No limits but death.

I don’t know how many of you know this. I don’t post a lot about politics on this blog (I suppose I haven’t posted here a lot lately, regardless). See, I consider myself a fairly-leftward leaning political thinker.

Okay, some people have called me a communist.

I got introduced to the left by Youtube channels like TYT and the Majority Report. The latter of those I still watch regularly, after starting six or seven years ago.

Yesterday, one of the hosts of the Majority Report, Michael Brooks, passed on. He was only 34 years old, not a lot older than I am.

I didn’t know the man except through his podcasts and social media presence. I liked the persona I saw of him on the internet, but with parasocial relationships like the ones we all form with media figures, none of it feels real. Probably because it isn’t like a normal relationship or friendship.

I tried to reason my way through some of the feelings that hit me last night.

But logic isn’t an answer for suffering. Logic can defeat unreasoning sensations in oneself, sometimes, but I’m not that kind of thinker. Lately, I’m thinking I’m not much of a thinker (Or a writer) in spite of myself.

Sure, depression.

Sure, parasocial grief and loss.

That’s my current set of conditions.

I’ll be honest as I can. I wish things were different, on both those counts. I wish many other things would simply not be the case, but what does that matter. Wishes go up to genies and gods, and genies and gods don’t answer us mere mortals.

What kind of world is this one?

Abrupt.

Painful.

At times, monotononous.

I think it’s easy to forget that, given how many of float on endless tides of media entertainment.

I sank a ritual stake into a bowl of earth at 5:30 in the morning yesterday. It’s a rite I devised for myself, based on one from Hindu and Buddhist tradition. In this case, I wanted to tie myself to the real world.

That metal knife in the dirt represents a tie to the real world.

Real.

What is that?

So many layers of artifice and illusion pervade our lives that becomes easy to forget where the pain of existence originates. Pressure points of suffering and pleasure in each our of personal worlds impel each of us to avoid, or approach them.

But always, in the modern age, it seems even the pain is mediated by distance, by craft, by bullshit arranged to please or shock us.

I tried to use that knife and that bowl of dirt to remind me what is real.

An iron stake in potting soil may look esoteric, may seem bizarre, but it kept me grounded during my work yesterday.

Now?

I feel adrift, as I wonder what its like to die.

I have imagined death many times, many ways. I’ve peered at the implacable and advancing end of my life from what I hope is a great distance.

Reality?

You can’t know how far away that end is from you, or what it really means to die.

I can imagine. I scarcely know how to do anything else at this point.

I can work to survive as long as possible. I intend to do that.

I don’t know.

Anyone who tells you they know is lying.

Until next time, I hope you all remain safe. I’m trying like hell to get to work today. Heaven knows I’ll try again tomorrow.

But what are those things? Are they places we’re going to spend eternity dwelling?

I don’t know.

Thanks for reading.

10 Minutes of Relaunch: Orphan Mage

Hey everyone, Orphan Mage (Shifter Empire Book One) is out now. I’m not going to bore you with my usual apologies over not posting more often. A writer’s gotta write, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do and fiction is my bag, far more than blogging.

The latest book is actually a relaunch of the first three books from my older Spells of the Curtain series, which are no longer available. I originally wrote the three novellas as one novel, so now I’ve put them back together as one book.

For those not familiar with the world of Shifter Empire, and haven’t read the novellas, let me fill you in on the book.

Edmath Donroi is a rarity, an orphan who received training as a mage in the Empire of Zel. He has a unique gift to speak to any animal, but unlike the shapeshifting nobility of the nation, he can’t take the form of any of them.

His first love, Chelka, is a Squid Princess, and his best friend Brosk is a prince of the Whale Tribe. That’s the kind of person who becomes a court mage in the empire due to the expense of training. Edmath’s life has been lucky to a point.

When he encounters a murderous boy with a grudge against mages on the way to the imperial city the danger of his bloodline’s past begins to arise. The imperial gardens are a place of grand power, but diplomats and mages of the rival nations make the place perilous as well.

I love this book and the series that follows it. This first book is also one of touchstones for an effective personal writing rate.

To start this book, I took a Saturday and wrote as long and as much as I could. I got over 12,000 words that day. I was swept up in the story, to be honest. I think if you check out Orphan Mage you’ll be swept up too.

The novel is sword and sorcery with a geeky protagonist and an emphasis on sorcery.

Thanks for reading.

Seven Minutes of Proof Reading

Does the title say 7 minutes? I meant more like 17+ hours.

Yeah, I like proofing, as it turns out. I took the time to re-edit Demon Scroll before I complete the sequel, Shadow Prince because I noticed in some of the reviews there are a large number of typos.

