Hello You Beautiful New Year

There’s a lot of weirdness we’re pulling away from as we leave 2016 behind; a crazy election year, a heavy focus on the passing of celebrities, new life being brought back into old words, and chances to grow and expand in our lives. I’ve been altered heavily over the past twelve months (for better or worse), and the next dozen are terrifying. The change, the loss, the creation, and the opportunity to forge a new year is scary when the road is open to you. But I think it’s important to pause and look back at some of the largest events of the past year before we dive forward into what 2017 may bring us.

The two biggest events for me in 2016 took place in the birth of summer and the birth of winter. Through March to May of last year I and several other gamers rebooted Hiddengrid. June saw the release of our Patreon, our first Season 3 episodes, and the first real income of the year. It’s been a slow burn these past seven months but I’m happy to see the folks supporting us. We’ve only missed a few weeks, and with good reason considering the next big 2016 event, but overall, I’m proud of the work we’ve done. Our episodes are shorter, more focused, and we’ve got a strong group of gamers supporting us. Like before though, not everyone can keep with the episodes long term.

The other big event took place two weeks ago. My dear friend, writing partner, and creative consultant, Andrew Eckhart, passed away sometime in the morning hours of December 21, 2016.  Andrew was the author of Last Mage: The Interview, a fun, Whovian-esque novel he wrote as part of a serial fiction challenge. The two of us raced on writing projects while he wrote that book. I finished my draft of the Key Worlds novel, Rebin, before he finished Last Mage, but of those two works only one of them is published. Andrew was a major inspiration to me, and there’s not a piece of fiction I’ve written since we met in 2009 that didn’t have some impact from him. We worked on podcasts together ranging from the Trans-Dimensional Café to two seasons of the Hiddengrid. We gamed together, wrote together, and challenged each other to greater heights. 2017 was supposed to be his year as he was planning on taking two-three months off the day job to focus on writing. This week would have been the two of us working on writing sprints together, but those dreams are scattered. I’m flying solo now.

It’s time to look ahead. 2017 needs to be a year of transformation and beginnings. The early part of the year will see the publication of my first book. The current goal is Valentine’s day, February 14, 2017. I’m only a few chapters away at this point from finishing the first draft and ideally, I’ll have it completed by the end of next week. The update post next Tuesday will let you know if I’m on track with that. I’ll also working on new short fiction and possibly flash fiction once the first draft of Doppelganger is completed. By this time in April I expect to have increased my fiction offers to reach a novel, two short stories, and possible a collection of previous works. I’m iffy on that last bit. By the end of the year I want a second novel and at least ten short stories available to buy. I’ve already got pricing ready, I just need to write the damn things.

Beyond writing, podcasting will see a spark of activity in the coming weeks. Hiddennode posts will become a weekly thing again, although those will mostly reflect these weekly blog posts. Hiddengrid has some plans for the second quarter but for the next three months we’re looking at keeping the status quo. I’ll also be generating more content for Seize the GM, so head over there to you want to see some more of my RPG focused writing. I’ve been told my “stat blocks” for the podcast are a bit larger than the show can handle, so I’ll be writing shorter ones for the podcast and longer ones for the blog posts.

Finally, one of the aspects I’ve been missing from my 2016 activity has been reading and reviewing fiction. I’ve been bad about getting into other books and I need to take part in the writing from others if I’m going to improve my craft. In 2015 I had taken time started to work on studying other novels from a craft perspective but for some reason I stopped when I started to write full time. Now’s a good year to change that. I’d like to resolve to read 26 novels this year. More would be ideal but I think one every two weeks is a reasonable goal.

Status Report – July 2016

It’s the first second Monday of the Month and that makes it update time.

The end of the second quarter brought many interesting changes in terms of focus for my projects. The first five months of the year were aimed initially at writing, specifically the Draco Artifactium novel and lore works, but June ripped those plans to shreds. While the book work is important, Hiddengrid: The Sixth World Chronicles took the reins. I didn’t realize just how much effort would be needed and spent on the project but I’m happy for it. It doesn’t hurt that the Patreon support for the month old project has already doubled my income, but the immediate feedback and interest from the community has been a major shot in the arm to keep me developing.

