Cereal Review: Rice Krispies Treats Cereal

on Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The Short

- Tastes like actual Rice Krispies Treats...but a cereal
- Doesn't gross up your milk
- Is less than $3 a box
- They actually fill the box up. No dead air here!
- Still snaps, crackles, and also pops
- Is a good source of Vitamin D (says so on the box!)

- The only place you can buy it is Amazon.com
- Sometimes when they ship it to you the UPS guy gets jealous and bangs it up, breaking up your treats bits
- I can eat a whole box in one sitting. That isn't very cost effective. 
- It's "Rice Krispies" not "Rice Krispy," meaning my mom lied to me and my entire childhood is a fabrication
- Makes all other cereals seem boring and stupid, even the amazing Waffle Crisp

The Long

I know what you are thinking. "Why the heck is he reviewing cereal on a writing blog?" Well, I don't actually have a legitimate answer for you. I just really like Rice Krispies Treats Cereal, and since I recently discovered you can buy it off Amazon.com (which is the only place I've found where you can still get it), I figured I'd review it. Plus I've burned through six boxes in like two weeks, so I'm on a perpetual sugar high.

Like this, only cereal. 

Rice Krispies Treats Cereal is the best cereal. I could list off dozens of reasons, but the first and foremost is that it finally fulfills a promise made (and broken) by countless other cereals: it has the taste of *insert cereal title here* in every bite. Waffle Crisp? It tastes like syrup, but certainly doesn't have the taste of waffles in every bite, despite what the commercials say. Apple Jacks doesn't have the real taste of apple in every bite, it has the taste of chemicals in every bite. And Chex...what the heck is a "Chex" anyway?

Pictured: LIES. 

Rice Krispies Treats Cereal literally tastes like Rice Krispies Treats in every single bite. Yeah, they aren't as super-sweet as my wife makes them (she admitted to like...doubling the butter count in her version, so that might be why), and when they are in milk it sort of fuses the flavors, but it actually tastes like the thing it is representing. If you eat the chunks raw, you are eating Rice Krispies Treats. Well, technically you are eating the cereal version, but it's like you are eating the real ones...you know what? I think you get it.

Another perk to Rice Krispies Treats: The Cereal (which it shall henceforth be called) is the fact that it's sugary but not gross. I have come to terms with the fact that I'm on the "wrong side of twenty," which in layman's terms means I'm old as balls. Sugary cereals just don't do it for me anymore, they make my tongue and mouth all covered in nastiness, they give me a weird buzz I don't like, and the marshmallows are totally not real

How could you lie to me, Lucky? We red-heads are supposed to stick together!

Yes, I'm well on my way to chewing raw granola and wheat-bran (might as well just forego the milk and gnaw wheat stalks for breakfast in the next few years). But for now I've luckily found a cereal that fuses the cavity-inducing sugar of my childhood with the bland-boring flavor of old people cereal: Rice Krispies Treats: The Cereal! It has just enough sugar to be delicious, but tempered enough that I don't feel like puking after I eat it. I do, however, tend to eat like three bowls at a time, so I'm still probably juicing myself up on sugar far worse than I ever did when I was a child. Oh well, you only live once.

Another perk is the fact that, unlike most cereal, Rice Krispies Treats: The Cereal actually fills up the entire box slash bag with the cereal, instead of it being like 50% air. Yeah, that's value!

It's not all tulips and buttercups and sunshine when you take a ride on the Rice Krispies Treats: The Cereal train through marshmallow land (this is why I'm an author: I take you to magical fantasy realms. Of cereal). One big problem with the cereal is the fact that if you treat the box roughly (slam it down, pass it like a football, bench press it, etc.) you can dislodge and then shatter the delicious clumps of treaty goodness found inside, reverting them back to boring old Rice Krispies. Luckily they still retain their slight marshmallow glaze so it isn't a total loss, but I swear my UPS guy is a total butthole who intentionally throws my box on the porch in an attempt to ruin my fun. How do I know it's the UPS guy? Because my second package came from FedEx, and all the clumps were intact! FedEx: 1. UPS: 0. 

They're probably just mad because I'm never home every second of their estimated delivery hours of 11 am to 8 pm

Also as you pass over the milk river in this magical land, you might note that it is a pristine white. That's because Rice Krispies Treats: The Cereal doesn't gross out your milk like many other cereals. It does leave little bits of...krispies? that can be hard to scoop up with your spoon, but I've decided that's just part of the fun. Now you have to outsmart your cereal, so it's like a video game mixed with food. INCREDIBLE! 

So where can you purchase this wondrous beacon of bowl-joy? Well, it's currently only available on Amazon.com, and is actually the third highest rated product on the entire site. Yes, so if you didn't believe me (shame on you!) you have to believe the LEGION. It's only ~$12 for a four pack, and if you have Prime you can get it delivered to your house in two days or less! [Editor's Note: It seems to now be $21. Either I'm dyslexic, or I've bought so much they are running out of stock and upped the price. It looks like it's now being sold by a dealer, which is stupid. So wait for Amazon to restock, I guess. Sorry. I'll try to eat less from now on.] Every time I ordered it (even when stupid UPS shipped it) it has arrived a day early. So that's just a bonus!

Thanks guys. 

Overall, Rice Krispies Treats: The Cereal is the best cereal mankind has ever developed. Perhaps someday in the future, when the technology allows we will manage to develop a better food that combines with milk in a bowl and is eaten with a spoon. But I'm not holding my breath.

If I gave a star review it would be five out of five. Now go to amazon and buy some.

Death's Aria is finished

on Sunday, January 29, 2012
I am pleased to report that book #8, Death's Aria is FINISHED!

Yay! Party time!

Final word count: 95,756 words

As usual, here's the magic Wordle, which crashes most of my web browsers but I have outsmarted it (this time)!

Once again, I use the words "back," "just," and "like" more than I probably should

For a book about Death, his name is pretty small in there. I guess it's easy to see who the main characters are, I guess.

