Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Writing Resources - Brandon Sanderson's Creative Writing Class, 2016.

Every week Goodreads shoots me an email--borderline spam--with blog posts of authors I follow.
It's typically GRRM talking about sports or his theater. A Stephen King blog post, written by someone besides Stephen King himself because he's too GD special to communicate w us directly. Pat Rothfuss complaining that older literature doesn't comply with modern PC agendas. Brandon Sanderson on how many new books he released this week (Eighty. He released eighty books this week). Joe Abercrombie talking about how awesome he is. Hugh Howey with his head in the clouds. Etc. etc.
I'm keeding, I love you guys!

Today one of Brandon Sanderson's posts was a link to a playlist of Youtube videos of his 2016 creative writing class, at Brigham Young University, deep in the heart of Utah.

[HERE'S THE LINK!!]

There are four videos as of today and, as I understand, one is added to the playlist weekly. Each is about an hour long and they are freaking full of great advice! Watch just one and you'll realize you have an entire Creative Writing class worth of lectures from a highly successful author available to you for free!

Why am I shouting about it? Because these videos are facking brilliant!!!

This isn't the first time his classes have been recorded and posted online. Four years and seventeen days ago I wrote a post about Brandon Sanderson's writing classes. (Here's that post) I watched every video, despite that they were lower quality and you couldn't always hear the dialogue. I took extensive notes and applied them to my writing.

Brandon's words were focused, energetic, and inspiring, and the same holds true for this batch of videos!

If you are serious about writing, you'd be a foal not to take free advice from a successful author and experienced teacher! You're getting for free what students are paying out the ass to hear, I might add.

Regardless of where you are in your career as a writer, I bet you'll learn something.

That is all.

Happy Wednesday.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

STREAMING FOR CHARITY this Saturday, starts at 12pm EST!

(tl;dr: Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to the event! Or check out the event's page on CharityLiveStream.com)

:::UPDATE, 5/24 - We raised $240! Thanks to all you visiters and chatters and donators!:::

You into video games?
*Yah!*

What about live streams?
*Oh hack yah!*

What about SIDS?
...

Um. Let's start over.

This Saturday I'm live streaming a 100% playthrough of one of my favorite video games of all time.
1992 Enix
My friend Drew is joining me and his Twitch channel, Legendary Fail Games, is hosting it. We're playing to rally up some donations for CJSIDS.org, through my baby girl Evie's memorial page.

Donations will go directly to the CJ Foundation for SIDS. We won't get a dime of it. You can post donations directly to the charity literally whenever, or to Drew's channel during the stream.

WAIT WAIT, WHAT WHAT? I'm pretty stupid. What is happening exactly? 

This Saturday, starting at 12 pm EST and lasting until... late, I'm sure, YOU can go to Twitch or Legendary Fail, where you'll find me playing through a video game that released 24 years ago on the Super Nintendo.
It'll be kind of like watching TV, except it's live, it's nothing you'd normally watch, and you can login and chat with me and Drew in real time. In fact, we encourage that.

There will be links for you to follow (I'm also listing them at the bottom of this post) and donate your hard-earned money to the CJ Foundation for SIDS. Here's a link to their financial statement for 2014, in case you're wondering how they spend donations.
The majority of the cash flow goes toward Family Support. In other words, the next time a parent is riding in an ambulance to the emergency room to hear from expensive professionals that their baby is truly gone, maybe your donation will make the accompanying medical bills less of a kick in the nuts.

Hold on. You're raising money for a charity... by playing a video game?

Short answer - Yes.

Long answer - I'm raising money for this charity by doing whatever the hell I can. Check the link. We've got a good head start already.

Streaming game footage for charity is not a new concept. That's why Mark Svetik made this website to begin with. That's how Markiplier raised $80k for Depression and Bipolar Support Aliance. That's how Awesome Games Done Quick has raised over $6m to this date.

I don't think I'm special or I deserve your attention.
But if one person donates one dollar on Saturday, that's a win.

Ok jeez. Get defensive, why don't you.

I'm sorry. Still a touchy subject. Probably always will be.
BUT
If you log on during the stream on Saturday, and come chat with me and Drew, I'll answer any questions you have. Literally any questions, with no repercussions. I mean, I exercise my right to give stupid questions stupids answers. But you can ask me about my experience with SIDS, self-publishing fiction, amateur music composition, gamer stuff, wishful game-designer stuff, whatever.

I think I got it. Wrap it up with some useful links for me to click.

