Monday, July 31, 2017

Do We Need God To Be Good

Castalia House recently released my latest audiobook, Do We Need God To Be Good? by C. R. Hallpike.  This book provides more than a scientific and philosophical look at the religious underpinnings of effective morality, it also presents a case-by-case autopsy of the victims of secular moral systems.  Hallpike writes with a ground and approachable voice, free from the emotional pleas commonly found in books of this sort.  If you've ever wanted to see what it looks like when credible science wraps back around to touch on the fundamental truths that are literally gospel for the religious worldview, you can do no better than Hallpike.
In fact, as Hallpike presents his case for both pro and con, he veers back and forth between answering the titular question in the negative and the affirmative, making this a sort of cosmic, "whodunit?"  As so often happens, my reading of the work in question took significantly less time than expected.  As Hallpike walked me (and the reader) through the history of moral systems, I found myself unable to stop reading for the night, and rushed through this recording for no other reason than that I myself couldn't wait to find out where Hallpike ultimately lands, which isn't spelled out until the very end.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Mollison Method

Dorrinal interviewed the Mark Kern on yesterday's edition of Game Night, part of the Geek Gab Multimedia Entertainment Conglomerate.  The chat for all of their shows is worth the price of admission alone; the regular crew features faces familiar to those of you following the PulpRev social media circles, and in addition to the running commentary, you can always find fascinating side conversations.  BAR-1 Studios surprised me when he mentioned that he had recently had discussions with others about "The Mollison Method".

Apparently, you could hear the needle scratch in my brain from Daddy Warpig's house.  BAR-1 explained what he meant, and in retrospect it makes sense.  It's how I kicked off my writing, and how I recommend any budding writer get over their cold feet and uncertainty about the process.  Writing a 1,000 page mega-novel featuring multiple view-point characters can be daunting, and many writers crash and burn before completing even the writing process.  Or they complete the first draft and then suffer jitters over things like formatting the document, finding beta-readers or proofers, producing a cover, uploading to Amazon, and you're talking about one tall mountain to climb.

The Mollison Method dispenses with all of that and provides a relatively easy way to "fail faster".  In mindset terms, this is the slogan for the process by which one embraces the early parts of a learning a new skill and puts their head down to grind straight ahead through the process.  Know and accept that your early steps are going to be rough so that you can put them in the rear view mirror and get to the smooth stretches of the road faster.

Here is the process in a nutshell:
  1. Don't write a thousand page novel.  Just set yourself the goal of writing a 10,000 word novelette.  That's longer than a short story, and enough to justify a Kindle purchase.   This may seem short, but see Step 3, below.
  2. Look at the first few pages of any book on your shelf - not the narrative, the book itself.  These pages have copyright and credits.  Copy those into your story.  Poke around and get your document formatted for whatever online sales outfit you want to work with.  (I recommend Amazon, but others have had success with
  3. Upload that first story and charge a dollar for it.  It may seem cheap, but if you are just starting out, cheap is good.  You just want to get that first sale, and a price point cheaper than a candy bar makes it easy for readers to hit that  big, yellow "Buy With 1-Click" button.
  4. Once you see people are willing to give you money for your words, you'll be motivated to write a second story, this time maybe a 20,000 word novella.  You already have the template.  You've already figured out the uploading process.  You already have a few people that have demonstrated a willingness to give you money for entertainment, and they'll probably do it again.
  5. Repeat steps 1. through 4. until you have 80,000 - 100,000 words available.  Stuff all of those stories into a Word file and upload that to with a new cover.  Charge a couple of dollars less for the collection than you did for the rest of your works, total.  This way, new fans can choose between betting just a dollar on your brilliance or go for the big bulk discount. 
  6. As an added bonus, you now have enough pages to justify selling a hard copy of your book.  I recommend writing another 10,000 word novelette exclusive to your collection, for those fans you have that are completists, too.  It's a nice little incentive for your fans to pay you twice for the same work.
Consider a theme to your first book, too.  At a minimum, you should probably stick to one genre.  That will help guarantee future sales to previous buyers, and it will keep you motivated.

