CategoryWriting

WIP Update #7 – Title and Book Cover Reveal

Do not adjust your calendars. You are seeing another work in progress update less than two months after my most recent one. I know this has literally never happened with this specific work in progress, but it’s for a good reason.

Dear readers. I’m ready to reveal the cover and title for my book. The title of the work in progress that I’ve been working on since early 2017 will be Kotov Syndrome. The book’s title a nod to a phenomenon originally described in chess master Alexander Kotov’s book “To Think Like a Grandmaster”, wherein a player overthinks a complicated situation so much that they actually make a poor move out of desperation. The title also happens to be shared with a song by post-grunge band Rise Against, though no fiction book shares this title.

My artist for the book cover of Kotov Syndrome is the extremely talented Lauren Restivo. Lauren is the creator behind the work at Beanie Cap Prints where she has a portfolio of her work as well as some lovely prints and charms you can buy (I’ve purchased a few of the charms for myself and others…I’m a fan). You can follow her on Twitter where she often posts her artwork @beaniecapprints. She also does some 18+ art for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Not linking here for reasons1Read: The one time I did try to link to an 18+ artist’s work on my blog, Bloglovin’ threw a shitfit about my blog and banned me from being publicly shown for three years. So…, however, if you go to her Twitter bio, you should be able to find her account for that pretty easily. You can also support her on Patreon — which you should do if you can spare the money right now.

Without further ado, here is the cover for Kotov Syndrome. Hover over the image for a more clear version.

To say I’m excited about how the cover turned out would be a massive understatement. Lauren took an idea I had and ran with it, both making it her own and making it look far better than I had anticipated in my mind.

I don’t have an update quite yet as to a release date for the book, as I’m still finishing up some lingering beta reader feedback that got delayed due to COVID concerns. That said, this does put me one step closer to having this book — an over three year project at this point — published.


If you enjoyed the post you just read, please consider supporting me through my Patreon. Memberships start at only $1 and help support the costs for this site, as well as my other creative endeavors. You can also support me by purchasing my book, An Epilogue to Innocence, here. I also offer editing services on this page.

We Need a Change

Note: If you’re here for the My Pokemon Gym series that typically posts on the first Monday of the month, the next post in the series will go up next Monday, June 8th. Until then, here’s this post.

I’ve been thinking for a few days about exactly what to write here. And frankly, whatever I could write here will be inadequate for several reasons. But I recognize that not saying anything — and not taking action — is more problematic than stumbling over my own words.

The American culture of racism and police brutality is one that has cost countless lives and has continually held down an entire segment of the fabric of the country. It’s a fact of life that I was very much shielded from growing up and one that it took me well into my adult years to fully understand the scope of. Even though I saw what was going on in the world around me, a part of me felt like it couldn’t be as bad as I would hear from the news or from people that didn’t look like me. I felt this, at times, despite the rational part of my brain and the logical person in me seeing the preponderance of evidence pointing to the contrary.

I don’t feel that I can be inactive about this anymore. While I do my best to support people of color, in particular writers and other creatives in the communities I’m part of, I know I can do better. I’ve made an effort to do more to amplify voices that have better perspective than my own, and I do intend to continue to do so.

I also am looking to make an effort with my pocketbook. Part of the challenge that I’m running into there is that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as funding cuts that will impact my household income as soon as this month, money has become very tight for me. That said, I do have a source of income, albeit a small one, that is still purely discretionary. That is the profits from my first book, An Epilogue to Innocence.

Beginning today, June 1st, 2020, all profits from An Epilogue to Innocence will go to The Marshall Project. If you’re not familiar with them, The Marshall Project is a group that provides nonprofit journalism about criminal justice. Without groups like The Marshall Project, the dark underbelly of the American criminal justice system would remain shrouded in a veil of ignorance for those who do not live through the experience of being a person of color in the United States today.

If you would like to purchase An Epilogue to Innocence, you can do so at this link. If you would like to donate to The Marshal Project directly, do so by clicking this link.

Blog Update: All The Writing Things Edition (WIP Update #6)

Oh hey. It’s a non-video game post. Some of my regular readers may be back for this one.