So...fun stats time I guess? Unfortunately, I only started tracking stats starting in January, so here are those (based on January):

Words written in January: 63,815
Average words a day: 2,200
Average words an hour: 2,148
Total Time in January: 29.7 hours
Daily time average: 1.024 hours (I should really bump this up)
Days passed total since start: 60 days
Days spent actually writing: 37 days (took most of December off)

And here is some random book stats nobody cares about

Amount of Terry Pratchett I ripped off: Hopefully not too much
Crappy, rushed romances: NONE! (I've been trying to work on this...)
Number of big nasty beasties: Four
Number of big infodumps I'll need to trim: Two
Chapters at the beginning I'll be editing right now: Four - Five
Characters in this book I sort of don't like in their current state: One
Paradise Seekers references: One (there's one in Steelgods as well, if you've read both you might have caught it, but this one is more blatant)
Amount of screentime Death actually gets: Not a lot (some at the beginning and some at the end)
Number of violin songs I had to look up on youtube as research: Ten
Number of times I had to ask my violinist brother for advice: Once

And lastly, this book (which I've been really quiet regarding the details about both on here and in my writing group, which is weird) is an urban/epic fantasy hybrid, with emphasis on the "urban" though one would argue it gets more epic at about the half-way point. This is my first attempt at YA urban fantasy, inspired by the Writing Excuses episode about not selling yourself short by sticking to just one genre.

Speaking of which, this was more of a pet project than something I planned a lot for, since I (I've told this story on my blog before) found a .docx file on my computer titled "Violin girl," that only had one sentence in it about Death's daughter playing the violin for him. From it spawned this whole story, so that's pretty cool I guess.

So now...current plans!

This week is going to be super busy. I work Monday-Saturday for six hours each day, with Thursday off but on Thursday I'm going to to Salt Lake for an internship all day. So basically this week is going to be the week from hell (good thing I finished the book today).

Since I still intend on writing at least 250 words a day, even between projects, I'm going to be editing the first bit of Death's Aria this week, then setting it aside (or giving it to insistant alpha readers). Following which I will begin working on Death And Doom Project 2012 (tm): Editing Effulgent Corruption. However, to be certain my word count still exists, I will be writing several short side stories starring specific characters from the novel, so that I both get words out and am still writing in the world I'll be editing in. The first is about Minerva, the only female Corrupter in Effulgent Corruption, and these will be totally discovery writing so it should be interesting/awful once it's finished.

That's it from me. Eight books down, who knows how many to go before I finally sell one. I have high hopes with this one (it's more "marketable" than my others), so we'll see how it all turns out. Thanks for reading!

Breaking viewpoint to make artificial suspense

on Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Pic Unrelated

My wife is an avid reader of just about everything (she reads lots more than I do), and lots of time I get to hear comments on the books she is reading. Last night after finishing a particular young adult fantasy novel (which I will not name here), she turned to me and said, "Don't ever, in your books, make it so a viewpoint character has an amazing plan to save the day and then somehow doesn't tell the reader."

The general idea is that at some point in the book, our viewpoint character concocts a brilliant scheme to solve the problem. However, since the author doesn't want to spoil the surprise of that scheme ahead of time, the viewpoint character somehow doesn't think about the details of the plan at all until it is taking place. Even when it is being executed, he or she doesn't bother thinking a single step ahead (at least, not where the reader can see) in order to keep the suspense up.

This is far more common than you'd think, which is stupid because I think it's crap.

I can understand sometimes breaking viewpoint for the sake of the story. It's jarring, and technically "bad" writing, but sometimes a scene demands it. But basically blocking the reader out of a certain area of a character's mind simply to build fake suspense? That's just absurd.

There are ways to pull it off. If a character says something like "I have a great plan!" and then you cut scene to when they are actually pulling off the plan, a reader might be willing to suspend their disbelief and admit the viewpoint character might have discussed it extensively off camera. However, the longer time has passed between the concocting of the plan and the actual execution, the thinner my disbelief is spread. It's cheap, and it happens quite a bit in YA books. So stop it.


On a completely unrelated note, Death's Aria is almost finished! Yay! I figured I have about six chapters left (we are going to say 6-8, giving my need to be wordy) before we can close the book on this one (hur hur hur). I'm excited to see it resolve, and have added a few twists that even my wife doesn't know about (mwahaha), so here's hoping it all fits together wonderfully.

And after re-reading the first chapters they aren't as bad as I remembered, but I might just have rose-tinted glasses. They still need some work, which will happen after I finish the book, but I'm going to try and get it out to alphas sometime next month.

And that was all he wrote.

The end comes

on Sunday, January 22, 2012
The book is coming to a close. Which means I start killing. 

So I just finished writing what is essentially the biggest climax in the novel (and it isn't the last one...fancy that) and arguably the most major hurdle before the end. And you know what? It feels good.

I haven't finished a book since August, which is actually pretty much par for the coarse with my writing. For some reason, from January - September I can usually write every single day, but when we hit the first half of the winter months my brain totally shuts off.

I'm pretty sure it's because the weather is crappy and makes it so I can't write outside. Thanks a lot, Utah.

Anyway, the point is that we are on the downward slope to finishing book numero ocho (that's "number eight" for the English folk). This one had a bit of a rough start, with me writing basically just a few chapters in December before dropping it due to the holidays, but I've been writing frequently and my daily word count has been steadily increasing, so I think we are on a good role here.

Which also means this is about the time I start figuring out what my next book is. Uh oh.

I secretly want to write a sequel to Death's Aria, but I know that's the lazy way out. Sequels are (for me anyway) much easier to write than first novels. Your characters are already established, you usually have some pre-defined conflicts so you can be light on the infodumping, and it's like going back to an old friend. It's fun, but not what I'm going to do. Death's Aria is very much a standalone novel with a hefty amount of sequel potential, but I will be holding off until it (or if it) sells.

I also have to decide if my next book will be YA or Adult. I have (as previously counted over Gchat by a friend) 21 options available, either follow-ups to previous books, rewrites, new ideas, or edits. Now I just get to pick one and hope it's the one I want. Naught But Glass is a good idea, but then wasn't the time for it (and I'm not sure if now is the time for it, either). Death's Aria ended up going much better, but we'll see if it's been long enough since Effulgent Corruption for another massive epic fantasy novel.

Expect a full report when I finish Death's Aria. I'm continuing to do daily reviews on my video game blog, as well as starting a Sunday "weekly roundup." Also, if you like video games and have a game you want me to review, feel free to post a request. I'd be more than happy to blather my opinions all over my blog for ya.

On resolution

on Friday, January 20, 2012
I'm technically nearing the end of Death's Aria. We've had our major battle, our character-defining conflict, and are in the process of resolving the aftermath of said conflict. That basically means we are at the middle of the Third Act, and should be tying everything off shortly.

I don't wanna.

I have a strange desire to make this book longer, to add one more conflict between the one that just ended and the final one. It's some weird idea I'm having that the book isn't "exciting" enough, when really the balance (if you just look at words dedicated to action vs not) is just fine. I don't really know why; the book is nearing 70k, and my estimate for the resolution will probably throw another 20k on there, which puts us at 90k (which is long for a YA novel). But something seems...missing, if I don't lengthen it. Maybe it's because I'm used to writing epic fantasy. Maybe it's because Gears of Anbar was stupid long for its genre. Who knows.

