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"The Aggrieved" - Chapter 2

After a longer-than-intended delay, I present chapter 2 from my upcoming short story, "The Aggrieved." You can read chapter 1 HERE to get up to speed. Enjoy!

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First endorsement for HERITAGE

When I was a kid, my mom had one rule for Christmas morning: wait until AT LEAST 6:00 am before waking up the house. Anticipation woke me around 515, 530 every year. Minutes oozed into seconds, dragging out like chewing game stretched between teeth and fingers. As the minute-hand crawled along, I remember happiness swelling up in my chest, building and building until I practically shook with excitement.

I still feel that excitement today, and not only on Christmas. I feel it when a day's writing is going REALLY well; when I receive an acceptance letter from a publisher; and when someone gets something that I wrote. I mean really gets it, CONNECTS with it.

I received my first endorsement for HERITAGE (young adult fantasy novel due out this summer from Tyche Books), and I feel like my chest might explode. And that's a good thing, in this instance and ONLY this instance! For your reading pleasure:

"HERITAGE is a fast-moving fantasy about coming of age, and battling evil, and, yes, family heritage. Told with strength and humor, it shows the reader engaging characters in a rich setting, in a story that grips and then races along--and it all rings true. This is the beginning of the saga of Aidan Gairden, and it’s a winner." -Ed Greenwood, creator of The Forgotten Realms® and New York Times bestselling author of Spellfire, The Herald, and many others.

Thank you to one of my favorite authors, Ed Greenwood, for such praise. I'm humbled and SUPER STOKED.

Crowd-funding, ahoy? Read and weigh in!

Over the past couple of days, I've received requests from the Shacknews community to help some indie game developers within our ranks document the process of developing their games. I did not initiate these, and was very flattered to be mentioned specifically as a go-to guy for writing about games.

If you've read STAY AWHILE AND LISTEN or the retrospectives I've written over the years, you know I love to write about games. Specifically, I like to explore the making of games and put down on paper the tales of the people, culture, and designs that led to many of our favorite games. If my writings in this or other subjects are a thing you enjoy and want to see more of, please help me brainstorm ways to make this happen.

The requests to document the making of indie games got me thinking. I've wanted to write about games (as well as work on other writing projects) on a full-time basis for quite a while. STAY AWHILE is doing well, but not well enough that I can cut ties with my freelance employers and write books all day, every day. I have other game-related books coming, as well as novels. I just have little time to devote to them. Hence splitting up books so I can release SOMETHING, ANYTHING, in a timely manner.

I recently discovered Patreon. For those who don't know, Patreon is a tipping service where you tip creators a few bucks, usually between $1 and $10, every time they release a new piece of content: a song, a web comic, a YouTube video, or whatever they happen to do that other people really enjoy. It's different than Kickstarter where creators need one huge lump sum to get something off the ground.

Patreon isn't equipped to support authors like me, though. I can't exactly put out a book once a month. So I got to thinking. My wife and I started DM Press as a publishing company, but maybe I could do more with it. Off the top of my head, I could:

* post interviews with developers of classic games, both as teasers to full-featured books I have coming out, as well as interviews of the "this is a developer who made a game people like so I'll just post this interview" variety;
* post YouTube videos of me playing the games I write about, such as Diablo 1-2, and divulging information from published and upcoming books. I might even rope in some of the developers who made the games to play with me, and do a Q-and-A while we play on Twitch or something;
* record podcasts where my friends/editors and I talk games, and occasionally invite developers on to talk games (this is already in the works);
* host a monthly AMA on Skype or some other service where you and other "patrons" (backers on Patreon) can ask me about writing, games, my cats, whatever;
* post excerpts from books, editing notes, etc. to bring you behind the scenes of the process of writing behind-the-scenes stories. That's, like, two curtains to go behind!
* offer PDF, EPUB, and MOBI file downloads of eBooks EXCLUSIVELY for patrons. These would be offered in addition to versions available on all popular e-reading platforms;
* possibly expand into the printed market, which has been an expensive pipe dream up until now.

These ideas would serve as rewards that I would offer to those who offered tips at various levels: rewards for throwing a $5 my way, or a $10, or a buck--what-have-you. Using these and other ideas, I would take to Patreon and use any tips generously donated to me to write faster, faster, faster. My goal is to put out two books a year. Lofty, but doable at my work rate.

All that said, I have some questions:

* Would you support a Patreon campaign if I were to launch one?
* Were I to launch a Patreon campaign, how often do you think I should charge? Weekly? Monthly?
* What do you think of the content ideas I listed? Anything else you'd like to see?

Please fill up the comments with your answers to those questions, and pose questions I didn't think of so I write some answers of my own.

Thank you for reading!


"The Aggrieved" - Chapter 1

This past December, Hazardous Press accepted "The Aggrieved," my dark-fantasy short story, for publication in its upcoming TALES OF THE BLACK ARTS anthology. My contribution is a "short story" in the nominal sense of the word. It runs between 40-45 pages or so, which I broke into bite-sized chapters to keep the length manageable.

I'm extremely proud of "The Aggrieved" and asked the publisher's permission to post the first four chapters here in advance of the anthology's release. He graciously obliged, so I'll be sharing a chapter every few days or so over the coming weeks.

You can read Chapter 1 below. Enjoy!

