Warhammer 40K: 5th Edition

Guess what I found?!

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It’s been about two weeks now that we finally got all our stuff that was stored in California (coming from Japan) and Texas (left there in 2014). Holy poop do I have a lot of boxes! And books! And Warhammer guys! Finally see it all accumulated in one place honestly makes me feel a little ashamed of myself…

But I’ve learned that if you ever get rid of any of your Warhammer models, you later wish you hadn’t, and maybe even go so far as to buy more to replace the ones you sold! So I won’t get rid of any. But the books, I can do without some of those.

But back to the topic at hand: 5thEdition Warhammer 40K.

I miss this edition! This was the game I came back to in 2008 when I also came back to the Navy and, as a single ensign finally making a decent income, I could actually afford to buy the toys I always wanted. And, boy, did I! Way too many. I can now easily field forces of chaos marines, daemons, eldar, loyalist marines (mostly crimson fists), and space wolves, plus some allied orks, dark angels, whatever!

Flipping through this book makes me really want to go back to it. (No shit, I intend to find someone who wants to play. I probably still have all the codices too!) Some of the things I miss:

  • The Universal Special Rules only take up 3 pages of this mini-sized book, and one-half a page is a picture!
  • Vehicles don’t have hull points. Tanks and dreadnoughts take a beating like they should!
  • A power weapon cuts armor, period. No APs, just make your save or don’t.
  • Only three turns: Move, Shoot, Fight.
  • There’s offensive and defensive grenades, just general classifications. I like that. Offensive grenades allowed you to charge through cover without losing your Initiative (do they still have Initiative at all anymore?!). Defensive grenades denied assaulters the +1 attack for charging. (Okay, maybe the grenade rules weren’t the best ever… What fun are they if you can’t throw them at people and blow them up?)
  • I always liked that there were model types, like infantry, bikes, etc, that all functioned the same way for the most part. So you know the move rate, special rules, etc.
  • You can charge out of reserve and assault vehicles! 6thed, I believe, took away the main function of units like striking scorpions and genestealers by having them walk onto the board and then pause to be shot at. 5thed knew better!

Today we kind of praise 8thedition (which I still haven’t played, but would like to try it) for it being “simplified.” But 5thedition was much more simplified than anything after it. It was easy to play, uncomplicated, and a hell of a lot of fun!

Don’t get me wrong, I like some aspects of the further incarnations, but it sure seems like the adage of “If a little is good, a lot must be great!” was applied over and over again.

Now that I have my toys, I’ll (eventually) try to get me some 8thed games to try it out. But I’d go back to 5thedition in a heartbeat!

A few more of my unsolicited opinions:

FORCE ORG

I do like the new puzzle-piece 8thforce org system. You can basically take whatever you want, but there’s a logic to it, a way to fit pieces together that make it more legit. I always enjoyed that aspect of list-building: that there is some structure you must follow, minimums to meet that keep everyone on an even keel.

But those formations or whatever they were… Basically, the more money you spend the more special powers you get. That crap was unfair. Too much.

For a hybrid version of 40K, maybe you start with the original FO chart, but can purchase extra slots for points. So you can have that 4thHeavy or 3rdHQ choice, but it costs a little extra. (Personally, I think there should be a 3rdHQ slot anyway—those guys are the superheroes of the war, after all!)

OVERWATCH

I don’t think there was Overwatch in 5thed. I both like it and don’t. I think in 8thyou can fire it at EVERY unit that charges you, can’t you? That’s way too much.

I’d almost like to make Overwatch kind of like this:

You get one use per turn of it. If you don’t think the first unit charging is going to make it, hold your fire, save it for that other, closer unit that you think it coming.

Also, you need to make an Initiative test in order to pull it off. If you’re not quick enough, you don’t get your weapons up in time. The trade-off to that could be that you get to fire at your regular BS rather than only hitting on 6s.

And I can already hear Tau players hating this idea! Especially since they generally have Inits of 2. Tau could then have an army special rule like “Disciplined Firing Line” or something to that effect, that gives them a +1 to Init for Overwatch checks.

PSYKERS:

I believe in 5thpsykers can only use one power per turn too. (I don’t have the rule book in front of me right now.) I’d say that can be expanded by the psyker’s level.