Well, I just uploaded the new edition to Amazon, and it should be out in paperback soon. It’s easy to say this book has never been better, but I’m also embarrassed by simply how many errors remained in the book I launched. Most of those are gone now.

Demon Scroll is my first dictated release, and I am pleased to say the next book won’t have some of the issues that propagated throughout the novel on the sentence and paragraph level, especially.

Thanks to generous early reviewers, the book is still rated pretty well, but I’m finally planning to push the book a little harder now that the story is clearer and cleaner than before.

My other books didn’t have the same level of typos and errors, but dictation is taking me some time to master. Regardless, I enjoyed cleaning the book up. Next time I’ll take this step BEFORE I release the book. Whoops. Egg on my face for that.

Thanks for reading, folks. I made it back here faster than I expected.

Click this link if you care to check out Demon Scroll, or if you have already read it and care to leave a review.

Going 19

Let me start off this blog post by saying, so far, my family and I are fine. My immediate area is not yet fully locked down, but I expect that will happen soon.

I tend to be pretty isolated under normal conditions. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is making my occasions to go out and interact with others even smaller.

I’m working on Shadow Prince as well as on cleaning up a lot of typos I missed before publication in the first book of that series, Demon Scroll. One note about those edits: I regret setting the pre-order too short to allow this level of editing the first time. It won’t happen again, as I’m embarrassed by many of these mistakes.

I hope you’re all safe out there, and I plan to write again soon. Don’t I always say that when I make a post? Well, this time I mean it. Maybe it will be next week, or maybe tomorrow, but I’ll write again soon.

Thank for reading.

Storybundle time!

Hey everyone! I’m pretty excited today, because I’m in a storybundle.com bundle, available right now at www.storybundle.com/steampunk.

Kevin J. Andersen assembled a super-team of books and authors, including little old me. My contribution, Tenlyres, is still one of my best works and there are 12 other books in the bundle, up to and including the novels Kevin wrote with the great Neil Peart of Rush fame (May he rest in peace) .

I can’t say enough good things about the bundle (And my inclusion in it). The bundle is pay what you want, with $15 US required to get every book and not just the first four.

Anyway, this deal is a limited time. I’ll be spreading the word far and wide, naturally. From the date of this posting the bundle has around 30 days left. Click here to get the bundle, share, and enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

My Website may Change and other Thoughts

Hey, folks!

FIRST: I have just 3 review copies of Forces of Empire book one still available. If you’re interested in BIG space opera with epic themes, give the link a click. Now on to the blog post.

SO.

I’m emerging from the trenches of editing and publishing, and I have to say, I like what I’ve been doing in the book world over the past few weeks.

My website, mentalcellarpublications.com needs an overhaul, and I am no doubt losing long-term readers because of my relative primitive presentation over there.

Anyway…

I’ve got good news on the audiobook front. I am having auditions over at ACX right now for narrators to read both Tenlyres and Origin of Storms. Those audiobooks will likely be out sometime in spring 2020.

Also, I have a Pillar Universe short story in Contact This, an anthology assembled by a friend and fellow author, J.R. Handley. That’s a bunch of first contact science fiction stories, rolling around on Amazon.com right now.

Finally, if you like my work, Shadow Prince really is coming soon. Watch this blog for further news.

Thanks for reading.

I gotta get back to the books.

Until I write here again… share and enjoy!

Shaking Up the Routine

Hello, folks!

Let me get a couple things out of the way first.

One, I had awesome birthday this year, celebrating with my twin brother in Portland Oregon. I’m home now, and I’m hard at work for both my own books and those I’m creating for my new job.

The podcast is flowing.

Editing my older work a little to bring it up to code is giving me confidence.

I am working with an artist for the cover of Shadow Prince (The next book in the Demon Hunter series), so get ready to see that when the book is ready to launch.

All in all, over the last few weeks I’ve been working (moderately) hard and having some fun.

In short, I’ve been blessed with a phenomenal year so far.

However, it wasn’t until I began a mindset shift this past week that I started to truly understand how well I’m doing.

Mostly I’m trying to look at my process and projects as though they’re new. New concepts and ideas are always exciting for a while, but I remember fondly when I was just learning to write and every technique sang with joy when I put it to work. Every sentence felt like a triumph, no matter how obtuse or terrible.

I am happy to report that this shift in mindset to appreciate my new methods (Such as dictation) as novel is really helping cheer me up and make my days more exciting. Inspiration tends to be a fleeting sensation, but joy is available from other sources on the regular.

Appreciate what you have. I wish I could attribute a quote I remember Mercedes Murdock Yardley shared on a favorite episode of the Archivos Stories podcast a few years ago: “Celebrate every step.”

