Friday, December 30, 2016

The Time To Go For It Is NOW!

If there is one thing I can take away from the writing and publishing world this year, it is the re-emergence of the necessity for authors to be their own hype-men and managers. It is not enough to just write, and it hasn't been enough for some time, but with the rise of independent authors showing how to succeed outside of the traditional publishing paradigm we see a trail being blazed for others to emulate, adapt, and follow.

We are now seeing successful examples that cannot be ignored, not without engaging in willful delusion. That's a breakthrough moment, that point that precedes a critical mass and sets off a preference cascade. The window of opportunity is here, and the time I spent this past year watching a few making this work will prove itself valuable.

The Big 5 in New York City are wobbly as hell now, and their convergence by the Social Justice death cult only gets worse, meaning that they will fail to satisfy yet more audiences heretofore given lipservice and now getting none. This is the opportunity a lot of people have wanted, so they got themselves a window of opportunity to act before the circumstances shift yet again: find that un(der)served audience, and serve it good and hard.

A more thorough take is at author Brian Niemeier's blog, which you can find here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Looking Ahead to the 2017 Publishing Game

The publishing game changed a lot over the past year. The old certainties are no more. The new possibilities are still making themselves known to most people, but I think we're reaching a critical mass of adoption for both writers and readers and next year will be when the jump off hits and there is no going back.

I intend to be ready. Shit I've sat on this year (for one reason or another) I want done and out, now that things I've been missing got found and put into place, and that means that when the manuscripts are ready I'll be looking for help on things I can't do myself (covers in particular) as I'm able to keep my head above water.

But right now it's Christmas. I'm going to enjoy the season, and then New Year's, and once the holidays are over and 2017 is here then it'll be time for putting plans into action.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Story Fragment: The Resolution of the Yamato

This got cut from the revision of the Solador story because it is not directly relevant to the protagonist's story; this is something that the deuteragonist does to aide the protagonist in the climax of the story. Rather than let it rot, as it were, I'm going to post it here. The scene's intention was to demonstrate that the deuteragonist's organization--the Hidden City--has at its disposal more than just some well-trained agents and access to a pre-Cataclysm network infrastructure. However, without a series to build this out it becomes irrelevant to the story.

"Master Control, this is Agent Johnathan. I am at the resolution zone."

In his ear, John heard Master Control respond: "This is Master Control. We see you. Proceed."

John activated his holographic overlay, allowing him to see where to-be-resolved objects could be readily placed. His eyes quickly scanned for, and found, the Gate icon and placed it partially submerged into the waters of the Sound. With a gesture, he initiated the resolution protocol for the gate.

A flash flicked before him and spread out into a wireframe outline of a circular design. Two-thirds of its diameter stood out of the water, dwarfing John who stood well away from it with his eyes fixed forward and his body stiff as he concentrated on each element of the resolution protocol in turn. First the skeletal frame, and then key power components and conduits. Sinks, inputs, outputs, all drawn in step by step as if he coded it in a design program. Finally, the outer shell and its finish. Then back again, layer by layer, he make the framework solid and materialized each part into existence.

The glowing, pulsing, floating man-sized (and think) crystals on either side of the gate now linked up to it and brought it full to life with a loud pop and enough light to be a beacon to craft far out over the waters. With that, John dropped to his knees, exhausted: "Resolution. Complete.

"Stand by, Agent Johnathan. We're sending it through now."

John looked up, breathing deep as he got to his feet. He saw the gate light up, and a whoosh of air come forth as the gate's interior became a wall of white light. He heard the hum of such great energy being poured into the gate- something big now resolved into the Outer World. As he saw the bow of a ship, come forth, and then the first three-gun turret, and then the second, and then secondary turrets, and then the control tower, and a third three-gun turret on the stern, and the aft come crashing through as if exiting a dry dock he knew what he beheld.

"The Yamato!" John said in a gasp.

"Agent Johnathan, this is Master Control. Your request is granted. Good luck, and good hunting."

Note: this is not the I.J.N. Yamato of World War 2. This is the entirely fictional Yamato of Space Battleship Yamato. So those turrets have Shock Cannons, there is a fighter wing aboard, it can fly, and you're damn right that the Wave Motion Gun is on that thing. Why does John put in a request for it? Because the protagonist--William--is going up against The Archmage and the Exalted directly, and John alone is not enough to even the odds, so John calls in backup. The entire point of this ship's appearance is to force the opposition to have to split their attention and thus their forces.

So, rather than go on about it--since the story follows William and not John--I find a good reason to keep cut-aways from William to just those few that are nonetheless about William's story directly. This? This is not; it's there for a meta-narrative, and therefore can be cut here to maintain narrative focus.

As for what the Yamato is there to do, it's something like this episode from the recent 2199 remake (which is really good and you should see it):

Friday, December 9, 2016

Story Fragment: The Cancer Comes From Spookville

Another story fragment. Comment below if you have anything useful to say.

"So, what's bother you, and why only me?"

"I told you about my uncle the minister, right?"

She nodded

"And I told you about his missionary work, right?"

She passed me a cup of coffee and nodded again. "This is the one whose wife died of cancer, right?"

"Fast cancer. Same with one of his daughters, and the other's fighting like hell to keep it at bay."

"I'm waiting to see how I help here."

"One of his sons is part of a contractor crew in Africa. Has been for years, subcontracting from multinationals as a trouble-shooter. His dead daughter married a prominent man in Bulgaria. His living daughter got a Federal Reserve job early and easily rose up the ranks. His other son is a major businessman in Montana, now a player in the GOP there."

"Africa, you say? When was your uncle there."

"The 1970s, when Idi Amin was the big man. My uncle was a pal of his, took photos, and got out just in time."

She smiled. "CIA?"

I nodded. "And my father found out by accident a few years after they returned Stateside, when he stumbled upon the photos. My mother knew all this time, but didn't tell me until last week. It came out of nowhere."

"Now I see. So, what can this ONI brat do for you?"

"You already know. Don't make me say it."

"Dad's been busy lately, but I'll see what I can do."

Friday, December 2, 2016

Redeeming The (Writing) Time

The Deleted Scene. It's something that gets cut from a manuscript, a film, etc. because it is deemed irrelevant to the story told. In the last decade or so, it's become fashionable for filmmakers to include some or all deleted scenes as premium content to entice people to buy physical copies of that film. It's also something that you can use for your benefit.

That's why you have a landing page of some sort, right? A blog, a page, whatever- someplace for people to find you, and from which they can go buy your stuff after you sold them first on yourself as a storytelling. Take that stuff you cut from your manuscript and post it there. Use it to sell the book. Take other things you come up with, but won't do anything with for a while, and post them there; A/B test those to see what hits and what misses, and build upon the hits.

Sounds like business? Like selling? It is, and that's because you need to sell to make this more than a hobby. This is particularly important if you're already known for one sort of book and want to branch out to another sort, something writers of series in genre fiction know too well. Since you're going to spend so much time putting together the best manuscript that you think you can make into a viable commercial product, make use of all that you cut away from the final product to help sell it- that's "redeeming the time", the time you spent writing.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Fragment From The End of Time

I have no idea where this is going, or where it's been, so I'm putting it here for now until I do.

Here I am, falling through the sky, as if a meteor striking the Earth. Below is a great battle for the ages, the culmination of the greatest war in the history of Mankind. It's not looking good at the moment, but I see the enemy clearly before me. I see my allies, struggling to hold the line against the tide. The mightiest heroes, vilest villains, wielding powers terrible and sublime while deploying wondrous weapons unseen in ages and undreamed of before now, are in that decisive moment where all is decided.

I ride neither steed nor vehicle. I wear no armor. I've shaped the very forces of nature to be my shield, turning the certain incineration of reentry into my firey aegis. My presence cannot go unnoticed by those below, and already I hear chatter confirming so. I know that the heroes below sense that this brilliant meteor is me coming home at last.

It began with a girl, a mugging, and a back-alley brawl. Then breakthroughs in technology, the revelation of alien life, the rise of a new heroic age, adventures only dreamed of as a boy made real as a man, and then war and victory and death. Now, at the end of all things, I come home one last time.

The sparks flying away from me are my tears of joy burnt away. I am come home, and I bring victory with me, for behind me is the host of the honored dead, and this is Ragnarok. Ours is the final impact. Flee, me friends, and let us finish the drive. Leave it to us! We'll let none survive.

The Magician as a Dramatic Persona

The magician is not, traditionally, treated as a heroic character. It is rarely treated as a protagonist, and then often as the lead in a tragedy (e.g. Faust, Prospero). In the realm of fantasy, this held true; Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone is a tragic character. Heroic magicians are often secondary characters, companions and mentors to a warrior protagonist. In terms of popular culture this wasn't really broken until, once again, George Lucas brought us his Star Wars trilogy that showed us the journey of Luke Skywalker from innocent farmboy to ascendant Jedi Knight (and therefore a warrior magician). Even so, Luke was not truly a heroic magician until Return of the Jedi.

However, in the years between 1983 (Jedi) and 1999 (The Phantom Menace) a sea-change occurred in the culture. From where I sit it is (again) driven by gaming primarily and by Dungeons & Dragons in particular, taking the pulp fiction influences and moving them to a very different medium of entertainment where the sensibilities and motivations are something else.

Players--gamers--aren't keen to conform to dramatic sensibilities as a class. They are far more aligned with technicians than dramatists, and as such they will discard notions that interfere with their desire and pursuit of excellence in order to defeat and overcome the challenges put to them by the game. In terms of tabletop RPGs, playing a magician (until recently) was playing on hard mode; big payoff if you made it, but you had it rough for quite a while until your power ramped up, and even then one wrong move or run of bad luck and you were done.

