My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pen Fights Gamepad podcast | Episode 5

We talked a lot about a lot of cool stuff and had many laughs in this episode! To celebrate reaching our fifth episode we recorded the longest one yet! I bet if you listen to it it will not feel like two and a half hours. Tons of fun, and we talked quite a while about what I plan to do with my book before I tackle the forth draft. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy!

Download the .mp3

Show Notes:

Donald Conrad of and Dan Absalonson of talk about video games, writing, being husbands with awesome wifes and fathers of many young children, what life is like as dads and lots of other stuff. Topics covered in this show:

- We talk taking young children to theme parks.
- Donald went to a local theme park called Silverwood with his family
  - Tiny Toot Train
- Dan talks about his recent trip taking his family to Disneyland
- Water World stage show, Kevin Costner's fish wig, the movie Open Range
- Vegas TV show
- We talk about all the Reboots going on like Fantastic Four
- Donald saw The Amazing Spider-Man movie in 3D, he liked it
- Dan watched Iron Man 1 & Iron Man 2, he liked them
- Tech in Iron Man vs what is available today
- Dan saw The Expendables and really liked it
- X-Men First class
- Dan read more of Donald's graphic novel The Death of Don Hat
- Dan's blog post on writing a prequel novel and writing the back story of a character and why Donald thinks it's a bad idea
- Rogue archetype character breakdown, examples Han Solo, Aragorn
- A Pen Fights Gamepad drinking game which we don't recommend you play
- Firefly
- Why Dan hates when cool looking animated characters are ruined by high pitched voices and why Mickey Mouse's gloves may be white
- Breaking down the universe of Mickey Mouse and the speculative technology behind Mickey Mouse's helper character Tootles
- Donald brought over his Playstation Vita and Dan finally plays Gravity Rush
- How playing games, reading books, watching movies has been revolutionized with the ability to consume in bite size chunks whenever you have spare time
- Donald talks about his PS Vita
- Steam summer sale on video games
- The Secret of Monkey Island (video game)
- The Hitman games
- Mission Impossible for the N64
- Hitman: Blood Money cheap on Steam and awesome
- The Crisis Collection (unique first person shooter)
- Independant games like Terraria, Jamestown on steam
- Indie musicians, authors, and how it's all been revolutionized from the days of the big publishers
- Building and managing our website, web analytics
- Wordpress VS Blogger
- This is episode 5! Celebrate with us by sending us an audio recording, we'll play it on the show!
- Why some people were gamers as kids, mostly females, but are no longer interested in video games but will still play old console games

Website for this podcast:

Dan's Websites:

Donald's Website:

Monday, July 23, 2012

On Second Thought, I'm Writing The Forth Draft

Hey guys, if you read my last post you'll see that I was very excited to possibly make one of my characters who is a favorite among my beta readers into the protagonist and main character of my novel. I was also going to start writing the prequel which would be his back story. I still might write his back story someday, but I have so many other books unrelated and very different than this one that I want to write that I am just going to do some heavy lifting and make this book work. Then I get can finally get it published and write all the other books I already have outlined and ready to go :) I want the reader to discover the worlds of my book with the characters and they can't do that if my main character has already been to these worlds and lived the life of hauling cargo from one planet to another. Also, my Pen Fights Gamepad podcast co-host Donald Conrad thinks that I have a good character with this pilot as he is because the reader doesn't know his back story. By the way if you like video games, you should check out Donald's website. He pointed out that it is like with Han Solo or Strider - when you meet them you don't know much about them and that's cool and it works well. I can still work some more of his back story into this book too. So I am going to continue with my original plan and make the two sons of the previous main character into the main characters. This book is a Young Adult book, so the main characters should be young adults. Also, they are the ones that I need to work the most on developing because people have commented that they feel like the same character instead of two separate people. I'm excited to flesh them out some more and figure out what makes them who they are. I think I'm going to write up an interview with each of them, asking them tons of questions. This seems like a good exercise to get more of an idea of who they are and what makes them tick.

