feel it takes away from the music. I think an important point is I still retain how I feel the song spoke to me the first time, and just add what they interpreted as an option. Which is why I'll never discover music on youtube by hitting a music video; I'll "watch" the video that's just the music first, then move on to see if I like the video.

This whole blog post was actually an excuse for me to post a boatload of music videos for bands I like, so get ready.

Also, I'll "age warning" the ones I feel have inappropriate lyrics.

First, and probably the best example of a video taking away from a song, we have one of my favorite songs ever, Fallen Leaves by Billy Talent. And since Billy Talent is apparently a bunch of butts, I can't embed the video, so here's a link.

The song is fairly obvious about drug addiction. I have no idea what is going on in that music video except it is really, really weird.

Here's the other end. This video has very little to do with the song, but it is so clever and entertaining I can't help but love it. It doesn't really tell a "story," per say, but the whole faux wild west fits with the song (Seether is a Numetal band writing a "Country Song," and the fact that the video depicts a fake western is sort of analogous). Plus the video is really funny, and surprisingly clever, considering most of Seether's videos are them rocking out and showing off all their piercings.

Now we have a video I like better than the actual song. Rise Against is an ok band, but I think this video is great, even if it is very politically fueled. In this instance I actually didn't think much of the song until I saw the video, then I started liking it by association.

So we have some that sort of add but don't really tell a story, more like pushing a point. What about people just rocking? Nine Inch Nails' March of the Pigs is pretty much just Trent Renzor flipping out. Honestly, even though this is basically just the music, it's really boring to watch. I'd rather just listen to the song.
LANGUAGE WARNING. Also this song is really weird.

While on the subject of NIN, however, there is an interesting story about that. They wrote a song called Hurt that was on their Downward Spiral album. The original is a dark song about hating oneself and isn't really that great. However, Johnny Cash (yes, the Johnny Cash) covered it right before he died, and completely changed the song with both the way he approached it and (more impact fully) the music video.

He took a song about self-hate and turned it into a song about self-improvement through Jesus. The lyrics are exactly the same (except he replaces the use of "crown of s***" with the radio edit, "crown of thorns") but the song is completely different, and I'm fairly certain it's because of how the music video played out.

So hey, how about a video that very clearly tells a story, not just hinting at an agenda or something? Well, you are in luck, because here is one of my favorites.

I have no idea what the original song is about. Finding utopia or something, dunno. But the video (which makes me want to write a book about it) is really clever. In fact, most of Within Temptation's music videos compliment their songs very well, and are interesting to boot.

And here's a last one, from Nightwish.

But then you have people like Rhapsody of Fire, whose music videos are so ludicrous it's hard to even take them seriously (it's already hard to take a band rocking about dragons seriously, but dude...what.)

Is there a point to this? I have no idea. Ok, yes, I'll make a point: I like most music videos. I think that, if done well, they provide an interesting visual stimuli to accommodate the music I usually already know and like. If I just wanted to watch bands rock out, I'd go watch them live. But I don't: I want to see something interesting, and give me a different perspective on what the band thinks their song is about (or what acid trip they were on when they planned the video). So...I'm fine with them, and I think they are great creative outlets.

On that vein, actually, that's probably why I like music videos that tell stories. They are essentially short stories in video form, tied with music. Take the two Within Temptation songs and the Nightwish song. The stories told in the videos probably have really cool backgrounds behind them, and that gets my imagination stimulated. The Rise Against and Seether music videos are clever, but they don't provide anything past the video besides being interesting. The NiN video is just what I expected: dudes playing instruments. We got that. Music videos are as much a medium to present interesting video as they are the music. So long live music videos with stories! (as long as they don't ruin the song. You suck, Billy Talent, especially since you won't let me embed it).

Expect and actual writing post sometime, really. Or not. Who knows.

I'll end with a super goofy music video (though I don't know if anything can top Rhapsody of Fire's stuff). I love Sonata Arctica's music, but man their music videos are so stupid.

I think Going Postal just won the phrase of the year.

on Friday, October 7, 2011
"It was garbage, but it had been cooked by an expert. Oh yes. You had to admire the way perfectly innocent words were mugged, ravished, stripped of all true meaning and decency, and then sent to walk the gutter for Reacher Glit, although 'synergistically' had probably been a whore from the start."

- Going Postal, Terry Pratchett

Steve Jobs passed away today

on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

“Sometimes life hits you on the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith…I’m convinced the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle.”

-       2005 Stanford Commencement Address
-       Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

October: Things Fall Apart

on Tuesday, October 4, 2011
What's going on in Nathan land, you ask? Wait, do I know you? How can you ask me such personal questions?!


Well, let's get life updates. I bought an 02 Toyota Camry. It isn't in the best condition, and it ended up needing new brakes, rotors, a passenger-side axle, and to be realigned. However, even after all those repairs it was STILL cheaper than the lowest price we could find from any dealership anywhere by a good $2000. So, while still over our budget, it was still UNDER the normal price, so I guess I'm going to just roll with it.

Point being: we have a car that can go places now. Vs our Saturn, which can go for about 20 minutes before one of the cylinders starts misfiring and I start to worry if I can actually get home. I think the fuel injector is doing something wonky (am going to clean it with gas cleaner), but we needed a new car we have one. Yay.