I did kind of like the Warhammer Fantasy “Winds of Magic” rules that came over to 40K (was that 6thed?). A random number of dice where you have to use some resource management.

But no, I’d say psyker tests are back to Leadership tests and that they can use a number of powers equal to their level: elite or unit-based models would be level 1, HQ psykers level 2, special characters level 3. They can use that many powers per turn, once each (no repeating powers in the same turn). And they would know that number of powers as well, unless otherwise stated in their special rules (like superhero characters who know all in their discipline.)

“Deny the Witch” I think was a newer development…  We could keep that, but maybe like this: Only a psyker can attempt a Deny the Witch. The “spell” would have to either originate or target a model within 18” of the Denier for them to be in range. They would make their own Leadership test. If it beats (is lower than) the caster’s roll, they deny it. A power that went off on double 1s can’t be denied.

Psychic Hoods extend that range to 24” and give them a +1 (well, -1 really) to their Deny roll.

Okay, that’s enough nostalgia and day dreaming for me for now. Just know that discovering that little lost rule book deep inside a box stored away for 4 years really brought me back.

And speaking of bringing back, BRING BACK 5THEDITION!

Or, as I tell my friend Josh all the time, you can play any damn version you want if you and your buds agree on doing so. So, who wants to play some 5th…?

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Deadpool 2 and Why Do EBooks Cost So Much?

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Let me tell you up front, this isn’t going to go the way you think it is.

I’ve been meaning to rewrite a post like this for a long time. I wrote one on my old blog years ago and, in fact, am going to cannibalize some of it here, ‘cuz I wrote it in a better mood then. I’ve been meaning to redo it for this blog and finally, Memorial Day, today is the day. I guess I’m honoring a veteran blog post, as well as our real veterans today.

But first, I mentioned Deadpool 2. My wife and I went and saw it last night, having heard, “It’s everything the first movie was, but more so!”

My official review then: “Meh.”

Not as good as the first one. Still funny, unnecessarily violent, meta-fictional in that he talked about it being a movie while it was a movie. There was some deeper character stuff in the afterlife and emotional stuff, but for the most part… Kinda disappointing. The best part of the whole thing was the extra ending after the initial credits play.

I also went into the theatre last night thinking that I was going to write my ebook pricing rant today, so I was doing research. Keeping receipts. For my wife and I to have a night out at the movies cost 8 bucks per ticket (that’s with the military discount). Our medium popcorn and single large drink to share cost 12 bucks, for a total of $28 for a movie that was fun, entertaining, but did not meet my expectations. (Should have seen Solo…)  Luckily the babysitter (my mom) was free.

We also went out for Vietnamese pho for dinner, at about the same price. So $28 x 2 = $56 for a (let’s face it) rather forgettable evening out. Kinda stings the ole pocket book.

Now we get to the meat of this rant: Ebook prices.

Most of you are probably thinking, Yeah, why do they cost so damn much? 

Well, that’s not exactly the angle I’m going with here.

Although, if you’re talking about the Big Five publishers and their best-selling mega-hit fiction from household name authors, Yes, I agree, they do cost probably more than they should. They charge the same for an ebook as they do a paperback, or sometimes even a hardback, even though there’s no material and no physical shipping costs or warehousing to speak of. Yeah, they probably could charge less for the electronic version, given actual costs on their part.

But guess what? Most of you guys are paying it. Over and over again. 

When I check the top five “Most Sold” ebooks right now on Amazon, four of them cost $14.99 and one costs $13.99.

Now, jump to the opposite side of the spectrum and the source of my angst.

The big trend of independent ebook authors right now (and since the dawn of ebooks and indie publishing several years ago) is to charge next to nothing for your books. Most indie novels are going for $2.99.

Does anyone see a problem with that? Most of you as readers are saying, Nope, no problem here!  You’re buying the cheap indie books at 3, 4 or 5 bucks, enjoying them almost as much, or as much, and sometimes even more than the $15 books. And then many are turning around and buying the $15 books too. Because the reading experience is actually worth that 15 bucks to you. Otherwise you wouldn’t pay it.

So why are those books worth $15 and these other ones worth a third or a fifth or even a fifteenth as much?

