Thank You (Yes, You!)

You're incredible. And your support gives me strength.

Alternate Cover, Art by Pandamusk.

Writing my second story, The Maiden of Sea Sky, took about seven months. That was just the writing process. Adjusting, refining, and editing the piece took even longer. If you noticed my foreword, I began the project in April of last year. And it was finally published just a few short days ago. That's almost a year, total.

As far as personal projects go, this was definitely the most involved, most taxing, and most rewarding thing I've ever had the good fortune to work on. Though I know it's riddled with flaws, I'm just so happy that I was able to see it through, and share it with the world. Which is the purpose of this note. Thank you to everyone that helped me craft this simple story of a young, traveling singer, and thank you to those that felt it worthy of a purchase.

Writing fills me with immense joy. And it helps me feel connected to the historic minds that came before me, though I will forever pale in comparison. Being able to share that joy through these humble creations makes all the work absolutely worth it. And your loving barrage of kind words and positive critiques has been nothing short of astonishing. Though, as ever, I welcome constructive criticism as well. It's as vital as breath.

If you've yet to pick up my second published story, you can buy it for three bucks on Amazon. Please consider leaving a review when you're done. Good or bad, I cherish your feedback.

And to all of you who have supported Eras from its inception: may it do justice to your unrelenting good spirit.


The Maiden of Sea Sky Coming March 1st

The Maiden of Sea Sky promotional poster, by Pandamusk.

A traveler, singer, and runaway, Meeka Towers is no stranger to chance encounters. Her supple voice and skill with a sword are much needed constants in her journey through Calden. They have kept her safe and well fed, yet have not fulfilled her long-ago vow of winning a proper bard's title.

Upon learning of a singers' tourney in the cerulean port of Sea Sky, the brash young woman decides to test her mettle against the greatest bards in the South. But within the warm and crowded halls of the Quarrelling Sailors, Meeka will face immense danger, strange secrets, golden ale, and an opponent that could change the course of her life forever.

The Second Story of Eras. Be part of a growing realm of new fantasy, written in tribute to the great minds and pens that have come before.

It's with supreme pleasure that I reveal my latest story to you all, and announce that the Second Story of Eras will go on sale March 1st, 2014. Finally.

It took about seven months to write The Maiden of Sea Sky, making it the most involved fiction I've ever worked on. Throughout the ups and downs of the process, I've always looked forward to the moment when I can share it with a larger audience than my own imagination. It's so great to pull the curtain back. I wish I could better describe this feeling.

Special thanks to my best friend and partner Neethi for her incredible support; my mother for her thoughts on the first draft; the amazing Pandamusk for his exquisite art; Danny for he knows why; and DVS for continuing our college tradition of creativity and critique.

I have lots more to reveal leading up to the release date, so stay tuned. Until then, why not pass the time with a handy little FAQ?

What's the title of your next story, good sir?

The Maiden of Sea Sky.

Where can I find this fiercely anticipated tale of passion and song?

It will launch on Amazon on March 1st, 2014, as an e-book (or e-novella).

How much coin must I spend?

Unsure, though I'm hoping no more than three dollars.

I have not this trinket known as a Kindle. Whatever do I do?

That's okay! It seems like many people don't realize that you can read Amazon's books on a free Kindle app for iPhone/iPad, and also right in your browser via a cloud reader. Easy, right?

How long is this novella of yours?

Approximately 30,000 words. Longer than a short story, shorter than a novel. If it's any comparison, my first story (Ferius Foxfur) was only ~6,700 words.

Do I need to read your first work? I hear it was an amateur's dribble, at best.

Fortunately for you, imaginary inquisitor, you don't need to read the first story. They take place in the same world (Eras), but follow different characters.

Might my child also read this little story?

That depends -- The Maiden of Sea Sky includes graphic descriptions of violence and sexuality. I would recommend a mature readership.

I've no interest in the writing, but the art is magnificent. I must have more.

You should look into Pandamusk's Twitter account. He's quite the artist. And oh-so-huggable.

Do you recall that series of events were you asked out the same young woman half a dozen times and were rejected each and every time? How delightfully comical.

To be fair, none of us had any idea what we were doing in high school.

