No Limits

Happy New Year.

It’s still January 2021, and I’m gonna stay 30 years old (Officially-speaking) for just another week or so.

I’ve been typing a bit today on the next Demon Hunter book, but feeling like I’m a bit slower than I’d like.

The story is flowing, but I’m putting in dams along that river.

My problem is I think too much when typing rough draft. I like to just go wild, but since I finished re-editing Demon Scroll I’m stuck in the perfectionism that comes on during edits. I want the sentences to sound good now. I want the details and voices and characters to pop off at the fullest in rough draft.

That kind of writing takes longer. Time is a limiter for all of us, and I know if I can just get words down 15% faster, as I’ve seen myself do as recently as early December, I can get more books done more easily. That said, the factor that is more dangerous than running out of hours each day is running out of stamina.

Mental energy isn’t always well-understood, but without it nothing gets written or edited, no matter how long I stare at the page. The good news? Each of us can rebuild that same energy by relaxing, by going with the flow.

The way I relax is the real inhibitor.

That tells me I only have one skill to master to write as fast and as much as I want.

I need to relax.

I need to get out of my head and into my fingers.

It’s 2021 folks. That’s my entire goal this year.

Good luck out there. Find your flow.

Thanks for reading.

No Timer

I’ve grown from dictating books. I conceive of story beats and turns faster than I’ve ever done before learning to dictate “effectively,” and yet.

Allow me a digression, please.

When I was a kid, before I ever typed a word of a novel, I came up with the idea for a universe weirder than any I’ve ever read to this day, at least in the geographic sense. That’s the pillar universe in which the Forces of Empire series is set.

Occasionally, I long for the days when I approached my author career with that kind of insane, child-like boldness. Someone could ask me, “Who needs a story set in a pillar universe where the majority of the physical laws are different?” and I’d be at a loss to answer them.

Sometimes you have to create the thing before you know it’s purpose.

Sometimes art is just a step to a greater piece.

And sometimes the child knows more than the man ever could, though he doesn’t realize it at the time.

I never really tried to mature. I guess the process doesn’t work that way, not really. I actively fought against my own maturation at times, wanting to remain a kid just a little while longer.

I’m a twin. I was born second, and by C-section, due to taking too long to emerge. You might say I’ve always been afraid of that next step.

Still, along the past 20-odd years since I first conjured the images of the towering pillars, the vast mists, and the creatures that plied the icy cold between bright points, I somehow grew up anyway.

Time passes, and we, mere mortals, cannot wait.

I’ve been typing more lately. I think it will be my primary mode of creating stories from now on.

It’s true, dictation produces the rough draft at 3-5 times my old typing speed. Despite my increases in pace after dictating for over a year, I’ve increased my rate at the keyboard so the discrepancy is somewhat less.

I am back at the typing game, regardless.

I enjoy it more. I have the time to change things, and the editing is easier as well as faster. Most importantly, my voice is stronger when I type. I bet you can tell. I hope you can, anyway. I’m happy to be back to typing, because even in my slowness, I’m not waiting around so much now.

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe.

7 Minutes about Free Books

Before I start the timer: As of this posting you have about 80 hours left to get Origin of Storms, my epic space opera adventure novel, for free on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B084DH8D5Q

Alright. On with the show.

Origin of Storms is free right now, and I have been doing some active research on giveaways and free copies of novels over on the bestseller lists of a couple Amazon stores. Turns out, even without moving a whole lot of copies, a book ranks in the top 100 as long as the cover is nice and the ask isn’t too big.

I wonder if my ask with Origin of Storms is bigger than most of these free Science Fiction stories.

You see, as I discussed yesterday, the book is set in a VERY odd science fiction universe, one that defies comprehension by most people when I try to tell them how it works.

That’s an obstacle. The same could be said for the fact that book is over 600 pages long. I like a long book, but this one is currently my longest volume, and it’s scifi, not epic fantasy, so the genre expectations are different.

Even so, I’m pleased to see people downloading some copies.

I guess there isn’t much to say beyond that I’ve been told free series starters are dead on Amazon. Maybe that isn’t true? I don’t really know, and the book is only on sale until the end of October, so I probably won’t find out if it would do well permanently free.

For years now, I’ve wanted to do a sequel to Origin of Storms. One is in the works, but it’s far from completion. After I’m done with this post, some dictation is in my future.

Wish me luck, friends.

I like to type. I like to talk. Combine these two, and dictation should be fun, and it often is. As long as I don’t lose sight of my purpose in the moment and second of the process, I do alright.

The clock is ticking down.

Thanks for reading.

I’ll be out of here at the beep.

More than 7 Minutes into The Pillar Universe

I like some of the fictional worlds I’ve created. I love most of them.

One I love the best is also among the oldest. I created the first inklings of the Pillar Universe (As seen in the pages of the Forces of Empire series) when I was just a kid, definitely not yet 10 years old.

