High Hopes

So I started a new project.

While that might seem counter-intuitive since I haven’t released Andlios Book Two yet, it really isn’t. Andlios Book Two is out to beta readers and has been for about a month now. Some feedback has filtered through and I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read it and send feedback thus far, as well as everyone else who intends to in the future. Like I said in a previous entry, I’m looking to gain some distance from Andlios Book Two so that when I go back in for another few runs I’m looking at it from a fresh perspective. After a month I’m already seeing some adjustments that I want to make, which is a good thing.

This new project I’m going to remain mildly secretive about for now. I tend to remain quiet about my books until it is time to release them for a pretty good reason, that reason being that things can change quickly when it comes to novels, especially when they are still being written. What I can say is that I’m revisiting an idea that I had in the past and that this one is a lot of fun for me to work on at the moment. The first week I actually took some time off from writing to do some stuff around the house with Lori, then the second week was me looking through all of my potential projects to decide which one to work on now.

At least I’ll never be left wanting when it comes to ideas, right? I picked this one because anyone that I’ve shown it to has gotten excited about it and wanted to read more of it right away, which tends to be a good sign when it comes to fiction. The book itself is still science fiction, but of a different breed. Less focused on space and technology and more on people and the dumb things that we do to our planet, selves and society. The tone is also a bit different, a bit more tongue-in-cheek and fun than my previous books, which helps to give it a different texture.

This one probably won’t be super long, which will be nice considering that Andlios Book Two is currently my longest work sitting at around 140,000 words (Terminus Cycle was 93,000 and Godslayer was 63,000 for reference). The pace that I’ve been going at has been writing about 10,000 words a week, which puts me at over 30,000 coming off of this week, meaning that within a month or two it could be onto the next phase of editing and revisions with it, which could be great. Of course, it could go on hold when I feel like the time is right to finish up Andlios Book Two, most likely after I get some more feedback in and weigh my options on what revisions I want to do, but considering this pacing this new book shouldn’t take too long.


Right now the follow up to Terminus Cycle is out to a select group of readers and, well, I’m at a loss for what to do with myself. My plan right now is to let this book germinate for a while. It’s out to readers, most give me unrealistic time frames for which they’ll read it but I’ve been doing this for a while now and know that it takes time. I’m in no rush for it. In fact, I want to put this book aside for at least a month or two and then come back to it with fresh eyes. I figure that while I have this luxury of not being under any sort of deadline that I should take advantage of it and make it as good as I can.

That, to me, means letting it sit for a while. I tend to like something, then look back at it a few months later and find a ton of stuff wrong with it that was missed and yearn to be able to take it back and fix it. This way I can do that. Like I said, though, that isn’t the problem, the problem is that I’m sitting here and I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. It’s like singing in front of people. What do I do with my hands?

I went ahead and started working on another, non-related to Andlios project and while that is fun and exciting, it’s been a long time since I really focused on something outside of that universe. The original idea for the series was hatched back in 2012 and a lot of the ideas came together over the span of the following year before I actually started to work on it in late 2013. I’ve started little things here and there that I’ve put aside for later (this project being one of them), but taking on a whole new idea for a novel is at times a daunting process.

After two years of working inside of one universe where the words just flowed I’m having to stop and do a lot of planning. I’m thinking up ideas, plot points, character arcs and all of the stuff that needs to happen before I continue forward with the actual writing. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there is a lot to writing than just sitting down and writing. Without a solid foundation of ideas you don’t have a novel you just have a loose collection of ideas and characters that may or may not come together to make a story.

What I want from this story is for it to be different than anything else that I’ve released. I want it to reflect more what I enjoy reading on average and just be different.

Tough Decisions

There comes a time when you have to slow yourself down, take a look at the what you are working on and make tough decisions. For me the past few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. I’ve been working really hard at revisions on the Terminus Cycle follow-up and have gotten to a pretty good place in it. Pretty soon I’m going to be sending it out to beta readers and wait for feedback to start filtering in. The tough decision that I’ve made is that I need this book to sit for a while.

