WINDWARD mood board. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windward – Amazon.com

 

 

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Windward

Jaeger loomed over him, the storm at his back.

“I’m not sorry. I won’t apologize. You’re here with me, and that’s all that will ever matter to me.” He stroked Matty’s cheek. “You are not my prisoner. You are not my slave. You were never my property, but you belong to me and I will keep you.” He pressed a feather-light kiss to Matty’s forehead that seemed to burn. A second brand, as ineradicable as the first.

“Mine.”


So, yeah, as you can see, Jaeger is back, and right where he wants to be, which is close to his darling Matty.

Oh, don’t give me that look. We all know Jaeger is an assassin. He’s a bad, bad sexy man. And fully half of the commenters and reviewers for WINDWARD had a desperate wish to see more of Jaeger in the next book.

Never say I don’t listen to you guys. <3

Like the previous novel, there’s warm ocean waters, a luxury yacht, a generous amount of bondage and domination, and two hot, beautiful men who are deeply in love and… what? NO I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT JAEGER. Sheesh, you guys, Jaeger is a bad man.

But he’s really hot. Like smokin’. And he really does love our Matty, but the question is, how does Matty feel about him? When last we saw Matty and Grant, they were preparing to start a new life in Kingshall, but that boat has not sailed smoothly, and when Jaeger sends word that he intends to return and claim Matty for his own, decisions –and sacrifices– will have to be made.

I hope you enjoy the ride. 🙂

Amazon Pre-Order

 

 

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Meridian

Grant Baines runs a specialty-tour company with his sister, Andie. The tour part is ushering frat boys around the Gulf of Mexico in his charter yacht. The specialty is that he’s an ex-military psychologist who does favors for the government. When Grant is asked to spend a week evaluating traumatized FBI Advisor Matty Sawyer, he agrees, thinking it will be just another babysitting assignment.

Grant is more relaxed in a bondage playroom than he is going on a date, so he’s amazed at how strongly he’s attracted to the damaged but brilliant man who arrives in his town. Grant’s job is to assess Matty’s stability to return to the FBI after Jaeger Koning— Matty’s former lover— is charged with multiple assassinations.

Knowing Matty’s past poses a danger to his family, Grant is determined to keep his distance, until Matty reveals a submissive side that Grant finds impossible to resist.

And that’s the premise for Meridian, a novel I finished in February, when it was cold and damp and I was pining for the sun. There’s warm salt water and a kickass boat, a charming villain, and two capable men who are absolutely on fire for each other, not to mention a good amount of bondage and sweet domination.  It’s the stand-alone first in a series, the second of which (Windward) will be released later this year. Check it out! 🙂

MERIDIAN_FINALsmaller

 

Release Date: May 17th.

Genre: Gay contemporary romance, m/m, crime, military, psychological

Warnings: Light violence, off-screen mentions of assassinations

Length: 61,00 words, 200+ pages

Pre-order at Amazon

 

 

 

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Giveaway Winners! (Malachite)

hey guys!

Everyone who commented on the Here Come the Pirates blog post has won an ebook copy of Malachite. I don’t have all the emails, so please use the About page (clicky!) to contact me with your email and preferred format (mobi, pdf, etc), or send me a direct message on Twitter. 🙂

MALACHITE PALADINsmaller

 

 

 

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The Temple Road

satww5

Even I have to say, hot damn. 🙂 Scarlet is a lucky, lucky boy.

The cover artist is Arianne Elliot, who created the beautiful Scarlet & Liall fanart last year! I was so impressed with her work. Hope you all are too!

In The Temple Road, Scarlet and Liall set out with the king’s army on a perilous journey to the frozen heart of Rshan. Although Liall is determined that nothing will ever part him from his beloved Scarlet, treason, death, and a terrible betrayal soon push him to his breaking point. When Scarlet’s magic suddenly turns lethal, Liall places their entwined fates into the hands of those who covet magic above all else, but will they save Scarlet or enslave him?

