Category Archives: Writing

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

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

On the Futility of Writing Advice

Just wanted to take a minute to plug a neat article, Stop giving a damn what Stephen King (or any writer) tells you about writing, by (my friend) Kamal Kamyab. He goes into depth on why most advice is probably useless to you, and points out some really good reasons why it can be considerably worse than useless.  Here’s a little taste:

My concern is that, for the rest of us, these myriad writing rules might help raise the lowest standards but will also risk homogenising the output of course graduates. What’s the point in learning a uniform approach to writing if you have to unlearn it just to uncover your voice. This is why the only useful, practical advice about what to write is honest, no-BS stuff like, “Write in popular genres or change your name to be misleading.” It’s not facetious; it’s true. That’s if you want to be discovered and successful. Otherwise, the only advice is:

“Write.”

It’s well thought out, packed with useful links, and refers to such luminaries as Hugh Howey, Judy Blume, and… ahem yours truly.

What are you waiting for?  It’s Friday.  Just click and go read already. 😉

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Filed under Writing

Crowds Cheer Passive Voice Article!

…well, that may be overstating matters a bit. Nevertheless, The Passive Voice: Its Darkest Secrets Revealed! was one of the few pieces tweeted by Medium’s editorial staff on Saturday, which brought in (by my standards) a metric buttload of traffic. I’m jazzed right now.

In other news, Earthian‘s summer break continues, and I’m so sorry for the delay.  I’m working on a few fast side-projects (articles and short stories) in order to attract a little attention for Earthian‘s returns… and maybe even win some prize money along the way.  I already have an entry ready for The Molotov Cocktail’s Flash Monster contest, and I’m also gearing up to compete in The Hugh Howey Booktrack Competition. Hugh Howey’s contest has a $5,000 purse, and… wow. Just wow.  I’m probably going to need help with that one, and I hope I can count on you to lend me your vote!

As for Earthian, the season will be starting back up the first week of August with Chapter 15: Odyssey!

Cheers!

-dances awkwardly away-

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Filed under Earthian, Oktopod Operations, Propaganda, Writing

The Passive Voice — Its Darkest Secrets Revealed!

Mr. Fang in B&W

-cue dramatic music-

The passive voice… Among writers, it’s public enemy number one. This heartless killer is responsible for a string of grisly slayings that stretch across history, beginning all the way back in ancient Sumer and continuing on to the present day. It’s already in your home, crawling on your ceiling, and you could be its next victim.

No one is truly safe while the passive voice remains a fugitive from justice, and that’s why I’m here writing this — to expose its darkest, most depraved secrets, and to ask for your assistance in stopping the monster once and for all.
Continue reading

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Filed under Writing