March Patreon Supporter Reward Up!

Attention Patreon Supporters! March’s Supporter Reward is now up! If you are a Patreon Supporter, then you now have access to two more Alpha chapters from my upcoming Fantasy-Western release, Shadow of an Empire!

Well what are you waiting for? There’s not much else to this. Click the link and go! And if you’re not yet a Patreon supporter but would like to be, hit this link instead to get things moving and check out what material you’ve missed!

That’s it. Short and sweet. Reap your rewards for supporting Being a Better Writer!

The Tabletop Report – Gears of War: Session 8

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 8! Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be helpful. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!

Session Eight – Act 1, Chapter 4 Part 1

This session was pretty much all roleplaying … but that’s not boring at all, as this group proved. In fact, there was so much laughter that not only did I nearly paint my GM supplies with my drink, but today my sides are sore and I’m pretty sure that feeling is shared across a good chunk of the group. Players were laughing so hard they couldn’t breath.

What happened? Well, we’ll start at the beginning. It was a shorter session because after last week’s combat, it was time for the players to level, plus we needed to wait for a late player running late to show up, since their character (the obssessively clean stranded) was the navigator and the group wanted to be sure he got the map copied down.

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Being a Better Writer: Writing About Injuries

Hello readers, and welcome to … Topic. List. Eleven!

Okay, so it’s probably not such a big deal for those of you who are newcomers or aren’t sitting on my end of the keyboard, but on this side knowing that I’ve made it through ten of these sheets of paper with Being a Better Writer topics on them is a little awe-inspiring. This marks the fifth year of writing these, and from the look if it, I’m not going to run out of topics anytime soon.

So then, let’s talk injuries. Specifically, writing about them, why we write about them, and some of the different ways we can use them in our writing, for good or bad.

Actually, we’re going to tackle this in not quite that order. First up, why write about injury? Why should we be concerned with keeping track of our characters pains and aches, especially if they’re not “important” to the story?

Well, as you can probably guess by the quotes around “important” in that last paragraph, I’d disagree entirely, regardless of the type of story that we’re writing. That’s right, injury and pain are just as important in a story that’s a Regency Romance as they are in a story that’s an action-adventure novel. Do you know why?

Because pain and injury, minor or major, are a part of life. They’re as much as it sounds strange to say it this way, a unique flavor that’s a part and parcel of the experience. Ask yourself how many times you’ve stubbed a toe, burned a finger or palm, or suffered a cut or scrape across your arm. In all likelihood, you probably can’t even remember a large number of those times … but you still know that they happened because they’re part of the experience of life.

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The Knee Post

Yeah, this one’s actually newsworthy enough it’s getting it’s own post.

First of all, don’t worry about this affecting my writing. That’s one thing I can say is that the news I got back after my MRI this week isn’t going to affect my writing life. Other facets, however …

Turns out, the doctor was wrong. Even he was surprised by that … though looking at the actual result, I can’t quite blame him. It’s a little unexpected. Especially at my age.

The initial knee injury? Long since healed. The pain and swelling now? That’s my cartilage. That’s right, I, at the ripe age of 31, have light arthritis in my right knee. And it’s only going to get worse from here.

Yeah. The MRI showed a big old ball of nasty (I’m guessing scar tissue and the like). Apparently, in my 31 years of life on this ball of rock, I’ve done a good 50-60+ years of living on my knees … and now I’m reaping the reward of living that way.

Granted, it’s not too bad yet. There are definitely some jobs, hobbies, and workouts that I have to give up if I don’t want my knees to explode and need a total replacement before I’m 40. Of that list, the hobbies and workouts one, especially where they cross over, hurts the most. A couple of those just got wiped out. I can still go hiking and level running (I think), and biking is fine as long as I’m not pounding my knees or taking big jumps … though the doc was unsure on mountain biking. Jobs that involve lots of squat-lifting are out too, since that’s going to explode my knees very quickly.

