Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

A NaNoWriMo Winner is Me. But…

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 28, 2017

Last year, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time, in spite of all kinds of misgivings. I did not “win,” but I came close. I’d started early, wrote 42,000 words in November, and finished at the end of the year. After some extensive revisions (because yes, it was a mess), I submitted it to a publisher, and it was accepted. I’m in the second round of editing on it right now, which means I have a love / hate relationship with the book. Yes, this is the second round of edits with a professional editor after I’d spent five months (on and off) revising the book and getting it as close to publication-ready as I could.

I guess there are a couple of morals to this story:

  1. “Winning” NaNoWriMo isn’t nearly as important as simply producing.
  2. It may be different for some pros, but for folks like me, the first draft of anything made during NaNoWriMo or any other time is probably unpublishable crap, and that’s okay. It’s simply the critical first stage of a process.

Capitalizing on my enthusiasm from my success “losing” NaNo, I started the sequel this year. I have used NaNoWriMo to help push myself to complete it. The first draft is still about 12,000 words shy of completion (a little more than I anticipated), but I hit the 50,000 words written in November over the extended weekend, and could probably end up hitting 60,000 before Friday. It depends on how crazy the next three days are.

I’ll probably have a few more thoughts on the subject later (when I have time to write a post!), but what worked for me the first week has continued to work for me. Having an online writing partner and pushing each other has really helped the both of us. It’s a combination of commitment, accountability, and having someone to pace with.

Again, what’s the point? Seriously, the whole “the world needs your novel!” crap at the nano website rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s motivational for some people, and that’s okay. But that kind of self-important ego-stroking makes it sound like cranking out 50k words is the be-all, end-all. It isn’t.

But a kick in the butt to push your limits, to work harder and more efficiently, and to achieve a concrete and reasonably challenging goal? I’m all for that. Getting a bunch of words down on virtual paper is a critical first stage, and it’s the easiest to track and measure. And the practice is absolutely a key part of improving your craft! Word count matters. So I consider it a worthwhile endeavor. While I hope to increase my productivity across the board for 2018, this will probably be something I will continue to do in 2018.

Now… on to REALLY finish the novel! And the next one!

(And if you are curious about what the newspaper clipping picture has to do with anything… well, it’s kind of a significant element of the first book…)

Filed Under: Writing - Comments: Comments are off for this article

It’s “Cyber Monday” and hey, I’m on sale!

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 27, 2017

It’s “Cyber Monday” – the Monday after Thanksgiving, where those of us who avoid stores like the plague on “Black Friday” try to pick up online deals. There are a few I’m actually involved in!

First off, on Amazon, three anthologies containing my stories are on sale from Xchyler Publishing – two steampunk tales, and a paranormal story.  The ebook price is steeply discounted. BUT – the real deal is the paperback price. It’s at the steepest discount the paperbacks have ever received, *AND* if you buy them, you will get the ebook version for free. It’s a great way to sample some new authors.

Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology

  • This book contains my first published short story, “Dots, Dashes, and Deceit.” An autistic savant, coded messages inside telegrams, sound-controlled robots, and an airship figure into this little steampunk yarn.

Mechanized Masterpieces 2

  • Fifty years after the Headless Horseman ran Ichabod Crane out of Sleepy Hollow (or ran off with Ichabod’s head, depending on whom you believe…), a young man comes to Sleepy Hollow and befriends the aging Van Brunt family, and discovers the bizarre secrets of their past.

Beyond the Wail

  • Ever put something down for a few minutes, and when you come back for it, it has disappeared? When this happens to a laptop inside a locked office, two young technically savvy entrepreneurs decide to track it down… and to their horror learn firsthand where such things go.

As a bonus, Immortal Works Press, which is publishing my first novel next year, is also having a big sale on their books. You can check out the collection here at Amazon.

If you are more interested in gaming, I have Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon steeply discounted for the Steam Autumn Sale. You still have about 24 hours to snag this one at the lowest I have discounted it on Steam, like, ever.

Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon is a tongue-in-cheek computer role-playing game for Windows about a team of unlikely heroes: An adrenaline-junky rogue, a diminutive warrior with a chip on her soldier, a tree-hugging nature priest, and a ditsy  sorceress with a quick trigger finger. When strange ‘accidents’ are befalling the greatest adventuring teams in the kingdom, the Frayed Knights may be the ones to solve the mystery.


