Candy Crush Saga and the Erosion of the Middle Class

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candy crush sagaFor those living under a rock, Candy Crush Saga is an incredibly popular and quite good free to play game where you match gams candy under various conditions, like taking certain jewels ingredients to the bottom of the board in a certain number of moves.Its free to play meaning you don’t have to pay a cent to play until you get to the  the insanely hard levels that populate it after awhile.  At that point, you will have to pay for buffs or extra moves/time/lives or be in for a painful play experience. While King.com, its developer, says 70% of the people on the final level never paid a cent, that 70% basically had to learn how to game the game  to do it.

But Candy Crush Saga is only the tip of the iceberg of free to play games, games which free to play but uses various psychological tricks to get to get you pay. While I could spend this entire article talking about how games like Monopoly Hotels and Beat the Boss aren’t really games at all but rather cash machines for greedy developers, I won’t.

Instead I’m going to argue that the rise of the free to play gaming system is rather a symptom of this:

Low wage workers strike in NYC

The rise of free to play gaming is actually a symptom of the erosion of the middle class in the United States. 50 years 61% of adults were middle class, now 51% are. Right now wealth is more unequal since the Guided Age of the 1890s. Low wage workers across the nation are striking because they can’t afford to survive anymore  Even Walmart, which had a food drive for its own employees,  is beginning to realize its profits depends on people having money to spend.

At first glance, there is no direct correlation between free to play gaming and the erosion of the middle class. In fact, it would be nearly impossible for me to paint a direct correlation without doing serious research for months and writing a several hundred page book. Still, there is some sense to this on the surface.

Gaming is not an essential purchase. One can do without it. As more more and people balk at the high price tag of consoles and $60 games, they’ll naturally gravitate towards lower priced games, namely free ones. However, free to play games are not free to develop, therefore developers have to resort to using shady tactics to make money. In essence, games like Candy Crush Saga are the direct result of a downward pressure on gaming prices, which while nobody will say it publicly, I believe its because its the result of people not having the money to throw around anymore.

Even despite the free-to-play tactics, only 1-5% of free to play game players monetize, forcing game developers to rely on ”whales,” or taking advantage of people’s addictions. We can debate the ethics all day(and I fall on the side of its disgusting) but the gaming industry in a sense has been forced to into this model to survive.

Poor people were never really able to afford expensive gaming consoles and games. It was middle-class millennial kids and teens with large amounts of disposable income who could(AAA gaming is aimed at teens for a reason, they have the disposable income to spend on gaming). But these millennials are now adults and not making nearly as much as their parents did. And as they marry and have kids, they may spend money on games for their children. Except the cost of raising a child is rising at an alarming rate. Combined with lower wagers overall, guess who is not buying a $500 Xbox one and the games necessary for Microsoft to make money?

The console of the 1%

The Xbox One is the console of the 1%. The PS4 is not far behind though.

 

Now the PS4 had a great launch and the Xbox One did alright for having a $500 price tag, but I question whether in six to eight months we won’t be seeing a giant nose dive in sales as the sheer number of people who can and will afford a console at original launch price  peters out. Remember that earlier this year, the game industry was in dire straights, with a major publisher going bankrupt and the WII U is a failure. The forces behind gaming’s woes haven’t shifted just with the launch of two new consoles (although evidence points to Nintendo’s woes being of its own making). Still, consider that Microsoft is heavy using free to play game tactics. Is Microsoft being greedy, or is Microsoft using these tactics to extract more money out of a fewer number of players? While I personally believe its the former as I ditched the 360 after my last one broke because I didn’t want to spend $70 on an Xbox live subscription in order to be advertised to all day, the latter could very well also be a factor as well.

King could jack up the price to $30 with none of the shenanigans, but who will pay that much anymore.

King.com could jack up the price to $15+ with none of the shenanigans, but the game would fail.

Again, I can’t really make a direct correlation as its all circumstantial. But the circumstances is what gives my theory weight. Which is more likely, people not willing to throw $30 at a mobile game as good as its 3ds counterpart, or people just don’t have the money to throw $30 upfront anymore?  Games are not immune to economic forces and therefore must respond to a player-base with less money to throw around. But developers need to get paid regardless.

At this intersection lies the free to play game, games which have to be free to get the largest number of people playing, but have to actually make money. While we’d love to blame greed(and there are some cases), the real answer probably lies with an industry responding to a poorer player base and their own to need to pay their workers and make their investors money.

All I can say is play the free-to-play games that respect the player and deliver an actual game(like Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run 2, and Plants Vs Zombies 2, which is from Monopoly Hotels developer EA mobile no less) and if you can afford it, throw the developers a few dollars now and  then, they need to eat too.

My next book will fail!

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thisbookwillfail

The Self-Publishing Industry was once hailed as a new day for authors. Freed of greedy publishers, they could chart a new course to success. Instead, the self-publishing industry has produced a sea of garbage written by people following bad advice from self-help writing gurus with ulterior movies. But even talented writers still face a near impossible task of standing out, or even finding affordable editing.
Self-published author Noah Murphy takes you through his failures and successes during his two years in a broken industry in denial about the the risks facing authors, and the true rewards it can offer them. This Book Will Fail: The Truth About A Self-Publishing Industry In Denial is a book every self-published author or those thinking of self-publishing needs to read.

There will be no more novels from me,  editing them is too expensive in regards to the return. I’m going to focus on short work sold for 99 cents. And my next release is going to be something completely different from anything you’ve seen from me.  I’ve gotten tired of an industry where you’re skewered for not hiring an editor, except the professional ones all cost thousands. Hence, This Book Will Fail, which originally was a joke on Twitter, but morphed in a 10,000 word critique of what feel is a broken industry via relating my experiences in everything from editing to this blog.

I could just post it here for free, but a 99 cent ebook with an eye-popping cover is going to draw more attention, and hopefully start a discussion. It will be out, hopefully, in late August, early September at the latest.

Deltan Skies has been out….