Coming back into dramatic media, this would (in time) rehabilitate the magician into a suitable heroic protagonist because it had a proven path of character development and a ready-made pattern for plot development. In short, the gamers showed the dramatists where the heroic drama in such a character rested.

Don't think so? Start looking at the fantasy published in the wake of Dungeons & Dragons. While the big successes, even through the 80s, still held to the old tropes you could see their gradual shedding and changing. Now? Especially with the rise of paranormal romance as a genre, and the continuing influence of Star Wars through its Expanded Universe, a heroic magician protagonist is hardly unusual. Rowling's Potter was the moment that the dam burst, and in its wake many imitators followed. Comic properties began getting adapted, to varying degrees of success. (e.g. Constantine) Doctor Strange, therefore, is a comicbook example who was ahead of his time- and his time is now.

Yes, expect more in the future, and especially more high-profile ones. (Warner Brothers should have a Zatanna movie in the talking and pitching stage right about now, and the Shazam film hits this territory while presenting a Superman-style character.) Until another significant cultural shift occurs, this will increasingly be a thing.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Characterization: Another Perspective

I hang out online with a bunch of folks, one of whom is Oliver Campbell (Rabbit in the Road, The Twisted World Verse One: The Dusk Harbinger). While in his Twitch channel the other night, he started talking about character and motivation. I wish I had recorded it.

It's hardly difficult to find books, articles, blogs, etc. on the importance of motivation in creating and conveying believable characters. It's something else to hear it taught the way he did, while playing The Binding of Issac: Rebirth, that other night.

He talked through exercises. Imagine a dude with asthma; how does that change how he things, acts, and what he worries about? This meant that you work your way into seeing things from that other individual's perspective- one that is NOT your own. Using that knowledge, you put words down that bring forth this character on the page and from the interaction of perspectives with circumstances you soon find narratives writing themselves. Once you know what motivates a character, figuring out how and why they do what they do is easy. That's how you get the narratives writing themselves, leaving only the details to has out. Knowing his perspective brings you into knowledge of that motivation.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Embrace The Wiki as a Marketing Tool

It's well-known that writers of speculative fiction, especially those exhibiting secondary worlds for their stories, take an iceberg approach to such things. They write down so many notes about things regarding the world that the lore so generated often becomes an selling point to itself; the enduring allure of Tolkien's Middle-Earth is the most famous example, but there are other examples in all the major genres- and not just written forms (e.g. Star Wars).

We no longer need to either file those papers away to be revealed never, or only long after the books that came from them have become some form of classic. We have the means, here and now, to make those papers part of an ongoing marketing effort that helps to sell not only new books in the series but also that increasingly-larger backlist of previous books. Wikis are that means.

The successful launch of Infogalactic shows that you can use the wiki technology without letting every last motherfucker on the planet having access to it. You can lock it down, and only put out what you want; the rest just get to read it. This is a way to allow you to make use of what you do with your world-building as a means of promoting yourself, your brand, your works, and those of your collaborators while you finish work on the manuscripts that you do this world-building for.

I'm going to give this a go in the near future, once I generate enough material to merit the work of putting one up. When I do, I'll put out a call for help because it'll be new to me and I could use a hand or two.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Importance of Settling Your Story

BlizzCon 2016 is this weekend, and while I'm getting all hyped about all things Blizzard I have NOT doffed my storyteller hat. The folks at Blizzard Entertainment get a lot of shit, some of it deserved, but they're also showing that they get their genres and the medium they're working within when using those genres.

Alas, the Virtual Ticket doesn't televise the tie-in product panels, because aside from some promo reel stuff about it you're not getting info about what I find to be a major positive development: the production and publication of the Warcraft setting bible, World of Warcraft: Chronicles. The first volume (on sale now

Yes, there's a follow-up coming, which I regard as a good thing for now, but that's not the point. The point is that the mess of inconsistencies behind the Warcraft property is finally getting cleaned up, and this revised bible is the foundation for future development of that property. This is what I mean by "settling your story": know how your fictional setting works, down to the nuts and bolts. My experience with doing this is that stories suggest themselves emergently just from letting the setting operate without interference. There's going to be points of conflict, and conflict is the basis for all drama, so rather than force it just let it be and work out your stories when the lawful conditions permit them.

That's it. Not hard. Just play through your postulates to their conclusions, and you'll get all the story fodder you will ever use.

Friday, October 28, 2016

World Building: The Hidden City & Its Defenders

The Hidden City is one of the successors to the Old World destroyed by the Coming of the Azure Flames, and like the others it had ties to the twin conspiracies that foolishly destroyed that world in their hubris. In this case, the founder of the Hidden City was a programmer, engineer, and occultist by the name of Roger M. Ire. Inspired by Disney's Tron as a boy, he pursued programming and engineering as he got older; these lead him into philosophy as a sideline in university, which is also when he got into the occult and recruited to DARPA.

Once initiated into the Deep State, Ire would gain access to secret information Disney used to inform Tron, going on to realize the concept and figure out how to make real the postulated digitization of real matter into a digital construct. In doing so, he pushed for and contributed to several patent-making advances in computer and network hardwarve, software, and firmware; these patents allowed him a passive and clean income that freed him from needing to maintain a cover identity as most do.

The occultist side of the twin conspiracies saw the potential in his work, and gave him the cover he needed to get out of the known hubs of IT and engineering in favor of hiding in plain site in Minneapolis. He hid his work under the guise of medical technology research, gaining access to power and network resources needed for his laboratory; in this lab, he did what--again, through Disney--was fictionalized in Tron: Legacy: the creation of a virtual city-state that people could freely transit to and from.

But Roger Ire, by now, was no naive idealist like fictional Kevin Flynn. His studies of the occult led him to conclude that programming was so much like sorcery that they had to be related somehow, and his presence around medical research of all sorts lead him to conclude that DNA has to be some form of code--therefore, a symbol representing a thing that has effects in reality, which therefore can be manipulated to make effects that he desired. He concluded that the solutions to several long-standing known issues of Mankind could at last be solved, permanently, and drew up a few plans to do so.

That was when his contacts in the occultist conspiracy also informed him of the Grand Ritual plan. He--like Solador's Archmage--saw through immediately as hubris destined to fail and bring ruin, and he moved to execute a survival plan. He took a big gamble, as he suspected that the Minneapolis area was a convergence of hidden energy, and devised devices that he--at the time--did not fully understand to tap into it to use as emergency power to keep the Hidden City online.

When the Azure Flames hit, he sealed the lab to all physical access and put the taps into place before taking one last trip through the transit portal to the Hidden City and hoped for the best. Instead of facing oblivion, he found himself faced with a crisis of power surging into the system; he was right about the power source, but had no idea that it had been dormant and came to live in the wake of 90% of Mankind being either nuked to ashes or consumed in the waves of blue-white flames that followed. The Hidden City, then a small thing, grew into a gleaming metropolis in the blink of an eye as Roger struggles to use what threatened to overwhelm him in maddening sequences of program resolution and iteration from the inside.

To cope with the surges, Roger connected to the Internet knowing that the Deep State installations meant for Continuity of Government would be online, connected, and hardened enough to stay up. With the power at his command, he got into the local systems and usurped their automated tools so that he installed and integrated additional transit portals throughout the world and then secured these facilities to his command alone. It was during this crisis that Roger became aware of what went on outside in realspace, becoming aware of The Necromancer and the undead horde he controlled.

At this moment, Roger had a sudden thought: "This is my mission, to reformat the whole of Creation and bring it into the perfect system."

The Hidden City would, over the years, grow both in virtual and real population. During the time of The Necromancer is when Roger--now known as The First Founder--started recruiting real people to operate in realspace as his agents. (N.B.: This is a big part of the Solador story; Roger sends an agent to overthrow The Archmage.) It is here that Roger, and his growing body of disciples, turn the power of The Hidden City to making super-solders.

Roger and his disciples created their first model based on a need for deniability and concealment, but when action became necessary great power could be put to hand. As this first cadre was a small one, a focus on quality in power to make competency in acumen was the goal and (as all of them were survivors of the Old World) they used a Japanese model as their basis: The masked heroes of the tokukatsu genre and their animated counterparts.

They then blended this model with an older American one, that of DC's Captain Marvel (a.k.a. "Shazam"), giving each agent a secure passcode keyed to their unique genetic code- a sample of which Roger kept on file as a security failsafe. Later iterations and revisions would refine this concept until there was a clear gradation of power, granted by demonstrated quality of character as well as loyalty to The Hidden City (and, by extension, to Roger), and Roger decided to foster this via deliberate generational eugenics improvement. The goal? To create the ideal agent of the City and its interests as the Guardians of Civilization.

And, unnoticed by most, this was when Roger's fall into hubris became complete.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cernovich Launches MAGA Mindset & Wins Big

So, Mike Cernovich just launched MAGA Mindset, and it is already a #1 bestseller in multiple key categories on Amazon. Mike's got a post on the reception already.

I'm not talking about the politics of this book. I'm talking about the business of it. Mike wrote this book, as he did Gorilla Mindset, with alacrity. Just a few weeks, really, and that's in fits and starts as he also did all of his livestreaming via Periscope, audio podcasts via Soundcloud, and all his family/personal stuff during this time. As this is a book he's doing through Castallia House, and Vox Day edited it, he's turning in manuscripts and then getting that turned around and published quite fast- lightning fast by the standard of dying Big 5 publishers.

Look, it's not a long book. He already had most of that manuscript in mind with his first draft, and I don't think much in terms of editing was needed before turning it around to publish it. Artwork had already been lined up for the cover, and a back cover will be added to the second print run presently. In short, Mike Cernovich turned this book around FAST, and he used his blog and social media to promote it while he wrote it.

