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Undead Son

On the hillside you'll hear my roar. . .

10/13/16 02:40 pm - Held Over

So you may (or may not) have noticed that the campaign deadline passed but now has been extended.  Indiegogo lets you do this once in the course of a campaign.  You can extend the deadline one time for as much as you want, so long as the total campaign does not exceed 60 days.  It can be tricky, because you have to try and judge how much time you will need based on how close you are to goal, but you can't change it later if you made the wrong choice.

I extended the deadline to the 23rd.  I was going to go for a week, but then I thought it would be better to get another Friday in there, and Indiegogo does not start processing payout until Monday anyhow, so why not all the way to Sunday?  So that's what I did.

I don't like doing it.  It always feels disinginuous to make the press of "Only X days left!" and then cut and be like "Okay, now THIS is the real deadline".  It feels like a cheat because it kind of is.  But I didn't want this campaign to fail, so I did what I thought was best.

Anyway, there are now 10 days left and $700 more to make goal.  Come and help me and I promise to shut up about it until at least February. Going to make some changes to how I do business, I just need to make this one work.

10/10/16 03:34 pm - So close...

Black Card 4 Smol

Just 2 more days and the campaign is 76% funded! Just $805 to make it!  I always feel bad about spamming people with the campaign, and I look forward to it being over so i can stop.  But that doesn't mean i can stop yet.  I know we can make it over the line!

10/5/16 03:36 pm - The Tyrant Comes

Today we have a sample from early in the story of Beauty & the Blade.  The campaign is holding at 62% with just 7 days left.  Read:

Athena took a deep breath, then bent from her knees, curled her arms around the anvil, and heaved.  It was heavy, but with the leverage she was able to hoist it off the wheelbarrow and drop it on the table.  For a moment she was afraid the old wood might crack, but it held despite some threatening creaks.  She smiled, flexing her arms, and then she gave the anvil one good shove to turn it a little.  There, that would do.

She went back to her mechanism and began making adjustments, humming to herself.  Sunlight slanted in through the basement windows, and she snorted at all the dust floating in the light beams.  This was what came from working in an underground laboratory.  She flicked switches, and the machine spread out on the table hummed and began to emit little curls of smoke.  She thought she had it tuned properly this time.  She avoided looking at the black scar burned across the far wall.  Science always entailed setbacks.

She read the gauges, flicking the one that stuck, and she made a few small adjustments to the alignment.  The machine was really putting out heat now, and she had to fire or shut it down.  Holding her breath, she pulled down her goggles and closed the switch.  There was a moment of high-pitched whining, and then the muzzle glowed and a beam of scarlet light shot from the barrel of the device, sliced through the still air, and punched a sizzling hole through the center of the anvil.

Athena whooped and jumped up, almost hitting her head on the lamp dangling overhead.  She was a tall girl, and in here the ceilings were not as high as she’d like.  Molten steel poured out of the hole in the anvil and dripped onto the table, sending up smoke and a lick of flame, and the red beam began to vibrate.

“Oh no, no no no!”  Athena grabbed a wrench and clamped it on the housing, tried to hold it as the beam cycled through.  The oscillations scarred the anvil with glowing lines, and then scored black sear into the stone basement walls.  There was a last keening sound and then the beam died as the lights flicked off, then came back up.

Athena gave the mechanism another twist, tightening it down against the housing, making sure the contacts were solidly connected.  The lights flickered, and she growled in annoyance – this had been happening all day.

She heard her father’s footsteps on the basement stair, one foot always heavier than the other.  “Why are the lights out in the library?” he said, his voice coming down the steps ahead of him.

“Probably blew a fuse,’ she said, not looking up from her work.

“And why would that happen?” he said, coming down a few more steps.

“Because the house generator is completely inadequate for my power needs,” she said.  “I told you that last month.”

“And I told you to put it in writing,” he said, coming down the rest of the way, leaning on the rail.  He was a heavy man with hair going gray and a scar on his chin from a long-ago war.

“I did, you ignored it.”  She smiled and blew a stray lock of hair out of her face, went around to the other side to check the gauges.  “I gave you plenty of time.”

“This wouldn’t happen if we lived in the city,” he grumbled.

“Yes, why don’t we move?” she said, smiling as she checked the wires.  “I can be packed in three days.”

“No,” he said.

“You could have been a member of the Assembly, a man of importance,” she said.

“I was not going to raise a daughter in that cesspit of self-interest and criminality,” he said.

“Do you mean the city, or the Assembly?”

“Both,” he said.  He sniffed, looked at the smoking table.  “Is that Clent’s anvil?”

“His old one,” she said, waving her hands to disperse the smoke faster.  “He got a new one, so he said I could have this one.”