The truth is, many of those indie reading experiences are worth just as much as the pricy, household name, mega-corp books.

And some of them are not, let’s face it. But you don’t know until you read it. And some of those $15 super-author books aren’t worth $3. It’s all up to the reader to decide. I know I’ve read some “bestsellers” and wondered, Who keeps paying that guy or gal to do that job? 

The truth is, it’s mostly the indie authors’ faults. They have low expectations of their own work so they set low prices. And therefore set low expectations for their readers too. They’ve brought the market price too low, and dragged the readers down with them.

So the general price of indie (read low expectation) ebooks is generally $2.99 to $4.99. And some go as low as $0.99. For a novel. Hundreds of pages that will equate to a week or two or more of entertainment, depending on your reading habits.

Let’s a do quick comparison to other things we spend our money on…

  • I already mentioned going out to the movies. $8 to $12 per ticket, as much for 50 cents worth of popped corn and just as much for a large cup of diabetes-inducing sugar water. Lasts about 2 hours (longer if you actually develop the diabetes).
  • A movie rented at home via fancy digital services. Almost as much as going out! About 6 bucks for a 2 hour movie, which again, you may or may not enjoy. And once you start the damn thing, you only have 24 hours to watch the rest. You pay 6 bucks to sit on your couch and they slap a time limit on it. An ebook? Take your time. In fact, if you consume the whole thing in 24 hours, you probably didn’t chew well enough.
  • ATM fees. This one really burns my buns to think about. It costs $3, even $4, for the “convenience” of using an ATM machine that isn’t specifically for your bank. So people pay as much or more just to get money out than they want to pay for a week’s worth of entertainment in an ebook!
  • Fast food. Knowing I had a ways to go until dinner yesterday, I went through the drive through just for a snack to hold me over. One Wendy’s junior cheeseburger: $1.49. Add some crappy white lettuce and a slice of tomato: $1.99. A whole meal: about $6. Not too bad. But certainly not as satisfying or nourishing as a full-length novel.
  • Starbucks premium coffee. I’ll hold on this because I reblog it below, but for me, it’s sometimes the cost of renting table space for a couple hours so I can find a quiet escape to write the actual book that I will eventually turn around and sell. At this rate, the cost of renting table space is about the same for half a chapter as readers have been trained to pay for the whole damn book.
  • Pack of smokes. For those who just don’t believe yet that they cause a slow, painful, and expensive death. It depends on the state, but my research shows a minimum of $6 per pack to as much as $15 per pack in New York! (Chemotherapy, hospital stays, and funeral: hundreds of thousands, maybe millions.)

So that’s two unhealthy addictions (caffeine and nicotine) that you pay for daily without thought, but perhaps flinch at when you see a book priced at the same amount. (Hey, I’m also a nurse, it’s my job to talk to you like this!)

Yes, I’m ranting. It’s a pet peeve of mine, this pricing thing. I bounce around a lot, looking for that “sweet spot” that will encourage people to try my stuff. Low expectations drag the prices down for everyone (and set low expectations of what’s inside the book, too), while the big publishers go the other way and people follow them there.

The truth is, the prices should probably be somewhere in the middle. And if we expect more from ourselves and our work, and set the prices just a little bit higher, that confidence will probably equate to more sales and higher expectations from readers. But not everyone follows that logic. And we, as indies struggling to follow our dreams and do what we love while still being stuck in a day job to pay the bills, have to meander around trying to see what readers will tolerate from us.

Okay, I’ve exhausted myself now. I’ll stop.

Below this point are a few more examples, copied, pasted, and updated from my original blog post way back in 2014: http://brinkschaostheory.blogspot.com/2014/07/ebook-prices-comparative-shopping.html

Enjoy your Memorial Day. And thank you to my fellow veterans

* * *

Some people say that an ebook isn’t worth spending more than three or four dollars on.  So let’s expand our comparison beyond books.  What about other things we buy in our day-to-day lives?  How much do they cost, how much enjoyment do we get from them, and how long to they stick with us?