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Deltan Skies has actually been out for two weeks, I just forgot to update the front page to make note of it. Good news is, in the time it’s been out, it’s sold more copies that Ethereal Girls did in for its first 4 months of release. See why it has today!

v1b_EBOOK

A  young elven mage named Quintanelle Fillion flees from her totalitarian homeland to New Delta, a dense metropolis made up of hundreds of mile-high towers. She finds employment working for New Delta’s top private detective, a human named Alfonso Deegan, and his red dragon associate Mordridakon. Quintanelle’s first case thrusts her in the middle of New Delta’s own problems.

After millennia of oppression, members of the disenfranchised avian race have taken complete control of the criminal underworld, but what they want is the one thing they can’t steal. To achieve their goals, the avians’ charismatic leader enlists the help of a goblin shaman cast out from her own suffering people. Together they create a risky and daring plan that involves everyone from the city’s inept mayor and a corrupt city senator, to Quintanelle’s new boss and even her own family.

As their plan unfolds, a dark reality emerges. New Delta stands on the brink of total annihilation, and Quintanelle may be the only one who can stop it. 

Read the first three chapters

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K23 Side Story: Weeding Out the Weak

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Uylouth was anxious. The six century old silver Uthiran had sat in her cavern on her nest made of rocks for the past year. Finally, her thirty-three eggs were about to hatch. Her mate, a red Uthiran named Tokiron, lazed outside their cavern high in one of Uthira’s numerous mountain ranges. Breed always went through the father, and Uylouth was never picky about mating within her breed. Tokiron was strong and hearty, though lazy, which balanced Uylouth’s busy-body personality.

Uylouth jumped off the nest as she felt one of the eggs began to shake.

“Get in here before I go out there and decapitate you,” Uylouth roared, shaking the cavern and the rock ledge Tokiron was lying on. Nothing less would get him inside.

Tokiron galloped inside and stood next to Uylouth. They both watched intently as thirty-three foot-long scaleless red Uthirans hatched, filling the cavern with chirps and cries.

“Can I chow down yet?” Tokiron wagged his tail. “I didn’t eat for the last two days in anticipation, so I’m starving.”

Uylouth scanned the writhing mass of hatchlings, already fighting among themselves who would be at the top of the heap. “Yes you can.”

She pointed with a claw to one hatchling with a deformed wing, another that was barely moving and finally to one with a nasty skin rash.

Tokiron carefully picked up the skin-rash hatchling from the pile with his teeth. Then sucked the baby in and started chewing.

Uylouth turned and walked out onto the outcropping. She would let Tokiron do his job while she hunted for her brood’s first meal.

While the rest of Terrall gasped in horror at the thought of fathers being allowed to cannibalize their children, it served a critical function. It got rid of the weak, as those were the only ones a father was allowed to eat. Otherwise they’d simply end up dead themselves.

That’s exactly what happened with a pair of silvers who lived further up the mountain. The father, Mordridakon, got greedy and ate the strongest hatchlings while the mother was hunting. Mordridakon’s head ended up landing on the very ledge Uylouth was standing on. His former mate took in another silver, got rid of her old brood, and was now sitting on a new clutch of eggs.

On one side of the cliff was a waterfall dropping a hundred feet, where the water flowed a short distance before falling again. Uylouth took a drink of water and then walked to the edge to survey the slopes. Up and down the mountains, other dragons were exiting their caverns to hunt for their own meals.

A silver female named Yukoni, who had very young hatchlings of her own, swooped down and hovered just off the cliff. The hatchlings’ sounds wafted out from the cavern.

“Congratulations on the hatchings,” Yukoni said. “Maybe your hatchlings and mine could play together when they’re old enough.”

“That would be good,” Uylouth replied. “As long as yours don’t try to kill mine.”

“Likewise. See you later. My brood is hungry.” Yukoni flew away.

Uthirans lived in loosely-affiliated groups called clans. The clans served one purpose: on a continent dominated by carnivorous dragons, there needed to be a system to ensure that they didn’t eat all the prey and starve to death. The clans ensured prey remained by limiting the number of Uthirans who could live and hunt in a particular area.

Membership to a clan was not determined by lineage or breed, but simply by the number of dwellings and the prey levels of a particular area. Desert clans had the fewest residents and plains clans had the most, with mountain clans falling somewhere in between. Members of mountain clans, like Tokiron and Uylouth’s Aspiusa clan, lived in the numerous mountainous caverns dotting the Aspiusa Range and mostly hunted mountain goats, sheep and mammoths. They always left enough to ensure the remainder would continue to breed sustainably.

Joining the Aspiusa clan was simply a matter of finding a vacant cavern either by mating with or killing the current resident. Offspring reaching maturity at one hundred were generally kicked from the clan unless they could find their own dwellings in the clan area.

The clan system was why Uthirans were so cruel toward their own kind. There were always more Uthirans than dwellings and available prey. The young were weeded out to a few, strong members. Mates could usually only stand each other as long as there were offspring around; afterwards, they usually split up before one ended up dead. Elders gone catatonic were left to starve to free up a dwelling unless they were one of the lucky few and had an offspring care for them. The only ones that weren’t brutal to each other were mature siblings who often banded together to survive for a few centuries.

The brutality had lessened in recent millennia as the residents of Hominia and Elemchi became more tolerant of their presence. Many Uthirans emigrated, returning only to mate and raise offspring. Uylouth and Tokiron were two such emigrants who met in New Delta and decided to mate with each other. They flew back to Uthira, moved to the Aspiusa Range and lucked out on finding a cavern – the previous owner had very recently gone catatonic.

Uylouth spotted a large herd of goats far below. She jumped off the cliff and went rigid, with her head, tail, claws and wings in perfect alignment. She shot down the slope in a flash. When she reached the herd, she glided over, causing a powerful sonic boom with stunned several goats. Uylouth arced around, grabbed one in her teeth and another in her claws and flashed back up to the cave.

Tokiron was finishing up eating a hatchling in front of a significantly smaller heap.

“How many did you eat?” the silver asked.

“Seven in total.”

Uyloth put her kills down and growled. “You’ve been greedy. I was only gone a short time.”

“Hold on, four were already dead, squished at the bottom of the heap.”

She was going to trust him, this time. “Help me feed the remainder.”