“I would wager he expected you to use it, not burn. . . did you burn a hole in it?”  He bent down to peer at the melted steel, cooling to hard red in the air.

“I am using it,” she said.  She smiled without wanting to, unable to contain her pride.  “I increased the energy output over three hundred percent with the airless condensation chamber.”

“And almost set the house on fire,” he said, examining the walls.  He tilted his head back to peer through his glasses.  “Again.”

“The oscillation was much less this time,” she said.  “I just need to -”  She stopped.  “Do you hear that?”

He frowned and looked up at the ceiling.  “Sounds like an engine.  Something big.”

Athena ran to the window and peered out, squinted through the dirty, rippled old glass.  The sky was darkening, but it didn’t look like a cloud.  “What is that?” she said under her breath, and then she ran for the stairs.

“What is what?” her father yelled after her.  Then she heard him curse as he climbed back up the stairs.  She ran through the kitchen and then burst through the door into the late summer afternoon, looking up.  Above her, the sky was turning black, and it was not a storm.

She saw a heavy cloud, like a thunderhead, but it was alone in the sky, dark and roiling, and then something huge erupted from it and surged forward across the sky.  It was a ship, immense and black and trailing dark smoke like a flying factory.  She saw other ships around it, like small attendants, and behind them a dark front closed over the sky, blotting out the sun.

Her father burst through the back door and staggered into the yard, staring upward.  “Oh no, no, it can’t be.”

Athena saw the banners hanging from the ship, red with the insignia on them like a black nail, and she felt fear coil and strike in her heart.  “It’s him,” she said.  “The Tyrant.”

10/3/16 11:56 pm - Panic Mode

I always do this.  The campaign is doing pretty well, with some 9 days left to go and 60% of the way there, and yet I am frequently plunged into the depths of despair over it.  I panic about money, probably because I shave it so close every time.  I try not to, but it always seems to work out that way.  It doesn't help that I have not been sleeping well, and I broke a tooth last week and am worried about that.

I worry what will happen if I fail this time.  How will I live?  What can I possibly do?  I know I need to do more, push more, work harder.  But some days I just don't feel like I can do it.  I get panicky and stressed.  My heart feels tight, my blood rushes.  I catastrophize and think of myself in the worst possible way.  Ugh.  No matter how many of these campaigns I run, it never gets easy.  Writing the books is the fun part, the easy part.  Publicity is the hard part.  It kills me.  Sometimes, when my heart is galloping, it feels like it really might.

So if you can.  Help!  Even if you already have, or can't, help me spread the word.  Share the link.  Repost, reblog.  Word of mouth is my great ally now.

9/29/16 12:28 am - Mad Science!

Mad Science

Well, here as a preview is a mock-up of what the Mad Science Pendants will pretty much look like.  I am looking for some gear-type stuff to add to them, so this is not the final design, quite, and the individual pendants will differ some, but this is the basic design.

Let me know what you think!  The campaign still needs your help!  Come on over and join the fun!

9/26/16 04:22 pm - Minauros

Minauros Card 4

In command of the armies of the Tyrant as they descend upon Achillea is the being called Minauros. Not a man, not even human, he is a beast created by the Tyrant’s twisted science. More than seven feet tall, incredibly strong, horn-crowned, and all but indestructible, Minauros is a creature out of nightmare.

But beneath his cruelty and violence, something torments him. Why does he cry out in his sleep? What are the memories he cannot quite conjure, and yet cannot put aside? His task is to put down all resistance, to grind the country under his heel until all bow before his master, the Tyrant himself. Yet part of him resists, and so the fate of all may hinge upon the question of whether the beast is, in truth, human.

Had a good weekend but there is still a lot to do.  Come help me make this campaign a success!


9/20/16 03:36 pm - Athena Leonidas

Athena Card 2 copy
Athena is the daughter of General Leonidas, a respected war hero long retired to his country estates.  Now nineteen years old, Athena has grown up in the countryside, with only a few visits to the city, and mostly she is happy that way.  She loves the easy pace of country life and the friendly people, and she has all the free time she needs to pursue her passion for inventing.

A brilliant and unconventional engineer, she spends a great deal of her time immersed in her experiments with electrical and mechanical devices.  She began by trying to improve her father’s prosthetic arm, and has carried her works to a high degree of proficiency, even if she’s not always restrained by practicality.  People think she is strange for her focus on her hobby, but they tolerate it.

Tall and athletic, she loves to ride and hike when she is not buried in her workshop.  She can be abrupt and difficult to deal with, but she is savagely loyal to her friends and family, and she often demonstrates much more courage than good sense.  Her temper, when roused, can be spectacular.

Born in the aftermath of war and the end of the monarchy, she has been largely indifferent to politics, content with the world as it is so long as it leaves her alone.  But once her country falls under the power of the Tyrant, her unwillingness to be intimidated will lead her inexorably into danger.