My thinking at that point was based on Star Wars, the original trilogy, which my parents showed me frequently at the time. Already a big fantasy fan, I fell into space opera or space fantasy (Whatever you call it) with a little more sense of what I wanted to do with my life.

I wanted to tell stories, and I knew pretty fast I liked originality.

While my feelings on originality have changed a little, the universe I created from the thought of “Star Wars plus something new.” have only increased in intensity as I developed the universe.

When I was a kid, I thought the least original part about Star Wars was the ‘geography’ (In a manner of speaking). I wanted to make a universe unlike any other, and for my hubris I ended up with one.

The Pillar Universe is a space opera setting, far-flung science fiction, without the physical hallmarks of traditional science fiction: planets, stars, even the void of space itself was replaced. In my case, I replaced the planets with pillars.

Pillars, in this case, are infinitely tall cylinders of stone with cores inside that go from light to dark and dark to light based on the passage of intervals of time. People live in caves within them or on outrcps arond the surface of these huge cylinders, but they don’t have gravity (The physical laws are different too, but that’s a longer digression).

Everything would fall into the airy, cloudy, abyss of space if it doesn’t have somewhere to land.

The abyss is breathable atmosphere, mostly. So much for the vacuum of space. But say hello to the wonders of storms the size of our solar system, massive hurricanes strong enough to hurl flying ships from the sky to tumble into the forever of mist below the storms.

But I missed a spot, didn’t I? The stars.

Where does heat and light originate? Well, some pillars are geologically active, but I figured that wasn’t enough. The equivalent of stars in the Pillar Universe come in the form of mighty serpentine creatures that are born in hives within some rare pillars and then fly out to find a new home as they mature.

These critters are called solnas, and they are nuclear generators crossed with dragons. Stars…in their multitudes (Please, pardon the Les Miserables reference). These creatures scan the cores of the pillars, which themselves are naturally occurring rudimentary computer systems, and the solnas use the data they garner to find the next place to start a hive to reproduce.

As you can see above, the geographty of the setting is rather steep.

If any of that sounds intriguing, check out Origin of Storms (It’ll be free on Amazon.com from the 27th of October to the 31st, by the way). Here’s a link.

That was well over 7 minutes, so I’m changing the title. Hope you stuck with me through all of the above.

And thanks for reading.

7 Minutes about why I (Don’t) Write

The basic premise of storytelling is that one shares experience, whether their own or something they invented. My goal with writing is always to entertain. I don’t have that much to sacrifice for this goal, because I will admit I don’t know much about the world.

I knew less when I started writing, though.

I was thirteen or fourteen. That year was rough for me. I was in the process of adjusting to the middle school environment. I don’t remember that much about the time. Most of what I can recall I wish I didn’t.

I didn’t enjoy 8th grade much.

But I started writing back then. I took lengthy breaks during some years, but I’ve never hung up the spurs and six-guns for more than a few months at a time aside from in college.

And yet, I’m way behind. I don’t have series-length works like I’ll need to attract big readers on Amazon, and I’m not sure I have the will to write a mighty series along the lines of M D Cooper, or Michael Anderle, or any of the other giants out there.

What I have is my desire to entertain myself and others.

Got to keep that one in front of me. I tend to forget it’s there.

Lessons are nice.

Escape can be good.

Fun?

Why not.

Taking joy in what I do means telling tales I love and enjoy.

And still I struggle. I guess I want a series that never feels stale. A book like that. A scene like that. I get stuck looking for north too often.

Never fear. I don’t know how to give up at the game.

Let me tell you, I almost wish I could quite sometimes. But then, what’s the point of that?

Oh well. The timer is ringing.

Thanks for reading my rant.

7 Minutes to Check In

We just got the first snow of the season in my part of the world. It was light snow. Nothing stuck.

Sadly, this reminds me of the position my books have been in for the past couple years. Sure, I’ve gotten mostly positive reviews, but I’m simply not putting my books in front of enough people.

I want to share these stories. Yet, I don’t really know how to get people to read them.

Sure, I’m getting better at it. I’ve learned a few things about making book covers and even a little about writing book descriptions. Yet…it never seems to be enough.

Thanks to dictation, I’m faster and mostly better as a writer than I’ve ever been.

Still…

I can’t seem to focus on a series. My ADHD is a serious obstacle at this point. The time is coming to control those impulses, because I can’t keep failing to attract readers forever.

Honestly, this post started out as a bit of whining, but I think there is a good takeaway from my emotional shift while writing the last few paragraphs. I feel better. Maybe, just maybe, I feel better because I’m writing.

Writers, take notice.

You may just need to do the work to feel better.

Today has been a struggle to optimize marketing, at least for me.

Time to go back to the pages, the stories, the characters.

Thanks for reading.

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.

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.