In regards to the writing it suffered heavily during June. Hours spent editing audio and recording shows took precious time away from the writing work, but it was time well spent as I now have a solid foundation to work off of. Now I have the ability to get back to work on the Novel and the lore of Draco Artifactium. I’ve even started a new site to help with that, which can be found here. We’re working towards a new lore project regarding this world, and for the next twenty days we’ll be cooking up scripts for a podcast series for the Dog Days of Podcasting 2016. I’ll be spending 30 days reading and exploring the lore of the world as I inject the information back into my headspace. The current goal is between 20-30k words for this project, and hopefully many of them can transition directly into the novel itself. I’d also like to set a personal goal of 20-30k for continued work on the novel as progress there must continue.

That’s really the bulk of it. It’s been a Hiddengrid heavy month. Not much else has happened in terms of projects. There’s musing on the horizon about something involving a Mr. Eckhart and a dream he has. More as that come us.

Okay, grading time:

Writing: I get an F. It was a bad month for it and I need to get back on the horse. That’s two months in a row with a low grade.

Patreon: Solid A. This month has seen some explosive growth and I hope I can keep some of the momentum rolling.

Podcasting: Solid A. Between the Hiddengrid and the launching of Seize The GM, I’m really ahead of the curve. I’ve keep weekly posting for the Hiddennode, except last week when the holiday threw off that schedule a bit. Hiddengrid had no interruptions.

July Goals:

  • 20 k for the novel
  • Complete prep work for the lore project, RE:DDoP
  • Continue productivity with the Hiddengrid
  • Start looking at the special project scripts.
  • Get at least 25% more patrons

I think June turned out well but we can make July a better month.


Status Report – June 2016

It’s the first Monday of the month, and that makes it update time.

The second month of quarter two and we’ve reached a level of productivity and not meeting goals; it’s a weird balancing act I’d rather wish I wasn’t performing. No new Patrons, and nothing to sell. Productivity in May reached 19,168 words, roughly 30-40k shy of my goal. It was a lot of mixed days, and a lot of missed days after I reached the first milestone of the book. Something about that threw me for a loop and I’d point to the fact this is strange territory for me. The first third of the book has been written before at least twice, so getting here again and looking at the wide field of parts two and three I think shook me up a bit. It’s not an acceptable excuse, but there it is. So we’re once again shooting for 50-60k in June. Six days in we’re at 951. That leaves 49,049 words to peak for the month at 2,044 words a day. That’s a word count I can do so long as I get my ass in gear and write. Current grade for the novel writing: D

I’m still a solid D for Patreon support. I need to be doing more to draw people in and give them something worthwhile. That’s not really going to happen though until I get my books out there. Current grade for Patreon support: D

Follow up on the quest giver system leaves me wondering about its effectiveness. It has served me with reminding me of goals and objectives, but I find I’m not quite hitting the stride I wanted to get with it. I tend to do major pushes on a bunch of quests then wander off for a week or two before I look at it again. I think that clearly means I need to look at how it fits into my routine and maybe make it the first thing we do each day. If the quests are dynamic, meaning I can write them on the fly, I may be more likely to keep with the projects I want to be working on while giving me a chance to track my progress. I did reach level 2 in 2 classes though, so I got that going for myself. I did have a goal of gaining a level in all of my classes though; currently I am behind on Word Wrangler. If it weren’t for that, we’d have an A. Current grade for Quest Giver project: B

I’ve been doing really solidly with the podcast, all three of them actually. Hiddennode looks great with its new theme. I’ve posted each week on schedule since the last announcement, although I still need to post today’s content. Hiddengrid officially relaunched today, and I’ve started development on improving how that sounds and feels. Seize the GM is also under development and should be launching soon. Overall the productivity within my Audiogineer tasks has been spectacular. Current Podcasting Grade: A+

So our June goals:

  • 50k for the novel.
  • Continue the good work with Hiddennode
  • Get Hiddengrid
  • Gain a level in all of my classes.
  • Start looking for a theme for the writing site.