Review: Brian Altano's Misanthrope

Misanthrope, by Brian Altano.

Editor's Note: the author thinks it wise to point out that he and Altano are not only former coworkers, but close friends. He has admitted that he loves Altano on more than one occasion, making this, clearly, the most unbiased "review" ever written.

Brian Altano’s latest indie instrumental effort, Misanthrope, doesn’t belong in current musical canon. It’s better served as the soundtrack to life on the sky streets of Neo San Francisco IV. Each piece on this ten-track record cuts a hole in time and gives the listener a glimpse of a city not yet born.

Glittering skyscrapers, droid hotels, and dirty streets are the norm here in this exquisite walk through a rainy memory in Altano’s head. Not only is each track a perfect visualization of these sci-fi set pieces, but a reflection of Altano’s own experiences. You can just about feel the lurch of subways, the smell of metal, and the taste of vodka with each stuttered beat.

A killer logo for a killer album.

The album opens with the title track Misanthrope, which introduces the listener to the sci-fi concept, along with the permeating dual between aggressive beats and gentle piano melodies. Altano and his producers layer the rhythm, vocal samples, and other ambient effects with supreme confidence. If this track is a conceptual unveiling, then it’s the wide, establishing shot of a cityscape rife with flying cars and holo-billboards.

One after another the tracks that follow give the listener a new image to ponder. The fourth track, Misery Loves Companies, enhances the sense of urgency, with a stuttered rhythm that’s just barely held in check after another old-time, sci-fi drama mutters to us through the speakers.

Fittingly, the middle track Break You Down provides a reprieve from the pacing of the record’s first half. A superb piano sample is later joined by a more structured, simple beat.

The second half of Misanthrope once again builds up speed during Let’s Try This Again, with a sensual tempo and ambience befitting a club teeming with bodies and laser effects. Altano displays his flexibility here by creating vastly different moods with similar sounds, all wrapped up with that same, sci-fi concept.

The next three tracks enjoy phenomenal guitar work by Altano’s friend Thomas Rakowitz. The trio of tunes, which opens with One a.M., reminds us at last of Altano’s life-long passion with gaming. An excellent mix of synth and Rakowitz’s guitar paint yet another perfect picture of our futuristic skyline.

But the highlight of Misanthrope’s latter half comes in the form of Silver Shank. It appropriately opens with another old-timey sound bite – a voice warns us of a “distress signal,” before a string of filthy cymbals sets the stage for Rakowitz. The guitarist shreds down a dark alley rising with sewer steam. Time periods bleed together as Altano and Rakowitz chase the listener down the very setting they've created.

Might as well be Neo San Francisco IV. Credit.

Fortunately, the high-stakes album sticks a perfect landing with Take It All. The final track repeats the phrase “the whole world is yours” over a thrilling drum and unnerving piano pairing. Is it a promise? A threat? Either way, the listener is escorted out of Altano’s imagination and back into reality, which is left much duller after the prior 35 minutes spent in another time. Another place.

Needless to say, Altano kills it with Misanthrope, which provides a perfect backdrop for train rides, night drives, or just chill afternoons in front of your stereo. Take a trip through Neo San Francisco IV and pick this record up. No question.

Happy (Gaming) New Year!

The best part of 2013.

Oh! Hi! How are you? Please, come in. It’s really good to see you again! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Yeah. Wow, three months? That’s... that’s embarrassing. Yeah, I’ve just been really busy and stuff. You know how it is, right? Goodness. We should catch up more often.


Hello my friends, and welcome back. Happy New Year to all of you! I know it’s been a terribly long time since I wrote a post, so I apologize for the immense delay. The past few months have been quite productive, as I pushed myself to finish the first draft of my latest story by year’s end... and I did it! Unfortunately, my regular blog writing slipped a bit as a result. C’est la vie!


Now that the new year is upon us, I wanted to take a moment and update the vast internet public with my dealings and reflections. Last year brought tremendous change into my life when I changed jobs (twice) and fell into supremely good fortune by joining the PlayStation team. I also got married to my best buddy who has supported me for years. She’s super cool.