Initially I had set a lofty goal for myself of releasing three books from this Andlios series in the calendar year of 2015. Terminus Cycle would be March, Andlios II would be August and Andlios III would be December. A part of the reason why I wanted to do this was by studying what was selling on Amazon and how authors were getting attention. It felt like there were two schools of thought to being a success as an indie author; release a ton of stuff in short succession or release one well-polished work and get picked up by a major publisher.

There is a tremendous upside to both, but I tend to work best when I feel like I’m working upstream. The idea of releasing books on my own and being able to do it under my own terms was incredibly appealing, as was the fact that Amazon offers a 70% commission rate. It’s a feast or famine situation to where an author can make a flat rate through a publisher and possibly get royalties in the future if it sells well, or an author can make a lot more if the book sells the same amount through Amazon. Of course, if your book doesn’t sell a ton you are kind of out of luck. I’m not out of luck, but I’ve found that money on marketing is very important to keeping copies moving and that most of the time I just make my money back.

Anyway, this was my plan and as time moves on I’m not sure that I like this plan as much as I did initially. The way I looked at it was that maximizing revenue was the most important thing for me. If it meant rushing through and releasing books that are pretty good but not great I was willing to take that risk. Now that Terminus Cycle has been out for five months and has received both positive and negative feedback I’ve realize that this probably isn’t the best approach for me as an artist.

These two methods remind me a lot of something from the 90’s that plagued the world of clothing in the way of the one size fits all t-shirt. The one size fits all t-shirt was a thing that existed in the 90’s just about everywhere and was a male extra large. Sure, it did technically fit most people, but it would either be too big or too small. If you were bigger than a male XL it would be way too small for you, if you were smaller than a male XL the shirt would be like a dress. That’s how I view these two methods of publishing and attaining a fan base.

Simply put the method that I chose just doesn’t work for me and how I work. Last August I quit blogging (for the most part) after years and years of making money writing as a blogger. Blogging was a strange process where quality control was inexistent on most sites and the sheer volume of posts that had to be made as well as the expediency of them dictated that they were usually quickly tossed together without much craftsmanship involved. On average I was making about $5 an article and working 6 – 7 days a week outputting many, many articles a day. Under such circumstances the idea of sitting back and combing through an article was insanity. Most were fine the way they were and the readers wouldn’t notice if anything was off anyway.

Once again, sort of one size fits all. Writing on the internet doesn’t work the way that it used to before the bubble burst where I’d be able to write an article for a larger site and invoice them for $35. Pumping out a dozen 300 – 500 word articles a day led to a lot of malaise when it came to writing and a distinct lack of worrying about overall quality. Once again, it’s sort of a one size fits all affair when it comes to blogging. Nothing really matters in the end, just page views and Facebook shares. Crafting a perfect article just does not matter outside of the occasional longform piece.

When reflecting on Terminus Cycle I see the convergence of these two one size fits all mentalities into a perfect storm. I was used to writing fast and loose and was under the impression that the only way that I could possibly work towards success would be to be incredibly prolific. This is where the idea of releasing three books in a year was born and where I decided to overlook some of the problems with Terminus Cycle before releasing it. I wanted it out and wanted to adhere to the plan and in retrospect there are some things that I’d absolutely change.

This has all led me to believing that when it comes to the second book I need to let it ferment for a while so that I can look back on it with fresher eyes and do what I need to do to bring it up to my own standards. I want to be able to create art that I feel 100% about and that when it gets out to readers I can feel completely confident that I’ve given them my best work.

Sometimes I write different things

Writing is tough.

Writing novels can be even tougher. Most people look at writing a novel as this nearly impossible task and when I tell people that I’ve published two already they look at me like I’m insane. Those looks are mostly because I finished writing them, not that I got them out into the wild or anything.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog you know that I’m in revision hell on the Terminus Cycle follow-up. I am. At times it is cool, at times I have to go back and rewrite entire chapters, which can be fun, and other times it is infuriating and boring. Basically, it’s a mixed bag, but it’s needed to make sure that it’s as great as it can be.

Over the past few weeks I’ve dabbled with putting other kinds of stuff up here to bring in some traffic and push some books out the door. It has worked, which is cool. So right now I’m going to share another article that I recently wrote.

