Category Archives: Blather

Writing in a Shadow Decade

Writing about the future is writing in the shadows of monuments that haven’t yet risen. They’re the building blocks of the tenebrous virtual world you’re constructing, and when you’re writing near-future-fiction you’re more acutely aware of how these monuments shift and transform and rise and fall. You do your best to pin them down with imagination and words, but sooner or later you’ll live long enough to emerge from the shadows and see just how wrong you were.

Cold Reboot

When I started writing the Shadow Decade series with Cold Reboot in 2015 I thought I was being cynical. The world I drifted through was a dark one, full of misery and corruption and decay, but it seemed stable. Like a strong path that had such a sense of gravity to it that we couldn’t break away from it if we tried.

Then 2016 happened.

The conception I had of the future – a Clinton presidency that extended the milquetoast neoconservativism of the Obama administration, increasing corporate power, the inevitable economic disruption caused by the 3D printing revolution and inadequate government response to a shifting climate – seemed plausible. I figured that after eight more years of Democratic disappointment engagement would fall off and the country would elect a Rubio or a Cruz in 2024. That’s the future I wrote – perfectly cyberpunk, mildly dystopian, and gravely plausible.


I tell myself that nobody could have predicted President Trump. Not me. Not Clinton. Not Trump himself, the look on his face after his win was proof enough of that. But it doesn’t matter, I was stuck with one book set in a universe that no longer had a probability greater than zero, and I was midway through the second. I tell myself that there was no way I could have known that I should have been writing apocalyptic fiction.

Those things are true. They are also irrelevant. We’re in the situation we’re in, and my books are in the situation they’re in.

So I took another year with Network Protocol, changed a few things, details, and tried to envision what a few years of Trump might do to the world. Chasing shadows again, looking for patterns, trying to extrapolate. It’s something I’m good at by virtue of being human – we’re designed to make sense of disparate data. Sometimes we get a bit overzealous looking for connections, but I think that I was able to mold Network Protocol into something that made a little sense.

It’s a personal story, after all, about Erica. Not the world.

I got some parts right. But other things, developments in the last year alone… I’d written about the conflict between climate refugees and natives to their host countries, but couldn’t foresee the rapid return of ultra-nationalistic fascism. I knew the environment was going to shit, but didn’t predict that the true point-of-no-return was going to be 2028.

Things got worse faster. I never realized that I was an optimist.

So now I’m here, on October 31st, 2018, ready to start writing Open Proxy on November 1st for National Novel Writing Month, and I can see the shadows cast by future events. I don’t know what they mean, and can only really guess based on the shapes they make falling over the artifacts of the present. I’m set to refine and revisit a future ten years hence, and I can only pray that I’m getting it all wrong again.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

My Laptop Died, and I Need a New One

Two years ago my laptop’s case started to crack right around the AC cord’s port. Shortly after that, it stopped running off of battery power and became, essentially, a light and underpowered desktop model. I was stuck working from home, which sucked, but I could still do my job. I finished Iron Horses Can’t Be Broken, composed the audio drama script, and went on to write both Shadow Decade books.

Why didn’t I get a new laptop? Well, this writing gig pays the bills, but it doesn’t afford me much in the way of luxury, and as long as it still ran, a new laptop was just that. Luxury.

That’s part of being poor, though. Making things last. Going without, and learning what you can’t go without.

Yesterday afternoon my laptop finally gave up, refusing to draw power from the wall. Requisat en pace, lappy.

This, of course, leaves me with quite the conundrum. I cannot write without a laptop. I cannot design games. I can’t do any of the stuff I’ve been doing for the last seven years to make money.

This is a problem.

So now I need a new laptop, don’t have the funds, and don’t have the means of earning money without one. I make ~ $100 a month through my patreon, but saving that up for a new laptop will take months, all the while my royalties slowly degrade as long as I’m not putting out new content. That’s normal and not a huge problem so long as I’m working on my next release, but saving up for a new computer will put all my releases back a few months.

Sucks, right?

So my solution is to run an IndieGoGo Campaign to raise the funds for a new laptop. I’ve written a lot of books, so that gives me a bunch of rewards to hand out for support. Take a look, maybe donate a few bucks to my laptop fund. Or if you’re unable to offer me financial assistance, it’s also a huge help if you spread the word, post about the campaign on social media, etc.

I’d really appreciate it if you’d at least take a look… I’m kinda in dire straits here.


Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

2018 Price Increases

After seven years of publishing my books, I’m going to raise my prices. I go into detail here, but long story short is that my expenses have increased, and I think my novels are worth at least $5.

It’ll probably be a week or two before I raise my prices, so if you’re on the fence about picking anything up, now’s the time.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Long Overdue

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been self-publishing ebooks for 7 years, and I only just now got a kindle.


