Thursday, January 31, 2013

First Draft, First Words

I found this particular graphic online, and I couldn't help but laugh about how true it is. Most of the writers I know love the writing process, but dislike the necessary editing after the initial draft is completed. But this graphic shows, in hilarious fashion, just how vital and necessary editing is once a first draft is complete. For this pie chart, the fact that approximately 55% is probably salvageable (5% gold + 40% not entirely hopeless + 10% is the wrong place) is probably about right.

The funny thing is, it's true for most professional writers just as much as it is for the novice. To illustrate my point, check out this link off of Brandon Sanderson's website, where you compare the 1st draft of his novel Warbreaker to the final published version all in one document. This should give any aspiring writer hope. Your first draft doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't even need to be great. It just needs to get finished!

So in the spirit of clunky, mistaken-ridden first drafts, I want to share with you, my readers, the very first scene I wrote in my current work in progress. At this point I know for sure that this scene will not make it into my final version, although elements of it have been incorporated elsewhere. In any case, read it, laugh at it, and post some comments below on what you think. Enjoy!


The castle burned in the starless night, giving off neither heat nor light. Flames danced along its crumbling walls and jagged towers like a phosphorous glow, illuminating stone and wood blackened by fire but not consumed. No evidence of life was visible, neither along the ruined battlements nor within the narrow windows and gaping holes of the castle itself. The flaming castle seemed to exist within an endless void, like an artist’s tableau set upon a black canvas.
            Then, like fireflies on a spring night, a sickening green glow began to coalesce in the courtyard of the castle. One by one, twelve cloaked figures came into being, like a distant scene coming into focus within a spyglass. The green light illuminated their skeletal figures, garbed in decaying purple robes etched with eldritch runes and ornamented with ancient crowns, silvered rings, and black-steel breastplates. Jewels glittered on crowns, rings, and breastplates in the eerie glow like a malevolent gaze. Yet it seemed their reality was still in question, for they flickered and spluttered in the endless night like a candle flame about to be extinguished.
            Scarcely had they appeared when another figure appeared in their midst, standing a hand-span higher than the others. In appearance he was alike and yet unalike his companions. Royal robes lined with ermine and scarlet clothed his skeletal body, fitted as if by a skilled tailor. Thin white hair hung down in waves from his otherwise bare skull, the pale tendrils strangely mimicking the shape of long hair and beard. In but a glance it was clear that he stood more firmly in reality than the other skeletal figures, yet the lack of crown, jewelry, and armor diminished whatever advantage this would hold.
            All was silent in the endless night. Then a faint breeze rustled decaying cloth, bringing with it the scent of death and rot. And the tall one spoke out a single word, and the stones and earth alike quivered in resonance. “Awake,” he said, spoken and yet not spoken from his unmoving skull.
            At his word the flames of the castle flared higher, and the ground shook with the force of his command. The green glow that surrounded the figures burst forth, like heavy smoke driven by a fierce gale. As its grasping tendrils leaped forward, the ground split asunder, and creatures born from man’s nightmares emerged from the earth like hatchlings from their eggs. No two of these horrors were alike. Some were naught but yellowed bones, skeletal fingers clutching rusted blade or scythe. On others dark, rotted flesh still clung to their form, partially concealed beneath leather rags of clothing. Still others seemed as if just awakened from sleep, save for their pale white complexion, blackened claws, and lifeless eyes of deepest scarlet. In what seemed like only moments a mighty host had emerged, and in orderly ranks they assembled in the courtyard, then paused to pay homage to the one who had called them back into reality.
            “Unseal the tomb,” the tall robed figure said. At his words, the doors leading into the great hall creaked open, as if moved by unseen hands. A piercing wail sounded from within, and two foul spirits came forth, little more than twisting shimmers in the air, like heat rising from desert sands. Garbed in ragged cloaks, the two spirits escorted the tall skeletal figure as he slowly moved into the great hall.
            In the pale green light cast by these horrors, there was but a glimpse of what once might have been a magnificent chamber, where perhaps long tables had once hosted the royal court in fine splendor by the warmth and light of a large fire within the hearth. But now all was cold and dark, and whatever finery had once graced the chamber long rotted away or destroyed. The tall figure paid it no heed, but turned and walked to the far end of the hall, flanked by the two foul spirits. He stopped, and the spirits wailed once more, the sound of pure agony and despair. A panel slid aside in the wall, revealing a narrow stairway terminating in a large stone door.
            As the figure descended to the cold stone floor at the bottom of the stairs, a sharp crack resounded in the chamber. The figure placed an outstretched skeletal hand upon a stone door, and the stone shattered like a clay pot, crumbling to pieces at his feet. The shards crumbled to dust as he strode through the doorway into utter darkness that seemed animated by malevolent hate.
            As he entered, the sickly green light seemed to grow in power, until its smoky tendrils filled the chamber. Their light revealed a stone bier, guarded by statues carved to resemble knights resplendent in dark purple arms and armor. Once more the figure laid his skeletal hand upon the stone, and the lid of the bier shattered at his unholy touch. The interior of the coffin appeared strangely unsoiled by time and decay, and glowed violet from four artifacts carefully arranged on a long cloak etched with arcane symbols.
            In the center of the tomb lay a steel breastplate, its dark metal trimmed with gold and embossed with a violet sigil depicting an inverted burning tower. Towards the front sat a small golden crown, inset with jewels centered around a large emerald. Near the foot was a stone scepter, depicting a skeletal claw clutching an amethyst as large as a hen’s egg. And loose upon a silvery chain draped across the breastplate was a bleached white ring, which looked as if a long finger bone had been bent into a perfect circle and shaped into a seamless whole.
            The skeletal figure gazed at these unholy artifacts, then extended a clawed hand into the bier. But for all his solidity, his hand passed unhindered through them, like a rock dropping into a still pond without a single telltale ripple. His eyes narrowing in rage, the figure stood, turning his gaze as if upon an unseen observer.
            “Bring them to me. Release me, and at last take up your birthright. And in the endless night, Baelfegor shall at last live again!”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


