May 2018 Updates

Happy Wednesday!

It’s been a while since I put up a blog post. I’ve been burning the proverbial candle at both ends and haven’t had much time to spare for it. Stealing a few minutes here to ramble a bit.

A number of exciting projects are underway. First, the editor sent back the file for Menagerie! I’m hoping to have everything put together with that for a release sometime within the next two weeks.

I’m also working on two second editions, re-releasing The Eldritch Heart and Caller 107 soon with new cover art and some revisions. Caller 107 (since it’s one of my earliest books) had the most changes (something like 3,500 tweaks inside and a few thousand more words added). For those of you who’ve read the first version of The Eldritch Heart, the edits are mostly minor things like sentence flow and a couple of minor echoes. I did however make a small-but-meaningful change toward the end which will hopefully provide a more satisfying feel to how everything wraps up.

Also, I wound up changing the name of the stone giant from Ogun to Omun. A reader pointed out that “Ogun” is also the name of an African deity, which I had unintentionally used. Appropriately enough, he’s an “Earth God,” so naming a stone giant after him kinda worked even if it was a coincidence. Honestly, I thought I made the word up not realizing… Alas, my Google-Fu was weak. However, out of respect, I changed the name.

Ghost Black, the third book in the Daughter of Mars series is scheduled for release on 5/22, about a week away.

I’m also eagerly awaiting the cover art for Out of Sight, a YA science fiction novel. The text is ready to go here, so as soon as the cover and interior art is ready, the book will be going live.

Citadel: The Concordant Sequence is done with proofreading and awaiting formatting!

The Divergent Fates Anthology recently had a new cover and interior formatting applied.

I’ve also got the outline underway for the third (as yet untitled) book in the Vampire Innocent series. (BTW the audiobook for A Nighttime of Forever should be going live soon. It’s in the final stages over at ACX.)

Dead Man’s Number just came back from the proofreader and is in queue.

J.R. Rain and I are working on the second Alex Silver novel, Deep Silver, which is in queue for editing. Unfortunately, I don’t have any idea of a release timeline at this point as we are both quite busy.

Also, paperback versions of Sophie’s Light, The Forest Beyond the Earth, A Nighttime of Forever, A Beginner’s Guide to Fangs, and the Divergent Fates Anthology are now available through Barnes & Noble.

So, over the next few weeks, I’ve got somewhere between 4 and 6 books expecting to release or re-release. Hence, the head-spinning.

Happy reading!



Updates Feb 2017

Hi all,

So, since this whole writing thing got serious, I’ve been keeping books in these black plastic storage bins – which are great, but they have the mild problem of being opaque, and well… boxes. This of course meant it proved rather difficult to easily find a book when someone wanted one or really keep a good sense of how many of what I’ve got on hand.

In a fit of randomness, I decided to get a shelf.

This, owing to the fact I could see the books, allowed me to realize that I’ve got a crapload of The Summer the World Ended. Also, quite a few copies of Caller 107. So, I’ve decided to try and get a few out the door by offering them on the cheap. For a limited time, I’m selling signed copies of both books for $15. (normally $10 and $15 each). If anyone is interested, please email me at mcox2112 (gmail). [Also if you’d like a signed copy of anything else, they are available as well.]

2017 Releases

This year is looking to be quite exciting as I have seven titles on the way. Less than a month from now, the Awakened series continues with Daughter of Ash. (It vexes me that they scheduled this series out on such a long timeline, but alas…) This series is a bit unusual in terms of series, as the first five books each follow a different main character (though I admit a little favoritism for Althea (I couldn’t help myself and she has a cameo in books 4 and 5). In book 6, all their stories intersect as Archon is forced to step up his timetable

I’m also excited that the Division Zero series continues in June with a fourth book that I had not initially planned on writing. To all the readers who kept asking me to keep going with Kirsten and company, thank you for the support. I hope you’ll join me on Facebook for the release parties!

Happy reading!


Author Interview | JP Sloan


I recently had the pleasure of reading YEA THOUGH I WALK by JP Sloan, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After reading the first two books in his Dark Choir series, I was predisposed to want to read this, but after I read the preview chapter, I had to finish it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an author interview; fortunately, JP was gracious enough to agree.