Gasp, it’s about professional wrestling. Crazy, right? I’ve been watching wrestling since I was a kid and it carried over into adulthood. In fact, it was a bit of an obsession in my college years, mostly with Japanese Pro Wrestling (which I refuse to call “puroresu,” by the way).

Anyway, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax concluded over the weekend and I’ve been left ruminating on the outcome. The conclusion that I came to is that being a Shinsuke Nakamura fan is akin to being a Toshiaki Kawada fan in the 90’s. Check it out here on Cageside Seats. 

Everyone Went to the Rapture. They’re Gone.

For about as long as videogames have been around there have been arguments about the artistic validity of them. Art is, by definition, the expression of human imagination and skill into a medium, which means that you could always make an argument for games being art. Of course, the issue is that most videogames don’t reach beyond the realm of the summer blockbuster and that most gamers consider games that don’t feature the player staring down the sights of a gun to be a “game.” It makes the whole argument of games and art tenuous at best, leaving it instead to the realm of simple entertainment that at times shows glimmers of exploring the human condition beyond explosions and shooting galleries.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is one of the most compelling experiences that I think I’ve ever had in the interactive realm. I’m going to get that out of the way as quickly as I can. I’d go as far as to say that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture has affected me in a deeply, profound way unlike any other videogame has ever been able to do. Everything about the game is finely crafted, well thought out and honed in to evoke an emotional response from the player. The game triggered anxiety in me while playing and the atmosphere and sense of dread were present almost entirely throughout the whole four to six hours that it lasted.

That’s amazing. This is a game where you can’t die, nothing attacks you, you aren’t tasked with saving the world or to grab a gun and shoot anything, yet it can still be “scary.” You control a character in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, a nameless, faceless, voiceless observer of a small, sleepy British town in the 80’s where something happened. That something unravels before your eyes and ears through stray telephones, radios, tape recorders and through witnessing memories. A ball of pulsating light is your guide to the Rapture, it is both menacing and playful as it zips around the town, guiding you towards “memories” that you can trigger by tilting your Dualshock controller in a direction to “unlock” said sequence.

The series of events unfold through individual chapters or stories, where you learn about the people of the town. Each chapter focuses on one person’s journey and experience. Their experiences are human, touching and at times heartwrenching. What’s evident is that while these people are living through what one would call the apocalypse (sort of), they are still living their own lives, dealing with their own issues and their relationships become even more important while everyone around them is affected by the mysterious “flu.”

These people are interesting, they are frustrating and they are incredibly flawed. Even in the face of the end they can be stubborn, and in retrospect foolish. I found myself muttering under my breath to these people in disbelief of how ridiculous they were people. Without a twinge of irony I was sitting on my couch at 3am saying “Stephen, what have you done?” That’s how immersive Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is. If you are willing to sit back and immerse yourself in the game you will be endlessly rewarded.

Not everyone is going to have that same reaction, though. The tremendous voice acting, the heartfelt stories and deliberate funeral dirge of a pace accentuated by Jessica Curry’s stunning soundtrack set an unmistakable tone, but there will be players who are simply averse to such charms. Without a gun, sword or magic rod and a feeling of “control” some players are going to look at Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and see it as a mockery of what they love. I’m not going to tell you that if you feel that way that you are wrong, just a fair warning that this is not for you.

Developer The Chinese Room paved the way for these sorts of games with 2012’s Dear Esther, which remains to this day one of my favorite games of all time. Dear Esther was a transformative experience. I’ll be honest that I was very concerned that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture would have difficulty living up to the high watermark set by Dear Esther, especially with it being a much longer game this time around. Death Esther can take anywhere from 80 to 100 minutes to get through while Rapture is a solid four to six hours. The way that they broke down the chapters and wove an intricate, but heartfelt tale was just masterful, though. It never dragged or felt like it needed to be cut down.

Throughout Rapture you explore these people’s lives and along the way you learn about their connections to one another. Some of these people are related, some are friends, some are lovers or even strangers, but everyone is connected. Some of these people feel alienated, some feel connected, others want to leave while some struggle with the desire to stay. Each character brings something different and compelling to the table and essentially watching the end of these lives play out can be a touching, even draining experience. The player gets a brief glimpse into their lives, but these moments that are captured are nearly perfect, leading to these overwhelming feelings when they meet their fate.