As proof of concept, I offer my first book, series of short stories featuring a modern day action hero, Karl Barber.  Each of the short stories was available individually, so I added a fourth tale about the titular street fight as an incentive to buy the more expensive book over the three shorts.  In this case, you could buy each of the three shorts for a dollar, or buy all three and get the bonus for three bucks.

Click to see the proof.
My second collection consisted of four novellas, each featuring a different dragon slaying hero.  I added a story from the dragon's perspective to round out the collection.  In this case, I've removed all but one of the novellas down from my author page.  Too many titles makes it hard for readers to figure out which one to buy, and we want to make it as easy for them as possible.  So I have one cheap intro, and then a more expensive collection of all five stories.

Using this process, I was able to get two books onto Amazon in about six months.  After that, sitting down to write a 50,000 to 60,000 word novel doesn't seem so bad.  You're already standing on the top of one hill, and while the next one is taller, you already know you can climb it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's Research, Not Gravedancing

My morning commute has slowly evolved into the Diversity and Comics Roadshow.  For those not in the know, the nameless creator of this YouTube series talks comics.  Usually, he reviews a single issue of a comic book, but he also produces episodes on various subjects, many of which revolve around Marvel's self-inflicted gunshot wounds.  Not only does he provide interesting historical background information, he spots trends, and calls out the good and bad of every issue.  From his analysis of the artwork itself, it's obvious the man knows what he is talking about.  He is also a funny host with a dry wit and often a barely restrained rage that entertains even as it informs.

Most of the information that he provides in his autopsies of what doesn't work does me no good.  The constant litany of SJW and barely past their teens writing mistakes are not the sorts of things that I need to guard against.  But it's darn fun to be able to vicariously experience the dreadful writing and erratic plotting and clumsy left-wing preaching through D&C.  The guy tries to bridge a middle ground, but the egregious own-goals of Marvel are clearly pushing him hard into the welcoming arms of the alt-right.  His SJW takedowns and thorough and professional and hilarious.

The field of comics serves as a useful case study in the cancerous effects of SJW culture in general and feminism in specific.  Comic books themselves did about $1 billion in sales in 2016, compared to a global film market of $38 billion and video games market of $91 billion.  As a content creator in the literary world (the biggest of the four mediums at $127 billion), this serves as a powerful incentive to rein in any impulses you might have to sip from the SJW kool-aid.

With a smaller environment, we can more easily see the market effects of a little thing like erasing the biggest names in the industry (Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Spidey, etc.) and brown-washing them with brand new demographic placeholders.  Spoiler alert!  It's not pretty on either the creative or the financial side.

Or take this classic example of what happens to the sales of a comic book as it's main writer and intellectual shepherd continues to drink from the SJW kool-aid spigot:
That's a drop off in readership of 75%, and you can make chin music about dying industries and the death of print media all you want, and you'll still be left with a minimum 25% dropoff in readership due to the quality of the work produced.
While comic books are only directly analogous to literature, they are a powerful analogy.  All of the rules of plot, pacing, characters, personality, writer's voice, underlying messages, and so on apply equally to my chosen medium as they do to comic books. 
The dearth of quality writer's podcasts has long been a complaint of mine.  Oh, sure, it's easy to find podcasts full of NPR's "Writer's Almanac" style wankery.  It's easy to find writers talking about their own work.  Finding nuts and bolts analysis of what works and what doesn't when it comes to stringing sentences together is a lot harder.  Luckily, D&C doesn't just produce that style of critique, he floods the digital airwaves with it.
And my commute is all the better for having him along for the ride.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Two Paths Converged

Two paths will lead you to the heights of literary success, and neither of them are free of rocks, wrong turns, and pitfalls.
One path is paved with hard work and dedication.  Years of long hours, careful study, and constant effort are necessary to climb this path.  Some say a million words must be written before producing a writer worth reading.  If you take this path, the world around you will constantly roll rocks your way.  They will tempt you to turn back, or to stop and rest.  This path is a long and lonely path that no one can walk for you.  Along the way you might meet a few fellow travelers who will point out the rocks, warn you away from dead ends, and offer encouraging words now and then.  But the actual process of climbing is up to you.  Call this path, “What You Know”.