  • Tell us a bit about YEA THOUGH I WALK. What would you say the primary story arc is, genre, etc.

On the face of it, YtIW is a horror/western crossover…a moody, existential thriller with monsters and outlaws in the Old West. It’s the story of Linthicum Odell, a Union Army deserter attempting to redeem his cowardice in the service of a cadre of monster hunters who call themselves the Godpistols. He squares off against a horde of cannibal wendigo, blood-drinking strigoi (Old World vampires), and a corrupt, land-grabbing justice…all of which terrorize the innocents in the valley of Gold Vein.

Digging deeper, it’s a story of redemption, an exploration of the nature of good and evil that prods at time-worn notions of loyalty, fidelity, and what it truly means to adhere to a personal code. It’s a bit subversive, something of a pitch battle between deism and humanism.

  • YEA THOUGH I WALK is a bit of a departure from the DARK CHOIR series. Where did the inspiration come from?

I’ve always been a fan of westerns. The first novel I read on my own as a child was Louis L’amour’s SACKETT…a book I pilfered from my Dad, who owned most of L’amour’s books. Though, I never seriously considered writing a western…until I was elbow-deep in researching monster lore for a conference panel, and found that wendigo are somewhat under-represented in horror and urban fantasy. From there, it was an easy step setting it in the Old West.

I decided to write a wendigo vs. vampires story (not a SyFy Original), as I found a nifty parallel between the encroachment of the Transylvanian style of vampire into the frontier and the decades of Manifest Destiny…especially as the wendigo are a native American myth.

  • You’ve got a few different supernatural creatures in YEA; how much of them is based on real world legend vs what you created to fit your world.

As I mentioned, I stumbled across the seed of this story as I prepared for a panel on Paranormal and UF as Folklore for the Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writer’s Institute’s annual conference. The more I read up on the wendigo, the more I crafted the story. I did enough research to realize that I had to shoe-horn the mythology a bit to fit the setting, but I ultimately decided that accessibility for the reader served the story better than absolute adherence to the language and time frame of the wendigo origins.

And if you’ve read the book, you’ll recognize that I spent no time “playing around” with the rules of the wendigo. That’s all part of the mystery that lies central to the plot.

As for the strigoi, I originally elected to represent a classic “upir”, but as things often go I spun my own mechanics and rules for the vampires in this story. Primarily, I needed the monsters to serve the story, as there are so many parallels involved with the plot.

  • Without giving away anything, the storyline requires a certain delicate touch in handling the scenes in the first two thirds of the book. Did you outline things to keep the story on track?

I’m a notorious outliner…I’ve published blog posts demonstrating my spreadsheet obsession. However, this story took a full year to write (my longest drafting period to date), and I admittedly only outlined up through Act II. By the time I reached what would become Part 3 of the final draft, I was winging it. This created a lot of revision for me, however, so I suppose I’ve learned my lesson.

  • What would you say was the most challenging aspect of writing YEA vs the least taxing?

The greatest challenge in YtIW was the language. I strived to create not only a strong voice, but one that was reasonably current for the time. I read several letters written by Civil War soldiers to get my hands around the frontier parlance I wanted, and was surprised to find a curious mix of elevated language and profanity. Hence, I strove to find a balance between florid and salty prose for Odell. Folger, on the other hand, was more of a polished East Coast type, and as such he was easier to write.

The least taxing part of YtIW was in the plot itself. The whole thing really landed on me at a point, once I’d hammered my way to the end of what I had outlined. For a plot with so many twists and turns, I was surprised at how easy it was to stitch together.

  • There is some similarity in the supernatural elements between YEA and your DARK CHOIR series. Do you foresee the events of YEA ever becoming a factor in a future DARK CHOIR book, or are they separate worlds?

No, I fully intended YtIW to be a stand-alone from the very beginning. This book was more of a labor of love, an attempt to write something with a bit more pith than the Dark Choir books…which are page-turners in spirit. Once I’d wrapped up revisions on YtIW and had moved on the Book 3 of the Dark Choir series, the kernel of an idea for a sequel to YtIW actually needled its way into my brain. We’ll see if that ever bears fruit, but for now my focus is on finishing the Dark Choir series.