At any rate, we are reaching the end. My goal is to finish Death's Aria by the end of January. I have 11 days left, and if I push it I should be just fine. I'll be sure to keep you all posted.

Not much of an update; I've been continuing my two reviews a day on Nathan vs Video Games, as well as writing every day and doing life, so I've actually been quite busy. It's a good thing.

Here's an attempt at a not-spoiler segment.

“Simon,” Aria repeated, “remember what you said about the St. Matthew’s Passion? How you wanted to sing it? How did it go again? Maybe I can hum it for you.”
Simon gave a whimper; whether it was in response to Aria or his situation she didn’t know. Aria drew in a breath, her shoulders aching and chest burning, and started to hum the tune.

Content Fiend

on Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I couldn't think of a good header, so here's this thing from my "stupid crap" folder. Click it to see full size. 

If you've been watching my word count thingy on the sidebar (which, honestly, I hardly update so it wouldn't be surprised if nobody cares) I've been churning out a decent number of words these past several days. I managed to do 4k yesterday (in addition to writing two game reviews) which, while hardly my best (13k on Effulgent Corruption in one day, if I remember correctly, followed by 11k on Where Gods and Mortals Dance) is a step up compared to my recent slew of averages. I've been doing around 1,500 each day which, while passable doesn't meet my universal standard minimum of 2,000. We'll see if I can get it bumped up.

The good news is I'm finally getting really into this book (now that it's almost over...). Death's Aria has been sort of a "I really want to write this" project in the back of my mind for a long time, so getting it off my chest will be a relief. After that we'll do a speed edit before setting it aside and working on another project, as is usual, and I'll need some alphas/writing group to take a gander at it before I start a submitting spree.

I've decided my project following isn't going to be Naught But Glass, at least not right away. I'm actually planning on editing Effulgent Corruption, the start of what will probably be months and months of massive edits. I have a particular alpha reader who gives excellent comments, and she has been very uplifting in helping me decide that I really do want to give this book a second chance. Of course, this will mean cutting at least 1/3 of the book so it'll even be worth sending off, but I'm really excited to return to that world after leaving it for so long, and I'm hoping after some serious cleaning up this will return to its spot as my "best book ever."

Steelgods submissions have so far been fruitless, though I did have many, many requests for partials and one for a full this time, so we'll mark that as improvement (though honestly I think it was the query letter). If anybody who I submitted to reads this blog (odds are low...): thanks for the time to consider it; it's a big morale boost, even if you decide it isn't for you. That also means you'd better watch your inboxes for Death's Aria soon. ;)

I've been writing every day, and I'm trying to bump my other blog's reviews to two a day, so we'll see. Keep an eye on it! If only to see the insane number of video games I've played over the years. :D

That's it from me. Keep on writing.


Today is internet blackout day. I was going to make a long post about how the internet has changed my life (me being very much the generation that fully embraced it culturally), earned me dozens of friends, provided me with a positive outlet for much of my creativity (and lots of time wasting), taught me hundreds of things, helped me woo my wife, made it so I could keep in contact with people I cared about that otherwise I'd never see again, presented me with new ideas, and generally changed the whole world as we know it...

...but everybody else pretty much had it covered, so I will just leave you with three things.

1. The Wikipedia blackout page gave me very literal chills. Screen-shotted here for posterity:

2. If you don't understand SOPA, PLEASE watch this video. Then everything will make perfect sense.

3. Contact your representative and let them know how you feel. This is big business trying to pull the wool over your eyes and saying it won't hurt the internet. It will. We are still a nation "By the people" (or I'd like to think so). Make your voice be heard.

And whatever you do, don't read @mpaa on twitter. Their half-truths and false information is so disgusting I can hardly stand it.

Blog Resurrection

on Sunday, January 15, 2012
So you may have remembered the ill-fated Backlog Blog that I started up a while back in some attempt to blog more about video games and beat all the tons I have.

Needless to say, since then I've gotten a billion more retro games and not made any progress on my backlog. Brilliant, I know.

But you'll be pleased to know I've revived the blog as Nathan vs Video Games, with a new link and a new layout that doesn't look like some ghetto thing from the early 2000s. For now I will be focusing almost entirely on video game reviews, with a goal of writing one review every day this year (in addition to actually writing fiction every day this year) until I run out of games. I will be primarily doing modern games (PS2 onward), but every Wednesday I will be doing a Retro game review.

If you have any requests for reviews, let me know. I'm going to try and burn through my entire Xbox 360 library of games I've beaten, which should give me a hefty amount of content, but I'm also willing to try new games. I also will review games as I beat them (like today's review of Rayman: Origins) so that the reviews will be fresh.

I will also admit the reviews might not be the most exciting things to start with, but I'm certain my annoying and snarky attitude will pull through on my reviews eventually. Just wait until I review games I hate; that should prove interesting.

On the writing front, I'm still churning out words every day. I found you can stream Series 9 of Q.I. over the internet (hooray!) so my wife and I have something to watch again. After that we are considering taking the plunge into Dr. Who, though I'm not so certain I'm ready for it.

So I can keep pretending this is a writing blog, here's a bit from Death's Aria.

“Eat.” He [Greder] told Aria. “Though you won’t feel hunger in our world, that doesn’t mean your body no longer requires sustenance to survive.”
“So I did get the better end of the deal,” Simon chuckled, “seeing as there’s no way I can die again.
“No,” Greder leaned back in his chair, “for you, spirit, it will just help stave it off.”
“Stave what off? Hunger?”
Simon blinked, opening his mouth to ask the obvious question and then stopped. He finished his bread in silence.

Happy Birthday to my wife!

on Friday, January 13, 2012
My lovely wife's birthday is today! Yay! We are celebrating by eating greek food at our favorite greek place (which is also super cheap) and then visiting all the stores/restaurants that give you free stuff on your birthday and cleaning them out.

You can celebrate her birthday by visiting and following her blog! She updates every day and posts fun things to cook, play (either on your tv or on a table :P), and read. So go check it out.

I'll celebrate by posting a picture of ALL OUR PLUSHIES. THERE ARE LOTS.
If you can name what all of these are from, you are smart. Or you just read my wife's blog. 

In writing news, I am steadily writing every single day, though only about 1,500 every day. I'm trying to push myself back up to the usual 2,000 but it has proven oddly difficult; we'll see if I can manage it tonight. It's just this dumb book keeps hitting good stopping points every 1,500 words...thanks a lot, book.