 

 

 

 

 

*Release date of The Temple Road will be announced at the end of January. Subscribe to my blog in the form below to stay tuned for future news (I know the text box is white, I’m fixing that today, sorry for blog weirdness!), and thanks for reading. <3 Love you guys!

 

Amazon Link

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(Giveaway) Here Come the Pirates…

And the wardens, the azures, the guardiers, the crossbones, and the old bastardo himself, Kon Sessane.  WOOT I’M SO EXCITED YOU GUYS  Malachite went on sale at Amazon.com today!

MALACHITE PALADINsmallerApple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Nook will begin carrying it in the middle of January. The print version will be available from Amazon and selected outlets in February, if not sooner.

Reviews (good ones!) have been coming in and I’m so, so happy that people are enjoying it!

It’s hard for me to express how much I love this book. It’s the first of a series, and even though it contains  murder, betrayal, sex, violence, and handsome men desperately in love, it’s the tamest installment you’ll read in the Paladin Cycle. Strap yourselves in, because it’s a hell of a ride from here.

I’m giving away 1 digital copy of Malachite at random for every 10 comments, so say hello, tell us all what you’ve read lately, ask me a question about the book/characters/howbigisnakedJean, or post a cocktail recipe. 🙂 Whatever you want! It’s all good.

Happy Reading!

 

*Giveaway ends Tuesday, January 5th.

 

 

Posted in Giveaway, Malachite, Writing | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

2 weeks!

I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t wait! 🙂

15

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Rainbow Awards, and a new release!

winner

The Rainbow Awards were a smash this year! 450+ books, 170 judges from all over the world, and $17,300 donated to LGBT charities. Elisa Rolle is a tireless supporter of LGBT visibility in literature and an amazing organizer and beautiful person. We love you, Elisa!

My novel Hammer and Bone (Riptide Publishing) took Rainbow Awards in Best Cover Illustration, Best LGBT Novel, and tied for 1st place in Best LGBT Anthology or Collection with Keep the Stars Running, an anthology by by Andrea Speed, Talya Andor, Lexi Ander, Leona Carver, and Cassandra Pierce. (Less Than Three Press). The King of Forever also took 3rd place for Best Cover Illustration

(So that’s like 4 wins for moi. Not that I’m bragging or anything. *decorates self in awards like tinsel on an Xmas tree la la la* )

Thank you, judges! I know the workload was especially heavy this year. If I could give you all an award, I would. But not mine, because… MINE.

And… Malachite is finally here.

MALACHITE PALADINsmaller

I thought about Malachite for a long time before I wrote the first draft of a short story that eventually became the 115,000 word novel that will be released on January 1st. Malachite is an Alternate Earth story, more speculative/steampunk than fantasy, where an ancient island city-state populated entirely by males has become isolated from a female-dominated world. The city is now surrounded on all sides by pirates, gangs, and just plain bad blood. It a solid m/m romance with angst, sex, and an HEA. Though it’s the first part of a series, it’s a complete story in itself (no cliffhangers). And if you want an early look at Jean, Marion, & Tris, I’ve been posting chapters of Malachite on its Tumblr blog, and will continue to do that until December 31.

I’m so excited about this book!

 

 

 

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Malachite

I know I’m lazy about updating my blog. I’m trying to fix that. You can throw pies at me later. 🙂

I’ve been sharing chapters of my new novel Malachite over at Tumblr, I guess because it’s really easy to post there, and WordPress? Not so much.

Malachite will be released in 2015. I’ve got some CRAZY deadlines this year and Malachite is one of two novels to be published by 2016. Anyway, I’m posting part 1 below. Parts 2-4 are also on Tumblr. *update, part 5 is up!

Tumblr Link

1

Thirty years ago…
“Well, if it isn’t Aureo’s pet cat. Didn’t think you’d show!”

Jean shrugged. “Here I am.”
read more
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Havin’ a sale, yup!