Fun stuff, cheap! Go get ’em!


Filed Under: Books, Computer RPGs, Deals - Comments: Comments are off for this article

Impressions – Death By Cliché 2: The Wrath of Con

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 22, 2017

I loved Bob Defendi’s book, Death By Cliché. In it, game designer Damico is shot in the head and finds himself in a rather unique afterlife: trapped inside the “imaginary” role-playing game world of a really poor Game Master, surrounded by fantasy clichés and nonsensical elements based on clunky game rules and random tables. But his very presence changed things, and the world started gaining a life of its own. While this might have started as some kind of purgatory for him, this fantasy world has become his own, and now it’s filled with people he cares about.

I anxiously awaited the release of the sequel, Death By Cliché 2: The Wrath of Con. I wanted more. I got more. I loved it.

Unfortunately, Damico’s new home is still on the receiving end of cataclysmic events, because it’s still a game world under (partial) control by a Game Master of Ed Wood proportions back on Earth. To make things worse, it’s Con Weekend, which means guest players, tired players, and maybe even drunk players at the table are going to be slinging dice and pulling stupid crap against an apocalyptic foe because for them, it’s just a game. But for Damico, this is his life now. He’s going to have to manage this game from the “inside” to limit the destruction caused by one wild Gaming Con weekend.

After reading the first book, I really wanted to know more about what was happening in the “real” world. Was Damico dead? In a coma? This book doesn’t fully answer any of this… the readers only window on what’s happening back on Earth comes through out-of-character comments by the player characters. But as the first book turns into a series (I know Bob Defendi has at least three more books drafted), that becomes less important… as it is for the main character. This is his world now. He’s found love. He’s found purpose. He’s found responsibility. And he’s the only one who can protect it from the disasters that can befall it at the whim of the Game Master and the player characters at the table.

Of course, this is a comedy. I laughed out loud many times reading it, but it’s the kind of comedy that really serves the story and characters, making them all more appealing to me. Defendi’s approach to humor is reminiscent of Terry Pratchett’s in the Discworld series. He takes goofy, trope-laden situations, and just runs with them, and makes them real. It works for me. I still want more.

Obviously, you should start with the first book. Read Death By Cliché. I mean it. If you are a fan of dice-and-paper RPGs, you will want to check out this series. This little take on the sequel is just a taste of things to come.


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Virtual Unreality

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 16, 2017

It’s 1:15 in the morning. We’ve been at this for over 16 hours straight. Less than five hours before all this equipment has to get packed up to get loaded on the 9 AM truck bound for the conference center for the trade show. Each of us is praying that this time we won’t find any significant bugs. We’ve been saying that prayer for the last twelve hours already, and it hasn’t done us much good yet.

I pull off my Virtual Reality headset and look around. We’re all in the chilly warehouse wearing VR equipment and testing virtual worlds. And for a moment, I hear the young man I once was, half my age, who is just getting ready to start his career. I realize that this is the job he could only wish for, because this sort of thing was only science fiction back then. Then the moment is gone, but it was enough to remind me that as much as this sucks sometimes, it could be a lot worse.

I make the modifications to the scenario, tweaking the virtual world just a little bit to put the truck through a different routine, praying once again that everything will work correctly this time. I put the headset back on, venturing back to a world that convinces my brain that it is absolutely real. I’m back to work.

Filed Under: Geek Life, Virtual Reality - Comments: Comments are off for this article

Keeping my head above water, Fall 2017 edition

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 14, 2017

A trade show *AND* a customer deadline on the immediate horizon, and we’re behind schedule on both.


Technology needing immediate repairs

Doctor’s Appointments

It’s been a week. It’s going to continue to be a week. My apologies. Wish I could talk more. I will, at some point. Maybe Thursday or Friday. Y’all be good and have fun! (And no, those aren’t mutually exclusive…)


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Doki Doki Literature Club

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 8, 2017

I played Doki Doki Literature Club near the end of October. This game was not what I expected. Oh, I know it was kind of a fourth-wall breaking horror story masquerading as a dating sim / visual novel. That’s why I got it. But as they say, it’s all about the journey, not the destination, and Doki Doki Literature Club takes you on a pretty twisted little trip.