I picked up a paperwhite, and it’s pretty neat. Not only is it a lot easier on the eyes than my phone was, but it automatically goes to sleep when the case is closed. Pretty nifty, if you ask me.

More importantly, it lets me read again, and I have a lot to catch up on.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.


It’s been what, seven or eight months? Time to go into Taoscordian Games’s plan for 2018.


Our first project for the new year is going to be a revision of the Hexbox system. We’ve had a year to work on it, a year of errata, a year of development and exciting new ideas. It’ll still be free and more or less compatible with Ibu: The Emerald Canopy, but probably a bit heftier, with more material added to it. It remains to be seen if Ibu will get an update, but there are further books in the series planned for a 2018 release.

Galvanic Century

Later in the year we also have plans to adapt Michael Coorlim’s Galvanic Century steampunk book series into Fate-compatible setting books covering an alternate-history Edwardian era, where pseudoscience dictates reality.

Interactive Fiction

A number of solo-player interactive fiction scenarios are planned, set within the Heroic Explorations settings, allowing players to visit these stories without the need for a group or gamemaster. Adventure scenario modules for more traditional tabletop play will be developed pending demand.

And that’s it! That’s Taoscordian Games’s 2018 docket. Subject to change, of course.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Best Laid Plans of 2018

A new year, a new you, a new me. Here’s what I’ll be up to in 2018.


First thing I want to do is wrap up Open Proxy, third book in the Shadow Decade series. Where the series goes from here depends entirely on sales; if sales are strong, I’ve got plans for another two books in the series. If not, Erica’s story will come to a satisfactory end here, with an option to write more down the line if there’s demand for it.

Midwestern Requiem will continue, with a target of one episode every month. I’m not happy that my financial situation threw off the publishing schedule at the end of the year, but things have stabilized to a degree and I can get back to work on it. I’ve got a long and twisting storyline in mind, and if you’re one of my Patrons, you can help decide which way it goes.

I’m also going to be writing a novel to query around to agents and publishers, to dip my toes into the wild world of traditional publishing.


I’ve been neglecting Taoscordian Games, the imprint under which I publish role-playing game supplements. I’ve got some ideas that’ll get that moving again, including a Galvanic Century setting book and a revision of the Hexbox sandbox hexcrawl system.

Speaking of Galvanic Century, the next book is going to be an interactive novel, though to what degree I cannot quite state. It might be written in Twine or perhaps a visual novel, depending on what art assets I can afford to commission.

Up in the air

I’d like to continue with my Twitch broadcasts, but finding the time has been problematic. I’d prefer to do it consistently or not at all.

While I enjoyed interviewing other creatives for Working Class Creatives after a year it still hasn’t really taken off. Interviewing, editing, publishing, and setting up interviews takes a lot of time and effort, and while I’ve met some really cool people through it, if nobody’s listening… it just isn’t worth my time to continue.

I’m feeling fairly disenchanted with YouTube in general, so I don’t know if I’m going to continue with my channel. Maybe I’ll just keep it around for the few times I feel like making a video, I don’t know.

My primary means of communication and interaction with my fans is going to be through my Patreon. Much of what I’ll be posting there will be public, though the fans invested enough to support me with at least a dollar a month get more from me, as is only fair.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Livestreaming NaNoWriMo on Twitch

This year, for National Novel Writing Month, I’m going to be conducting an experiment in accountability. That’s what NaNoWriMo is for me – I’ve written nine novels already, so “finish a book” isn’t as big a goal as it used to be. No, what I need is something to get my butt in that seat on an everyday basis despite all of my other responsibilities and distractions.

A 50k word deadline in 30 days is a good start, but this year I’m taking it a step further by livestreaming my daily wordcount.

That’s right.

Every day for the month of November I’ll be logging on to Twitch to write, publicly, the rough draft for the third novel in the Shadow Decade series, Open Proxy. No blinds, no filters, just raw unadulterated text.

And oh man, when I say rough draft, I mean that this draft is gonna be rough. You may have heard that “writing is rewriting.” It’s very true in my case. My work doesn’t even approach presentable until its third or fourth iteration.

So why am I showing strangers on the internet the ugly side of my prose?

Accountability. I’m doing it every day, and you can come with and laugh at me. Maybe it’ll assure you that rough draft material doesn’t need to be golden words from the lips of god, but rather a rough slash of the word-knife across unblemished page.

Maybe you’ll get a glimpse into what it’s like turning an outline into prose, and just how much I actually deviate over the course of a typical project.

Maybe you’ll see my work and want to hire me as a consultant or developmental editor to help whip your own story into shape.

