Category Archives: Arcana Universalis

Chasing Two Rabbits

Success as a writer on the left, digital publishing revolution on the right.

Couldn’t even catch these cute, fat little bastards.

They say that if you chase two rabbits, you’ll catch neither, and my recent experience has borne that out. I wanted to not only be successful as a storyteller, but also simultaneously build a revolutionary foundation for the future of publishing… and I’ve so far succeeded in neither. Thus, after much soul-searching and careful consideration, I’ve decided to (at least temporarily) put Oktopod Digital Press to rest in order to focus on building my personal platform as a writer.

I have some exciting news and a fresh project that’s nearly ready to show, but Oktopod won’t be part of the equation going forward. I’m consolidating my efforts into social media, and you’ll be able to follow my further adventures on Facebook and Twitter, where I’ll be sharing updates, insights, and my usual sarcastic self.

Click here to follow me on Facebook

And/or here for Twitter.

I want to personally thank you all for following this clumsy and stumbling enterprise. There have been ups and downs, and looooong stretches of nothing-much-at-all in between, but I just want you to know that I appreciate every second you’ve spent reading my rambling diatribes, and (even more so) traveling through strange realms of the imagination with me. I promise there will be more to come… much, much, more…. just not in this form.

Thank you so much for accompanying me through the past six years of prologue. The real story is just about to begin.

~Chris

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Filed under Arcana Universalis, Biotech Legacy, Earthian, ebooks, Long Fall, Odds Without Ends, Oktopod Operations, Self-Publishing, Stars Rain Down, Vengar, webfiction, Writing

Arcana Universalis — What is It?

The cover of Arcana Universalis: Terminus, the first section of a sci-fantasy novel.

The cover of Arcana Universalis: Terminus, the first part of an ambitious sci-fantasy novel.

On Monday, I mentioned that my current goal is to finish Arcana Universalis: The Hanged Man’s Revelation, and for many of you, the immediate response was doubtlessly, “What the heck is that?” I can hardly blame you; I published the last part nearly two years ago, and have spoken nary a word about it since. Well, consider this your refresher.

The very short answer is that Arcana Universalis is a story about wizards in space. Simple enough, right?

I had been watching Dragonslayer, a fairly wonderful movie about a young magician in training, and it got me thinking about the entire fantasy genre. These stories are infested with nigh-omnipotent practitioners of arcane arts, but where’s their ambition? Why are they content to sit around in drafty towers while the simple folk below farm the land? Despite all their power and ingenuity, these wizards are trapped in a pseudo-Medieval pastiche, when they could just as soon ascend to the stars.

So, I set out to tell a story about just that. I dreamed up a world where starships powered by ancient artifacts blast through the cosmos in search of star-born dragons; where spells operate with the depth and complexity of computer programs, manipulating energies invisible to the naked eye; where nothing is at it seems, and even death may not be the end of a contract.

There’s more to it, of course. The story that takes place in that setting deals in big themes like gender & class inequality, and the twisted ways that our traumas sometimes heal. It’s actually a very morose tale that only grows more so as it spins on.

It’s also the most ambitiously overwritten thing I’ve ever worked on. I make no bones about the fact that I really like to hammer at my prose, and this is the story where I decided to let the hammer fly. Take for example the opening paragraphs:

The universe is vast. It’s so vast that the very concept of it—the sheer beastly immensity of it—thrashes at the fabric of reason itself, and to our mortal minds, it appears chaotic. Stars flare into existence while others perish, great stones hurtle through the empty dark only to crash into one another and be obliterated, and life pervades everywhere.

All of this activity carries on seemingly without direction or purpose, but such appearances belie a strange truth: the veil of chaos conceals a subtle order which governs all things, a queer music that suffuses and binds, pulsing through the glittering stars and clouds of burning gas, over crystalline shores and fields of shifting sands, weaving all of creation into a single unbroken whole.

There is harmony, though we lack ears to hear it. There is order, and in its intricate majesty, that order is divine. There is music among the spheres, and all the petty toils of men are but the transitory notes and cadence of its forever wandering melody.

And that, more or less, is Arcana Universalis: a strange premise saddled with heavy ideas, written with all pretentiousness turned up to 11. I rather love it, and I hope you will as well.

You can find the first two parts of Arcana Universalis: The Hanged Man’s Revelation at Amazon, each for the bargain price of $0.99.

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How I’m Going to Conquer the World in 2015

Happy Monday, everyone! I had a smashing weekend, and I hope you did, too.

You might have noticed that I’ve been awfully quiet recently… or perhaps you didn’t notice. Either way, I wanted to officially welcome you to the new year, chat a little bit about where I’ve been, and tell you about some of my plans. This is exciting stuff and I’m jazzed as hell to have you along.

The short version is that I’ve had a hard year and have been depressed, making writing pretty painful. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like absolutely everything you say is wrong, but it sucks. For a writer, it’s death.

What are we if not our words, right?

But even at the bottom of this, I had some successes this past year. My article on the passive voice reached nearly 3,000 readers, and none other than Hugh Howey called it “brilliant.” My short story, The Witching Light, was one of the winners in Booktrack’s 2014 Halloween Contest. I also posted a few other pieces on their site, namely the first chapter of Stars Rain Down and a fantasy short titled An Encounter With Burgroth, both with integrated soundtracks, and both maintaining 4+ star ratings.

Booktrack, by the way, is an incredibly fun, cool, and easy to use platform that allows you to add soundtracks to text. The process is addictive, and you should hop over and check it out pronto! You can check out my profile while you’re at it, too.