I’m trying to do that.

Taking a step further. Appreciate every breath.

Every word gained or trimmed.

Every keystroke.

Every moment.

Thanks for reading.

If you want to check out my stories, Amazon.com is currently the easiest place to do so, but I’m also giving a few ebook ARC copies away from Booksprout right now. “Demon Scroll” is up again for a limited time, and my latest re-release, the short story fantasy-thief collection “Dark Work” is also there. Download either of them, both of them, or whatever you like but its first come, first-served so if you have time to read and review check ’em out.

Share and enjoy, folks.

And I’ll write here again soon.

(More Than) 7 Minutes About My Developing Process

Hi everybody! Here we go again, another seven-minute blog.

Run while you still can.

I switched to dictating my fiction last July. After six months of dictating my work, I’m still in getting used to the ins-and-outs of my process. I now produce words 3-5 (Or more) times faster than I did when typing.

I can now create stories far quicker than ever before… in theory. My first mostly-dictated release was Demon Scroll, an epic fantasy novel I launched back in September 2019. As of January 2020, I am really pleased with the results of that book, especially with the slight revision to the opening I did post-publication. A lot of older authors could be a little secretive with the process of their work. Personally, I’m grateful for those who are more transparent.

In that spirit, I’d like to explain a little about my process. Hell, this could take a bit longer than seven minutes.

Buckle up.

When I typed, as I did for more than sixteen years, I always maintained a pretty regular per hour and per-minute rate. I typically managed between 20 and 30 words a minute. Only rarely would I attain a words-per-minute rate of more than 30 for any amount of time. My personal fastest as a typist, with very little correction while working was about 40 words-per-minute while composing at break-neck speed, but I only could keep that up for 5 or 10 minutes at a time.

Those numbers are a little slow for how fast my sentences come to me.

Dictation speed varies a little more for me. At my slowest, I go about 75 words per minute when speaking into a voice recorder. Pretty fast, right? Recently I concluded that rate is what I start at when pacing around or walking outside. Sitting comfortably in a chair? Over one hundred words per minute became pretty normal for me last summer.

I’m still learning.

Yesterday, I attained a rate of 138 words per minute for one of my sessions. That is crazy to me. I did nearly 2500 words in 17 minutes. I’m honestly still kind of knocked out by how fast that chapter appeared in my mind. I don’t see the words while I dictate (If I can see them, I slow down to about my typing speed). I make no corrections and create both freely and sloppily while dictating. The result, however, is I can dictate a 100,000-word novel in just 14 hours of chattering into my recorder.

Editing takes a lot more time than that. I can’t edit 10,000 words in 2 hours. The basic clean-up takes something along the lines of 5 hours for that many words. Spending so much more time on editing than rough-drafting is a major change to my process.

I’m a full-time writer, so the project I’m starting this year is to work 7-8 hours each day on writing and editing combined. I think things will shake out to allow me to write and clean-up about 10,000-12,000 words each day. I am excited to start putting my new process to use to get more books published faster.

I should note, my editing process does not end with clean-up but clean-up is the longest leg of the editing journey where I currently stand. Anyway, I hope to be back with (Probably less number-intensive) posts about my work and my process in the near future.

For now, I gotta put the blog away and get to work on fiction.

Thanks for reading.

Boy oh boy, that was more like a half-hour of blogging.

Happy 2020 and stay safe out there folks.

If you want to support me, check out my Amazon author page and give me a follow there.

Until next time.

Shadow Prince is going to take more time…

There’s no way for me to sugarcoat this for myself or for you readers.

I am canceling the preorder for Shadow Prince. The book is still too far from being done, primarily due to my awful habit of procrastination on creative work.

I can only offer a sincere apology to everyone who preordered the book.

I’m disappointed in myself for wasting so much time over the last 10 weeks. The story is mostly there, but I don’t know how many more weeks it will take to revise it into a shape I’ll be proud to release.

Thank you for all your support.

And thanks for reading.

Hopefully, I’ll be back with better news soon.

Take care.

November 17, 2019

News of the Day – November 10th 2019



Hey folks. I know, I know. I didn’t get an episode of Alive After Reading recorded this week. It’s been a beast trying to schedule guests on my own each week.

Regardless, expect a return to form soon.

In the meantime, I am hard at work editing Shadow Prince, currently up for preorder at Amazon.com.

I got a new job. The secret kind. I’m looking forward to starting that soon. Sorry, I can’t say more about that.

Last but not least, I have a nice little blog post as a guest up at Kristine Raymond’s Word Play podcast website. Check it out! I always enjoy getting to work or chat with Kristine.

That’s what I got for you this week.

Thanks for reading!