If you STILL haven’t read Scarlet and the White Wolf, Book 1, a new revised edition is on sale at Amazon Kindle for 1/2 price for a short time. Getcha one!

Or, if you’ve read it and liked it, how about recommending it to a friend? 🙂

Totally cute, dat ass!

Isn’t he cute?

 

I’m working on revised paperback editions of the first Scarlet trilogy today, but they probably won’t be for sale until the end of the month. If I finish work on The King of Forever paperback edition over the weekend, I’ll announce it, but I’m pretty sure I won’t have the proof before next week. I know that Amazon lets you see the finished paperback digitally, but I prefer to have it in my hands and makes sure its perfect before it goes on sale. 🙂  Gotta look out for you guys!

 

 

 

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The King of Forever

FINALLY, right?

satww4newsmal

I know you guys have been very… Very… VERY patient, so hugs and virtual chocolate to everyone who sent me asks about the series and have been anticipating its release. I love you all!  🙂

This week has been brutal with the heat, the AC conking out, and my computer just refusing to work if it has to, you know, be all hot and stuff. I was working really late (because my office stops imitating a steam chamber when the sun goes down) on some last minute touches to the cover artwork, my Wacom pen was on its last legs, and my poor, tired brain went into vapor lock. I completely messed up the cover in CS5. While trying to merge a layer, I accidentally flattened all the layers, and then I saved over it and closed it. Not a huge deal for the digital cover (since it was almost finished) but a really big deal for the paperback cover. That’s what I get for sitting at my desk until Stupid O’clock

Luckily, I remembered that I may have had a wonderful moment of paranoia and backed up that folder with its  umpteen hours of artwork to an external drive, and there it was. So, yes, the paperback version will keep chugging along.

Scarlet and the White Wolf, Book 4 is available for Kindle pre-order on Amazon with a release date of July 10. The date can’t be moved back, so there won’t be any more delays. I wanted desperately to make the end-of-June date on my website, but I really need this extra time to put some last-minute continuity work into the manuscript(s) and to firm up the date for when The Temple Road will be available.  That’s SatWW Book 5, in case I haven’t mentioned it.  The Temple Road is already completed and well into the editing process. I hope to have the paperback editions for both books available close to the ebook release dates, but I won’t give out an exact date until I’m positive.

On July 10, I’ll have a firmer date for SatWW 5’s release. All I can tell you right now is that it’s coming out in 2015, hopefully closer to fall than winter. SatWW 6 will be released in 2016, BUT it will be the beginning of a new chapter for Scarlet and Liall, and the story will be separate from Books 4 and 5.

Got that? 4 & 5 connected, 6… not so much.

And that’s all, you amazing folks. Thank you so, so much for all your kind words and encouragement (and prodding! I needed that!) and for reading my novels and hanging in there. I hope you’ll feel it’s been worth it. 🙂

-Kirby

 

 

 

 

 

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Hammer and Bone

hblj

So this is my new book, a novel-length collection of short stories tied together by themes of retribution, hatred, prejudice, loss, and love. I’ve been pitching this book hard all week (as authors do), so before I drive anyone away with my (amazeballs) sales patter, I’m just going to refer you guys to The Novel Approach and Goodreads. You can see what other readers have said about it and decide whether or not this book is for you.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

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I need a virtual vacation

I’ve discovered that whenever I’m in full-swing writing mode (LIKE NOW OMG fingers ow!), I tend to neglect some important stuff. Like laundry, the clock, cooking dinner, forgetting to pay the phone bill, and… oh yeah, playing games.

You wouldn’t think the last one would matter so much, but for me, it really does. Like reading books and watching movies, gaming is my recharge function. It’s the headspace I crawl into where I just absorb, unwind, and I can appreciate someone else’s creation, some other artist’s world. It’s a poor writer that doesn’t read, and it’s an uninspired Crow that doesn’t game.