That's noteworthy. Not many successful authors are so diligent with self-promotion, especially genre fiction authors (Scott, dammit, you really ought to know better by now.) He did this entirely solo with Gorilla Mindset, so it's not publishing with Castallia House that's the trick here. The thing is that Cernovich knows how to sell, and he does it very well. Most authors, be then traditionally published, independent, or whatever need to come to Jesus (as it were) and get on with selling if they want to get the most for their efforts and that means rethinking how they relate to their audience.

Cernovich uses his site, his blog, his podcast, his Periscope streams, and his public appearances as marketing for his books. That's why he's so big on putting them out there; he gets that an author's brand is him and his persona- not his books. The books are what he sells to generate the revenue he needs to pay his expenses. If the author isn't sufficiently engaging, charming, or otherwise compelling--is not charismatic--then his audience reach will suffer, and so will his professional success in this business. If you don't take your own side, no one else will.

So, first lesson learned: Be Your Own Hype Man.

Cernovich said repeated at his blog and his Twitter feed that he's run A/B testing and found that an insignificant number of people really care fine-tuning in terms of editing, so he lets a lot of mistakes that many people read over and ignore go through. That's surprising, but you can't argue with the results; most readers really do gloss over typos and the like, so unless you're writing has to be accurate and precise for technical reasons you'll be okay. Instead, he makes sure that he knows what he wants to say when he puts hands to keyboard and then goes over what he writes to make sure that he said what he meant to say; that's his process, as much as he's talked about it. He gets away with it because his authorial voice is solid in its authenticity; you're not getting the feel of this being hack work.

So, second lesson learned: Speak Truly, Write With Authority

Because Cernovich starts each book from a position where he's coming out of what he knows to be true, and he trusts himself and his audience to comprehend what he's saying, there is no worry over what he's saying or how he's saying it. He knows himself, and he knows his audience, so he does not fear the result of a thousand book launches. That confidence comes through in his promotion, and you seen it again when you read the work. This is a power in presence that many of his detracts notice, and cannot deal with; they know he's for real, and such substance is repellent to his opposition- and like ambrosia to his audience. That's how he can tell the haters from the loyal, and dismisses the haters- Mike already knows that they are fakers so they are irrelevant.

So, third and final lesson learned: Know Your Work Before You Write & Fear Not Where It Goes

That's how you know Mike walks what he talks. Without cracking open the books, you can see the tells signifying the very mindset he advocates- which feeds back to the authenticity he builds upon and projects his confidence from. He knows he's for real, he's not afraid of those who hate him for it, and that's why he's able to write and publish as fast as he does and succeed where so many others fail. Mindset matters, and Mike's mindset is present where you can see it in action; that's another way to sell his books, and he knows it. So yes, buy this book and Gorilla Mindset- he's living what he's saying.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Tropes I Like: The Break from Everyday Life

One thing I like about the premise of someone going on an adventure after suffering or causing some sort of disruption--plane crash, shipwreck, etc.--is that it so clearly delineates a break from the Ordinary World and entrance into the World of Adventure. Even the relatively tame E.R. Burroughs used to set up A Princess of Mars (which you really should read if you haven't), where John Carter goes into a cave and projects himself to Mars, works well enough to serve this function. (If there's a defined term for this trope, I don't recall it.)

The ambiguous use of this trope, as I note immediately above, is great for when you want to set up either an unreliable narrator or an unreliable narrative. I'm using something like this for another future project, a fragment of which I posted here weeks ago, so that both the reader and the protagonist get that clarity of separation. It allows you to introduce the unreality of the Adventure slowly, which is really important in properly presenting the reader that unreality without snapping suspension of disbelief.

But I prefer to be as obvious as the device itself. Even if the protagonist is someone's whose Ordinary World IS about adventure, making this trope be the "Cut off from his support, can he get back to basics and overcome?" premise we see in some series at some point during their run, it works. As tropes for structuring a narrative go, there are few more reliable than the Clean Break trope in terms of establishing when the fun starts.

It works regardless of genre. Superheroes? Check. Fantasy? Check. Science Fiction? Check. Romance? Check. Historical Fiction? Check. "Literary"? Check. Comedy? Check. Horror? Check. Triggering SJW cocksuckers as if firing a minigun? Check, check, and check. It works regardless of medium also. Film? Check. Television? Check. Radio? Check. Print, in all its diversity? All the checks. Song? More checks.

And it is reversible, as a way of closing the narrative. Leaving and returning to said Ordinary World, sometimes an outright and literal goal, is so basic a device that Joseph Campbell builds his Monomyth model around it. You wreck on an island, have a fantastic adventure, and return to your ordinary life by getting off the island somehow. Change the trappings, but keep the structure, and you can write adventure stories until your hands fall off and your voice fails.

The basics are basic for a reason. Respect that, adhere to the KISS Maxim, and you too can become a Dragon Award winner or enjoy success sufficient to own a mountain, or even have a private island, or whatever you want out of your writing.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Burn the Traditional Publishing Industry to the Ground

Today is my birthday, so I'm spending much of it celebrating with friends and family, but that doesn't mean I'm not paying attention.

Dragon Award winner, and Hugo Award finalist, Brian Niemeier made a very good post at his blog (Kairos) the other day about the ongoing shift in the publishing business for science fiction and fantasy. (Go read it; it's worth your time.)

The Supreme Dark Lord, Vox Day, had a very interesting post on many of the Social Justice cultists afflicting the field.

Combined, both posts expose facts that give weight to a suspicion I held about the degenerate state of traditional publishing (especially in my preferred genres of fiction) for some time: the rot set in when the broken children of incompetent parents came of age and began taking positions in the business, and implemented the bullshit they learned while at university.

Competition is a sin to these people, as a consequence of their failure to rise against their childhood challenges. They engage in corruption such as log-rolling (the practice of fixing selection results beforehand, interval over interval, to eliminate true competition in choice from behind the scenes, by those either eligible or administering the process), establish and enforce GroupThink using cult behavior methods, and pull so many iterations of Point Deer Make Horse that an unreality sets in that becomes a bubble of delusion.

You see this now in how the culture around traditional publishing is wholly out of touch with reality. You still see magazines, outlets, stores, even panels at conventions go on about how you need an agent, how to get a contract, and so on. Amazon doesn't seem to exist with them, despite said company eating their lunch at a voracious rate. The days of literary agents is over, but you still see people go on as if you need them to breathe. So goes the rest of this rancid, crumbling remnant that once had value.

Upstart houses taking advantage of the reality of publishing are making big gains (e.g. Castalia House), properly leveraging what such a company actually does to bring value now vs. what you can do on your own, and what you can do now on your own is very easy to do (which is why I am doing it) so long as you're willing and able to put in the time and do the work.

And that's just people writing books. Other forms of publishing? Even less reason to keep them around as they've been. They are unfit for purpose, cannot be fixed, and are irredeemably corrupted with those aforementioned broken cultists. Burn it all to ash, and then salt the piles.

Friday, September 30, 2016

I Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Learning From Other Authors

There is a metric fuckload of stuff about the business that I don't know, but I need to know, if I am going to make this writing thing pay the bills. Being all caught up in my ego, thinking I can solve it all on my own, is both stupid and wasteful. It's stupid because it's verifiable to be false, and it's wasteful because someone else already solved that problem so why reinvent the wheel?

So, in addition to talking to folks who've done this dance before directly (such as Oliver Campbell) and watching folks like Brian Niemeier, I read other authors' blogs to see what they do and how they do it. Russel Newquist did a post on the launch of Who’s Afraid of the Dark? at Amazon.

Read that shit. He ain't messing around. He tells you what he did, why he did it, and links to stuff you can use to replicate his success. This is a big deal, because it points out something a lot of people miss: Publishing success is NOT a zero sum game. On the contrary, authors helping other authors to succeed has a synergistic effect over the long term. (If it didn't, traditional publishing and retail booksellers wouldn't try to use one successful author to build up an audience for a newer one with similar material.)

I love this sort of post. I appreciate greatly that people who did what I'm doing and succeeded are willing and able to share what they learned, knowing that it can't hurt them and can only help them. The business of publishing is already bothersome enough; not taking the opportunity to get good help from your peers when they offer it is a massive mistake. I'm taking it, and so should you.

Friday, September 23, 2016

10,000 Pots: How I Went From Writing Papers To This Book

I normally don't punt here, but I also don't like repeating myself. To work around my fiction project issues, I'm putting out a non-fiction book first. Go read that post at my main blog for context. Below I start talking details.

It's going to be structured something like this:

  • Introduction
  • Papers Are Teh Suck
  • Forums, Flamewars, and Fuckwittery
  • Wait, You Can Go To School For That?
  • What Is This Livejournal Thing?
  • Blogging? Hey Mikey, He Likes It!
  • Whadda Mean "Indie Publishing" Is a Thing Now?
  • Puppies at the Gates
  • No Perfects (Or How I Embraced Teh Suck)
  • I Can Haz Booky-Book (And So Can You)
  • Epilogue

I'm telling stories here, and by telling my stories I'm showing you readers how I went from sucking diseased donkey balls at writing to becoming competent at it, enough that I can reasonably sit there with professional writers and talk shop like I know what I'm talking about. (And I have- hi Scott, Brian, and Oliver!) The order above is not a strict chronology; that shit overlaps like the lattice on an apple pie. What you're going to get, if I do my part, is show you that you can get where you want to go without realizing it. In short, you can goof your way to success.

But there's another reason, which I mention in the Epilogue, as to why I'm doing this book now. I need Momentum. Getting that first hit in, and then following it up, matters. It's how I got into this daily blogging habit; I just did it, one hit and then other and another and another. I did not worry about being perfect, just in doing it. I cared only about getting good, and staying good, by doing it on the regular.