And now for something completely different...

Like many adults of my generation, there was a time when I spent countless hours playing video games. Alas, those days have come and gone, replaced by the joys of working full-time, a wonderful wife, and a young family. But every once and a while I come across a game that is something special. Something about it captures my imagination, and I end up returning to it again and again, squeezing it in amidst all my many responsibilities and more important hobbies. Terraria is the most recent game to fall into this category.

For those unfamiliar with this great game, check out the trailer below:


At its heart, Terraria combines the classic 2-D action/adventure game (like Legend of Zelda or Metroid) with the much more recent sensation Minecraft. Like the latter, you begin in a randomly generated world where the player can manipulate the environment to build all manner of new content, including buildings, weapons, armor, tools, food, etc. But like these classic action/adventure franchises, exploring deeper into the world gives one access to increasingly powerful items and abilities, increasing your ability to survive against the worst the game can throw at you. In this same vein, as your character increases in power, it also allows you to successfully combat the powerful boss monsters, and thus unlock additional areas to explore or treasures to utilize.

For me, while the adventure elements keep the game fun and interesting, it is the ability to quite literally interact with every bit of the randomly generated worlds that keeps me coming back again and again. You can quite literally take and shape the world to your heart's content, building fantastic castles, caverns, shrines, and/or lairs, and furnishing them with the over 600 items available in the game.

Even better, modders have created massive amounts of new content for the game, extending its replay value and introducing all sorts of new and novel elements to the game. And while many of them range from decent to excellent, the clear front-runner for me is the mod known as The Story of Red Cloud. Check out the link for full details, or watch this excellent trailer below:


 For much of its development, Terraria was supported by frequent and completely free updates, which continued to add all sorts of new features and elements to the game. Then, almost a year ago, it was announced that the designer was stepping away from the project and did not expect to release any new content. The reaction from the community was mixed, but disappointment was shared by almost all. 

