Tag Archives: optimism

Not ‘Intelligence Battle’ or ‘Battle Saga: Diversity’, because that would be ridiculous

Yesterday I flouted responsibility and didn’t write a single first draft word, instead going back (again, just can’t keep away from this one) to Codename: Fantasy Losers, which is no longer codenamed Fantasy Losers–or, indeed, anything! I’ve found a proper name for it, the breakthrough occurring (as usual) after I sat down with a nice fresh text file entitled ‘Possible Titles’ and did my usual ‘anything goes no matter how lame or embarrassing’ brainstorming schtick (because there’s no bad ideas when you’re brainstorming). What I realised is that what I wanted was a kind of anime/manga/gameish kind of name, something slightly odd, even ‘off’, but which made more sense the more one thought about it, and which would gain a deeper meaning and stronger identity as the reader progressed through the story.

And so, after a few non-starters, I stumbled upon a concept that, with a little refinement, ended up becoming:

Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn’t have time to build it to scale or to paint it.

So yes, Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart. To be honest I was surprised there isn’t already an obscure Japanese SRPG called “Bright Battle Story/Saga/Soul” or “Tactics Heart” but nope, totally up for grabs! So I’m claiming it. Or them. Look, you know what I mean. In any case, going with the anime theme I then spent a very happy few hours making ‘eyecatches’ to insert between chapters:

Getting them to show clearly and nicely in greyscale was kind of a fun challenge. Anyway, after all that title-and-eyecatch faffery I felt more keen than ever about this project–and still do! It’s going to be a fun book, I haven’t even started writing it and I’m already enjoying myself far too much. My feeling is that although it won’t be overly long it’s not really a NaNovel, so I may start outlining soon and save Time Is But The Stream for NaNo (another one I can’t keep away from, every time I start writing notes I keep slipping into fun dialogue between the two main characters). And it’s more likely than not that I’ll have yet ANOTHER idea when November actually rolls around, so I don’t know, for now I’ll just keep writing lots of notes and try to focus long enough to finish the first draft of Against Darker Days. Resonance books, I have discovered/realised/decided, take a year to write. On and off. With breaks. Doing other things in-between. But a solid year. There’s too much in them to just storm through and call them done.

But anyway! Current plan is to have both Tactics Heart and TIBTS (seriously, thank goodness for that ‘but’) published before the end of the year, which will smoothly put me in the position of having ten books out, hurrah! It’s interesting with these two, I feel that TIBTS has some inherent appeal and may find an audience, but Tactics Heart is so niche and (let’s face it) odd that it could (eventually, in like a year or two) break out and be my biggest book or just sink into eternal obscurity, entertaining no one but myself. Either way I’m good, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. I think there is an audience for something that explores the conventions and interesting things about SRPGs and so on within the context of an underdog sports story, but it shouldn’t be a novel. It should be a webcomic. But! I can’t draw and can’t afford to pay someone to do it for me, so a novel it is. After it breaks out and becomes wildly popular, THEN I can have it adapted into a comic. And a cartoon! And then an actual game, ah, that’d be hilarious and awesome. (Hilawerisome.)

Is anyone else enjoying being an indie author as much as me? Sometimes I wonder, it doesn’t seem possible.

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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Of Writing


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And They Have A Plan

Why yes, that IS a Battlestar Galactica reference in the title! Blood & Chrome, eh? Can’t come fast enough, am I right? Caprica was gone all too soon, the BSG finale and most of the final season was a bit naff what’s with all the head angels is this scifi or fantasy etc etc

(Although let me just say, aside from a couple of filler blips, season two of the new BSG was among the best and most compelling television I’ve watched in the last decade.)

(Also frakking Adama, man.)

(“Wouldn’t count on it.”)

(And and and Doc Cottle; “… was unforgivable.” YES.)

Somehow this has become a post about how much I love BSG, but let’s get back on track. Previously my plan, regarding the whole indie author thing, was to just write whatever I liked and publish it when it was ready and if people enjoyed it then that was great and if nobody liked anything I wrote then that was fine too. And actually that’s still the plan, because it’s working for me and it’s fun. But over the last half year or so I have been thinking about things, future things, and a vague sort of solidity has begun to form.



Forty books published by 2021.


After polishing and releasing all of my currently-written books, focus on releasing first-in-series and second-in-series, as well as standalones. Subsequent-in-series driven by demand, unless I really just want to write them.