And look, here's a bit from it because I haven't done that in a while and I need to pad this blog post. So here goes.

“Hey,” Aria said, knowing she couldn’t let the conversation die, for Simon’s sake. “You said you sang, right? And you wanted us to play a duet?”
“What song was it?”
Simon looked away from her, but it wasn’t because he was searching for unseen foes. Aria saw his ears turning red, the massive loss of his composure abnormal for him.
“Just a duet for violin and bass. Bach.”
“Which one?”
Simon shrugged. “You probably don’t know it.”
“Oh really? Try me.”
Simon gave her a sideways smile. “Seriously, it isn’t that well known.”
“Seriously yourself; don’t forget who you are talking too. I’m the creepy violin girl, remember?”
“Oh, right.” Simon rolled his shoulders, breathing in a sigh. “It was part of the St. Matthew Passion.”
“Which part?”
“You can’t possibly know all the parts; there’s like seventy or something.”
“Come on, just tell me.”
Simon sighed, defeated. “Fine. It was the Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder.”
Aria paused, processing the information. “The Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder.”
“Your accent is pretty awful, but yes.”
Aria blinked. “The aria.”
Simon flushed even redder. “Ah…yes.”
“So you were going to have Aria play an aria while you sung.”
“That was the plan.”
Aira couldn’t help herself; she started laughing.

- Death's Aria, Chapter some number in the teens

Writing with music

on Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Pic unrelated, but funny.
(This is a link heavy blog post, full of links to youtube music. Just so you know; who knows, maybe you'll find some new stuff you like)

So I've always listened to music when writing. Heck, even right now I switched off my podcast to listen to music instead so I could churn this sucker out. For me, I can't write unless I have some sort of music playing in the background. Maybe it's an ADD thing, maybe it's an imagination boosting thing, maybe it's habit by this point; who knows. I do know several other authors who don't listen to any music when they write, and others that (like me) have to listen to music when they write, so it seems to be a mixed bag.

On the same vein of "mixed bag," what people listen to and whether or not it has to relate to what they are writing seems to vary as well. Brandon Sanderson listens to all sorts of stuff when writing his books (techno, video game music, etc.) that isn't necessarily related to what he's writing about. Jason, as mentioned above, tends to listen to whimsical stuff that relates to his writing, and it has to be related for him to successfully write.

Myself, I'm sort of a mixed bag. I do have a few "rules:" 90% of the time the song can't have singing or words, because then I get too invested in the lyrics rather than actually writing. I also try and pick soundtracks that relate to the subject matter at hand, and then pick particular tracks relevant to the scene, though that isn't necessary. For example, I'll pick a creepy song for a creepy scene, but it isn't necessary. I tend to mostly listen to video game soundtracks, as for some reason movie soundtracks draw me out of my writing.

I also avoid repeats across books. I make iTunes playlists for each book I write (and then never delete them because I find it entertaining to go back and remember what I listened to), and there is hardly ever any crossover. This is usually because if I listen to a song I used on a previous book, it triggers that Pavlovian response to write those characters and that setting, rather than the one I'm in. Music has to always draw me into writing in order for it to work for me, which essentially makes almost every song or soundtrack a one-time-use affair.


For fun, here's a list of what I listened to when writing a handful of my novels, with links. It's interesting to see how my tastes have changed, as well as how the different sounds completely changed the style of the book.

Lacrymosa - I wrote most of this book on my LDS mission, which means most of the background noise was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, predominantly this song because it's awesome. When I got home and finally finished it, it was mostly Rhapsody of Fire and Dragonforce. This is really the only book that broke the "no lyrics" rule, which is probably why the book is awful.

Harbinger - This book is some weird fantasy western vampire angel hybrid abomination, and it didn't really have a defined soundtrack in retrospect. I did listen to this little western number from Cowboy Bebop, if only because 1. It's from the best episode of any anime, ever and 2. It's the only western song I could think off the top of my head. Whatever else I listened to has been lost to the passing of time, which is probably for the best. Oh wait, I did listen to the opening song of Fight Club a lot for some reason. Man, that movie is awesome.

Where Gods and Mortals Dance - Ah, here is where things get interesting. This was almost 100% Epica's The Score, specifically Unholy Trinity. Now, I'm honestly not the biggest fan of Epica, but this album was a purely orchestral release of their previous songs, and it worked pretty well. I also hit up a decent chunk of Final Fantasy Tactics, which also sort of fits the mood of the book (heavy political fantasy). Overall, it was mostly mellow, fantasy-sounding tracks, which makes sense given how the book pans out.

Paradise Seekers - Haibane Renmei. Lots of Haibane Renmei because, damn is that some quality music. Also the book drew (very obvious) inspiration from the show, so I guess it fits. I also listened to Within Temptation's Utopia single about twenty billion times (all three versions), again breaking my "no words" rule. For some reason that song didn't bug me. Oh, and Nightwish's The Escapist, because it has the actual phrase "Paradise Seeker" in it that made me want to use it in some book. Please don't sue, Nightwish.

The Might of the Steelgods - This one was a total mixed bag, and I honestly don't remember most of it. I think it was mostly Super Meat Boy for some weird reason. I also had a mix of Lost Odyssey in there, as well as selections from most Final Fantasy games. Oh, and Shadow of the Colossus. Lots of that.

Effulgent Corruption - This book took like seven months, so I went through a lot of music. It was about this time I discovered the Game of Thrones TV show, which was fantastic, so I listened to lots of that soundtrack (and remixes). Then I discovered Nier (which is another dark, depressing fantasy story so hey, it fit) and listened to boatloads and boatloads of that. I also hit up a little bit of the Gladiator soundtrack for a phase, though it was mostly Nier and Game of Thrones.

The Gears of Anbar - This one was supposed to be some weird steampunk fantasy hybrid, but mostly it was me listening to Within Temptation's Iron about a billion times. Which, again, broke the "no lyrics" rule but hey...that song is a lot like Gears of Anbar. About war and being tempered and...ok I have no idea what this song is actually about but it has a kicking beat. I also did loads of the Bastion soundtrack, which has a sort of western/steampunk vibe to it. Pretty good stuff.

Death's Aria - Still writing this, but it also has a rather extensive soundtrack. I revived Nier for whatever reason, probably because I love the music. In fitting with it's gothic theme I've done a lot of Bloodrayne: Betrayal (a game which I don't own because the game was awful but the soundtrack is pretty good). I've also put some Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on there since, you know, more gothicy stuff. Nightwish's newest album, Imaginarium, only has about two tracks on it I like but the orchestration-only tracks on the special edition make great writing music for this book. Which I can't link to because technically it isn't out in the US except on digital copies. Oh well. Lastly, for the tense scenes, we are Binding of Isaac all over this place, as it fits wonderfully.