The campaign is off to a sllllooowww start.  Come and help me make it a success!

9/16/16 12:53 am - Pitching

One of the hardest, most important things you need to learn to do as a writer of any kind is pitch, and nobody teaches you how to do it.

You would think it would be something taught, along with summarizing, but it isn't.  Classes will teach you how to write, how to clean common errors and infelicities out of your style, how to avoid split infinitives, passive voice, and needless words.  You can learn how to plot a hit novel, how to pace it, how to build in the right structure and develop your characters, how to increase tension in act two and build toward a satisfying climax.

But once you have written your novel, and have it in a form that you think is good enough, then you enter a strange new world.  Because every single person to whom you might show your work in hopes of publication will want two things: a pitch, and a summary.

A pitch is just that: something quick and fast you toss to someone.  Something like "Die Hard on a Train", or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only with Aliens".  Usually you have more than that, but a pitch needs to be short, to the point, and encapsulate everything you think is good about your book and why it is different and worthy of note.  Pitches have no set length, no real rules.  It often helps to think of them as the "back cover" blurb on your as-yet-unprinted book.  What would a publisher put on the book to encourage people to read it?

A summary is much harder, moreso because there are no hard and fast rules for it.  Almost every agent or editor will want a summary of some kind.  Some of them want a short, one-page rundown of the plot, some of them want something more involved.  When sending out a raft of packages to agents or publishers, you will prepare a baker's dozen different kinds of summaries to fit all the different criteria.  In theory, over time, you will get good at it.

I think I am getting okay at pitching, and I have found it helps to have a pitchable idea.  Some ideas and stories just pitch better than others.  They have easy archetypes and concepts that are variants on well-known tropes.  They pitch well.  You can say "Pirates of the Caribbean, only with time travel" and people know what you are about.  Some ideas are harder.  They ask for more involved concepts and setups.  Deep worldbuilding is hard to sum up in a quick pitch.  You have to elide and sketch.

Summarizing is something I very much struggle with.  I get caught up in recursive loops of "Oh, but there's this other thing. . . and I have to mention this character. . . and let me explain these complex magic systems and religions and. . . look just read the book, okay?"  I have a terrible, terrible time with it.  I get asked for a one-page summary and I produce three pages.  With footnotes.  I get asked for a paragraph and I come up with ten annotated pages.  It sucks and I suck at it.

And I wish it was something more people addressed.  Summarizing and pitching is a huge part of the process of getting published, and most guides to publishing treat it as kind of en passant - like when you look up a guide to a boss battle you can't get past and the only advice is "first you kill these guys" with a casual lack of awareness that this is a hard-assed thing.  After spending a lot of time building up your art, you are suddenly asked to whittle it down.

Anyway, I think my pitching is ok.  If you want to click over to my current novel campaign and check out the pitch, I could sure use the help.


9/12/16 05:37 pm - New Campaign!

Black Card 4 Smol

Athena Leonidas lives a simple life in the countryside, far from the crowds and decadence of the city of Achillea. The daughter of a retired general, she has the status and freedom to pursue her passion for inventions and devices, and she doesn’t care if people think she is strange.

But then comes a day when the sky goes dark. Black warships descend like the night, capturing the city in the name of the legendary Tyrant, and when Athena’s father returns to Achillea to help defend it, he vanishes.

Athena travels to the city for news of her father, only to find him imprisoned and sentenced to die with the leaders of the resistance. Seeking his release, she confronts the terrible Beast – the monstrous minion of the Tyrant who led the attack and now controls the kingdom. He offers her a bargain: if she will be his slave, her father will be spared. Desperate, she agrees.

Fitted with a strange collar to make her obedient, she is subjected to the animalistic lusts of the conqueror. Yet, save for the collar, she is not restrained, and while she debases herself at his command, she manages to slip away to save those targeted for arrest and death. She masks her face and names herself the Rose as she fights the occupation with sword, pistol, and all her formidable intellect.

But time is running out. The Tyrant himself will soon arrive to inspect his new conquest, and when that day comes the streets will run with blood. Athena must find a way to free her country from the yoke of tyranny. She must find a way to kill the Beast.

But Athena has discovered something she never expected: within the monster is the heart of a man. She alone sees the humanity hidden beneath horns and claws. What does she feel for him? What does he feel for her? What will happen when the Tyrant arrives, and all must be laid bare and fought for—won or lost?

New campaign is LIVE!  I am not too pleased about having to launch a few weeks before I normally would, but I don't want to be still campaigning through the end of October in the frenzy before election day.  Noooo, I think not.  So here we go!


9/4/16 10:10 pm - Coming soon...

Black Card 4 Smol
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