Dec 9, 2012

Child of Lightning

One year ago today, I started a little trilogy called The Will of the Elements. I figure it's about time I finished that up.

The Will of the Elements, Book 3: Child of Lightning is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Thanks again to everyone who has given my books a try. I know you have a lot of options when deciding what to read, and I just cannot even begin to convey how much I appreciate that you took a chance on the stuff I wrote.

Here's another little promotional video.

Well, I haven't been sufficiently discouraged from writing yet... So I guess I'll keep doing it. Stay tuned, I have more stories to tell.

Nov 24, 2012

The Shape of Things

Sorry for the lack of updates, been dealing with some personal things that you're probably not interested in because you came here to find out about my books. I assume. I mean, I guess you could just like my name... or something...

Book 3 is nearly done with Phase Three of beta (that's the final phase). I figure that since I'm so late already I'll go ahead and set the release date for December 9, the one year anniversary of Wind-Scarred. Because, as a math major, I'm contractually obligated to like symmetry.

And here's a promotional video for my upcoming release:

Of course, this offer is open to any and all of you who have reviewed my books. Just send me a message, let me know who you are, and I will give you a copy of Child of Lightning and put your name into a song. And anything else that I may or may not have promised to do...

Finally, sales figures for last month. I sold a grand total of 19 copies of book 2, Water-Seer. I also got the chance to meet Patrick Rothfuss in person at his San Francisco book signing...

...and picked up a copy of his charity calendar, which brings the total donated to Worldbuilders so far to $208! That's like one and three quarters goats!

So, to everyone who purchased a copy of Water-Seer in October, thank you. You and me, we're making the world a better place.

Thanks again for reading, and sorry for being a lazy bum. Pass the video along if you feel like it. Or, you know, whatever.

Oct 12, 2012

Promises, Promises

So apparently I'm bad at posting updates. Also, keeping promises.

So here's what's going on: For the last third of this year I'm donating 100% of my book profits to Patrick Rothfuss's charity, Worldbuilders.

As such, I'll be posting my sales stats to keep myself honest.

Source Units Sold
Amazon 28
Barnes & Noble 10
Ibooks 2
Smashwords 1

So 41 sales of book 2! I'm not counting book 1 because it's free.

We'll pretend I make $3 off of each of those sales (it's actually a little less, but who's counting?). It comes out to $123 for the month of September. So congratulations to everyone who bought book 2 last month! You've helped make people's lives better.

Oh yeah, I'm also still writing a book, huh? Well, the good news is I finished it, and finished editing it. The bad news is...I didn't like it. So I've cut out the parts I had problems with and am now rewriting large swaths of the book.

Alright, it's only about 7 chapters, but I like the word 'swath'.

You'd think that I'd have learned my lesson about promises, but I can safely say that this book will, in fact, be finished.

So thanks again for reading my books and dropping by my blog. I'll keep you posted.

Darn it. Promises.

Sep 26, 2012

Review Song: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Here's another review song for The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I swear I'm still working on book 3!

You can also expect another update later this week. Promise!

Aug 20, 2012

Sundry Happenings

Some quick updates: I finished the first draft of the book. It was horrible. I'm fixing it now, and revising my time line for a mid-September release. So if you've been waiting for the book...I'm really sorry. I intend to release the book...well, not when it's DONE, but at least when it's (hopefully) good.

In other news, I was recently interviewed by the Bay Area News Group for an article on self-publishing! You should check it out, they came out and spent an hour taking pictures of me in my writing cave. Weirdest experience ever.

And now, to top it all off, here's a picture of my cats.

Aug 5, 2012

Jul 26, 2012

Book 3 Update

20 minutes of just passing and shooting nearly killed me... I apparently took water polo for granted. At least I can still skip a backhand shot cross pool...

In other news, 123k words, and I still have 8 chapters to write and another 5 that need a full re-write... which makes this my longest book. As a series, I think I'll be pushing 380-400k words. But I've heard the first million are a warm up... and I intend to sprint.

Jul 9, 2012

Review Song: The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Here's another book review video for the Sword & Laser show, this time featuring The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker.

A swim coach once told me that I'd never be a dancer...I'm not going to hold my breath on being a singer either.

I hope you at least get a good laugh out of it!

Jul 1, 2012

The story so far

Book 3 is coming along pretty nicely. My wonderful wife is making up the cover art. At least, when she's not playing Starcraft 2 and being wildly entertaining. (She talks to the units and scolds them for not doing what she thinks they should be doing. And she doesn't realize that she's doing it. It's adorable.)

I'm still trying to cut down on the smiling. And eye rolling. My characters were apparently smiling and rolling their eyes non-stop in the last 2 books...

But a nice, solid 18k word day, including some massive reorganization of the timeline. I played it pretty loose with that in book 2, especially toward the end... trying to avoid hand waving and misdirection this time around. But yes, the three point of views have finally split into their own stories, so I can literally do whatever I want to them and NO-ONE WILL KNOW. MWAHAHHAAHAH!

Ahem. That is to say that yes, the story is actually on track. Not that I ever doubted that it would be. Nope. Not even a little bit...

Jun 16, 2012

Book 3 Progress

I guess I should post something about my progress on book 3...or something...

Anyways, Child of Lightning is coming along nicely. It's all plotted out and broken into chapters (at the moment there are 70 of them). I am writing full time. And by full time, I mean whenever I'm not at work. Or swimming. Or playing video games. Or wasting time while I think of a reason to not write... Look, I'm sure that I'm spending some time writing. I anticipate it'll be done (i.e. edited and ready for release) at some point in August. The Kirsten O'Donnell chapters are pretty fun, if I do say so myself...

Thanks for giving my books a try, I'll post more updates as they come.