Fortunately, it appears that development for this great game may not be over after all. First of all, the rights to a console version of the game was purchased by 505 Games. The original creator was recently invited to go out to 505 and try out the new console port, and upon his return home, posted that he was considering resuming work on the PC version of Terraria. While this has not been officially confirmed, it would appear from the activity on his Twitter page and on the forums that he has resumed work on this excellent game. Needless to say, this was great news!

So if you've never checked out this great game, I would strongly encourage you give it a go. The latest PC version is available on Steam for $9.99, and the console version will be available in late February or early March for Xbox and Playstation. And if you've played it before, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Please feel free to comment below, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


One of my favorite writing tools is a fantastic and free online app called WriteTrack, available from Written and coded by David Gale, and funded solely through donations, WriteTrack does exactly what it sounds like - it tracks your progress towards a predetermined writing goal. While there certainly are other basic word-count tools available online, none that I am aware of have the breadth of features that WriteTrack offers.

The first thing you do is to create a Challenge for yourself against which your daily progress can be measured. Here's what that looks like:

Here you input the name of your Challenge, any notes to yourself that might be relevant, your start and end date, and your total target of words for the challenge. If you are using this tool in conjunction with the annual NaNoWriMo competition, you can actually link your challenge directly to your NanoWriMo account. You can also set whether or not other users you add as Friends on WriteTrack can view your current progress on any Challenges you create.

Each day at the top of your calendar WriteTrack displays your total goal, how much you need to have written to be on track, and where you are currently. 

Here, you can see I failed to complete this particular challenge. By the end, I was still over 3,000 words short of my goal. 

Now then, here is where this app really shines:

For any given Challenge, the app automatically figures out how many words you need to write each day to make your goal. Each day, you input your progress, and it automatically adjusts your goals for the subsequent days to keep you on track. Here, you can see one of my challenges from last November. If you track my progress from day to day, you can easily see how my daily goal changed based upon my progress.  Days in which you make or exceed your goal display blue number, while days you fall short display in red. You can also go in and set a "weight" for any particular day, which will act as a percentage multiplier for your goal that day. Above, you can see several days where it lists a Weight of zero. These were days that I knew in advance I would not be able to write, and thus the daily goals took that into consideration from the very beginning. Of course, you could use this feature to also increase the amount you wanted to write in a single day too.

Finally, WriteTrack has all sorts of handy graphs and charts for those of you who enjoy endless statistical analysis of your writing habits. I personally find them a bit cumbersome and not truly all that helpful, but some of the information is certainly useful.

So if you are the type of person who is motivated by personal goals and likes a rigorous way to not only track your progress but also adjust on the fly to keep you on track, I would wholeheartedly recommend WriteTrack. And hey, it's free - so what do you have to lose?

So are you motivated by these types of goals in your writing? What tools do you use to keep you on track? What features would you like to see in this sort of application? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Until next time...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Yesterday the full spoiler for the newest Magic the Gathering set, Gatecrash, was released by Wizards of the Coast. For those like me who are primarily concerned with the Pauper format, the weeks of previews leading up to the full spoiler can be a frustrating experience. Despite the fact that Commons are the bread-and-butter of any Magic set, nearly all the early spoilers are Rares and Mythic Rares, since these cards are typically more exciting. So until the full spoiler is released, it is difficult to make any real assessment of how a particular set will shape up for Pauper in general.

Over the next week, I will be working on an article that will discuss what I believe will be the most relevant cards for Standard Pauper from Gatecrash. But for today's blog post, I thought I would take a less structured approach and simply discuss my initial thoughts about the set. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Of the new mechanics, Extort is by far the strongest.

The ability to drain your opponent for a single point of life at the cost of a single Black or White mana is quite strong, particularly in a deck that can cast multiple spells a turn or with multiple sources of Extort (since each permanent with the ability will create an additional trigger). Given the fact that there are at least 3 decent Common creatures with this ability, I suspect that
Extort will see plenty of play in Standard Pauper in the months ahead.