  • Tell us a bit about what motivates Linthicum Odell. How would you say he differs as a character from Dorian Lake? (aside from not being a practitioner).

Lin is a bit of a mess. One could say the same for Dorian, but in a wholly separate, and one might say more literal, sense. The character of Linthicum Odell from the beginning of the book is on a quest to satisfy a higher authority…in this case Gil McQuarrie. His character navigates his way through impossible odds to discover ultimately that his sense of worth can, and must, come from within.

Dorian Lake’s through-line is in many ways the inverse of that. Dorian begins as a loner, adheres to his sense of superiority to the detriment of his relationships and practice. And as the books progress (I’ve just wrapped up Book 4), he finds that to succeed he must rely on and cultivate relationships with those he never trusted before.

These two would NOT get along…

  • If YEA were a movie, who would you pick to play the major roles?

I took Sam Elliot as my mental and vocal model for Linthicum Odell, and even though he’s the perennial go-to for leathered sumbitches in westerns, I know that the dialogue was written for his voice.

Denton Folger, the milquetoast intellectual from Baltimore, could be portrayed by the likes of Adrian Brody. Give him shoulder-length locks, spectacles, and a printing press…and I think you’d have a winner!

Katherina Folger was written to be a strong Hungarian (which housed modern-day Transylvania at this time period), with remarkable tenderness for her husband, and Hell’s absolute fury for anyone (or thing) who would lift a finger against him. I wonder if Fairuza Balk has time between seasons of Ray Donovan?

As for Richterman, well…read the book, and you’ll know why that’s a difficult question to answer!

  • Can you give us some insight regarding the cover design / symbolism there? Did you suggest that cover or was it something the cover artist came up with?

The symbol on the cover is a solar cross, which is the symbol of the Godpistols. That was my only contribution to the cover design. Beyond that, I feel the artist simply captured a texture and typeset that reflected a gritty, bloody western feel.

  • Do you have any idiosyncratic habits around your writing? (Need certain things in place to be able to write, or tend to do something while writing like my first word thing?)

I’ve developed a new schedule for writing since going part-time at my day job. I now have two hours carved out of each day to dedicate to nothing but writing. This new schedule has allowed me to wrap up Book 4 of the Dark Choir series in short order, and hopefully I’ll keep the pace going!

As for idiosyncrasies… I require absolute silence when I write, and so I banish myself to my upstairs office when the family watches TV downstairs. An odd exception to this is when I take my laptop to write out and about. In the past, I’ve been known to hunker down at local brew pubs and bars to hammer out some word count. Alas, I’ve recently given up liquor, so I’ll have to find a nice coffee shop somewhere to haunt!

  • I’m with you on the silence thing. When I’m drafting I can’t even tolerate music being on. Also, kudos to your effort for health.
  • How long have you been writing and what inspired you to first write a novel?

I first decided to pursue long-format fiction in earnest about twelve years ago. I’d been writing bits of fiction since high school, and even took a couple courses in college. Somewhere around 2004, I returned to the quest, realizing I’d probably have to write some drek before I had anything publish-worthy. The Curse Merchant was my eighth complete novel, but the first I felt was ready to pitch to agents. It was ultimately picked up by Curiosity Quills Press, and they’ve been devouring my manuscripts ever since. YtIW was the first non-series property I pitched at them, and as you can see, they felt it was worth a gamble.

  • What would you say is your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your preferred genre to write?

I’m sure I’ll catch hell for this, but I actually rarely ever read Urban Fantasy. My favorite genre to read is Science Fiction, actually. I’ve recently enjoyed Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN, Hugh Howey’s WOOL and SHIFT series, and Joe Haldeman’s THE FOREVER WAR.

I also devour horror…my favorites include Koontz’s THE TAKING, Max Brooks’s WORLD WAR Z (that dreadful movie notwithstanding), and most everything Blake Crouch writes.

I have a series waiting in the wings once the DARK CHOIR series is complete, which blends elements of science fiction and fantasy. I also have two science fiction stand-alones in partial states, waiting for me to return.

  • What’s been the most surprising reaction you’ve gotten to your writing? Best? Worst?