May 14, 2012

Back in the Water Again

Day two back in the water, and it took me half an hour to swim a mile. The me of ten years ago couldn't even be bothered to laugh scornfully. I think all I'm getting is a look of mild disdain. 

But I know where I went wrong! It was writing those books that did it! Thinking back, I don't remember having written even one book back when I was in shape, let alone two. Yeah...that's definitely it. Well...that or seven years of math, programming, video games, and junk food. You know, one or the other. 

But I'll show the me of ten years ago.  Okay, maybe I won't show him, but I'm going to get a slight nod of respect from the bastard. And I'm going to do it with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.  Or a song on YouTube.  Stay tuned.

May 10, 2012

A (belated) Thanks to You

It's a little late, but I wanted to thank all of you who stuck with me through the A to Z Challenge. I hope that I managed to entertain you. I've got some new stuff planned for the blog, which I'll hopefully have ready for you soon. (Have you ever wondered if I can sing? No? Well, too bad. You're going to find out anyway.)

Keep an eye out, ridiculousness is coming.

Apr 30, 2012

Z is for...

 "Free at last," the nameless god's voice whispered through the endless void around me, barely heard and deafening all at once. "Free to end the chaos of the world, to bring true order in death and unlife, free to-"
"Excuse me," I interrupted, ignoring the warnings my system was displaying. It was still calculating my odds of survival despite having already reached the conclusion that I no longer existed with ninety-nine point nine nine percent accuracy. I would have to ask Pip to look that over once I got back. "I believe there may have been a misunderstanding."

A dark chuckle emanated from the space around me, the glowing eye shifting to focus all of its weight on my person. "Oh? And what might that be, little metal man?"

"Well, you see..."

Sean's head snapped up. "No," he whispered in disbelief. "No, that can't happen."

I smiled, slowly looking up from my twenty sided die, meeting his eyes as the rest of the group looked on in hushed awe. "Oh," I said, the beginnings of a maniacal laugh flirting with the edge of my voice. "Oh, it's on now."

Apr 28, 2012

Y is for...

"Yuan-ti?" Isaru whispered, pulling back from the edge of the corridor. "Why are there Yuan-ti abominations guarding the throne room?"

I frowned, running the numbers through my central processor. "There are estimated to be less than ten thousand of the snake people in Eberron, although census data is severely lacking around the marshes and forests of Xen'drik. It is probable that they were smuggled in by the wizard and coerced into helping him bring forth the nameless god."

"Fat chance," Pip ground her teeth over the words, bristling. "Yuan-ti are all highly psionic, especially the abominations. No, they know something." She rubbed at her horns absently, thinking. "Yuan-ti are all about bringing on the destruction of the world. Which means that they think the nameless god is going to bring it one step closer." The little Tiefling gave a bitter laugh. "They probably volunteered."

Gorma shifted from foot to foot nervously. "I don't deal well with psionics, sometimes they can get me to-"

"We know," Poppi snapped, rubbing at an ugly scar on her upper arm as she scowled at the half-Orc. "We remember the mad Kalashtar of the shadowed tower."

Gorma blinked at her in confusion. "The what? Hey, what are you doing?!" she demanded as Pip jumped up and plopped a strange helmet on the barbarian's head. Several lights lit up and gears began spinning with frenetic energy.

"That should help," Pip said tersely, priming her healing gun. "We need to get in there and disrupt whatever he's doing."

"Very well, mistress Pip." I rose, pulling free my hammer. "I shall do everything in my power to bring down the guards so that we may breach the wizard's sanctum."

Apr 27, 2012

X is for...


So this was a video game that I enjoyed immensely, back in the day of the original Playstation. It was developed and published by Squaresoft, back before they became Square Enix (you may know them for a little series called Final Fantasy).

Xenogears is a dark, psychological, science fantasy game in the same vein as Evangelion. A combo based combat system that ranged from fist fights to fist fights with giant robots made for some interesting gameplay, and the story (which included reincarnations, memory loss, and the works of Nietzsche and Freud) was certainly complex enough to hold the attention. And even if the music was nearly identical to that of Chrono Trigger, it was still some of the best of its age.

You can read the plot synopsis as well as I can, but let me just say, this game had one of my favorite villains of all time, and if anyone ever asks you, "Do you desire power?" just say yes. You'll make some good guy very, very sad.

Apr 26, 2012

W is for...

Worldbuilding! Specifically in how it relates to The Will of the Elements.

Okay, so once upon a time, I sat through a lecture or two on The Lord of the Rings and the Inklings in general. One of the concepts I really took away from there was that in order to create a good book you need three things. First, you need to inspire a love of the world. Second, you need a catastrophe. Third, you need a eucatastrophe, or a catastrophe for good (get it? because Tolkien was a linguist, so he played fast and loose with the English language and was wont to slap things like "eu-" onto words).

So step one is obviously building a world that people will become invested in, that they will want to see preserved because there's something special about it. So I took our world and found a catastrophe... specifically some truly horrible episodes of Heroes. Now yes, they were painful to watch, but they got me thinking. I asked myself, "What if these random people with elemental powers evolved into something more? What if they became living incarnations of the element they were associated with?" So I thought this over. Maybe they would feel compelled to overthrow the civilization that tore the earth asunder, drank her blood and reshaped her bones. Maybe they wouldn't be so cool with the way mankind enslaved lightning and chained fire for their own benefit and comfort. Maybe water and wind should be paid a little homage, being necessary for life and all.