On the plus side, none of these things involve writing. So I can at least keep writing and selling books. And it’s a good thing I’ve got an income stream I’ve been working on there, too, because I hate to think what kind of mess I’d be in right now if I’d been banking on a physical job, because that’d be it for me in that career.

On a side note, Colony‘s new advertising seems to be doing a decent job of getting eyeballs on it, and maybe even a few sales. It’s a little early to tell yet, so I’m not quite uncorking the celebratory Martinelli’s (though that would be nice, as this week hasn’t given me much to celebrate with the core of this post, though I must say that the Alpha Reader reactions to Shadow of an Empire continue to be encouraging), but as of the beginning of the experiment, it’s at least paying for itself, so there is that.

Anyway, the good news is that the knee injury isn’t going to affect my writing that I know of. But it’s definitely making me reconsider some things I’d taken for granted.

Being a Better Writer: Writing an Anti-Hero

Well, it’s Wednesday! And here I am with the promised Being a Better Writer post! Plus, as you can likely guess, I survived the MRI of my knee! Now I’m just waiting for the doctor to give me a call and let me know what’s up.

In other, closer to BaBW-related news, however, there are changes coming! I won’t specify anything right now (I’d rather tease), but I will say that the first of them is that Colony finally has advertising! That’s right! Not just word of mouth or what I have here on Unusual ThingsColony is now getting broadcast by Amazon’s Ad service. Which … is actually a lot different from what it was when I first took the time to look at it way back when. It’s changed quite a bit. Anyway, that’s just the tip of the iceberg on some exciting new developments coming. Check back soon, and you’re sure to see some of them!

Oh, and Shadow of an Empire is close to beta. That is all I’ll give away for now, but if you’d like to get a sneak-peek, keep your eyes posted on this site in the coming weeks. Or you can support over on Patreon for an early look at the first seven chapters of the Alpha Reader copy!

Right, enough news! Let’s talk business. Specifically the business of the last topic from Topic List Ten! And a request topic:

How to write an anti-hero.

Now, we’ve talked about anti-heroes on here before, and in fact if you have not read that post I’m going to stop you right here and make a very strongly worded “request” that you go read it. Sands, even read it before writing this post, not only to refresh my memory on anti-heroes but to check up against what I’ve written before on the topic. And this post will be written with the full assumption that you have read said post immediately before reading this one, because it provides a lot of background context on anti-heroes that I’m going to be assuming you’re already aware of in order to tackle today’s topic without spending several thousand extra words on it that I’ve already written.

So, let’s get down to business. You’re going to write an anti-hero. Or, at least, you want to. How do you go about this?

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Medical Delays!

Sorry guys, but Being a Better Writer is going to be a little late this week. Wednesday, to be precise. Unless I get a score of luck later, but …

Normally, even if I had a work shift on Monday and Tuesday (which I do) I’d still have Monday night to get the next BaBW post done … or at least Saturday. But this last weekend I was really crunched for time (and will be this weekend as well), and tonight? Well, tonight … I’m getting an MRI.

Yeah, remember that knee injury? Yup, it’s still being an issue. So I’m going in for an MRI tonight prior to getting a knee surgery that should put things back on the right track at last.

So yes … slightly delays. Sorry about that. But with luck it will be worth it!

In the meantime, I do have some good news and a link to a classic post. First bit of good news? Colony is being advertised now! That’s right, if you’re kicking around anywhere with an Amazon ad (I believe) or on Amazon itself, you can see a nice, shiny ad for Colony! And there will be more news coming on Colony soon (yet another project while getting Shadow of an Empire edited).

And that classic post? Here you go—

Being a Better Writer: I, Villain.

See you in a few days!

The Tabletop Report – Gears of War: Session 7

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 6! Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be helpful. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!

Session Seven – Act 1, Chapter 3 Part 3

This session was pretty much all combat, with a little roleplaying at the end. But the group came out alive, thanks to some lucky rolls on their part, clever roleplaying, and some absolutely horrid rolls on behalf of the Locust (which really was just dumb luck, all part of the game).