  • A gallon of gas.  Right now, about $3 per gallon.  Do I enjoy it?  Enjoy gasoline?  No.  Does it have staying power?  Does my experience with that gallon of gasoline stick with me in my memories or bring new ideas or horizons into my life?  Well, I guess if I’m traveling to new exotic places with it, then it might, but for the most part I don’t even notice that it’s been spent and is now gone.  Unless it was the last one in the tank; at that point, I’m definitely not enjoying the experience.
  • A cup of Starbucks premium coffee.  Shall we say about $4.00, give or take?  Did you enjoy it?  Sure.  By now, for many people, it’s a requirement to get their day started.  Takes you maybe twenty minutes to drink it if you take the time to savor it.  Caffeine buzz sticks with you for a while, depending on your tolerance.  But sooner or later, you pee it all back out and it’s gone.  (In fact, the caffeine tells your kidneys to open the flood gates.)
  • Cheap fast food meal.  Big mac, fries, and a coke: $5.69.  I might enjoy the first few bites, then start to feel guilty, then disgusted.  I don’t finish it but still feel sick for the next hour.  About a year later, I forget how crappy I felt and think, I haven’t had one of those for a while…  Repeat nauseating experience annually.
  • Inexpensive, decent meal out.  Ten to twelve bucks a person.  Tastes good, gets me and the family out of the house, relatively healthy, worth the price.  Does it stick with me?  Well, I remember I like to eat there, but the meal itself gets introduced to the Tidy Bowl Man sooner or later.  Flush and it’s gone, along with the money.  Took me an hour to eat it, if I really enjoyed it, and fifteen to twenty minutes to excrete it, if I took my time and enjoyed that too.
  • Moderately expensive meal out.  Let’s say at Olive Garden, where I was recently shocked to see what it really did cost for my wife and I to have a night out.  Just you by yourself, an entree, drink, and appetizer: about $25.00, probably more.  Was it good?  Sure, pretty tasty, but nothing to write home about.  Gets flushed eventually, but maybe I carry an extra inch around my waist for a while.  Not really the kind of lingering effect I’m looking for though.

How about a good book?  Costs you, say, five to eight bucks in electronic form.  (Or should, anyway.) Takes you a week or two to read, maybe more.  Sticks with you forever.  And even if it doesn’t, you can always go back and read it again.  For free this time.  As many times as you want.  What’s that you say?  It wasn’t as good as you expected?  Neither was that fancy meal you ate, and that cost more and gave you the runs for two days.

Maybe paying more than 3 bucks for an ebook is a pretty fair deal after all.

Galaxy’s Edge, Geek Gab, and Nick Cole

You know how sometimes you can hear (or be told) something many times, but it isn’t until after about the 20th or 50th or 100th that you finally say, “Oh, now I get it!” ???

Big thanks to Deuce Richardson for enlightening me to Geek Gab episode 128, and a big thanks to them for having on Nick Cole, one of the two authors of the huge mega space marine hit Galaxy’s Edge series, and an even bigger thanks to him for what he had to say on there!

Haven’t heard of any of these people? I hadn’t either.

But I had heard, from many folks, that if you want to make it big as an indie writer you have to write in series, and get that series out in short order, and play Amazon’s algorithm, and a bunch of other stuff. And while I acknowledged it and saw the wisdom in it all each time I heard it, it didn’t really sink in or make me think about changing my plans or getting more serious. Partly because the writing aspect in my life is always second-fiddle to about 3 or 4 other more important things in my life.

But suddenly, having listened to this podcast this morning, it actually sunk in and kicked me in the shin and said, “Hey, I’m talking to you asshole, are you listening?!”

It also makes me want to read (at least the first book of) Galaxy’s Edge. Add that to my ever-growing to-read list.

So, finally having “come to Jesus” about what I need to do to actually make some headway in writing, I come to the same most difficult question: What to write? (Among other serious questions, like, What time am I going to start getting up every morning to do some writing before work?)

So if you tuned in he other day for when I laid out my almost ever month publishing schedule for this year, it might be up for some changes. If I continue to scatter shit all over the place like chicken feed (to continue that analogy from that post), I’ll continue to be unknown and ignored.

So what series to I decide to dedicate myself to first? The superheroes universe I’ve already started and have multiple (chickenfeed) series started in already? Is superheroes a big enough genre to actually get any traction?