The best reaction I’ve ever received from something I’ve written was actually nothing that I’ve published, but rather a wrap-up fiction I wrote for a role-playing game I ran for a year and change. I wrote it for my players as a sort of “farewell and thanks for playing”. I sent it out to my players the same weekend that Rowling released the Deathly Hallows. I had a dyed-in-the-wool Harry Potter fanatic tell me that she actually put off reading Deathly Hallows to read that wrap-up…and told me it made her “ugly-cry.”

The worst reaction isn’t really a reaction, but an overall disappointing return on some of my books. I knew going into publishing that it takes a while to gather a readership…but my last two releases haven’t really stirred the pot the way I’d expected them to, and it’s disheartening at times.

…then there’s that guy who insisted that I invented the term “lowball glass”, and mocked me on Amazon for it. Alas…the man clearly isn’t a whiskey enthusiast. That, and he has no access to Google.

  • Did you have the title YEA THOUGH I WALK in mind before or after finishing the story? What led you to choose this as the title?

I come up with most of my titles before I begin writing. I chose “Yea Though I Walk” most clearly as a reference to Psalm 23, reflecting the deep spiritual journey Odell undergoes in the story. But I also had a notion early on to include traditional zombies in the story, and the term struck me as a fun way to reference “walkers.” I cut the zombies from the outline early on, but kept the title not only because it sums up the character journey, but also because it just looks creepy in a bloody western font.

  • In YEA, it seems the lines between good and evil are pretty well blurry. One of the most benevolent-seeming characters is one most would expect to be something evil. Did you make a deliberate decision to keep characters from embodying too much vice or virtue, or did the characters evolve naturally to where they wound up on the page?

I began the whole manuscript with the notion that what we perceive as good and evil can often (but not always) be the opposite of our prejudice. I’m a humanist at heart, and as such I often enjoy turning the tables on man’s reliance on God or any manner of Kantian ethical scheme.

Also, I require that my ancillary characters possess full ranges of virtue and vice, largely up to the perspective of the reader and/or the protagonist. That’s just a guideline I adhere to.

  • What’s next for JP Sloan writing wise?

The mission right now is to wrap up my current Urban Fantasy series. THE CURSE MANDATE, Book 3 of the Dark Choir series, will be released this December, and I suspect I’ll be drawn well into the marketing machine around the end of the year. I’ve recently wrapped up my first draft and revisions for Book 4 of the Dark Choir series, THE DARK INTEREST. Once I finish a short story project I’m working on, I’ll dive directly into Book 5, THE DARK PRINCIPLE, and then on to the final book, THE DARK CHOIR.

Once Dorian Lake is in my rearview mirror, I plan to embark on that sci-fi/fantasy super-setting I mentioned earlier, which will likely involve four novels and several short stories that I plan to release as “membership” materials for my loyal fans.


JP’s Website:


JP’s Bio

My Review

I have read JP’s prior novel, The Curse Merchant, so I was already a fan of his work. When YEA came out, I gave a quick glance at the preview chapter and decided to buy it to keep going.

Yea Though I walk is an expertly crafted story set in the old west (1800s) where a man is forced to deal with supernatural creatures plaguing a quiet town under the thumb of a land-hungry justice of the peace. Gravely wounded, Lincthum Odell winds up under the care of a woman who nurses him back to health. In doing so, he gets tangled in the local creature problem. The woman has secrets, and despite being another man’s wife, he falls for her.

So as not to spoil anything, this bit is going to be deliberately vague: The story contains a twist, and the ‘expertly crafted’ part comes into play how all the events leading up to the reveal weave together into that truth. While I can’t say I’ve ever read “western horror” before, I quite liked what I read here, and would recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of cowboy westerns, vampire novels, and horror.

The story is full of well developed characters, none of whom can really be called completely good or completely bad. It’s a thought-provoking commentary on the nature of human (and sometimes inhuman) morality.

Check out the publisher’s website here –

Dystopian author’s woes.


It’s getting hard to write dystopian fiction these days.

Reality is reaching the point where some novels that paint a dystopian future feel more like literary fiction than science fiction. As of late, it seems that the powers that be aren’t even trying to hide what they’re doing anymore… and the scariest part is people who notice or care appear to be the vocal minority.