At first it wouldn’t be crazy to see the memories that play out and think that they are kind of ridiculous. Of course, the early memories in the game don’t tell much, nor does anyone truly understand that is happening. Over time it becomes a much more fascinating method of storytelling and the power of the voice acting really comes through. The simple gestures that are made by the figures composed entirely of orbs of light convey so much emotion, hugely in part to the performances themselves, that when you see a character’s orbs of lights dissipate for that last time it’s nothing short of crushing.

This game is deep, insightful and makes no qualms about what it’s doing; it’s tugging on your heartstrings and making you piece together the puzzle. Of course, does the puzzle matter? I’ve seen people complain about a definitive ending, but the nature of this game itself is not about definitive endings and solid answers. Instead it is about you, the player and how you react. What was this event? What was the true end result? What is human existence and do our relationships truly matter? These are all questions that will hang in your head after finishing this game. What you take away from this game depends on your own experiences and emotions.

I can’t recommend this game enough.

Finally, Bannerlord

Gaming is something that I’ve been doing since I was a kid, it comes natural to me. My dad played games and we always had consoles at home, it was kind of his way of winding down after work. I used to get excited about the “TV games” that he’d bring home and eventually when I was old enough we’d play them together. I have these great memories of playing games like Legend of Zelda with him as a kid, each one of us taking turns at difficult bosses or figuring out puzzles.

So needless to say I never stopped playing them. It takes a lot to get me into a game nowadays, with my most anticipated games being a mixed bag of weird genres and styles of games. Right now I’m most looking forward to Shenmue III, Mass Effect Andromeda, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. Most of these games are easy to understand, but Mount & Blade is kind of my go-to when it comes to multiplayer time killing.

When I’m writing I tend to open up Mount & Blade: Warband and play a bit, die a bit, minimize and continue working for a while before tabbing back into playing some more. It’s a great way to work through some frustrations and to keep my mind sharp. Needless to say there is a lot of anxiety behind Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. Why? Because there hasn’t been a blog entry in about a year now from Taleworlds and while Warband is still great, the community is starting to wind down and only attracts new players during Steam sales and most of those players are trolls looking to be a dick in their new $2 game.

But finally the faithful were rewarded today at gamescom with a slew of new videos. Sure, they aren’t the best, but they sure as hell give me a lot of hope.

First up we have the trailer that they played at gamescom today. It doesn’t give away a ton but noticeable is that the graphics are improved by a lot. I’ve seen some slagging the graphics and while this is no AAA title by any stretch of the imagination, the Mount & Blade series has always been about epic gameplay. My first time in a 100+ person multiplayer siege was what hooked me. I couldn’t believe that I was involved in something as big as that and how the game was playing so smoothly.

There is just so much in this video, from the siege weaponry (which you have limited access to in Warband with mods, such as the NeoGK mod) to the scope of these battles. Then, of course, they focus on the minigames with a look at what looks like a version of checkers. I dunno, it’s no Gwent but single player isn’t my big focus right now, although I’m hoping for it to be as addictive as Mount & Blade’s has always been.

Perhaps the most exciting part of today’s news was in the B-roll footage that they sent to journalists.

It shows more of the character creation, which was fun in Warband but a bit limited. They cycle through some familiar faces from the world of entertainment today to show just how powerful their creation suite can be.

What’s most exciting for fans of the single player is watching what comes next of the player running through a populated city street into a tavern. Then more of a populated city, some dialogue options with a merchant and things leading to blows. Don’t they always? At 2:11 starts the actual combat and if you were concerned about Bannerlord varying much from the previous games never fear, it is still Mount & Blade at its core.

The swordplay looks very similar to what Warband looks like, but just a little tweaked. The animations seem smooth in comparison  and it looks like it won’t be a vastly different game. This is a good thing since the Warband engine is beloved by so many with the right balance between technical gameplay and crazed melee fun.

The video ends with a look at the overworld map from single player which isn’t vastly different and then some music.