It was clear even then who the strongest were as two hatchlings were firmly implanted at the top. The first was an energetic male who whipped his tail down on his downtrodden siblings, and loudly barked for food. Next to him was a sister, who simply purred as she pushed her paws downward on her yelping siblings. Male and female dragons were identical until puberty, when females became stronger and more powerful. But their parents could always tell by smell.

Their parents picked them off first and placed them in the front. Then they untangled the heap, finding two more squished. Tokiron had a feast as he also devoured the bottom-most living seven.

“Wash your mouth before you feed, I’m not making our offspring cannibals.”

“Be right back.”

They were now down to seventeen hatchlings, sixteen having died in the first few hours of life. There was a practical reason for the quick culling of the weaker hatchlings. While it would take a long time to reach maturity, the hatchings would begin to grow the moment they were fed. The nest was only ten feet in diameter and so space had to be made.

Toikiron returned with a freshly washed mouth. The feeding could begin.

The hatchling’s teeth were dull stubs, so they couldn’t eat directly. Uylouth and Tokiron tore off meat from the kills, chewed it up and regurgitated it into their offspring’s waiting mouths. The two front hatchlings were fed first and the feeding progressed toward the back from there. Once fed, the hatchlings slept. Uylouth ate from the remaining meat and then slept on top of the nest.

***

The next day was the first of three tests to sift through the remaining hatchlings. Uylouth and Tokiron placed the hatchlings out on the cliff when the sun was at its peak. Then they waited. As they had no scales, the hatchlings were vulnerable to dehydration. The strong ones would either seek shade back in the cave or drink from the small puddles of water next to the waterfall.

After an hour, the two strongest drank from the water and then started wrestling each other, but Uylouth removed them before they’d topple over the edge. Another ten crawled back inside. Five never moved from where they had been placed.

***

A month later, once the twelve remaining hatchling had doubled in size and grew a thin covering of scales; it was time for the second test: the flight test.  Uylouth and Tokiron simply flung the hatchlings off the cliff and see which ones would fly. This was easier than the version performed in the plains, which involved flying to high altitudes and dropping them from there.

The two strongest, as expected, hardly dropped ten feet before flying back up to their parents. A female made it half-way to the ground before flying back up. Two males and another female almost hit before they flew away and Tokiron had to collect them as they didn’t have the power to make it back up.

***

Two months later, the six remaining hatchlings were three and a half feet long and no longer needed to have their meat regurgitated to them. This marked the end of their growth spurt and they would grow much more slowly from this point onward.

It was now time for the third test, which varied depending on the breed, but focused around seeing if the hatchlings could manifest the breed’s powers. For silvers, it meant holding onto their parents’ backs as they zoomed past the sound barrier. The weak lost their grip and rocketed into the ground. Red Uthirans, who could breathe fire and at maturity had scales as hard as diamonds, had to be able to withstand high temperatures.

The six hatchlings were stood in a line at the edge of the cliff. Tokiron stood back, huffed and blew an inferno of bright yellow flame. Two of the little dragons were instantly charred, while two more fell off the cliff on fire, splattering on the ground far below, leaving just the two strongest behind.

They were heaving, smoking, but otherwise alright. The parents picked one up each and dipped them under the waterfall to cool them down. The adults then placed both of them back in the center of the cliff, and sat back on their haunches. The juvenile dragons glanced up at their parents quizzically. They still couldn’t speak yet; that wouldn’t come for another few years.

“We could have just the killed the rest months ago,” Tokiron said to Uylouth quietly. “It was quite obvious these two were going to make it.”

“But in event they failed a test, all our offspring would be dead.” She sighed. “And there still is that possibility in the century to come. Now we should give them their names.”

Tokiron nodded. “I have the one I’m giving the male picked out. But I’ll allow you to go first.”

Uylouth walked forward and towered over her daughter, who sat on all fours. “You shall be called Selkath, after my mother.” Uylouth licked the top of Selkath’s head. The small dragon purred and nuzzled her mother’s snout.

Uylouth stepped back and Tokiron loomed over his son, who was sitting back wagging his tail with his mouth hanging open. “I’ll call you Mordridakon, after…” he could hear faint growling from behind him, he had to be careful. “–After a strong and hearty acquaintance of mine.” The growling stopped. He licked Mordridakon, who eagerly licked him back and barked.

Thirty-three had been weeded down to two. Now Tokiron and Uylouth could focus on Mordridakon and Selkath to mold them into dragons that would stand the tests of time…

Deltan Skies Revealed

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People may have noticed an extreme lack of content on this blog for the last several months. If Ethereal Girls taught me anything, it is blog posts do not sell books and all the marketing in the world will not help if people do not like what you’re selling(unless they troll you). However,  I have been working on a new book all this time:

v1b_EBOOK

A young elven mage named Quintanelle Fillion flees from her totalitarian homeland to New Delta, a dense metropolis made up of hundreds of mile-high towers. She finds employment working for New Delta’s top private detective, a human named Alfonso Deegan, and his red dragon associate Mordridakon. Quintanelle’s first case thrusts her in the middle of New Delta’s own problems.

After millennia of oppression, members of the disenfranchised avian race have taken complete control of the criminal underworld, but what they want is the one thing can’t steal. To achieve their goals, the avian’s charismatic leader enlists the help of a goblin shaman cast out from her own suffering people. Together they create a risky and daring plan that involves everyone from the city’s inept mayor and a corrupt city senator, to Quintanelle’s new boss and even her own family.

As their plan unfolds, a dark reality emerges. New Delta stands on the brink of total annihilation, and Quintanelle may be the only one who can stop it. 

Some people might find this book very similar to my very first release in June 2011, A Clear and Feathered Danger, which featured a similar book blurb and cover. It ultimately sold more than a hundred copies.  Unfortunately, it was not the book it should have been and neither were its sequels. As a result, the sequels bombed. So, I decided to go back and revise it. What started out as a simple revision and slight expansion snowballed. Soon a 33k fantasy thriller turned into an 87k science-fantasy novel.

There are new friends:

“Alfonso mentioned you help out,” Quintanelle said.

“Yes, I provide assistance on cases and back-end office work for him,” Corazon replied. “What it really means,” Alfonso said, “is it takes over cases and accesses my finances without asking.”