So, when we’d last left the group, they’d made their way through the woods to a downed King Raven chopper in a gully and found themselves ambushed. When this session opened, we picked up right where we’d left off, with the group making reflex rolls for turn order and caught right out in the open.

Their ambusher, a Locust drone, rolled a perfect 1, and thus got to go first, which made things all the more panic-striken for the group.

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Being a Better Writer: Holidays

Hey there readers! Quick note before I let you go on: Don’t forget that we’re currently undergoing a Topic Call for Topic List 11! That’s right, Being a Better Writer‘s topics of choice don’t just spring from my head, but from yours as well! Got a writing topic you want to hear about (or hear more on)? Then hit the link and let me know, and I’ll add it to the list! Do it now while it’s still open!

Right! Got that out of your system? Ready to move ahead? Then let’s go! No sense beating around the bush today; we’re diving right in!

So, Holidays! What on Earth am I talking about when it comes to Holidays?

No, I’m not talking about the practice of going on holiday yourself (to use the British term for it), though we have touched on it before (take a break every so often, readers, and keep moderation in all things!). No, I want to talk about holidays in your story.

This is an obscure bit of world-building that doesn’t come up that often, but I want to bring it up for that reason exactly. So let me start with a question: When was the last time you read a book, story, whatever that talked about a holiday that the characters and cast celebrated or revered. Can you think of one?

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Being a Better Writer: Topic Call!

It’s time! And I’ve decided to move this regularly random call to Monday, home of Being a Better Writer rather than some random day during the week, both to give it more exposure … and because I’ll be seeing a specialist today for my knee injury (here’s hoping it’s good news, not bad, because I really don’t want to be paying for knee surgeries for the rest of my life).

So Being a Better Writer‘s normal feature (one of the last two topics on Topic List Ten) will be up tomorrow, but today?

What do you want to see future BaBW articles discuss? That’s the whole point of this post! If there’s something (or rather, a list of somethings) in the writing world you want to see discussed—that, remember, have to do with improving one’s writing—let’s hear it! I’m building Topic List 11, and it’s time to get your requests on that list!

Comment away! I’ve got a knee to go look at.


UPDATE: And I’m getting a knee surgery. Wheeee.

Op-Ed: The Fall(out) of Barnes & Noble

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while now, but basically been bouncing back and forth on exactly how since while I have some insight on the subject … I really don’t have a lot compared to some others. Put plain and simply I don’t deal with Barnes & Noble. At least, not as an author. Very rarely, as a customer, but that frequency has dropped from a couple of book-buying visits a year to a visit every couple of years, and even then it’s rare that I walk out with something.

Which doesn’t paint a rosy picture of their business in the first place, if my and my friends experiences are anything to go by (or B&N’s own reports). But as an author, I don’t deal with B&N at all. Most notably because I’m indie, and B&N has never really had much to offer authors in that regard.

Oh sure, you could sell on their Nook service for a small royalty. But the Nook has always been such a niche market that it never really seemed worth it. Now that B&N has cut the Nook, that seems like a smart proposition (especially considering I heard nothing but mixed messages from it when it was around).

Right, I feel like I’m either getting ahead of myself or slightly off-topic. Only slightly, as B&N’s treatment of the Nook does seem to illustrate how we get to today. But let’s wrap that back in. Effectively, what I’m saying is that while I’m curious and intrigued about what the fallout of, well, we’ll talk about that in a moment, but let’s just call it “it” for now, is going to be … I’m on a side of the publishing industry that doesn’t rub up against B&N too much, so a lot of what I think could happen is mostly speculation—light speculation—about the shockwaves rolling through a side I don’t really know. I know there’s going to be a lot of fallout, just as one knows when a nation topples that the status quo has just been upset … but in the spirit of that analogy I’m on the other side of the continent, or maybe even across an ocean. All I know is that when someplace like Rome falls, everyone feels it.

That clear as mud? Okay? Well, then let’s talk about “it.” The big deal. I’ve talked about it before on here, but only in passing. To put it simply, however …

Barnes & Noble is going under.

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