What I didn't realize, by doing this as a hobby, is that by not caring about making it perfect and so on I actually got good merely by keeping up the momentum. The doing was the process. The habit was the means. That's why I'm calling this book "10,000 Pots", because I've made thousands of posts and written hundreds of papers and wrote millions of words across multiple media in multiple genres without ever realizing what the fuck I've done.

So, once that popped into my head, a book ceased to be any form of anxiety. It was just a matter of putting in the time at the keyboard before I fuck with formatting and other make-it-pretty adjustments (like a cover). This book, therefore is the start of a book-publishing habit.

Now you see where I'm going with this. From daily blogging (regular writing and publishing, short form) to (interval To Be Determined, but no less than a year and likely less) book publishing. Nevermind awards; awards worry gets you out of No Perfect mindset (Thanks Cernovich for making that a thing.) and wrecking your momentum. I want to write, and I want to eat. Publishing books, in addition to blogging, does that; again, thanks to Cernovich for showing me that this can be done- I just have to do it my way (what he calls "establishing a brand").

Friday, September 16, 2016

World Building: The Wars of the Damned

The Wars of the Damned.

This is the time that comes in the wake of the Coming of the Azure Flames that destroyed the Old World, ending with the rise of the Empire of Man. In addition to The Necromancer and The Archmage, other notable figures arose from the ashes in various parts of the world and became dominant in their regions. Because of the global reach of The Necromancer, most of these figures first went to war with The Necromancer in order to secure their base of power- always including a survivor population that rallied to that figure's banner due to their obvious power to oppose the Master of All Flesh.

That means that Solador and The Archmage are one example of many, and not all of them are human. These regional players, separated from one another geographically, are what kept The Necromancer in check enough to wear him down over time. However, they did not do this emergently; they had the covert aid of The Hidden City, providing intelligence and intervention as required when required. The Necromancer comes to recognize that he has a hidden enemy aiding his opponents rather swiftly, and even comes to know The Hidden City, but never touches it because he never figures out how to get to it. (Dude never saw Tron, and no one told him, so that idea never occurred to him.)

This period lasted a couple of centuries, with the tipping point being the Empire of Man destroying The Necromancer and his Empire of the Dead (at that time, with the aid of The Hidden City). The Empire would go on to conquer all of the remaining players, except The Hidden City, in turn until Mankind once more was uncontested master of Earth.

This entire period would last five centuries, from the cataclysm of the Azure Flames to the final conquest of The Empire of Man. As with the fall of Western Rome, the period of chaos and instability was actually rather small. The length stems from the conflict between the successor states that arose from the ashes, and once one party realized it was a kingmaker it played the field until it chose a king.

Friday, September 9, 2016

(World Building) The Necromancer

The Necromancer is the first of the big players to arise in the wake of the Azure Flames. Like all of the others, he is a consequence of the pre-cataclysm conspiracies to establish a global tyranny. Unlike them, he is a consequence in the most literal sense: he had no ties to either of the conspiracies, and instead arose because of the effects of their failure.

The Necromancer was a ghetto kid, son of a waste of a mother and abandoned before birth by his father, and kept in check only so much as it kept his mother in the good graces of the authorities. He got shot when a firefight between street gangs broke out over a particular corner of the drug trade, and the gang-bangers (being notoriously incompetent shooters) cared not where their fire went. As he got rushed to the hospital, the cataclysm began; he was abandoned at the operating table, dismissed as a worthless punk kid better off dead, and left to die.

As he died, Christopher Walken appeared to him. Only it wasn't Walken, but someone appearing as Walken did in The Prophecy, calling himself an angel of God and offering the boy a chance for revenge- to make the world feel his pain, listen to his word, and obey his commands. The boy agreed, and the angel--who is Satan--gave the boy over to Legion.

Legion is the source of The Necromancer's power. He does not control the boy, as the boy is not dead and Satan forbade Legion controlling the living. Legion abides because his desires are being fulfilled, as he now controls billions of corpses, but chafes at being subject to a boy's borrowed authority (as he serves as Satan's anchor on Earth). Satan is the deniable Grand Vizier to The Necromancer, playing the boy like a fiddle as he knows the boy's psychology and pushes his buttons as a master pianist plays the keys.

The Necromancer has other henchmen at his disposal, which are the damned souls of the worst of Mankind allowed to take up the dead flesh at The Necromancer's disposal and walk the Earth once more to fulfill The Necromancer's will. Other damned souls are yoked to serve as immaterial shades, advising The Necromancer. All of these are withdrawn once Satan removes his support, albeit not at once, and their removal serves to track progress in the war against The Necromancer; until that support is withdrawn, they return time and again to menace the enemies of The Necromancer.

The Necromancer, billed as "Master of All Flesh", endures for as long as he does because he and Legion cooperate. They erect a worldwide Empire of the Dead, complete with ziggurats and sacrifices, following Satan's advice. However, Satan (being the Supreme Deceiver) ultimately betrays both his human and his demonic ally once their usefulness is at an end and he shifts his allegiance to the Empire of Man. Knowing his allies' weaknesses, Satan elevates the Empire and enables their conquest of The Necromancer; providing verifiable proof of The Necromancer's actions drives the Empire of Man's propaganda efforts that galvanize the people to support the Emperor. The Necromancer ends his life as it began: mortally wounded, on a table, and abandoned to die. The Emperor, at the final moment, recognizes that his enemy is truly at his end and gives him the mercy of a swift, painless death. The Necromancer then goes to Hell.

The final death of The Necromancer marks the end of the first phase of the world post-cataclysm, and the shift from surviving in a hostile ruined world to the rise into a recovered world filled with terrible purpose and horrific fury at that which ruined what came before.

Friday, September 2, 2016

(World Building) Timeline: From the Coming of the Azure Flames Foreward

This is a rough timeline, the purpose of which is to stake out temporal territory for certain stories.

The Coming of the Azure Flames is an event that destroyed the Old World (our world) and its civilization, so we're starting from a ruined state and initial stories set in this period are about survival and adaptation as the last of the Old World disappears and the new age completely supersedes it. This is when Ken's post-cataclysm stories occur, after his transformation into the father of the nation of men that bear his name. This is when The Necromancer arises and he becomes a recurring antagonist to Ken and others, and his rise and fall mark this era.

Overlapping this is the rise of various rivals to The Necromancer. The Archmage of Solador, coming to dominate Cascadia, is one of them. The Founder of The Hidden City, which is able to operate world-wide due to enduring Old World architecture that his people go on to rebuild and expand, is another. These folks go on to be the players in The Wars of the Damned, ending with the rise of the Empire of Man (which throws down The Necromancer).

The Empire of Man goes on a crusade to purge the world of all that is unnatural and inhuman, creating a one-world state and religion that runs a wholly authoritarian and totalitarian police state. Yes, even in the undersea and orbital reaches, as the aim of the Empire is to fully subjugate the Earth before taking the crusade into space. Stories here mark the transition from the false hope of a false prophet through to the creation of a resistance that persists in persecution until a successful contact with sympathetic external allies brings forth a true savior that makes real the dream of freedom upon which the Empire's religion feeds.

Overlapping this is the Diaspora of Man. The Hidden City leads an exodus once it becomes clear that the Empire will win on Earth. Using what they recovered from ages before the Old World, they establish extra-planetary colonies elsewhere in the solar system starting with Mars and Venus, and spread out from there. It is during this period that they come into contact with the allies that would later break the Empire on Earth, but not before their own nation undergoes its own period of unrest and transformation.

The timeline from there I have yet to set down. The trend, however, is meant to echo real collapses and recoveries with some exaggerations for effect. The span for this period is about 500 years on the outside; once I'm satisfied with how specifics shake out, I'll revise this timeline with something more specific in terms of dates. For now, I have just a start point--a point of divergence--and I will work forward from there.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Big Ideas in My Works: The Solador Series

I'm using posts here to flesh out elements of my fictional world that won't gt a lot of attention in these manuscripts. A lot of the stories I'm writing tie together via the cataclysm that destroyed the old world and created this one, mostly through the common connection of the conspiracies behind that event.

The Solador books (currently) work around the idea in LeGuin's "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas", but what is forsaken is inverted: instead of a forgotten child left to suffer in darkness, the sacrifice is of a designated hero who is elevated to celebrity status (and dehumanized accordingly) and upon whom the community piles on their expectations at the prompting of the Solador leadership: The Exalted. This figure is meant to represent them to the Exalted, as go-between bridging the ordinary and the supernatural. Said leadership installs the hero, manipulates his rise and controls him with rewards given to such heroes in the mythology that these leaders deliberately copy. When the hero becomes too unstable to control, they orchestrate his fall and elevate his replacement to ensure that this control mechanism continues.

Of course, the protagonist is that hero. The deuteragonist is another pawn who figured it out and aims to put this scam to an end. The Antagonist is the leader of The Exalted: The Archmage. Other figures mentioned or featured include The Necromancer, the other Exalted (The Champion, The Devil, The Hierophant, and The Physician), and Master Bradley of The Hidden City. The hero's wife, children, and his dog Han are minor (but significant) players in this story.

The theme of the Big Idea (occulted schemes of control) continues in Solador's signature feature: "The Blessing of the Unconquered Sun". This is a full-body augmentation, centered around a gem implanted in the forehead. From this gem--the Soul Gem--comes a woad-like full-body tattoo made of gold and silver. The system exists to prevent one from being turned undead; the means is by incinerating the corpse as soon as life stops, in a manner that resembles a program's deresolution in the original Tron, leaving only ashes and dust behind. There is a secondary effect that the body's resilience is greatly improved, akin to wearing well-padded armor. Implications are addressed, and intended by the creator: The Archmage.