“That is not an accurate assessment of my work.”

“Yes it is,” Mordridakon growled.

There are new enemies:

“What did you think I’d do with a base full of military aircraft and a nuclear bomb,” Platon said, ” force the city to hold hands and sing songs?”

There is more action:

Borga dropped to her knees, but Metara grabbed the turnbuckle and pushed herself up. Borga’s eyes went wide as she realized the consequences.

“Time to tap, bitch!” Metara twisted, forcing Borga over onto her back, with Metara’s quads still firmly in place. Borga had no choice but to submit.

Metara leaped onto the turnbuckle, raising her fists in victory, enjoying the adoration of a nonexistent crowd.

There is more humor:

Every solider on the deck pointed their gun at him. “You’re trespassing in a restricted area!” one shouted. “Leave now or we’ll be forced to open fire!”

Abernathy glared at the soldiers. “If you don’t lower your weapons, every single one of you will be looking for a job because I’m the damn mayor! You work for me!”

The soldiers did not flinch.

“Was there an election we didn’t hear about? The mayor we know is an impotent troll!” A soldier shouted.

There is more drama:

Sisqub extended his wings and raised his beak. “Imagine countless avians huddled together in the dark, most having never done anything but exist, massacred because their only crime was wanting to live above the hominids on tower-tops, closer to the wide open Deltan skies.”

“Ye ashamed of the hate put in ye head by ye people,” Eluna said, “but ye have no idea what true hate be.”

Tears rolled down Quintanelle’s face.“Take me up. I can’t take it anymore!”

Sisqub folded his wings and lowered his beak. “You are only seeing what lies on the path to where we’re going.”

On May 30th….

“There’s not really anything to debate,” Leyla said. “They want citizenship and will do anything to get it, even if it means destroying the city.”

Pilpen shook his head while clicking his tongue. “That’s what Sisqub wants you to think. The Syndicate is still a megacorp and is working with the other megacorps to completely take over New Delta. “

Leyla rolled her eyes. “Good luck with that…”

Get ready to fly…

  The gunship creaked and moved aside, revealing a Mer pushing it. The Mer’s comrades were visibly crushed and mangled in their twisted coffins.  When the space was big enough, it thumped into the office with an angry look in its eyes. The vehicle was scratched and dented, but still functional. It had all six plasma cannons out and both arms were rifles.

”I ventured to the surface in the name of peace and unity,” the Mer said. Its automated voice was calm, but its clicks were sharp and angry. “But if it’s war you want, it’s war you get!”

The Deltan Skies!

Alfonso smashed his headset against the ground. He trembled with rage, his eyes burned with fury, his jaw clenched tight.

The CDU soldiers stumbled out their craft, some speechless, others crying.

“What was that?” Metara cried through choking sobs.

“The Syndicate’s gigantic fuck you to the city,” Alfonso seethed. “But the fucking has only just begun!”

Chapter 1 will be up to read on May 15.  Join my mailing list to be notified when this book his Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

Ethereal Girls 2 Announcement

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From left to right: Meadow, Phoenix, Liza and Jonola.

From left to right: Meadow, Phoenix, Liza and Jonola.

 

“Stupid fleshlings!” Jonola hissed. “They wouldn’t know a good book if it hit them in the face!”

Jonola, along with Liza, Phoenix and Meadow, were hanging out in Meadow’s room at the Travilah Academy for Powered Students.  Jonola was curled-up on Meadow’s bed next to Liza, who sat on the edge.  Phoenix leaned against the closet while Meadow sat cross-legged on the floor on her mat.

Meadow replied, “Some books fail, others succeed, it’s the nature of publishing.”

“But you’re in the book,” Phoneix said as she fidgeted with a dagger.

Meadow folded her arms. “So? This society just isn’t ready to accept us, that’s all.”

“I don’t care if the book doesn’t sell a hundred copies,” Liza cried, “all I want is for people to stop calling the drawing of me on the book cover ugly! I don’t have an hourglass figure, but otherwise it’s me.”

Jonola ran a hand along her scales. “I don’t have an hourglass figure either but you don’t see me complaining.”

“But the hatred isn’t directed at you, it’s directed almost entirely at me!”

“Oh yes it is. Some idiot fleshing said I had breasts.” Jonola turned her snout up. “That’s an insult to Lamia!”

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Phoenix said, “He was making it all up.” She sighed. “We don’t even know a Stacy.”

Liza’s cell phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out. “I got a text message from Noah.” Her eyes lit up. “It says he’s going to write an Ethereal Girls sequel, just because!”

Jonola uncoiled and slithered up and over Liza’s shoulder to look. She let out a happy hiss while wiggling her forked tongue. “Yes!”

Meadow stood up and stretched with a faint smile on her face. “Does it say what the plot is?”

“No,” Liza said.

Phoenix flipped a dagger in the air and caught it, visibly unmoved. “We’ll find out soon enough.”

Liza added. “Noah also announces that his next release, the K23 Detectives reboot Deltan Skies, will be formally introduced March 4th where it will be given a firm release time frame. He adds that if people like this original book announcement and are interested, they can purchase Ethereal Girls eBooks for 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. He closes by asking that those who’ve already read the book and enjoyed it, please leave a customer review.”

Jonola slithered off the bed. “That doesn’t make any sense. Who’re the K23 Detectives?”

“It does make sense,” Meadow said, “it just wasn’t meant for us.”

Phoenix looked up. “I often wonder if we don’t really exist, if we’re nothing more than book characters created from Noah’s imagination.”

“Just as long as people accept me,” Liza said, “that’s all that matters.”

Ethereal Girls: Troll my Book, Please!

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As writers, we should focus our promotional efforts on trying to get people to talk about our books (review them, read and recommend them, give them awards, take them to their book groups, write articles or blog posts about them) instead of trying to get people to buy them.-Mary Walters

At the end of January, Ethereal Girls was a dead book. Nobody was talking about it and nobody was buying it. I had dropped the price to 99 cents and relegated it to the back burner. Then on the advice of my editor I posted it on a certain internet forum. They hated it. In fact, they hated it so much they started trolling it. My name started traveling across the internet regarding how atrociously terrible Ethereal Girls is and culminated in a piece on February 13th entitled Ethereal Girls: If You Hate Women but Love Staring at Them. It currently has 290 notes on Tumblr. It read as follows:

Plot: 4 atypical teenage heroines save the world .