Thanks for bearing with me. Hopefully you found some new music to listen to while you write. What do you listen to when you write? Do you listen to anything? Do you even like music?

Stat Tracking is Awesome, so are Macbook Airs

on Thursday, January 5, 2012
This is what a google search for "stats" brought up
So my buddy Jason is working on a totally awesome new web service for writing groups, and we (his current writing group) are sort of "pre-alpha" testers. Which basically means its currently only in GoogleDoc form on a spreadsheet, but it's still really neat.

The general gist is you set a word count and a time goal, and every day you put the numbers you accomplished in (words written and hours spent). It then generates a bunch of fun stats (overall word count, words per hour, words per week, how long your writing "streak" is), etc. The nifty part is that it does this for everybody in your writing group, then stacks the stats competitively. And, since everybody else can see your stats, your whole writing group knows when you skipped out on a day.

For those who don't like to think of writing as a competition, I'm pretty sure this software is awful. But for stats whores (like myself), being able to see a bunch of information I'd never think to track is pretty cool. I have a set goal to bump my words-per-hour up to 2,000, which is extremely difficult. I also want to have the most "words written in one day" stat, thanks to this thing generating healthy competition. Hey, as long as it doesn't discourage, it can't hurt, right?

Jason's idea would be to make it a web service, and then have famous authors (like Brandon Sanderson) track their daily stats through it (or market it to other writing groups). It would be pretty cool to see how many words Brandon Sanderson or Dan Wells write in an hour, or every day.

So yeah. Stat tracking for fun and profit. Because I have a very mathematical brain, and breaking stuff down into numbers makes a lot more sense to me.

The current object of my desire

On a completely unrelated note, I went to the Apple store yesterday (which is always a mistake) and found myself again really wishing I owned one of those 11-inch Macbook Airs. Yes, I already have four-year-old Macbook Pro, and I also have the Hackintoshed Netbook (which unfortunately doesn't get much use in the cold season, since I use it mostly to write outside), but recently I've been thinking that combining those things into a single, more manageable writing machine might not be a bad idea (especially since if I sold the both of them it would be just about enough to buy the Air). 

As an added bonus, internet legend John Scalzi posted on the same day about how the Macbook Air was the best purchase he made as a writer,  and how extremely useful it ended up being, even when compared to his other laptops. Thanks, dude. You aren't making this easier to resist. 

So yeah. Not super exciting over here, but I am writing every day. I haven't botched my "Write Every Day in 2012" Goal yet (good thing, it's only the 5th), even if my word count is pretty slow. Hopefully I'll pick up the pace soon.

That's it from me. Keep on rockin. 

Review: Kindle Fire

on Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Review Time, Sucka

So as stated earlier, both my wife and I got Kindle Fires for Christmas from our employer. Since then I've spent a good deal of time working with the device, messing with the Amazon App store, and even rooted the device and made it basically an Android tablet. Before I get to the meat of this review, I'll simply give you a "TL;DR" version in case you don't like my rambling. Which will consists of a Pros/Con list.


- Relatively inexpensive ($199) for a tablet.
- Small, looks nice, has fairly good battery life. 
- Screen is high resolution. HD movies look great.
- Decent assortment of apps from the Amazon store.
- Uses the Amazon cloud for pretty much everything. Extremely easy to get to your purchased Kindle books, mp3s, and more. 
- Can upload your own MP3s to the free Amazon Cloud and stream them to your Kindle so long as you have internet. 
- Interface/Skin over Android does what it needs to while keeping it simple. 
- Web browser is fast, runs flash, and supports tabbed browsing. 
- Amazon Prime members get loads of streaming videos that are integrated right into the device. 


- Touch screen isn't very good. Compared to an iPad or iPhone, it can be either too sensitive or not sensitive enough. I had to mash my finger on some buttons for it to take, while when I used the keyboard it kept adding letters if I just brushed past them. 
- Underpowered, especially compared to other tablets and even phones. Has difficulty running high-profile apps. 
- No physical buttons. Other android devices have a back, tab, and home button on the device. All these are touch integrated on the Kindle, which is a massive pain. The lack of a volume control other then going all the way to an options menu is extremely obnoxious.
- Speakers are very weak. 
- Limited to the Amazon App store. Can't install the full Android app store without rooting the device. 
- Amazon deletes your roots with its automated updates. Which it updates whenever it wants, without warning. 
- Too small to be a proper tablet, too big to be very portable. 
- Extremely fragile (much like the iPhone 4S). Drop it and it's done. 
- Reflective/color screen is much harder on the eyes than eInk, or even a traditional LCD monitor. (author's note: I am sensitive to this and prone to headaches; many people aren't. This is just personal taste)
- All the best apps are on the Android Store. Amazon's is extremely gimped, and they keep removing Apps like GoLauncher that would make the device more accessible. They also don't have any dedicated social networking apps, which is one of the main reasons I would use a tablet. 
- No 3G like all the eInk Kindles. And since it's heavy on the Cloud integration, you have to have a WiFi connection in order to get the full benefit. 
- Only 8 GB of space. So if you aren't in a WiFi range, you are extremely limited. 
- Doesn't come with a USB cord to connect to a computer, unlike every other Kindle they sell. Why is this? 

Blurb Opinion: If you want an eReader, get an eInk Kindle and a nice case. If you want a Tablet, get an iPad (or if you absolutely hate iOS/Apple, an Android Tablet). The Kindle Fire fits somewhere inbetween these two products, and suffers for it. Yes, it's a super-cheap tablet, but it's subpar on too many levels to recommend.

Long Review

Let me get something out of the way first: I might not be the ideal market for this device. I already own an eInk Kindle, an iPhone 4S, and a decent laptop computer. Pretty much I've got all my needs set, and this was before I was given the Fire. For the record, I LOVE my eInk Kindle, love the Amazon Kindle store, and think everybody should own one of these things. That being said, even though my expectations for the Kindle Fire weren't very high, I was really disappointed by it.

To better illustrate this point, I have made a high quality graphic using MS Paint, google image search, and bad copy/paste. You're welcome.

