How Amazon made me a hypocrite.

The title is a little unfair, Amazon didn’t *make* me a hypocrite, they just enabled me to do so and I just didn’t realize it at first…

A little back story first! The other day, I wanted to buy a song. For those of you interested in what song, it happened to be “Cool Night” by Paul Davis. It’s a great song! That’s neither here nor there though. Now sure, I could listen to it on Youtube for free, but I wanted to put it on my phone which I use as my portable music device.

So I went to Zune to go buy the song and discovered that I couldn’t. Zune found the song in it’s library just fine, but it was grayed out, I couldn’t purchase it. Now, I know why I couldn’t purchase it (Zune doesn’t have license to sell some songs — this isn’t a unique problem to Zune, for years you couldn’t purchase Beatles songs digitally anywhere), but it didn’t stop me from complaining on twitter about it.

“WHY WON’T YOU TAKE MY MONEY!?!” I lamented. I *wanted* to pay the artist (well, I guess his family or his record company more likely since Paul Davis is dead) for his work, and was told “Nope, go away.” Why on earth would *anyone* refuse to sell their work to someone, that seems completely ludicrous!

Err, wait a minute. A while back I made my latest book available through a program Amazon offers called KDP Select. This makes my title available for free borrowing to members of Amazon Prime and allows me to have “sales” days where I can give my book away for free, but in order to join this program I have to list the title on Amazon exclusively for a period of 90 days (it auto-renews at the end of every period unless you opt-out before the renewal).

When I first heard about the program, I thought it was a great idea! I signed up and was happy about it. Yet, looking at it now, I’ve just done the exact same thing I was complaining about a few minutes ago. If someone with a Nook wanted to buy my latest book, they *wanted* to give me their money, I would be telling them “Nope, go away.” Pot, meet kettle.

Unfortunately, this epiphany happened a few days too late so I’ve already been auto-renewed in the program until September, but after that (and all future books) will be available on as many platforms as I can manage, and “exclusivity” will not be something I give in to again. Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon and the Kindle, but I don’t like being a hypocrite.

I wonder if all authors go through this…

I’ve talked about my “next” book here a few times. I even got off on a few rants about religion since my “next” book had a very strong religious component to it (you may have even called it an allegory). Yet, even though I have almost the entirety of the plot mapped out in great detail, and even a lot of it written down, I can’t seem to finish it.

Not because of a lack of writing though, but because an entirely different story has taken over my mind. I spent weeks (which turned into months) trying to force this new story back so I could finish my “next” book. Alas, I could not, and eventually (ie, now) I gave up. The story inside of me that needs to be told right now is this new idea, and that will now become my “next” book.

It all started with a simple idea. “What if one day you woke up and discovered you had an ability that changed your life? How would you handle it?” This simple question is the heart of the new book.

For fans of my previous fiction book, I can say that this one is much more psychological than simply gruesome. Of course, that can be even scarier sometimes, so maybe that’s for the best! I plan on having this new book published before Labor Day this year, which gives me a scant two months to finish it up and get it out there. Luckily, I’m almost there!

Once this one is out there, then I will go back and finish the one I was working on earlier this year. Well, unless I get engulfed by yet another great idea. As the title implies, I wonder if all authors go through this song and dance of starting one book before getting side tracked with a completely different book/idea. I need to just let the stories come as they do, rather than trying to force them out. That never seems to work for me.


As I gaze into a mirror of my soul.

Do I have the courage to examine the man looking back at me?

What if he’s desolate and lonely, full of despair; a broken down wreck of loathing?

Why can’t I hope he’s happy and vibrant, instead of this monster?

I want to peer in, to find out who I am

But fear holds me back; my mind left to wonder

Am I the person I hoped I would be?

Or simply an imposter, faking it for the rest of the world.


Books after NaNoWriMo

I’ve already written about why I love books and everything there still stands, but the truth is there’s more to it than that, as I’m sure most folks who enjoy writing will tell you.

Even when it’s unintentional, it also gives the writer the opportunity to make social commentary (for lack of a better word). While I doubt you would find anything most folks would call “social commentary” in my first book, it was intentionally morally ambiguous, leaving questions that as an individual you needed to ponder, applying your own social and moral values to the situation. I like that I get to ask deep (potentially thoughtful) questions, while at the same time unveiling my opinion on the subject, even if it is not necessarily directly apparent.

You see, the thing is I utterly despise people who make constant inane social commentary on the various social mediums I frequent. Most times, they’re delusional at best, following the latest in a long line of demagogues incapable of critical thinking on their own.  On the occasions that they are, they will find people who are not constantly arguing with them. I suppose some folks find the conversations intellectually stimulating (or perhaps they like trolling), but I for one do not, so the majority of the time I ignore them and go on about my day.