Still no release date and still no in depth look at the gameplay just yet, but I must say that any fears that I had were washed away with these videos. I’d love to get my hands on this in the near future.

“This Can’t Be Good Enough For Me”

The neuroses behind working on a novel can be a bit overwhelming at times. When is a novel “good enough” and when is it “great?” When I released The Godslayer I felt that it was good enough and my stance on it has changed quite a bit. The same could be said for Terminus Cycle. I still find strengths and weaknesses in both books, but when I released them I felt that they were “good enough.” Since then that phrase has haunted me for quite a while.

Maybe “good enough” is just an excuse to get something out and then if it falls short of expectations or people aren’t wholesale satisfied with it I can look at it and say, “well, you know, I just wrote it off as ‘good enough’ and I guess it wasn’t.” I’d read through passages and say, “well, this might not have the level of detail that I wanted, but it gets the job done, so it must be ‘good enough.’” In a way, my whole process was based upon past performance. I’d remember back to college and writing workshops where there were a few people who took them seriously but the rest were just hobbyists in the early ones. In the later ones everyone was in their own world and so worried about just finishing school that everything felt jumbled.

There wasn’t much motivation to really push beyond what I was doing because, well, my peers did not leave much to be desired. I could bang out something the night before, run through it a few times to tighten it up and bring it into a workshop and it’d be one of the better pieces that we’d talk about that week. Things weren’t much different when I was younger and my work was heralded as great for my age. After a while of being good at something and not needing to exert much effort it starts to spill over into the rest of your life. Sadly that “good enough” can no longer cut it for me because my work is no longer just being shared among friends and classmates.

Releasing a novel to the public means that my peers went from that guy obsessed with Lovecraft that aspires to write chapbooks and the girl who was told by somebody at some point that she should be a writer to the heavyweights of the industry. Now releasing a science fiction story for me no longer means competing on a small level, it means that I’m competing for the time and money of readers while the goliaths loom on the same marketplace. I’m not competing with the lost souls of the world, I’m competing with the Scalzis, Leckies, Coreys, Clines and Howeys of today and even classic authors like Asimov, Herbert, Dick and more that I grew up adoring. Hell, I’m even competing with the retiree who always dreamed of writing a novel, sat down, banged something out, didn’t bother with much of a cover or editing but occupies the same market space that I do. That’s a lot of competition and “good enough” might be able to separate me from the dregs of the pack, but won’t push me much further beyond that.

This means that I have to put more into my work to take it to that next level. I finished my first draft of my upcoming book a few weeks ago and recently finished my first revision of it. Now I’m going back and running through another round of revisions before I’ll probably do another and another and not stop until everything feels as tight as it could possibly be. Why? Because “good enough” meant a few quick passes before shipping it off to be edited, polished up and published. That “good enough” might satisfy someone who was looking to simply release a book and hope that someone liked it, but it doesn’t satisfy someone who wants to make a career out of writing. Some would be ecstatic with 25 Amazon reviews rounding to 4.1 stars and the 15 reviews on Goodreads tallying up to 4.23 stars. There are some good reviews, some honest reviews, some brutal and rude reviews, but all-in-all there are reviews. People have been buying, reading and reviewing my book and if someone were to glance through an Amazon listing for it they’d look at it and think that it is a moderate success. It is a moderate success, actually, but I have no intentions of stopping here.

I now feel like I know what will take me to that next level and know the basic steps to get myself there. All that I have to do now is continue putting in the work.

Once again thank you for following my journey and supporting me in whatever way that you have.

“What Am I But My Reflection?”

I’m getting worse about updating my blog, which is either a sign of being lazy or motivated, it really depends on your latitude. A big reason why is because I’m hard at work on the follow up to Terminus Cycle. I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot like I did with Terminus Cycle and promise that it will be out within a specific time period, though, I’m going to do my best to slow down and give this book the attention that it needs to help nurture it into existence. I’m not saying that I didn’t try with Terminus Cycle, either, or that Terminus Cycle was somehow not a good book, but I always strive to do better. I wanted Terminus Cycle out into the wild and I wanted it out as soon as I could get it out there.

