Tag Archives: Greek Key

GREEK KEY is out, so let’s talk about Helen of Troy

27 Oct

All Hope Blackwell wanted was a quiet Mediterranean vacation. Sun, sand, local cuisine…and tracking down Archimedes’ ghost to learn if he’s been tampering with the fabric of reality. But when you’re a psychic whose specialty is communicating with the dead, a trip to Greece means you’ll come face-to-face with legendary heroes.

And monsters.

As Hope and her friends explore the ruins of the ancient world, she soon learns she has attracted the attention of one of the most famous women in history. Helen of Troy is nothing like her stories, and she’s got a problem she thinks Hope can solve.

Hope isn’t too sure about that—if righting a 2,500-year-old wrong was that easy, wouldn’t Helen have found the time to do it herself?

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More Fun with Self-Publishing

16 Oct

Some of you seem to really enjoy these posts on self-publishing and the living nightmare that is the production phase! Please. Come. Read my hair-pulling, head-to-wall-bashing, chew-through-own-bottom-lip-for-the-joy-of-it experience.

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GREEK KEY sample up on Gumroad!

7 Oct

Greek Key goes live today–the first eleven chapters, at any rate. The cover is gorgeous.

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Attention Deficit Disorder and First-person Perspective

25 Aug
Nobody understands the sickle weasels.

Nobody understands the sickle weasels.

I’m cleaning up GREEK KEY and…well…

I’m worried about the voice in it, okay?

It’s told from first-person perspective, with Hope Blackwell as the narrator. Hope has severe attention deficit hyperacticity disorder. Keep in mind she’s not just bouncing from one topic to another, as she’s got the variant of ADHD with hyperfocus–when she’s locked on target, she will chase that target until it’s dead.

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Cultural property and ownership

9 Jun

I’m in fact-checking mode for GREEK KEY. This is a middle stage of my writing process, and I refer to it as fact-checking because that’s easier than calling it “Make sure you got this stuff right or certain people will crawl down your throat and lay clusters of Um-Actually Eggs in your abdomen.”


I check nearly every detail that goes into a book, and I still get shit wrong. For example, in STATE MACHINE, when Pat finds the hidden room with the mildewed cocaine, I checked to make sure that cocaine can go bad. Yup! It’s an organic substance, and it will rot over time. But wait, there’s more. My copyeditor double-checked with Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline, and found that cocaine has strong antiseptic properties, so it’s not as likely to mildew unless it’s cut with something that dilutes these properties. Easily fixed with some minor edits…but.

A book is made of a lot of…buts.*

Currently, I’m fact-checking details of provenance for GREEK KEY. I’m fascinated by ideas of ownership regarding cultural property. I’ll point you to this short article, “Provenance Factors for Antiquities Acquisition” by Myren (2010), in which the author discusses the many different ways to perceive ownership of items whose creators are long since dust. I have a few problems with this article, especially the idea that moral claims to items which uphold and preserve cultural heritage are “farfetched” (p.9), but it’s an excellent overview of the issues that need to be addressed when antiquities are bought and sold.

Done reading it? What? No? Okay, let’s take this sourced line: “Recognizing that there are multiple views of cultural property is tantamount to identifying the stakeholders involved” (p.10).  Or, how you perceive an unique item with cultural value may reflect on how you think formal ownership of that item can and should be delegated.

From a writer’s perspective, this is freakin’ fascinating. It’s basically a tailor-made opportunity for insight into characters’ motivations.

Hypothetically speaking (*cough*cough*), let’s say Hope, Mike, and Speedy locate a new fragment of the Antikythera Mechanism that’s been in a private party’s possession for the last century. Speedy’s position on ownership is easy: if you can afford to pay the market value of the artifact, then hey! It’s yours. Mike’s position would be that we must strive to enrich the human experience, and that cultural artifacts should be accessible to the public.

Hope’s position is complicated. On the one hand, she needs to obey the law, because OACET. With that in mind, she’d follow the current legal standards used by regional and international organizations to designate the ownership of antiquities. On the other hand, “cultural artifacts” are something completely different to a woman who lives with ghosts. It’s really hard to get emotionally invested in items from the distant past when the dudes who made those items are your drinking buddies.

So I’ve got (more than) three characters with different views on how an item should be managed. I’ve got to get the details for each of these perspectives right, and it needs to be written in such a way that it’s not a teeth-grinding infodump. Fact-checking, whee!

Anyhow. That’s what I’m up to this morning. How are you?

*Quiet, you.

Neverending List of Things to Do, March Edition

2 Mar

It’s Monday! I’m paying bills! I’m organizing my schedule! I’m drawing pictures of penises in tiny hats happy kittens playing with bits of string. Let’s throw some of these deadlines out there and see where they stick:

Novels & Stories

The soft release date for STATE MACHINE, the third Rachel Peng book, is on or around May 4th. I’ll do a firm release date when the cover art is finalized.

The soft release date for GREEK KEY, the first Hope Blackwell book, is on or around June 15th.

It’s looking like the third tier on my Patreon will be met sometime within the next few months, so after I get the Kickstarter nailed down, I’ll start working on Joshsmut again.

I have a story about Ami the Assassin out on spec to a sci-fi publisher. I should hear back within the next month whether they’ll take it. If they pass, I’ll put it up for sale in the store.


This thing, guys, this thing… I don’t even…

LEAGUE NIGHT and COME BOWLING WITH ME have already been sent out. Backers who bought the challenge coins (and nothing else) have already received them.

As for the rest… Okay, I need to speak generally here, as I have prepaid a Supplier and don’t want what I say to backfire on me (read: Sucker! Your money is MINE FOREVER), but there is a certain level of irony to needing to take out a loan to finish fulfilling a Kickstarter. There’s yet another level of irony to paying a Supplier to do work that you don’t have the time or skill to do yourself, but they do it so poorly that you then have to do it yourself anyhow. I’m drawing a second mini-comic for all backers who also bought a copy of ZOO STORY as an apology for the delay.

I’m aiming to have the audiobook of DIGITAL DIVIDE finished and shipped to backers before the third Rachel Peng book hits, so this will be on or around May 1st.

As for final product shipping, we’re headed back to the studio soon to finish recording MAKER SPACE. Once I’ve completed the digital edits, I can put everything in the mail and ship it all out. I don’t have a firm deadline on when this will happen.


GIMME BOOK 2014 is over, and all books have been shipped. Except for the person who sent me this:

If you sent me this, please email or message me. I have your book.

If you sent me this, please email or message me. You won, but I need your address as I still have your book.



I’m thinking of changing the fourth tier from “Get rid of ads on the website” to “Make the Wedding Story.” I’ve had the script Pat and Hope’s wedding finished for years, and I’ve never had the time to draw it. I’d give this project priority status in the Neverending Queue if the fourth tier is met.

Also, my ad company changed hands recently, and they’ve stopped a lot of the nonsense that made me want to ditch them. They’ve added an auto-report feature where I can report a problematic ad and it’s removed immediately. If you ever see any ads with malware or are triggering (e.g.: sexist, racist, etc.), let me know and I can get them pulled.


This blog will begin updating soon, as: (1) we’ve done the math, and we’ve accepted that we’re trapped in this Amityville horror and can’t afford to move; and (2) the financial cost of the foundation repairs we’re going to do this month would buy a very nice car. We’re talking a fine German engineering level of “nice”.

It’s March

I approve. I am in favor of Spring.