Adventure to Azeroth: A Retrospective, Part V (Finale)

Part V: Miracles

Today’s date is Saturday, June 7, 2014.

I’m T-2 days from Blizzard.

I know I should be freaking out. And I think a little part of me is, but it’s a small part. The rest of me is trying to survive my two little girls, getting a bit too obsessed with Bioshock Infinite and a few other things. At the moment, I’m pulling my hair out because the second I finished my personal journal, Tali woke up. I don’t know if it was Caitlyn’s weird yelling in her room or what…but it was just as I got everything ready to do this. *Sigh* Kids have a magical way of knowing the worst possible time to wake up from naps.

But more than anything, I think I’m really excited. I’m excited to find out what Blizzard has. Part of me is excited to actually park there as an employee. To see their cafeteria. To know about any cool discounts. To just…BE a part of it.

Now, of course, I won’t be able to breathe a word about what I really do. I’m sure they’ll have me sign at least 10 NDA forms or something. Apple’s just as bad, really. The only difference is that when I worked for Apple, I worked Retail, so I never knew anything (by the way, NEVER ask an Apple Retail employee about when the next iPhone, iPod, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, Macbook Pro, Macbook, iWatch, iThingy or any other Apple product is coming out. You’re not being clever because we’ve all heard it hundreds if not thousands of times. Retail NEVER knows anything. They find out the same way everyone else does: watching the Keynote if Apple puts it up or reading the livestreams from MacRumors/Engagdet/Gizmodo/AppleInsider/Whatever just like everyone else).

…ahem.

A bit of a tangent there. I’ve been hearing questions about when does the next (BLANK) for six and a half years. *Shudder*

Anyway, I never knew anything at Apple Retail. I’ll know everything (ish) at Blizzard. Weird to actually KNOW THINGS! But I’m still not going to tell you, so don’t ask.

So…that leaves us with now. The grand finale. Last time, we stopped shortly after my return from my personal leave. The faces were very different and I started to realize that there weren’t many of my friends left at Apple SCP. For example, the picture below is everyone who showed up to Laura’s Surprise Baby Shower for Caitlyn in September of 2010.

Baby Shower for Caitlyn

All of the people within this photo save for two no longer work at the Apple Store at SCP (excluding Laura). Everyone else has moved on. Some to other Apple Stores. Some to other businesses. Some to other states. Some to other countries.

Aside from that, there wasn’t much else to do at the Apple Store. I didn’t have any mountains to climb. I wasn’t interested in Retail Management and aside from lateral moves within the store or to other stores, the only other option was to move to Cupertino to work at Apple HQ. I didn’t want to leave Southern California. It’s my home. So…what was I to do?

However, it was more complicated than that. Far more complicated. You see, I have a rather dry sense of humor and sometimes have trouble expressing my opinions in locations where it would be wiser to keep my mouth shut. These traits, along with others, started to cause serious tension for me. In addition, a new policy was handed down, demanding that both the full-time and the part-time employees have more availability (days that you are considered available to work) than ever before.

However…here was the long and the short of it: I wasn’t happy at Apple. I didn’t feel like I had anywhere to progress to. I had concerns about the direction Apple was going, both in retail and in respect to the company itself. The availability thing was the final piece though. I started looking…because I had to. You see, Laura and I long ago committed that strangers would not be raising our children. We didn’t want to throw our kids in daycare. Could we have made more money if we did that? Maybe. But you know what? Money has never really mattered to me all that much. I’ve always viewed it as a tool, nothing more. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense for people living in Orange County. Here, we have Coto de Caza, Newport Beach and far more expensive places. South Coast Plaza itself caters itself as a tourist location…really ritzy and fancy most of the time. I know I don’t belong here…but that’s okay. I like being different.

I started to look into other companies. Tech companies and other random places, even Microsoft, since I knew they used to poach Retail employees a lot when they were first getting started. But I wasn’t getting a single nibble. I tried networking, but nothing was happening. Comments were being made…and I was afraid. Really afraid for my future.

((I’m not going to go into specifics about any of this. Today I got the standard “end of employment” letter reminding me of all the commitments that are still in effect even though I’m no longer with Apple at this point.  The intention of this is not to bash Apple as a company or Apple SCP as a store. All I am saying here is that I was having some issues. Some of those issues were personality conflicts within the store, some of them were new company-wide policies. Also remember that I had been at Apple SCP for six and a half years. That’s no small feat. It’s not something I would throw away casually. I’ve been through plenty of very difficult times where I’ve considered leaving Apple, but I stayed because I realized that the problem was more me than the circumstances. I’m a stubborn guy. But family is more important to me. The true purpose of this is to show the miracles that happened and the threads wove together to result in what happens on Monday morning))

The Miracles

Sometime during March, I was looking at Blizzard’s career website. It’s something I did every month or so, just to see if there’s something I could apply for. This time around, it was for Compatibility Analyst, the same position as what I applied for the first time I applied at Blizzard some years ago. I updated my resume (which had recently been updated anyway because of my searches), added the Mass Effect 2 game analysis from my first application, a cover letter and sent it off with the help of Jason, my Baby Stalker. Sent it through him and through the external portal. I then promptly forgot about it. I had been rejected so many times, I just offered a quick prayer to God and moved on with my life. Even during everything else that happened, I didn’t even think of that one.

I realized after the fact that the ME2 Review was actually written before Mass Effect 3 came out and was written reflecting that. I never changed it. Eep.

Then, on our nine-year wedding anniversary, March 26, 2014, I got an email from Blizzard Entertainment while I was getting ready to take a shower. Telling me they were interested in my latest application for Compatibility Analyst, which I had applied for and promptly forgotten.

I couldn’t believe it. Seriously. It was like a dream. Even thinking back on it now as I write this (still working for Apple and waiting for the final phone call), I still don’t believe it.

A whirlwind proceeded to happen. I took a few days off of work for these events. I prepared for the first phone interview with 40 pages of notes, questions, answers and more. I memorized their Mission Statement. I watched the 25-year anniversary retrospective. I asked questions for everyone I knew in the gaming industry.

And during my phone interview…within a half hour in they said they wanted me in for an in-person interview.

Eight days later, I get the email to set up the in-person interview. And a week later from that, I drive to Blizzard Entertainment and enter the gate for the very first time in my life.

