Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween's probably my favorite holiday.  I haven't been religious for quite some time, so the more religion-oriented holidays don't carry the same weight they once did for me, which leaves only the secular (i.e., "fun") portions of them.  And no holiday has more fun associated with it than Halloween.  It would probably even be fun for me if I didn't have kids, but of course seeing them get so excited about dressing up and trick-or-treating just adds to the appeal.

May all your treats be yummy and your tricks fun!

Today's Blast From the Past

Just over a year ago, a major new patch was released for World of Warcraft.  Patch 4.01 paved the way for the Cataclysm expansion, ushering in major changes to the game's talent trees, classes, and user interface.  Just like every patch before it, Patch 4.01 was said to have destroyed World of Warcraft forever!

Yes, the article is humorous, but some people took me seriously.  Read the article here.

City of Heroes enters F2P market with a vengeance

It’s getting rarer and rarer these days to find an MMO that gates its content entirely behind a monthly subscription fee.World of Warcraft, of course, still does (and probably always will), but other popular MMOs have lately adopted a hybrid subscription/free business model.Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Ring Online were among the first of the big MMOs to offer free play options.Perfect World Entertainment’s Champions Online has been this way for awhile now, while another of their games, Star Trek Online, will be very soon.DC Universe Online will also soon be moving to a hybrid business model.
The grandfather of superhero MMOs, Paragon Studios’ seven-year-old City of Heroes, recently switched to a hybrid model.While theirs is similar to those of the other games mentioned above, Paragon Studios seems dedicated to giving both their subscribers (aka VIP Players) and free players much more value than most MMOs out there.


Announced in June, City of Heroes: Freedom (as the game i…

Study on Catholic priest abuse completely misses the point

Perhaps not surprisingly, a study commissioned by the country's Roman Catholic bishops to analyze the pattern of clergy sex abuse completely overlooks the real issues of the scandal.  The authors of the study say it's not homosexuality, celibacy, or an all-male priesthood that caused the abuse.  Instead, they point to the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s and say that priests who were ordained in the 40s and 50s were ill-prepared to handle the societal changes.

I guess I'd take their claims more seriously if more people who took part in the sexual revolution thought it was okay to have sex with boys between the ages of 10-14.  The study also spends some time arguing semantics, saying that many of the abuse cases weren't technically pedophilia since a lot of the victims may have gone through puberty before they were molested.  I'm not sure it matters a great deal if the kid was 10 or 14; abuse is abuse, and it's made even worse when it's done by someone u…

RIP Typewriters?

The Internet was all atwitter yesterday when news broke that the last factory still producing typewriters was shutting down and halting production.  The time-honored machine, which, needless to say, produced most of the literary classics that we all know and love, had finally met its end at the hands of computer keyboards.  Just as video killed the radio star, it's been obvious for some time that the computer age had killed the "typewriter star," but yesterday it became official.

Except the typewriter isn't quite dead.  It turns out the plant featured in the above referenced news stories wasn't the only one still making typewriters.  Swintec, for one, is still producing them (they have factories in China, Japan, and Indonesia) and apparently doesn't plan on stopping in the near future.

It's been some time since I've used a typewriter, but I still have my old Smith Corona electronic model upstairs somewhere collecting dust.  It was a Christmas present …

The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses by Ty Drago

When I first heard of THE UNDERTAKERS: RISE OF THE CORPSES, a new YA novel by Ty Drago, it sounded like something right up my son's alley.  Teens and pre-teens forming an underground organization to battle zombie-like creatures?  What twelve-year-old wouldn't enjoy that?

Well, it turns out I enjoyed it quite a bit, too.  I wanted to read it to be able to discuss it with my son once he'd read it, but I found myself drawn into the story very quickly.  Yes, it's a Young Adult novel, but I've read "big boy" novels which left me with less of a feeling of that essential human connection than UNDERTAKERS.  Who among us, after all, can't relate to being twelve years old?  Who among us didn't have fantasies of being important or saving the world at that age?

Drago's writing is clear and fast-paced.  The concept, which seems familiar at first glance, is anything but.  Will Ritter, the twelve-year-old main character, wakes up one morning and suddenly beg…

An old friend

I'm not the most prolific writer in the world.  Sometimes my lack of output really depresses me, making me feel like a failure and making me write even less.  And I've noticed a cycle in my writing.  I'll work on short stories for awhile, chip away at a couple of different novels, and then I'll always come back to my oldest (original) story but never actually finish it.