I’ve been looking at some of my old game screenshots. EVE Online, mostly. I miss it. I haven’t played for about 4 months now. Not for lack of wanting to, but it’s a subscription game and those add up when you have more than one. Plus, I have to choose where my energies go. I get just as frustrated by not writing as I do by writing too much.

I’m almost never still and I’m almost never bored. Too much holds my interest, so many things I want to do, so much stuff I want to learn. I have a restless mind. I only truly relax when I’m in a virtual world somewhere or in the woods. Even asleep, I dream constantly and vividly.

Maybe there’s something about a virtual world that pulls a blanket over some part of our consciousness, frees it to drift away with our eyes wide open. That could be some of that unexplainable lure that gaming addicts experience; the ability to truly cut ourselves loose from who we are for a little while. I’ve read about gaming addictions, but it’s never happened to me. When it’s time to turn something off, I do it. There’s always some real-life klaxon going off anyway, calling me to this or that chore, so my gaming binges are short-lived perforce. I have a much harder time closing down CS5. I can be too frazzled to write or too distracted to play, but I’m never too sick to paint. If I’d chosen to be an artist instead of a writer, who knows how it would have turned out?

Good thing I decided to be both. 🙂

 

 

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Crow Compromises. Sort of.

I haven’t posted much about gaming lately, like I haven’t posted much about art and drawing, for the simple reason… I haven’t been able to do it. My right hand went wonky (de Quervain’s tenosynovitis) in early spring of 2014, and when I say wonky, I mean it didn’t work. I couldn’t grip a bottle, a pen, I couldn’t open a jar, turn a doorknob, nothing. My hand was this useless fleshy stump-thing on the end of my arm. Worst of all, I couldn’t type very well or very long and I couldn’t hold a game controller. At some point in late August I could begin holding my Xbox controller, but it was painful and I realized after an hour of Assassin’s Creed that I was damaging my wrist again. If I wasn’t careful, I’d need surgery and I’d be looking at even more months of recovery.

How did this happen? Blame my green tea plants and tomatoes. I’d noticed my wrist and thumb feeling sort of weak and stiff over the weekend in March. I put it down to the fact that I did catch my thumb in the bathroom door handle and wrench it something awful (it’s a narrow hallway, the handle is antiquated, it’s just clumsy all around in that old hall) and I remembered feeling lucky that it didn’t really hurt at the time, despite how bad it was twisted. Welp, it caught up to me that Monday. I dug out the bed for the tomatoes and moved a 50 lb bag of mulch for my tea plants. My thumb was stiff and the bones of my wrist felt like they were separating whenever I lifted something. But I’d wrap it that night, put some ice on it, a little Ben-Gay maybe (stinky!) and I’d be fine in the morning.

Nope.

I thought it was a sprain and I treated it like one, wrapping, ice, heat, Ibuprofen, etc. We went on vacation in May and I couldn’t swim in the ocean because the waves hurt. Then I swam because I wanted a shark to bite it off. It just wouldn’t stop. Just ow ow ow every time I moved my thumb. It went on far too long for a sprain.

Anyway, it was a type of tendonitis caused by use, or rather overuse. I couldn’t garden and spend hours typing and game through the night. Something had to go. I compromised. I updated my speech-to-text software and began using that more to write. I turned the vegetable garden over to the menfolk. I typed with a chopstick taped my brace. I gave up my Xbox controller for the foreseeable future. Oh yeah, and I gave up washing dishes. That was someone else’s job all summer.

I didn’t have to give up PC gaming so much because the hand movements you do with PC are smaller than your fingers spanning a console controller. But it was still awkward trying to game with a ring mouse (it fits on my index finger) and after a dozen sessions of getting my ass handed to me by Orcs and pirates rats, I stopped playing. I could draw on my Wacom tablet and CS5, but not for very long, and it came down to short-term denial vs long-term benefits. So all summer and fall and on into winter, I was not an active gamer. I followed the news, enthused over new releases, kept up with my favorite people at Gamestop, watched the guys play, but I couldn’t participate beyond that. I read a lot of Game Informer magazine. I watched a lot of Netflix.