Of course, there was a full NDA for the interview and everything else, so I can’t divulge anything about the process. But I’ll say their lobby is freaking awesome. I remember waiting for my recruiter in the Blizzard Museum. Seeing a version of the Sword and Shield used for the Five and Ten Year Anniversaries. Seeing the various models for the Holiday Gifts they do every year. The massive mural they had on one wall that they use as their primary art piece for Hearthstone. The utterly insane amounts of awards they have in glass cases. The giant statue of the Queen of Blades. And I even got the man who was behind the entire scheduling process to take my picture in front of the great orc rider statue before the main building. It was like walking into a dream.

In truth, I didn’t think I did that great during the interview. I kept thinking of the dozens of different or better answers I could have given them after the fact. Coming home, I was quite depressed. My own internal critic went nuts, tearing me apart from the inside out. Over the course of the next fifteen days, I mentally ripped myself apart, sending myself to severe depression. I think part of me was shoring myself up for failure, so getting rejected wouldn’t completely destroy me.

I’ve been in constant prayer the entire time with Laura. I was asking for family members and friends to pray over us. The moment I got that first email, I ran to God, knowing full well I was completely incapable of doing this without Him. I prayed at least four times a day about the job.

Then on a Thursday, while I was at home talking on the phone with a friend about my methods behind the OC Inklings, an online critique group I’d been running since the beginning of the year, I get a phone call. My iPhone identifies the call as coming from Irvine, California. I freak, tell the person I had to go and pick up the phone.

It’s my recruiter with some questions about pay rates and such. During our conversation, he mentions getting the gears in motion to get to the offer stage.

I managed to keep it together during the phone call, but the moment I hung up (as Laura is completely freaking out in joy and putting Tali in her Blizzard onesie (“My other stroller is EPIC”)), I literally fell over onto the bed and just stared at the wall in complete and total shock.

For the rest of the day, I wander around the house in a daze, my brain completely on the fritz.

Because I knew what a phone call like that meant.

 

The New Horizon

That was three days ago (at the time of originally writing this).

Since then, I got a chance to tell a few friends, while keeping everything quiet on social media and public front. I texted those who knew about what I was trying to do. Even as I write this, it doesn’t seem real.

But everyone I’ve talked to say that if they’re talking pay, then the job is in the bag. God performed the miracle. The third greatest miracle in my life.

The first is finding a wife who wants to be with me and deal with all my insanity.

The second is two beautiful and healthy baby girls.

And this is the third.

Yesterday, I started writing my farewell email to Apple, a tradition for our store when it’s time for someone to move on. I’ll be tweaking that until the final moment. And I started writing this yesterday after finishing the email.

You see…the real reason I want to work for Blizzard isn’t for the free stuff or the pay or the insider knowledge. I have no interest in becoming fabulously wealthy or crazy famous. That’s not where my priorities lie. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but all I’ve ever wanted out of life is to be a husband, be a father and leave a legacy.

The reason I want to work for Blizzard is because of the culture. From everything I’ve seen, Blizzard is full of geeks and nerds. And somehow, I ended up at the Apple Store with all the jocks. In Genius Room meetings, more guys talk about shoes than they do about video games. (I’m not kidding. I’ve called them total girls for it and reminding them that’s coming from someone who watches My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic). Blizzard has LARPing, Magic the Gathering and and endless supply of geek. In fact, one of their Mission Statements is “Embrace Your Inner Geek!”

The other reason? Because I see endless potential. Blizzard is a company I could see myself working at for the next thirty years. I’m starting at the bottom right now, but there are so many paths available within the company. I don’t know where I’ll go. I don’t know if it’ll be game design and development, internal technical support or maybe something else. Eventually, I’d love to join their creative development team and write the stories that I loved so much.

This is my greatest dream. And God has done amazing things in getting me here.

But the best part? It didn’t end there. No way. It got both harder and better at the same time.

 

God is my Tank and my Healer

What? It’s a WoW Joke. In case you don’t know (and you seriously should know this), a Tank is a character usually in an MMO who has high health and gets the various enemies to target them instead of the more fragile damage dealers or the healer. They take the punishment so the rest of the team can kick ass.

That next Tuesday, I get an email from the recruiter and the scheduler. We quickly make a new appointment for the coming Thursday…where I find out I’ll be doing my final phone interview. I don’t believe it.

That Thursday, while a neighbor watches the kids, I have the final interview. And I felt very happy with the way it turned out, especially when he told me the decision would be made within a week.

Ironically, a few days later is the Season 4 finale of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Now why on earth would I mention this? Aside from the fact that I’ve already gushed about how epic it was, there was a song in there that really spoke to me.

It was Twilight, singing about the fact that she’s been placed in a position of authority but doesn’t seem to do anything. It’s her questioning her role and her purpose. What is she meant to do? She wants to contribute so badly…but seems to do almost nothing.

Then the other three Princesses come in…telling her that “you’ll play your part.”

I can’t even explain why, but it comforted me. It gave me hope. Granted, I’m not an alicorn princess, but I found a very close connection with what I was going through, fighting through doubts, questioning my place and hoping for something better.

Here’s a line from the song:

But I wonder where I’m going now

What my role is meant to be

I don’t know how to travel

To a future that I can’t see

And this is from my journal a few days later:

It really resonates with me. Because right now I can’t see the future. I’m in neutral, waiting for the light to change. My engine’s revved up and ready to blast ahead…but I’m waiting for the light…for the go or the stop.

But I have to have faith that God knows. And I have to trust him that it’ll happen in his time. I can’t hurry God. I can just do my best to muddle along, asking for help along the way.

 

The Jump

On May 13, a friend of mine gives me some very troubling information about my place at Apple. I won’t go into specifics, but it obliterated my good mood for the day as if someone had dropped a nuke on my head. I had tried my best to keep my shields up during the problems I’d been having at work during all of this, but this last bit of information shattered them into tiny shards.

I was so upset about this new information, I seriously considered calling out the next day. However, for some reason, Laura encouraged me to go to work anyway.

The next day, I discover that I have a meeting with one of the managers, likely about the thing mentioned the day before. I spend the day focusing on my customers as best I can and even watch Doug Field’s service at Saddleback Church that gave me comfort some weeks before. The service was called “Have I Got a Surprise For You!”