And thus began the War of the Elements. Oh man, let me tell you, it was epic. Earth awakening when he got pushed off that building, Wind manipulating Fire into blowing up that oil tanker to secure her aid, and all of them coming together to bust Lightning out of that cell where the government was milking him for electricity. And then their offensive, it was... oh, wait, I haven't actually written any of that yet. Basically, I came up with this story and realized that an urban fantasy adventure wasn't something I was comfortable writing just yet. But sci-fi, now that was a different story. I mean, I was triple majoring in math, physics, and chemistry for a little while back in the day, until I decided that I'd rather graduate than spend 60 hours in lab a week. Psuedo-science I could do. So I jumped forward by about five hundred years.

Apr 25, 2012

V is for...


Now, I put off writing this until the last possible minute, so it's going to basically just be a regurgitation of facts, some more interesting than others. Here we go...

First off, there are two distinct types of vultures: old world and new world. I'm specifically going to talk about new world vultures (i.e. turkey vultures and condors), mainly because I know more about them off the top of my head. But just as an aside, old world vultures are more closely related to eagles and hawks than their new world cousins, an interesting example of convergent evolution. Both fill the same ecological niche, but while old world vultures rely entirely on their eyes to spot their next meal, new world vultures have an amazingly good sense of smell and can find carcasses entirely by scent when the need arises. Fun fact here: most birds have little to no sense of smell. It's one of the reasons owls can safely prey on skunks. So if you've ever heard someone say that you shouldn't help a baby bird that's fallen out of its nest because the mother will smell you on it and kick it right back out, you can forget about that. Help the bird, or call animal control.

Apr 24, 2012

U is for...


"By the Hedgehog... They're everywhere," Pip whispered in a tone of hushed awe as she eased back from the edge of the building we were spying from. "You're sure this is where the temporal anamoly is coming from?"

I nodded my head solemnly. "Indeed, mistress Pip, this is the building." I swept my ocular intake units over the city administrator's tower. It really was an impressive army of the undead. They manned the balconies and stood in neat ranks before the main doors, lifeless eyes fixed on the street, well-kept weapons and armor gleaming in the odd twilight that had descended on the city. The same subtle aura that clung to Pip and I hung around them like a shroud, shielding them from whatever spell was slowing time.

I ran the calculations again and shook my head. There was simply no way anyone could get through something like-

"For the Hedgehog!" Gorma exploded from a door on the zombie legion's flank, tulwar a blur of steel and death. Or possibly re-death.

At the same moment a tiger leapt from a window below us, an orange streak that left broken corpses in its wake.

"Oh no," Pip groaned, fumbling with a gadget and cursing under her breath. "I swear, those three are going to be the death of me."

Isaru coalesced from a cloud of green mist in the midst of the legion, flames roaring around his sword as he swept it through broad arcs of fire and fury. He laughed scornfully at his foes as his blade took the heads from three undead at once.

Apr 22, 2012

T is for...


“It's time,” Sean chuckled, rolling a set of dice from behind the dungeon master screen. “The party is divided, the end is nigh!”

“I don't like it when the GM gets that look in his eye,” I ventured, trying to peek around the cardboard barrier. “I've had that look in my eye, it never ends well for the party.”

“He's already rolling for something and throwing out the cheesy phrases,” Tony said incredulously. “We haven't even started yet.”

“Wait, this is all wrong!” Steph exclaimed from the kitchen. “You're out of diet Coke!” I winced. That practically took our barbarian out of the game.

“He's planned for everything,” Michelle muttered as Sean began cackling madly, furiously scribbling down something on his note sheet.

“I've got extra dice.” Erin shook her head sadly, no doubt privy to what her husband had planned for the game. “I think we're going to need them.”

Apr 21, 2012

S is for...


Well, I figure I should probably do a little more writing about the stories that I've published. You know, for kicks and such. So here goes...

The city of Sanctuary is where Ezra Hawkins, the protagonist of Wind-Scarred, grew up. They believe that they're the last enclave of humanity on Earth. They're wrong, but that's not important right now.

Sanctuary was birthed from two main ideas. First, every person who was part of the founding of the city was a tenacious genius. They had survived a war with godlike beings and clung to their technology in the face of insurmountable odds and dwindling resources. They were scientists, inventors, and all around really smart and stubborn people. Second, scarcity. All of these people were suddenly isolated from the rest of the world. Sure, they had a peace treaty with the things that had beaten them so long as they didn't venture outside their new city, but that really didn't help put food on their plates. For that matter, after seeing things like San Francisco sink into the ocean (or the bay, take your pick) they didn't have all that much peace of mind.

So based on these ideas, I figured that the people who would rise to power would be the ones who knew how to keep the bad things out and keep the city going.

Apr 20, 2012

R is for...

Rodents of unusual sizes? I don't think they exist.

I can only assume that Wesley stated this because their size isn't unusual. So let's talk rodents.

I'm sure you all know about the capybara. I mean, as I write this post on my phone, even the iPhone suggestions know about the capybara. Blah blah world's largest living rodent blah can weigh up to 150 pounds blah blah blah preferred prey of everything from the jaguar to the harpy eagle to the anaconda.

So let's talk about the coypu. You may know it as the nutria, or more colloquially the river rat. Sure, they only reach weights of 20 pounds or so, but these guys have a big presence. You can tell it isn't a muskrat because the coypu is about five times the size of their semi-aquatic cousin and lacks the laterally flattened tail. It's also smaller than a beaver with a distinctive rat-like tail.

So here's the thing. These started out in South America, but because of fur farms that were not as successful as they were hoped to be (people didn't want rat-fur coats, who would have guessed?), they've been introduced to North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. And are they ever invasive. A coypu consumes 25% of its body weight daily, year round. They also go for the roots, killing off the entire plant before moving on. Combined with other factors (fires, floods, storms), coypu are helping destroy wetlands the world over. In fact, the state of Louisiana has a standing bounty on coypu tails of $5, seeing an average of 304,000  tails turned in per year.