If you hate women, but love staring at them, you’ll love the creepy “Ethereal Girls.” To begin with, I excerpted the cover, because I thought the detailed-yet-not-quite-right drawings of underage womens’ breasts and genitals was a little much to put on my blog. (If you must, click through to see the vulvae of your high-school notebook dreams.)

The author forbids any portions of his book to be excerpted without his express consent, so I am unable to provide the actual text here (it’s in the “Look Inside” button hereif you’re truly curious) but I will provide you with a sample of what you might potentially find if you were to plunk down the ten bucks for this flagrant abuse of the English language:

Stacey was wearing a short, tight jean skirt, that was really sexy, and her butt was sticking out, causing it to bulge around her butt. She leaned forward and said “It’s time for cheerleading practice.” The other girls nodded and when they nodded their boobs moved. They all had really big boobs, and round. Wow.

Stacey wondered if the other girls had magical powers. “Does anyone have magic” she thought, and then a big snake woman, who had really big and sexy boobs, came into the gym. “I’m going to use magic.” She said. Her boobs jiggled as she said the thing about magic.

The snake shook it’s tail and hissed, and the other girls said “We don’t have magic. Please save us.” They looked really great and 1 was crying, and it went on her boobs, and the tear went down in the cleavage (between the boobs) and everyone saw it.

The most striking thing about the article is the fake snippet.  Drew, the author,claims that I wouldn’t allow him  to post excerpts…except that I did. The language he’s referring to is boilerplate legalese in the front of the book:

This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.

He can post text from the book because his article is a review. But why instead does he just make up an excerpt that doesn’t reflect anything actually in the book? Because there’s nothing really to troll.

The book isn’t that bad, with mostamazon customer reviews falling in the 3-4 star range until the trolls descended.  The first two chapters are freely available to read here on this site. Drew never actually read any part of the book because if he did, he’d be making fun of Liza fighting a Yakuza cyborg while she’s wearing a pink dress at the end of chapter 2. But even if he did read that section, posting about that would run the risk of people thinking it was awesome and plunking down money for it, and he couldn’t have that. Therefore, he made shit up.

The trolls aren’t really trolling Ethereal Girls, the book; they’re trolling a made-up idea of Ethereal Girls, what they believe the book to be, some creepy fetishistic worship of muscular teenage girls, when it’s really an over-the-top superhero novel. If the cover featured a super masculine boy, nobody would’ve cared…but because its a girl, I’m a perv and the book appears a thousand times more sexual than it actually is. Somehow I’ve managed to push a cultural button which prevents people from taking the book seriously and instead whips them into a frenzy of hate and scorn.

But no matter! By trashing the book, Drew (who has a huge following) spread me and my book across the net. And viola, somebody  mentioned they bought it just to see how bad it was. Exactly what I want.

uwe boll

I refer to this as the Uwe Boll effect.

We all know Uwe Boll makes terrible films (most notably film adaptations of video games) and has done so for years. Here’s the thing: the only reason Boll is still making movies is because people wouldn’t shut about him (the German tax loophole that allowed Boll to make his earlier films was closed in 2007) If people didn’t want Uwe Boll making terrible video game adaptations, they should’ve shut up after Alone in the Dark, but they didn’t and he’s still making movies today.  The reason this happened is that the more people talked about him, the more chance there was for people to watch his films to see how bad they were. I myself am guilty of this, having watched all 3 Bloodrayne films, Postal, Far Cry and In the Name of the King. I played right into Uwe Boll’s pocket.

I used to hate trolls, but now I love them. As Mary Walters said, writers should get people to talk about the book, and trolls are people talking about my book.

So keep going everyone! Troll Ethereal Girls into the ground. Talk about how atrociously awful it is on every corner of the net. Proclaim how Ethereal Girls makes 50 Shades of Grey look like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by comparison. Flood Amazon with one star reviews, the more over-the-top and absurd the better(but please purchase a copy before you leave one). Go ahead, I welcome it with open arms. The more people troll me and my book, the greater the chance somebody curious will buy it, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll like what they find.

K23 Side Story: An Unnatural Love

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Warning the following story deals with mature sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Out of all the sick, twisted individuals in New Delta, the Deltan Adult Female Brac’tai Love Association, or DAFBLA, had to be near the bottom in Private Detective Felicita Johnson’s estimation. She investigated sex crimes and while she put away individuals who were arguably far worse than DAFBLA, t took advantage of the naïve members of a species not even in the same phylum.

Brac’tai were harmless tentacle creatures that didn’t reproduce like any other creature in Terrall; it was hard to even call their mating practices “sexual.” The process was the exact opposite of how most people assumed it was. Despite that, perverted women preyed on them for their own sexual gratification by making Brac’tai think they were playing “harmless games.” Despite being very smart creatures, hominid sexuality was something they could never understand.

DAFBLA had been around for decades, but law enforcement could never convict them of sex crimes. It was hard to argue in front of Legaltron that what the women were doing was rape, since the Brac’tai were willing, if clueless, participants. Then DAFBLA started purchasing ads on walkway screens in order to recruit new converts at the DAFBLA headquarters in Tower S-13.

This was law enforcement’s chance; DAFBLA was violating prostitution laws. Prostitution was only legal in the Red Light Tower, Tower S-17.  This was not because of moral objections to prostitution, but rather to ensnare the criminal elements who invariably controlled much of it, legal or not. That was done by charging offenders with solicitation for prostitution outside of the Red Light Tower. In many cases, prostitutes would meet their clients in the tower and leave to go elsewhere, which was a crime. Numerous pimps had gone to the Penitentiary because of it.

Now Felicitia had her opportunity. She filed criminal charges with Legaltron, the super computer that acted as New Delta’s court system.  A court date was set for 12/24/10020 at 11:00 in Courtroom D in Legaltron Tower, Tower R-18.