I'm also trying a new method for outlining the book again before I get back into the trenches and make the forth draft. It is called The Snowflake Method. You form your story as a snowflake forms, starting out small and becoming more detailed as you go. You write one sentence that sums up your story. Then you write a paragraph, preferably a five sentence paragraph with the setup, three disasters that happen, and the resolution. Then you write a paragraph expanding each of those sentences and so on. You also do a lot of work on the characters, writing out what their own story is within your book among several other things. This is just what I need. If this sounds interesting to you go check it out and tell me what you think. I'm excited to use it to help me make my story much stronger and figure out how to get rid of the scenes that aren't moving my story forward, and which ones are. I need to add more depth to my characters, take many scenes out or condense them when they don't move the story along, and change the main character. It is something I look forward to doing. Writing the first draft of a book is thrilling, but rewriting and revising is really fun too. You get to refine it and make it more of what you want it to be. Shape and mold this big ugly thing you have made. I have a lot of work to do, but it's work I look forward too. I will get this book ready for publication. My goal is to do so this year. I turn thirty next January. I want to have a full length novel published before my birthday. Wish me luck, and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On To The Next Book, A Prequel

I got a message this morning on Facebook from a friend and beta reader of my novel. She had heard I was thinking of changing my main character from the 40ish year old father of the family to his two boys. I thought this might be a good change because my book seems like a Young Adult novel. The length of it, at 71 thousand words, is definitely more of a YA length for a book than a normal science fiction novel for adults. She had a suggestion that maybe I should make the pilot of the spaceship the family hires the main character. I thought it was brilliant. Let me explain why it will work so well. I already had an idea for a prequel novel to this one, but I wasn't so sure about it because that pilot character would be the main character. It will tell his coming of age story and how he got to where he is in this novel. Also, many beta readers have expressed to me that they like the pilot character the most and feel that he is the most fleshed out of all the characters. So I have a new main character, and a great reason to write the prequel novel to this one! I'm excited! I think I might even write it next instead of my apocalyptic novel that I work shopped on The Roundtable Podcast. It would be amazing to be able to publish two books in a short amount of time. Either way - what I really need to do at this early stage in my writing career is to write more novels. 

I recently watched a video of Brandon Sanderson speaking to a novel writing class. I put it below this paragraph if you want to check it out - and I recommend you do. If you haven't heard of Brandon Sanderson he has some amazing epic fantasy novels, and he's the one who was chosen to finish Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time Series. He's kind of a big deal ;) He was sharing that he knows a lot of people say you should learn to write by writing short stories, because those were the markets to break into back in the day, but now it's not as much the case. If you want to write novels you should be writing novels because they are a different animal to tackle than short stories.

This was so refreshing and freeing to hear for me! I love writing short stories but what I really want with my writing is to get good at writing full length novels. He asks the class if many of them read short stories and all but three students had a subscription to a short story magazine. Most people read novels. I must admit that I never read short stories until I became serious about writing. I love reading novels, and I mostly want to write them. I still love writing short stories and will continue to write them as ideas for them come to mind, I'm writing one now, but I always had this notion in the back of my mind that maybe I should stop writing novels and wait until I've written hundreds of short stories and really learned my craft before I write any more novels. Brandon Sanderson says that this isn't the case and I'm so glad to hear it. I've written three books long enough to be called novels, one novella, and a novelette - the point is I need to write many more novels because I have a lot to learn. Brandon's first published novel, Elantris, was actually his sixth novel! The man put in his dues and learned by doing,. This is especially true because he writes epic fantasy and his novels are massively long. Six of my novels would probably equal two of his in word count, so he really learned by doing! Six novels before he writes one that gets picked up. This may sound crazy but it is actually pretty common.

I'm glad I watched that video because I feel like it has freed me to say it's okay to go ahead and keep writing novels even if I feel like I don't quite know what I'm doing yet and that I have a lot to learn. The best way for me to learn is to write more books! So I am going to leave this novel where it is and write it's prequel. That way I can get the distance from it I'll need to overhaul it with a new main character. Once I finish the first draft of its prequel I'll come back to it and work it over until it sings! Now to get the outline of that prequel knocked out! I'm excited! I'm charging forward. Next novel! Let's do this! Go write! Oh, and thanks for stopping by :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pen Fights Gamepad Podcast Episode 4

In the Pen Fights Gamepad podcast my co-host Donald Conrad and I talk video games, writing, movies, comic books, being dads, husbands and more. This week we talked about a lot of fun stuff, a lot of cool stuff, and had a lot of laughs. In this episode we also talked quite a bit about my novel, currently in the hands of beta readers, which Donald has almost finished reading. We had many a good laugh at some blatent mistakes I made where I thought I had more on the page than is actually there. We laughed a lot and had a fun time recording. We went long again, but according to our fans that's what they like so here you go, an hour and a half of good times:

.mp3 direct download
Blog Post on Podcast's website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Page 1 of my Web Comic "Dying Wish" is live!