So remember, when you go venturing into the fire swamp, there's a popping sound before each flame spurt, the lightning sand looks different from everything else, and keep the tails.

Apr 19, 2012

Q is for...

Quality Assurance!

Now, I'm a programmer. I write software for a living (well... and apparently do business analysis and manage projects... but that's not in my job title), and even though I'm sure that it always works flawlessly, sometimes the world is a flawed place. Once upon a time, I worked at a company that had no QA department at all. Every single piece of code was tested by the developers (usually the one developing it) and promptly pushed out to the users.

Anyone who's ever worked in software development is probably cringing right about now. So I'd just like to thank all the testers out there. I now work with a great QA department that does regression testing and has unit batch tests to make sure that when I'm tinkering with the the secondary market UI to pull in daily investor prices I haven't thrown a wrench in the loan locking mechanism that it's called from.

Like I said, the code always works. But when it doesn't, QA people, I salute you.

Apr 18, 2012

P is for...


“Pip!” Gorma yelled. “Get back here this instant!”

“No! That was the last straw!” the Tiefling screamed back. “I've had enough of your crap, and if I never see you again it'll be too soon!” She stomped off toward the artificer district. “Come on, Glitch.”

“My apologies, lady Gorma,” I rumbled. “It would seem as though this is where we part ways. I believe that you-”

“Just get out of my sight,” the half-Orc growled, spinning away. “Like we needed you two anyways.”
“Now hold on a second,” Isaru gave me a sickly smile. “There's no need to just rush off and-”
“Glitch!” Pip yelled impatiently.

“Master Isaru, lady Poppi, it has been a pleasure practicing my prevarication with you. I too hope to never see you again.” I smiled at them. That was a good one, after all.

“We'll be at the Whirring Wheel Inn down by Hunter's Landing while we're searching for this guy,” Poppi said, glancing over her shoulder at Gorma's rapidly retreating back through the Dargoon crowd. “Try to talk some sense into her and meet us there, okay?”

“I shall do no such thing,” I responded solemnly, waving my hand in a fond farewell. Hopefully Pip would listen to reason. Turning toward the artificer district, I let out a long, creaking sigh and made my way after our artificer.

Apr 16, 2012

O is for...

Ospreys! And owls! And...ornithology, I guess.

Let's start with the osprey. Here's some things you may not know about the osprey:  first of all, they have zygodactyl feet! This means that they have two toes in the front and two toes in the back, like a parrot. This is incredibly useful for catching fish. Speaking of fish, they have a very special arrangement with the bald eagle. Namely, the bald eagle will wait for an osprey to catch a fish, then fly over and harass the osprey until it drops the fish, taking the fish for itself. I can't imagine why Benjamin Franklin didn't think that the bald eagle would make a good symbol for America (of course, he recommended the wild turkey so...yeah...). Hmm, more about ospreys... They mate for life and continue to grow the same nest throughout their lifetimes, and their children's lifetimes, and their children's children's...there are some nests that have been in use for over 70 years. 

Owls! Owls are really cool. You probably know that they can see in the dark. What you may not have known is that in order to have enough cones in their eyes to pick up enough light at night to see, they have lost the ability to move their eyes. To compensate for this, owls have a set of extremely flexible vertebrae in their necks that allow them to turn their heads 270 degrees (3/4 of the way around a circle). Something else you might not be aware of are their ears. You know how your ears are on either side of your head, in about the same place? Well, not so much with owls. One ear is higher and the other is lower, specifically so that they can pick up sounds above and below them accurately. To further help with this, have you ever seen an owl's face?

See those discs around their eyes? Those actually help filter sound to the owls ears, which helps them accurately find the position of sounds in front of them. Speaking of sound, most nocturnal critters have pretty darn good ears. Do yourself a favor one day and find a diurnal (active during the day) raptor's feather. Give it a good flap. You know what you hear? Sound. Now find an owl feather. Notice the soft down over the surface? This does more than make them cute, fluffy, and cuddle-able (NEVER CUDDLE AN OWL!!!), it also lets them fly silently at night. Bottom line:  if it's night-time, an owl knows where you are, and it is like the ninja.

N is for...


New cover for book 1! Newly released book 2! New is the new new! ...Has 'new' stopped looking like a word to anyone else?

Wind-Scarred and Water-Seer are also now available on Smashwords and (soon) B&N/iBooks.

Also new...The Legend of Korra:  The Next Avatar! If you haven't watched the original series well...stop reading this and go watch it! You will thank me later. Words cannot express how much I'm looking forward to this series. I'm already loving the art direction, the music, the action sequences...even the cheesy cartoon gags.

That's all I got. New!

Apr 14, 2012

M is for...

Magic the Gathering!

Okay, so for those of you who don't know, Magic is a card game. Each player assembles a deck that is composed of land, creatures, and spells. Land is used as a mana source to fuel your spells, and can be used each turn. There are 5 basic types of land: Plains (white mana), Mountains (red mana), Forests (green mana),  Swamps (black mana), and Islands (blue mana).

In the upper right hand corner of a card is the mana cost. A number over a gray circle indicates that many mana of any color. All other mana costs appear as a colored symbol. You may (generally) have a limit of 4 of any one specific card in your deck, with the exception of basic land. So if you have 4 Shivan Dragons, you are not allowed to have any more, but you can put other types of dragons in. Depending on the type of game being played, there is a lower limit of 60 cards in a player's deck... which means that even if you pour tons of money into building the ultimate deck, there's always a chance that you'll just be dealt a bad hand.

Basic game play goes as follows:

Each player begins with 20 life points. The object is to be the last player with life points after all other players have been eliminated. A player may be eliminated by reducing their life total to 0, by attempting to draw from their deck when it contains no cards, or by receiving 10 or more poison counters.

