All posts by admin

Heaven & Hell (Part 1)

“Mr. Richards?” the tall, thin figure coughs gently into his hand, waiting for his latest client to notice him.  Normally he would have waited, after all, dying was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  However, he had glanced at Lenny Richards file before he had arrived and knew he was in for a long haul.   Damn agnostics.

Lenny turns from his body, finding himself strangely calm.  Even the thought of his porn collection being found no longer made him sweat.   Of course, it might have to do with the greater embarrassment of how he died.  Losing your balance while putting on your underwear in the morning and braining yourself on your bedpost was entirely undignified.  At least it was quick.  Shaking his head to clear it, Lenny looks at the figure that called him.  “A black suit and a black tie?  Seriously?  I mean, could you be more cliché Death?”

“I am sorry sir but you are mistaken, I am not Death.  You may call me Colum.  I am one of his Envoys,” Colum steps forward, offering his hand to shake.  Inside, he completely agreed with Lenny but the last update to the uniform regulations had been forty years ago.  At least Colum thought, he looked good in a suit.

“Sorry, sorry,” Lenny shakes Colum’s hand and frowns.  “So you’re Death’s Envoy?  Shit, are you a Demon?  Am I going to Hell?”

“I am not a Demon.  I am an Envoy.  Why would you…” Colum grimaces, reaching up and touching his face.  “The redness Mr. Richards is a sunburn.  I just came back from my annual holiday.”

“Oh…” Colum stops, glancing back at where his body was and blinking as he realises that his apartment had slowly receded while they were talking.  The pair of them had started floating upwards, the Earth diminishing beneath their feet.  Enraptured by the view, Colum stays silent before another throat clearance makes him look back to Lenny.  “Sorry.  I hated flying when I was, you know, but that was cool.”

“Yes, very much so.  Shall we get started?”  Colum gestures and a seat appears for Colum alongside a table, chocolate chip cookies and a pint of beer.

“Oh wow, are those…” Lenny hurries over, the smell of the cookies tickling his memories.  He grabs one, stuffing it into his mouth and then talking around the mouthful.  “These are my mother’s!  I haven’t had these in years.  How did you…?”

“It was in your file,” Colum says, taking a seat opposite Lenny.  As he does so, reality flickers and they sit in a bare white room, the majestic view of the Earth gone.  “These were made and stored for your eventual death.”

“That’s just like her,” Lenny says and pauses, hanging his head for a moment as the familiar feeling of loss rushes through him.  Like his other feelings, it seems slightly muted now that he was dead.  “I guess we should start.  Am I being sent to Heaven or Hell?  Or am I reincarnating?”

“That Mr. Richards is up to you.  My job is to ensure you are fully satisfied with your after-death experience.  Shall we begin?” Colum says, and at Lenny’s nod continues.  “It says here you were brought up Church of England by your mother but your father was Buddhist.  Is that correct?”

“Mmmhmmm,” Lenny replies, his mouth stuffed with the cookies.

Colum manfully ignores the breach in etiquette as he continues, “Well then, we shall begin with them.”  A snap of his fingers and suddenly a pair of new beings are in the room at either end of the table.

On one side is a tall, muscled, expertly coifed and fashionably dressed black man.  Above the man’s head a golden halo floats while a pair of angel wings flare out behind him, the feathers on the wings glistening even in the white of the room.  On the other side of the table, a short, flat-chested young woman appears, looking no older than sixteen with her blonde hair in pigtails and dressed in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform.  A cute, button nose and a pair of glasses complete the ensemble.  Even without his body’s hormones kicking into overdrive, Lenny finds himself staring.

“Hey!  That’s cheating.  Colum!” the angel protests, pointing at the lady across from him.

“Bel…” Colum says exasperatedly and Bel sticks her tongue out at the pair before flickering.  In a moment, the Catholic schoolgirl fantasy of Lenny’s dreams is gone, replaced by a tall, red succubus in biker leathers.  Lenny deflates, barely even casting a glance at the preening and voluptuous redhead.

“Now then, Lenny.  This is Jezebel and Sariel, they’re here to pitch Hell and Heaven to you,” Colum says before holding a coin out.  “Would you care to flip?”

“Flip?”

“To see who pitches first of course,” Colum replies.

“Uhh… you can do it,” Lenny says, looking between the pair again.  The two seem perfectly content to sit across each other, waiting while Colum flips the coin and catches it.  As Colum removes his hand, a crossed pair of pitchforks is shown.  “Hell it is.”

“Yes!” sticking her tongue out again at her rival, Jezebel stands up and slinks over to sit on the table next to Lenny.  “Right then Lenny, come join us.  You know how it goes, Heaven might have Mozart but we’ve got all the best rockers.  You don’t want to spend the rest of your life listening to people play on the harp do you?”

“Uhh…” Lenny edges away from Bel further, smiling wanly at the Demon.  “I’m not, you know, partial to being, umm… tortured.”

“Aaarrrgggh!” Bel growls while Sariel smiles slightly.  “That’s just mud-slinging.  We don’t torture anyone in Hell.  Promise!”