Here they are, all in blue so as not to enrage you!

Evie's Memorial Page (Again, donations to this site ALL go to CJSIDS.org and you can donate to this at any time, before, during, or after the stream)
Legendary Fail Games' official Twitch channel
Legendary Fail Games' website
Event page on CharityLiveStream.com
Legendary Fail's Twitter
My Twitter
My Facebook

Also,
If you ARE into Let's Play videos... I am, too.
Check out my Youtube channel!

See you Saturday

David

Thursday, February 25, 2016

MagFest is Rucking Fadical!


If you're a fan of video games (and/or board games, live-action games, card games, etc) or video game music, MagFest (Music And Gaming Festival, noob) is for you.

Oh, is Washington DC too far a trip for you?
I drove for 10 hours.
I'd drive for 20! ... well, maybe not.

This year was my second year attending.
The first was in 2014 and I spent a lot of time manning the Default Dan booth. It paid off because I met Ross from Game Grumps / Steam Train and convinced him to play Default Dan on their YouTube channel (links to the YouTube video which has 1.3 million views and is NOT safe for work.) Once that video aired, the Default Dan Kickstarter blew past its goal!
Yes, I take partial credit for that!

Dan + Ross
This year I was accompanied by Firstborn, Drew, Lauren, Stephen, Jeremy, Kelly and Britt. We stayed in a suite a block from the majestic Gaylord National Resort  (a structure so vast it could house my entire hometown) where the Fest takes place.
I packed a heavy jug of Vitamin C pills and several travel-sized hand-sanitizers bottles. I've gotten Con-funk before and would rather not again.

We spent the extended weekend gaming and rocking and such. Some of the group went to DC to look at important things that exist in the really real world. I did not.

Let the images commence!

fair warning: I had a magical time from arrival to departure. But I'm no photographer. I just don't care much for it. Usually when I'm in a photo-worthy scenario, I prefer to ingest it and enjoy it, not play with electronics. That said, I think I managed to catch some images and vids worth reliving.



On the way up north we found piles of dirty snow and derp faces

this guy was lying in the sand down from our hotel

not sure what the chubby fellow is saying.
but if I were the turtle, I'd probably say something that rhymes with
"Get your nuts off me."
The shops had tons of oddities. Unfortunately I only took two pictures...

The little clicky things from Princess Mononoke! 

Playing JS Joust!
wtf is that, you ask?
link get!

The World is Square
They cover tracks from Squaresoft and Square Enix games.
When they played the intro of Chrono Cross, I knew I had to buy their CD.

Tupperware Remix Party
I'd never heard them until MagFest. But they played with NSP so I could not miss it.
Their bassist freaking shreds.
The frontman went to spin his keytaur and the strap broke, sending his instrument spiraling into the air.
It broke. But the show went on.

TWRP + NSP (not yet on stage)
There were 5,000 people in the room for this show.
It. was. nuts.

Firstborn and I ran upon some cosplayers in full Kingdom Hearts attire. 

They graciously agreed to pose.
(yes, I know, Sora is not in this scene)
too perfect a shot

Biggs Darklighter saying farewell
before storming the Death Star.

Photoshoot with Mileena, Kitana, and Jade
from Mortal Kombat

Front view of Gaylord, complete with brightly colored roamers

Majora's Mask

...and he's coming right at me!!

David, Firstborn, Britt, Kelly, Lauren, Drew
in the crowd for the Bitt Brigade show

Bitt Brigade plays Ninja Gaiden

Shopkeeper from Resident Evil 4, also an author of books
I've met this guy thrice now. First was at MagFest 2014
Second was at DragonCon 2015
Third was MagFest 2016
How many times will our paths randomly cross?
also, Photobomb by Phirstborn

My favorite kind of photograph catches unlikely people in an ordinary place or vice versa

The console arcade was about half the size of a Walmart.
And I only got one picture :( 

Firstborn met the Living Tombstone,
a DJ he's a fan of.
I have no idea what dude is looking at
View of the Gaylord's lawn and the Potomac river on our last day
*sigh...*
Until next time, MagFest.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Inner workings of Turesia - the story I've been working on for freaking ever



I feel like a broken record when discussing my work in progress. I've been writing this story for 3+ years and the end is not in sight. This has to be the most complicated f-ing thing I've ever attempted. I've strongly considered just putting it down and starting something new. In fact, that possibility isn't all the way off the table.

So, to shake out the dust and maybe air out these ideas a bit, I want to discuss some details of the story. I'll do so without being spoilery if I can help it.