The sign at the base of the other path reads, “Who You Know”.  Instead of dedicating long hours to tradecraft, the hikers on this path opt to spend time ingratiating themselves to those at the top of the path.  They rely on the hard won successes of others, grasping at coat-tails in the hopes that they may be able to ride them upwards.  Lined with fan conventions, cocktail parties, and rigged award ceremonies, it appears to be a life of relative ease, but it is not without cost.  To ascend this path, one must actively discourage fellow hikers lest they usurp your position as the chosen one.  One must carefully guard his speech lest he offend their patrons and be cast back down the hill.  Part of the price of this path is the loss of freedom the author suffers – the author who chooses this path will forever be subject to the whims of his patrons, unlike those who take the former path.  Call this path “Who You Know”.
Naturally, the two paths intersect and intertwine.  Even the most brilliant author must rely on the generosity of publishers, critics, and readers to spread the word of their latest masterpiece.  Even the most unctuous author must at some point put words to the page, and every patron has his limits.  The market will only bear so much incompetence, and every patron’s patience with authors who lose money has its limit.  As a result, every author spends some time on the first path and some on the second.

As for me – that first path looks like so much more fun.  The people I've met along that path sure are fun, I can tell you that!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Unexpected Classical Music

Lately I've been enjoying a lot of saxophone quartet music while writing.  Saxophone quartets are grossly underrated.  String quartets get the headlines because in the small parlors of the 1700s, the lightweight and soft tones didn't blast the audience seated just a few feet away, but I'm partial to the sound of the woodwind, myself - and not just because I came of age listening to the sax-heavy soundtracks of the 1980s.  There's something clean and pure in this particular woodwind that lends itself to a quartet.  The natural blend of the different sizes of a saxophone, and the natural volume you get from them makes these perfect instruments for listening to on the streets and in the concert hall. 

But that's not what this post is about today.  Today's post is about the classic modern masterpiece that is the theme from "Super Mario Brothers".  Check this out:

Four movements.  Three styles.  Peppy, breezy, maniacal interlude, menacing, then back to the original theme with a huge flourish at the end.  That's a real crowd pleaser.

Speaking of which, have you ever been to a concert where the performer broke into this song?  It's electric.  Those first few bars are not just recognizable, they are beloved.  Everybody knows them.  Everybody loves them.  The intro of this song makes the crowd sit up, laugh, and pay attention.  They make people of all ages smile, and it's a safe bet they will continue to do so for the next 200 years.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New Release: Adventure Constant

Available for pre-order now at, Adventure Constant: A Tale of the Planetary RomanticClear your calendar for the August 1 release date, because you're not going to want to put this one down until you hit the last page.

Jack Dashing thought being a rocket test pilot was the most exciting career his world had to offer.  He was right, but he had no idea it would also open the door to a world where action and adventure always lay just around the corner.  Within 24 hours of crashing the experimental FYN-X drive, Jack finds himself swept up in a race across the Pacific Ocean to rescue a kidnapped princess from the hands of the Red Collective’s most dangerous agent.  So begins a world spanning voyage across two oceans in a world a lot like ours – but one where daring rescues, thrilling chases, and secret plots aren’t just the stuff of novels, they are a part of everyday life. 

Particularly for a man of action like Jack Dashing, the Planetary Romantic.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Birds of a Feather

I'm really late to the party on this "Black Pigeon Speaks".  Now sure how, this cat is a bird after my own heart.

We have the names and identities of the major anti-anti-fascists.  That's courage.

There has yet to be a report of an anti-anti-fascist threatening the mother or child of an anti-fascist.  That's integrity.

Antifa are cowards.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Gingerbread Wolves: The Non-Spoilery Discussion

The Book of Lost Doors wraps up with one heck of a bang.  Misha sticks the landing.  The American judge gives him a 9.5!

There's not much to say about it that won't detract from your own enjoyment of the series.  Misha Burnett gives you the slowest of burns with this series, but that slow burn is a lit fuse burning its way to a great big powder keg.  In this final Misha puts a fresh, modern take on some old ideas that normally done so ham fistedly that a reader can be forgiven for a twinge of trepidation heading into that final confrontation.

What I can talk about without spoiling anything is Misha's writing.  He reminds me of Steven King without the bleak, broken on the inside, point of view.  Now, some people claim that King's writing horror fiction and so he necessarily will write about broken and vulnerable people.  Hogwash, I say.  Watching sympathetic characters struggle against the long, dark, uncaring universe detracts from the suspense.  You care less about characters you don't like, and characters you don't like describes almost all of King's characters.