For one thing, it’s a game you don’t play once. When you get to the “end” of the game and go back to the main menu, things have changed. The game … or a character in the game… is playing you. It’s going outside the box, and you’ll have to go outside the box to “win” (or… fully complete) the game… at which point, there is no more re-playing the game without a full reinstall.

The core story sounds like a staple of manga, anime, and dating sims. You select a name and play a kid  in High School who gets roped into a school club by the girl next door. While your character isn’t much of a reader, there are three cute girls in the club, and so there’s opportunity for friendship and maybe more. The cast is kind of predictable… there’s the mature introvert intellectual, the girl who prefers cuteness and light, the slacker girl-next-door, and the driven, ambitious club president. While you are there, you may learn a bit about writing, poetry, and literature. You’ll write poetry (kind of), possibly to impress the available young lady of your choice. You may get the chance to spend extra time with one of the characters of your choice preparing for a club fair day at the school.

But what you soon discover is that the girls have layers, and much deeper motivations behind their surface personalities. These underlying motivations can get cranked up to eleven as a full disorder because of your presence, or because somebody the ulterior motives has their finger on the dial, and the results will be deadly. Graphic and deadly.

Game Over, Try Again. Only this is permadeath, and the dead character has now been written out of the game. Except… whoever wrote them out of the game isn’t very good at it, or only has access to the data files, because they do a poor job of it. So their mod ends up looking glitchy, like the game is full of bugs as it replays around the missing character. The second play-through is different in more ways than that. The feeling is that someone is re-writing the game in real-time to force you into a certain set of decisions.

The game is dark. It explores obsessive character traits and personality disorders. It subverts tropes. Some imagery and story may be disturbing. But in the end… it’s a darkly clever little horror story. Or… is it? There are several different endings, and some only come about on subsequent play-throughs.

Best of all, it’s free (although you can support it through a donation or buying the fan-pack). You can get it on Steam, or direct through their website.


Filed Under: Adventure Games, Free Games, Indie Horror Games - Comments: Read the First Comment

Four Steps to NaNoWriMo Success So Far

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 7, 2017

My word count is going to the novel rather than the blog, so I apologize. It has also been a surprisingly busy couple of weeks.

A little under a week into NaNoWriMo, and I’ve added about 15,000 words to the novel. This is possibly my most productive week ever. It probably helps that we finished binging Stranger Things 2 on Halloween, so that hasn’t been a temptation. (It was great BTW).

Tonight, before midnight, I expect to add at least 1000 more words to the total to finish out the week. So we’re talking around 2200 words per day. Not quite “Pulp Speed,” but nice.  There have been a couple of nights when I have been REALLY tired when I wrote, and while that has caused me to have some really funky ideas when I found myself dozing off at the keyboard, I’m not looking forward to editing what I wrote. While it’s not stream-of-consciousness or anything like that, it has included some extraneous details or some baffling sentence structures. Then again, I sometimes write that when I’m fully awake and alert, so who knows?

I had about 55K words left to finish the novel when the the month began (I’m shooting for around 80k total length). However, I am also expecting to get edits back on the first novel within a couple of weeks, so the more I can front-load the writing, the better.

A few things that have worked better for me so far this time around:

#1 – Following Rachel Aaron’s “2K to 10K” concept, I take a few minutes at the beginning of a session or before a sprint to map out in my head what is going to be happening in what I’m about to write. Sometimes this is easy, because I’m just going off my outline and I haven’t deviated too far from it yet. Sometimes this doesn’t happen, and I end up discovery writing a bit (which is usually slower but leads to some very interesting places), but I still have to have a good start point and some general goals for what is supposed to be happening.

#2 – I do writing sprints. It’s how things get done. It’s hard to say, “I’m going to write for three hours straight” and just go for it. But going for 30 minutes with a ten minute break afterwards? That’s easy. It usually doesn’t take me too long to get “into the zone,” either, surprisingly. Maybe five minutes. It also proved to be a really great way to measure development time. I find that I can generally write between 450 – 750 words in a 30-minute sprint, generally centering on around 600 words. That’s pretty measurable. I know about what it will take to write 2K words per night (about 4 sprints, or 3 sprints plus some non-sprint writing time), or to finish a chapter. And I can actually try different processes to try and improve my averages.