Here's how I figure technology works. You have your desktop. This sucker can do everything. Browse the internet, play games, edit movies, etc. It's basically, to use a lack of a better term, a computer
Next you have your laptop. This thing isn't as powerful as your desktop, but it can still do the internet, play games at the "medium" graphics quality (vs the "ultra" for your gaming desktop rig), edit movies, do your social networking stuff, etc. It's basically a slightly less good desktop computer.
I'd put netbooks here but the iPad basically killed that market, so RIP and all that.
So then we have iPads/Tablets. These devices really have taken off, probably because they provide the most wanted features of a Laptop computer in a more compact and convenient package. They do the internet really well, have all your social networking covered, and even have quite a few good games on it (though not nearly as good or powerful as a laptop or desktop).
Then you have Smartphones, which are a lot like the tablets only more compact. The internet browsing isn't as good, but it's convenient because it doubles as a phone. It has all your social stuff, and has a good bit of games too. They are considerably more portable than any of the above products, which is a big selling point.
Then we have eInk Readers, which are devices dedicated solely for reading. Which, as you might guess, means they do it really well. They do it better than your phones, your iPads (if you don't like screens), and certainly your computers. That's about all they do, but they do it well.

And then we have this thing. 

So you can see how, if you go down the line, we have features slowly being stripped until we get to the bare necessities. The problem with the Kindle Fire is that it tries to sit squarely somewhere between dedicated eReaders and Tablets, without really doing each very well. As an eBook reader, the glass screen an glare makes it impossible to read in bright sunlight, and can cause some people eye strain (read: me). On the flip side, it isn't a very good tablet. It's underpowered, which means apps load just slow enough to be annoying. Since the screen is small it's in that sort of lukewarm area with regard to web browsing: it's better than on my phone, but not nearly as good as it would be on an iPad. Locking the Fire into the Amazon Android store rather than the full Android Market is a massive mistake; there are no social networking apps, and pulling them up on the browser is inconvenient. The interface is also pretty bad if you try to do stuff other than what they want you to: you have a sort of "cover flow" of all your apps, books, and movies, which sounds great in theory except the touch recognition on it is completely horrible. You can favorite apps so they are always there (much like putting stuff on the "dock" bottom portion on an iPad or a real Android tablet), but even that is cumbersome.

The lack of physical buttons is a big bummer. The home and back buttons are touch-only, and they have a knack of receding right when you need them. There is no easy way to quickly change your music tracks without going to the upper menu, and the same goes for volume (which is the biggest bummer; not being able to change the volume with physical buttons is a massive oversight). This is only exacerbated by the fact the touch screen is not very responsive: it's hard to know when it's picking up your touch commands, often times it just seems to ignore them, and since everything depends on the touch screen interface, just navigating the UI is a chore.

I don't hate everything about the device, however, because I'm still a huge gadget nerd and love playing with new tech. When it comes to Netflix, streaming videos, and doing something simple on the internet like reading webcomics, the thing works like a dream. I've found it to be very useful for watching movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or GiantBomb while I'm in bed (when a laptop would be inconvenient). It's too bad that the built-in speaker is really quiet; my wife and I were watching A Bit of Fry and Laurie on Amazon Prime streaming at full volume, and we could hardly hear it over the house's air conditioning (which wasn't really that loud).

I was really hoping the .docx reader would be better (or at least include the Dropbox App which has a good built-in reader) so I could open up my own works and do basic editing on it, but considering how poor the touch keyboard is I don't see that happening. Also, if you do manage to get some non-Amazon store apps on it (through some back door ways, but luckily it doesn't require a full root) you can do some pretty cool things. This thing is the perfect size for playing emulated SNES games, with the touch controls working really well (though not so great for platformers, it is fantastic for RPGs). And, since Android is more open than iOS, once you figure that out you have boatloads of apps you can just throw on there (emulators, ho!). I haven't yet tested the PS1 emulator on it (which would be my benchmark with regard to how powerful this thing actually is), but the thing is just the right size to conveniently hold it like a controller and play. A phone would have been too small, and an iPad/Tablet would have been much too large. So hey, if you want to play pirated games by using a back-door method to load your emulator apps on it, it's a great device for that.

(Editor's Note: I don't download ROMs of games that I don't own the actual, physical cartridge of. A glance at my retro game collection should put whatever fears you have of that to rest)

Check out that awesome glare. Imagine trying to read off that. 
A few more minor niggles. When you are reading a book, it is very limited in it's options with regard to text backgrounds. You can either have black text on BLASTINGLY BRIGHT WHITE, black text on a too-dark tan, or white text on black. Since the brightness options on the device are extremely limited (it's too bright, all the time), reading in the dark is eye-strain city. Come on, Amazon, you have a device that's way more powerful than your eInk reader, and you want people to use this thing like an eReader. Give me more options with my books. Why can't I have a really pale tan or gray background, so that the contrast doesn't burn my retinas from my brain? I read about 4-5% of Reaper Man on the Kindle Fire, then switched back to my eInk Kindle, and I couldn't believe how much better it was. I was going to read a whole book on the Fire before giving this review, but I keep having to either put the Kindle Fire a distance away so as to minimize the glare/headaches, or only read in really short bursts. I eventually just gave up and went back to my eInk Kindle which, for those who are curious, I have read about 8 Pratchett books on, most in 4-5 hour bursts in the middle of the night.

Amazon seems to hate rooting, because every update so far disables it. Also, if your kindle is rooted, it completely locks you out of the Amazon Prime Streaming Video, meaning you aren't getting your money's worth. The updates are completely mandatory and happen the minute Amazon detects it on WiFi, forcing you to update regardless of what you are doing. I've complained about Windows' super-intrusive method of forcing updates, but this is a whole new level of awfulness.

Thanks a lot. I didn't want a choice with this or anything. 
Speaking of WiFi, that brings me to another problem: the storage size. Amazon only put 8 GB of space on this (6 useable), which is ample if you were just putting books on it, but if you want to use it as a music player, to store videos, or load it up with apps it's extremely limiting. Amazon's way around this is their whole "cloud" thing: you can easily (and always) get your books, mp3s, and videos you've purchased (from Amazon) from their cloud. It's worth pointing out that while Apple does this same thing, it also allows a Kindle app (and hopefully soon a Google Music app) which lets you get ALL your stuff. Amazon is shutting everybody else out except themselves, probably because this thing is like a massive cash register for them. Anyway, this sounds totally awesome on paper. I mean, the cloud is awesome, right? Having access to everything, everywhere? That's rad!