It was depressing. 🙁

Anyway, I stopped sleeping with the brace on my hand in October. I’d put off some orthodontic (toofypegs!) surgery as long as I could by then, so I exchanged one pain for another and there were complications (naturally!) and it was a crappy Autumn altogether. My left wrist is also beginning to show signs of wear now from compensating for the right. It’s not nearly as bad as the right and it won’t get that bad, it’s just tight and achy and I have to baby it a bit, now that the right is healed. But this type of injury tends to happen again after the first time. You never really get rid of it. I’ve had to make some adjustments in how I do things, mostly using athletic tape on my hands if I’m going to play for a long time on console. I wish I was kidding. And wearing a really stiff hand brace if I use gardening tools. No more slogging 50 lb bags of topsoil or mulch across the yard, either. That’s what a wheelbarrow is for. Or menfolk.

Alas, I still have to do the dishes.

For everyone who reads this blog for the gaming meta and virtual life thinky-thoughts: I’m back.

If you’re waiting for books from me (and I hope you are, because I really do love my readers) it was a frustrating 2014, but I’m back.

To the Orcs, Spiders, Uruks, and Wargs of Ettenmoors: I’m back. Hide your collective hairy asses.

 

 

 

 

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Pin the stocking on the Grinch

If you’re like me, you look forward to Christmas, but not the poundage you’re destined to pack on from all the goodies. To that end, I’ve been choosing alternate stocking stuffers for years. I get sick of chocolate by Halloween, so by the time Christmas finally rolls around, I don’t want to see one more bon-bon, truffle or chocolate orange. NO MORE.

However, in my family, a stuffed stocking is non-negotiable. You either take your damn candy with a smile or you’re a Grinch! But substitutions are allowed…

To that end, I’ve made a list of alternate items I’ve placed on my stocking list over the years.  One of your Grinches might like them!

Numi Tea
You can’t go wrong with Numi. Every flavor is delicious. They’re also the perfect shape for wrapping.

Freeze dried strawberries and bananas
Dried bananas can be quite hard and dries strawberries can be chewy or sour or both, but freeze drying is a different process. They’re delicious!

Dried fruits and nuts
Apricots, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, walnuts, pecans, papaya, pineapple, almonds, dates, figs, anything you can imagine. Dress them up in decorative jars with a pretty ribbon or piece of fabric. Don’t just chuck a bag of trail mix in there because THAT’S CHEATING.

Gourmet coffee
Bag or single-serve pouches, doesn’t matter. Starbuck has great little packs of single serve instant coffees called Starbucks VIA. They’re my favorite.

Herbs and spices
Small, delicate jars of saffron, vanilla bean, organic curry, or smoked chipotle. I love chives but they’re kind of expensive so I hoard them like gold. Any herb or spice your Grinch desires is good, but again, ribbons, wrapping and attention are required. A stocking shouldn’t look like a bag of groceries.

Honey and Jams
A squat jar of gourmet fig preserves or a thin bottle of Tupelo honey is better than any peanut butter cup.

Liquor
Drop an alcohol miniature of Devil’s Cut, Tequila Rose, or Baileys Irish Cream in there and you won’t want to cuss your relatives out by lunchtime. You’ll be laying under the tree, but whatever.

Jerky
We have now moved into male stockings. No, not that kind.

Or you can do what I do sometimes, and tell your family and friends if they simply must buy you a box of holiday candy or drop something into your stocking, you’d rather have an iTunes or Steam card. Given the average price of a box of candy (and how long it lasts around my house) I’d much rather have a gift I can enjoy for more than *38 seconds 🙂

 

*candy-devouring time approximate.