My big hurdle right now is slowing myself down and reminding myself that being careful and meticulous will only make things better. I was recently reading some advice on revisions and read one author’s opinion that there are two types of writers; the first being the overly eager and the second being the overly careful. I definitely fall into that first category more often than I’d like to and usually don’t see the problems in my own work until a bit later, which has bitten me in the ass before.

I never really took revisions seriously before, in part, because my first draft is usually not bad and also because it can be hard to distance myself from my own work. I’ve always been able to barf up first drafts that are beyond acceptable, which is a good thing and a bad thing. With Godslayer there were some grammatical quirks and problems but when it came to structure, characters and general flow it was pretty cut-and-dry. Of course in retrospect another few passes of revisions could have made it a hell of a lot stronger of a book and made it better overall book. Terminus Cycle was more complicated and I made conscious attempts to do a few things that were a bit more complicated, narratively, to varying degrees of success. Looking back, sitting on it for another month and giving it a solid three or four more scrubs could have made it a tremendous book.

Terminus Cycle is still a fun book. I really do believe that it’s a fun story that is worth your time or else it wouldn’t be out in the wild and I wouldn’t be writing a sequel right now. This is just my personal neuroses and how I really, genuinely want books on the market that represent my talent, vision and creativity. It’s frustrating as an artist to fall short of your vision or disappoint yourself, which is why I’m taking my revisions very seriously with Andlios Book Two.

The good news is that I’m making great progress on my revisions and am truly happy with the book right now. It will only get better, too, which is great. It’s a good feeling to go back, read a few chapters, then stop and say, “How can this be better? How can I build tension better here? How can I make you care about this character more here?” While I did that in the past, my solutions were more shortcut than overhaul and I’m now really taking a step back and instead of worrying about doing too much am making sure that I don’t do too little.

So thanks again to everyone that supports me and enjoys my books. I promise that this next one is really going to be killer and that it will be in part from all of your great feedback.

“But I Walk On”

I feel kind of bad that I haven’t put a blog entry up over in a month now, but then again, I’ve been pretty busy and I’m sure that everyone understands it. At least I hope. Maybe. Who knows? Yeah.

Terminus Cycle was released on March 24th and here I sit on June 1st after it has been out for two months now. There are some good things to take away from the experience and some bad things, just like anything else. Some people really love it, some people like it, other people it didn’t connect with. That is part of what comes with the territory of releasing something to the public.

Like with anything else that I do, I’ve learned a lot from this experience and there are a lot of new tricks in my bag for the next book along with a few things that I know to avoid like the plague. I did a few things in Terminus Cycle that were different and some were effective while others fell flat or detracted from the rest of the book. Part of what is exciting about the whole thing is that I know that I’m continually getting better at what I do and while I might see something in Terminus Cycle that I’m not happy with or proud of, I know that I’ve done it better in my current work.

Over the past month I’ve had my share of doubts, concerns, ups, downs, insults and praise, so much so that it is a bit dizzying at times. What I’ve learned is that it simply needs to be taken in stride. If someone says something either good or bad and it comes from an honest place it can usually be picked out from the sea of hyperbole. Granted, the hyperbole can also be humiliating or ego-stroking, it’s just hard to really glean much from it other than shrugging it off.

All that I can do is thank everyone for reading Terminus Cycle and for the support. Even to those that didn’t want to support me, I thank you as well. Writing is an interesting journey and I’m happy that I’m taking it. I’m excited about what’s coming next and really can’t wait to ramp things up and really, hopefully bring my best into the world.

I’m revising my release schedule a bit and will hopefully have the follow-up to Terminus Cycle out soon, but all that I’ll say for certain is that it will be out before the end of the year. I really want to make sure that it’s as tight as it can be before I release it to the public.

How I Got My Start Writing Part I: The Early Years

There are days when I wake up and I wonder exactly what is wrong with me and why I so passionately wanted to be a writer. I’m not saying that I regret it or that it’s not what I want to be doing, because the truth is that I don’t want to do anything else. It’s been this way since I was a kid (although, if I’m honest here, I did want to be a scientist when I was a kid and then I wanted to be a pro wrestler when I was a little older). Not many people grew up with something that they were good at, worked hard on and then decided to do for a living.