So: trauma-based mind control, active perception management, culture-level political manipulation, wars meant to be sustained to control internal population, occult powers used to set up and sustain a false religion, and what it takes to keep that going vs. how fragile it is if at all vulnerable. That's what's going on here, while writing about adventures involving undead hordes, fighting against terrible odds, treachery within, and the inevitable victory of Truth over Lies.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Future History: The Coming of the Empire of Man

This is typical of father-to-child home instruction in the Empire, which is the most education on history that most Imperial children get and is mirrored in Imperial propaganda (i.e. all their media), and differs only in the tone and vocabulary used. This would be typical of a doctor to his children, or someone of similar rank, but not part of the Empire's true elite.

What is now called "The Old World" or "The Age of Wonders" ended in a cataclysm, the Azure Flames. What we now know, centuries later, is that this was a divine subversion of an infernal conspiracy's attempt to utilize a mass human sacrifice to power a ritual summoning to bring their master into this world. The ritual failed, the destruction ruined a corrupt civilization, and allowed for the release of a different infernal entity: Legion.

It also put down a judgement on all alive past the age of reason, condemning their corpses to Legion upon death. It also allowed Legion to take any other man's corpse that it slew as the beast it was, but we know now that there was a catch: Legion had to use a human agent and work through him. No agent? Banished once more to realms beyond Man's reach. This is the origin of the villain and traitor known as "The Necromancer", and the source of his immense power.

The infernal conspiracy had its turncoats and sandbaggers. Two of them we now know as The Archmage of Solador, and the Founder of The City-State. We know of the existence of a score of others. These would become, along with The Necromancer, the Dark Lords that dominated the era after the Coming of the Azure Flames known now as "The Wars of the Damned".

The chaos brought about by the rampant sin of our predecessors had one mercy, now also known to be divinely granted, in the transformation of one righteous man into the legendary Ken, father of the race that would allow our Emperor the time and territory needed to gather the remnant of the faithful together into our glorious Empire and build us into a single nation capable of winning our world back from the Dark Lords.

Now, as we near five centuries since the Azure Flames ended the Age of Wonders, the Empire put down The Necromancer and ended Legion's threat. Other Dark Lords hide from the Empire, knowing we are mighty and armed with more than muscle and machines. Their ruinous powers cannot withstand our faith. One by one, we shall put all of them to the sword and burn their blighted lands to ash before claiming them as our own once more. Go forth, my son, and serve the Emperor with all your heart. The Emperor will lead us to victory, to true freedom, and bring cleansing fire to all who defy what is commanded of us.

Note that this is not the actual truth of the Empire of Man. The actual truth is that it is another "Dark Lord", born of the same conspiracy that caused the cataclysm. The Empire deliberately models itself on Warhammer 40000's Imperium of Man, and its own inspirations, and as its technical proficiency increases more things out of those inspirations appear. However, the Empire does have one quirk of its own: it does not have a military- it IS the military; there is no civilian life. Every man is a soldier. Every woman is a nurse. This grants total control over the population under permanent wartime conditions, and permanent subjection to military authority; the religious overtones are the mockery of a true faith, with the Emperor as a Priest-King. While talking a lot about purity and opposition to the supernatural, it harbors a hidden elite with powers of their own. Thus the Empire is, in truth, a militant cult- one that officially celebrates and unofficially hates its allies.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Exploratory Writing: The Genesis of Solador

An old man sat at an oversized desk in a undersized office. He dressed in a poor attempt at being fashionable. He displayed, in addition to the minimal academic credentials, useless marks of distinction for social fads of passing use to burnish his credibility. He looked less a man than a man-like mockery, weak and ineffectual. On his desk sat a sign, shining in the rare afternoon sun: "Dr. G.H. Lane, PhD."

Over an old intercom, the man heard a young woman speak: "Dr. Lane, Mr. Dan is here to see you."

Before Lane could allow Dan to enter, the latter man did just that.

"It's been a while, Gary." Dan said, "You're the department head now? How does it feel to run a useless degree mill?"

Lane looked up with a snarl on his lips. "Get in, and lock the door behind you."

Dan did, and Lane took a moment to take him in: in good shape, clean cut, looking like he'd just come out of Chinatown, and carrying a pistol in a shoulder holster.

"You're working, Dan?" Lane said, "Or is this part of the family business?"

Dan took a seat. "You didn't call me to ask a favor, Lane."

Lane sighed. "The big one's been finalized." Lane put a manila folder on his desk. "Project Omelas."

Dan took up the folder and began reading. "They're serious." he said, "And this scheme will work?"

Lane's snarl became a wicked grin. "Of course. I authored it, and you did your part. How could it fail? The final parts are in place, and failsafes are active to three degrees."

"Simultaneously detonating nuclear warheads in the ten most populated cities in the world, and then having the Agency's pet terrorists take the fall?"

"We have full-spectrum dominance, Dan. The Narrative will hold, and in the shock the peoples of the world will accept it. As for the naysayers, they'll be rounded up under color of law by the end of the year." Lane said, "Which brings me to the reason you're here."

Dan kept reading. "You're taking point on local operations here." he said, "So you want me back on the team as your #2."

Lane leaned back in his chair, putting one hand to his forehead while making a sign like as if to say "Okay." but leaving the other fingers out; a careful, or knowing, look saw the 666 symbol in that sign. Dan returned it.

"Go on to the second part." Lane said, pointing to the folder.

"Oh..." Dan said, "They are serious. The logistics alone to make this coordination possible is-"

"Impossible." Lane said, "They are going to fuck it up, and at this scope and scale fucking it up means a global backlash."

Dan looked up at Lane. "Be more specific."

"The brotherhood, using the globalist fake terror attack as a front, will use the nukes as a ritual of human sacrifice. The reason for all that power is to summon the master back from beyond and into the world. But they will screw it up, and that power will instead break loose and wash all over the world. The world burns, and only those prepared will survive."

Lane leaned over his desk. "I am prepared. Join me, and so will you. Bring your family to the Space Needle for the Christmas Party. The others, and their families, will also be present. Project Omelas will be had, but not as they intended."

"Solador." Dan said, "You're going to make Solador real?"

"And follow my thesis instead of the intended one."

Dan nodded. "I'll be there."

Friday, August 5, 2016

Exploratory Writing: Ken Makes Some Survivors The Offer

(This would be well after The Burning of Hugo, when the world blows up and The Wars of the Damned begin.)

"I hear you got a dead problem."

The group looked on at the strange man addressing them. Hairless, skin white like show, eyes sunken and of an eerie yellow hue. In one calloused hand he held the severed arm of a former zombie, from which he bit into and tore off another piece as one would from a chicken leg, and loudly chewed.

One of them, the eldest man, stepped forward: "We do."

"I can solve it." the dead-eating man said, his mouth full, "Of course, I see rifles in some of your hands, so I guess you can do that yourselves, but you normies got to take that risk now." He finished. "And I know you folks would rather not."

One of the women in the back leaned into another's ear: "It has to be him! The one that eats zombies."

The strange man turned his eyes to them. "I am that man." he said, looking right at them as he would to mischievous children, "I am Ken, and I have an offer for you."

The eldest man looked over to the others and gave his own commanding glare. They nodded, one by one, their submission, and then the eldest man looked back at Ken: "Go on."

"You people are much like others I've come across since the end of the world. You prepared. You planned. You stored your food, stockpiled your supplies, chose remote locations filled with exploitable resources, and most of you got out in time." Ken waived the arm he held. "You never really expected this to be real, and you aren't able to do what you planned to do and deal with this."

Ken looked over the faces before him. He saw them confirm what he suspected: they already lost people, and had to deal with their own dead re-animating.

"I offer you this: I will deal with the monsters. Call, and I will come to your aide."

"In return?"

"Fealty" Ken said, "You will join with others like yourselves, cooperate under my guidance and protection, until such time as I am no longer necessary because you--and they--will be able to do this on your own."

"We stay where we are?"

"I insist. You're all better off in your prepared homesteads. I focus on keeping the roads and paths between them clear."

An older woman moved to the eldest man's side and whispered into his ear: "He'll not need food from us. Take it."

The eldest man nodded. "What else?"

"No aggression between any of your settlements. I decide them, and my word is law. Handle your own affairs as you like, and be ready to support me as required."

"Is that all?"

Ken eyes a young woman in the back, clearly out of place here by her hair color. "You have a burden among you." Ken said, pointing to her, "I'll take her off your hands."

The old women whispered again: "Take the deal! She never should've been here anyway, what with just being a girlfriend to one of your grandsons. She's not one of us, she has no useful skills, and has no children. Cast her out!"

The eldest man nodded. "Done, Ken." he said, and they shook hands to confirm agreement.

"I'll take the girl now." Ken said, "Prepare her things."

Friday, July 29, 2016

Exploratory Writing: Ken Gets A Warning

"Is the patient awake?"

Ken opened his eyes and turned his head to the door. "Yes, nurse, I am."

A smiling nurse, middle-aged, entered the room with a package in hand. "A man stopped by while you were asleep. He wanted to give this to you, but didn't want to disturb you."

"I didn't think that the hospital was in the habit of acting like a hotel." Ken let out a chuckle.

The nurse brought the plain-wrapped package to his bed and put it on the table. "Security found nothing out of line, so we held it at the desk for you. There's even a little gift card."

Ken marked the dimensions of the package: two inches tall, one foot across, six inches wide. Security here is incompetent. This package alone is a warning. I need to get out of here immediately. he thought, and then he opened the simple card:

Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men?

Ken saw nothing else on the card. The answer is the contents of this package. he figured.

"Lunch will be ready in an hour." the nurse said, "I'll be back then."