So, in short, I’m starting to get the impression I’m pretty good at this stuff. That’s a welcome change from feeling like I’m a giant ball of suck covered in extra-strength suckers.

That was all months ago, though. How about right now? Well, the first order of business is that my sales are terrible… I’m currently selling less than 10 books in a given month. That’s to be expected, of course; I’ve done nothing to promote my work (thanks to abject terror), and sales have vanished down the drain. Scientists would classify my behavior as stupid, and my answer is to A) violently yank my head out of my ass (yowch!), B) start doing the hard work of telling people about my work, and C) sell these pieces on their merits.

I write exciting, interesting, and wonderfully unique stories. I want to share them with you.

Alright, let’s get to the world conquering stuff. Here are my plans for the coming year.

Arcana Universalis: The Hanged Man’s Revelation — My plucky story about the strange adventures of wizards in space has been lying around collecting dust for more than two years now, and I love it too much to leave it alone. My first order of business is to complete the novel and give you all something new and wonderful to chew on. If you haven’t read the first two parts, now’s a great time!

Biotech Legacy — I’m currently plotting out the next book in the series, tentatively called Biotech Legacy: Dawn Frontier. What I have so far is very rough, but I know the general trajectory, and it’s just about filling in the details. That’s likely going to be my next project once Arcana Universalis is out the door.

Earthian — Earthian is on hold. I wrote myself into a corner and my inability to fix it hurt a lot. My sincerest apologies if you’ve been following along, but I need to let it rest before I can repair it properly.

Writing on Writing — I’m going to be writing an awful lot more about writing & language. I happen to think there’s a deep sickness in the way English is taught, and I intend to start correcting that one blog-post at a time, with the ultimate goals of making you knowledgeable, confident, and more able to find your own answers to problems. Expect big things here.

Reviews — You read that right! I’m going to start doing book reviews here. My focus will be on other self-published work (mostly sci-fi and fantasy), but there will also be some mainstream releases. If you’re a self-published writer interested in having your work reviewed, leave a comment telling me about your book and I’ll take a look.

Oktopod — This one is the biggy. I don’t know about you, but I’m still dissatisfied with our self-publishing options. Amazon provides a good platform with a large install base, but it’s not our business. It doesn’t belong to writers, and because of that, we’re subject to their whims. Smashwords is working hard to help us get onto tons of platforms, but their tools leave me wanting and they’re basically just another middle-man. I want us to own our business in a way that’s sustainable, equitable, and focused on connecting writers directly with our readers. And more than anything, I want you to be involved. Come join our Google+ community!

Connecting with you — The thread that’s holding all of these together… I want to hear from you. Who are you? What brought you here? What have you read lately? What’s bothering you about self-publishing? Click the little comment button, and let me know! Hop on over and connect with me on Twitter while you’re at it. I’m super-active there, and I promise to entertain. 😉

All in all, it feels like I’m starting over. This is a reboot. I’m at the start of a very exciting journey that begins in the bog of infinite sadness, and ends with total world domination. I’d like to go there with you.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re hatching your own plots to make 2015 amazing.

~Chris

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Filed under Arcana Universalis, Booktrack, ebooks, Oktopod Operations, Propaganda, Self-Publishing, Writing

Sale Time Again!

All of my currently released work is once again available for free over at Amazon, and will be available until midnight tonight. Head on over and download some books already. 😉

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Filed under Arcana Universalis, Creative Commons, ebooks, Self-Publishing, Stars Rain Down, Vengar

First Sale of the Year!

After a bit of oddness and waiting with Amazon, I’m happy to announce that we’re (read: I’m) having our first sale of the year. What exactly is available? Absolutely stonking everything, thanks for asking.

Head on over to my author page at Amazon, and you should find five titles all free for the taking. If you don’t find that, either I’ve broken the hyperlink or Amazon is having some kind of problem. Both have been known to happen.

Be sure to tell your sister, tell your friends, and tell that weird guy at the gas station who always stares at your kneecaps with lusty eyes. Of course, this sale can’t come at a better time, as my sales have been slowly circling the toilet since the start of the year. With a little luck, this will make me a little more visible again.

Stars Rain Down will also be dropping back down to it’s earlier, more sane price once the sale is over. While I’ve got you here, I’d like to take a moment to thank the kind soul who bought a copy for 10 bones. Thank you! If I ever run into you on the street, I’ll buy you a beer. One that’s worth less than $7 (my inner businessman informs me), but a beer nonetheless.

Also, I’ll be launching a new running column called Odds Without Ends right here at the Oktopod Blog. That should be starting around Wednesday of next week, so stay tuned!

Cheers, and have a great weekend!
~Chris

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Filed under Arcana Universalis, Creative Commons, ebooks, Self-Publishing, Stars Rain Down, Vengar

Free Promotion — (nearly) Everything Must Go!

It’s that time again, true believers. Starting around 12:00am PDT, it’s another big sale here at Oktopod Digital Press! Stars Rain Down, The Salvaged Sword of Vengar, & both episodes of Arcana Universalis will be available for the bargain price of abso-bloody-lutely nada, so hop on over to my author page at Amazon, grab some books, and read until your eyeballs explode! And remember: it’s all CC licensed, so give a copy to a friend when you’re done. 🙂

Cheers!

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Filed under Arcana Universalis, Creative Commons, ebooks, Stars Rain Down, Vengar

Free Promotion — Arcana Universalis: Danse Macabre

If you don’t have a copy yet, Arcana Universalis: Danse Macabre is available for free today through the Amazon Kindle store. Hop on over and grab one for the weekend. 🙂

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