#3 – I found a night-owl writing partner. I have a writer friend who keeps kind of the same freaky schedule I do, and we just use an online chat to talk about what we are doing, cheer each other on, pace each other, and do our sprints together. It’s motivating, both to get started (“Hey, let’s quit fiddling around and start SPRINTING!”) and to keep going for ONE MORE SPRINT.

#4 – Tying these all together is the idea of schedule. I’ve got hours that I work. Breaks between the sprints are critical, but only so far as they make the sprints work. I find the hours that work for me in my schedule, which may be a little scattered (especially on weekends), but those are work hours. Treating them that way means helps reduce the temptation to do other things.

Anyway, these steps, plus having a day job that is only half as insane as it was last year, plus having another years’ worth of experience under my belt, probably all contributed to having a solid start this time around. The real trick is sustaining it, improving on it, and making it more of a long-term habit. I’ve got a lot of really cool games and stories to write, yet, so I really need to be efficient!

(The cover is from StoryHack #1, in which you can find my story, “Retrieving Abe”)

Filed Under: Writing - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

Rocksmith Goal – Achieved. Next Goal?

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 3, 2017

In October, I set a goal to get good enough to play “Don’t Fear the Reaper” on guitar. I’m using Rocksmith Remastered, and it’s an old Rocksmith 1 (2012) song with a mix of parts (“Alternate Lead” in Remastered). October got a little crazy, so I didn’t put in quite as much time as I’d like, but I internally set my goal at being able to hit 95% success at full difficulty. To me, that means I’ve got the song more-or-less down and can keep up, but I’ve still got a ways to go to master it.

I’m happy to report that I hit my goal. Barely, but I hit it. I’m not consistent (I range from 92% to 95%), my timing could use work, I don’t have the whole song memorized, I don’t nail all of the string bends perfectly, there’s a relatively simple riff that I still have trouble playing at speed, etc., etc., etc. But I can play the whole song in Score Attack without a strike (which happens if you make too many mistakes in one section), hit an x50 multiplier, and hey, I’m #8 in the whole world on the leaderboard! (We will pretend not to notice that there are only 10 people on the entire leaderboard for this easily-forgotten arrangement for a song that’s only available as DLC to –I think– owners of the original game).

For me, that feels like a milestone. I’ve had the song in my library for a long time. It was one of the first songs I really tried to play, and I fell woefully short back then. I was not ready to tackle it. Not that it’s a super-hard song or anything. There are plenty of harder songs in the library.  I just didn’t have the muscle memory and the speed. I quit in frustration, assumed it was beyond my abilities, and forgot about really practicing it.

This time around, I realized there was nothing really outside my capabilities in it anymore, but I still had to overcome a mental block about it being “too hard” from my efforts almost four years ago. I had to spend some time in the riff repeater mode playing the same section over and over and gradually increasing the speed. It was interesting how some of the sections I could nail easily at 96% of full speed, but collapsed on at 97%.

Anyway, I’ll be giving it a break for a while … not a complete break, just a break from trying to practice it several times a day. I haven’t decided which one I’m going to try to improve on next. It’s just nice to feel I’m making progress.

Filed Under: General, Guitar Games - Comments: Read the First Comment

Local Authors & You, and NaNoWriMo Begins!

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 1, 2017

I’ll be at the Local Authors & You event this Saturday (November 4) at the Viridian Event Center from 1-5 PM. I’ll be offering the “short version” of my workshop on Writing Pulp for Fun & Profit at some point during the day, and otherwise I’ll be hanging out in the authors area signing books and chatting with people.

If you are reasonably local to the Salt Lake valley, this is a good opportunity to check out some of the local talent and books available. I know that in my case, I’ve been surprised to find out that a book I already knew was written by a local author. But since the holiday season is rapidly approaching, I think it’s a really cool way to discover great new books you may not have heard of, and be able to get them signed by the author, and offer them as gifts as friends. Well, and getting a copy for yourself, of course.

I’m actually down to just a couple of copies of the pictured anthologies. Shame on me. I’ll have a handful of copies of Cirsova 4 and StoryHack 0, but when those are gone, they’ll be gone. I’ll have several copies of Mirages & Speculations, StoryHack 1, and Cirsova 5 available.