My wife left today for Hawaii. I'm home with our three very young kids, our dog, and my sister in-law's dog who happens to be a very sweet but very large St. Bernard. Yes, those huge dogs that always have the little barrel on their collar. So I'm a little busy during the day and maybe a bit out of my depth, but my wife left me excellent instructions and has everything laid out for me which is very helpful. Then there is the night. 

I love being with my kids but bedtime is a beautiful thing as any parent will tell you. The night is all mine to do whatever I want and I used tonight to get super productive with my web comic. I'm also reading comics and plan on watching many comic book movies. Out of all the Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers, I have only seen Thor. I've just been out of the loop with movies ever since we had kids. I want to watch them all so that I can still catch The Avengers in theaters because I hear it's awesome. 

So here is the first page. It took me forever to produce. Hopefully I'll continue to find ways to streamline the process. The website for this web comic is The image is larger there and it looks cooler in a web site made for it. I'd love to hear any feedback you have so please feel free to leave a comments below or on my comic site. Thanks for stopping by and seeing what I'm up to.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My First Show, My First Novel

Getting feedback on my first book to ever see more than one draft reminds me of when my high school punk rock band played our first show in a real venue. Quite a few kind folks have taken the time to read my novel and give me feedback. I am very thankful for this. Many have had similar things to say about certain weaknesses in my book. This is just what I was looking for and it is really going to help me make a better novel. I took my book through three drafts, changing the story quite a bit in the second draft, and then tightening it up in the third draft. I took it as far as I could. After two drafts I grew familiar with it again and now I need some time away from it so it cools in my mind. I can figure out how I want to change it with the feedback I've received and hit it again with fresh eyes for another draft soon.

Before my band played our first real show, we practiced a ton and got our songs down really well. When it was our turn to play we went on stage and did our thing. This was our time to shine, to finally show people what we had. We did pretty good. We remembered all our parts and played our set. Afterwards a few people gave us some really nice compliments. They said we sounded good, and that they liked our music. The first few times I received feedback on my book people gave me some really nice compliments. I heard it was an enjoyable read and that they could "see" the world I described. I was thrilled.

During my band's first show we videotaped our performance. That night we huddled around the TV to watch our awesomeness. Now we would get to see how well we really did. At first we saw that people were right, we sounded pretty good. Our songs weren't bad and we playing them pretty well. There was one thing though - the whole time we played we were all just standing there. We sounded good, but we were boring to watch. I think that I'm a decent writer. I've been told my book is an enjoyable read, but the characters are just standing there. The climax seemed to have been good, but too little too late. Everything is too easy for the characters. They get along too well. They deal with conflict too gracefully. The teenage brothers act like little angels. My band needed to move around on stage and get the crown excited. My characters need to bump around too, and make it more interesting for the reader.

I'm excited to add more depth to my characters and scenes, make their interactions more realistic, and crank up the conflict. I'm also excited to go into a bit more detail describing the different places they visit and what the people are like in those places. I have been working on this book for a long time now, but I'm learning a lot and that's all I can ask for. I thought I'd have a finished draft sooner for publishing and podcasting as an audio book, but it seems I have some work to do - and that's okay. It's great. I look forward to it, and I'm excited to put more work into this book to make it better because I want it to be as good as it can be before I release it. Once I've done another draft I'm going to send it to some perfect strangers through a website called They will be harsher and more frank, it will be great. Hopefully after another draft, feedback from other writers on Critters, and another draft after that - it will be ready to publish :)

In the mean time I went on The Roundtable Podcast and work-shopped the story for my next novel. I have the first few chapters outlined and I'm excited to get going on that. I'm also about 10K words into a novella, and I have my novella from NaNoWriMo to go back and do a second draft on. Speaking of my NaNoWriMo novella, I'm also making it into a graphic novel so look for more on that soon and see my last blog post for a little preview of it. Thank you so much for stopping by my website! I'd love to hear from you if you care to leave a comment below. Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm Creating A Web Comic!

So, I'm making a web comic. This is something I've wanted to do for many years, I just never had a good story for one. Last year I wrote a novella during NaNoWriMo, and I'm going to draw out that story as a comic. I will also be releasing the novella in all the eBook formats. It will be fun to come up with some way to sell them together too. It will kind of be like a graphic novel in the sense that it will be one long story. I have no idea how many pages it will end up being, but I'm excited to learn a ton in the process of making this comic. I am going to release it for free as a web comic and I'll also be printing it as a graphic novel once it's all done. I've been drawing the main character for a couple months now, trying to nail down his design. I'm getting close. I've even started drawing a few panels for this web comic to do some color tests. I had an awesome idea for the coloring the other day. 