And it’s about how Jesus handled Lazarus’s death. The key is he didn’t go right away when Mary and Martha sent the messenger asking for help. He waited for two days before leaving. Lazarus was dead and already buried when Jesus got there. Mary and Martha were asking “Why?”

But there was an answer. The answer was to show one of the greatest miracles Jesus did while on Earth. He raised him from the dead. Mary and Martha just wanted healing…but Jesus did far more than that.

And this is from my journal after watching that:

I have to jump.

If Jesus decides that the bridge needs to burn out and I have to throw myself into the unknown, that’s what I need to do.

It’s the only way.

Because I have to trust him that he’ll catch me.

Okay God, you want it like that?

Then I’m jumping.

It’s all up to you now. If you don’t catch me, it’s game over.

So it’s all to you.

 

The Tenth Miracle

At 3:40 PM, Pacific Daylight Time, while I was in this meeting (which was not a happy meeting), I felt my phone buzz. I peeked at it while talking with him and saw “Blizzard Entertainment” on the Caller ID. But I managed to stick it out with the conversation.

Afterwards when we came back down to the store, well, I think I need another direct quote from my journal here.

After the meeting, I headed to the restroom, locked the door and listened to the message, my breath held. I remember judging his voice as he spoke about the stuff after the final interview. Apparently, I did it. I fucking did it.

No, that’s not right.

GOD DID IT.

And he told me that they were ready for the offer stage.

I got the job.

I was literally jumping up and down around the room like some sort of psychotic jackrabbit, whisper-shouting YES! over and over again.

I GOT THE DAMN JOB!

That’s right. I was grinning like a lunatic for the rest of the day. I sang and shouted in praise and thanks and just sheer glee the entire way home.

We have a quick exchange the next day saying that they’re just processing the final paperwork and should have it done by the next day, Friday, May 16.

God waited until the last moment. At 5:10 PM Pacific Daylight Time, my recruiter presented me with the official offer. Even better? I got Compatibility Analyst II instead of I.

And finally, a few minutes after telling the managers and putting in my notice, I got to tell the Genius Room. I actually got applause to my surprise.

Best. Day. Ever.

 

The Time Between

The next two weeks flew by in a blur. Literally. I was actually startled by how quickly the days passed. My final day at Apple was May 30, 2014. At my final Genius Room meeting, they actually did a group hug. Slightly awkward. I got to have lunch with another Genius who was leaving the same day (coincidence, she’s actually moving) and a member of the Genius Team who’s been with Apple for almost 20 years. He’s a good man.

And finally? My going away party at Red Robin near SCP. We had about 15 people or so show up. And it was a grand old time, because people came out who had left Apple years ago. It was wonderful, simply wonderful. I remember when I got home I was so exhausted, but it’s the kind of exhausted you get after visiting Disneyland. A very good kind of exhausted.

 

The Tapestry

To think that this all started because my old CompUSA manager wanted me to try WoW so badly that he bought me a copy using his own money. A thousand threads starting there (and further back with my obsession with video games for years), intertwined and leading to this moment. Moving down here, meeting Jason and Amanda, meeting those contacts at the Genius Bar, winning Honorable Mention with “Ashes over Stormwind,” getting a job at Apple, getting Genius and everything else…all of it was for a far greater purpose than I could have ever imagined.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen by coincidence. It’s all too complex, too complicated for that. I can’t believe that for a heartbeat. There was a great intelligent design behind all of these that started almost ten years ago.

God wove a beautiful and astonishing tapestry through my life…a tapestry I never saw coming.

I don’t think it’s chance that the quote I used for my senior year in high school is the same quote that gave me comfort in my times of doubt: “‘For I know the plans I have you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'” That’s Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

It’s a good verse.

A very good verse.

 

Dawn

And there you have it. My Adventure to Azeroth. My journey to Blizzard. It was a hell of a ride. I left out the worst parts of it, primarily because I want to think of the positive things…and the miracles. All the amazing miracles. I say that there were thirteen miracles, but that’s not true at all. There are dozens if not hundreds more that God has done, big or small, to get me to where I’m going on Monday morning.

If you’ve actually made it this far and read the entire thing, congratulations. I wish I had something to give you, considering this last part is almost 4,000 words by itself. But all I have to offer is my sincere thanks for being on this journey with me.

Don’t worry, my blogs will not stop. My writing isn’t over. It’s just going to change a little. Writing is a part of who I am, just as much as family or gaming or ADHD or my faith. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this experience…it’s that the sum is always greater than the parts.

But that’s usually God doing.

I’m okay with that.

 

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

 

PS

I’ll have one more blog tomorrow night, which will be about the possibilities of two stories being published very soon! They will be published by June 15 at minimum.

 

 

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Adventure to Azeroth: A Retrospective, Part IV

Part IV: Pushing the Apple Uphill

Panic

During 2012-2014, I was having my own struggles with Apple. As you know, while I had been promoted within two weeks from part-time sales to full-time Inventory Specialist, I wasn’t really happy there and the managers knew it. So I was transferred to Visuals where I blossomed and I learned an enormous amount about our demo systems.

In fact, I learned so much that I wrote a 40-page document on how to perform demonstration installs and configurations, since everything had to be set up by hand. I ended up running entire overnights at the Apple Store while the Visuals Manager just kinda hung out. I trained the time, set up numerous computers, configured every new machine that was released, set up the security systems and more.

This led me to want to join the Genius team, the team dedicated to working on Mac computers, but two weeks after I declared my intention, they launched a new position called Family Room Specialist, which was a position between my current position and the Genius position. I gritted my teeth and went for that. But that was harder than expected to get into. In fact, it was a serious issue. I had to have several meetings with management. And very little of it was about my performance. In fact, during my entire time at Apple, I don’t think I ever had any performance problems. According to them…it was people skills and attitude.

And in 2012, I decided to apply for the position of Compatibility Analyst. Another form rejection, sadly. I was starting to get a little depressed and nervous. I was seeing that the requirements for the positions were getting steeper, going to places I couldn’t reach without years more of experience.