By the way,
Yes, I know this post will perhaps entertain very few.
It's regarding a story that's not yet published, about an island that doesn't actually exist, with characters and magic that have never been introduced anywhere, and situations that might shift before their final written form. So, maybe this one's more for me than you. Maybe I'm just getting a head start on the final style sheet.

That said, here are a couple of characters and terms and locations! Most everything that's a hyperlink goes back to the Silexare Compendium, where I've already documented some things.
Also, feel free to go check out my Pinterest board for Ausgan, with images for reference and inspiration.



Kale - a young exemplar who lives in Erudition, with the other exemplars. A bit of a trouble-maker, but perhaps that's because he's a bit neglected.

Exemplar - Individuals deemed to be receptive to Consonance. They're plucked from the general population of Ausgan shortly after birth and brought to Erudition to train as monks.

Consonance - A song to the Imalasial, unique each time it is sung. Its purpose is to beseech the Imalasial to lend their powers to alter some aspect of the environment. These alterations include, but aren't limited to, heating, cooling, drying, humidifying, or exciting. The song has three parts - summoning, channeling, and negating.
The study and discovery of this song is the lifework of Yntemrus the Sovereign.

Yntemrus - The ruler of Ausgan, who dwells in the highest tower of Stravhelm. He began writing Consonance several centuries ago. Through research and study he has built a system of beliefs around it, testing how far he can bend the rules that govern existence, making weapons of the wind and the weather. His belief is that Consonance is the vital weapon for when the barbarians of Fohrvylda finally overflow their bloody homeland and cross the Faithless Sea to wage war on Ausgan.

The Faithless Sea - The body of water nearly enclosed within the islands of Turesia. It is surrounded in the west by Ausgan, the north by Redemier, the east by Fohrvylda, the south by (supposedly) Haluaviin.
It's called Faithless because its current changes with no warning. On one day the current may flow westward. The next it might flow eastward. The villagers of Ausgan believe the current and tide are determined by the motion of a great sea beast, known to them as Tidamora.



Okay. You still with me? Good. I'll leave you with that.

If my comment section overflows with requests for more lore, I'll post more.
And if frogs grow wings, they won't bump their butts each time they hop.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Rants about news and cable TV

Look. My blog is like a swamp lately. Pessimistic and dreary. I know this.
I woke up thinking, "I'm going to post something happy and bright and shiny!" But upon coherent consideration I realized that would be inauthentic and come off as such. So please, just weather the storm. It'll make the brightness at the end seem all the brighter... or some such Sam Gamgee-esque quote.

This post is a rant on cable television. And it only scratches the surface of my frustration. I'll do my best to keep it brief and entertaining.

~

I want to take American cable TV out back and smack it with a severed section of garden hose. I'll wear gloves so I can beat it for a good half-hour without having to worry about blisters or anything.

Televised news is profit-oriented, ratings-oriented, hacked and dismembered to serve an agenda. It's not news. Stop calling it news. Better yet, stop watching it. Stop feeding the hype and it will cease to be.
Want a bigger picture? Find a news aggregator. The good ones are customizable. If you try hard enough, you could probably get it to cater to your personal world-view and you wouldn't have to grow or learn at all! Just like TV news!

To Commercials,
On TV and elsewhere, I'm sick of you. If I have a remote, I mute you. This makes everyone in the room look at me like I'm a freak. I don't care. I feel like I'm getting bent over when you come on. Cable bills are expensive. And so is my time. I'm a busy motherfonger, despite what I convey. So if I stop everything to stare at the electronic rectangle on the wall, I don't want to witness paid actors climax-faking, lying through their teeth, on your stupid products. I'd rather do without any clever, witty ploys to sell your crap, no matter how entertaining. Stop wasting my time. Why do I pay more than any other streaming service and still have to see your stupid face?

Oh, and thanks for blowing up my kid's channels with the same garbage. Boyo is four years old. And until a couple months ago he had never pointed at the TV and said "I need that!" Sure, it's really adorable. He barely has a grasp on what the word "need" means. I'm pretty sure he's just regurgitating a line he heard an older kid say. A line that just happens to have been planted, Inception-style, by a greedy, manipulative system. Boyo needs me to spend $40 to surrender the last free square foot of my living room to a brightly-colored pile of forgettable plastic like I need a colonoscopy from a three-legged rhinoceros in an earthquake.

Not to mention, the content breaks we're able to witness in brief spurts between regularly scheduled commercials are available elsewhere. For cheaper.