June sits in the middle of great preparations. Podcast mechanics are down. The book’s information is ready. Theme and quests are good to go. It’s up to me to make this the best month of the year to date.

Status Report – May 2016

It’s the first Monday second Tuesday of the month, and that makes it update time.

A month into quarter two and things are coming along nicely. No new Patreon members and nothing to sell yet, but the biggest project pushing forward. Last month I wrote 34,077 words, mostly in part to the spreadsheet created as part of The Roundtable Podcast. Shout out to Nobilis Reed for maintaining the doc. While the total word count was 16k shy of the 50k I wanted for April it was still a larger word count than I managed in the first quarter. I’ve set my sights on 60k for May, and I’m sitting at 11,753 as of this morning. A touch behind but far more productive than I’ve been. The novel now sits around 44K after some cuts, and if everything goes the way I’d like it to today we should be finished with Part 1 tonight. Quite happy about that. Current grade for novel writing: B

The mega-focus on the novel has slowed our production of flash fiction. By slow I mean a dead stop. I’m not super happy about that but in the grand scheme of things I think the major project writing is more important. Patreon supporters, I’ll make it up to you as soon as the first draft is done. Current grade for Patreon support: D

We have a new initiative started this month. I posted a teaser about the Quest Giver concept last week. The concept is to help me stay on task with projects but to also have a little fun with creating a gimmick. I love role-playing, gaming, and all those aspects of entertainment and I love the idea of using those to help me be more productive in my creative world. The Quest Giver concept has me working towards goals, earning experience for certain classes, and earning tokens for overall quests completed. The system is designed to earn me a level every four quests, and I’ll also be working on an achievement system which will earn me 10% of the experience needed for my next level. Quests are tasks like completing an outline for a book, reaching a milestone in a book, getting up a theme for the podcast, creating more quest tokens, etc. These earn experience for each of the three current classes which are Dungeon Master, Word Wrangler, and Audiogineer. I have another fourth class in development but that’s for another time when I can focus on such projects. As we generate the theme for the two blogs, we’ll create a place to see what quests are coming up and what quests are completed. A large part of the Dungeon Master class centers around creating those tools. Current grade for potentially useful but weird projects: A

Speaking Audiogineer, I failed last month to get back to podcasting. Just let that one slid too long I guess. With the creation of the new system to keep me on track I should have a more active reminder that I need to stay on top of the posting. I don’t think a daily podcast will be the best bet for me. Rather going towards a weekly format will allow me the best method of staying honest, keeping topics in mind to talk about, and just in general keep me from burning out. Current grade for Podcasting: F

So our May goals:

  • 60k for the novel.
  • Get back to weekly podcasting.
  • Gain a level in all of my classes.

Oh, and one more thing:


Yeah, that’s about right.

The Missing Short Fiction

There’s a certain lack of flash fiction going up the last few days. I think we’re at the start of week two of the problem, and it’s not ending any time soon.

Where is the flash fiction?

Why have you forsaken us the slivers of fiction delivered thrice weekly?

I want to know what is happening in that serial piece!

Where is my ham?

Okay, I can’t help you with that last bit but I can explain what’s going on with the rest of the questions. So where is the flash fiction? Well currently all of those words are being poured into the novel project. I’ve been behind on this since January, and frankly since the sale of Novels is meant to be my primary source of income I need to double down on production. The 1,000 words going into flash each day are now going into the novel. That basically means I’m getting the bonus writing time equivalent to an extra day and a half of writing each week. That’s a lot. That means the novel is likely to be done a week or two earlier, and that translates to the book getting published earlier. You see where I’m going with this?

I haven’t forsaken the flash fiction, but in all honesty it’s had to take a back seat. I promise it will return in full once the first draft of the novel is done. I also intend to not let this happen again by developing enough of a backlog that when I have to take a month away from the flash fiction I have enough to throw into the pot. This also includes the serial fiction piece. That one is important anyway since it’s a bit of a prequel to events of the novel.