Ken waited for the nurse to leave, closing the door behind her. He looked about a moment, seeing no obvious cameras, before he carefully took apart the plain paper wrapping the package. Then he opened the cardboard box underneath, which revealed a very thin layer of film. Tearing that away revealed the contents: a brand new CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow, along with three full magazines and a concealed-carry holster. Attached, on a Post-It note, read: "They're coming. Get out, now! If you make it, get in touch." - SDL

"The Shadow knows!" indeed. Ken thought as he quickly put the kit together, Scrubs will do until I get out of here.

Ken swung himself out and on to his feet. He wobbled a bit, and then grabbed a sash from a robe to use as a baldrick. He looked into the mirror in the bathroom, saw that he looked like he'd been a blanket party guest of honor, and sighed. It will have to do. Holster at his chest, and a pouch on his hip to hold the spares, Ken was as ready as he could get.

Bring it. Ken thought as he drew the Shadow and racked the slide, I'm ready for Round 2.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Writer's Development: What I'm Reading Now

I've finally started making use of my tablet as an e-reader. Thanks to contests and giveaways, I've got a good starting pile of virtual books to go parallel with the pile of print books. Here's what I've read or am reading recently:

  • SJWs Always Lie
  • The Last Witchking
  • Gorilla Mindset
  • Spacehounds of IPC
  • The Republic of Thieves
  • Jibaro Death
  • The Blue Sphinx
  • Rules For Radicals

I also received CTRL-ATL-Revolt, Rabbit in the Road, and The Dusk Harbinger. They're on the pile now and I'll get to them in due time. Reviews of each book will be forthcoming.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Admin: Release Schedule Coming

The moving of house by my family is about complete. My seasonable obligations are about complete. I am now able to take the time to review what I have in development, decide what to do about each manuscript, and thereby prepare a release schedule for this year and into next year. I will announce what that is in a few weeks.

In addition to the fiction manuscripts I have in the works, I will announce one non-fiction project. Full announcement to come presently.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Your Book Launches Are Your Problem, And Your Opportunity

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, each author is a publishing house unto himself now. For those not in the dying traditional publishing world, this is literally so. It is virtually so regardless of how you play the game, because publishers and agents can only do so much so you might as well operate like the true indie authors.

That means making publishing decisions for yourself. One of them is what format you will publish in, and when you do it: e-pub, print, and audiobook. You should do all three, but you need not do all of them at once. Furthermore, I say that you should not do so. You stand a better chance of overall success by treating each format's release as a separate book launch event, allowing each previous event to push the new one and each new one to promote the previous ones.

What I'm going to do is go with a specific launch order: ebook, print, audiobook. I may break the print section down further by hardcover and paperback, once that becomes something I can bother doing. The reason for the order is this: any errors in the ebook can be corrected and pushed forward free of charge, and the corrected files then be used to for the print book version, which will be the basis for the audiobook VO script.

Now, exactly which thing gets put out when I don't know yet. That I'll announce in a few weeks.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Convention Scene is Useless

This weekend I'm attending the big local fan convention in the Minneapolis area, CONvergence. Plenty of authors attend, and one is often one of the Guests of Honor. Authors shill their stuff, sign copies, sit on panels about stuff and things, and talk shop in the bar. Many decide to do a lot of cons, making this a core element of their other-than-actually-writing career, and thus see their peers often.

This is part of the dying paradigm, and I have no intention of making this transition because superior alternatives to each element already exists.

From the safety and comfort of my home, damn near everything that the convention scene offers is easily replicated and in a form that is both decentralized (by comparison) and under my control:

  • Panels and Interviews: Google Hangout, alone, handles this; private Discord servers, Soundcloud for podcasts, etc. are also worthwhile.
  • Tables: Amazon author page, and a few others for niches Amazon doesn't handle.
  • Signings: Purchase personalized copies.
  • The Bar: Go to the fucking liquor store (or order in), and have friends over.

Far cheaper to set up and keep running. Far more likely to produce significant returns, and sooner, at the cost of more personal involvement on the business side of being a professional writer- but in this new publishing paradigm you have to do that anyway, so you might as well get on it and master that shit early.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Each Writer is a Publishing House To Himself

Earlier this week, I took the time to watch Vox Day and Stefan Molyneux talk about (among other things) the recent history of Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing. It mirrors what I've heard from Mike Cernovich, in that the publishing game is now such that the existing institutions are moribund, rotting, unsalvagable, and therefore worthless. In short, writers are on their own.

With Amazon now being the biggest bookseller in the world, and making it very easy to publish independently through Amazon's outlets, what would have been a terrible tragedy for the cultural development of the world's nation is instead an opportunity for those bold enough to go for it to be in the vanguard of the movement that sweeps away such a wretched old publishing paradigm. It is no longer a place where the writer is an atomized cog in a vast publishing machine; it is now a place where each writer is a publishing enterprise until himself.

That's not hyperbole. Mike Cernovich proved it with the spectacular release of Gorilla Mindset, with over 10000 copies sold within six months. Mainstream publishers shit their pants over such number these days, especially in fiction (including genre fiction), and this is becoming the norm for independent writers who see as Cernovich does: they they are businesses, not just skilled workers, and act accordingly.

Cernovich takes every opportunity to market himself, his books, and his brand to cultivate his audience. Even after striking a deal with Vox Day's business, Castallia House, he keeps at this with the steady pace of a jackhammer. This means that he operates his writing as if he is a publishing house to himself, and that is what you should shamelessly copy and implement for yourself.

That includes me. It's time that I up my game, organize my shit, and be that business to myself. It's the mindset of a professional, and the professional that succeeds has to adopt and internalize the winning mindset that Cernovich's brand bases itself upon. (So, yes, I did buy myself a copy of Gorilla Mindset; gotta start somewhere.)

So, I'm going to take the next few weeks to assess what's what, and then organize a practical schedule that gets shit done and out the door. The covers will not be pretty. Format launches will be separated by necessity. I'll gladly use my existing outlets to get the word out, so expect more posts where I hype my own material. This Autumn in particular should be very productive for me, with Winter being a finishing phase before I get the first of material out the door and available for sale.

You're on your own now, Fellow Writer. The houses of old are slowly collapsing, and there is nothing that can save them. Nor should they be saved, as the rot is too far gone now. You want to succeed? Choose yourself, make the time, build up your own brand, and use the tools available to you to be your own publishing house. Go for it. Fortune favors the bold for a reason.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Writing Update: The End of "The Burning of Hugo" Revised

"Please, Ken!" Hugo said, dropping to his knees, put forth his hands together as if beseeching an angry god. "You've done enough. Stop!"

About them, though the walls muffled them, they heard the crises of the slain as Ken's allies cut them down with disciplined fire and the terror of flame.

"Hugo, you know better than that. You've published my stories for 25 years. You know how this ends."

Ken put a gas can on the floor, hitting with a clear THUMP! to show it to be full.

"What gets me is why, Hugo. You did the very stupid things that you've heard me talk about, made your fortune writing about, became famous for publishing. You did it. Why?"

"Why?" Hugo said, his hands now balled into fists and slamming the floor, "Because I never got any respect! No one took me seriously until I got on board with this. I went from endless mockery in the literary press to getting Hollywood studios burning up my phone. My original fiction finally got some fucking notice, and it got pushed!"

"So, all you had to do was to stab me in the back and renounce what made you great and now you had the good word of a bunch of useless parasites and some two-faced whore in your bed."

"I had to grow up, Ken! So do you."

Ken shook his head as he drew a lighter from a pocket. "You are beyond saving."

Hugo looked up as Ken popped the cap on the gas can. "No, Ken. No. No, no, no..."

"I never needed you, Hugo." Ken said as he poured the gasoline over Hugo. "You needed me. Your decline after betraying me shows that clearly. This is not the first betrayal for me, but it is the last for you."

"Just fucking shoot me!"

"No. You shall be the example for others to avoid. Burn, traitor."

Ken poured out a line across the room from Hugo and stood at that end. He held up the lighter, waited until Hugo looked up at him, and bent down to light the gasoline. Moments later, Hugo lit up and Ken used his phone to stream it live.

"You should have listened to The Dark Lord, Hugo. He is merciful. I am not."

Hugo burned to death as Ken turned his back and walked away.


  • Ken is a dick. This is intentional. It's what leads to his post-apocalyptic transformation into Ken the Zombie-Eater.
  • Ken and Hugo have had a long personal and business relationship. This is what allowed Ken to operate as he has. Hugo got rich telling people Ken's stories, which in genre terms is "Men's Adventure" and thoroughly disrespected by both the Literati in Academia and in Big Publishing. Hugo, like many college-educated writers, is status-obsessed and anxious to the point of dysfunction. Ken not be around for months at a time is why it took a betrayal for him to notice.
  • Ken's life is a serial of revenge-taking. His events are as predictable as an action movie, and therefore by this time he's already killed enough people to equal the great heroes of antiquity across all continents. Hugo resents this because the reliable income doesn't translate to the respect he desires.
  • Hugo got lovebombed into a cult rather easily, and the cult's leaders (dead by this point at Ken's hands), one that dominated his field and thus wielded major influence (e.g. Scientology). They kept him on a leash as a money spigot by handing him a woman, in classic Honeypot manner.
  • "Stabbed in the back" is metaphorical; the cult used Ken's previous enemies as catspaws. "Left to die" is literal, and is why The Dark Lord intervened.
  • This is at the cult's annual convention. The rest of the cult's core members are slaughtered by Ken's allies.