Misha's a good guy and a good pal of mine.  Steven King is an ass that doesn't like my kind of people and won't shut about it.  So I'm necessarily going to be biased here, but...well, let's just rip off the bandage.  Misha is a better writer than King.

There.  I said it.  I stand by it.

They both focus mainly on the people and relationships.  The weird monsters and existential threats are icing.  They both spend as much time dealing with how the bizarre situations in the story affect the relationships between the characters.  They are both enormously creative. 

Where they differ is that reading Burnett's books doesn't leave you with that gross feeling of having just walked out of a porno theater.  You don't feel depressed and vaguely queasy and like you could use a good shower.  You don't put down a Burnett book and .

Burnett also doesn't have great openings, solid mid-sections, and then completely drop the ball in the end.  There are no "hand of god nukes Vegas" or "a gang bang with 11 year olds saves the day" or "the devil closes up shop after having spent a week wrecking a small town" or "the dimensional portal in the trunk of the car just stops working one day, like they do".  Burnett doesn't cop out - he gives you exactly what he prepared you for the whole time, with every action made by the protagonists being important, even little ones that didn't make sense at the time.  What you get is an epic confrontation with a satisfying resolution that leaves you sated and yet ready for more.

Really, the only comparison where Burnett comes up short is in the number of zero at the end of his savings account balance.

I'm done with King, but I'm just getting started with Burnett.

I can also talk about this:  If you're going to read this series, you have to read the whole thing or stop after catskinner's book.  That first volume is a nice, tight adventure yarn in which the, er, hero...finds peace and contentment with the, er, girl...he loves.  That's a nice ending.  You can quit there.  You'll have a few loose threads dangling and mysteries unresolved, but nothing too major, and a few of those mysteries don't ever get resolved, so seeing the series through to the end won't help you with those.

If you decide to move on after catskinner's book, trust Misha.  The next two books are just as well written, but the destination for James and his "if only he was imaginary" friend is a lot less clear than it was in the first volume.  Volumes two and three introduce new characters, new threats, and a lot more complexity.  James growing list of friends and responsibilities draws him into ever increasing dangers and puts him at odds with ever increasing threats.  They make fine individual chapters in the saga, but it's clear that their real purpose is to set up all of the dominoes for the last stage toppling, and that last topple is a real humdinger.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Worms of Heaven

Misha Burnette's "Book of Lost Doors" series has become my dessert reading.

A large chunk of the reading that I do these days is dedicated towards a purpose.  I'm beta-reading as many novels as possible.  I read to help the Castalia House Blog readers find the good and avoid the bad.  I read one book a month for the PotMB Club in order to get fresh perspectives and bond over a common title.  With all of that reading, it's rare that I can sit down and enjoy the pleasure  of a good read for its own sake.

And a good read doesn't get much better than this series.  Supermutants powered by extradimensional elder gods running around the unseen corners of Saint Louis and engaging in the sort of political chicanery that made Vampire: The Masquerade LARPing so popular for so many years?  What's not to love?

It's that rare sort of series that starts off with glimpses of the weird, and then the more Misha pulls back the veil, and the more sense you can make of what's going on, the weirder it gets.  Most urban fantasy stories become more mundane the deeper into the eldritch corners of the world you go.  That's true to a limited extent in the "Book of Lost Doors", but only because even supermutants need a day job if they want to keep food on the table.  Which leads to an odd contrast between the regular joe mutants - like the superdense Blue Metal Boys who run a machine shop - and the high-powered executives that engage in corporate espionage and all of the petty and not-so-petty crimes associated with it.

And all of that - the action, intrigue, mystery, and adventure - all of it carries a weight far beyond those of most stories of this nature.  You care more about all of it because Misha deftly conveys the characters and the relationships with masterstrokes that don't just breath life into his characters, they make you care about them.  Even the really, really weird ones.  It's a shame more of the New Wave writers couldn't balance the character studies with action with the same skill as Misha, because if the guys in the 1970s could do what Misha does, I'd probably be heading up the NuWaveRev right now!