I know that I’ve done a lot of video game content recently. This is partly because it has been pretty mentally challenging to go through quarantine for me. I talked about it in a post recently, but to say things have only gotten worse from there for me mentally would be an understatement. I’m doing a bit better now than I was in mid-to-late April. That said, it’s still been a challenge to write non-video game posts. As while those posts can be long and involved to write, they’re not the same mental effort as writing my other posts.

I do, however, want to write a post to share a bit about what all I have going on from a writing standpoint. As you’ll see, it’s quite a lot, which may lead to some changes on the blog during the coming weeks and months.

First off, I’ll give an update on my work in progress. The book started going through beta reads in early March. Pre-COVID, my intent was to have all of the beta reading feedback done by May 1st. That said, I’ve shuffled that deadline around a bit thanks to everything going on with coronavirus. My new intent is to be able to work on edits coming out of beta reading in early June, though that too may shift slightly for reasons I’ll get into later in this post.

Additionally, I do have a title for the book as well as a cover artist on commission to create a cover for the book. My goal is to be able to share both the cover and the title at the same time, hence holding off on sharing the title at this point. I’m very excited to show off the cover art once it’s done, as I really like the idea that’s going to be turned into a cover with this book.

My original timeline for getting the book to market was late fall (October/November) of 2020. With the delays I’ve had leading up to this point, I may end up pushing it back. I’d rather take a bit of extra time going through my own post-beta reading edits with my editor and do it well rather than try to rush things out. That said, I’ve also considered querying and/or doing PitMad. Both of those ideas are kind of terrifying to me, especially since I know I could self-publish the book and get it to have some support there. I’ll decide more on that side of things once the beta reading edits are done.

Moving on to that whole point about why my timeline may shift — my editing business has picked up a bit over the past couple of months. This means that I’m actually having to limit new projects I take on for the first time in a long time. If you’re in need of resume editing services, I’m still open for those inquiries at this point in time. That said, all of my other audio and print editing services are currently on hold due to active projects I have, plus projects that are queued up over the next few months.

Between the increase in editing work I’m getting and the next couple of items I’m going to talk about, there may be a decrease in blog posts over the next few months. I’ve almost finished up the My Pokemon Gym series (two to go), but there will be a Pokemon or Fire Emblem post at the beginning of each month still — as I quite like writing them. That said, we’ll see how much I’m able to write up beyond that. My day job has gotten significantly more time-consuming and stressful since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak1In particular since self-isolation started., meaning I’m busier than ever on that front. With that said, it’s also very important for me to prioritize writing work that’s able to make me extra money for when me and my family need it at this point. If I need to cut stuff I’m working on in order to stay sane, this blog will be the first place cuts are made. This includes no post next week (May 18th). That, along with the fact that I already don’t post on the fourth Monday of the month, means that the next post will be on Monday, June 1st.

Shifting gears for a second, I know that many folks who follow this blog also follow the nightly choose your own adventure story I run on my Twitter. Since I wrote my post about the story in February, I’ve started putting the story’s finished chapters up on Wattpad.

The story has gotten a small following on that platform, but due to Wattpad’s banning of mature-tagged stories from public ranking pages, it’s not getting the footing it otherwise would. If you know folks who use Wattpad (or you do yourself), encourage them to follow the story on there, as well as to like the chapters as they read. Even if you don’t have a Wattpad account, I would encourage you to still give the story a read on there. It’s the only place where the story is currently housed, more or less, in its entirety. Wattpad does have the option to write paid stories for them…but the program is currently invitation only, meaning that the best way for me to get involved in the program (aside from application submission, which I’ve done) is to get readers for the story.

I’ll be continuing the nightly polls for the story on Twitter until the story comes to an end. Basing this off of how long each of the story chapters are taking, I’ll estimate this means we’ll get to the ending(s) of the story sometime in the August-October range. That said, since there are seven different possible endings to the story, I’ve already been asked if I can write all of the endings for those who want to read them. I will be doing that eventually. That said, what I’ll likely do is to write the main ending that gets selected as part of the CYOA narrative, then take a bit of time off before writing the alternate endings.