The coming of age fantasy series I started FIVE YEARS AGO–actually, I wrote Tarnish more like EIGHT years ago and it took three years to get it out after that.

One of, like 2 or 3 other fantasy series I have in mind but haven’t started?

The space pirate series I started with short stories published in Cirsova Magazine?

Or one of a zillion others.

Whichever I pick, it will mean essentially abandoning the others for a year or two (or three) while I finish out that whole series. Which I really can’t see doing. But if I bounce back and forth across 2 or 3 different series, one book at a time, I’ll just continue what I’ve been doing, which is not working.

Think Netflix. Everyone watches a whole series/season at a time, right? And get pissed when they have to wait for the next episode. They don’t want one episode now, one next year, etc. They do the whole thing in a weekend.

That’s what I have to do. But which one…?

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I’m going to finish what I have going right now. Deus Ex Machina is 70% done and I am going to do that first. But after that…? I’m guessing I’ll sell a dozen copies and then… nothing. So plow ahead on that or… something else?

I have several books in several series figured out. I could do any of them. But I need to write like 3 or more books and THEN start publishing them. What can I crank out quickly, in sequence? And if I get locked into that genre for a while, will I be happy with that? If I suddenly have a best-selling sci-fi series going, how easy will it be to switch back to finish my superheroes or fantasy series? Or vice versa?

Decisions, decisions.

Fortunately I have some time to figure it out while I finish up some things…

 

The End, The Beginning, and The Continuation

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Well, we didn’t make it.

Not by a long shot.

But a couple of good things come out of this anyway.

One, everyone who did officially contribute to the failed Kickstarter (all SIX of you) will still get the finished novel! I’ll email you your preferred ebook file type when the time comes. At this point, I’m hoping to have it finished and ready sometime between August and October. (Life still has me in a pretty brutal chokehold at the moment, but I hope to get back to writing at a decent pace by the end of May.)

For you folks, I’ll try to email you via Kickstarter when the time comes. In case that doesn’t work out for some reason, you can tap me on the shoulder at jdbrink@brinkschaostheory.com with your email address and I’ll get back to you with the book when the time comes.

The second thing to come out of this, strangely, was a big sense of relief. While I certainly would rather have had the funding and popularity of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the dismal failure of it kind of took some weight off my shoulders.

It was like some unseen giant placed a hand on my shoulder and said in a big, deep voice, “Look, dude, you just ain’t that big a deal. You ain’t even a small deal. Relax. No one knows you’re there and no one is waiting for your next book.”

Okay, it sounds more depressing than reassuring if you put it that way, but there’s a positive in there too, I swear. The positive is that any stress or demand I place on myself is just that—only placed by myself. Which means I can chill out and stop being mad at myself for not making more progress faster.

I mean, I WANT to make more progress faster, but life just doesn’t have room for that right now. We are four damn months into the Total Life Transition and it’s still pretty chaotic. We’ve been staying in our new house for less than a week now and still don’t have any of our possessions there. They have finally arrived in Ohio, but we won’t get them for another week and half! No TV or internet there yet either—I’m sitting in a park on a beautiful spring day right now, sucking on some unsecured, invisible ether signal from a nearby business. My new job is busy and my schedule there is still in flux as they struggle to make up for staffing holes. My son is finishing this year at one school and starting next year in a new one (since we’ve moved), we still need to find family physicians to get started on other issues, my wife is going out of the country for a bit, I finally check into and start my Navy Reserves stuff next weekend, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

It’s a fucking merry-go-round that’s spinning out of control and on fire, the wooden horses are trying to buck us off every day with some new unexpected problem that comes up before we can solve yesterday’s new problem, and the evil clown running the thing just keeps laughing and laughing and laughing…!!!

*sigh*

Sorry, didn’t mean to slip into that mess.

Back to the positive thing: Downsizing.

Now I can once again downsize my writing and publishing operation. Focus on what’s important, stop wasting my time on what isn’t working, and get more out of it. Trimming the fat on the 80/20 principle.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Stop being so ambitious in certain directions and focus more on the writing. Basically that means cutting my puny marketing attempts even further, cutting my almost non-existent social media attempts (including blogging), cutting a lot of stuff that really doesn’t matter until you have a body of work that generates a modest fan base. I sell a few books here and there, and people sometimes come back for more, but it’s piecemeal, it’s like chickens scratching and pecking for random corn. There isn’t much point in any of it until I have a big ass mound of corn built up for those chickens to feast on, and to tell their chicken friends about.