Yeah, all of those last ones were published this year. I’m not kidding on the pitch for the Pulp Fictions stuff. Actually, StoryHack 0 was published this year too, and Cirsova 4 only came out less than a year ago. It’s been a busy year, and I’m not nearly as prolific as many authors I know.

Also – as a reminder – NaNoWriMo begins today. Can you get that novel written in a single month? Get cracking!

I’m going for it. My first novel is being published by Immortal Works Press, and is due to be released in March. I’m working on the sequel. My goal is to have the draft completed in November, and since I have a little over 50,000 words left, I’m using NaNoWriMo to help me push myself to completion. Then I can begin the next book in the series!

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Quick Take: Extinct

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 27, 2017

My family has thoroughly enjoyed Extinct, a streaming TV show available from BYUTV.org (the makers of Studio C, Granite Flats, etc.) or at Extinct.tv. It’s a post-apocalyptic science fiction show with a really unusual premise. The human race has been wiped out by an alien invasion. But a portion of the population, at the last months, had copies of their DNA and brain-states made by unknown outsiders. And now, hundreds of years later, after the invaders have gone, the human race is being restored… re-created from this copied data.

Sort of like restoring from a save point.

But… and there’s always a “but”…  it’s more complicated than that. Hopefully I’m not spoiling anything because it’s all stuff revealed in the first few minutes of episode 1… but they aren’t the first. In fact, our original three heroes are fairly late the party, and there are other re-constructed humans out there who have been infected by “skin-riders” – parasites with a hive-mind that enslave their human hosts.

That’s just the basics from the first few minutes. The world is fantastically more complex and interesting. Our initial heroes are people out of time, people from the 21st century thrust into an alien world that was once their own, with relationships with others that aren’t exactly where they left off. In fact, questions of identity are a core element of the first season (so far). Is a human just the sum of their physical body plus their memories? What about what happened to the person after the last “brain state” was captured? What about the relationship of two people who have had “brain states” taken from different points in their past relationship? What about a human who is controlled by a parasitic entity?

Even the alien entities aren’t entirely who they seem. The ones intent on restoring the human race are not infallible, and the hive-mind is not as unified as they claim. There are quite a few twists and bends throughout the season, and I hope they can sustain that through many seasons to come. This is quality science fiction.

The show features several veterans of the Utah film and TV industry, starring Jake Stormoen (from Arrowstorm’s Mythica series) and Jaclyn Hales (of Unicorn City). Melanie Stone (also of Mythica) makes an appearance in one of the available episodes. Dan Wells is one of the writers for the series.

It’s free to watch. You don’t have to subscribe at all to view the episodes, but they do tack on an ad at the beginning of the show. There are currently 8 episodes (each just under an hour long) of the first season available to watch. The final episodes will drop in a couple of weeks.


Filed Under: Geek Life, Impressions - Comments: Comments are off for this article

Divinity: Original Sin 2 vs. Ultima 7…

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 26, 2017

I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I’m such a fan of the Divinity series (particularly the latest Divinity: Original Sin games) is that Larian Studios – and in particular founder and designer Swen Vincke – uses Ultima 7 as their inspiration. Ultima 7 (both parts) has been at or near the top of my list of favorite RPGs since the release of The Black Gate back when I was still in school.

There is so much broken or weird with it that it’s amazing so many gamers feel the same way. I’ve replayed it at least part-way many times since then, and if you are looking to find fault, there’s plenty. But somehow, at least back in 1992, the game transcended all of that.

In some ways, it’s kind of like one’s first kiss. Or first anything. It was memorable because it had nothing to compare it to. Or supposedly it’s memorable. I actually don’t remember my first kiss. Maybe I was too much of a playah as a teenager. To my first-kiss-girl: If you are reading this, I’m really sorry. And I totally messed up my analogy, too. Dang it. Where was I? Oh, well…  By today’s standards, Ultima 7 seems quaint and kind of a mess. But at the time, it was perhaps the greatest demonstration of Origin’s motto, “We Create Worlds.”

But as an article in PC Gamer this week notes… it’s pretty much impossible to live up to that legacy. You could make Ultima 7 today with amazing modern graphics and none of the bugs, and it still wouldn’t compare with its previous incarnation. But I’m very, very glad there are game developers out there, like Larian, that are doing their best to build on that legacy.