2. The other mechanics are fairly weak and not likely to see much play.

In case that wasn't clear, I was not impressed with the other guild mechanics. Here's why:
  • Cipher has some powerful effects, but the fact that it requires you to not only have a creature, but to deal damage to a player consistently with that creature, dramatically weakens the effect. Additionally, the Cipher spells themselves are quite expensive.
  • Bloodrush is decent, since it essentially allows Creature cards in hand to be used as a combat trick instead. While there is value to be had there, the fact that the Bloodrush ability can't be used defensively is a major drawback. Additionally, none of the Common Bloodrush abilities provide any form of evasion or psuedo-evasion (First Strike, Trample, Vigiliance, etc.).
  • Battalion simply asks too much to activate. In my experience in Standard Pauper, it is rare for a player to be attacking with three creatures at once, particularly since creature removal is so prevalent in the format. Even if there may be a specific deck archetype that can create these kinds of situations, the effects generated by Battalion are hardly worth the effort.
  • Evolve is probably the most interesting of the new mechanics. The ability to permanently grow your Creatures over time sounds promising. But again, in Standard Pauper, there simply is too much removal floating around for these creatures to ever get enough counters to become much of a threat. And personally, I am grateful none of the Evolve creatures have Hexproof.
I would love for someone to prove me wrong here, but at least initially, I don't see how these effects are going to make much a difference in Standard Pauper.

3. Considering that Gatecrash is not an Artifact-heavy set, the Common Artifacts are surprisingly good.

It has become increasingly rare to see much in the way of Artifacts at Common, at least outside of artifact-centric blocks like Shards of Alara or Scars of Mirrodin. Yet, Gatecrash includes four non-creature Artifacts, each of which is probably playable. Specifically, Riot Gear is cheap enough to be worth real consideration, while Skyblinder Staff when equipped to a creature with Flying renders that creature virtually unblockable (although it's probably too expensive for that effect). Razortip Whip is no Rod of Ruin, but it is arguable at least on the same level as Goblin Fireslinger. And, of course, the return of Prophetic Prism is quite a pleasant surprise!

4. The biggest effect on Pauper in general will be the release of the remainer of the Common Dual Lands.

While I am no expert in Classic Pauper by any means, I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that the release of Common Dual Lands for all of the paired and enemy colors is quite the windfall for the Pauper format. For the minimal cost of entering the battlefield tapped, being able to tap a Land for two different colors is quite good - good enough, in fact, that these Gates are seeing play even in Standard.

For Standard Pauper, these enemy color Gates will probably prompt many players to explore the new possibilities of these color combinations, particularly in Orzhov.

5. Only a handful of cards will have a major impact on the Standard Pauper metagame. 

I am looking forward to publishing my first article on the Gatecrash Commons, and a full evaluation of the best cards will have to wait until then. But if I had to pick today, here are the eleven cards I would say will see the most play in the months ahead:
  1. Kingpin's Pet
  2. Psychic Strike
  3. Pit Fight
  4. Skynight Legionnaire
  5. Hydroform
  6. Court Street Denizen
  7. Keymaster Rogue
  8. Devour Flesh
  9. Act of Treason
  10. Ivy Lane Denizen
  11. Prophetic Prism
So what do you think of this new set? Are there other cards that should be on my list of the most relevant for Standard Pauper? Did I miss some awesome implication of one of the new mechanics that you think will make a big splash in the format? If so, I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to weigh in on the comments below. And thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Inspiration Through Magic Artwork

As I briefly mentioned in my first few posts, I am currently working on my first novel, a stand-alone adult fantasy novel. I started last summer, made dramatic progress in the early fall, and have made slow but steady progress since then. The first draft is just over 60,000 words long at this point, and given how much of the tale is left to tell, it should reach at least 100,000 words by the time the rough draft is complete. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to sharing more about this work in progress.

But today I want instead to share a little bit about how this particular story was inspired. Specifically, I want to talk about how artwork from Magic the Gathering provided some of the key ideas that came together to form the basis for this tale. Back in May of 2012, the set Avacyn Restored was released to the public. Like most devoted players, I eagerly kept up with the spoilers as they were released, and even wrote an article about which cards in the new set would make an impact for Standard Pauper. The theme of a world of darkness being restored by angelic agents of light was a very compelling world idea to me, and as I browsed through the artwork, I found the inspiration to take the fragmented ideas I had been playing with and turn them into a full-fledged story concept. Let's take a look at four of these specific art pieces.