Regarding the Patreon campaign:

With the changes to flash fiction, current fulfillment on the requested fiction is temporary halted. I can’t post what isn’t written yet. I will, however post chapter 1 of the novel. This is a pre-editing, pre-second draft review version of the chapter so take it with a grain of salt. If you’re not a patreon, sign up now and you’ll get to see this right away. If you stay signed up, you’ll also get yourself a full copy of the book once it’s done.

Okay, back to work on the novel. The faster that’s done, the fast we’re back to full production of that flash fiction.

Flash Fiction: Go In Disguise

Today’s story is inspired by Know. Your. Fear. by Stéphane (Wootha) Richard.

His vision was blurred. Droplets were on his forehead and when they slide down past his eyes he could see the red of them. There was the sound of something large scrapping along stone. It pulled something from the wall and the sound of metal chains clashed against stone.

If you go down to the woods today…

The thing clasped his feet together with the chains. The cold metal actually felt good against his skin. It beat the thrumming in his head, and the sound of blood in his ears. The large thing started to move away, and the chains rustled as it took a light step.

You’re sure of a big surprise…

He grunted in surprise when the shackles went taunt and the chain started to drag him away from the wall. Arms flailed to grab purchase on the stone but every time he pressed against the ground the thing moved again, throwing him off balance.

If you go down to the woods today…

There was no use trying to scream. They had tied the collar so tied around his neck and the cage around his jaw held him mouth shut. Only guttural grunts of panic and fear while he kept trying to claw at the ground. His fingers were starting to bleed while his legs and back scrapped across the stone.

You’d better go in disguise…

There were more bodies here, where the thing had taken him. Some small, some large, most staring at him. He had wiped the blood from his face when he had given up trying to push himself off the ground, and his vision was slowly returning. Sunlight poured into the stone halls from cracks and boarded up windows, and the occasional torch lit the area in dancing shadows.

For every bear that ever there was…

He could make out their shapes now. They were made of cotton and yarn. Some had no ears, some had large round fluffy things. All of them had eyes of some sort; some buttons, some marbles, and some ripped out. Almost all of them had mouths, but those seemed like after thoughts. Dirty nasty gashes like someone had taken a knife to the fabric.

Will gather there for certain…

They pulled him into a large chamber. So many of them had gathered in the chamber, and lined the walls until there was a circle for them to bring him. He could see the light pouring from a hole in the ceiling, and it was burning his eyes.

Because today’s the day the…

His feet touched something wet and he looked down to see the scattered pieces of others. Not the stuffed things that closed ranks behind him. Arms and legs and pieces of people. There were skulls, but some still had faces, still had eyes he recognized. Faces that had gone missing months ago. Faces the school had put posters up about. They lay strewn about a pool of coagulating blood.

Teddy Bears have their picnic…

She was there, in the middle of them. The large bear that had dragged him into the room had given the chain to her. She was pale, with pointy features, and ripped flesh. Where there were claw marks and gashes across her body there were stiches of twine and chains. He couldn’t see her face behind the heavy mask she wore, but the sound coming from her wasn’t human. Blood coated her feet and legs as she kneeled in the blood, and between them rested on the crimson stones was a knife. She yanked the chain to pull him closer while reaching down.

I recommend reading while listening to the below:

Flash Fiction: A Slayer To Come

Today’s story is inspired by Dragon Empress by Michelle Monique.

“You came all this way to see me?” She said. She called herself serpent queen, but she bore no dragon blood. I knew such things; I could sense it. Though she commanded the wyrms, they didn’t do so out of respect. The truth lied in the orb before her thorn.

She was a gile, something like a humanoid reptile. Her skin was scaled and horned, but she bore the features of mammals, with an armored bosom covered only by a leather corset and gown. The leather looked bovine, but I could see where strips of draconic skin had been used for seams and wyrm gut for stitching. Her attire was smart. I’ll give her that. The gut and skin would lend her power, but if the entire dress was made of the draconic flesh she would be their pawn instead. The throne she sat on was also covered in cow leather, although wyrm knuckles made up the arms and a pair of collar bones supported the back. The entire display was setup to channel dragon energy without it consuming her.

“Tell me, dragon-slayer. Are you here to kill me, or just my children?”