“Now hearing Johnson vs. DAFBLA,” Legaltron’s voice spoke over the loudspeaker. In the front was a giant screen with usual computerized judge and exhibit sections. “Speaking for the Defendants is Srintella Casbren. Both sides will present opening remarks during which there will be no objections from either side.”

Felicita and Strintella sat at tables on opposite sides of the main aisle. Srintella was a very high priced Deltan elf lawyer, pretty and dressed in a power suit. The reason why she was defending them was because she was a member herself. Sitting next to her was DAFBLA’s president Leonor Cummings. She was a fat, middle aged human with terrible skin who had to have more problems getting men to screw her then ogre females did. Not even ogre males would touch her.

Sitting next to Felicita was her assistant, a young human female named Bella Goslen.

Behind them in the galleries, were dozens of DAFBLA hominid members, of varying races, ages and attractiveness.

Felicita would go first. She stood. “My case is very simple. DAFBLA is a prostitution ring that operates inside their headquarters in Tower S-13. Their ads are little more than solicitations for hominid females to pay to have sex with Brac’tai, who themselves are essentially DAFBLA’s slaves. The evidence I will present will be simple and fact-based. They are soliciting for prostitution outside of the Red Light Tower. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Felicitia sat. There were boos and jeers from the audience.

Next it was Strintella’s turn. She stood and began to pace around the front of the courtroom as she spoke. “The Deltan Adult Female Brac’tai Love Association is about love between an adult hominid female and a Brac’tai. The plaintiff would have you believe that Brac’tai cannot feel sexual love. They can. DAFBLA is simply a dating service that pairs up women and Brac’tai for a relationship of exploration. The ads we ran were really no different than other dating services. The dues women pay are merely administrative. Furthermore, we will show that Ms. Johnson is after us because she has an agenda. She is unfairly persecuting us for practicing alternative sexualities.” The audience clapped as she sat.

“How are we going to beat that?” Bella whispered. “She’s not wrong.”

“Don’t worry,” Felicitia said. “Trust me.”

“It is now time for formal arguments and evidence presentation,” Legaltron said. “Plaintiffs will go first. Objections are now allowed.”

Felicita stood. “I would like to call Leonor Cummings to the witness stand!” There was murmuring as Leonor and Strintella debated intensely. There was nothing Strintella could do to stop her from calling Leonor.

A chair on a platform raised from the floor front and center. Leonar got up, went to the platform and sat down.

Felicita stood in front of her. “Ms. Cummings, I have one question for you: How do Brac’tai reproduce?”

“Objection! Question is irrelevant!” Strintella screamed.

“Objection overruled!” Legaltron replied. “Relevance has yet to be determined. Witness must answer question.”

“Umm… well… A male Brac’tai sticks a tentacle into—“

“Wrong! If you had bothered to learn anything about Brac’tai beyond how to get them to serve your own sexual fantasies, you would know how they mate!” Felicita pointed at the screen. “I present exhibit A, a video taken in the Terrillwyn of a male and a female Brac’tai mating!”

The room darkened and a video appeared of the screen. A male and a female floated a few feet away from each other in a slow moving jungle stream. They looked completely identical with six arm tentacles, four foot tentacles, two eye tentacles and large gaping mouths. The male spit white goop into the water. The female spit greyish goop into the water.  Then both Brac’tai stayed still and watched the goop as it melded and congealed. The video sped up and showed a tiny Brac’tai a few inches in a diameter forming out of the substances. When the Brac’tai was fully formed with fully working eyes, it let out a high-pitched meep and both parents swam off in opposite directions since the tiny Brac’tai was fully self-sufficient. Fortunately for the rest of Terrall, while the Brac’tai were prolific breeders, their young were easy prey for aquatic predators.

The lights came back on as the entire DAFBLA contingent sat stunned.

“Ms. Cummings,” Felicita said, “you clam that DAFBLA is a dating service, that you are exploring the love between a hominid female and a Brac’tai. But how can you claim it’s mutual when you can clearly see that Brac’tai quantify sexuality in a completely different manner? Brac’tai certainly aren’t getting sexual gratification out of it. They aren’t capable of that. Therefore, DAFBLA cannot be about love. It is a merely a way for women to find sexual release and therefore is a prostitution service. The women are paying for the opportunity to meet and screw Brac’tai.”

“Objection!” Strintella screamed at the top of lungs, tears running down her cheeks. “The Brac’tai aren’t paid!”

“Objection sustained! Plaintiff must prove the Brac’tai receive material benefits from DAFBLA. Unless Plaintiff has more questions, witness can return to her seat.” Lenora scurried back to the defendant’s corner.

Felicitia smiled. “I present exhibit B, a Biogenomics invoice dated 10/15/10020. It’s for a delivery of five thousand gallons of nutritional fluid, plus three resting tanks, to DAFBLA headquarters. This delivery date corresponds to the date three more Brac’tai became ‘available’ in addition to the ten they already had.”

“Objection! Exhibit is a forgery!”

Both Felicita and Bella burst out laughing.

“Objection overruled!” Legaltron said. “Defendants have no merit on which to base this claim due to document being verified by Biogenomics.”

“The defense would like to change its plea to guilty,” Strintella sobbed.

“Plea change accepted. What punishment do the plaintiffs seek?”

“Complete disbanding of DAFBLA, your honor,” Felicita said. “The Brac’tai under their employment will be free to do as they please.”

“Do the defendants wish to contest this?”  Legaltron asked.

Strinella hung her head low. “No.”

And Felicita had won a stunning but easy victory. All she really did was show them their delusions and the defense crumbled. Sure, some women would continue to prey on Brac’tai for selfish sexual gratification, but the organization itself was finished and its Brac’tai slaves free.

Good riddance.

Read more side stories!

 

K23 Side Story: Sandworm Rodeo

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Yes, this was an actual story!

This story is what spawned that cover!

 

Payol Chincrusher was going to die. The orc was dehydrated and standing in 110-degree heat a few hundred yards from the Meran Ocean, a vast body of water which bordered the Alamaro Wastes. He stumbled over the flat burning sand and collapsed.