In this scene, a commander places a token of blessing and protection upon a solider as the sun begins to set. Imagine a world where the members of a holy Order were thrust into a world of darkness, through a ritual that took place as the sun was setting. These brave warriors would need the blessing of their holy god to protect them against the corrupting influences of the evil realm they were entered. Thus, each would receive the blessing from their commander or high priest. But where were they going, and why?

In this scene, angels descend from the heavens to come to the aid of humanity. Imagine a world that had been held captive to this ancient evil, who were then set free by a host of angelic warriors. Perhaps their aid had been obtained by a brave hero, who ventured into an ancient temple and evoked the name of some forgotten god. By entreating this god, these brave angelic warriors descended from heaven to stand with humanity to overcome this ancient evil empire. But if the evil empire was defeated, why did the struggle continue?

In this scene the statue of an angel sits in the courtyard of a city or temple. This inspired the explanation I needed. The angelic warriors were not wholly successful in defeating the empire. Something went tragically wrong. So they were forced to sacrifice themselves in order to banish the darkness away from the world. Now, every so often, this holy Order must reenter into the dark realm where the evil empire was banished. There they must battle to protect a stone statue created as part of the banishing ritual.

But in the end, the Order triumphs. They are able to undo the tragedy that forced their sacrifice, and in one heroic night, they defeat the evil empire once and for all. And in doing so, they restore these angelic warriors to life. As the sun rises, these beings rise back into the heavens, forevermore to protect humanity from the forces of darkness. Whenever evil is found, one has one to call upon their name, and once more light will triumph over darkness.

Obviously, these details alone are insufficient for an entire story, especially since this is little more than world-building and a very rough sketch of major events. Characters and plot would be needed to intersect these details and bring them to life. But the seeds of my story would never have come together in the way that they did without the fantastic artwork from Avacyn Restored.

Of course, inspiration can strike from a variety of different sources. But one of the things I love so much about Magic the Gathering is that underlying this great game, with all its rules and mechanics, is a succession of great fantasy tropes, plots, and characters, all of which can be a rich source of inspiration for a budding fantasy author such as myself. For others like myself who both enjoy this game and desire to write fantasy, I would encourage you to pay close attention to the artwork of Magic sets as they are released. Who knows? You might just find your inspiration for the next major fantasy novel!

So where do you find your inspiration, my readers? I'd love to hear more about what inspires you. Or, perhaps you can share your own thoughts about the artwork that stands behind Magic the Gathering. In any case, your comments are very much appreciated. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Playing MonoBlack

Most people thought that with the release of Return to Ravnica, bringing with it the first Common dual-lands, that the Standard Pauper format would shift away from the mono-colored decklists that were such a pronounced part of the previous Standard format. But, as is true in Classic Pauper, there is something surprisingly effective about mono-colored decks that allows them to keep rising to the top, despite the versatility and added strength of two and three color combinations. As proof of this phenomena, Mono Black has recently made a strong reappearance in Standard Pauper, recently capturing the trophy for both Monday Pauper Deck Challenge and Standard Pauper Deck Challenge, the two Player Run Events for this format. Let's take a closer look at one of these decklists.

After studying the results from these events, I wanted to test out this archetype for myself. But as I assembled it into virtual sleeves on Magic Online, I noticed this forgotten card and immediately saw some potential:

While Gravedigger was in the format, this card saw almost no play. Some might see this as surprising, given that Driver of the Dead is a stronger card in most ways. For the same casting cost, you get an extra point of power, and even more remarkable, you get to return a creature from the Graveyard directly into play. Of course, there are two caveats. First, Driver of the Dead has to actually die, rather than simply come into play. Second, the creature card that returns to play has to be one with a converted mana cost of 2 or less. These are pretty significant drawbacks, Given that, it is little wonder that this card has been almost completely overlooked.