Eventually though, I managed to make to FRS. There, I blossomed again, not only taking charge of the Data Transfer aspect of the job, but also creating a full-blown certification class from scratch that got the notice of Apple Corporate. While it never became widespread due to Apple changing the direction of how data transfers were done, that was really cool. In fact, during my last conversation with our Market Manager, she said that it was really my defining moment, coming up with this program.

Cert Class (V4).002

A slide from my Certification Class (V.4)

Let me tell you a little about it. You see, the FRS position was still fairly new to the store…especially the data transfer part of it. During this time, the sales team and the FRS team pretty much hated each other. The sales team were always getting yelled at about data transfers (which they were checking in) and the FRS team hated the sales team because they didn’t know how to properly check it in.

It started with a guide on how to perform data transfers (at that time, there was no official direction from Apple on how to do it) but after a random comment from a manager and a couple employees, I decided to create an entire class. With the blessing of the management team, I launched this certification class to teach the sales people (and anyone else) how to check in these transfers properly. More than anything, it was about creating proper expectations.

I used my own sense of humor for the whole thing.

I used my own sense of humor for the whole thing.

This actually did several things. First, it solved a vast majority of the problems we had with the entire data transfer process. We no longer had to get yelled at by customers who were promised one thing and then told after the fact that we couldn’t do that thing. The second thing was it made the entire team much more approachable and accessible. We were the ones teaching it (with me leading the way). And best of all? Morale improved dramatically. We started really enjoying the job and the challenge that went along with it. Because believe me, getting Macs and PCs to talk to one another to transfer data was a pain in the rear.

(By the way, since Apple never decided to use my certification class and the current policies and procedures are radically different than what they were back then, it’s safe to post these. I also did not post anything with actual information in them.)

However, my next goal was not nearly as easy.

 

genius-bar

Genius

The road to Genius was probably the hardest road I walked in Apple. I was passed over numerous times, sometimes for people incredibly qualified. Sometimes for people who weren’t so much. I interviewed at multiple stores in the area as well. Some interviews went great. Some were utterly horrible. I was constantly trying to prove myself to anyone and everyone. I even ended up in the “Grow Your Own – Genius” program, which allowed me to at least take Mac Appointments at the bar. I was a fully certified GYOG for at least 2 years before it became anything of value.

I knew I had the support from most of the Genius Team, but sadly, that didn’t account for much. It was always in the hands of the managers and leads.

I could go on for a very long time about this fight, but that’s not what this is about. So let’s move to the good part.

And then, in September of 2012, I finally landed the job I’d been fighting for for years, the job I’d been passed over for at least ten times. Genius. In November of 2012, I spent three weeks in Cupertino, California at Apple HQ where I did my official training and actually landed as top of my class in both hardware and software…and got the nickname “Classic.” Most of the other new Geniuses had only been with Apple 2-3 years, while I had passed my five year anniversary with Apple while in Cupertino.

In truth, that was actually a very difficult time for me. I didn’t want to go. When I was thinking about it, I sometimes broke down into tears. I didn’t want to leave my wife or daughter. It was heartbreaking to leave.

 

A New Direction

I’m going to leave the details of the intervening time a little vague. South Coast Plaza had gone through several changes in management and management style during my time there. Some of it was good, some of it I wasn’t comfortable with. And I couldn’t seem to land a transfer no matter what I did.

The stress of the position and the coming birth of our second baby, Talissa, expected in November of 2013 finally drove me to severe panic attacks where I ended up taking a leave of absence from Apple for four months (short-term disability and baby bonding leave). I was gone for the entire holiday season.

During this time, I focused heavily on my writing and trying to work through my personal issues. The writing helped a lot and I managed to win National Novel Month for the fifth year in a row.

When I came back, many of my friends had already left Apple. Most of the other gamers were long gone into different jobs or different stores. It was a very different place. So I started to think beyond my current position. I didn’t have much interest in going into management and I didn’t want to move to Apple Headquarters in Cupertino.

So that left the question where was I going to go? Especially since matters were moving in a direction that would force Laura and I out of our positions at Apple for the sake of our children.

I considered many places during these months. I searched up and down…but finding a job in this day and age is a difficult prospect even for someone super-qualified.

And so…something awesome happened.

But that’s for the finale, Part V.

It’ll come out tomorrow! 🙂

Among the OASIS and Shardblades

So this has been an eventful week for me.

Work things have occurred. Things that are forcing me to move forward with plans, no matter if I like it or not. One day, I will speak of these things openly. But not today. As of today, it’s still time to just say that things outside of my control have begun…and now I must stay ahead of them.

In addition, I took the time today at lunch to use the program “Aeon Timeline” to plot out the existing timeline of “Steam and Magic.” Why is this important? Because it’s been driving me crazy on the length of time it will take for the Rose to reach one point from another. And now that I have that planned and plotted, I finally got to look and realize where I needed plot points to happen and how they could fit together. I finally have a few things to write. I’ve been stuck in this forever.

At the moment, I’m still waiting for my very busy friend to get a free moment to finish the critiques on “Beyond the Waterfall.” I promised not to publish until she was done. And since she’s so busy with her own work, it might be a bit until that sees the light of day. Just be patient. It’s coming, I promise.

I had a lovely day with Tali yesterday. Just a wonderful day. In fact, we spent a vast majority of the day listening to “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. And that’s the main topic for today’s blog. I want to write down my thoughts on “Ready Player One” and Brandon Sanderson’s “Way of Kings.”

Oh yes, I’ll try and avoid any spoilers.

The Stormlight Archive: Book 1: The Way of Kings

I’ll start with the official synopsis, taken from Sanderson’s website.

Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by overpowering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under the eminent scholar and notorious heretic Jasnah Kholin, Dalinar’s niece. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of more than ten years of planning, writing, and worldbuilding, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

I should mention that I listened to this through Audible.com, which is my go to source for all Audiobooks. It was narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. Let’s start with them. I’ve listened to these two before, since they were the two who did the “Wheel of Time” series…and they drove me batty. But I started to realize my problem was so much with the narrative, but the books as well. I had been used to the narrator for the Discworld series, Stephen Briggs and Nigel Planer (Planer is just freaking AMAZING). These two readers were powerful, entertaining and just slightly crazy. However, Reading and Kramer are much more subtle. They’re a bit monotone. They don’t really get passionate in their readings. Don’t get me wrong, they’re total professionals, but it can come across as dull.

