Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Modding A Game To Tell A Story

Lately I have started trying to teach myself how to mod Skyrim. I picked that game because I already own it, the toolkit has been out long enough to have most of the bugs either worked out or worked around, and there is an encyclopedia of information floating around about how to do things with it.

The reason why I am doing it is a bit more complicated. I used to do a little game modding back in the days when Doom and Heretic first came out for DOS. In those days it was a lot simpler, because you couldn't really do much besides made a small level and drop in a few items. Scripting was a non-starter back then. Modern game systems are a bit more complex and flexible.

For one thing, I want to continue learning for as long as I continue breathing. Just as a matter of principle. For another, I suspect that the next level of storytelling will eventually include the integration of text and visual art. Much like paper books routinely include illustrations, I anticipate that ebooks might someday start to incorporate video supplements. I have seen things like that attempted before, but in the past the available tech was simply too crude to make it look good. That is changing, rapidly. People are already posting YouTube trailers for their ebooks. How far is it to go from that to embedding video in the book itself?

For another thing, it stimulates my muse. Looking at a story in my mind is different than looking at it in 3D. Framing a series of "what if?" questions when developing a plot line in a book becomes a different order of business when the book has an AI and starts to answer you back, independently of your own subconscious. And modern scripting languages are not really that much more complicated that the Basic or DOS batch files that I first learned to use back in the dawn of electronic civilization.

I may never get good enough to let the public see any of it. But I really think it will be an excellent exercise for stretching my ability to think in four dimensions while tracking multiple plot lines simultaneously. At least I hope so. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Temporarily Pulling Songs of Chaos

I am unpublishing Songs Of Chaos temporarily for revision. One of the major advantages of self-publishing is the ability to control your own work. Sales have not been satisfactory, and I have several improvements in mind.

I fully intend to re-publish it, once I am satisfied. This is my first attempt at a commercial sci-fi novel, and I usually tend more toward the fantasy genre. I am still hitting my stride. I learned quite a bit, I think, while writing the sequel and I want to bring the entire series into a consistently flowing pattern.

I am not setting a release date. Songs of Chaos, Second Edition, will be released when it's done, and not a minute before. For those who already bought the first edition, hang onto it. It might be worth something to a collector someday:) You never know. Everyone started off as an unknown.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I'd like to take an informal poll

Not even anything as formal as a poll, really. Just curious about something. I believe I am noticing a real difference in not only the type, but also the tone of reviews that are posted for independently published books as opposed to those works that are published by the larger publishing companies. I wonder if this is simply my impression, or is there something to this?

What I mean is that the general focus of reviews seem to zero in on some things more than others, depending on how the book was published. To give only one example, I hear a lot about how indie publishers need to pay close attention to quality. This is certainly true, and a fact that no one can reasonably dispute.

It is also true, and I have seven books in front of me to prove it, that 'mainstream' publishing houses put out work that is loaded down with typos like mis-spelled words, missing commas, misplaced punctuation marks, missing verbs and nouns, entire missing sentences sometimes, etc. Yet I cannot recall (I welcome anyone who can point me to one) a single review of a book published by a major publishing house where these flaws were dragged out and complained about.

The assumption seems to be, still, that anyone who publishes their own work is an amateur, and their work should and must be regarded by amateur standards. I spent over twenty years in the professional world, writing non-fiction technical documents dealing with contracts that amounted to tens of millions of dollars. I also assisted in writing some laws and regulations that were later put into effect. I can speak with some authority when I tell you that there has never been a document written that would pass the tweezer test.

The disturbing part of this, to me, is NOT that we indies are being held to a higher standard than the big publishing houses. Given the recent quality of what they are putting out, we can exceed their best efforts without breaking a sweat. The disturbing part, to me, is that so many of us are still doing this to ourselves and each other.

Is it just me? Am I being paranoid?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This Scares Me. This Scares The Hell Out Of Me.

This particular piece of tech? Maybe, maybe not. It's the attitude that that freezes my blood. When I was a kid and watched horror movies about this, it comforted me to know that it was all fantasy, and no real human could bring themselves to do something so evil as to pervert the basic code of human life itself. That was before I studied history.

The link is HERE . At first glance, it reads as harmless enough. It's just coding, right? Everything is synthetic, right? Until you dig into the subject deeper and find out that they have already been making real chimeras. Viable embryos of mixed human/animal DNA. So far the embryos have all been killed.Except the useful ones, of course...

10 Ways Science is Using Hman-Animal Hybrids (Discovery.com

Human-animal hybrid embryos (BBC)

Scientist urge rules for human-animal hybrids (LA Times)

US Army: 'Super Soldier' Genetically Modified Humans Won't Need Food, Sleep

I wrote a short story on this subject a couple of years ago. It wasn't until I had actually written and published it that I learned I was behind the times. Way behind the times. England, I understand, is a world leader in this stuff. But everyone else is not far behind.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Way Of Things And The Story Of My Life

A while back (last spring) I was pleased to hear that Poddler Review was going to do a review of my first book, "Athame". I never saw a review and finally, to tell the truth, forgot about it. 

This morning I received an interesting email:

Hi Morgan,
We apologize for the delay in getting the review for your book posted. The reviewer was called out of the country for business and is not expected back anytime soon. When the reviewer returns, she promises that she will get right to it. In the meantime, she wanted to pass along that she enjoyed the book and regrets the delay. 

I appreciate letting me know what happened. I'm also glad the reviewer enjoyed the book. Since I will take what I can get, I am going to shamelessly claim this as a not-bad review by Poddler:) Until and unless the real review gets posted.

I am beginning to sympathize with people who break down and buy reviews. I have always thought of purchasing reviews from professional publications as a form of cheating. But I can't seem to talk anyone out of a voluntary review to save my bacon. Not even a bad one. Yeah, I'd take a bad one, just to get some. I know people are buying the books, Amazon puts money in my account every month to prove it.

*sigh*

Sunday, September 7, 2014

More Scenes From The Final Book

I have replaced the previously posted chapters with some new scenes from Book Three of The Unfortunate Woods trilogy. If anyone is interested they can be found by clicking the tab link at the top of the page, or HERE. It has not been proofed, spell checked, etc. When I say first draft I mean First (1st) draft. This stuff is raw.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cheerybright?

Thaat's what Mike Reeves-McMillan calls the kind of fantasy he writes. It's a term he coined in opposition to the grimdark that is pretty much mainstream right now. He recently posted an article on his blog where Athame is mentioned. You can find his article HERE titled as "Books Like Mine." I recommend reading it. There are some good links there.