The Problem with Audiobooks

Best-selling science fiction author Brian Niemeier recently weighed in on the titan of the fantasy industry, Brandon Sanderson, keeping his crowd-funded books away from Audible. You should read Brian’s article on the matter and note what Sanderson talks about. As an independent author of more modest means, I’ll weigh in on a few things regarding Audible and audiobooks in general. People frequently ask me about audiobook versions of my books. I have a few out (Garamesh, Keys to Prolific Creativity, Eyes in the Walls, Voices of the Void, and technically Afterglow), but they represent only a small fraction of my…

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Working sucks I guess

Check this out: I expect most people to react to a video like this with derision, but not me – I think it says a lot about expectations, efficiency, and more than anything, sex. I can hear the boomers seething now that a young person would dare complain about all of their waking hours spent away from the places and things they would prefer. I can even hear younger generations echoing them, because the first response to a complaint is to make a comparison – to think how much better that person has it than you, and you never complained.…

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Friction

As I grew up, grew old, got married, and had children, my schedule became increasingly tight, and with more and more people involved, my obligations became increasingly difficult to manage. People introduce chaos into life, and that chaos can only be tamed to an extent with careful scheduling and time management. What I discovered and then communicated in my book The Keys to Prolific Creativity is that getting many different things done is much more about assigning priorities and learning how to focus than it is about tight time management. To that, I want to add another concept that crosses…

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On the Water of Awakening and Odysseys

In 2017, I published my first straight fantasy book, The Water of Awakening. Some people loved it; some hated it. Either opinion is fine because I made the book exactly the way I wanted to make it. For 2017 (or 2023, as I write this) it’s something outside of the typical modern approach to fantasy. I wanted to do something really different from what I saw repeated in the same overlong fantasy books from the prior 20 years. I wanted to avoid a romance B-story, a subplot I had become exceedingly bored with (though I used one in my next…

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The Weird and the Horrible

Despite being called the father of horror, very few modern authors imitate H.P. Lovecraft. When they do, they tend to steal elements of his “world-building,” that is, they use the Cthulu Mythos or other elements of the stories and write in a totally different style from Lovecraft. This tends to miss what makes Lovecraft’s work compelling; it’s not the mythos itself, but how it is revealed that makes such an impact. Lovecraft is really Weird Fiction, not so much “Horror,” which as a literary genre solidified itself later in the 20th century. The feelings evoked are not merely fear, but…

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Why World of Warcraft’s Writing is So Bad

“Because the writers suck.” That’s the simplest answer. It’s a correct answer, in my opinion, but even a great writer would have a hard time working within the framework of modern WoW to produce a good story, much less good dialogue, quest text, etc. World of Warcraft was never known for having exceptional writing, but the past versions of the game were quite sharp and effective, producing long-lasting memories of characters, places, and events, while newer expansions have produced a grey blur of forgettable babble from interchangeable blobs of characters. But why? The emphasis on how the game is played,…

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Overcoming AI limitations in design.

In my first articles and videos on using AI art for book covers, I pointed out some of the real limitations of the current AI, which many laymen are going to miss: They are bad at composition, that is, mixing forms, scenery, etc. at different planes in one image They are bad at certain details, specifically hands, eyes, and noses. So, how can we overcome these issues? Well, if you are willing to do a little extra work, it’s easy. Instead of trying to fit every element you want in a picture into the AI prompt, you can make several…

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Using AI images for book covers

Today on my weekly Livestream, I designed a cover for an upcoming book using an image generated by “AI”—Midjourney, to be specific. The first hour has the cover design: There are several of these programs around with the idea that they can render images based on word prompts. Here are a few examples I made with the prompt “elven fantasy white castle towers on fire with apocalyptic purple sky and stormy ocean“ Here are the “final 2” images I came up with after upscaling and redrawing them: And here is the cover (note: in the video you will find out…

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Characters: The Drivers of the Story

The characters are the people (or other beings) that execute the plot. It is their motivations that drive the action of a story, and their motivations are at least partly derived from the setting. A coherent plot will be dependent on characters whose goals and desires are believable and whose actions have an impact. Characters fall into many archetypes (which I will cover later on), but in a story, they tend to fall into several broad functions: Protagonists Antagonists Auxiliary characters A story can have more than one protagonist and more than one antagonist, or it can have no antagonist…

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Story Setting – What’s Important

“Setting” covers a large field of elements—not just the place and time but all the extensions of those things. A story taking place in Ancient Rome is not merely a story in a city in Italy in the first century. There is the architecture (which looked different when it was new compared to the ruins we see today). There is the dress, but that is more than the costume that covers the body of an actor. The toga had social significance to the people in Ancient Rome beyond its aesthetic appearance and specific functions, and at certain points in time,…

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