“Both,” I said. “Your dragons defile the land, and your will is the cause. But more than anything, I’m going to destroy that rock of yours.”

The orb was sitting on a pedestal the queen could reach by leaning forward enough in her chair. It rested on a velvet cushion, a red nearly identical to the tone of the underside of the queen’s gown. The orb wasn’t smooth or polished, but it was refined. Were it a perfected orb the fight to come would not likely go in my favor. These hearts were powerful and they lent energy to the dragons effected by them. The more it was perfected the better the results, but it took a skilled hand to smooth the stone without shattering it. This serpent queen did not have such a skilled craftsman, thankfully.

“You boast too much for my liking, slayer. But, I am generous. I know there are others like me out there in control of their own armies. To have an agent like you to assist me against them would be most beneficial, don’t you think?” She smiled, revealing two rows of razor sharp teeth. That was cosmetic. Gile have teeth like men, and while some are sharp, most are reasonable like in any animal. I hope it had hurt to do that to herself.

“Are you so blind?” I asked. “My presence alone is weakening your hold on your wyrms. Time enough and I’d drain your little stone and they’d try to consume us both.”

It was a bluff. The charms I wore were weakening the influence of the heart but never enough to break the hold she’d have. I needed her to attack me first though. That’s how my sword, Bitter, worked. It would act as a normal blade were I to attack someone first, but if someone else were to strike at me the blade hastened my movements against them. It was not a blade for someone who would sneak about.

The queen looked to her orb and the four young wyrms in the room with us. I could see her faith in the artifact fading. Now, if she just took the bait.

Her command to the wyrm might have been mental, but she nodded when she gave the command. The pressure changed around me as the large form tried to crash into where I had been standing. Bitter had already commanded me to unsheathe her, and by the time I realized she had me jump I was already coming down on the wyrm’s head. The strike was perfect, hitting between the bone just above the eye socket, where the optic nerve and the brain could be hit from a vertical attack. My blade severed the creature’s sight and its ability to breath in one stroke. I stepped off just as it’s bleeding brain screamed at its body to rise and try to gasp for air. Its head swept past my back as it moved back in a panic. The perfect blow. It would die in moments once it finished suffocating.

The queen looked terrified, and I could feel the emotions of the dragons around me wash the area with fear, confusion, and awe. I flicked the blood and brain matter from Bitter and pointed the blade at the orb.

“Now then, Serpent Queen, I must fulfill my oath.”

Not much to say about today’s fiction other than to point out how total bad-ass that photography is from the inspiration.

Serial Fiction: Hands – Ep 006

“So how is he?” Deron asked.

Dr. DeProspero looked exhausted. When Glen was brought in, Deron had called the Doctor’s emergency line. He had drove in immediately and had spent the last two hours with Glen in the ICU.

“Not good. Not good at all.”

The two of them were in a special waiting area outside the intensive care unit for family and lawful associates. The countless wrappers of gum and candy Deron had gone through while trying not to scream his head off made for quite a pile on the table between them.

“His exertion tonight was so overwrought that I’m afraid that even if his burns heal, he may never feel his hands again. He may regain some slight movement once the muscles repair, but as he stands now I can only recommend total implant replacement.”

“But he won’t able to project through cybernetic hands.”

The doctor tilted his head down towards Deron.

“That may be for the best. Mr…”

“Travis. I took his name,” Deron said, unconsciously rubbing the band on his left hand.

“Right, Mr. Travis, Glen’s current position as a projectionist may not be best suited for him. While he may be proficient beyond what you or I can do with simple parlor tricks, but his continuous injuries do not lend him to continue in the field as a professional. Much like any physical sports athlete of a similar age, it may be best to consider other endeavors.”

“Dr. DeProspero to ward three. Dr. DeProspero to ward three, please,” the hospital intercom speaks said.

DeProspero stood and turned to Deron.

“A nurse or me will be back shortly to give you an update. As I said he is stable and once we’re sure he’s ready you can visit him. It shouldn’t be much longer.”

“Okay. Thank you, Doctor.”

Deron stood up and offered to shake the doctor’s hand. Instead of shaking it, DeProspero cupped it between both of his hands.