PC Gamer: RPGs may never top Ultima 7, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 comes close

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On my way through the fire and flames in a fried-out Kombi on a Saturday night…

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 25, 2017

Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock. That was when many gamers first heard the song “Through the Fire and Flames” by DragonForce. But it wasn’t just the hearing… no. During the credits after “beating” the game, this blistering 200 beats-per-minute song appeared with the chart, and was thereafter unlocked as a bonus song. It was clearly in a difficulty tier all by itself, and getting into the 90% range on expert difficulty became a badge of honor and a sign of true Guitar Hero mastery.

Well, that was ten years ago, almost to the day of the North American release. I liked the song, because it was technical challenge of insane levels, and because DragonForce was keeping shred alive. Not to mention drawing inspiration from fantasy and video games. While I didn’t put them in the same category as true shredding virtuosos (like John Petrucci, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, etc.), they made up for it with sheer balls-out speed and spectacle.

The song also came out for Rock Band III, and was available for Pro Mode. I was one of the (apparently few) people with a Squier Pro Guitar controller, so it was pretty close to playing the real thing… minus key elements like string bends, vibrato, harmonics, slides, etc. However, I’d lost a bit of interest in the game by then (even after spending all that money on the guitar!), and I knew that I was nowhere the skill level I needed to give it a serious attempt. So I think I tried playing it at an easy skill level a few times, and that was it.

Anyway, once I discovered Rocksmith, and got serious about using it as a training tool and “digital songbook,” DragonForce has been on my shortlist for DLC. Ubisoft has been whittling away on that list for a while, mostly through singles but occasionally with full packs devoted to a long-awaited (for me) artist. Finally, this week, DragonForce can be taken off the list. Oh, the band has several other songs I’d like to see in Rocksmith, sure. But Through the Fire and Flames is finally an official download. Huzzah! And it’s every bit as insane as expected. And eight frickin’ minutes long. Even the rhythm part (which seems much more within my realm of capability) is a bit of an endurance test at that length.

Fortunately, the entire pack (Variety Pack XII for Rocksmith Remastered) is pretty awesome. Besides TtFaF, it has Men at Work’s “Down Under” (2012 version), Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fitghting”, and Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way.” Through the Fire and Flames and Down Under have additional alternate lead parts. These all seem like fun songs, and I’ve made some pretty good progress getting the main lead guitar part down on Down Under.

So – for fun – Elison Cruz takes on BOTH guitar parts in his playthrough of Through the Fire and Flames for The Riff Repeater. My hands hurt just watching him. I think this is now the hardest song available in Rocksmith Remastered, and it is absolutely one of the fastest and most note-dense. However, in a library of well over a thousand songs, there are a bunch of ’em that give it a run for its money.

And here’s the official trailer / sampler of the whole pack:

Have fun!


Filed Under: Guitar Games - Comments: Comments are off for this article

Getting Ready for National Novel Writing Month 2017

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 23, 2017

November is “National Novel Writing Month” (NaNoWriMo, and yes, it’s a weird abbreviation). It’s the month for aspiring and amateur authors to kick their butts in gear and getting that draft done on that novel. (The professionals–the ones who make at least part of their living through writing–live it every month of the year.)

So what’s the point? If you know other people who are participating, it can be pretty motivating to try and pace each other. Having a visual graph to show progress over time is also a good motivating factor. The 30-day time horizon can help people get over the mental hurdle… it feels temporary and therefore achievable. Going after a specific goal is valuable.

Now, here’s the thing: The draft that comes out of NaNoWriMo is probably not a masterpiece. I’ve heard critics blast NaNoWriMo for producing thousands of manuscripts of unpublishable garbage. Yeah. So what? That’s like criticizing someone trying to lose 50 pounds for wanting to spend the evening at the gym. They won’t hit their goal in one night, but they’ll be that much further along. The resulting draft might not even be worth polishing up, but it’s good practice. Practice, goal-setting, establishing the work habit, accomplishment, and getting over the mental hurdle of “someday” are much more important than the actual manuscript that comes out at the end of the month. IMO, nobody should wait for November to get started. However… if it’s a useful tool to kickstart your productivity, then take advantage of it.