I have no further use for cable TV.
But I'm not the only person in the house...


Friday, January 1, 2016

Contemplating Death

To be honest, I just needed a place to house some introspective cynicism.
Viola! My blog. Forever my punching bag.

Disclaimer: This post is quite the downer. And though I'm generally turned off by negativity for its own sake, I suppose everything has its season.
When you see me in the world, I'm probably laughing and making grossly inappropriate comments far too loudly. That's normal and it won't stop. It's also part of my game-face. I'm taking it off for this post.
So take the following with a grain of salt.
Or a shot of whiskey.

~

The wind fell from my sails, as you might have noticed, and I've yet to reclaim it. My creativity is compromised. Online this is reflected in my lack of presence on this blog, on Facebook, Twitter, the Compendium, YouTube, and elsewhere. Offline it culminates in a multitude of ways, including driving me from my writing. However, with great effort I've made consistent, albeit slow, progress in the story I'm currently writing.

I don't harp about it very much, online or elsewhere. I guess because nothing can be done for it so why bring it up? Just to hear myself complain? That only makes me want to punch me in the face. But today, while reflecting on the last year in general, I felt encumbered by it all. My best response to that is to unload on hapless visitors by means of the written word.

If you want details of the inciting incident which began my downward spiral, you'll have to root through my blog. Such is life. If it were easy, you wouldn't value it.

It's tough when death takes your baby. With most everyone else, you've experienced them long enough to invent a reason they brought it on themselves, whether or not they did. They earned it, even if only a little. Don't lie. You do this. It's one way we cope.
They should never have gone there. 
They shouldn't have done the thing.
If only they'd stopped doing that. 
Maybe this helps us believe we've learned something, grown wiser, and now tragedy will not befall us again. Perhaps that particular tragedy won't. But tragedy is far more creative than you, or any person or group of people, can ever hope to be.
Never say, "It can't get worse than this," or perhaps you'll learn just how creative tragedy can be.

I can't really compare losing a child to anything I've ever experienced. Death has come for my friends and family before, even close friends and close family. Death has even returned since July. In August my uncle died. He was my last remaining blood relative outside my immediate family. The ties I had to my parents homelands of Ohio and Mississippi are now severed completely.

He was my mom's brother and his generally accepted name from us was Uncle Bro. No, this is not some deep-south embarrassing lineage ordeal, ripe for Maury. My sisters and I just heard Dad call him "Brother" when we were young so we'd call him Uncle Brother. Then Uncle Bro. Then Unc Bro. My parents called him Steve. Or Uncle Steve. But I learned in August that Steve isn't his name. In fact Steve is nowhere in his name...
When I was younger he reminded me of Harrison Ford from the Indiana Jones movies. Maybe because he was cooler than my parents (he gave me my first guitar and let me watch Terminator 2 and Predator) and always had a brown jacket and an Indie-looking hat with a full brim.
Now I have his brown jacket.

Death is unique with each situation. I hope to never catch myself telling someone I understand their pain, whether they've lost a grandparent, close friend, sister, daughter, or uncle. Because I don't. And they don't understand mine. Bray and I don't fully understand each other's grief and we experienced the exact same loss.
If I've learned anything, it's this: the best thing I can do for a griever is acknowledge their pain and assure them I'm not okay either.

On the flip side, if you're grieving and you're finding yourself frequently offended or turned off by what people are saying or doing, whether intentionally or not, re-read the above. They don't understand. No matter what they have been through, more or less, better or worse, they don't understand how you feel or what you need.
Try to lighten up. Far worse things than ill-advised words falling upon your sensitive ears can befall you. You know this all too well.
Try to forgive their iniquity before they're gone forever.

This post has no particular place to be. But I'll wrap it up with an excerpt from an old Latin poem - O Fortuna.
Some passage herein will soon be tattooed down my left side, along my rib cage.
Rib cage... what a disgusting phrase. Rib cage. Might as well be called organ closet. Or meat box.


Fate
Monstrous

and empty,
you whirling wheel,
you are malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
shadowed
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through the game
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.


I'm fine. And if I'm not, I will be.
And if not, you will. And if you won't, someone will.
And if no one will be fine and we all fall away, the earth will thrive for a time then dry up. The universe will proceed, unconcerned, until it reaches maximum entropy and experiences heat death.
During that process, it will feel our pain.
Take heart in that.


I owe you guys some serious sunshine after this one.
So,



Happy New Year!