This was what happened when you screwed over the Mol Borang, a large hijacking ring that stole millions of credits worth of Barrenlands ore every year. He snitched on them after his bosses refused to give him a fair share, letting the powers that be know when a major heist was planned. Dozens of Mol Borang were killed. In return, the Mol Borang dumped him in the Wastes to die, a far more insidious death than just shooting him.

As his consciousness began to fade, he noticed something odd. There were dozens of eye tentacles poking up a few inches above the sand in a long line parallel to the shore. Payol instantly knew what they belonged to: Brac’tai, the amphibious round tentacle things that spawned in Elemchi’s waterways and then drifted around the world, wherever the ocean currents would take them. A bunch always ended up in New Delta, working for Ashram-Uriah but many never did.

Despite where they were, these Brac’tai were very much alive, as every eye was focused squarely on him.

He was saved.

Brac’tai were living water filters, able to survive in all but the most polluted waterways, their bodies filtering everything but necessary nutrients. Unfortunately for most city-states, using Brac’tai to filter their water was impractical and they would need millions to make any serious difference.

“Help me,” Payol moaned.

A sandy tentacle came out of the ground, wrapped around Payol, and a brac’tai pulled itself up so that its large gaping mouth was flat with the ground, becoming a goblet of cool water, which the brac’tai sponged in. This would be highly embarrassing if anyone saw him, but life was life. He drank.

Then Payol notice the sand that shifted upwards with the brac’tai was wet. This made sense being so close to the water that he could hear the drone of the ocean. Being buried in the sand must have let them gather and conserve water while their skin let them breathe. Still, what they were doing here was somewhat of a mystery. There was nothing here.

The answer came when the ground began to shake and everyone, Bac’tai and orc alike, began to rise out of the sand to massive cheers. The Brac’tai had attached themselves to bumps on the skin of the Alamaro’s sole natural inhabitant: sandworms. Sandworms were hundreds of feet long and slid over and beneath the sand, living off microbes in the sand. They were what made the Alamaro Wastes uninhabitable everywhere but the City of Sands. This was due to the sandworms being unable to pass through rock, a fact which also made sure the worms stayed out of the rest of Hominia.

As the worm rose, the Brac’tai that had saved Payol turned around, and Parol held on for dear life.

He saw that they were towards the front of the worm, where its large gaping mouth was located. Its mouth contained several teeth, which loosened the packed sand at deeper depths for easier digestion. The ingested sand would travel through the worm’s giant stomach and would be expelled out the animal‘s rear end. While they weren’t carnivorous creatures, standing in a worm’s way meant you’d be swallowed, digested and expelled.

The sandworm, once it had surfaced, tilted itself upwards and then slammed back down, to even louder cheers.

Payol began to rock as the worm contracted and relaxed, pulling itself along the ground, the bumps on its flesh giving it traction on the fine sand. The Brac’tai began to slap the worm’s rough skin, causing it to move faster. The rocking turned into a constant vibration as it accelerated.

The Brac’tai then pulled at once to the right and the sandworm turned inland. The wind was now beginning to rush against Payol’s face as the sandworm reached speeds so fast the front of the worm lifted off the sand as it traveled.

The Brac’tai bounced and the sandworm dived into the sand. Payol shut his eyes and held his breath as the sand tore his soaked clothes off his body. His thick orc hide stayed intact, clutching the cool slimy Brac’tai even tighter.

The Brac’tai leaned back and the sandworm rushed up and launched into the air. At the apex the sandworm turned down. For a split-second, Payol was weightless, floating in the air. A rush went to his head.

He began to cry out in joy with the Brac’tai as the worm dived back into the sand, and then launch again.

Up and down, up and down they went, over and over again in an exhilarating ride. How long this lasted he didn’t know, but the ride eventually ended and the worm sank into the sand far enough that Payol was back on the sand.

The City of Sands glistened in the afternoon sun, the worm as close as it would go.

Payol patted the Brac’tai. “Thank you.” They all chirped.  Payol stood up and walked a few feet. Then the sandworm began to rise back up as the brac’tai waved goodbye.

The sand began to burn and Payol dashed towards civilization, food and clothes. The sandworm turned around, taking the Brac’tai back towards the ocean. They would probably just soak up more water and go for another ride or two before heading back into the oceans, departing for other ports of call.

As much Payol wanted to stay with them, he had other things to do, like deal with the Mog Boral and maybe start a business sending tours on sandworm rides.

As he reached the City, an enormous metal box, Payol dismissed the latter idea.

The expense from lost clothes would probably put him out of business.

K23 Side Story: Finality

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Every time the clockwork gear clicked in the clock on the mantel along the wall in his study, Alvar Tanner’s heart skipped a beat and his trepidation rose.

14:25:37.

14:25:38.

14:25:39.

His study was silent. He had sent his family away. He wanted to be alone.

14:25:44.

14:25:45.

14:25:46.

The plush armchair he sat in was no longer comforting. His clothes were soaked with sweat.

14:25:58.

14:25:59.

14:26:00.

Four more minutes!

The seconds were counting up to 14:30:00, when he would reach one hundred years and a day…when his time would finally come to an end. He was in great shape at one hundred, looking like he was in his early forties.

That was all thanks to the arcane age-extending treatments he’d paid through the nose for. Every year since his late-twenties, a mage would say a few incantations, inject Alvar with some concoctions and Alvar would physically age at a fifth of his normal rate, starting from the moment of the treatment. Regardless of when one started the treatment, they’d always die at the same age: one hundred years and a day. At that moment, one would suddenly look their age then promptly die. And if they missed a treatment, the years they‘d “skipped“ would instantly catch up with them.

14:26:55.

14:26:56.

14:26:57.

Most who underwent the treatments until a hundred simply sedated themselves so they died in their sleep. Alvar couldn’t sleep. Most underwent the treatments to remain in good health until the end. Alvar underwent the treatments because he feared death. He was terrified of losing all that he had.

14:27:30.

14:27:31.

14:27:32.

Alvar was rich, the owner of a successful aircraft manufacturer called Ansala. He lived in a huge luxury apartment filled with things gathered from his travels over the four continents. He had been married to the love of his life for seventy years, though he had lost her when she hit a hundred and a day a few months before. He had four children, eight grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.

14:28:00.

14:28:01.