However, it’s more about the book, right? Way of Kings takes a long time to get moving. And it’s huge at 45 hours for the Audiobook version. It’s very slow going at the beginning and it’s frankly not until the end where the three main character threads intertwine. However, the sheer richness of this world is almost overwhelming. I can’t handle it all. Even after reading the entire first book, I get the feeling that I’ve only seen a corner of the world, a tiny sliver of an enormous boulder. Sanderson has world-built this place better than anything I’ve ever seen. It’s astounding.

And the characters? Amazing. Simply amazing. You really get in connection with these characters. What drives them, what they hate, what they love and what they dream. I don’t think I’ve read any of his stories where characters have been so richly defined.

The magic system is also very interesting, but instead of revealing most of it like he does in his other books, Sanderson takes his time. You get the feeling he’s only touched the surface as to what the magic system can do…and what’s really powering it. In the end, you’re left with more questions than answers.

The finale is simply EPIC. Sanderson is well known for his spectacular fight scenes and this one does not disappoint. We have a full scale WAR going on here at the end of the story. But the true shockers are the brief one-perspectrive chapters at the end. The final revelation at the end of the book? That twist will probably pop your head right off. I’m still reeling from it days afterward.

In the end, this is Sanderson writ large. While it takes a good long while to get going, it’s worth the wait. It doesn’t grab you quite as powerfully as the others, but by the time you reach the end, you’ll find yourself unable to stop. It’s a great ride. And I’m looking forward to the next book which I just might read next. You definitely need to check it out. 

 

Ready Player One

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.

A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?

Okay, I’ve had friends recommend this to me before, but I was in the middle of Way of Kings at the time and got away from audiobooks for a while. Once I finished Way of Kings, this was the next book on my list. And I think I finished the audiobook version, all 15 hours of it, in three days. In fact, I was listening to it with Tali most of the time. Every commute that I could (save for those with Caitlyn, because she could repeat some of those words…and the main characters tend to enjoy their colorful language), too.

Let me first get one thing out of the way: there are plenty of infodumps in this book. Especially when you’re listening to the Audible version of it. Sometimes they can be so long that you forget the events the characters were going through. However, I was willing to forgive it because the backstory on the world, the OASIS and the characters was so damn interesting. I kept losing myself within these miniature stories-within-a-story. It was somewhat jarring to come back out of them, but the flow was good enough that it pulled you right back into the main story. (So imagine if Lost had actually told a story well…, but I digress).

While I’m not the greatest fan of Wil Wheaton’s narration (I don’t feel he does that great with different voices or accents), this story was just amazing. I love all the nostalgia. While I’m about five years too young to enjoy all of the references, I do remember the Colossal Cave Adventure. I played Joust on the Atari (when most kids were playing with Nintendo…my parents didn’t exactly help my gaming career save for some PC games). I remember the tales of Dungeons and Dragons, though sadly I’ve never actually played a game (something I still regret to this day).

This book is a celebration of some of the most iconic pop culture that still defines our era.

But the best part to me was the relationships and the revelations. More than anything I wanted to see the answer to the “will they/won’t they.” I love seeing these people who are unabashed shut ins and social pariahs building real relationships that move past the borders of fantasy and into reality. They become real people even as they fight for a virtual reality. And I think that’s the greatest accomplishment of this book.

The OASIS currently has a present-day counterpart. Second Life. You could also argue that it also lives on in Everquest, SW:ToR, WoW and all the other MMORPGs. I know how addicting being someone else can be. I was insanely addicted to Second Life…so much so that it almost wrecked my real life in ways that are a bit too personal to discuss on a public blog. Needless to say, I made a vow to myself and my wife that I would never enter Linden Lab’s game ever again. The temptation is just too strong.

And that might be the reason this book resonates with me so very much. I’ve been in the main character’s shoes. I’ve created new personas online and metaphorically passed through the screen, becoming this other person. It happened before I was married and sadly, a few times afterwards too.

And I think that’s why I loved this book so much. Because of the ending. Because we all have villains in our lives we would love to fight using giant mechs, plasma rifles and elven swords. They might not be the world-crushing baddie, but we all have bullies and jerks around us that we wish we could challenge to single combat. And in the end, we all want to be heroes of our own lives. This book has that in spades.

Good characters, great references, fantastic action. This is a required read for anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s…and doesn’t mind playing the occasional game. 😉 A must buy.

 

Well, this is already at 2138 words. Way longer than my last few posts put together. But I was super-passionate about these two books, especially “Ready Player One.” I admit I’m sad that I don’t get to listen to Wil’s voice anymore for the story. I’m sorta hoping we might get a sequel someday. Maybe, maybe not. No matter, it’s still a damn fine book. Both are.

I don’t have a PMV for you today. I regret to inform you that my favorite MLP fan-animation studio “Jan Animations” got hit with a Cease and Desist order a few days ago due to trademark issues. It’s a long story and there’s someone who’s already talked about it far more effectively than I can. I’m hoping Jan and Hasbro can work out some sort of deal…but I’m also glad I saved all of his amazing videos to my computer.

So tonight, I will just wish you good luck and have fun.

-rks

Distortions in Reality

I hope you’ll excuse my lack of a post last week. Things remain extremely difficult for me at the moment. Emotions can be quite overpowering, quite overpowering indeed. The panic attacks have not stopped. Indeed, I seem to be getting them more often, but also getting them at very strange times, like after good social events. It doesn’t make sense to me. But what else is new? Emotions are not logical or rational.

But let’s talk about the writing shall we?

I’ve actually made some progress lately. I did another edit of “Beyond the Waterfall” and I hope I get the time tomorrow to actually finish the edits I’ve been doing. I’ve been sitting on it for too long. Some folks have had the chance to give me critiques and reviews, some have become too busy. And that’s okay. Life happens. But I know I’ve waited too long already. This was supposed to be out at the end of January.

So…let’s just put this on the books, shall we? I’m aiming for next Sunday for the release date, if not sooner.

Steam and Magic is slowly progressing. I managed to have a single day with 910 words, which was a personal best lately. The emotional state continues to drain my creative energy…and I haven’t found an effective way to combat that. The discipline I had before I returned to work seems to have crumbled in the wake of my new responsibilities…namely dealing with both Tali and Caitlyn. Harder than I expected…especially lately as Tali has become almost insanely fussy at times. *Sigh* Such is the life of a parent of a 4-month-old.