Each player has a starting hand of 7 cards. Each player takes a turn in a pre-determined order. A turn is separated into the following phases:

Apr 13, 2012

L is for...


“Okay,” Erin said, coming back into the room. “Finlay should be down for at least an hour. Let's get the dice and get rolling!”

Sean snickered from the kitchen, pulling the Guinness cupcakes from the oven, setting them on the cooling rack and taking his seat behind the dungeon master screen. “All right, so when last we left off...”

“Don't remind me,” I grumbled, glancing over my notes. Honestly, it wasn't my fault. I had been in character, darn it.

“I think you could still use some work on the whole lying thing, Glitch,” Pip said, sounding exasperated as she tested the ropes.

“My apologies, mistress Pip.” I glanced at my arms and legs morosely. They really were very nice arms and legs... a pity about how they weren't attached to my body anymore. “I have cataloged this event and will use it as a point of reference before attempting any further prevarication.”

“I'd personally just really like to see this lesson hit home,” Gorma panted from where she was shackled to the wall. “So, Glitch, in the future, when a tribe of goblins asks if we taste good, what are you not going to say?”

Apr 11, 2012

K is for...

Kinkajou! I choose you!

Okay, not really. I mean, I would choose the infamous honey bear of the tropical forests of South America in a heartbeat, obviously, but I'd probably provide him with some nicer digs than a Pokeball...

So for those of you who haven't ever heard of a kinkajou, it's a small arboreal mammal that lives in the treetops. Related to the raccoon, kinkajous boast a fully prehensile (meaning it can grip objects and fully support the animal) tail, making it one of two living animals in order Carnivora with such a tail. They primarily eat fruit, frogs, the occasional bird, and smaller mammals, and have been noted to enjoy honey in captivity. They also...

J is for...

So I was researching the etymology of some words the other day (that's a thing that normal people can do for fun sometimes... don't look at me like that!) and I discovered that "jinx" was rather interesting. Most probably stemming from a subspecies of the Picidae family (the family that contains woodpeckers), the birds of genus Jynx, also known as the wryneck birds, are pretty interesting.
Aside from having the the nifty ability to turn their heads 180 degrees and hiss like a snake (or possibly because of it...), they were often used in witchcraft, which led to the term “jinx” as applied to a curse that we find in use today.

In fact, if we go back even further, we find that the wryneck has been getting the short end of the stick for quite a while. According to Greek mythology, Iynx was a nymph... or possibly one of nine maidens. Depending on the story you're reading, she either enchanted Zeus to fall in love with Io and was punished by Hera, or she and her sisters entered a musical contest with the Muses. Either way, she became the Eurasian Wryneck, and has been singing, hissing, and helping to curse the unwary ever since.

So what do you think? Did the bird make the name unlucky, or was it doomed to an unlucky fate with a name like Jynx?

Apr 10, 2012

I is for...


You know, like that friend you had who was always causing trouble when you were... what? Numbers? Oh, you mean the ones that mathematicians spent centuries ignoring!

It's true! I mean, for a long time mathematicians didn't want to admit that zero or negative numbers were useful either, but that's another topic entirely. So, back in ancient Greece, this guy, Heron of Alexandria, taught at the Musaeum (you may heard of their library, it was kind of a big deal). This guy was cool. As in, he was researching cybernetics back around 50 AD and invented the first vending machine. And he quite possibly discovered imaginary numbers.

Apr 8, 2012

H is for...

Heavenly Hedgehog!

 “Not that I'm doubting the words of the Heavenly Hedgehog, but you're sure it said the Dead Plains' kruthik nests?” Gorma panted, wiping the bug juice from her tulwar with obvious distaste.

I glanced over at the half-Orc from where I stood holding open the entrance to the lair. “I personally find this place rather dismal,” I lied, wedging the kruthik queen's corpse into the oddly organic door and stepping back. “It has been most disappointing altogether.”

“Shut up, Glitch,” Poppi snarled. She was probably just jealous of my new helm. I hadn't been sure that the queen's hollowed out skull would work, but once Isaru had rinsed it clean with acid it fit quite nicely. “I'm never getting this stuff out of my fur,” the shifter continued, looking down at her hands in dismay.

“It says right here,” Pip insisted from her perch atop a pile of rocks, the small book of prophecy open in one hand as an army of tiny bots cleaned her dress. “Let's see... yes, here it is: 'So sayeth the Heavenly Hedgehog, defender of the fuzzy belly and keeper of the pointy quills. In the deep places beneath the blighted ruins of a long forgotten kingdom, the swarming darkness shall serve as the first messenger of the nameless god.' Honestly,” she rolled her golden eyes, snapping the book closed and tucking it into a pocket. “Do you really think I would have picked a place like this if there had been any other way?”

“Maybe you owed Glitch a good turn or something,” Gorma growled, picking through the remains of the kruthik nest, scowling ferociously. “You'd think that we would have at least-”

Apr 7, 2012

G is for...


Folks, let me tell you a little story, a story about a man of the mathematical cloth who lived way back in ancient France...

Okay, I'm not just going to rip off Stefanie, the Ballad of Galois, by the Klein Four Group... by the way, if you haven't heard their mathematics acapella, you're living 1 nth of your life, where n is inversely proportional to your love of math (for some n between 1 and positive infinity, obviously).

Evariste Galois was a radical mathematician, in the teenage mutant ninja turtles vernacular. At nineteen, the man had practically invented a new branch of mathematics (group theory, it's cool stuff), or at least laid the groundwork for future mathematicians to explore. We're still finding ways of applying his theories today, in everything from image processing to music theory to molecular orbits to the solution of a Rubik's Cube.