In Heir Ascendant, which I wrote about a year ago, the primary antagonist helms a pharmaceutical company which has established itself as the power over a section of the eastern seaboard in the wake of WWIII. They are reviled for charging ridiculous sums for a drug that is the only known cure for a mysterious illness known as Fade. A drug that costs them about 47 cents a dose to make, but they charge $200 a dose.

I thought this was a pretty harsh dystopian idea… until that Shkreli guy came along and did this in the real world… with an even bigger markup that made the fictional dystopia feel tame by comparison.

We now live in a country where someone who has a low-end job that fails to provide health insurance is now obligated to pay a fine they cannot afford because they do not have health insurance they cannot afford. Insurance satirizes itself―name another “product” that people won’t sell to someone based purely on that the person needs it. Oh, you’re sick? Sorry, we won’t cover you. In the case of automobile insurance – it can sometimes cost as much as a car payment in and of itself, and if you ever—heaven forbid—use it, the cost increases.


A while back a story came out – Repo, the Genetic Opera, where the main character is a repo man who repossesses organs that people failed to make payments on. (Normally, I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but this soundtrack is catchy.) Such a gruesome practice doesn’t feel quite so far removed from the realm of possibility these days. We are on the verge of being able to grow organs for implantation, yet what will happen to people who can’t afford it? Will the medical ethicists allow them to die?

I co-wrote The Dysfunctional Conspiracy with Chris Veltmann in which there’s a situation with insurance that feels like it came out of a black comedy. On the surface, it looks like an insurance company man is best buds with a US attorney, and in order to avoid paying out on an insurance policy, they frame an innocent man for federal arson. When this kind of stuff happens in reality, it makes one wonder what exactly readers will accept in a fictional story before they think the author is pushing things too far.

In one of my sci-fi novels, a character buys a black market organ taken from a murder victim because they can’t afford “modern” medical care to have their own tissue regenerated. Another character is faced with death because their liver is failing, and their insurance denies the claim to pay for treatment citing heavy drinking as “self-inflicted injury,” which the policy makes exemption for.

Characters doing extreme things because they cannot afford medical bills is nothing new to fiction, but more and more it feels less like something that would occur in a runaway society controlled by corporate interests and exactly what’s happening in the real world.

Look at the water issue in Flint, toxic spills into rivers that barely make the news, environmental calamities like oil spills, deforestation, flooding caused by damming, and whatnot going on around the world. None of that takes hold in the media like who some celebrity decided to date this week or which one of society’s overly delicate sensibilities have been bopped on the nose.


The more you look at what takes prominence in the media, the more it already feels like the corporations already have created the dystopian worlds envisioned in stories like Fahrenheit 451, Blade Runner, Starship Troopers, and so on – we’re just missing the androids. (Though they appear to be coming along.)

Would you like to know more?

Numerous dystopian settings have people (or a single person) in who have obtained power in nefarious ways, either via assassination, bribes, information manipulation and or pulling strings from the shadows. Some fictional ‘villain leaders’ laugh at the populous under their thumbs as they take power with a ‘what are you gonna do about it?’ attitude. That sort of situation doesn’t feel so fictional anymore. Sounds a lot like what’s going on in real life.

There’s got to be something wrong going on when a writer can have an idle thought like: “Hmm. What if Trump is such an atrocious candidate for president because the shadowy organization that has decided Hillary will take office put him there on purpose to give the people an option so horrendous that she seems like a good idea by comparison? It’s like: “Do you want to die by being shot in the forehead, or we can feed you into a wood chipper toes first at one centimeter per minute.” Either way, we’re screwed… but one won’t hurt as much.


Never in our history have both candidates for president been so thoroughly disliked by so many people. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always heard people describe politicians as choosing the lesser of two evils—and this is about the truest that’s ever been.

One last note.

I know the entire internet is loaded with the Orlando tragedy now, so I’ll be brief. Once again, a horrible event has set the pro-gun and anti-gun people at each other’s throats. While they shout and scream at each other, the truth of what happened fades into the background and all we’re left with is some redneck in a flannel hat waving a rifle at someone in a chartreuse pantsuit waving pictures of children, both of them red in the face and shouting at the top of their lungs.