The OC Inklings is going very well. People seem very happy with it. And I got to meet some of those I hadn’t met in person this last Thursday when Laura had a shift that allowed me to attend the Lake Forest Panera Bread Write-In. I think that was the 910 day. There’s also potential for another story of mine to be launched sometime in April. But it felt so good to actually get to go to my writing group. I’ve missed it terribly. There’s something so energizing about meeting face to face with other writers, even helping other writers with different perspectives on their work.

Job wise? Nothing to report, sadly. Nothing at all.

I don’t really have a lot else to say personally. I have no desire to dump my depression issues onto the internet and subject you to such things. Well, there’s a little bit of a desire, but I’m not going to do it.

However, I do want to share something close to me. You all know the story of Michael Morones and his struggle after his attempted suicide at the end of January. I just searched for an update on him…and was shocked to see my initial blog post the SEVENTH entry under a Google search for his name. Good Lord, didn’t see that coming. How many people have read that post?

Anyway, that’s not what this is about. I wanted to share the latest update, taken directly from MichaelMorones.org:

***Update from Michael’s Mom***: As of late, we have not posted an in-depth update about Michael. Not because we don’t want to share, but because we have been busy and I have become a little shy about what we share because some people have said very unkind things. But I really want to share with you guys! So, here we go!

Michael has been making huge strides. For you and I, they are things that seem small and simple, but we have to keep in mind that Michael has brain damage and everything is huge for Michael. We DO NOT know if he can see. We suspect he has SOME vision, but to what extent, we just don’t know yet. He has a neurological condition that is common with his brain injury called myoclonus. What this means is that his brain and spinal cord are working to reconnect, but the transmission of signals has a bit of static so he shivers or when startled, jerks uncontrollably. This could resolve in time, get better or never go away. The brain is going to heal to some extent or completely, we just do not know. Only time and patience will help us see where it will go. Michael is not speaking, yet, and he may or may not be able to. We are trying to start the very long process of weaning him from the trachea. It may or may not be successful, but we are incredibly hopeful that it will be. During physical therapy, Michael will sometimes hold his head for a few seconds, but more often than not needs support for his entire body. As you could see in the video, we believe that he hears and comprehends, but to what extent or how delayed his reactions are we don’t know. Only time will help us know these things.

So what does this all come down to? Michael, for the foreseeable future and according to doctors, will need medical care and will be dependent on others for the rest of his life. While he is FAR beyond where they saw him being on the night of January 23 when he attempted suicide, he is a LONG way from being where he was on January 22.

Our lives, not just Michael’s, will never be the same. Something terrible and tragic happened, and you just can’t go back to like it was before. But out of this tragedy, something wonderful will rise. My son is still alive against the odds. A community of people full of acceptance and love for a complete stranger has come together. Not only to support Michael, but also each other. It is a truly amazing thing, and will only continue to grow and get bigger. The love and strength from all of you in the GUMC Community, the Brony community and the human race in general has kept me going for Michael. The moments I have felt weak, or simply not good enough for this task set before me were when all of your cards, comments and well-wishes kept me going. I will make sure that something good will come from this, that Michael will always be safe and loved. Thank you everyone for your love, support, prayers and positive thoughts.

Hugs and loves,
Tiffany
#TeamMightyMichael

This is a wonderful thing. There have been a few YouTube videos showing his recovery…but I can’t bear to watch them. Because I’m worried I’ll start crying and won’t be able to stop. You can check out one of them at Equestria Daily’s Post.

Anyway, as life continues for me…I understand this kid more than I ever expected to.

But let’s stop for something fun. It’s PMV time folks. If you’re a gamer, you’ll love this.


Until next time folks. Good luck and have fun.

-rks

A Mixed Bag

This week has…you guessed it…been a bit of a mixed bag.

I’m starting to actually make some progress with “Steam and Magic,” but it is slow, very slow. The frustration and depression have pretty much sapped my creativity to the point where I have next to nothing. However, during the course of the week, I’ve found some inspiration in these short beginnings I’ve called “Fragments.”

A fragment is a lot like it sounds. It’s usually a beginning of a story. Something random. Depending on my mood, something often combat related. I might post a few of them later. I might turn them into short stories or even novels someday. Not really sure what I’m going to do with them. I’ve even made a little progress just today with Steam and Magic itself.

I’ve spent some time plotting out the overarching story of Steam and Magic, but I’m concerned I’m not getting enough of it really into beginning. I’m already 107,000 words into the story and I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s really at stake in these novels. However, that is something I can “fix in post.” So I’m pushing myself forward.

The OC Inklings is also going pretty well. I’m getting some great feedback for my own work and I think everyone else is really enjoying it too.

I have some possible help coming in the whole work thing. Some generous individuals have offered to come to my aid. I’m hoping that good things will come of it, but at the moment, I’m keeping things on the down-low.

Let’s see…what else?

Oh, Laura and I had a pretty good Valentine’s Day, which was actually done on the 15th, Laura’s birthday. After leaving Tali and Caitlyn with the wonderful babysitter Chelsey, who used to watch Caitlyn when she was much smaller, we headed out to this great little Italian place named Maggiano’s. After an excellent dinner there, we headed over to the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa to for the Valentine’s Day Special starring Matthew Morrison, or better known as Will Schuester, the optimistic and charming teacher on “Glee.”

We started with a good old symphony orchestra from our seats in the nosebleed section (I actually had vertigo when we first got up there!). And the songs played were:

Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah (this was freaking great, adventurous sounding too!)
Love is a Many Splendored Thing
All the Things You Are
Someone to Watch over Me (Very sweet)
Suite from Father of the Bride (Beautiful, especially the way the wedding march was woven into the piece)
Stuermisch in lieb und taenze, op. 393 – “Tempestuous in love and dance”

But the real treat was Morrison himself. He was hysterical and brilliantly talented. He did all sorts of things such as “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Luck be a Lady Tonight” and the excellent “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” Laura and I both loved it. It was a spectacular performance, even though we were way up in the rafters. He ended the night with “Sway with Me,” “Singing in the Rain” and finally did a duet version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with a student from his former school (which was wonderful.).