He was also a political activist, a Republican who spoke out against the reign of Louis Philippe in the early 1800s. He was imprisoned for his political views, denied admission to the most prestigious college for mathematics in France because his instructors couldn't follow his reasoning, and was expelled from the only academy that would take him after publicly criticizing the school's director.

And after all that, he was killed in duel over the honor of the woman he loved. So here's to Galois, the thinker, the lover, the fighter. We salute the memory of what you were, and lament the dream of what you might have been.

Apr 6, 2012

F is for...

Fermat's Last Theorem!

Even if you're not into math, you've probably heard of this one. Back in 1637, Pierre de Fermat conjectured that no three positive integers a, b, and c could satisfy the equation a^n + b^n = c^n for any integer value of n greater than two. He scribbled this conjecture in the margin of a copy of Arithmetica. Fermat went on to claim he had a proof for this, but it was too long to fit in the margin. By the time of his death, he had not produced this proof.

A few mathematicians tackled this problem over the years. Okay, more than a few. More like nearly every mathematician for the next 358 years. Finally, in 1995, Andrew John Wiles managed to prove it... his proof was over 100 pages long, took seven years of research, and made use of techniques that did not exist in Fermat's time. Wiles was knighted for his contribution to mathematics.

I remember my first encounter with the Last Theorem. Back in high school, in the first linear algebra class I'd ever taken, on the first day of class, we were asked disprove the theorem as homework, the equation scrawled on the whiteboard in the last few moments of class as if it was no big deal. Now, back in those days my Google-fu was weak and my work ethic was strong, so I went at it with a gusto. And I arrived at class the next day feeling utterly despondent, having found exactly zero solutions and having no idea why. Oh math... I think that's the day I fell in love with you.

I feel like I should talk about Fourier analysis and how it can do anything if you're clever enough, or Fibonacci numbers and how they're already doing everything whether you're clever or not... but instead, I'll just ask this: do you think Fermat had a solution? Or was he just another mathematical rebel without a cause (more on that tomorrow)?

Apr 5, 2012

E is for...


Okay, so I'm not really talking about those elements... but that song would have been pretty short if it was about my Elements. In my series, The Will of the Elements, I like to think that there 5 prime elements: Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, and Lightning. I know what you're thinking. Lightning? No, Sky, you misspelled "Heart" (or possibly Aether or Metal or Void, depending on your school of thought). So let me break this down.

To paraphrase the Greeks, an Element may be defined as the most basic unit of any material thing. Of particular interest to me is the human body. Let's say that the human body is composed of the four classical elements - earth, wind, water, and fire. Earth for the body, wind for the breath, water for the blood, and fire for the warmth. Well, the ancient Greeks (in addition to many other other cultures) said there was a fifth element, something heavenly and unchangeable. The Egyptians called it the soul, in Hinduism it is Akasha (Ether), to the Japanese it is Spirit. In the world I created, I considered the human body, the nervous system and the brain, and the electrical impulses therein. And I decided that the fifth Element should be Lightning.

Apr 4, 2012

D is for...

Dungeons and Dragons!

Silence reigned in the crypt around us. I glanced back at the solid wall of rubble that had been a hallway a moment earlier. "I was not worried," I said, my deep, mechanical voice echoing oddly off the dark stone coffins around us.

The tiger growled, and I smiled down at her. I liked the Druid when she was shapeshifted; it meant she never had anything bad to say.

"Of course you weren't, Glitch," Pip, the artificer, rolled her eyes, dusting off her dress and gingerly checking her horns for damage. "You're made of metal. That cave in wouldn't even have dented you."

I frowned, thinking it over. "Mistress Pip, I'm afraid I don't understand," I queried her, confused. "My previous statement was a lie. I was actually very worried. Does the fact that I needn't have been concerned negate the lie?"

The little Teifling sighed, checking over her healing gun critically. "No, Glitch, it was a very good lie."

"Because, you see," I continued, wanting to perfectly clear. This was deliberate falsehood we were talking about, after all. "When that imp triggered the trap our expected group probability of survival dropped by forty eight point nine three percent. If lady Gorma hadn't knocked that support pillar through the wall, I fear that one of you may have suffered a severe malfunction."

"Injury, Glitch," the swordmage groaned as he reformed from a puddle of acid, shaking his head tiredly. "Living things suffer injuries."

Apr 3, 2012

C is for...


Cats are weird. Well, maybe it's just that my cats are weird. People like cats, right? Well, here are mine:


He has far too much energy. And he chews on things, wags his tail when he's happy, always moves at a run, and rolls around on his back waiting for tummy rubbings every day when I get home. Yes, my cat is actually a dog. He even tries to eat like one... and then pukes when he gorges himself. This happens nearly every day.


She's a pretty cat. Do you see those eyes? Yeah, they're different colors (blue and green/gold). Astrid is a cat's cat: she sleeps all day and only shows any affection when she wants something. Of course, normally what she wants is attention... and she normally wants it when I'm busy. She will jump on the back of my chair and body slam my head while I'm playing video games, grab my arm and gently nip my elbow while I'm writing... She's also incredibly quiet, unless she and Hiccup are fighting. Then she screams like a banshee.

Apr 2, 2012

B is for ...


Aren't betas awesome? You get to see content early, get to help with the creative process, get to tell lazy authors that breath and breathe are actually two different words and that no-one likes the phrase "gaping like a fish"...

So my hard-working beta readers are probably diligently working their way through my second book, pointing out how I shouldn't *spoiler* or *spoiler*, and that the relationship between *spoiler*, *spoiler*, and *spoiler* is incredibly unrealistic, especially when they end up in the *spoiler* without any *spoiler*, what with all the heavy breathing and barely concealed *spoiler*. Considering two them are women and all. So in honor of their noble sacrifice of time and energy, I'll share some of my current beta experiences.