It's a pretty classic soft science fiction story about the end of the world and what happens afterwards.  It's been "finished" several times since it first made itself known to me, at around 12 years of age, but as I grow as a writer I always find ways to make it "better," to expand upon the original story and subsequent versions, and so it's never really been finished.

That needs to change.  I know most writers can relate to the idea of a piece of work never truly being finished, but I need to get this story out there.  I feel like I need to set it free in order to be ab…

Ebook formating issues

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a good assortment of stories to include in my upcoming Kindle short story collection.  I've even narrowed down my choices so that the overall collection has a fairly consistent theme.  One of the hardest things I'll need to do, I've realized, is learn the ins and outs of formatting for the Kindle (and potentially other ebook readers, down the road).

It's not actually that learning to format for the Kindle is difficult; it's not, really.  The hard part comes from the pressure to get it just right.  Even though the good thing about ebook publishing is that anyone can do it, the bad thing is also that anyone can do it, and this leads to a lot of poorly written work being put out there.  Whether my work is "good" or not is something I'll leave up to the readers, but making sure it looks good on an ebook reader is something that's almost entirely up to me.

One thing that's at the same time scary and exciting about s…

Importance of theme

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm putting together a short story collection that will be available for the Kindle.  I've got plenty of stories ready to go, more than enough to "fill" a collection that I'd feel comfortable selling for 99 cents (the price point I'm thinking of going with for this collection).  One problem I'm having, though, is that I tend to genre-hop a fair amount.  Granted, my favorite genre is the sort of character-focused soft science fiction that Orson Scott Card primarily writes, but I've got a good amount of fantasy and urban fantasy stories as well.  I don't want to just throw a bunch of unrelated work into a collection just for the sake of filling up pages.

Most of what I consider my best work tends to feature characters that aren't your typical hero-type.  My main characters tend to have a dark side, and maybe shouldn't even be someone you should root for.  I'm thinking my first collection will focus on t…

April Fools' Day

I love April Fools' Day.  I don't typically play many pranks myself, but I love journeying through the Internet every April 1st to see what various game and media companies are doing to commemorate this special "holiday."

Blizzard Entertainment, producer of World of Warcraft, never fails to disappoint.  Each year they issue announcements about upcoming features for their games, some of which are so well-crafted that many players are taken unawares and actually believe them.  One year, they announced that a new race for an upcoming expansion was the Wisp, and would feature permanent death (i.e., if you were defeated in battle, your character was permanently dead with no hope of coming back to life).  This year, they've announced a couple of new "features" for WoW, as well as a new way to play StarCraft and an app for Diablo that may cause demonic possession and athlete's foot.

Google usually gets in on the fun, too.  This year they've announced

Why self-publish?

I've been writing fiction now for more than 25 years.  It started out as something just for fun, and didn't amount to much more than what would today be termed fan fiction.  After a little while, though, I started to create my own characters, worlds, and stories, and the dream of being a full-time writer has weaved itself in and out of my consciousness for the last couple of decades.

I currently write for both Examiner.com and MMOSite.com and, while I do receive payment for my services there, it's not exactly enough to live on.  And even though getting paid to write is pretty cool no matter how you go about it, it's still not fiction, which is where my heart is.  I have been paid for my fiction before (see "One More Time," available both on my website and also as a 99-cent Kindle story), but again, I'm a long way away from giving up the ol' day job.

Even though I would love to give up that day job and rake in tons of dough from publishing contracts, I&…

Writing what I know

“Write what you know.”  It’s a familiar phrase to anyone who has ever had an interest in writing, and to most who’ve ever had an English class.  Followed to the extreme, it doesn’t always make sense, especially for fiction writers.  I’m not sure how much Orson Scott Card really knows about sentient pig-like and bug-like aliens (Speaker For the Dead) or how much experience Stephen King has had with supernatural beings who take on the form of dancing clowns (It), but I’m guessing neither of them have witnessed such things first-hand.  Of course, the point of most fiction is to show how people like us would respond to extraordinary circumstances, so the “write what you know” part of those stories is in creating characters who think and feel like real people encountering the fantastic. Much of my writing has focused on themes and situations similar to those of Card and King, but lately I’ve been playing around with more mundane matters.  This has been happening slowly over time, as even st…