Only 1.17 GB for Apps? Great. That's one copy of Infinity Blade, and that's it.  Not like this thing could run it, anyway. 
Yeah, except it isn't everywhere. Because it doesn't have 3g/4g. Only Wifi. Which means you'll probably only use it at home, or at free wifi spots, assuming you can get on (the wifi can be spotty). The second you are out of a wifi spot, you are done. 8 GB of space, sucker. Hope that's enough (hint: it really isn't. My phone has 16 GB and it's a constant fight for me to try to have everything I want on there). The lack of 3G really kills this thing, because hey...if I'm at home and I want to watch a movie/listen to music, wouldn't I just, you know, use my laptop (which has way better speakers)? Or my phone? Or...anything else that has a better UI with regard to music?

Lastly, put a password on your Kindle Fire. Because the second you buy it, it auto-registers to your amazon account. Conveniently, they pre-loaded the thing with an Amazon App store, which has one-click purchasing enabled. Which means if you lose it, someone steals it from the "KINDLE FIRE INSIDE" box in shipping, or your two-year-old gets his hands on it, you could find yourself buying stuff you don't want (or know about). There are currently no security options to disable this, no way to delete the Amazon store app, and the only protection you have is the usual screen-lock password. There are no parental controls of any kind, either to block material on Prime Video or purchases made on their app store. It's clear Amazon wants you to BUY BUY BUY on this thing, to the point of it being a security risk. Huge, huge oversight.

Turn this thing on. 

So, after reading this massive post of me complaining (sorry about that), I'm pretty sure I don't need to say whether I recommend one of these, right? However, I do have one positive thing to say about this: It'll force more competitive prices from other (better) tablets. It sold like hotcakes over the holiday, quickly becoming the second best selling tablet of all time (iPad still being #1). Already other tablet makers like Sony (and soon Apple) have begun to consider slashing prices of their tablets by $100 (to $299ish) to compete. So hey, I'm all fine for getting a better tablet for a lot cheaper.

As it stands, however, hold off. I'm hoping that, like the massive jumps the eInk Kindle has made, the second generation of the Kindle Fires will be much better. For now, though, if you really want an eBook reader, get an eInk Kindle. If you have to have a tablet, try either an iPad or one of the many Android Tablets.

I really wanted to like the Kindle Fire. I got it for free, after all, and I love free stuff. I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth here, I'm just giving my honest opinion. I really, really wish I could find stuff to do with this thing. So far I mostly use it to read Order of the Stick, and watch GiantBomb play Chrono Trigger. I still use my iPhone for all my music and portable gaming/social networking needs, and I use my eInk reader to read all of my books. Amazon took a risk trying to put a product in a spot that nobody knew they wanted (sort of like how Apple did the same thing with the iPad), and their sales I guess prove they weren't wrong. It just really isn't a quality device, and I cannot recommend it while there are better options on the market.
Moral of the story: Buy this instead. 

2012 Writing Goals

on Monday, January 2, 2012

First things first: I don't do New Years Resolutions. They are trendy, encouraging, and everybody forgets they exist by the time February rolls around. In my never-ending quest to Be Awesome, should I find a particular character flaw in myself, I immediately set about trying to fix it. I don't need some arbitrary measurement of time for me to start bettering myself.

And now that I've sufficiently made myself look like a pretentious ass, I'm going to give you my writing goals for 2012. Because it's the cool thing to do.

This year is going to be the year I either acquire and agent, sell a book, or both. It's gonna happen. I'm not going to let 2013 show up until it does. But seeing as that's not entirely in my control, my best bet is to work my butt off in every aspect that I do have control over, which means I'm going to be doing a lot of writing this year.

Goal #1: Write every single day in 2012

I've been taking Sundays off. I'm not doing that anymore. 2012 is the year that I write something new every single day. My ultimate minimum is 250, but that is only excusable when I'm doing something else writing related on the side (planning, submitting, editing). I will put 250 words of new fiction into a Word document every single day of 2012. They might be great, they might be crap, who knows. All I know is I'm not going to stop for nothin. My "real" word count goal is back to 2,000 (I bumped it up to 2,500, but recently I've only been doing 1,500), in case anybody was wondering.

Goal #2: Submit 2+ books to agents and editors in 2012

This requires that I actually have two books that I'm confident enough to send out. This has actually been a big problem for me, mostly because I never feel like a work (especially after leaving it for a while) is good enough for anyone to want to pick it up. Currently Steelgods 1 is out, and Death's Aria will probably go out in 2012 as well. That leaves one other book (either an edited Effulgent Corruption or Where Gods and Mortals Dance or something new) to be sent out into the rejection ether. I've been really reluctant to send stuff out, and it's time to get over that. I produce new material so fast that I'm wasting potential sales because I jump to the next project too quickly. So NO MORE. Going to submit like mad this year, whether anybody wants my stuff or not.

Goal #3: Love writing like I used to

I still love to write. If I didn't, I would have stopped and just played Xbox or Super Nintendo instead of forcing myself to write. But recently it's become more of a chore, like work rather than a fun hobby. This shouldn't be the case. I started writing way back when I was a kid because I thought I had fun stories to tell. I picked it back up in 2006 because I thought those stories would be interesting enough that other people would want to read them, and I would go crazy if I kept them in my brain. I'm going to bring that back. The only books I end up writing are the ones I care a lot about. So, I'm going to write those books. If I end up writing a year of just crappy urban vampire fantasy, so be it (though the odds are low). If I end up writing some dark, emo, melodramatic crap about dead teenagers, then so be it. It's what I want to write, so I'm writing it. I'm pretty sure that if I write every day, I'm going to eventually get so burnt out that I'm going to write an awful book (or short story) that I'll never want to show anybody. But I don't care. As long as I'm having a good time, that's what matters.

Goal #4: Try writing some short stories

I don't even know how to plan short stories, so this is going to actually be pretty tough. That being said, it's something I've always wanted to try, so I'm going to give it a go. I might churn a few out in-between novels as a sort of "warmdown."

Goal #5: Write a middle-grade book

Years ago when I was a middle-grade aged person, I wrote a book called Welcome to Riverville. It was a collection of short stories about a normal kid named James and his best friend Billy, who thought he was a cowboy. Such adventures included blasting a burglar with super-soaker guns, getting out of babysitting using porcupines and some ingenuity, and rescuing a dog that had fallen off a cliff by super-gluing Billy's collection of toy rattlesnakes together to make a rope (since all the rope in the city had been used by Ms. Timpernickle in the "worlds longest ball of stuff" competition. She was off competing in the nationals when the dog incident happened).
The point is that we actually printed this thing out and bound it, and apparently my mother (who is part of a supervising group of teachers who overlook the homeschooling of disabled kids) uses the book all the time when helping her kids learn to read or reading aloud to them. Apparently it's a huge hit.
The point of this story (besides tooting my own horn) is that my mother is constantly telling me I should rewrite it and try and sell that instead of all my fantasy crap. So...why shouldn't I try writing middle-grade? I've had some ideas bouncing around for a while, and maybe I could produce something entertaining. Let's give it a shot.