Until now. As it turns out, the Mono Black archetype boasts a number of solid Black creatures that fit this narrow requirement. And so, with this particular interaction in mind, I came up with this decklist:

Mono Black Driver
played by gwyned in MPDC 19.10
4 Duty-Bound Dead
4 Highborn Ghoul
4 Tormented Soul
4 Vampire Interloper
3 Bloodhunter Bat
3 Driver of the Dead
2 Servant of Nefarox
24 cards

Other Spells
3 Dead Weight
3 Murder
3 Sign in Blood
3 Victim of Night
2 Tragic Slip
15 cards
20 Swamp
2 Haunted Fengraf
22 cards

Driver of the Dead

Unfortunately, I struggled during Round 3 and 4 of this particular event, with a disappointing 2-2 finish with this decklist. Still, I believe it has potential, and will definitely keep testing this particular build.

I did manage to record one of my matches, so I have included that below.



So what do you think of the Mono Black archetype? What about the Driver of the Dead interaction? I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why White Weenie?

During my tenure as a regular player and writer of the Standard Pauper format, one of the deck archetypes that rises to the top again and again is White Weenie. For those unfamiliar with this archetype, it utilizes cheap, efficiently costed White creatures and backs them up with removal, pump, and protection spells that are all available within White's slice of the color pie. Since this archetype can be found in almost every format in Magic the Gathering, it should come as no surprise that it has been a pronounced part of the Standard Pauper metagame.

So what is it about this deck archetype that makes it so good? And what is the best way to counteract what this deck is trying to accomplish? Over the next week or so, I hope to have an article published over at with a more detailed analysis of these two questions. But for today, I will content myself with a brief answer to the first question.

Let's take a look at a fairly typical White Weenie build for Standard Pauper currently:

White Weenie
Played by PROboszcz in MPDC 19.08
4 Ajani's Sunstriker
4 Attended Knight
4 Chapel Geist
4 Doomed Traveler
4 Loyal Cathar
2 Seraph of Dawn
4 War Falcon
26 cards

Other Spells
4 Break of Day
4 Pacifism
4 Swift Justice
16 cards
20 Plains
2 Haunted Fengraf
22 cards

Attended Knight

Here's why I think White Weenie is so powerful:
  1. It's fast and efficient. With the exception of the Seraph of Dawn, all these creatures have a converted mana cost of 3 or less. Each of them are also efficient, with excellent abilities beyond their Power and Toughness. The fact that so many of the creatures have Flying makes it much harder for an opponent to keep up.
  2. It's aggressive. With the ability to create a large number of creatures quickly, the deck can flood the virtual battlefield, overwhelming an opponent's ability to deal with all the threats. The opponent never has the time to react to all the threats, and as a result is quickly defeated. The fact that Attended Knight, Doomed Traveler, and Loyal Cathar all act as pseudo-card advantage contributes to this strength as well.
  3.  It can win out of nowhere. One of the hallmarks of White Weenie are pump-effects, which allows the player to turn an attack into the perfect alpha strike (thus finishing off your opponent), or allows that same player to quickly take out opposing blocking creatures.
  4. It has good options against most other decks. White is very versatile in Magic, with the ability to bring important effects to bear when they are needed, like lifegain, Artifact/Enchantment removal, cheap creature removal, protection, and even some limited Graveyard recursion.
 So what do you think? Why is White Weenie so successful in Standard Pauper? Is this an archetype you enjoy playing, or would you like to see it disappear from the metagame? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Memory of Light

Today marks a very important day in the world of fantasy fiction. Today, the final book in the epic Wheel of Time series has been released. Entitled A Memory of Light, this staggering 14th volume of this series has been long anticipated by its loyal fans, yet came very near to never being released. As is well-known by know, the author of the Wheel of Time series passed away after a lengthy battle with a rare blood disorder, leaving the series unfinished. Eventually, author Brandon Sanderson was given the unprecedented honor of taking the notes, dictations, and piecemeal writings left following Jordan's death and assembling them into conclusion of the Wheel of Time saga.