“Ummm….”

“You tell him!” she points to Sariel who keeps his mouth shut.  “Lenny my dear, why don’t you ask our dear Sariel the truth.  He’s an Angel right?  He won’t lie to you.  Will you?”  The last is said with a glare at the black Angel who grins.

“So ummm… is she telling the truth?”

“No,” Sariel replies instantly and Lenny backs further into the chair.

Bel frowns at Sariel’s pronouncements before her eyes widen.  “Oooh!  You rules lawyer!  Ask him if I was lying about the torturing part.”

“Uhh….” Lenny says again, so far off his chair that he’s almost on the ground.

“Sariel, please answer the questions truthfully,” Colum says.  “Otherwise we’ll be here the whole week.”

“Oh, very well,” Sariel pouts and then answers.  “She wasn’t lying about the torture.  No one tortures people, not Heaven or Hell anyway.  Well, okay, maybe if you ask really nicely but it’s all consensual.  I mean, some of us do like our sex to be a little edgier, you know darling?”

“TMI!  TMI!  TMI!” Bel says, putting fingers in her ears and chanting that out.

“Oh,” Lenny sits there, staring at Sariel who just blew his mind.  Colum just sighs, putting his head in his hands.  Why did it have to be these two?

Recent Books I’ve Read

Just some quick books I’ve read recently.

LITRPG

Speedrunner –  Starts out great.  Sort of mini-Apocalypse book, though most of it focuses on the ‘Tower’.  Unfortunately, pacing problems in the book seem to throw the book off.  Not bad and is an easy read but not great.  3.5/5

Living Dungeon – Yeah, no.  I didn’t finish this one – I hit maybe 5% in (before the actual Dungeon part starts) and gave up.  I’m realising I find most Dungeon stories boring.

(Not rated ’cause I couldn’t finish it)

Hatchling – Another book that starts out great and then shifts half-way through to become a disappointment.  3/5

Viridian Gate Online: Jade Lord – Rolicking good fun.  Thoroughly enjoyed this and book 1.  It’s not a masterpiece work (if I read it critically, I’d say there are pacing issues a bit) but it’s so much fun to read, I don’t care. 4/5

the System Apocalypse Book 2

Writing the System Apocalypse Book 2 now and I’m technically on Chapter 7 or so.  I started with an outline of what I wanted int he book and that’s going okay, but what I found / have found is that as I write it, more ideas on how to specifically fit in the themes / characters keep coming to me.

It’s why I haven’t posted anything in Royal Road at all since I started writing since I keep jumping back and going – oh yeah, I should add this scene.  Or, wait – this character here would make more sense.

Partly I think I’ve got a much better ‘feel’ for the book now that I had when I first started writing for fun.  The problem of course is that each time I bounce backwards, it takes longer to finish the book.

Which becomes the question – do I write fast and get a book out or write slower and ake a better book? I’m leaning towards Option 2 since I’d rather have a good book than a not as good book.  I’ve seen too many series get worst and since my only is myself, I’d rather make sure this is written well than just dump it out.

My Writing Process

I’m a ‘dirty’ writer with very (very) little ‘official’ training in writing.  I started writing for fun and while I’ve read occasional posts about how to write, I’ve never really taken a class or studied writing.

When I write, I mostly have a rough idea of where the plot is going.  It generally is written in a list format, with a rough guide of plot points that need to be covered before the ‘book’ is finished.  I might (or might not!) have a theme when I start writing, often if I don’t, I figure it out as I write.

Most of my writing happens in stages.

Stage 1 – the rought draft.  This is often VERY rough.  I don’t proof-read, I don’t edit, I just write and (often) post on Royal Road.

Stage 2 – I go back, reviewing what I’ve written and looking at comments, thinking about what I want to do.  At this point, I think from now on I’ll take a short break between Stage 1 and Stage 2 to basically clear my mind so that I can look at the information again.

Stage 3 – beta readers.  When I can find good beta readers, I throw the book at them to get feedback.  Around thisttime, if I haven’t done it, I start getting a cover done.

Stage 4 – I fix whatever the beta readers have come back on and then publish.

Realistically, I probably should be doing stage 2 and stage 3 multiple times.  Thus far, i haven’t done that but later on I think I should…

Anyway, for those curious, Stage 1 is often the roughest stage by far.  Like Life in the North, the book can change SIGNIFICANTLY between each stage because, well, better things happen.

One interestingthing is that between plotting and stage 1, what comes out can be quite different.  So I guess plotting is stage 0? Heee

Tales of Brad Book 2

Tales of Brad Book 2 first draft is done.  I’m going to set it aside for a few weeks while I write up Book 1 so that my brain clears.  I’ve already thought of a few things that need editing / adding for the book so that’s part of the reason for setting it aside.

Writing for Life inthe North is going alright.  Sort of have 3 chapters done.  I’m considering not doing a full post of the story on Royal Road.  I do like getting Alpha readers involved, but not sure it’s necessary.