Publish something new every four months or so. Every season a new book, as it were.


Have ten books out by the end of the year.

Have fifteen books out by the end of next year.


Gain enough popularity to kickstart a comic version of a certain upcoming project into being. (I feel almost guilty about writing it as a book, it really would work better as a comic.)

Bump into Peter Jackson while he’s filming The Hobbit near my house, happen to mention my books, ????, movie.

Be able to say “I have a platform!” without it being an outright lie.


Just Keep Writing.

So, with all of that said, the projects I will be working on next are most likely, and in no particular order:

Against Darker Days (Resonance 2: Resonate Harder)
The Enduring Unlife Of Imogen Shroud (ImoShrou 2: The New Batch)
This Impossible World, This Impossible Girl (Miya Black IV: The Legend Of Curly’s Gold)
Hidden Power (Charlotte Powers 3: The Quickening)
Fantasy Losers (Or Whatever I End Up Actually Calling It: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor)
Time Is But The Stream (Again, Probably Not The Final Title: Hypercube)
Swansong (Jean Scarlet: Operation Condor)

Goodness, that’s quite a lot of different series (although I’m doing my very best to make the two new books standalones). This is like a very slow, methodical version of ‘keep the plates spinning’.


Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Of Writing


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State Of My Personal Indie Nation – August 2011 Edition

You know, writing these is a really fun part of every month, no matter how productive (or unproductive) I’ve been. With that said, this month I got quite a bit done! First, as usual, let’s look at some numbers:

August 2011 Sales

Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns – 3
Miya Black, Pirate Princess II: Freedom & Responsibility – 1
Miya Black, Pirate Princess III: Fractured Lives – 6
Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 68
Charlotte Powers: Power Play – 1
Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage – 0
The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud – 7
The Boy & Little Witch – 1

Total Sales For August: 87

Here’s an interesting little thing, from March to this month sales for Resonance: Birds Of Passage go 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. Ahaha! Anyway, I love this month’s numbers, they’re a little better than last month’s but not excessively so. Gradual increase, that’s what I like to see. Apparently August is supposed to be the worst month for sales, so, well, hopefully that means next month will be even better? Also it turned out I was completely wrong in my prediction about August being the first month where I sold less than the month before, so … I don’t know, I am of course happy to be wrong about this, and with my plans to officially release Power Play next month I hope that I’ll see more sales in September than I did in August, but predictions don’t seem to be my strong point so, y’know, I don’t know, just wait and see I guess.

Power Down continues to be my runaway success, which I honestly wouldn’t have picked–oh, one interesting thing is that increasing the price to $2.99 from 99 cents doesn’t seem to have negatively impacted sales in the least. If anything it increased sales. So, well, yes. I don’t think I’ll be increasing the prices of my other books–I don’t think there’s much point until you’re getting at the least a sale a day–but it’s nice to know that I can get away with pricing the Charlotte Powers series at $2.99. I’m playing the long game with this indie author thing, but eventually money will become important. For next month, I’ll be interested to see just how the sales of Power Down translate into sales of the sequel.

TIP OF THE MONTH: If you want to see moderate success as an indie author, write a gosh-darned superhero novel. They actually sell.

I reached a few fun milestones this month: over a hundred copies sold of a single title (Power Down, of course) and over two hundred copies sold across all titles (almost three hundred, actually, which is kind of amazing). From tiny acorns do mighty oaks etc. etc. and so forth, I’m really happy with how things are going right now, how things have progressed over the last half-year or so. Speaking as someone who needs very little external validation I do feel validated by the sales I’m getting and (especially) the nice reviews and comments I’ve been receiving. It really does mean a lot to me, and it makes writing even more funner knowing that there are people out there reading and enjoying my work. Special mention goes to the great tweet I got last week demanding that Miya Black III be put out in print, I loved that! Considering that I’ve sold exactly two (2) print copies of Miya Black II, however, it’s not really financially viable at this point in time. I wish I could justify the cost of printing, but with how ridiculously expensive it is to get proofs sent to New Zealand (honestly, you would not believe me if I told you), I actually kind of can’t afford it right now.

Enough about sales and lovely readers and such, what have I actually accomplished this month? Surprisingly, quite a bit! Although I failed my self-imposed novella-in-a-month challenge I don’t regret doing it in the least–it just happened that the story idea turned out to not be good enough. I learned from my mistakes, I had a lot of fun writing it, and most importantly it broke me out of the series fatigue I was suffering and spurred me on to getting Power Play finished. With the first draft firmly in hand I ripped through the edits and the proofs, and now it’s ready to publish. In fact it’s already available to buy, but I haven’t done any announcements yet.

Anyway, releasing Power Play means I’m free to move on to whatever I want, which may be the sequel to Birds Of Passage. I know, I know, it’s my least-selling title, but I love the story and I love the characters and I’ve worked really, really hard on this book, probably harder than I’ve worked on anything (except maybe Miya Black V), and I want to share it with people. Even if it’s only my family, they all really liked the first one, probably more than anything else I’ve written, and the second one (in my singular opinion) blows the first out of the water in every possible way–characterisation, plot, story, quality of writing, moments, everything, it’s just such a better book. Perhaps my favourite of any book I’ve yet written. As it stands I’ve got 180,000 words down, I’m close to the end, so just getting a first draft done wouldn’t be a huge chore … yes, I should finish the first draft. It’s all outlined, I just have to write it.

So, with all of that said, let’s move on to goals. I accomplished all of my goals for August, but seeing as they were pretty much just “finish Power Play; take a deep breath” there wasn’t much chance of failure. Goals for next month, though? Well …

September 2011 Goals
1 – Release Charlotte Powers: Power Play. (Kind of already done!)
2 – Finish first draft of Against Darker Days.
3 – Maybe a proper outline of Charlotte Powers: Hidden Power?
4 – Editing run of Miya Black IV wouldn’t go amiss.
5 – Take another look at Jean Scarlet: Swansong?
6 – Continue picking away at Fantasy Losers.

Now that I come to think about it, I don’t really have a solid plan for the rest of the year. November’s coming up, not sure what I’m going to do for my NaNovel, maaaaybe a Charlotte Powers novel since they seem to come so easily–there’s a character introduced in Power Play who I am dying to write more about, not in diary format (she’s not a diary sort of girl) but she’d make an amazing narrator … hmm. Well, anyway, I should try to be more focused. Maybe a new paragraph would help.

What do I want to have achieved by the end of the year? I’d really love to have ten books out, that’d be great. Right now I’ve published seven, Power Play will make it eight, so two more … Miya Black IV would be easy, and although editing Against Darker Days is going to be a hard grind I’m fairly confident I could get it out before January. Focus on those two? Thinking about it like that, I’m almost certain that I’m going to have more than ten books out before next year. Charlotte Powers 3, for one, I’ve already got the basic plot figured out and I know exactly how it’s going to end, which always makes everything so much easier … if I don’t start writing it before November I could dash it out as my NaNovel. Hmm. But I’ve already started outlining, that’d feel like cheating, no, it’s going to have to be something else for November. Maybe one of my novella ideas, I have a Doctor Who/Sapphire & Steel-influenced story I’m quite keen to write, it’d likely fit into 50k rather neatly, Fantasy Losers would probably suit 50k too … but I can think about this later, closer to November (although I’m already getting rather excited about doing NaNoWriMo this year, REALLY looking forward to it). Besides anything the week before November the idea for a novel could just pop into my head–as happened last year with Power Down–scuppering any plans I might have. In any case I’ve already rambled on far too much, I do allow myself to get a little self-indulgent with these ‘state of my personal indie nation’ things. Once a month is allowable, I feel.

So, to wrap up, things are going really well! I’m getting some sales, I’m being productive, I feel like my writing is improving by the day, even my editing skills seem to be levelling up, and it looks like I’m going to easily meet–exceed, even–my goals for the year. Most of all I’m having just so much fun, and isn’t that what it’s all about, really?

August was a fun month; I’m looking forward to the next!

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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in My Personal Indie Nation


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Don’t Keep Fiddling You’re Going To Break It

One of my author person mottos is “Just Keep Writing”, which is a sub-motto of “Keep Moving Forward”. My policy is that once something is published, it’s published. I’ll correct errors if they’re brought to my attention but I’m not going back and rewriting, no matter how much I feel I’ve improved since the point of publication. For one, it’s because I’m way too busy with new projects, if I kept rewriting old stories to bring them up to my current level of skill then I’d never get anything new out. There are too many stories to tell, fiddling around with old ones isn’t a productive use of time.

Another reason is perhaps best illustrated by this video:

If you don’t feel like exposing yourself to George Lucas’s latest bit of muckery, he’s decided that the silent, powerful choice Vader makes needed a little clearing up. So what has he done? Yep, he’s added his favourite line: “No … NOOOO!”

I deliberated for two minutes over whether to use Jean Luc or Kyon.

I’m not a huge fan of Star Wars. It’s a like-not-love thing for me, I think the original movies are good, especially Empire, I watched Episode I at the theatre and Episode II on TV and I have basically zero interest in watching Episode III. So I’m not really a ‘fan’, as such, and my interest in the movies is fairly passive and yet George Lucas’s continued and baffling interference with the original movies still makes me just so CROSS. LEAVE THEM ALONE, they’re fine as they are. The more changes Lucas makes the more strongly I feel that most of the good in the original trilogy was due to competent people wrestling control away from Lucas. I think he has decent ideas, but that he really needs other people to implement them for him. And I think that the absolute best thing for the Star Wars franchise would be to RIP it from his hands and NEVER allow him near it again. I also think this would be the best thing for Lucas himself, at least creatively, as it would free him to develop something new and interesting.

But I digress. Getting back to my policy of not changing already-published works, I do have another reason. It’s that once something is out there in the big wide world, I believe it isn’t really yours any more. A book isn’t just one story, it’s made anew with every reader–the writer is just part of the equation, you need readers to complete your work. I’m enormously gratified that there are people out there who enjoy what I write as much as I do, but I’m not so arrogant as to think that I’m solely responsible for that enjoyment. More than any other media, with the possible exception of theatre, books represent a partnership between creator and audience that should (perhaps must) be respected.

Dragging myself back to my point, my feeling is that once a book is out there, once it’s published, once it’s being read, to change it would be … wrong. One example I often think of, regarding this subject, is Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Dragonlance is, to me, what Lord Of The Rings is to a lot of people. I love it. I love it so, so much, but Autumn Twilight is really pretty atrocious in a lot of ways. I still think it’s a good book but it could really do with a rewrite. And yet I don’t WANT it to be rewritten, I want it to stay as it is, in its current so-very-far-from-perfect form, because even thinking of changing it gives me a bit of a shudder. The book that I created with Weis and Hickman is the book I want to keep, not a rewritten version of that.

Although if Peter Jackson wants to do a LOTR-quality movie version of Dragonlance then I am in total support of that idea.


Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Of Writing


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So You Say You Want A Revolution

Lately I’ve noticed a trend, of sorts, towards downplaying the changes in the current state of publishing–that is, a lot of people are saying ‘this is not revolutionary, self-publishing has been around forever, all that has changed is the number of people self-publishing’.

To me this seems wrong, because I see a clear revolution–removing the cost of printing and distribution is a huge change that opens the world to anyone with an Internet connection. Instant, near-zero cost replication and delivery, how is that NOT a revolution? And not just for self-publishing but for traditional publishers also–recent developments have exposed the flaws in their systems, which is why a lot of traditional publishers (and bookstores) are now struggling. Well, that and the fact that hardly anyone reads any more–but I think that this, too, is changing.

Actually, let me talk about that for a moment. It’s common knowledge that the state of literacy in the Western World is pretty dire. Yes, there are still people who read, but compared to other activities reading is pretty much bottom-rung, especially if you’re talking about fiction rather than newspapers or magazines. Even for me, I read far less these days than I did growing up, and part of the reason for that is when I was around twelve or so I ran out of books. I’d read everything I wanted to at the local library, and whenever I heard about a new book that sounded interesting, it was never available–or if it was, it was too expensive for me to take a chance on. So I settled into a groove, only reading my most favourite, trusted authors, and I spent more time with games and TV and movies and so forth. I still read, of course, but less than I had when younger.

However. If the Kindle had been around at that time, it’s probable that a lot more of my time would’ve been spent reading–I remember spending hours going through Amazon, looking at all the books I wanted to read, but the barrier of ‘shipping cost’ prevented me from buying all but those I most wanted. (Which were mostly RPG rulebooks and comics, come to think of it.)

So, my optimistic prediction for the future is that slowly but surely reading is going to crawl its way back up. More and more people are going to embrace e-readers (or reading on their phones), e-books will become mainstream, prices will come down, and the world will be a slightly better place for it. This will, of course, also be great for indie authors, because people will get used to the idea of searching out new books, and websites and so on will spring up to cater to this. We’re seeing some of this now, but my feeling is that The Big Idea hasn’t hit us yet.

In any case, as I’ve said before and will say again, it’s the best time in the history of the world to be a writer of any kind, and things are just getting started.

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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Of Writing


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Setting myself up for disappointment or remaining idealistic in the face of cynicism? Let’s watch!

Phew. Or actually … actually yes, I got it right the first time, phew. Just finished the final FINAL final proof of Miya Black III. I had a feeling from the start that it was going to be the last one, and I actually enjoyed this read-through quite a bit–without as many things to tidy up or errors to mark I could concentrate more on the story and the pacing, and generally I came out of it feeling pretty positive about the whole thing. I think for this particular book I did around five editing runs and five proofing runs, mostly because I wrote it so long ago. I can remember working on the first draft while my wife was in labour with our first daughter, over two years ago now. (Of course I didn’t just write all the way through, but if you’ve ever attended a birth you know there’s quite a lot of sitting around with nothing much happening in between the exciting bits. Seriously, those things go on for hours.) Proofing, for me at least, is like cleaning a room. You scrub away at a bit of muck on the floor and get it looking good, but that makes everything around it look shabby in comparison, so you work to clean the rest of the floor but then the curtains look all threadbare and dusty–it’s a gradual process, and for me it generally requires at least three passes before I’m happy.

Anyway, it’s done now! Proofed, formatted, compiled, all bundled up snug and warm in a lovely little mobi file. I’ll just put it aside overnight then look at it again in the morning–a quick flick-through on the ol’ Kindle just to make sure the ncx index thing is doing what it should and the navigation is working properly and so forth, and then I get to hit the big shiny ‘publish’ button. (It’s not actually big or shiny, but it still makes my heart beat faster and my mouth go dry when it comes time to actually hit it.) From my experience publishing other books I’ve learnt that it’s best just to get it over with and walk away–focus on something else. Once you’ve judged something ready it does no good to dwell, far better to publish-and-forget and move on. In this case to the next in the series, Miya Black IV! It’s been far too long since I even looked at this one, I hope it’s as good as I remember it being. I had to make some tough decisions in IV, but on previous read-throughs I always felt “Yes, that was the best call”. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way this time. Actually, I’m kind of excited to read it again.

Also, funnily enough, getting back into the themes of Miya Black III again turned out to be kind of inspiring, in a way–one of the underlying themes of Miya Black is the difference between what’s right and what’s easy. Well, I really didn’t want to do this last proof, I thought the penultimate proof was going to be the final one and when it turned out it wasn’t I considered just saying “Sod it” and publishing it as it was. That would’ve been the ‘easy’ option, but in the end I went with what I knew was right–I knew it needed another proof, and as it turned out I found a couple of errors, nothing major but they would’ve hurt had I published with them still present. This final FINAL final proofed version is publishable, there might be a few errors still hiding in there but I only found three on this last pass which is well within my standards of acceptable quality (I operate under the assumption that for every error I find there was one I missed; three errors in 130,000 words is, I think, acceptable).

Anyway, enough faffing around. Time for a small reward; I’m off to play a little From Dust.

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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Of Writing


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Yes, books PLURAL. As in 'more than one'. Nobody was more surprised than me, I can assure you

So I thought to myself “I wonder what the current state of e-publishing is in New Zealand, there could be resources I’m not using that I COULD be using”, so I did a quick Google search and found the Digital Publishing Forum, which sounded encouraging. Then I read their ‘Who Should Get Involved’ list:

* Content providers looking for technology
* Technology providers looking for content
* Speakers
* Sponsors
* Suppliers
* Service providers
* Investors
* Anyone who can help build an internationally competitive digital publishing industry in New Zealand

Or, y’know, just a thought here, totally from left field but maybe a couple of, um, writers? Author persons? You know, THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY WRITE THE BLOODY BOOKS?

Or maybe we’re counted among ‘content providers’, except just seeing those two words together makes me shudder so perhaps not after all.

I also considered joining the New Zealand Society Of Authors but honestly couldn’t see any benefit in doing so.

Anyway, it was good to look. Good to know I’m not missing out on anything. Also, today I proofed half of Miya Black III and actually had a good time doing it, so that was marvellous. I sold a few books as well, all around a good day.

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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Of Writing


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