If the attacker had used a bomb instead of a firearm, would people be addressing the issues of bigotry against gay people instead? Would they possibly gasp talk about where this hatred comes from, the belief systems that allow people to rationalize how everyone who doesn’t espouse the same religi-rhetoric is less than human and not deserving of all that “peace, love, and forgiveness” that they claim to believe in but only show to a narrow group of people with the same opinions as them? Gun violence is an issue, yes, but both sides of that argument are springboarding off yet another senseless tragedy to flog their agendas and ignoring or minimizing what caused it to begin with.

The existence of guns did not make the attacker kill. (Sure, they made it a lot easier for him to do so) – but it’s not like the attacker woke up one day, saw a gun and thought ,“Hmm. A rifle. I think I’ll go shoot up a bunch of random people because it’s fun to shoot.” No, this person had a specific target, a specific agenda, and a specific message he wanted to send. The underlying problem is bigotry and hate, and the mechanisms that foment and encourage people to think of other human beings as deserving of death because they don’t follow the tenets of someone else’s belief system.


Anyway… I don’t know where we are going to wind up after this election, but the way it’s looking, we’re either heading for Equilibrium (Hillary) or Idiocracy [best case] / Mad Max [worst case] (Trump). No matter which way the election turns out, it looks like novelists are going to need to reach into the ridiculous to make a fictional future society seem more dystopian than the real world.

The RPG of Divergent Fates is back


So about twenty years ago (1996-ish) I got an idea.

For the better part of my teens and into my early twenties, I’d been pretty deep into roleplaying games. (At this point you’re probably feeling shocked that a Sci Fi author has geekish hobbies, right?) Anyway, there’d been a lot of 2nd Edition D&D, but always with that annoying gnaw that something bugged me about the mechanics.

Somewhere I got it in my head that I could make my own game… and I did… dozens of times. I can’t even count the number of systems that I came up with, tinkered with for a few weeks or months, then forgot about. (Some of them never even made it off a notebook page).

A handful stuck around and represented the bulk of our (my and my friends’) game time, though we’re far from the days of the ‘playing till dawn’ benders of the old days.


To circle back to the 1996 thing… around that point I realized that we’d been pretty much sticking to fantasy gaming, and I wanted to do something different. Of course there were a couple of “non-fantasy” RPGs out there like Car Wars or R Talsorian’s Cyberpunk, but as anyone with a small degree of chemistry knowledge knows, mixing two reactants together often produces effects. In my case being young (and broke) + being (some people accuse me thereof) creative, I wound up making up a game system I named “Divergent Fates.”

In 1996, the groundwork for this system started. Later that year, I had a sourcebook and big plans to follow it (Main rulebook, Mars book, Space book, and so on). As it turned out, we were more interested in playing than making more content… so the world grew in little bits in scraps of notes and excel files (automated character sheets) and other “reminders” to add things to the rules.

Fast forward to 2012. A former supervisor I worked with at the time suggested I write; I’d been handling an email queue, and he asked me if I’d ever written anything like a novel or fiction. (In truth, I had… a 400k+ word monstrosity of a fantasy novel that I’m still not sure if I’ll ever look at again. They say all writers have one of these in a deep dark closet somewhere… I’m still not ready to break the wards guarding it.) Up to that point, all of my writing had been toward the gaming end of things and I never gave serious consideration to writing (and marketing) novels. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea.

Anyway, I thought for some time between writing fantasy or Sci-Fi, trying to pick a direction. At the same time, it occurred to me how similar the concepts were between coming up with plots and characters for a roleplaying game session and writing a novel. The biggest difference is there aren’t “players” involved to throw the storyline off course when they do unexpected (cough stupid cough) things. I’d been creating characters and storylines for most of my reasoning life; transitioning the effort from gaming to novelization seemed like a logical next step. Since Divergent Fates felt more ‘unique’ to me than adding another fantasy game to the massive amount already out there, I decided to get back into writing while using the world I’d established for the RPG as a backdrop.


Virtual Immortality was the first novel I wrote after making the decision to get back into writing. Perhaps this was a lofty starting point (I’m glad it worked) since it had a complicated story, shifting POV characters, and a lot of ground to cover. The inspiration for it came from a tabletop session of DF, though (obviously) much had to change between roleplaying session and novel. (If I tried to capture everything that happened at the table the book would’ve been twice as long, and it’s already huge.)