In the end, it was a very good night, something that I think Laura and I both needed desperately. Some time to actually enjoy ourselves together without juggling two children.

There’s not a lot else to tell right now. I’m sorry, but it’s been one of those weeks. I’ve been fighting panic attacks and depression a lot of the time and that’s made things hard on my writing. Thankfully, I’m on the path to getting help.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying/fighting the whole Skyrim mod thing. I’ve probably gone just a bit nutty with the level of Mods, forcing me to get various managers and such to work them out. It’s a huge challenge, but since it’s something new and deals a bit with programming, I don’t mind as much.

And now, just for fun, I’m going to post a Fragment called “Dungeon Fight”

The blade clattered to the cold stone at our dancing feet. The iridescent runes vanished on impact, casting half of the decrepit room into darkness. I followed up with a two handed strike at the creature’s head. The Raket slapped away the blow with one of its iron claws as if I was a child.

The second blow I didn’t even see coming, but it sent me flying across the room and into a musty, half-rotted bookshelf. Bits of moth-eaten leather and paper cascaded around me as the creature roared in defiance.

I didn’t hesitate, instantly taking advantage of the pause. I slammed my right open palm into the ground and the blast of shadow propelled me to my feet. It would take a moment for the nightglove to recharge, but I didn’t waste the time. I gripped my main hand blade, a twin of the one on the other side of the room and rushed the feral Raket.

Bulging muscles under thick greasy fur tensed as I swung my weapon at its neck. All four of its eyes tracked the movement, but it still wasn’t ready for the feint. It swung, but I was a hair quicker, twisting the arc of my blow away from the neck and down toward the legs in a great sweep. The thing hadn’t been ready for such an odd attack and screamed as Gemheart’s icy edge bit into muscle and sinew.

I rolled with the swing, creating a great gash that forced the creature to stumble and took a moment to grab my fallen blade. As soon as my hand closed around the hilt, I felt the nightglove connect with the ebony heart built into the crosshilt and the runes sprang to life again, pushing back the darkness.

I popped my neck and fell into the Esar stance, holding each blade out in front of me, swinging them around in my hands to keep the creature focused on the right thing.

It turned and bellowed, favoring its right leg. I eyed the glowing keystone around its neck. It was the last piece I needed to open the great gantry beyond the ancient library.

It came at me flailing, maddened by the gash in its leg. I dodged left, using a half pulse of shadow from my left nightglove. It wasn’t much, just enough to get me clear of those claws and to land a double slice across the monster’s side. Blood dripped from the wounds when the beast crashed into the thick lichen-covered stone.

I pressed the attack and struck hard with Gemheart, slamming the blade into the creature’s shoulder. It howled in agony and backhanded me, but I saw it coming and infused a shadow-grip, using the weapon buried in the Raket’s side to keep me there.

I was quicker this time, using both blades to cut the tendons above the feet. The earsplitting shriek deafened me, but it didn’t stop me.

And finally, for my own entertainment above anything else, it’s time for a PMV.

That’s it for this week folks.

Good luck and have fun.

-rks

Dreams with Deadlines

Dreams with Deadlines

This blog is sort of my public journal of sorts. I honestly don’t know how many people actually read it. I know some read it by email subscription and a very small few actually come to the main page. I just added Google+ and LinkedIn, but I don’t know if that’s really going to matter or not. I’ve shared a lot of thoughts on this blog since I became serious about it. A lot of thoughts on writing, my progress, gaming, Caitlyn, Talissa and a lot of other things. 

But in the end, -rks is a writing blog. It’s about my journey to becoming a full-fledged author. To becoming a published author. One day, I hope someone will be interested enough to go into the archives and read posts like these to find out how I made it as an author.

Why am I doing this blog? Sometimes, I don’t really know. Part of it is that I know I’m supposed to. I’m supposed to do a blog. That’s what authors do these days. I know most of the time I’m talking to myself. But somehow, I’m okay with that. I’m one of those people who tend to figure out things as I write them. It’s one of the ways I think. So if I ramble, it’s probably because I’m trying to work something out. Part of it is because I hope that I might somehow find a community out there where I fit in. Part of it is because I can.

Why am I saying all of this?

Because in about a week, my Baby Bonding Time will be at an end. And that means my time at home is at an end. I haven’t worked at Apple since the middle of September due to my panic attacks and the birth of Talissa. Very soon, I’ll be going back.

I’ve been thinking a bit about what that means. About what that means for my daily writing goals. About what that means for the OC Inklings Critique Group. About what that means for me as a person. About what that means for my future.

The conclusion is one that I’ve already come to, but somehow it seems different now.

In 2011, I won Honorable Mention in the Blizzard Global Writing contest, the last one they ever did (the person who spearheaded it was laid off during that Winter, sadly). For me, that was the proof I needed that I could write. And I could write pretty damn well. Enough that out of the thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of entries, mine warranted a “Honorable Mention.” That I could take characters who were not my own and create a believable story enough for the people who originally crafted the world…that was a major milestone in my writing life. Since that event, the little voice in my head telling me that I can’t write has had no power over me. Because I had the proof that I can do this.

In the last three months, I’ve learned a lot about writing. I’ve learned a lot about networking and that “Ashes over Stormwind” was not a fluke. “Beyond the Waterfall,” the first story submitted to the OC Inklings, was 9,000 words. The assigned goal for critiquing was 3,000. Nearly everyone burned past the 3,000 mark and just finished the story. They were so interested in the events of this short story that they read their required reading twice over.

The results? Overwhelming positive. Reviews on “A Glimmer of Perspective?” Overwhelmingly positive. Comments regarding “Soul of the Scribe?” Overwhelmingly positive.

A while back, I decided I wanted to be an author for real and I wrote an extensive post on it.

As I head back to my normal day job, I’m realizing that’s exactly what it is: a normal day job. A vast majority of authors have to hold down the standard day job to make ends meet as they worked on their craft. And as I go back to Apple, that is my new mindset. I will do my job to the best of my ability. I will search for ways to push myself and learn all I can. Because places like Apple are ripe for stories. Not necessarily because of the events that happen, but in watching the way people interact with and react to one another. Coworkers, customers, managers, kids, regionals, Geniuses, salespeople…I can learn from this place and it can make my craft better.