Goal #6: Be Awesome


2011 - A Writing Recap

on Sunday, January 1, 2012
Happy 2012 and all that. New year, new times, new goals, though it always just feels like the last one. Time for a recap of everything that went down in 2011, and maybe I'll do another post with my writing goals.

Writing Stuff

- From January to July I wrote Effulgent Corruption, my longest and most complex book yet. I averaged over 2000 words a day consistently over this entire time.

- In May I epublished Paradise Seekers, after a hefty edit, my first entry into the eBook world. It sold decently, though not as much as I would have hoped. The jury is still out with regard to my personal future with Kindle and eBook publication. Despite this all, it was a fantastic learning experience, both on how to edit and polish a book as well as all the work that goes into getting everything off the ground.

- In August I wrote The Gears of Anbar. It was 112,000 words in under a month, so put that in your pipe and smoke it (whatever that means). It is currently my personal favorite.

- In September and October I edited The Might of the Steelgods, though it was more of a total rewrite. It still has some cleaning up to do, but it's the biggest edit I've ever done on a work.

- For the first part of November I started Naught But Glass, but I wasn't feeling it so the project got put on hold.

- In December I started Death's Aria, though I eventually got distracted by the whole holidays thing. Work on Death's Aria resumes full force today (1/1/2012).

Convention Stuff

- In February I attended Life, the Universe, and Everything on BYU campus. It was a decent experience. Honestly I go to LTUE these days mostly to just see the local authors I like and buy their new books to support them. Luckily, there are loads of awesome local authors.

- In May I attended one day of Conduit. I was able to meet Michaelbrent Collings, whom I had been stalking on Facebook for a good while, so that was a major awesome perk. The panels were...decent. Again, another meet-n-great for local authors.

- In August I attended WorldCON, which was quite the blast. I met lots of my favorite authors, lots of editors and agents, and overall had a good time. Honestly, I feel that was a big breaking point in my convention-going career; I finally was able to speak with lots of people about both what they were working on and my current stuff.

- In October I went to World Fantasy in San Diego. This was also a fantastic experience. I was able to speak with even more agents that I'd been trying to contact for a long while, as well as the usual bunch of authors and editors. Plus, it was a lot of fun.

Career Stuff

- I finished receiving my hearty batch of Paradise Seekers rejections shortly after deciding to ePublish it. So that book is basically closed at this point.

- Paradise Seekers was published to the Kindle store and others. It saw little success, but I do not regret the experience in the slightest. As mentioned above I learned a lot, and I plan on applying this to my future.

- The Might of the Steelgods rewrite was submitted and saw more success than any of my works in the past. Several partials, one full request, and more. Honestly, I think it was a combination of actually meeting most of these people at World Fantasy and the fact that my query letter was boss hog. I decided to screw convention and just write one I thought would be interesting to read, and so far it has paid off reasonably well. We'll see what happens with that from here, as it is still out with a handful of people.


- I wrote 500,000 new words this year (almost exactly). This is not counting any of the Paradise Seekers or Steelgods edits. If I were to count the Steelgods edit, we'd be looking at almost 600,000 words. That averages to about 50,000 words a month, and I didn't write at all in November minus maybe two days.

- My goal I made at the end of 2010 was to write five books this year. I didn't make it; I got about two and a half with some change. I'm actually a bit disappointed in this, if only because in 2010 I wrote three books. Granted, I wrote about 350,000 words in 2010, so technically I crushed my previous word count, but the point still stands. I want three books a year as a minimum from here until the day I die, so I'm going to have to bump up my efforts (or write more YA books).

Stuff I Learned / Random Ramblings

- I like writing YA better than Epic Fantasy. YA is faster, the books are shorter, and they aren't (usually) as complicated as adult fantasy fiction. Writing YA is less stressful for me than writing adult, and honestly my writing style has leaned towards YA since the moment I started. I'm considering in 2012 going for broke and just writing tons of YA novels to see how I feel about it all. This is still up in the air.

- I do best when I write consistently, when I write outside, and when I have a writing group. Currently, I do not have an active writing group. Life has been too busy for me to actively participate in several new ones I scoped out, and the current group has been too busy to for any reading to happen. This has been a major burden on my writing and motivation. Add the fact it's winter and too cold for me to go on walks or write outside, and there's a reason I've been sluggish (this also seems to happen every year).

- Kindles are fragile. I broke my eInk one 10 days out of warranty. Amazon was nice enough to replace it for free (though all my famous people signatures are gone with it), and now I'm extra careful. I love reading on Kindles, though, more than books by a substantial amount. I will probably never go back (except for comic books and their ilk).

- I've hit a point where my intended career is frustrating me. Before I took it all seriously it was more of me just writing for my own pleasure and not caring how things turned out. Then I began to become more dedicated, determined to be the very best I could in every regard and learn everything possible from conventions, classes, etc. Now, I honestly think I've gotten most everything I need to know covered (I understand how to write, how the business works, how to motivate myself, and what I need to produce in order to succeed), and all that remains is the breakthrough. Since I am no longer seeing constant, substantial progression, things have become stressful. I'm looking at other career options as backups more seriously, and though I'm continuing to bang my head against the door of publication/success, it's no longer a passive thing. I'm ready for this to happen. I'm ready to make the changes necessary to write for a  living. I'm ready for awful edits, months and months of them, if it means seeing a book in print at the end. I'm ready, but it hasn't started yet. And so I keep banging my head in frustration, waiting.

- That being said, I've also started to regain the whole "who the hell cares, I'm just writing for my own pleasure" bit that started this whole fiasco. Death's Aria is both a fun experiment and me just writing something because I thought it would provide me entertainment. Whatever book I write after will be written because I'm completely sold on it, and I'm super excited about it. Which means it might be Steelgods 3. I love those books and the characters and their plots (and future plots), and even if nobody ends up buying them I'll still love 'em and am going to finish that freaking series because I think they are awesome. So take that and stick it in your pipe alongside whatever I told you to stick in your pipe previously and smoke it too. :P

That's it for my massive new years post. Despite me sounding like a jaded, grumpy grandpa, it's been a fantastic year for me. Total blast through-and-through, and I'm excited to make 2012 even better.

Keep on writing, keep it real.