Friday, November 6, 2015

IngramSpark - Pros, Cons, and an open letter

I chose IngramSpark as a print-on-demand (POD) company August of last year. IngramSpark is not the only POD option for independent publishers. It's not the most popular, either. Its strengths include reduced rates on printing services since it belongs to the printing giant Lightning Source, who prints most books in the USA. Also Ingram claims to produce better quality products since, again, they make use of Lightning Source's tools and printers.

They're less popular because they're newer to this game, while Lulu and Createspace have been at it a while. Ingram's interface and upload process are stricter than others, and not the most user-friendly. Also they'll only deal with publishers, not individual authors. That's why I founded Sky Island Publishing.

Since August IngramSpark has printed and distributed my debut novel, A Sawmill's Hope, in paperback and hardback. The books look clean and professionally printed. At any time, I can go online and place an order similar to the following -



As you can see, price per book at this rate comes to about $11. That's a hardback book that I can sign and sell for $20 or $25. Or even $15. And the more I order, the better a discount I get per book. The order is printed and shipped quickly. Even quicker if I want to come off extra dollars. I'm impressed with IngramSpark for this.


Unfortunately, that is not what motivated me to write this post. But I figured if I'm about to shit all over the company, I'd better give an honest story, not just the bad.


In addition to printing, IngramSpark also distributes my books to numerous online stores, most importantly Amazon.com. Unfortunately A Sawmill's Hope, paperback, is not currently available through Amazon.



It has been "Temporarily out of stock" for some time. I don't honestly know how long and I have no idea why. When I noticed this, sometime mid-August, my first inquiries were to Amazon, who promptly replied stating they'd already placed an order to Ingram for more books.

So, I contacted IngramSpark via email. I didn't hear back so I tried again. For two months I wrote them. Six unanswered emails later, I called customer service. It was a thirty minute wait, and that's fine. I understand I'll have to wait for phone support no matter who I'm calling. But I don't often have time to sit and wait. I spoke to a representative who assured me they were hiring more people and soon they'd be able to return emails. (Because responding to your customers isn't currently a priority?)
Regarding my unavailable book she just needed to "check on a thing... ah, yep. Ok. Yeah, check back in a couple of days."

Whatever information she was trying to convey to me fell flat. It sounded like a switch needed to be flipped and that would fix everything. She couldn't answer me when I asked how we would avoid this situation in the future.

That phone call happened two weeks ago today. And the book is still unavailable.

I'm giving them a week from today then I'm pulling my paperback off IngramSpark. I'll print it through CreateSpace. This is November, a month I should be focusing entirely on writing 50,000 new words, not shopping for a new POD company. At this moment I'd like to make plans to remove IngramSpark entirely. They've communicated through action how important I am not to their business.
Unfortunately, no one can compete with their prices. $11 for a quality hardback is incredibly cheap. And one reason I chose to self-publish in the first place was so that I could have large, high-quality, illustrated hardback books. Books that a young me could fall in love with.

I was motivated to share this for a couple of reasons. I am feeling powerless and pissed off. But more importantly, I believe my visitors have something to learn here, especially those who are torn about which POD company to use. I've sang IngramSpark's praises for long enough to offer some criticism.

If I were employed by IngramSpark, I'd be riled by this post. In the hell-hath-frozen chance you are associated with IngramSpark, I'll address you directly. Except if you had listened to me by now we wouldn't be here.

Representatives of IngramSpark,
You should have responded to my emails. No matter what the response was. Even if only to say "We're extremely busy and will get to your issue as soon as we can. For quicker service, give us a call." But you didn't. For months. Even when I CC'ed international support or sent from an alternate email address, still no response. If that's not a good way to contact you, update your contact information to reflect it.
When you promised to make my book available, you should have followed through. That's your side of the deal. That's what I pay you for. At first, and for almost a year, it was that way. Then it stopped and I still don't know why. But when I made you aware of the problem, through emails and phone calls, you should have fixed it. You've had plenty of time to send Amazon some books to sell. Now if people want a paperback of my book, they're shit out of luck. 
If a solid alternative to printing quality hardbacks for cheap comes available, I will jump on it. I'll pull all titles from your company and bail with nary a backward glance. 
I have big plans for my books and my brand and Silexare in general. The parties I do business with need to be able to accommodate. I don't know how many people were denied a book because of this. Maybe none at all. But you've indicated your level of commitment to my cause and it is unacceptable.
You fix your system, and I'll be happy to party with you.