Were it public and up front, my social commentary would be brutal. I can’t understand how politicians can continue to get elected on a platform of “we want the other side to lose” rather than “we want to do what our voters need”. I can’t understand the hypocrisy that comes from all sides in government. Our country is falling apart before our eyes, and everyone is so blind trying to beat the other guy, everyone forgot there was a government to run. I can’t understand anyone who thinks the Republicans are 100% right on all issues, much like I can’t understand how anyone thinks the Democrats are either. I believe if our founding fathers saw the country we are right now, they would wonder what they ever fought the Revolutionary war for since we have basterdized the names of those that did. Don’t even get me started on organized religion.

Before I turn into the one of the folks I despise though, that last paragraph will be one of the very few times I outright give some of my views on social issues. Instead, they’re scattered in my writings. I had a particular topic I wanted to tackle during the NaNoWriMo time frame, and I’m really enjoying this story. It’s too long though, and even though it isn’t done yet, I know it has multiple climaxes, so I’ve decided to split it up.

So I suppose this is my announcement of my second fiction book, which will be part one of three (or four, depending on how detailed I want the backstory of one of the major characters to be, he deserves his own book if I get into it). Now, the genre will be the same as the last one, still a horror novel. It will certainly be less gruesome than the previous though, not that I particularly mind the gore, but I think some people latched onto that more than the message hidden beneath it.

My hope is to have each one done in just under three months, which would line up with part one out before January ends followed by part two before the end of April and part three by the time summer is making the days warm up here. I fully expect to be unusually busy at work this year though (working on secret games we haven’t announced yet of course) so I don’t have a great deal of confidence yet, but those are my goals.

I’m actually more excited about this series than I was about my first book, which is actually a bit of a surprise. I was super excited about that one.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow…

I’ve always wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo in years past, but never did because I was afraid of spending so much time writing. Afraid my ideas wouldn’t be good enough or coherent enough or that I wouldn’t want to “waste” so much time doing little more than writing. That was before I actually got the nerve to release my first fiction book. It was liberating and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, bringing an entire new world and story alive. Leaving readers with a sense of moral uneasiness with enough ambiguity to wonder what happened.

So this year, not only will I participate in NaNoWriMo, my second fiction book will be published at the end for whatever I come up with. It’s a little scary still truthfully because here we are the day before starting, and I still have no idea what the story will be. As I mentioned before, I have a lot of ideas in my head, but they’re all intermingling and nothing really coherent exists in here at all. So this should be fun and interesting. To abuse a quote I’ve read in my past, I’m just going to start writing, continue on until I reach the end, and then stop. The story should take care of itself.

You can never finish something if you don’t start.

I don’t have writers block…

Since my first (fiction) book was released about a month ago I have been anxious to start writing a new story; another tale of macabre. I have a few goals with this second book, but I’m running into a bit of a problem. As of this moment in time I have written exactly zero words of this book. Now, granted, they are the best set of zero words I’ve ever written, but at this rate, finishing anything might take a wee bit longer than I was hoping.

The thing is though that I don’t have writers block. I am not struggling trying to figure out what to write at all, my problem is exactly the opposite. I have too many ideas of what to write and they’re jumbling up inside my head and I’m finding it difficult to focus on just one of them. One story is bleeding into the others and they all start running together which makes for little more than confusion.

I considered briefly having a multitude of stories started at once and writing about the one that was inspiring me at the moment and swapping between them all as my mood changed before realizing that was one of the more stupid ideas I had ever had. Even if I could eventually finish them all (which seems unlikely), I would consistently get the stories confused while I was writing leading to the reader being even more confused before they eventually just decided I was a terrible writer and never looked my way again.

I wonder how people pick the story they want to write about when there are so many in their head?

Thoughts on my first fiction book..

My First Fiction Book!Now that my first fiction book is available, I figured I’d write down some thoughts about the writing process for this book.

When I first started writing each technical book I’ve published I began the same way. I started with a rough outline of what I wanted to teach in the book, and in each section of the book. When the book was finished and published you could look at the outline and the finished product and they would match up almost perfectly! I followed the outline I had initially laid out much like you would expect, I just had to fill out the detail.

So naturally I decided to follow a similar pattern here with my first fiction book. I’ve been playing around with a few story ideas in my head for a while, and I had one more flushed out than the rest. I knew how the story started, I knew how the story ended and I knew the important pieces of conflict that happened throughout the story. All I had to do was to fill out the detail.

Yet, if you saw the outline of that book and read “The Light In The Cabin” you would say to yourself “Huh? That isn’t the same story at all.” Which is very true, the story I wrote was not the story I was originally going to. If you read the outline I originally had, you would notice that neither the light nor the cabin were mentioned at all, and they’re so important in the book I actually wrote that they make up the title!

So how did this happen? I have no idea actually. Perhaps all writers go through something similar, but something strange happened during that last part where all I had to do was “fill out the detail”. The detail started becoming the book, and the detail started driving itself into a different story. Characters that were initially incendental to the plot were now key (perhaps because I enjoyed those characters while filling out the detail?). The main antagonist completely changed. The ending I originally had in mind couldn’t have been further from the ending that is in the book (although truth be told, the ending in the book is much better than what I originally was planning in my honest opinion).