“We’re doing everything we can for Glen right now, but soon he’s going to have to make a hard choice. I hope you’ll be there to help him keep his own health in mind.”

Deron nodded.

“I will. Always.”


“Hey floppy,” Deron said as he stepped into Glen’s unit. He had been moved from the general floor to a private unit in the ICU. The date clothing had been stripped from him, and he was now wearing only a light hospital gown and massaging socks. Two large boxes were strapped to his arms and Deron could see blue liquid inside. The liquid was too opaque to see Glen’s hands and he was thankful for that. Several lines were attached to Glen’s right arm; an IV drip, a line checking his pulse, an energy strip, and a few others. A mask covered his face below his eyes and a clear tube from that lead to a pump next to the side of his bed. Above all the equipment was a triangle pointed down and a rune of the Kahm The-Solace. Seeing that ward against possession gave Deron a certain level of comfort.

“Looks like they’re giving you the good meds.” Deron looked at the IV bag hanging next to Glen.

“Yeah, feels like it. I can’t feel anything.” Glen was weak, but he was breathing strongly.

“That so? Well you had me worried sick.”

“I know.”

Deron reached over and ran his hand over Glen’s forehead. Glen sighed in comfort.

“Well, you feel that.” They both chuckled.

“Did the officer come by yet?” Glen asked.

Deron nodded.

“He did. I gave a report and he said he’ll be back to take yours once you were up for it. He said to thank you.”

“What did I do?” Glen had closed his eyes as Deron had started to rub his thumb in a light circle on his forehead.

“You got the slinger. Officer Lance said the patrol found the weapon about half a block away with its barrel melted. The mugger threw it away and they said they have prints from it.”

“Hey-hey, go team Travis.”

A nurse pulled back the curtain to the ICU and smiled at Deron.

“Hi there. Just checking his vitals. You are?”

“His partner.”

“Okay. Good, glad he’s got someone to take care of him. He’s been a sweetie.”

“Don’t spread rumors. I’m a badass,” Glen said, his eyes now sealed and his breathing becoming light.

“Looks like you’re about to drift off.” The nurse chuckled. “Don’t worry, you can stay with him for a little bit. The doc will be in shortly to give him a review before we send him to a room, but you’re not in the way.”

“Thank you,” Deron said.

“Okay, all checks out. I’ll be with you again in a few minutes. Get some rest, Mr. Badass. You’ll need it for healing.”

Hands is a serial fiction series set in the Draco Artificium universe. Read the first piece here. Find the rest of the series here. New episodes go up Wednesdays.

Status Report – April 2016

It’s the first Monday of the month, and that makes it update time.

The first quarter has now come to a close. Three months of self-publishing goals and deadlines have passed and where do we stand? March was the start of a weekly serial fiction. In addition to the Monday/Friday serial fiction we’ve been putting out we’ve kept up this project to par. I say to par because we didn’t get the overflow I wanted for the short fiction. Instead we’re still writing week to week and in some cases missing the Patreon week-a-head-of-time goal. That’s passing but it’s not great. Since we’ve talked grading scale here in the past I think that earns at best a B. Yes, it’s good we’re writing but we’re not taking that extra step we need to accomplish our end goals.

The Novel is somewhere around 15k. It’s nowhere near complete and that’s really my fault. I got distracted, pure and simple and for two weeks now I’ve set a Friday deadline of 20k words. Well, now it’s time to up the ante. I know I can do 3k a day. I did it several times over the last few weeks, days when I wrote both flash fiction and a short story. Those are great things but they’re not my goal. The novel is. So That’s the gauntlet, 3k a day this week. 30k total by the end of Friday. That’s with flash fiction as well out there. It means I need to have between 3.5-5k writing days every day this week to meet my deadline, but this is necessary. I’ve been saying the novel will be done by December, January, February, and March so far. April is the final deadline, and with the current word count and my goals of 70-80k words for the story, I’m going to need 15k a week to get there. Current grade for novel writing: D

So that’s our April goals:

  • 15k for the novel each week.
  • Complete all of April Flash fiction by April 15.
  • Get back to weekly podcasting.