Waiting to get paid from Amazon / etc.  As it stands, I probably won’t get any money till end August the way Amazon pays out. *sighs* Not that the money I make is life-changing or anything, but you know, I’m considering using part of the payout to pay for professional proof-reading.  On one hand, that might fix isues with the books.  On the other… well, maybe it won’t do much?

Amusing fact – some of the complaints about bad spelling is because I’m using British (Canadian) spelling rather than US.  Ugh.  I have now decided to let Microsoft Word check documents for US Spelling.

Life in the North Released!

Life in the north   A few days late but Life in the North, my first person narratted Apocalyptic LitRPG has been released.

I have just about finished writing the first draft for Book 2 for Tales of Brad.  I will set that aside for a few weeks before I return to it and do the edit and add new chapters / clean up language / etc before publishing.

During that time I’ll work on Life in the North and hopefully get a significant way into the story.  I have plans for the next 2 books (basically there’s a 3 book arc planned with the idea to write it as three book trilogies) so writing should be pretty easy.

 

 

So close!

Life in the North cover art
Life in the North cover art

Finally got a mostly done proof of the cover for Life in the North.  So close… once that’s posted I’ll be able to work on

I do nneed to run everything through Grammarly to check for issues since I’ve decided against getting a proofreader.  The cost of getting a proofreader for this book would cross a $1000 all in and while I love the book, I just can’t afford that right now.

Work on Book 2 of Tales of Brad is slow-going.  Spent half-a-day writing and only got about 5k words down (unedited).  I’ve been struggling with illness for a while and the lack of a tight outline for this book is impacting writing speed.  I’m also plagued with doubts if the book is interesting enough – the last few chapters have been very ‘conflictless’ with more focus on the characters and the world and less grinding.  I’ll definitely want some beta readers on this to get an idea.

Writing Update

So, right now, I’m waiting for my beta readers and the cover artist to get back to me on Life in the North, the first book of my System Apocalypse series.  Frustrating since other than that, I’m all good to go to publish the works.

A Healer’s Gift is selling okay I guess.  It’s interesting since I threw the book up on a whole series of different sites and thus far, Amazon is the only site where I’ve seen any decent sales.  I literally have sold 1 copy in all other sites other than Amazon.

The current plan is to throw up Life in the North on Amazon exclusively and make it Kindle Unlimited available too. Hopefully I don’t shoot myself in the foot by doing that though and I’ll see some decent sales, but we’ll have to see.

On another note, I’m working on Book 2 for Adventures on Brad.  It’s hard writing in third person and I have been dealing with depression and a cold along with real life so writing is slow.  I’m hoping I can focus on it more and chunk out the current storyline in the next couple of weeks.  If so, the moment I am mostly done I’ll get the next cover worked on so I don’t have to wait as long.  I expect that my current ‘idea’ for Book 2 is going to be split into two, making the entire Karlak section a mini-trilogy, especially if my writing continues to follow in the format that I’ve been working in.

LitRPG

Decided I should at least have a little author page of something so I resurrected this blog.  It’s been a while since I wrote anything here, but in short, I’ve been delving into the rabbit hole of LitRPGs.

I don’t know why, perhaps it’s just the easy progression or the way the story folds out, but I’m really enjoying reading and writing.

Yup, writing since I just published my first book in the genre.  Really a novella at 46k words.

Working on a 2nd book right now which is going to be a full novel at (right now!) over 110k words.  I expect it’ll sit around that range even with the extra few sections I expect to write.  I’m just in the editing process right now, but for this book I’m going to hire actual proofreaders.  Fun.

Buying a House

So, as you might know, we live in Canada in the Great White North.  That means purchasing a house is actually quite a reasonable and financially prudent option.  You see, the cost of renting here is very, very high – we are talking between $1,100 – $1,500 for a 1 to 3 bedroom suite (or duplex on the upper end).

On the other hand, houses are currently selling at between $200,000 (for a townhouse with 3 bedrooms and about 1,600 sq ft) to $400,000 for a 5 bedroom bungalow.

If you do the maths, a $350 – 400k house works out to be only $1,400 – $1,800 in mortgage payments. With property taxes and other insurance and other home-ownership costs, you are for the most part saving money when you do purchase a house.

Why? Well, the Bank of Canada’s extremely generous 2.95% or so Prime rate is the main cause of this.  It’s incredibly cheap to buy.

Of course, there are a few major dangers:

– Catching a falling knife

Housing prices dropped last year.  It dropped the year before too up here.  So there’s no reason why housing prices shouldn’t drop again this year, especially in light of the drop in the resource sector and gold prices.  Whatever you buy is likely to be cheaper to purchase in a year or two if you can wait that long (an equivalent place that is).

 

– Higher interest rates

The other major danger is that interest rates could rise, significantly.  The historic interest rate was significantly higher than what it was now.  Even if interest rates go up marginally, to say 5%, this could easily cause major problems in terms of the mortgage payment.

So why do we do it? Because for us, right now, it makes sense.