But not all was bright. My family faced (and continues to face) a number of health issues that would test the mettle of the strongest among us. They weather it with grace and determination, inspiring me to view life’s hardships in a different way. I’ll keep doing my best to provide support to them. Rarely do you find such incredible, resilient people like my mother and stepfather. I wish them the best, always. Here’s a cool picture of them at my wedding.

Look at these classy parents.

This coming year looks promising, though, for both my family and me. Work on my next story continues; it’s currently undergoing edits by family members and close friends (Panda and Danny included, bless their hearts). I hope for many fruitful collaborations between us this year, and I continue to marvel at their talents along the way. As I’ve said before, I’m lucky to know them.

You can expect my next story early this year. As in, within a month or two, hopefully. Once my plans solidify, I’ll provide a more defined publish date. And we’ll rejoice long into the night.

My buddy, the Fighter.

Then there’s gaming! For those interested parties, yes, I’m still playing Dragon’s Crown. Yes, really. Whenever I have a free few minutes, I try and sneak some time in on my Vita. Those few-minute clumps have coalesced into about 45 hours! And I’ve only ever used the Fighter! I can’t recommend this game enough -- it has superb replay value and such a wealth of small surprises.

In fact, one of my favorite elements to its equation is how lovingly it renders familiar fantasy tropes and archetypes, from locations to characters. And the amount of effort the team at Vanillaware put into the art takes my breath away. Even the collectible gems and trinkets scattered around the world have a certain sparkle.

So I expect to play that game long into the new year!

And with that, I’ll take my leave. Thank you for your invincible support last year as I made huge transitions in life, and thank you to those of you who have interest in my Eras stories. I write for you, to you, so that I might ignite your imagination. If only for a moment.

Here’s to an amazing 2014! Cheers!

Dragon's Crown, by Vanillaware.

Inside Eras, Part I: First Copyright

As Dr. Kleiner once said, "this is a red letter day." 

After months and months of waiting, I finally received my official certificate in the mail for Ferius Foxfur. That's right, dear friends! Ferius has been formally registered with the Copyright Office and now resides somewhere within the hallowed halls of the Library of Congress. I think. I'm actually not sure how that works, but at least I have the certificate now! Having a formal document from the United States government about my own work makes it feel all the more special. I feel truly blessed that I had the time and means to publish it in April. 


 My first certificate of copyright.

If you haven't yet read my first short story, a completely amateur soiree into fiction, you can find it exclusively on Amazon's Kindle store, to be read on all manner of devices. Including Kindles! Looking back, I can see how much I've grown as a writer, even through the course of this year. And my next story, I can assure you, will be much better, and -- I hope -- more deserving of your time. 

Alternate cover art by the always incredible Pandamusk

In truth, I'm not terribly proud of Ferius. I consider the story an excellent learning experience, but it was too rushed and too short. Missteps I hope to straighten out in future works. Ferius clocked in at about 6,700 words, which is brief by all accounts. The draft of my next story is already happily sitting at 10,000 words, and I'm only half done, at best. 

As you can see, I had a longer, more complex story to tell. One that I hope you deem worthy of purchase. 

This new story follows a young, traveling singer as she competes in a famous tournament for bards. It plays on my almost embarrassing love of tavern scenes in fantasy films and books, and also allows me to practice at poetry and song once again. I wrote quite a bit of poetry when I was in school, but haven't kept up with it until recently.  Spoiler alert: I'm an awful poet.

With all that said, I'm hoping to publish this next work as soon as I'm able. Changing jobs (twice) and wedding Neethi (delightful) dominated a substantial amount of my time these past months, so I haven't written as much as I would have liked. But the past few weeks have given me opportunity to force the gears back into motion, and I'm writing every weekend, as planned. 

Hopefully at this pace I'll be able to publish my second story before the end of the year. I think that's a realistic deadline, but my priority is making it as excellent as my petty skill allows. I suddenly realize how wonderful the mantra "it's ready when it's ready" can be, as used by so many of the best video game developers out there... 

If you have any questions about my second story, please feel free to leave them below, or email them to me. You can find all sorts of helpful links on the Contact section of my site. 

With that, I'll get back to more writing, and see you all soon. Thank you for reading.