I don’t know, man, I just work here. You can come along, see how it works, ask questions, but hey, spoilers will abound. If you haven’t read the first two Shadow Decade novels, Cold Reboot and Network Protocol, you might feel a bit lost, so consider picking those up first… I’ll be busy trying to make my daily wordcount, and won’t want to send time answering questions about the earlier books.

So check me out, on my Twitch channel, 8pm CST all throughout November.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

How Self-Publishing Saved My Life

Self-Publishing saved my life. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

In 2010 I was broke and homeless, couch surfing and living off the fumes of a never terribly vibrant bank account. I hadn’t been able to find any freelance gigs in months, and it’d been far loger since I’d been anything other than self-employed. I was registered with several creative temp agencies, and would occasionally score an interview or two.


I was running out of money and burning through what little goodwill my very patient friends still had for me. My twenties and thirties had been spent nomadic, living out of a suitcase, drifting about in a way that wasn’t anywhere as romantic as it sounds, but I’d never had such a difficult time finding work. This was new and terrible.

As you might imagine, the charm of sending out endless resumes and going on interviews wore thin after awhile. I began to first resent, then dread the treadmill. Writing became my form of procrastination.

I’ve always been a storyteller

I was a compulsive writer as a kid, filling notebooks with drawings before I could spell. And the reading. So much reading. I’d bring a book with me everywhere. I’d sneak books to read hidden under the lip of my desk during lectures. Classic lit, books from the class cart, whatever I could find. Lots of Bradbury. I think he was my favorite, but it’s hard to connect with who I was back then.

My twenties were spent hopping from menial job to menial job. Mall cop. Quality control in a chemical plant. Janitor in a state mental hospital. Day laborer. Whatever I could do to keep myself going until I drifted on to something else, never making much money, never having a life to really call my own. I stopped writing somewhere along the way, stopped reading. There was nothing but work, sleep, and work again, skimming the poverty line, wearing away all of my most interesting ridges bit by bloody bit. I’m sure I lived some interesting stories, but they’re not something I’m ready to talk about yet.

I still self-identified as a writer. Still figured I’d get back to it some day. Still bought copies of Writer’s Market every year, but I never got any further than sending off for submission guidelines. And eventually, “some day” turns into “never.”

Back to Self-Publishing.

So it’s mid-2010. I write a short story about the apocalypse, a literary horror thing, my first bit of fiction in over a decade. I liked it. Friends I showed it to liked it. I found myself a list of all the publications likely to pick it up, chose one, checked out their web page, and sent it off.

Then went back to the job hunt, largely forgetting about what I’d written. A month or so later I get a rejection notice — my first rejection for the first story I’d ever submitted, the first story I’d written in years. I’d steeled myself for this. I knew this was the biz. I’d read enough articles.


This was a personal rejection. The editor included a note that the story was

An almost. Brutal in a Lord of the Flies sort of way.

And I found that very encouraging. My first story, my first rejection, an almost.


My old dreams came flooding back. I remembered what it was like to have aspirations, to believe that I could be something, that I could have something. Suddenly, I really wanted to be a writer again. I wanted writing, to be my life. And I was good enough!

And yet I didn’t send the story out again immediately. I was close to going from “couchsurfing homeless” to “gutter homeless.” It’d take at least a month to sell the story, then many more months for the story to be published before I’d see a dime.

I didn’t have time for that. But I lived in the future now, didn’t I?


I’d been hearing about self-publishing and the way that e-marketplaces had been changing the landscape, but hadn’t looked into it too deeply. I did some research and found out that the payoff would be much sooner — royalties were disbursed two months after accrual. That I could do. Two months I had.

So I wrote a few more stories, researched self-publishing some more, and put them up on Amazon. That first month I made ten dollars.

Ten real dollars. I was a goddamn professional author.

The next month I made thirty. Enough to chip in a little for food, so I didn’t feel like so much the mooch. By the end of 2012 I was taking in four-figures of royalties every month, living in my own place.

So that’s me.

That’s my story. How I got where I am. I’m not rich, not by a longshot, but I’d consider myself a successful professional author. Sure, the market moved on, and Amazon changed things up so that I’m back to barely scraping by, but I know what I’m doing. Any one book could be the one that takes off unexpectedly, my lottery tickets to financial stability and the heights of a lower-middle class lifestyle.

Until then, until I make it, I’ll keep plugging away, keep writing, keep trying new things. It’s all I can do.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Three Interactive Serial Pitches

My next project is an interactive serial where my patrons are able to vote on the direction the story flows at the end of each episode. I have three prospective story ideas to choose between, and I’m letting potential readers vote on which one they find the most appealing.

To help people decide, I’ve created a pitch video containing information on each of the three potential storylines.

Have an opinion? Questions? Let me know in the comments.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.