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Ehrmagerd

This totally counts as a blog update.
Minimalist style.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
*injects a lot of carriage returns and spaces*
*slinks away*

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THIS IS MY BOOMSTICK

Mmmkay, no, I don’t actually own a boomstick. What I do have is an Off switch (just as good in this context), and I’ve been thinking about misanthropy. Not the actual I-Hates-Most-Everybodies misanthropy, but why some of us flock to virtual communities while expressly avoiding deeper human contact on a daily basis. My social anxiety meter is in the medium-low range. I’m not fond of very large crowds (50% “germs!!!” 50% “you people are stealing all my air”) but I do fine in normal gatherings, parties, malls, etc. I’m not afraid to speak to an audience or go to an event. I don’t consider myself a recluse, yet days can pass where I venture no further than my front door and I won’t feel like I’ve missed anything. Between Tumblr, Twitter, blogging, the Internet and my gaming, it can often feel like I’ve been thoroughly socialized without ever leaving my desk. Maybe I’m just a new species of hermit.

A digital hermit. Dhermit? “Digimit” leads one to believe you’re a Pokemon while “dhermit” merely sounds like an epithet. We’ll go with the invective. 🙂

If we think of human contact as an analog device and VR contact as digital, tactical advantage goes to the dhermit. Just like the quantization noise inherent in digital computers smooths out the raw analog signal, VR contact allows us to truncate those signals we reject and use our own methods of lossy compression to extract only what we want from the contact, only what we’re comfortable with. The essentials without the messy and complicated details.

As a bonus, there’s an Off switch.

An avatar is a representation of you. It’s rarely – with some exceptions, notably Second Life, where thousands of avatars represent the real-world appearance of their human pilots –  an accurate one. Our avatars can be anything, any fragment of ourselves we wish to pour into it, a little or a lot. Most of us take our dreams, who we wished we could be, our best face, and we either enchant the world with the attempt or bore it to tears and the Mute button. We can even extract toxic elements of our persona that we dislike and indulge that beast through VR, although I don’t recommend it. As always, Karma (rather like the Internet) applies and She never forgets. Resist the temptation to be a shitcock.

In the absence of any meaningful social anxiety, is misanthropy the only label for avoiding other humans? What is it about interacting with an idealized version of a person that we find more appealing than face-to-face contact? Is it that VR contact is more immediate and gratifying, or is it that we get to dictate the variables (appearance, weather, length of contact, crowding, germs!!!) that are so uncontrollable in real life?

As always, I’m stuck squarely in the middle. I like my friends, I like restaurants, coffee shops, theaters, bookstores, and museums, and I’m willing to venture out and enjoy those. I’m also very aware and fond of the formidable power of my Off switch.

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Brain in the closet

I had a dream last night where I was some kind of cop/detective working on a space station, but it was odd (like it’s not odd already?) because the station was more like a rundown urban moon colony, with soil and plants, buildings and sun and some kind of dome keeping in stuff, yanno like atmosphere and people. Important stuff! It had gravity because at some point I was running through an alleyway with a fellow cop who looked – yes, commence to making fun – like Daryl from The Walking Dead.

Daryl, why are we space cops? Daryl, why do the ground textures look like Minecraft dirt? Daryl, why are the zombies singing? Daryl, why did I know the lyrics to the zombie song?

nospaceman

I’ve been trying all morning to remember those lyrics.

My subconscious is like a giggling teenager in a closet, waiting for me to go to sleep so he can come out to play, so he can unpack all my daily weirdness, experiences, scattered thoughts and fragments of idea to staple together a semi-coherent existence that lasts only as long as my eyes are shut. When I wake up, his life goes to sleep.

I dream almost every night. Vivid dreams that seem to last hours. I firmly believe that an adult dedication to playtime –not just gaming, by the way– is what makes my sleeping imagination so fertile. If it’s true that dreams are the brain trawling through and recycling your information uptake, then the kinds of information you absorb relate to your dreams. Data in, data out. You have to marvel and wonder when you’re awake to do the same when you’re not.