I know that “conventional cyber wisdom” (meaning the murmurs of the faceless mob in the last 5 years or so) is that you need to build a platform to get popularity and be noticed. That means being on Goodreads and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all these other places, just being there and socializing and getting your “face” out there.

Well shit, fellas, that sounds like a fulltime job to me! When I am supposed to do any writing?

So I’m bucking that cyber-crap and going to living my new life and writing more books. My plan is to make advances through series and give folks a solid line of entertainment to follow. The trouble is deciding which of my many series I have in mind to follow up on first. But cutting out the blathering into the ether (kinda like this post, which most of you have stopped reading by now anyway), I can send that time and those typed words into something more constructive.

And what might that be, you ask?

Okay, diving into Part Two of this very long type-fest:

The Up-Coming Reading Schedule.

I still have an ambitious publishing schedule planned for the rest of 2018. And I’m considering trying to fill a couple more holes so that something new will come out every month for the rest of the year. (Not bad for having no writing time for five months now, eh?)

This is the tentative plan. We’ll see what I can add and what falls off as reality comes to pass. Most are short stories, novelettes, and novellas at this point. The only novel this year will be Deus Ex Machina and Green-Eyed Monster will be a long collection with most of these stories at the end of the year.

April – Kiss of the Maiden. Out now and free of charge!

May – Platypus – up for pre-order now

May – Tarnish as a featured book in a Storybundle bundle, curated by Kevin J. Anderson (big-time SF writer, if you didn’t know)

June – Moondance

July – Hunted

(These lat two might switch places—we’ll see what happens)

Summer issue of Cirsova Magazine – “Littermates” Part 1

August – Deus Ex Machina

(August if I’m lucky. If not, could be SEPT or OCT.)

Sept-Oct – could be DXM, might get another work or two done that have been brewing just so I can hit every month.

Fall issue of Cirsova Magazine – “Littermates” part 2

November – The Proposal – published in Weirdbook magazine, as well as coming out as a single short story from Fugitive Fiction (me).

December – Green-Eyed Monster

Pretty darn good for a big failure who isn’t writing, right? Not too shabby. See, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

And almost all of this is already written! So I hope to have whatever is coming out in 2019 well underway by the time January comes around.

But for now, it’s Downsizing, Evil Klown Merry-Go-Round, and keeping to the above publishing schedule.

And, finally, that’s the end of this update and blog post! Thank you for your attention!!!

 

My New Year Starts… NOW!

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Or, now-ish, anyway.

I’m now officially done working the floor at the hospital. Nothing left to do here but checkout.

And sell our car, turn off our Japanese cell phones, pack out everything we own and ship it overseas, figure out where we’re going to live in the States, get David into school there without missing too many days, buy a house, start my new job, get into the Navy Reserves, and a hundred other things.

Whew!

No wonder I’ve had an eye tick for last couple weeks.

No, really. I have. I’ve also averaged 4 hours of sleep the last three days. That doesn’t help either.

It’s when you have massive life upheaval like this that you realize, unless you actually make a living as a writer, that you’re writing really isn’t that big of a priority. It still is, in my mind and heart, it’s still the thing I think most about, but it sure as hell isn’t paying any bills right now, getting us across the Pacific Ocean, or feeding my family, so… Not a big deal.

And when I start my Master’s Degree this spring or summer, it will unfortunately take a further back seat. Which sucks. I love my writing. And I have more stories in my mind right now than I will probably get done in my lifetime. At the rate I’m going, anyway.

Although once I’m out of the Navy and settled into my next life, I expect to have more writing time. Eventually. And in seven more years, when I can retire from the Reserves, I hope to have even more time. Maybe by then I’ll actually have enough books out there that they’ll be paying some of the bills.

Dare to dream.