I expect a few more goes at this until it's right.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Respect the Formula

On YouTube there's a user by the name of Razorfist. When he's not talking about videogames and comics, he's talking about movies. He's often mocking in his tone, and rightly so, but he's also not wrong about what he says. However, out of all his action film videos the one he did in 2011 for Segal's Out For Justice most directly hits the salient points I'm after here- how to make commercially-viable genre fiction.

With all the hatred RazörFist has been hurling at the video game industry, we were about due for a good old fashioned '80s / '90s action flick, and this time Steven Seagal provides the ammunition with his 1990 classic Out for Justice. Watch in awe as we witness the mustache bandit's violent homicidal rampage, Steven Seagal's fake Italian accent, and Gina Gershon's perfect melons.

Again, Razorfist's taking the piss, but he's not wrong. What you need out of an action film is this:

  • An obvious villain for an antagonist. (No moral ambiguity here.)
  • A signature action sequence that sticks with the audience well after the fact.
  • A protagonist who is Iconic in nature.
  • Protagonist engages in righteous slaughter against the villain until he kills the villain.
To which you can, and whenever possible should, add: a hot chick for the protagonist to deal with. "Story" is irrelevant; the audience demand here is to watch Iconic Hero do Heroic Deeds (which routinely do revolve around righteous slaughter, and have since then Ancient World; read your mythology), kill the bad guys, and get their just rewards (which, often, is what the girl is for- but not always). It's the secularization of old and sacred drama, and you're a damned fool to not see it as such. Same applies to Romance, Horror, and other genres with known formulae at work.

Yes, it's a formula. Yes, it's been lampooned plenty of times. Yes, lots of people deride it as low-brow and crass.


The definition of a professional is someone who make a living doing it. Professionals DO NOT BALK at reliable gigs. They may use psuedonyms or some other cover to avoid "tainting their literary credibility" or some such bullshit, but they do it because they like Civilization and want to enjoy its benefits- and that requires paying for shit, which means money. That action movie formula? That's a reliable gig, and plenty of folks who now get Oscars once hustled in the genre film trenches hustling to get fucking paid.

That's you, right now. No sales. One sale. 42 sales, 15 Hugos, and a TV series or two. Whatever, you need to get paid and that means not shitting on reliable forumlae for commercial viability. Being "arty" or "literary" is reserved for people with Fuck Off money or patronage.

This is the practical end towards the "know your audience" maxim. You need to know that audience so you can deliver the goods and get paid. You're not some fru-fru bullshit artist. You're a craftsman, a fucking working-class work-with-your-hands craftsman, and your craft is story-telling. Your job is to make stories that others will spend money to buy from you. You wouldn't shit on a proven formula for making a chair, a shirt, or Mac & Cheese, would you? Fuck no, that's retarded. You'd leap at that shit and be grateful for it.

Respect the formula. That's what makes you the money, because that's what's proven to be what the audience wants. It also takes a lot of work off your shoulders; you can focus on making a very good work of that sort--on your execution--than wasting time on reinventing the wheel making characters that readers don't want to see, or conflicts that get readers to use your work as toliet paper, or other failures to provide the value that your audience expects out of you. They want a bolt-action rifle. Don't fuck around; just make the best fucking bolt-action rifle your skills can manage.

And if you aren't looking to go pro as writer? Respect it anyway. If no one reads your writing, then you might as well not write at all.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Your Future Competition: R. Author

Automation, far more than immigration, is the real threat to the social order of the world's nations. We've been feeling the effects for some time, as robots took more and more menial bitch work away from human hands in manufacturing. Then they took the skilled work, de-skilling it into bitch work, until now where a plant operates on a fraction of the labor it used it. Other heavy labor sectors are feeling that pinch, and now it's coming into the services like a tsunami.

"But Walker, I'm a professional writer! I'm safe!"

Like Hell you are.

Writing is a craft, and that means it has predictable structure to it that can be and has been codified into a program. While it is currently automating the bitch work (Do you see the pattern yet?), once the software is sufficiently refined it will begin deskilling the knowledge workers who currently do analysis reports and similar fact-based (but predictably solvable, due to pattern-based logic) work. Now that one such robot suite is free, expect that time to come sooner than later.

"But Walker, I write fiction professionally! I'm safe!"

Oh please. Go look at that GIF again. The vast majority of fiction, "literary" (what bullshit) or "genre", is just as predictable and tied to a knowable structure as news reporting. That you can sell books on writing fiction, focusing on structure and other craft elements, also means that you can turn all of that into a useful algorithm that takes input like a Mad Lib and spits out commercially-viable fiction. The future crap Syfy Originals will be where this starts, followed by the better horror films, and then blockbusters will come forth that are mostly or wholly written by robots.

Ten years, easily, until R. Author is a real and immediate competitor. Twenty on the outside. The variables aren't even with the software, but wholly external factors behind the scope of this blog post. A child born today will come of age in a world where his new entertainment is robot-written, both the story and (for games) the coding.

Where, for most of us who write either professionally or as a sideline hobby, does that leave us? Don't expect the quality of robot copy to be crap for long; if the Associated Press can plug in their style manual into their bot and get the reliably good results that they do, it wouldn't be hard to do the same for fiction. Polishing may be something left for humans, but most of the dredge work? Robots. Yes, including that first draft and making the covers.

In the end, we may become nothing more than folks playing with online forms filling in blanks and polishing the results before feeding it into the robot audiobook creator and formatting it for Print On-Demand and E-Reader, something that we may be doing for whole manuscripts multiple times per day. It'll be like the days of the pulp magazines once more, only digital and worldwide: still making the same shit pay, while hustling even harder to get it.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Story Fragment: The Hermit by the Lake

Unfinished story fragment below. Will be built-out some time later.

"Father, why are we going to this place?"

Jack looked over at his son. Still a boy, but not much longer, so he held his tongue. "He remembers the world the way it was, before it all fell into ruin."

"So he will know?"

"I hope so, son." Jack turned his gaze to his wife, the boy's mother, as she nursed his little daughter on the other end of the table. "If he can't answer the question, then we face great peril."

His wife looked up at him. "Go on, both of you. My father's name alone will keep them at bay. None dare touch one of Ken's daughters."

Or his grandsons. Jack thought, noticing his son's resembling to the Eater of the Dead that was his father-in-law.

Jack nodded, understanding the risk. He pointed at the gun rack, and his son got up to get a pair from them. One the boy slung over his shoulder, and the other the boy handed to Jack. A third remained, meant for his wife's use.

"Show him the way, Jack." she said, "And son, use all your senses to memorize the path."

The boy nodded. Jacked checked his rifle, and looked on as the boy followed his father's example, and then they left their humble home in the wilderness.

I have no idea what to do with this. I'm posting it here as much for your amusement as I am to just get it out of my head so I can turn back to The Burning of Hugo. If you have anything to suggest, you know what to do: comment below.

Friday, May 20, 2016

It's Happening: New Gentlemen Bastards This Year

I usually don't write posts at my writing blog about specific books, but I'm making an exception for this for a couple of reasons. The first is that Scott is a friend of mine, and I've been supportive of his writing career since he first let it known that he got signed to Gollancz all those years ago. The second is that this book (as with the one previous) almost didn't happen, so I'm pleased to see it finally on its way to the stands.

Yes, in addition to be the man's friend, I'm also a fan of the series, and it's been fun to see Scott's skill develop over these years. Time will see if he becomes a figure like Robert Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, Fritz Lieber, C.S. Lewis, or others whose work as fantasists formed the field which he now builds upon, but barring any Acts of God or similar folly he may yet come out from the mass of his peers and stand tall as a true literary hero. He can rise to the challenge. He can.

Friday, May 13, 2016

You're Competing With Your Heroes.

Today's entertainment marketplace is the worst it has ever been. You are not only competing with other authors in your genre. You are not only competing with all authors writing genre fiction. You are not only competing with amateurs in all genres. You're competing with other entertainment media from all over the planet, both new and old.

Yes, including offerings by people long dead, offered for free. And no, not just via Project Guntenberg

Here, let me show you what this means:

Old radio plays, (contemporary) ad-free (actual ads of the day included), for free, whenever you want compete with you.

That's a full 1940 serial. For free. If it gets nuked, it will pop up again elsewhere soon; fighting this is pointless.

It is now impossible run out of entertainment due to the Internet.

You need to adjust your expectations, both of what success is and what you need to do to get and grow that success. This is why your personal brand matters, and therefore why you need to be far more extroverted than what being an author usually required in the past few generations. It isn't a refuge for chronic introverts and shut-ins anymore. You need the hustle of the pulp magazine writers of nearly a century ago (who could, and did, write multiple novels a month for the magazines), be shameless in your self-promotion, and be on the scene daily to keep abreast of the spirit of the times.

And yet you also need to know what your audience actually is, and be as shameless in providing that audience what they want from you as you are in promoting yourself. The merchandise? Get on that shit as soon as the demand arises; make and sell the T-shirts, the posters, and so on. They like your stuff enough to want to wear it, and thus pay to be your billboard. Take their money, thank them kindly, and pay bills with it. Use the blog to keep in contact with your audience and give advanced notice of things you're making or events you're doing.

Finally, for today, this: you need to play the long game. You don't know if you will become famous after you die. You have to go in under the assumption that your work will be valuable after you're dead, and prepare now to have your works managed by trustees after you die. That means a meeting with a lawyer, and legal documents drawn up, so that your body of work isn't left to the State to mess with (as we see now with Prince). Just as you now compete against your heroes, successors will come up to compete with you- their hero.

The Internet is Forever.

Friday, May 6, 2016

It's Not All Wine & Roses

Those days WILL come.

They are the days when you look up from your manuscript, look at the shelf at the store, and wonder why all of these books are there that say the same things and do the same things and differ only in the trappings- and yours is no better.