 

Posted in Hypergrid Adventures, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

My Life in My Head

I spend so much time in my own head. All writers do, actually. It’s just how we function, how we dream up our worlds, how we play out the scenes that we intend to put on paper. We borrow from every single thing we hear and see to construct those, awake or asleep. It’s never been a weird thing for me to spend hours daydreaming. It’s been an unproductive thing, but never a loss.

Inspiration comes from a variety of sources. In fact, it comes every source, conscious or not. Virtual worlds have been a foundation of inspiration to me for years. Not necessarily playing the game, but who I am when I play it. Not all players empathize and connect to the pre-crafted game character as they play the storyline. Most of us do connect to a degree, writers included, but every player brings a different plate to the table.

Games get an undeserved bad rap, for reasons that apply to only a small segment of the player base, but some logical criticisms are broader and are valid to most. The one problem I have with my gaming hobby is the false sense of accomplishment it can bring. A hobby is a hobby and should be for pleasure. You don’t need to justify a hobby, but gaming tries to trick me into thinking I’ve actually gotten something done, and that’s a problem.

Of course, playing something like Minecraft is different from games like Second Life—where you can actually sell your creations for Linden currency that can be converted to cash— but also different from games like Lord of the Rings Online or Warcraft, where all the content comes from the game servers and you’re never building a city or texturing a new outfit.

My particular creative brain demands a real-world result to labor. That’s why I tend to gravitate toward games where my playtime can be extrapolated from the virtual to the real. Blender, Zbrush, and Photoshop are the tools I use to make my virtual creations in Second Life, but I don’t do much with them. I play with them, I take snapshots before they get packed into the inventory. That’s about it. What do I get out of that? Personal satisfaction maybe, and it has made me a fair hand with the software. My friends keep telling me to get on the SL Marketplace, get a business going. I try. I have a few things for sale there, compared to the thousands I’ve created. My SL avatar has been in-world for 7 years, so my inventory is massive. But unlike other games, items become obsolete in SL, the code evolves, creations become more sophisticated. The first chairs and clothing I made in SL seem incredibly clunky now. I couldn’t give them away.

kittens

The most valuable things (to me) that I create in Second Life don’t stay in that world, not even a little. I have an office my avatar goes to in the morning, just like my real self moves to the laptop desk facing the big window. That’s where I sit down to write for the day, and sometimes when I need to feel like I’m somewhere else, my avatar goes wandering to forests, cities, ruined landscapes and alien vistas. Everything is inspiration, after all. I’ve always believed that the time I spend in my head isn’t a loss. When I type The End on a story or novel, I know that’s true.

 

Postscript: Next week the header image above will have “My Life in My Head” under my name. It’s no secret (you can tell from the lapses between posts) that I’ve struggled for years about what to write about on my blog. Writing about writing isn’t for me, neither is review or critique, book recommendations or movies, but I can yap forever about living virtually on the Hypergrid.

 

 

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DMCA Musings and Muso

I found Muso DMCA Takedown service through Twitter. A well-known author in my genre tweeted about it and I thought I would give it a try, because I have to tell you the truth: I gave up playing whack-a-mole with illegal downloads of my work last year. I was spending an hour a day every morning tracking down the torrents and files, keeping records of the URLs, and serving DMCA notices through e-mail. When you’re already pressed to find time for writing, that hour becomes very precious. I realized I could either write new work, or I could spend my life trying to keep illegal downloads of old work out of the hands of readers.  When you look at it like that, the choice becomes easy.

Muso’s price is a little steep, around $20 a month in USD. I still haven’t decided if it’s worth it and I’ll need to compare sales numbers from before and after I began using Muso to see if it’s made a difference.

Not every pirated ebook automatically means a lost sale. I can’t make an accurate guess of the percentages, but my gut tells me that at least half of all of these types of downloads are acts of laziness. It doesn’t mean that every downloaded novel was actually read. It doesn’t mean that every downloaded novel would have been purchased if only it hadn’t been made so readily available for free. It doesn’t even mean that the person who downloaded it was necessarily looking for a book written by me, since I will often find my books being offered in a gay fiction compilation of hundreds of novels. Therefore, I can’t say that when I go to a site and see that the book has been downloaded 1,500 times that I’ve lost royalties for 1,500 novels. I haven’t. A large percentage of those downloads do not represent and would never have represented a sale, and that’s because when it comes to ebooks, downloaders tend to just grab everything, shove it on to the drive or their Kindle, and hope that they’ll get around to reading it someday.