Speaking of Wattpad, I’ll be doing a new story on there that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Last year, I wrote a short story for this blog called Meeting Charlie Madagan. This is a short story that I’ve had bits and pieces of in my head since the summer of 2012. I finally wrote an outline for the story in March of this year and will be publishing monthly chapters for the story starting in June or July of 2020. The timeline is still a bit up in the air due to a couple of IRL things I need to finish up first. That said, I’ll be doing monthly polls on Patreon which will give patrons some light input as to what happens in the story. The first poll will be up for patrons in June 2020. In that poll, patrons will have the option to choose the Wattpad cover art for the story — as I don’t really feel there’ll be a ton of input that will be able to be given in the first chapter.

Finally, you may have noticed that giving my Patreon patrons the ability to help me with my story is a new development. I revamped my Patreon tiers at the end of April, adding in the aforementioned Wattpad story voting as the lowest tier reward for supporting me. For those not aware, you can get a few different rewards for supporting me on Patreon, including signed pictures of not me (signed by me), a monthly bonus blog post (which will likely be WIP related…oh…and patrons already know the title for the story), and a monthly bonus podcast from me. If you have the financial situation to do so, I’d encourage you to support me on Patreon. You’ll get cool shit.

1,300 words later and all of my writing updates are out of the way. So um…yeah?

One and Three-Eighths

The following post is a short story intended to work through a concept I thought of for a character that will appear in a potential sequel to my current WIP. I’m not 100% sure at this point if I’ll do a sequel, though I am leaning that way. And the character that I want to play around with this technique with isn’t in the current WIP. So this is more of a me trying things out story than anything else. It might be good. It might not. But I want the idea on paper, so to speak.


It was serendipity, really. That song popping up when it did. I hadn’t been thinking about the song…about you. Not recently at least. Sure, you’d crossed my mind that day. You always do. I’d even talked to you. But right when things seemed their bleakest, you were there for me in musical spirit.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had anything serious. Or even serious enough to consider calling it serious. I hate how there are labels that need put to things. Boyfriend this. Girlfriend that. I just want it to be what it is sometimes. You know?

You can’t hear this. I mean, I could come tell you all of this. It wouldn’t be that hard. Through the main lobby, down the east hallway, then you’re the third door on the left. I’ve been there enough. It’s not that hard to remember, though it’s not like you’ve had many visitors to test that theory. I wonder where your mom and dad are. I hope your dad’s doing alright. You’ve always talked so fondly of him.

No. You can’t hear it. Not yet. I’m not ready. You’re not ready. And that’s the most critical piece of this. I can be ready for as long as I need to be. I can be ready to tell you for the rest of your life. But if you’re not ready, it’s all for nothing. And you’re too important for this all to be for nothing.

My sister says I can’t screw this up. Not again. I mean, it’d be the first time screwing things up with you. I don’t even want to think about that.

There’s a plan. And it’s a good plan. I know it is. She’s always been a good planner. And this will save everyone and everything. There’ll be stability and calm. Instead of having chaos, we can relax. We. Me and her. You and me. You. And me.

I want that.

You’re not ready though. You’ve been through a lot. You’re not even ready for her plan. We’ll get you there. I have full confidence in my abilities to ensure that you’re ready for my sister’s plan. We’ve made sure that people were ready before. You will be ready in time

You’re just hurt now. And that’s okay. You’ve lost so much in the past year. I know you’ll come through it stronger though. We’ll get there together.

I can’t open the door though. You’re so close. The song gave me so much hope. But I can’t see you. Can’t hold you. Can’t be there for you in the way you need most.

I hate this plan. It’s easy to play the long game when you’re immortal.

The Pros and Cons of Writing Your Own Choose Your Own Adventure Story on Twitter

In mid-December of last year, I had what I felt like was a brilliant idea. I was going to write a choose your own adventure story using Twitter polls. It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, I’d watched the talented Joe Sondow start an awesome story thread about a raccoon. And I was at a bit of a creative standstill writing-wise. So I figured why not try it. But I needed validation because I was admittedly frustrated with how my writing was going at that point, hence leading off with a Twitter poll.