Most writers, in case you didn’t know, do not sustain their lives on writing alone. Even many of those published by the Big Five companies. Most writers are not millionaires. And the forecast is that fewer and fewer will be. The hay day of the millionaire writer is over.  I never asked for a million dollars anyway. A tenth of that per year, a twentieth, would suit me just fine. At that point I would consider myself to be a “professional writer.”

And I don’t know that I would ever stop working, anyway. I’m leaving the Navy as a nurse and moving on to teaching nursing school, something I greatly enjoy doing. Even if I were making a sustainable wage as a writer, I’d probably still teach at least part-time. It’s a worthwhile cause and I’m not sure I would feel satisfied with a life where I spend every day just holed away typing on a keyboard in the basement. I’ve always felt a need to do more for more people. I don’t know that just entertaining folks with wild stories would be enough.

And so begins 2018. Bye-bye 2017. We barely knew you. And we won’t really miss you.

Starting last new year (has it been a year already?!), I had stopped tracking my daily writing word counts. That seemed to be more accounting than was worthwhile to me, and sometimes only reminded me that I was not writing as much as I wanted to be. Instead, I tracked only words published, which I continue to think is way more valuable. A lot of people patter around on their keyboards writing words that no one ever sees. Published words are out there in the world.

So I simplified my tracking system from a day by day account to a monthly task account, further divided into quarters. This was codenamed “Stormcloud.” (I love to make up codenames. All my pricing matrices have codenames, my file for book blurbs is called “Witchdoctor,” etc.) So whatever task I completed or book I worked on would have a colorful entry in my spreadsheet simply noting what it was. For example, in January of 2017, I have some orange blocks that say, “SIDs finished” (SIDs is shorthand for Secret Identities) and “Kronos pubbed” (The Scythe of Kornos). If I did some marketing, sent out a newsletter, or some other writing-related task, I noted that there too. For example, in October I took a vocational vacation to the Oregon Coast and spent a week in a writer’s workshop learning a crap-ton about the business end of writing and publishing. That’s definitely in the Stormcloud matrix.

In 2018, I’m thinking of going even simpler. No more big, colorful monthly graph where I continue to track my every move just to justify to myself that yes, I did do something toward my writing career this month. The new system is codenamed “Scarecrow” and it’s just a schedule. Just a plan of what I want to get done in 2018. And it doesn’t take up much space.

Two major books: Green-Eyed Monster, which is a collection of 7 novellas and stories (some of which will also appear as solo stories once a month over several months), and Deus Ex Machina, which is the quirky superhero novel following Hungry Gods. And that’s it. And pretty much all of those things are already written or very nearly written.

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Much like in the world of Big Publishing. The stuff that comes out this year will have been written last year or, more often, years before. In the case of most of these things I’m bringing out in 2018, most of these words are two, three, or more years old and are just now, finally, seeing the light of day. Or were published in magazines previously, so I had to wait for the rights to come back to me. The shorter stuff was also waiting for me to have more stuff to package them up with, in the case of the Green-Eyed collection.

So how did everything total up? Was 2017 a good year?

Sure it was! Even though I feel, as every writer does, that I didn’t write nearly enough words and didn’t get nearly enough out for readers to grab onto, it was a good year.

In 2017, I published 81,500 new words. New, as in they’d never been published before 2017. Pretty darn nice for one busy-as-hell guy doing all this on his own. (With some hired help from editors, artists, and the wife.)

But when you add in repeated words—such as stories that were published by a magazine or anthology and then later by me too, or the books I revived from previous years that I had removed from publication for dumb reasons, that total is way more impressive: 274,000 words! Over a quarter million! Wowzers! Almost half of that is the revival of my Tarnish: Thunderstrike Edition all by itself, which combines everything so far in that universe into one volume.

Those totals beat out 2016, when I published 77,500 new words and a total of 99,500 with reprints and all. Which is still pretty darn good itself!

And according to Scarecrow’s estimates (like it’s secret artificial intelligence or something), I expect to publish about 100,000 new words in 2018, between the Green-Eyed stories and DXM. Plus (I nearly forgot!), I have another Leonidas Hawksblood space pirate installment coming out this summer in Cirsova Magazine. Two installments, actually, as it’s a story in two parts. That’s another 11,500 words.

Words already written in 2016, along with at least 70,000 that are done as of right now.