Anyway – twenty years ago, I wrote Divergent Fates the roleplaying game. The original idea behind the title was the political discontent between Earth and Mars, where the people of Mars wanted to split away from Earth and go their own way.

Now, twenty six or so novels later (Fourteen of which take place in the DF world) I had a lot more source material to work with, but I also had been harboring a lingering discontent with the system mechanics. Something about it (and I still can’t say what it was) bothered me despite my friends all saying they thought the system was fine.

From Deus-Ex Human Revolution

From Deus-Ex Human Revolution

The feeling wouldn’t go away, so I wound up rebuilding the mechanics of the system from the ground up, simplifying some things that were inanely complex, and adding in all the stuff I’d come up with in the twenty years since the game first took shape.

Divergent Fates version 2 is in beta now, a sourcebook finished in first draft. I’m not sure if people even still have interest in tabletop gaming in the days of the PlayStation and Xbox, but it’s here… and it feels a bit like watching a kid grow up.

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Update – November 20 2015

2015-11-10 20.47.40

So, I’ve been a bit busy as of late and perhaps a little slow on updating the blog. Some updates:

  • New kitten (Dorian) is settling in and playing with existing cat (Loki) like they’re brothers. (Yay)
  • The new final chapter of Emma & The Banderwigh is done and the ebook should be updated.
  • About halfway done with the first edit pass on Division Zero 4 (Guardian) and it will likely be ready for some beta readers within a few days.
  • Heir Ascendant seems to have gone over well with Curiosity Quills and I anticipate a contract offer soon.
  • Daughter of Mars 1 – The Hand of Raziel should be coming back from first round publisher edits any day now.


Somewhere in the middle of all of that I managed to sneak in a few hours of Fallout 4. I’ve been a major fan of that franchise since it started, from the first day of Wasteland back in 1984. I can’t say I’m big on the first person shooter feel of Fallout 3 and 4… Perhaps I’m an old stodge, but I like the top-down turn based RPG-feel of 1 and 2. Wasteland 2 was awesome… Fallout 4, no so much.

Now, before the torches and pitchforks come out, I’m not saying F04 is a bad game. One glaring thing I’ve noticed early on is that the sense wry humor that infused everything about Fallout 1 and 2 is notably absent. If not for the use of the ubiquitous Vault Boy, power armor, and the quasi atomic-1950s styling of things,  this could’ve been any generic post-nuke apoc game. The “feel” of the fallout universe is thin at best. The original creative team (Black Isle Studios I believe) who did Fallout 1 and 2 lent the game a unique atmosphere which F04 utterly lacks.

Second, I could’ve done without the “build a village” mini-game. It’s cumbersome to try and place/arrange buildings from a first person view, and having to assign individual people to single plants to farm is testicle-smashingly tedious.


As far as the story is concerned, I haven’t had a whole lot of time in yet – but the main character’s baby is abducted in the opening sequence by parties unknown, and the game seems to expect the character to set this aside and run around doing miscellaneous crap for total strangers, set up a village, help this person and that person, and be content NOT to focus all effort on finding the missing infant immediately. To me that feels a bit odd to set up such a high-emotion storyline and then fall into the typical RPG trope of random quests.

I suspect there is a way to ignore everything and chase down the missing baby, but the dialogue options are pretty thin and short of guessing where to go, the character isn’t given much story options/agency in trying to find their kid as priority 1.

Grenades – I’m not sure why they even bothered adding grenades and moltovs to this game. The handling of them is so clumsy they seem to exist only to show off the game’s dismemberment animations when you blow yourself up with them. If there’s even a single blade of grass between you and a target, the grenade will find a way to bounce off it and come back to you. (Forget taking cover, the character is incapable of throwing the grenade over/around anything and it will bounce off the wall/car/chair/desk/table whatever and hit you in the face.  (Also, never, under any circumstances give explosive weapons to companions. They will kill you.)

Giving this to your companion is a REALLY bad idea.

Giving this to your companion is a REALLY bad idea.

Still, I am looking forward to having some time to set aside for the game when I can, but the pull to edit/write is stronger than the pull to play video games.

Maybe I am getting old.