What I believe my greatest story, “Soul of the Scribe” which spawned the “Crafters of Taylin” universe with 5 books and over 300,000 words (or more) started while I was sitting in my car on my lunch break on a hot summer’s day, staring at the screen because I was bored with the story I’d been working on and wanted something new. So I started with that. An author with writer’s block on a hot day. That became what I believe to be my masterpiece.

My passion is for writing. And one day, I hope to pursue that passion full-time. But until then, I must remember that the environments around me are what show me human interactions, which is almost always at the core of any good story.

So what does this all mean? It sounds all really fancy and hypothetical and theoretical and a lot of other -reticals.

Well, Saddleback Church is going through a series called Transformed. Heh, ironic, considering what I write, right? (Pun mildly intended there). And the lesson today was about goals. Pastor Rick Warren said that the difference between a Dream and a Goal is a Goal is a Dream with a Deadline.

So what’s my Dreams with Deadlines?

By January 27, 2014, I will have “Beyond the Waterfall” ready to go up on Kindle.

By June 1, 2014, I will have at least one novel ready to shop to traditional publishers.

By October 1, 2014, I will have a second novel ready to shop to traditional publishers.

Every week, I will continue running the OC Inklings Critique Group.

And by 2019, five years from now, I will be making enough income from my published works to pursue writing full time.

There are many who might say a few of these goals are impossible or absurd. Way too high. Especially the last one. I’ve got to be crazy right? Well, part of the whole goal this is that it stretches your faith. I can’t do this alone. I don’t have the self-discipline, I don’t have the self-control. I need God to help me…and I need writing friends to help me.

If anyone would like to be a writing buddy of mine and you’ve actually gotten this far, please let me know. I’ll tell you about my ideas.

But the true challenge? Tomorrow morning. It’s easy to make big plans in blogs. It’s easy to do big promises. And then I need to actually do the editing I need to do. It’s hard. I hate editing. But it has to be done. It has to go through that process. I need to do that work. Which is why I’ll spend some time tonight working on my critiques for “Beyond the Waterfall” after I’ve done my personal journal.

By the way, did you know I write 2000 words a day in my current work and another 1500-2000 words a day in my journal? 4,000 words a day. That’s pretty cool. Psychotic. But cool.

Other Things

I could mention other stuff, like my complete and total obliteration of the English Empire in Civilization V and the joys of seeing my invasion fleet crossing the ocean between our continents. About sending their navy to the bottom of the ocean and watching their cities fall in quick succession and enjoying wielding my insane amount of power across the globe, to the point where I send frigates wandering icy straits to take out marauding bands of pirates just for something to do.

Or the joy I got in playing “The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime” this week, in revisiting a very old and dear friend who looks damn good even after 15 years.

Or the photo shoot we did yesterday in Irvine Park which I hope to post pictures of soon.

Or the fact that we got Tali to take the bottle fully yesterday.

But today, today is about the writing. So the rest of that can wait for another time.

However, I will add a Pony Video. Because it would be weird if I didn’t, right?

It would.

IT WOULD.

This one you probably won’t get unless you’ve actually seen the episode it’s referring to, but still. It’s awesome.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. They’ll be a special post next week before I return. 🙂

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

It’s My Birthday! So YOU Get a Present!

Birthday Presents for All!

Okay, today isn’t my birthday, but this coming Friday is. It’s hard to believe I’ll be…an age I don’t care to disclose. I’m on the internet, so I’m allowed to keep a few secrets from you all. But you don’t care about that. You’re curious about this present thing aren’t you?

Well, as you might have known, I upped the price of “A Glimmer of Perspective” to $2.99. I realize this price might be a bit high for a 10-page short story. (However, according to some publishing professionals, they believe $2.99 should be the true baseline of ebook short stories) There is another reason however. As you may or may not know, I only get a 30% royalty from all sales if the price is under $2.99. At $2.99, I get a 70% royalty. And even though I’d sold a fair amount of copies..I had made maybe a couple bucks and that’s it.

While I don’t have any plans of ruling the world with the immense wealth I’m making from “A Glimmer of Perspective,” I would like to make something. So when I went to the Kindle Select program, I upped the price. But there’s another reason for this: I can do free days!

So I’ve decided that I’m going to give presents on my birthday! Anyone who hasn’t picked up a copy of “A Glimmer of Perspective” will be able to download a free copy on January 10, 2014! In fact, you’ll have 2 days, the tenth and the eleventh to pick up my inaugural short story.

I only have two requests! If you enjoy Glimmer, tell a friend and leave a review on the Amazon.com website. The nice thing is, you don’t have to worry about different formats, since the others have been discontinued for the time being.

Anyway, I hope you’ll take this chance to snatch up Glimmer!

Writing Events

Things are going fairly well with “Steam and Magic,” though it’s taking longer than I’d like to write this. I wish I could pound through those 3,000 word days I once could fly through. However, I’ve also been fighting this stupid allergy/cold thing for weeks now, which makes it harder to focus

However, something else really cool has happened. Last week, I successfully launched the OC Inklings, the online critique group for the OC Writers. And we started with “Beyond the Waterfall,” a 9,000 word short story I wrote earlier this year. Originally, the critiquers were supposed to do only 3,000 words, but most of them decided to just go through the entire story! They were too interested to stop, which is always a win in my book. For the most part, I’ve gotten rave reviews on it, but even more importantly, I’ve gotten some excellent advice on how to improve the story. That’s what I’m most excited about it. I think with this advice, I can make this story a smash hit. And I hope for it to be my next Kindle story! It also helps that it leads into the Crafters of Taylin universe. ^^;

I’m looking forward to the next round…because unless no one submits anything, we’ll be doing someone else’s work!

Life

And that’s really it this time. I’m still not feeling great. Sometimes the coughing gets so bad that I get insanely dizzy and actually fall over. Stupid cough. However, I’m happy with the way the writing is going and I’ve had a really good day with Caitlyn today. Tali’s smiling more and more too. And I’m systematically taking over the world with Chaos…in Civilization V. (Heh).

Since it’s my birthday week, you definitely don’t get to escape the Ponies. Here’s the Safety Prance…which I was way too entertained by.

Good luck and have fun folks! Make sure to grab Glimmer this weekend!

-rks