I was helping my four year old son color in his coloring book, and I loved the way the crayons make such bright colors. That night I did a quick drawing of my character rendered in crayon and I really liked the way it looked. It's kind of cool the way they have a certain texture too, where a bit of the white paper shows through. It reminded me of drawing when I was a kid and I wondered how I could get that fun look into my comic. I even thought about doing the coloring with crayons, but then I had the idea. I could take one crayon and color a whole piece of paper with it, then scan it into the computer. I could use that colored page to make whatever colors I wanted for my comic, and get that nice fun texture you get from crayons. I can just take the colored page, put my line drawing on top of it, and shift it to whatever colors I want digitally. For example I make a selection of the character's hat from the crayon colored page, erase everywhere else on the page so there is only color in his hat, and then shift that color to whatever I want. I'll upload the first test panel soon so you can see what I'm talking about. I tried it a little last night, and looks awesome! It looks just as if I used crayons to color the comic. I want the colors to be nice and bright and fun and with this technique they will be.

With the rougher look of the crayon coloring, I thought I would also ink the comic in a different way than I have before. Instead of using a nice thick pen to get clean lines from one stroke, I'm using a black ball point pen and going over the lines a whole bunch of times to thicken them up. This gives it a fun rough look that I think will look great with the crayon coloring. I've put a few of the drawings up here so you can see them as they are on the page before I do digital clean up and coloring. I used a red pen to sketch everything out then inked with a black pen. I erase the red lines in the computer and do the coloring. I'll have an example of that up here to share soon. Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to sharing stories with you in a new way with my art.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pen Fights Gamepad podcast Episodes 2 & 3

Check out this awesome podcast where my co-host Donald Conrad of and I talk video games, writing, movies, comic books, being dads and more!

Show notes for PFG 03:

Download the .mp3

• Donald talks about things he's read in Dan’s book, Dan expands on it
• Privateer video game (Good Old Games website)
• Dan talks about Donald's graphic novel The Death of Don Hat, Donald expands on it
• Nathan Lowell - Solar Clipper Trader Tales novels
• Matt Nelson creator of web comic "Catbeard the Pirate
• Dan finished watching the movie Thor and gave it a 4/5 stars and Donald suggests that he needs to see Die Hard
• Touch on Thor & other movies which lead up to The Avengers
• Hulk Fights Bear video on Youtube:
• Chuck Norris's Mustache - "When another man looks at Chuck Norris's mustache they automatically grow two inches of chest hair!"
• Niel Gaiman and Joss Whedon writing comics and movies
• Shift of superheroes coming from video game companies
• Brave - not sure if it will be good
• Phineas and Ferb, Backyardigans, Little Einsteins
• Batman the Animated Series
• Genndy Tartakovsky - Samurai Jack, Star Wars Clone Wars
• Republic Commando Xbox video game
• Donald updates us on his mission to finish Call of Duty
• Dan talks about going on The Round Table Podcast where he was a guest writer offering up a story to be workshopped with the hosts and guest author Dan Wells
• Dan Wells 7 Point Story Structure on YouTube:
• Writing Excuses podcast:
• Not finishing Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time books.
• Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game books
• Feedback from Donald's sister about the podcast
• Donald shares a video game memory playing Bust A Groove on the Playstation 1 with his sister.
• Winning books and video games on
• Trailer Wrecked on Did Not Finish - Brad Lawrence:
• Dan's audio story "The Dream," flash fiction of Captain Hook dreaming about when his hand was chopped off, .mp3:

Website for this podcast:

Dan's Websites:

Donald's Website:

Show notes for PFG 02:

Download the .mp3

Donald Conrad of and Dan Absalonson of talk about video games, writing, being husbands with awesome wifes and fathers of many young children, what life is like as dads and lots of other stuff. In this second episode they talk about lots of video games, including some old ones, Donald's first impressions of Dan's novel, E3 and movie dissapointments, playing Resident Evil 6 on a PC with an Xbox gamepad when the game comes out, a Do Not Watch blog post from Donald's site. Donald talks Call of Duty Classic & Resistance Burning Skies. Also, Dan talks about playing Tangled w/ 4 year old & how 4 Year old on the Wii and many other things like:

The Zelda Timeline
Ocarina of Time, Windwaker, Twighlight Princess
Dragonball Z
The Expendables

It's a long one and a good time!