Which makes it easier. Especially with the HUGE life changes we’re about to go through. Having the hardest part already done gives me a full year to get them finished up, polished up, and out the door. All the while, going through massive real-life stuff, starting new jobs and graduate school, ensuring the family makes the transition without too much psychological trauma, and everything else.

So my 2018 is already shaping up to be a hell of a year.

How’s about yours? Leave a comment and let me know!

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By the way, you can still grab everything published in 2017, plus a couple bonus stories, via the Swords, Superheroes, and Space Opera Bundle. Hundreds and hundreds of pages worth of fiction for only SIX BUCKS. Get it while it lasts, folks, because once I get settled into my new life and 2018, this incredibly cheap bundle of books is going to go away. (Click here to find it on Bundle Rabbit, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.)

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

(2018 image from freepik.com, btw)

Why Do Writers Always Go to Coffeeshops?

coffeshop

I often go to a coffee shop or similar venue to do my writing.

Clichéd, right?  Are you one of those people who always wonder, Why the hell do they come here to write?  Just to show off?  To be a hipster?  What’s the deal?!

Well, I don’t know about everyone else, I just know about me.  And me?  I do it because I need a certain atmosphere to make my magic work.

Okay, I don’t NEED that atmosphere. In fact, I’m trying to train myself NOT to think that I need it. But I do know this: I can’t get jack shit done at home. If my family isn’t interrupting me, I will interrupt myself. There’s always plenty of juicy distractions at home. If I want to get serious and do my damn work, I need to get out of the house.

I have tried locking myself in a nice quiet little study room at the local library.  But that doesn’t work either. Too quiet, too isolated, and I feel bottled up.  My creative juices get stagnant.

So I seek a balance. Somewhere that I can be alone at my little table, but not so alone that I can hear my own heartbeat and get antsy. A coffee shop or restaurant provide a nice mix of the two. And sometimes I even take inspiration from my surroundings to fill in details about people, places or things in what I’m writing at that moment. Hard to do that if you’re locked in a closet all by yourself.

The downside is the rent. Most places don’t want you sucking up table space unless you pay for it. By buying a cup of joe, for example. So there’s a daily cost to doing that.

By the way…

If you’d like to sponsor one such writing session, I’d be happy to provide an avenue for you to do that. You can buy me a mug or drop me a tip or show a tiny token of your appreciation, if you wish, at http://www.paypal.me/JDBrink and sending electronic coins there. Every drop of coffee/cocoa/whatever helps further my work.

So if you do wish to do that, THANK YOU from the bottom of my mug. And heart.

And if you REALLY feel compelled to help out, you can sponsor one cup of coffee a month on an ongoing basis. Check out my Patreon page for details. As little as $1 a month gets you everything I publish, sent straight to you. Plus little monthly tidbits I share to subscribers on my page.

If you are thinking about doing this, THANK YOU each and every month from the bottom of my heart!

By the way, that nifty image above is stolen from a great article I just found while looking for images on The Creativity Post. Very interesting…

PARALYZED

I’m in flux right now.  Frozen.  Unable to do anything.

Kinda.

Last week my PC laptop was dealt a paralyzing blow by McAfee “internet security” software that was offered to the military for personal use.  And now that their shit has destroyed my computer, they refuse to take responsibility.  So far, at least.  But I’m not done yet.  You’d think a zillion-dollar company could afford to replace one cheap laptop after ruining it.  And you’d think they’d not want headlines to read MCAFEE INFECTS NAVY FAMILIES WITH VIRUS.  You’d think they want to avoid that…

Meanwhile, I’m looking at getting a new Mac laptop (cuz mine is pretty much fucked).  This pause in business as usual has also given me an opportunity to reassess things, redesign, and see where shit’s going.

On top of all that, I also can see the light at the end of the tunnel on this phase of our lives.  I mean, BIG CHANGE A’COMIN’.  Not quite ready to let that cat out of the bag quite yet, but let’s just say I have a lot of stuff to do in the coming months.  LIFE related, not writing related.

So this post is basically nothing but cryptic nonsense, but just in case anyone is paying attention and wondering why I’ve been out of commission this past week, this is why.

Hopefully more constructive shit to say sooner than later.