14:28:02.

A Uthiran acquaintance named Baroglong who was pushing eight-hundred told Alvar he was lucky. There was a reason all Uthirans eventually went mad. It was the only way they could deal with the time. His acquaintance was obsessive-compulsive, nearly eating Alvar when he moved a chair out of place in the Uthiran’s warehouse den. Alvar didn’t care, he still wanted to live for a thousand years.

14:28:59.

14:29:00.

14:29:01.

Less than a minute to go. There was nothing anyone could do. The most advanced medical technology in the world would not able to extend his life. Any more treatments were pointless.

14:29:35.

14:29:36.

14:29:37.

His time was up. He could do nothing but reluctantly give in. He held up a small mirror and looked at himself.

14:29:58.

15:29:59.

14:30:00!

The clock chimed on the mantel and continued clicking away, but Alvar didn’t hear it. Alvar had gone deaf. He could no longer see himself; he’d went blind.

His hair fell out. His teeth rotted. His skin wrinkled and sagged. His bones went brittle. He took one last wheezing breath and his heart stopped…

But that was not the end, not yet. His soul had one stop to make on its journey to oblivion. It was a limbo of sorts where all the souls of the sentient went, a place where Thagnar the Dead stripped souls of their attachments to their previous life. It was these attachments which would keep them whole. The souls of plants, insects, microbes and the like skipped this step, as they formed no attachments; most were not even aware they were ever alive at all.

The experience in that limbo was different for each soul, mirroring the life they had lived. For Alvar, he was sitting exactly where he was, still in his forties, but with one small difference. His wife, Osana, stood in front of him looking radiant and beautiful in her prime.

She walked to him and took his hand. “It’ll be ok, Alvar, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Death comes to all things in time. It ‘s the way of the universe.”

“But I didn’t want to go. It’s not fair!” He pulled his hand away.

She bent down and took his head in her heads, forcing him to stare into her sparkling brown eyes. “I didn’t want to die either, but I accepted it and slept through the end. Thagnar allowed me to stay here and take the final steps into nothingness with you.”

He pushed her back. “You’re not Osana! The last thing she did before she took the pills was saying her final goodbyes, leaving no lingering regrets!”

Osana transformed into Thagnar the Dead, a hooded figure with skeletal hands. All one could see of his face was glowing red eyes. “Osana was easy,” the deity said in a deep baritone. “She split apart with little effort.”

Alvar crossed his legs and arms and looked away. “You’re evil!”

Thagnar laughed. “I am not evil. I am necessary, While Illwyn can always form new souls from the infinite energy, without me and the end I bring, life is not worth living. Let me show you something.”

Alvar and the chair found themselves in a massive cavern with a large opening to the outside on a wall and a brook running through it. In the center of the cavern was a humongous blue Uthiran, at least a hundred feet long, curled up on the ground. Its eyes were glazed over. Its mouth hung open, a pool of drool forming on the ground. Occasionally an electric spark traveled over its scales and sent twitches through its wings and tail.

“We are on Uthira, mere moments after you died. No one here can notice your presence as you are now simply divine energy. That Uthiran lying there, named Imsomon, is twenty-five hundred years old, older than New Delta itself. Look at him,” Thagnar pointed a bony finger, “He’s catatonic. The mental stress of seeing empires rise and fall and mountains erode into hills has left his mind fractured and broken. He spends every day sitting in that very spot, staring off into space, growing ever larger and more powerful even though most of him will never move again under his own power.”

Another blue Uthiran two-thirds Imsomon’s size slowly walked in carrying a torn carcass of something. “Dinner, father,” she said to him in Dragon with a soft tone. She put the carcass down, tore off a hunk of meat and slowly chewed it. She pried Imsomon’s mouth open a little further and spit the meat inside. Imsomon swallowed.

“You are watching a daughter’s love for her father, a love that over the millennia-and-a-half of her life has become an obsession. All Thaxia does is care for her catatonic father: Feeding him regurgitated meat; giving him water from the brook; cleaning his orifices and removing his waste. She feeds from the same carcass, drinks from the same water, lives in the same cave. Her identity is his identity.”

“But why?” Alvar asked. “I thought Uthirans stopped dealing with their parents completely after a few centuries.”

“For many that is true; but not for all. Thaxia was the strongest of her brood, the one Imsomon was proud of the most. He took her under his wing and molded her into a strong and powerful dragon even as his mental state deteriorated. She never moved far, and when he finally went completely catatonic a millennia ago—“

“You can’t be serious!” Alvar screamed.

Thaxia began collecting water for him in her jaw.

“It is true,” Thagnar replied. “Imsomon has been laying here and Thaxia has been caring for him in the exact same way for the last three-hundred sixty-five thousand days… give or take a thousand or two.”

Thaxia was holding her father’s jaw up as she poured water down his throat.

Thagnar continued, “When he dies, she will die as well. Her purpose for living this long will be gone.”

Alvar put his head in his hands. If he could cry he would. “Stop this! I don’t want to see it anymore!”

Thangar waved his hand and Alvar’s face turned to look at the Uthirans. Thaxia walked back to the brook to collect more water.

“No. You must that learn that the longer you live beyond your time, the more of a relic and a burden you become. They have both lived long beyond their time, stuck in an endless cycle of repetition because there is nothing else. But do not worry, I have shown you them because that seemingly infinite cycle of days is not infinite after all.”

Thaxia came back with a second mouthful, but let it splash on the ground when she felt no breath. Imsomom’s body was limp. His eyes were closed. There were no more sparks. Thaxia sniffed and nudged her father a few times. She let out a pathetic roar and collapsed next to him. Her breathing slowed, and then stopped.

The cavern vanished and Alvar stood in a black void with Thagnar in front of him. The deity extended his hand. “So now do you understand why all things must come to an end?”

Alvar nodded. “Yes, I do. My life ended when it was still very good. I am glad that I have lived a long and fulfilling existence. My time has passed.”

He took Thagnar’s hand.

In an instant Alvar Tanner ceased to exist. His soul was decimated, his existence no more. His soul’s energy was now in Illwyn’s care. She would form it into a completely new soul which would give life to someone yet to be born.

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