Monday, July 10, 2017

What A Lovely Day

GamerGate hit the world at a time when my participation on sociable media was at an ebb.  With kids, a new house, and a host of other excuses, I was at best a sideline supporter.  The big events like Operation: Disrepectful Nod blew right by me, in all likelihood because I hadn't fully unplugged yet.  In retrospect, as a casual gamer at best, I was one of those normies who the GamerGate literati warned the hard-core crowd they would need and not to alienate.  They were right, they didn't, and now here I am, and a big part of me wishes that I had thrown my hat in the ring during the height of GamerGate.

One of the biggest lessons that I learned from GamerGate was to stop being that guy.  Stop being the silent supporter.  Forty years of being the silent majority has resulted in an America that is hardly recognizable as a nation in its own right - the rare glimpses that I get of the bubble media are rife with reminders that the whole world is American, and that the only sensible American policies are those that sacrifice America on the altar of pan-globalism.

Enter the God Emperor and his Golden Armor with which he lays waste to his enemies.

My lone voice on the social immediates might not be much, but neither is my vote.  And yet, I dutifully walk down to stuff my little vote the ballot box in the reddest blue state in the union and lodge my protest against the willful destruction of America.  So why wouldn't I add my voice to the latest protest against the Flase News Network by dutifully stuffing my little memes on the Twitter box?

CNN's investigative reporting is quick when they are the victims
of something. When its the American people who are
the victims?  Not so much.
Blackmail ain't just a category on Cooper Andersen's Grindr account.
Gloating at the meme-storm a-brewing.

This is one fight I'm not going to sit on the sidelines and cheer.  And it turns out fighting back against the SJWs and the Fake News Cabal is a heckuva lot of fun.

See you on the field of social media battle!

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Ideological Conquest of Science Fiction Literature

A must watch over-view that explains the ongoing revolution in science-fiction.  Much of this is old hat for the PulpRev crowd,  but it offers a nice, concise explanation and fills in a few gaps for the newcomers.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Forbidden Thoughts

Per Vox Popoli:

You are not supposed to read this book. You are not supposed to think about reading this book. In fact, just plain thinking at all is unacceptable. You have been warned... From hilarious to horrifying to dangerously insightful, a selection of stories that must not be told, for they slaughter the sacred cows of our age. Do you dare read them?

Stories by Nick Cole, John C. Wright, Sarah A. Hoyt, Brad R. Torgersen, Vox Day and more, with non-fiction articles by Tom Kratman and Larry Correia, with a foreword by Milo Yiannopoulos.

10 hours and 18 minutes. Narrated by yours truly.

Look at that list of names.  I've been doing this voice talent thing for a while now, and the feeling of awe that I get to share stories by some of the best writers working today has yet to fade.  If you have half as much fun listening to these stories as I had reading them to you, then the audio version of this collection will still be a bargain at twice the price.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Kansai Cowboy

One of my Twitterbros has been publishing a serialized novel, one week at a time, over on  M. T. White's Kansai Cowboy tells the tale of an older Texas Ranger sucked into a crime investigations that hits too close to home.

White has a knack for writing mid-size Texas town politics that spiral out of control as men strive to cut their losses by taking a few legal shortcuts.  Throw some serious criminal elements at them and you've got a recipe for sloppy crime in serious need of a down to earth protagonist.  Steven Bowie, a past his prime Texas Ranger, is the sort of amicable good old boy you just know has the iron in his veins to make him a formidable opponent when push comes to shove.

This is the first time I've read along with method of publishing a story.  Serialized novels posted on blogs have never seemed worth the bother to me.  If an author doesn't have the motivation to write, edit, revise, and publish it, then why should a reader have the motivation to keep checking in on the novel's progress?

Things change.  I enjoyed White's Down to Sheol, so his writing is a proven commodity.  I know he has the motivation to see this thing through to the end.  And the use of as a means of reminding me to check in when the latest chapter drops helps as well.  Add to that the busy state of my reading and writing schedule, and the lite-size pieces of Kansai Cowboy make it much easier to squeeze into my rotation.

So if you like modern crime drama, and you're willing to wait for it, give Kansai Cowboy a look.  The third episode just went live this past weekend, so it should be easy to catch up on the action.