Apr 1, 2012

A is for...

Apple Pie!

So I'm clearly not a very good blogger. I mean, seriously, look at my update pattern... and I say pattern in the most generous sense of the word. So I'll give this blogging from A to Z thing a try, I guess, and maybe it'll make me a better person. Or blogger. Probably not both.

So I'll just be writing about a few of my favorite things. You know, like raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens or... Damn it, I always get my favorite things confused with Maria von Trapp's

One of my favorite things is apple pie. What's not to love here? It's delicious, I can fool myself into thinking it's healthy, and it's so easy to make! See, look:

Mar 25, 2012

We're out of beta, we're releasing on... no, wait, that title is a lie.

Managed to break free of Tera Online's grasp for the few hours I needed to finish editing Water-Seer. Yes, those hours were from midnight to 3am. Stop judging me!

Anyways, if you've read the first book and are interested in making fun of how horrible my supposedly "finished" product for book 2 is, let me know and I'll be happy to send you a beta copy. There will be some kind of arbitrary time limitation on this, I suppose...

Mar 21, 2012

Things I've Googled Today

  • Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction
  • Uncurable tropical diseasses
  • Symptoms of belladonna poisoning
  • Natural remedies for belladonna poisoning
  • The half-life of uranium 235
  • Recipes for stew
Oh yeah, this book is coming along nicely.

Mar 19, 2012

Water-Seer Update!

The  Will of the Elements, Book 2:  Water-Seer is ready for editing!  And it's 20% more awesome (eg. longer) than book 1!  It's like the words that were in my head are now on know, but on the computer.  So not really on paper at all.  

Now to trap-  I mean, find some beta readers...

Mar 8, 2012

Review: The Seven by Derek Edgington

The Seven (Volume 1) The Seven by Derek Edgington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'll be honest with you, this was a hard review to write. Not because I didn't like the book, or even because I did, but because I saw what this story wanted to be, and it just wasn't quite there. This is the story of Caleb Holden, his discovery of the supernatural world, and adventures there-in.

The fact of the matter is, I enjoyed this book. Sure, it's just one more generic urban fantasy child of destiny going to save the world story. That's fine, I like those stories.

Here's the problem: I feel like it was a setup. A little background here might help. I love The Dresden Files. I think that Avatar: The Last Airbender is one the best shows to grace television. I share the author's feelings on Twilight, think that diversification of were-things is a good idea, and am all for hidden histories and supernatural secrets. I grew up in San Francisco, have actually jumped from rooftop to rooftop (although, honestly, it's usually more step and less leap), and think that forests are crazy cool.

So as far as the ideas go, I'm right there with you. I got the inside jokes, rolled my eyes at the cheesy lines, and generally had a good time.

And yet, there were issues. First and foremost, the exposition. Don't get me wrong, there's a time for a nice romp through the main character's mind and memories... but that time is not "always." Worse, despite being dragged into Mr. Holden's head and having to fight the urge to skim over his musings on any given situation, it didn't actually help me get to know him any better. Time and time again, I was confused by the choices made or the decisions reached, and it was rather frustrating.

Issue two: the suspension of disbelief. Specifically, where was it? Caleb is portrayed as being a streetwise, practical young man who has learned to get by on his own in tough situations. And yet, when confronted with supernatural things, there's no coming to terms with it, no rationalization, no grand moments of revelation where all of his past experiences suddenly make sense. He was just okay with it, and that was that. It honestly felt like a letdown. And it didn't stop with him! So many characters take major things on faith or word of mouth that I was left wondering what kind of Kool-Aid they were all drinking between scenes.

Issue three: the length. It was just plain longer than it needed to be. And most of the action was in Caleb's head. I get that the author was trying to create an excuse for why his main character would be capable of decisive action under pressure, but it seems like adding actual plot could have accomplished this while still adding non-trivial development, especially to the secondary characters. It's not a good sign when unexpected aid shows up for the last battle and I have absolutely no idea who they are. Had the story been shorter, or had the important side characters been fleshed out a little more, that would not have been the case. Maybe ease off on the descriptions of high school bullies who we'll never see again or dragons who never appear in the real world, and focus on adding personality to the main character's were-creature friends or creating a situation that highlights what an awesome guy the head of the orphanage is.

I don't know if it was just a problem with the file I was reading, but there was some formatting wonkiness. If italics are going to used, use them consistently. Sometimes they denoted internal dialogue, and sometimes someone would just be speaking in all italics. At one point an entire chapter was in italics, and all it accomplished was making me wish I could turn them off.

Despite all that, I liked this book. It may have been a simple plot with occasionally confusing and often frustrating events, but the ideas were all there. If you're a big fan of urban fantasy, if you love teenage protagonists who have lived hard lives, or if you just think that I'm an overly critical bastard for writing a review like this about a book I claim to like, give THE SEVEN a read. It's got a glimmer of greatness, and I look forward to one day seeing the author shine.

Feb 26, 2012

Approximation Days!

Wind-Scarred is going to be free on leap-year-day (the 29th, for those not in the know) and Pi Day (March 14th).  Because the book is approximately free already, and approximations are cool.

Feb 25, 2012

Review: The Shadowed Path by Simon Stone

The Shadowed Path The Shadowed Path by Simon Stone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an excellent read. Not just because it was a fantastical Roman-esque setting, which I liked, or because the author has an engaging style and a strong narrative voice, but because it was a great story.

But let's back up a bit. First of all, the world. It's dark and it's gritty and it's mysterious and it's intriguing. It's the kind of world that captures the imagination, the kind of world that's bigger than the story being told. It is inventive, unique, and a pleasure to explore.