They are the days when you look down at your manuscript, and all you see is a rancid word salad despite your best efforts to write and edit it into shape, and wonder how and why others like yours got published- nevermind success or failure.

They are the days when you look around to hear reader after reader after reader make your ears bleed by talking about the cavalier manner in which they read and thus miss all that you put into it.

They are the days when you look out for answers to questions of art, of craft, of narrative and you realize that not only have all the questions already been answered, but that the solutions are already known and perfected- that you're struggling with a solved problem, and then feel like a fucking moron who can't tie his own shoelaces.

They are the days when you learn why writers have the reputation of being moody, melancholy, and prone to self-destruction. Writing is a craft, sure, but also an art. Art demands revelation, and revelation cannot be controlled.

You don't go digging into places immaterial, mining the depths, without making discoveries. If the craft is the acumen and discipline that takes inspiration and hammers something others find useful, then the art is bringing forth the ore to be hammered.

Learning how to handle these days is part of the process, and it is initiatory in its nature. Not everyone who makes the attempt survives, and not all those who survive do so on their own. For my part, knowing that this is a solved problem gave me that fortitude; apply solution, sorted, and the problem gets reduced to an irritant.

And that is what I have to say today: you struggle with a solved problem, so all that needs doing is to find and apply the solution.

Friday, April 29, 2016

World-Building Efficiency: It Can Be Done

For me, when talking of the Science Fiction that I prefer, it builds upon the foundation set down by "Doc" E.E. Smith and his Lensman saga.

These novels, starting with Galactic Patrol, laid the groundwork and blazed the trail for what we now call "Space Opera". From these books we get Star Wars, Green Lantern (in the form of the Green Lantern Corps), Super-Dimensional Fortress Macross, and many other works in multiple media and many languages.

What, as a writer, I take away from his books is the efficiency of his world-building. He wrote in the waning days of the pulps and the rise of the cheap paperback. The publishing game was in a state similar to where those focused on e-publishing is now.

Novels were much shorter, less than half (and closer to a third) of a common genre fiction novel today. Plots moved at a brisk pace because readers could drop your book and get another easily. In short, you must to get to the point, and that requires efficiency.

Efficiency is something Smith is very good at achieving. At no time did I have to struggle to comprehend what he said, or what the ideas were, or how things (real or unreal) worked. He trusted the reader to keep up, so he let a lot of the world-building be done between the lines.

Another author who also did a fantastic job of efficiency in world-building was Robert E. Howard. While he's famous for inventing Conan, he has a few other notable heroes (Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane, Bran Mac Morn) and worked in many adventure fiction genres.

He also wrote in the days of the pulps, with only one novel to his credit. Most of his stories are serialized shorts, and he wrote under the pressure of tight deadlines as well as stiff competition for reader eyeballs. He couldn't take 50 pages to go into world-building details, so he learned efficiency.

He did what Smith did, and trusted his readers to follow where he's going. A lot of this builds upon a shared sense of familiarity, pointing out only as necessary what the reader needs to see that this is an unreal thing or place. Reader attention, suspension of disbelief, etc. is never pushed to its limits or abused- unlike some who came in their wake.

And so, as I go about rewriting my own stuff, I have this efficiency in mind. As much as I respect Tolkien, his influence hasn't been entirely for the good, as he's one of the primary forces behind the growing obesity of genre fiction novels over my lifetime. Especially with all of the technological changes making a lot of the justifications for said obesity obsolete, a return to the slim and disciplined manuscripts of this past era is in order- especially with all of the other media competing for reader eyeballs.

And yes, of course I'm walking my talk.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Business: Blogging As Marketing

Late one night this past week, I lay in bed after watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The current season deals with the fallout that comes of uncontrolled transformation of potential Inhumans into powered Inhumans, and has by now started its adaptation of the "Secret Warriors" story arc from the comics.

While laying there, I wondered that if Inhuman transformation is both uncontrolled and unpredictable (the emerging seasonal villain is Hive, established as a parasite-based group-mind entity, taken form via Inhuman transformation back when this was a Kree bioweapon experiment), then it is inevitable that powered Inhumans will emerge that neither S.H.I.E.L.D. nor HYDRA can control. (Hive is the villainous example.)

Now, consider this: the Marvel Cinematic Universe posits that our real world and the MCU vary, on Earth, only slightly in terms of technological capacity (and those divergences are tightly controlled). That means that the Internet is a thing, and so is all that is within it. Therefore, the concept that not one new Inhuman arises that can't usefully (if ordinarily) use our technology is preposterous.

The MCU, therefore, has to have superpowered bloggers. Of that group, some of them blog as their persona and talk about their doings and beings.

In short, Marvel's being stupid by not having in-character blogs as part of their marketing strategy.

This is where DC has an avenue to eat Marvel's lunch, but they aren't doing it either. Hell, no one with such a potential in their properties is doing it. (This is really stupid, considering DC has fucking Oracle, Barbara Gordon's post-paralysis persona that is a Shadowrun Decker in all but name.)

It's not like this idea is really out there. Alternate-Reality/Augmented-Reality Games has been known to be part of the marketing team toolbag for years, and blogging is just a normie-friendly version of that. The web-only videos that new Battlestar Galactica did was a video-focused version of blogging, so even the normie-friendly ends are not new or radical.

Blogging is cheap. Blogging is easy. Blogging can be used to train or vet new writers into the house style before sending them on to more important writing work in-house. A marketing team working for something like the MCU or DC's TV/film properties and NOT using in-character blogging is doing it WRONG.


Because blogging is cheap and easy, in-character blogging is also something small-timers can do. It's an extension of the revelation that Wikis are superior than print/POD products for the publishing and dissemination of lore (the fictional information that's useful for world-building, and for in-character decision making, but superfluous for most actual story-telling craft decisions). Not all things a character has to say or do will be worth including into your novel, short-story, etc.; using that as marketing fodder via an in-character blog allows you to redeem the time spent writing that by using it to keep audiences engaged between publication releases.

And yes, I intend to follow my own advice.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Writer's Progress: The Burning of Hugo

I have a great appreciation for writers who are able to make things seem organic and emergent even to someone who has studied what Narrative is and how it works. It's one thing to know that Protagonist is meant to get his shit pushed in before he succeeds. It's another see it handled in a way that has even the most jaded reader go "No, that's completely reasonable and therefore plausible."

Don't tell me that we don't write using narrative formulae. We do. Folks put bread on the fucking table by mastering those formulae and then making it seem like they aren't there. It's a fucking craft for a reason, and that reason is--like in science--there is a body of knowable acumen to study and master that then has to be practiced until the principles within the knowledge get grokked. Until then, it's all one big Git Gud Scrub trip.

Well, I'm on that Git Gud step.

The Burning of Hugo underwent another significant revision. I cut out the previous opening with Hugo's ex-wife, opting to open with Ken's arrival at a book launch party for Hugo's third novel (formerly Scene 5 of Act 1, and yes I default to an Act/Scene paradigm; reading plenty of Shakespeare throughout my youth left its mark) and getting on with it.

The reason? The information that the previous opening gave to the reader (a) arrived too early and (b) proved redundant with a later scene, after Ken got into a fight with some minions of the cult that got sicced on him after making Hugo look bad at the party, where he meets The Dark Lord and gets briefed on what the hell is up with Hugo.

I also changed Ken and Hugo's relationship. Hugo's novel success comes from taking Ken's real adventures and fictionalizing them, something Ken allowed in return for acknowledgement and some of the proceeds. This means that the party appearance is justified on multiple grounds, meaning that the cultists can't just eject him when he triggers them.

This means that the fight scene that follows has a grounding; it's the measure that the cultists employ when their go-to de-platforming move fails for reasons that they can't touch (i.e. a legal obligation). The attackers are themselves useful, but expendable and fungible, dupes fortified by a toxic combination of illegal narcotics and a criminal (literally) sense of entitlement. Ken gets them, but not without getting badly hurt, and it's as he recovers that Act 1 shifts to Act 2.

So, there you have the first Act summarized: Ken gets thrown up a tree.

Friday, April 8, 2016

You're Still Not Allow To Suck If Your Protagonist Is Female

Is there anything different in writing a female protagonist?

No. The sex of the protagonist does not remove the obligation of the writer to competently execute his craft in writing a narrative where said protagonist must somehow make a sacrifice to get what she wants. That sacrifice must be what allows her to overcome both her own flaws as well as the obstacles between her and what she wants.

Failure to execute this competently and properly is how you get those Mary Sue accusations. Emoting at the proper points doesn't count. Saying the expected sentiments at the expected points does count. Ticking off the acquisition and expenditure of Plot Coupons doesn't count. Looking like you are the common RPG player, when this is not a RPG, is an exhibition of incompetent writing.

Yes, even if you get paid fat sacks of cash for doing it. Plenty of rich incompetents out there. That's reality.

But if you want your books to keep selling for generations, even centuries, after you're dead and gone then you have to deliver, and that means your woman or girl has to be a real one, save specifically for the fantastic changes required- just like male protagonists. If you don't get this, then you don't grok your craft and you need remedial training.

This is why Leia resonates, and so many shrill shrews written by axe-grinding cultists clunk and get forgotten. She's still a real woman, and not a caricature or unreal fleshbot for agenda advancement (as Rey, verified by Disney, is). Hell, even Padme--despite Lucas's incompetence otherwise--is a real woman (just badly executed). (As for Jyn of Rogue One, that remains to be seen, and until I do I reserve judgement.)

That's what the real concern here is: that a female protagonist is going to be used as cover for a shit product.

Is that what you want? To be the party that throws an entire sex under the bus to cover your ass when you fail to do your job as expected? If so, then I don't want to know you- and shrieking "MYSOGYNY!" in response is you signalling your willingness to do so.