So, generally speaking, an illegally downloaded e-book does not necessarily mean lost money for me.

Back to that laziness thing: people will not pay for something if it’s being offered free right under their noses. We can debate the morality of this mindset forever, but I’m more interested in the facts. Specifically, I’m more interested in how these facts can result in better sales numbers for me, and one of the ways to do that is to remove temptation from the board.

If it becomes difficult to find free stuff, if you make people work for it, they’ll often decide it’s just easier to cough up the pittance for the e-book at Amazon rather than spend an hour scouring torrents and visiting dodgy websites loaded with malware that could take their computer down in flames.  Again, not addressing the morality of taking stuff that doesn’t belong to you or of depriving us hard-working authors of our income, just observing how the system works.

And how it works is this: Muso removed over 30 pirated files of my work from general circulation in the past month, including 4 files from one site I had written off long ago as completely unresponsive. Since Muso will automatically re-file a DMCA notice for any copyrighted work that is not removed within 48 hours, it could be that I simply annoyed them enough to start deleting. When it comes to getting what you want, there are benefits to being a bother

The pros: you only have to fill in your information with Muso once. After that, everything is automatic or 1-click. You still need to maintain your campaigns, but the process becomes streamlined and much easier to deal with. You save time and you have the satisfaction of clicking a button and having something that was previously a huge pain in the ass taken care of for you.

You can never underestimate the value of kicking a pain in the tuckus to the curb.

With Muso, I feel like I’m actually getting something done about the piracy of my work, taking action instead of just passively letting it happen. It’s empowering to take back some control, and while it’s impossible to police every pirated copy, it’s satisfying to be able to deal with some of them.

The cons: Pricing could be cheaper. I don’t think they realize it, but breaching that $9.99 cap for digital service turns clients away. I mean, I love Lumosity.com, but I don’t love it $14.99 a month. At that price, my brain will have to do its own training. Writers Market is $5.99. Domain hosting for my author website is $11.00 a month. You see where I’m going with this? You have to budget your Internet services, because we all have more than one. $20 is a large bite. That’s one third of my total monthly billing for cable Internet service, and it will be at least another quarter before I find out if was worth it. It would also make Muso the most expensive digital service I subscribe to. Perhaps an option for Indie authors at a reduced price level would be in order here.

Muso’s web interface is not difficult, but you’ll need to spend time getting familiar with it. On an organic intuition scale, usability is quite good. However, the “Add Files” option is almost useless. Human beings can find pirated files in ways that a search engine can’t, and that’s what the Add Files option is for, but of the more than a dozen times I tried to enter a file location, the form rejected all but one entry. The dynamic nature of the Internet is the culprit here (and the ingenuity of piracy sites, who are doing some sneakily clever things with Java) but I think that option could be improved. As it stands, if you find a pirated file on your own that Muso’s interface can’t handle, you still have to do the paperwork yourself.

So in conclusion, despite the price, I’m inclined to give Muso a few more months. My workload is lightened and there have been results. Only time will tell from here, but I’m going to recommend it to my fellow authors and see how it goes for them. Good luck, guys!

*BIG HONKING NOTE: I always add a addendum here about file sharing in countries outside the US, Canada, and Europe: In a lot of places around the globe, my novels are either not available, the price range is beyond the means of the reader, or homosexual material is forbidden by law.  In those cases, I can have no objection to file sharing.  All I ask is that once you find the books you want to read, just read them and enjoy. Heck, write and tell me about it. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂 Just please DO NOT RE-UPLOAD them back to file sharing, piracy & torrent sites. Share small!

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