A lot of kids have these crazy, distant dreams that they are told that they can’t achieve and for me writing was that. Even if it isn’t something crazy like being a rock star or an astronaut it still felt like it was beyond a mere mortal’s grasp. That view only really intensified while I was in college where I was taught about literary canon and how the only acceptable form of fiction is literary fiction. Sure, not every teacher explicitly said that, but the implications were heavy and somehow I still wanted to chase after that.

So where the hell did this all start?

I learned how to read at a young age. I’m not exactly sure what age that was, but I tend to just tell people that I was three because three sounds impressive and is a nice, odd number. I was a smart kid, I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t, but I was one of those kids that learned things very quickly and then zoned out when teachers were trying to get everyone else up to speed. This meant that I daydreamed a lot when I was a shy, little kid and when I got older and more confident I would never shut up and caused trouble instead.

I remember in first grade that we had two different “reading groups,” and while they wouldn’t admit it; one was the advanced group and one was the remedial group. Like I said, I was a kid and I zoned out a lot. I already knew how to read, so teaching me how to do something that I already knew how to do meant that I just wasn’t paying attention. My teacher confused that lack of interest with lack of understanding, but after a few tests I was quickly pushed into the more advanced group.

What’s funny is that it was a very, very long time ago now and I still remember being led to the big, wooden table with the little plastic chairs and the teacher sitting me down and telling the kids to show me what they were working on; S and H together make a shhhh noise. All of the kids shhh’d me and I felt like an idiot. So it goes, right?

I prided myself on the fact that in the second grade I was reading grown up books, which, I don’t know, it was mostly Stephen King and the newly-approved Star Wars expanded universe novels (this was 1992), so it wasn’t exactly the toughest stuff to ever be released, but Hardy Boys books were really boring to me so I needed more. I remember gathering up a group of my friends to write a story together, although I’m not sure that anything ever really happened with that, but it still felt important at the time.

The first time that I ever really received any praise for my writing was in the third grade where there was a school-wide writing contest where a story from each grade was selected and would be read in front of the entire school. My story was pretty dark for a third-grader, a story about myself and the pond down the street where I’m kidnapped by pirates and endear myself to these pirates to be able to plot my escape. Somehow my mother died in the process as well, like I said, this was some dark stuff for a kid.

No, I didn’t win the contest. That was kind of a kick in the ass, but being a writer is all about dealing with setbacks with stride. The praise that I received was different, to say the least. The sixth grade teacher saw my story and was blown away by it. She asked me if I’d read it to her class and she ended up using it to shame them that a third grader was able to write better than any of them. That was kind of not cool to shame other kids, but it’s praise and I was a kid, I’ll take what I can get, especially considering that I was a smart kid but was never acknowledged to be one of the kids in advanced learning programs or anything like that.

It didn’t make sense to me why I didn’t win the contest and I’ll admit, when the girl who won stood up there in front of the school reading her Little House on the Prairie ripoff while dressed in a dress and bonnet I was pretty upset, but it wouldn’t be the last time that I faced that kind of setback or the last time where I was told that I was good at what I did, but not what people were looking for. That happened again the next few years with a State-run sci-fi contest in fourth and fifth grade before I sort of just lost interest in writing and decided that I wanted to be a professional wrestler or an artist. A kid writing about soldiers hunting down the devil or the end of the world was probably a bit jarring, I guess.

This wasn’t the end of my journey by a longshot, but there were a lot of factors that made me just sort of give up on writing for a long time. Most of them have to do with being a kid and writing not really being that cool.

I’ll pick up next time with more about this, but until then, have you picked up your copy of Terminus Cycle yet? You really should. It’s available in both Kindle ebook and Paperback. I made sure that there isn’t copy protection on the Kindle version so if you have another eReader that can read Kindle files you should be okay.

For those who would rather test their luck I’m running a giveaway on GoodReads right now which is running until the end of the month.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Terminus Cycle by Dave  Walsh

Terminus Cycle

by Dave Walsh

Giveaway ends April 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

I write things, you read them. Pretty simple.