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.