Driving a Camry vs a tiny Saturn is like driving a boat. It's hardly a large car (I guess it still files under "compact?") but it is still bigger than a small car, and so trucking it around feels weird. The plus side is it drives really nice (especially now since the alignment isn't totally off) and everything seems to be in good working order. Plus it's a Toyota, those last forever, right? Knock on wood.

The downside to all this is that we hadn't decided on whether we were keeping it after we bought it. Despite being atrociously cheap, I didn't want to have to deal with repairs (even though our mechanic said we should because it was a good car, it just needed a little love) on a car I just bought. So we tried to resell it, and learned that everybody who wants to buy a car is a total jerk. They'd make promises and break them, try to lowball an already extremely low price, lie, harass me over texts and phone, and generally be despicable people. I can't count the number of times I was promised people would get back to me, demanding I put the car as "sale pending" so nobody else would look at it, and then never bother contacting me again. How is this socially acceptable? I'm a person too, you know. Stop wasting my time.

Also, since I'm a neurotic wreck, I constantly think something is going to be wrong with the new car, despite my mechanic insisting there isn't. So that unnecessary stress (it's genetic; thanks mom :P) has been killer to my productivity as well.


So I'm editing Steelgods still because all this stress ruined my productivity. I'm doing a minimum of a chapter a day, though I'm hitting the point in the book where I'm basically going to have to actually rewrite entire chapters. That might actually end up being easier than trying to edit, but we'll see. The last chapter I rewrote I had to rewrite again shortly after because the new version was awful. Hopefully this isn't the case here (the chapter I'm on I knew I'd have to rewrite when I wrote it, but I'm glad I waited because now that Gears of Anbar is finished I have a tighter grasp on the world, meaning things will piece together better).

I'd estimate I'm about 60% through the book, near the end of Act 2. I'm not setting any goals, but I'm hoping to have it done soon so I can start the next book. Also this would be when I'd start submitting it to people, hopefully people I will also run into at World Fantasy. :)

Now, Untitled Fantasy Project. It was actually getting hung up because I hadn't figured out any magic for it. After looking a the light color wheel (what happens when you mix different colors of light together) I actually figured something pretty basic out. I wanted the magic in this book to be very light but still there, enough to impact society but not enough to completely dominate how the entire world is run. What my wife and I figured out seems to work pretty good: it's simple, the benefits are small but enough to be "magical," and it also is (I hope) interesting enough to be a sort of a hook.

I actually printed off a light color wheel and modified it for the book, so hopefully that'll help. There are still a few parts of the book I need to figure out (it takes place after a hero goes and saves the world, so I need to know the details of that story before I can start this one) but aside from that it's basically waiting on Steelgods at this point.

This will be standalone, and I am going to do my very best to keep it shorter than 150k. Mostly because I don't want another Effulgent Corruption, and also because I don't have the time to write something longer. Plus, that's still in a range that pitching it would be feasible. Considering I thought of the idea for this book while I was reading A Game of Thrones and listening to The Way of Kings, it should prove...weird.

In other news, my wife and I have been playing Eternal Sonata (review on the Backlog Blog), and I recently discovered The Binding of Isaac, which is a really messed up zelda+roguelike+duel stick shooter. It's pretty addicting, and has a wonderfully creepy soundtrack. I'll have to play it while I'm writing something that's supposed to be scary.

It's October, Steelgods isn't edited

on Saturday, October 1, 2011
It's been a rough couple of weeks, but I'm almost finally done with personal problems which means I'll have more time for editing.
The downside is I'm probably only 50% done with editing Steelgods, a project that was supposed to take two weeks now passing a month.
It's frustrating. I have no idea why this is so much harder than just writing. I can usually average 5k words a day easily in about two to three hours. With editing, I spend an hour editing and get maybe 2k if I'm lucky, and then I'm so burned out I just quit.
This is probably something I should figure out how to fix.
On the plus side, the book is improving dramatically in my humble opinion. Most changes are minor, but I've helped both smooth out the worldbuilding, make Cevan less incompetent, and tone down stuff that's over-the-top. Overall, I really like how it's turning out.
On the negative side, the fact I haven't written anything new in about a month is driving me crazy. This is the longest I've gone this year without actually writing (the previous being two weeks after I finished Effulgent Corruption). I need to start a new project.
Untitled Dark Fantasy project is sort of planned, except I'm trying to figure out the magic system I want to use. I can't really start the book until I know the magic, because it plays a key role in the main character. I really want to write something, especially since it's a great cure for depression (which I've been dealing with on and off over the past few weeks). So it's time to get on that.
This Fantasy project is more of a thing I figured would be fun rather than something I'd sell (but Steelgods stared that way, so who knows). Basically I take a traditional fantasy story (young hero with a rebel group overthrows evil empire warlord) and jump ahead thirty years to see the aftermath. Hint: it isn't pretty. Rebels make good leaders of small, extremely loyal groups, but rulers of nations? Maybe not. Plus, what would killing tons of people do to the psychological stability of the "hero?"
See, stupid things I think would be fun to mess around with. I just need some magic.
That's about it from me. I'm trapped at work on a Saturday, which is great at melting my brain. Here's hoping I get Steelgods finished soon.