I first discovered this amazing series back in high school when one of my good friends loaned me the first book in the series. I was immediately hooked, and proceeded to read through all of the available books as fast as I could get my hands of them. This fascination with this series carried me through college and through my adult life. Along the way, I reread the series several times, and shared my love of this series with friends, family, and even my future wife. All one has to do is look at the top shelf of my most prominent  bookshelf to see how much I have treasured this series.

(In fact, the main reason I kept this particular  bookshelf is because, at last, I owned one long enough to hold all fourteen volumes of the series, plus the extra books, on one shelf).

As an inspiring fantasy author, the Wheel of Time has done more to influence the way I think about the genre than anything else I know of. Several times, as some of my alpha readers have read over my current work in progress (of which I will write soon, I promise!), I have been told that something is perhaps too derivative of ideas within this series. Of course, each time I have argued that it is almost impossible to write anything in the world of fantasy without somehow touching upon something contained with the Wheel of Time, so far-reaching is the scope of this series. The Wheel of Time is, without question, the fantasy series by which almost all other works will be measured. In my opinion, it is preeminent in the genre, and I cannot imagine ever reading something else that would rival it for sheer power, scope, and length.

So if you've never had the joy of sitting down and reading this amazing series, there is no better time than now. The series is finished at last, and I for one cannot wait to enjoy every last surprise that A Memory of Light has to offer. So what about you? Have you read this series? What do you think of it? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Until next time...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Every Day

One of the principles that I have seen proved time and time again is the power of doing something every day. Almost anything in life worth doing well requires applying the power of this principle. Whether it be mastering a musical instrument, being a skilled athlete, or even just acing a test, working in incremental steps each and every day seems to be the best way to generate success. It should be no surprise, then, that this principle is particularly true when you want to be a successful writer.

In a recent post, author David Farland said that it takes most writers at least a million words before they discover their true talent for writing. Now, at first glance, that number seems impossibly large. If someone told me that I had to sit down and write a million words before I could become a published author, my reaction would be to never even try. A million words sounds like an absurd goal to achieve if that's what it takes just to develop natural talent into real success.

But now apply the principle of writing every day. How many words would you have to write a day if you wanted to write a million words in a year? For those who can't do large division in your head, the answer is around 2740. For comparison, a successful NaNoWriMo requires approximately 1700 words a day. So, instead, let's divide that million word goal over two years. Now we're talking just over 1370 words a day. Still a formidable goal, but one that might actually be in reach. Just imagine. If you could discipline yourself to write 1400 words a day for two years, at the end of that time you'd have written over a million words. What an accomplishment! And it's only possible because of the power of every day.

Back in September last year, I set a personal goal for myself to write 30,000 words that month. Life was busy and work crazy, but somehow I managed the discipline to sit down and write at least 1000 words every day that month. And here's how things looked at the end of that month:

That's what I accomplished when I applied the principle of every day. What about you? What could you accomplish if you put this powerful principle to work in your life? What impossible goal could you achieve? I'd love to hear your thoughts or stories in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Like so many others this time of year, I have been thinking about new endeavors and resolutions for a new year. One such new endeavor is the creation of this blog. As someone who regularly writes and plays on Magic the Gatherling Online, I have been considering methods of building a more intentional web presence. Additionally, I have also taken my first steps towards becoming a fantasy author, and have been pondering different means to connect with others and share what I am working on. Thus, a blog seems to be the perfect solution.

For now, my plan is to submit updates twice a week, publishing by midnight on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Subject matter will be somewhat varied, but will include, in no particular order:
  • Links to my newest articles over at
  • Discussions on Magic the Gathering Online in general, and the Standard Pauper format in particular
  • Thoughts and helpful information regarding becoming a writer in the science fiction/fantasy market
  • Drafts of short stories and other writings, which are either a work-in-progress or have been deemed unsuitable for seeking professional publication
  • Random musings about life, philosophy, or anything else that catches my interest
I am looking forward to a great new year as I begin this new endeavor and hope in the weeks and months to come that many of you will join me in this venture. Please feel free to comment, if for no other reason than to let me know my words are not simply being lost into the void.