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Yesterday, I posted about receiving the uncorrected proof of HERITAGE. I shared the news with Shacknews, the only online community to which I belong, and one poster asked a series of excellent and interrelated questions: What makes the novel young adult? The level of reading comprehension, content (no extreme sex/violence)- length? What kind of checks did you make during writing? Did you dumb down your voice or shy away from complex situations?

The definition of YA fiction is constantly in flux. It changes depending on what's out there and what readers between the ages of 11 and 18 (give or take a year) want from their stories. I've thought a lot about YA fiction: what it is, what it means, what it should say, how to write it. A lot, but not enough. As much as I enjoy writing about the history and culture of video games (and in fact would be perfectly content to ride that track for the rest of my life), I would be just as content to wake up every day and write stories for young readers. Addressing the questions posed above gave me the opportunity to put on my thinking cap and suss out why, exactly, I wrote HERITAGE as a YA novel specifically--and why I want to continue writing for such a diverse and challenging age range.
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Yesterday, I received the uncorrected proof of HERITAGE, my young adult fantasy novel due out in July from Tyche Books. On the upside, I flipped through and it looks awesome. On the downside, I'll probably never read the book again.

I've read about some writers who cannot, for whatever reason, read their published works. In my case, my brain switches to a "been there, wrote that" gear, and forces me to face forward. Still, it's amazing and surreal to know that other people will get to read HERITAGE soon, and will hopefully enjoy it.

A bittersweet day. :)



I get so caught up in deadlines and guidelines for my writing projects as well as those I complete for freelance clients that I'm often too tired to transfer idle thoughts to paper. Sunday Blogday is a new weekly column of sorts which I'll use to share whatever random topic's been bouncing through my brain. I just crank these out without editing; the goal is to just WRITE, not watch for grammar police speed traps.

A user on Shacknews mentioned working on a project where he and other Marvel fans were gathering character dialogue from the comics and putting it into a massive database for use in a game project. As I recall, the general idea was the game would pull dialogue appropriate to the character and his/her current situation. Reading about the project triggered a jaunt down memory lane that I thought I'd share--partly to document a few memories for my own benefit, partly to shed light, however faint, on how one aspect of the game-development process worked for one particular game.

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Article round-up

video games
After a three-month hiatus, I've resumed reviewing mobile games for Touch Arcade. I took time off because I had other freelance work piling up, and because SAAL's launch was exhausting. Mostly, though, I needed a new phone. Apple's execrable annual refresh cycle aged my iPhone 4 before its time, and games just weren't running well enough for me to review. After realizing I was due for an upgrade with Verizon, I signed another two-year cycle and picked up an iPhone 5S. That should do me for another year. Thanks, Apple.

I published three reviews this week, and hope to see as many pop up next week. You can check them out below.
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Zelda_items_evolutionI get so caught up in deadlines and guidelines for my writing projects as well as those I complete for freelance clients that I'm often too tired to transfer idle thoughts to paper. Sunday Blogday is a new weekly column of sorts which I'll use to share whatever random topic's been bouncing through my brain. I just crank these out without editing; the goal is to just WRITE, not watch for grammar police speed traps.

Last week I wrote about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, originally released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998 and re-released on the GameCube and 3DS in 2003 and 2011, respectively. In case you missed that blog post, you can
get caught up here, or I can save you the time and summarize: "Zelda64," as it was known, is awesome. Many critics and gamers (your humble author included) call it the best game ever. But it's not without its flaws. I guess. I suppose.

After my wife accused me of letting those flaws slide right by my blind spots (and perhaps widening said blind spots to better ignore these alleged flaws) I decided to write about each of them and address which ones I agree with, and which ones I think work in the game's favor. I devoted more words than I intended to Link's fairy companion, Navi, because I thought she deserved some words in her defense. This week, I want to discuss Link's bag of tricks and the game's difficulty level. Next week, we'll wrap up this retrospective with a look at the vastness of Zelda64's world, and a certain water-logged temple.
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Wrestling editorial; SAAL 1 interview

Pro Wrestling

If I could do it all over again, I would become a professional wrestler and give the fans a "once (or twice) in a lifetime" match against The Rock, one of my idols in and out of the ring, at WrestleMania. Or maybe not. I hate exercise as much as I love the idea of grappling with Kurt Angle and talking trash on the microphone while The Rock stands behind me listening attentively, applauding and nodding as I deliver scathing oratories to my cowering opponent.

On second thought, instead of performing moonsaults (a backflip into a body splash) off the top rope, how about I just write about the wrasslers who do those things for my entertainment? Yesterday I wrote about the 2014 Royal Rumble and a fan movement in support of Daniel Bryan that picked up speed at the Rumble event. Check it out here:

This isn't the first time I've stepped into the squared circle via my monitor. I wrote a few articles for in 2011, and my latest article went over well enough that one of the WZ writers who spun off his own site asked me to contribute on a weekly basis. We'll see how that goes. As much as I genuinely enjoy pro wrestling and love talking and thinking about it, I honestly don't feel I could say anything that writers who follow the sport for a living could say better. But as long as it's fun, I'll continue writing about headlocks instead of performing them.

Stay Awhile and Listen: Book I interview

Coverage for SAAL 1 has mostly tapered off, though I'm doing my best to keep an ebb and flow going. Yesterday, posted an excellent interview with me, which you can read here: