Supers v. Sorcerers is Go!

This post on WordPress:Minds

You can buy RawJack here.

Just a few days hence I released one of the projects I've been most excited about over the last year or so.

In suffering an insatiable desire to try my hand at superhero prose, I entertained the concept of innate powers versus earned magic for quite a while as the story and world took shape. We've tread the ground of 'what would it be like if superheroes came about in the real world' plenty of times, and I wanted to try something different. Peter Cline covered supers in the zombocalypse quite nicely, and many many authors are currently delving into superhero litrpgs. 

What I had not yet seen was a world where people recognizable as supers, with power levels ranging from X-men to Superman, rose to foil not a world of mundanity, but one saturated by magic.

This was very much a case of building the world first and characters second, and I think that shows in a sense that this first installment of Hero Planet could have taken place in any city, with any hero as its protag. This I think is an element that Coming to Power and How Black the Sky do not possess. 

Interestingly, I have far less anxiety about producing a quality sequel to this book than I do about the others... I think this is part of the reason why.

Our main hero, Jack, was a pleasure to write, as I seem to enjoy painting my characters' responses to pain as vividly as I know how... and Jack can take more than either Jon or Pierce. Honestly he's probably only rivaled by the skeleton man Agrathor in this department.

I can't tell you how many times I made my own stomach growl describing whatever Jack was eating to kickstart his healing factor... Just thinking about it makes me crave sushi and gyros.

If you know me by now, you know that saying I'm excited to continue writing in this world is about as novel as someone saying they like donuts or cherry pie, but I'll say it anyway.

I'm so excited to keep writing in this world!

So read free on KU, or grab it at a very reasonable price, leave a review, and I'll see you on the magical hero planet Ellio!

Hero Day Fast Approaches

After a few procedural delays, my magipunk superhero future-fantasy thriller RawJack is nearly ready for release!

Here's the cover. Art by the wonderfully talented Bachtard.

The left one will be used - I'm just sharing the one on the right because I like it...

This one had been swimming around in my brain for a while, with its particularly exciting premise. 
We see story after story where supers emerge in the normal world, and in anime we have worlds like One Punch and MHA where they are so ubiquitous as to be a profession.

One day, I wondered to myself what it would look like for supers to be born into a world not dominated by technology, but magic. A place where the average citizen would have access to enough spells and enchantments to make them a match for an equally average super. 

Jealousy was my first thought. And economic tension, as the supers are born with natural access to power that other people have to pay for. It's quite a different power dynamic that I think grew into a story I couldn't have written any other way.

Throw in competing motivations, lost religions, a hostile rural landscape, and a little bit of romance, and you've got my first installment in the Hero Planet collection - RawJack.

I plan to continue writing in this world, expanding the stories of the various heroes while keeping the central thread focused on Jack, the first book's MC. I won't number these because I aim to make them less dependent on chronology than my other series, so we'll see how that goes. 

Watch my Twitter and Amazon author page for deets, and expect to see RawJack on Kindle in about a week. Paperback to follow.

In the meantime, check out my other heroic stories, How Black the Sky and Coming to Power (Free this weekend!)

As always, thanks for reading.

Writing as Simulation

This post on WordPress:Minds

It’s easy enough to just say those words, let the mind casually work out the implications, and say, ‘Oh, neat.’ But I think there’s some value in treating one’s writing as a simulation deliberately. 

Let’s explore how I got to this view.

My first completed novel was Coming to Power. This was my, “This novel is so important to me/It has my soul in it/Why haven’t I finished it yet” novel. Many of you know what I’m talking about. I’m almost embarrassed to say how long it took to find the discipline to finish, but part of what I want to do with my blogs is to be transparent. 20 years… Yes. Eek.

During that time I wrote half the novel, including scrapping the beginning perhaps 4 times. Of course the writing was awful, but thanks to the #pulp in all of us, the basic plot was solid fun. Then I lost half my possessions to stupid stuff, including the handwritten half manuscript.

Stirred but not shaken, I started over. It was better this time. So much emotion! A better beginning! Purple, purple words in green ink over five hundred handwritten pages and too many years. Then, complete. Steak dinner and self-congrats.

A little more time passed, me knowing I needed to sit and start transcribing. When I did… well, a lot of it was just kind of wonky. Shifting styles, jumbled themes, leftover silliness. It seemed that a rewrite was in order. 

It was better this time. Real emotion! Just enough purple to match some of my favorite authors without seeming lame. Tighter plot, clearer themes.

I pored through the handwritten copy to compare and make sure no nuggets were lost. A few were and I smelted them into the mix. But the main thing I noticed was this: running the characters, setting and various variables and parameters through my particular brain, even years removed, I hit the same beats (the important ones anyway) and the characters even said the same things, if sometimes with different words. 

It was then I began to realize I was running a simulation in my head. If the seed was slightly different but the input was the same, my personal procedural world was destined to look somewhat alike in each new iteration. The characters had the same AI, so they were likely to move about in similar ways. It was just a different way to get from A to B to C. 

I do a lot of freelance work, mostly consulting with new authors to help them break through perceived walls and learn tools they need to be self-sufficient, but also world-building that’s essentially me ghostwriting. Going through this process a few hundred times has further solidified my perception of writing as simulation.

A client passes me parameters, sometimes a partial outline, sometimes a premise, sometimes hundred-page messes of notes I have to mine for goodies, and occasionally just a prefab book cover. I feed the data into the me-machine. Following the procedural generation rules written in my brain, the world spins out in a sensible way until it becomes real, and then, complete.

If you pass the same data into the same machine, you get a similar result every time. It might be the same if humans were more machine than man (twisted and evil) but since we’re not, Ian Malcom’s chaos theory goes to work and the resulting sim is only 90% identical and not 100. 

So this is a distillation of my perception of the matter, but what good does it do everyone else? Well, I think it helps as you write, outline, or worldbuild to view the project as a simulation, especially if you come up against road blocks. 

Stuck on a chapter? That’s because you’re missing a variable or function somewhere that will create tension or provide the solution that will move the narrative forward. 

Story not working? That’s because you’ve got mismatched or corrupted data, or possibly just a bad seed. 

How do I know? Because I’ve been through it.

If one of the three of you has been following, you may have seen me mention that Hero’s Metal book 2, Out of the Deep, has not been playing nice and has actually set me off my schedule by two months. I pushed through to push through, but I’m now 95% certain I will have to rewrite from the beginning. I hate this, but I believe it must be done, and now I know that the result will be far superior to the current state.

The problem? Corrupt data and a seed that’s nearly right but not quite there. The solution? Purge the corruption, adjust a few variables, reset some constants, and start the sim over. Do I want to do it, no. Will it pay off? I think it will.

So I’d like to get crunchier with this metaphor, perhaps to the point of drawing it out into a proper PROCESS, but I think the thoughts are enough for now.

Ruminate on it and let me know what you think! For now, back to simulating.

If you’d like to see the result of my long hours of crunching data so simulate far-off magical worlds, check out these fine novels:

Great review here:

The Mythos Project, or Conservative Retellings

  With the rise of big tech censorship and open calls to silence voices that do not agree with the zeitgeist, I’ve been slowly coming to a p...