Last year was my first time attempting it, and I did not “win.” It was a psycho month, and I only produced about 42,000 words instead of 50k. But that’s okay. My novel was about 90k words in length anyway, so even hitting the goal would have gotten me only a little over halfway anyway. However, it was motivating, and I felt that especially in light of the difficulty of the month, it helped me realize what I could do. While I’ve written plenty of shorter stories, it was time to actually complete a novel (I have several horrible half-finished manuscripts sitting on my hard drive). It also established a pretty good habit, so that I was able to keep the same average pace in December and finish the novel.

The resulting manuscript was… well, “unpublishable” in the same sense that most first drafts are. In between writing several short stories, I spent the next few months cleaning it up and polishing it. I submitted it to a publisher, and the acquisitions editor thought it was good enough to accept for publication… with yet more work (which I’m in the middle of now). We’re on track for a March release. So…  HEY, it does work!

I’ve already started on the sequel, and I’ll be spending NaNoWriMo finishing it up… plus maybe a short story or two besides, if I hit my goals (a little higher than the base NaNo goals, silly me…).

Over at StoryBundle, they do have their annual NaNo Writing Tools Bundle. I haven’t read any of these books yet, and I confess the list doesn’t seem as strong as previous years, but it may be valuable for you if you are going to tackle it in November.

So I should ask… who else is planning on participating?

Filed Under: Events, Writing - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

Released: Crystal King

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 20, 2017

My long-time friend, coworker, and collaborator John M. Olsen has just released his debut fantasy novel, Crystal King. It’s a story of intrigue and survival with an intriguing magic system.

An army has overrun and destroyed the royal council and much of the kingdom of Riland’s leadership. Now, Gavin Stoutheart’s father the baron is missing, along with Gavin’s brother the heir- both presumed dead. After tormenting his instructors and father for years with his rebellious antics, Gavin must step up to lead his people as they flee before an invading army, one that can outpace his motley collection of castle staff, peasants, and children. Gavin’s only hope for survival is the forbidden animal magic wielded by his closest friends combined with his gift for strategy as he searches for allies along their trail.

Will it be enough to keep them alive as they desperately trek through a fractured, leaderless kingdom? For the army of human and animal predators will show no mercy.

You can grab it now through Amazon:

Crystal King by John M. Olsen

If you want a taste of it… the publisher (Immortal Works) has released a free audio book of his short story, Crystal Servants, narrated by Zach Bjorge. If you’d prefer to read it, the short story is available for free at Instafreebie (sign-up for the mailing list required), and for a very low price at Smashwords and at Amazon.



Filed Under: Books - Comments: Read the First Comment

Daggerfall Ported to Unity, Playable from Start to Finish

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 19, 2017

I didn’t think I’d see this one finished (or get this close to finished) when I heard about it YEARS ago. But… it’s happening. Slowly but surely. Some fools have ported Daggerfall into Unity.  I love that we have fools of this caliber in our world. It’s not completely done yet-most notably the magic system is incomplete-but it is now completely playable.

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall in Unity – Now playable start to end!

It’s important to note that at its heart, this is a pure port. Except for higher resolution, better lighting, and running on modern machines without DOSBOX, when it’s complete it’ll just be Daggerfall. You’ll even have to download the original game (which is free) from Bethesda in order to play. However, it’ll also be far easier to modify. The mods have already been flowing, including everything from higher-quality textures & materials to multiplayer support.

Not bad for a 20-year-old game and a group of dedicated fans and developers!


Filed Under: Game Announcements, Retro - Comments: 4 Comments to Read

Watch the Giant Robot Duel

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 18, 2017

My wife laughed at me as I giggled and geeked out over this thing. What can I say? I’ve been a fan of mecha fighting games and anime for a long time. Seeing one for real… even knowing full well the limitations of reality… was awesome. If you missed it, you can catch the long-awaited battle between Suidobashi’s Mecha and TWO of MegaBot’s piloted giant robots on YouTube:

As a side note, I have all kinds of respect for the people who were able to put this together… from just figuring out the logistics for this battle, down to the nuts and bolts of designing a real-world mecha. Thanks for letting me live in a world where this is a thing. 🙂

Filed Under: Geek Life - Comments: Read the First Comment

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