Ten points to the one person who understood the stop, go, Pennzoil reference. The story started in the very next tweet in that thread, so if you want to go read the story before finishing this post (as there will be light spoilers), click that tweet. I’ll wait.

Now that you’re back (or for those who never clicked away), I want to lead off by saying that there are several other awesome interactive choose your own adventure stories out there. I wasn’t made aware of them until after I had started mine. That said, once you’re done reading this post, I’d encourage you to check out the following CYOA story threads.

I’ve professed my love for choose your own adventure stories in the past on this blog. It’s part of what makes the Fire Emblem series appeal to me so much, particularly in its more recent iterations. I’ve played my fair share of visual novel games in my life because I love the style so much. I even went as far as to turn one of my short stories into a special reward for my patrons last year. Side note, if you want in on cool patron rewards, go support me. But that’s not the point of this post.

After two-plus months of working on this story (and still more coming), I have some thoughts on the pro and cons of choosing to write a choose your own adventure story via Twitter. Please note that this list may change in the future, as the story itself is still incomplete at time both of me writing the post (January) and of when this post is going up (February)1Normally I’d try to shift my posting schedule to make this more accommodating to when I’m actually writing the post, but keeping a more limited blogging schedule is one of my goals this year. It’s still early enough in the year that I really don’t want to fuck that up..

Pro – There’s interaction to drive (and inspire) your story

I want to lead off with a point that might go without saying, though it wasn’t something that was initially obvious to me upon starting to write my story. When I started my story thread, I fully went in expecting 3-4 people to participate in the story. On good days. It had been my experience with a lot of Twitter stuff I’d done in the past. And the first few polls did start out like that.

Eventually though, the story started to get some traction. And people started getting really excited about certain things in the story. One of the throwaway characters I wrote into the story’s introductory section, Jeff, ends up showing up again later because of how frequently people commented about him. This all despite the fact that he wasn’t supposed to appear again at all after early in the story. It’s a feeling really similar to when I published my 2011 NaNoWriMo project chapter by chapter as I wrote it on my blog. The interaction is amazing.

Con – You can’t flesh out the whole story on Twitter

Let’s take a look at one of the choices that appears very early in the story to help explain this concept.

Ignore the typo in the choices2Also ignore the leading tweet posted above it. The way mid-thread tweets post on WordPress is arguably my biggest pet peeve about the platform. Well, that and a lack of natively supported footnoting in the free version of WordPress. But I digress.. There are four different options in this poll, with three of them getting fairly equal support. In an ideal CYOA storyline, each reader/player would be able to make their choice and progress down the path based on that choice rather than having to be stuck on what the majority voted.

It wouldn’t have mattered in that poll specifically. It’s early enough in the story that the basic plan I had for each of the four options was essentially the same. But as the story gets closer to ending, there are some major decisions that will get made that will have a massive impact on the possible endings available in the story. The fact that I won’t be able to play all of those out on Twitter is a bit saddening. Granted, that means I may well have a Twine project on my hands down the line. But that’s neither here nor there.

Pro – It’s a great way to do a CYOA story — even with limited planning

I went into writing my CYOA story with zero planning. Hell, for the first six or seven polls, I was just making up choices with no plan in mind as to what would happen if people picked the answer in question. Weirdly, that didn’t stop the story from working. I’m sure part of that was because it was still very much in an introductory section of the story. But it was kind of nice to write a story without being overwhelmed by whatever was coming next in the plot. For a little while.

Con – That whole limited planning thing caught up with me quick

Right around day four or five of writing, I realized that in order to keep people engaged in the story, I really needed to come up with a plan. That’s not to say I necessarily needed to come up with the whole choose your own adventure story right then, but I did need to have more structure than what I had at that point. Over the next week or so, I came up with the basic shell of where I wanted to go with the story once it ended. Unlike a typical story, however, I couldn’t just come up with one ended. I took some time and thought about where all the story could potentially go and realized that if the story was told in all of its logical iterations, it’d have six distinct endings. If I truly built out the story in full, there could even be a potential seventh ending, though fortunately my voters made caused that outcome to not be needed.