And then the writing. The author brings his characters to life, from the spoiled rich kid who fought his way through a virtual hell to the broken farm girl with personalities to spare. It's exciting to read what they do, see how they interact, and adventure right beside them through the rich landscape of a well-imagined world.

Finally, the story. Now, don't get me wrong. This book wasn't perfect. There were a few typos, a few missed/wrong words, but half-way through the book I realized that I really didn't care. The prose is engaging, the plot is enticing, and the read is a treat. The good guys are flawed, the bad guys are mysterious, and you get the distinct impression that there's more going on just behind the curtain, that something bigger is going on. Even better, you actually want to know what it is.

So if you're looking for a good read, take a walk down The Shadowed Path. You'll be glad you did.

Jan 28, 2012

In an effort to trick people into reading the new pitch for the book before ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest) gets underway, Wind-Scarred is free on Amazon today!

Jan 16, 2012

Review: Bakkian Chronicles Book 1 by Jeffrey Poole

Bakkian Chronicles, Book I - The ProphecyBakkian Chronicles, Book I - The Prophecy by Jeffrey Poole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really only had one problem with this book. I hate the third person omniscient voice. It hampers individual character development, stunts meaningful dialogue, and generally feels like a crutch. The worst part is, it's a crutch that this book didn't need! It would be like giving a sprinter a crutch just before a race. Clumsy, occasionally painful, and a little sad as you wonder what the race would have been like without it.

That said, this book was a good read. This is not a gritty, "real" fantasy world. You won't feel dirty after reading it, you can be pretty confident that the good guys are going to win the day, and you can count on cheesy one-liners when the going gets rough. In short, it's everything that a nice escapist fantasy should be. The ideas are clever, the world is interesting, and you can tell that the author has a genuinely good heart. Especially since my mind jumped to incredibly evil applications of some of these powers... I'll just leave it at that.

Definitely a series to watch if you like your fantasy lighthearted, your action explosive, and your reading fun.

Jan 15, 2012

Review: Twin Rivers by Jessica Buike

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm Just Not That Hungry

I often find that picking up a book by an author I've never read before is like trying a new restaurant. You may not know the menu but you've read a couple reviews on Yelp, or maybe seen it on the street as you passed by. When I sat down with Twin Rivers, by Jessica Buike, I had a hankering for some steak. For those of you of an herbivore persuasion, I'm sure there's something that you like as much as I like steak (the reviewer does not actually believe this statement... he really likes steak), so think of that. You may be saying, "Hey now, that's a tall order to fill," but hear me out.

From the start of the book, I caught glimpses of steak out of the corner of my eye. The prose was solid, the main plot points laid out clearly, the mystery established. There was steak in the air. So imagine my surprise when the meal arrives, and it's the size of a quarter. Now I thought, maybe this is one of those really up-scale places, where the quality of the dish out-weighs the quantity, and took a bite. Well... at least it wasn't overcooked. But that's about all I can say. It certainly hadn't been marinaded with care or seasoned to perfection. Don't get me wrong, the best steak (real steak this time, not a metaphor) that I've ever eaten was cooked over a campfire and seasoned with nothing but pepper... but that's because I was starving. It's risky for a new, indie book author to assume that her customers are going to be starving, especially with the buffet of ebooks out there.

So let's break it down. First off, the book has the hallmarks of a decent mystery. Main character with amnesia waking from a 2 year coma after her body was found under questionable circumstances. Good, good. Now here's the problem. A good mystery has to build suspense. I felt the beginnings of suspense stir, but that was it. When you're only working with a few thousand words, there just isn't room to develop the sense of who-done-it that a story like this requires. There were literally only 4 characters with names. Granted, the main character was only named once, halfway through the book, but I was pretty sure she wasn't the culprit. Oh, and one of those characters was a cat. Didn't really have to wonder who the villain was, once the ghostly children were cleared of suspicion.

And here's the biggest problem with the book: the dialogue. Namely, there isn't any. With the exception of 66 words, the entire story is narrated in the main character's head, in the first person. For all I know, the entire town was populated strictly by mutes and mimes... or isn't populated at all. I guess that could be creepy. You need to build the intrigue. Have the main character asking questions and speaking with real characters, with names. Draw out the creepy ghost children bits. Add more of them. Have them reaching out to touch her, getting closer and closer with every attempt. Make most of the book take place in a week long rainstorm if you have to. Create daring escapes and exciting chase scenes, darn it! Don't tell me what the doctor said, have a conversation with the doctor in which the information comes out! Want to throw suspicion off the villain? Give them some scenes! Not descriptions of scenes, actual scenes, with imagery, clever word-play, give and take. Add some seasoning!

I know, we've all heard it a thousand times and it's trite and superficial, but... show, don't tell. I think what frustrated me the most was that this book could have been a fun read. Put some meat on that story and create some meaningful character interactions, and this would be a restaurant that I'd recommend to friends, co-workers, and people I met on the street. As it is, I may come back and give it another try... but I'd have to be hungry.

Jan 8, 2012

Review: Bad Radio by Michael Langlois

Bad Radio (The Emergent Earth) Bad Radio by  Michael Langlois
My rating:  4 of 5 stars

A solid book with strong Lovecraftian overtones (in case the cover didn't give it away). The mystery was mysterious, the horror was horrifying, the heroes were (generally) heroic. The author's explanation for why the supernatural can exist without being obvious was refreshingly clear and succinct, catching the imagination and allowing for further extrapolation. Good writing combined with unique ideas makes it a gripping read from start to finish. I would strongly recommend picking this one up if you like urban fantasy, horror, thrillers, or good books.