It was such a strange experience. When writing the technical books, it was easy to follow the outline. I needed to teach concept A, so I taught concept A. There wasn’t room for divergence really, it was simply a recitation of the things I already knew. In this fiction book though, that isn’t how it went at all. All I did was diverge. I diverged so much that I actually had to go back and re-write chapter one because by the time I was finished it didn’t make any sense in the context of the story I had actually written. It made perfect sense at the time I wrote it (with the original story in mind), but not after the story led me somewhere else.

I’ve considered going back and writing the story I was intending to write from the beginning, but I don’t think I will. It was a good story I think, but all it would do now is remind me of the story I actually wrote which was better.

I can’t think of a good way to describe the process that happened (great quality for a writer, not being able to think of a description eh?). I had an idea in my mind, and then the story took over and told itself to me, and I just wrote it down.

I hope anyone who reads it enjoys the ride as much as I did.

Thoughts on being nervous

In a few days my first fiction book will be released publicly and I have to admit that I’m actually pretty nervous about the whole thing. Now, this isn’t the first book I’ve ever published, so you wouldn’t think I would be very nervous at all, but you wouldn’t be farther from the truth!

It’s one thing to publish a book on a subject you know. Hell, all of my previous books were not only on subjects I knew intimately, I could argue pretty convincingly that there wasn’t a single person on the face of the planet who knew those subjects better than I did. There’s very little to be nervous about when you are attempting to educate or give out knowledge on a subject that you invented.

Fiction is an entirely different cup of tea though. For one, I’m certainly not an “expert” in fiction books (if such a thing exists). More importantly a fiction book is just me, the characters I’ve created, my words, and my ideas. What if people read it and think “That is the worst idea I’ve ever heard.” or “This is the worst piece of writing I’ve ever seen.” What if people read it and think “Wow, that guy is crazy.” (I am!) I’ve already had people who have seen early review copies tell me it was disturbing (which given the genre I enjoy and am writing I guess could be considered a compliment).

At the end of the day, I’m writing this book because I enjoy it and it doesn’t particularly matter how many other people like it as well. That doesn’t mean I don’t want others to enjoy it though, and I’m hoping that they do. I certainly feel more exposed writing fiction than I ever did telling people how code worked, and perhaps that’s all I really feel nervous about.

My book is called “The Light In The Cabin” and I’m sure I’ll post more about it soon.

I love books!

I suppose that isn’t a huge surprise given that I’ve written three of them and as I’ve said before writing a book can be hard work. It goes beyond that though, I’ve always been a fan of books. I used to sit up and read constantly, and while I rarely have time to read as much now as I used to, I still enjoy a good book when I have the time.

I was always a fan of fiction, although interesting non-fiction stories are pretty cool I suppose. I just liked the idea of being able to be transported to an author’s world when reading. When I was younger I used to imagine myself publishing books and being a famous author and bringing other people into world’s I’ve created. I suppose you can see the parallel’s between that and video game development as well.

The thing is, the major reason I wrote my first book on Managed DirectX was because I wanted to be an “author”. I wasn’t actively looking to write a book at the time I was approached at the Game Developers Conference back in 2003, I just happened to have a lucky series of circumstances. I had the bulk of knowledge about a subject people were interested in, I was easy to find, and I happened to be able to write in a way that people found helpful. So when I was asked to write what turned out to be the Kickstart book, I jumped at the opportunity.

I was so focused on being an “author” that I almost completely lost sight of some of the benefits. I was offered multiple contracts (from various publishers) for that first book, and I came extremely close to signing and accepting the first one I saw. All I cared about was being able to walk into a book store finding my book and saying “I wrote this!” While my first book would have been just as awesome had I actually signed that first contract, I would have missed out on quite a bit of the extra benefits. For example, both contracts had an “advance” in them (which by the way to show you my naivete surprised me). However, the ‘advance’ in the first contract gave me a LCD monitor, while the advance in the one I eventually signed gave me actual money and substantially more than the cost of a monitor. The first one also had portions of royalties paid in Amazon gift cards, and while I love Amazon, they weren’t that great back then, and even now, money is still better.

I never did it for the money though, and while I certainly won’t complain about it, it wasn’t a motivating factor. That isn’t to say I’m not glad I picked the contract I did because I certainly am. However in my second book I had lost that motivation of “becoming an author” that I had in my first book and it suffered for it. The second book is obviously inferior to the first, and it took me forever to write it because my motivation wasn’t there. It took another five years before I decided to write another book and even then I only did it once I had a co-author to help me. While I didn’t have quite the same motivation for the most recent book as the first, it’s very close in quality and information. It wasn’t “work” like the second one was (and I did like that I was helping Dean become an “author” as well).

However my initial love of books and desire to write some fiction that will enable me to bring someone into a world of my creation still exists and has grown dramatically over the last few years. I still love video games and making video games, but they are often a collaborative effort. It’s very rare that a game is made under a single vision with no deviation, while that is the norm for books.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, later this year I will be publishing my first fiction book, and I’m quite excited about it. I’m terrible at picking names so it is currently still “Untitled”, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a better title soon enough. Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, John Saul and Dean Koontz if that might help dictate where the genre might be heading as well!