“Crash Code” now accepting submissions!

Hey everyone,

Blood Bound Books is now accepting submissions for Crash Code, an extreme-meets-cyberpunk anthology…

…and I’m the editor!

That’s right, folks. I’ll be guest editing this anthology. It pays 3 cents a word, takes stories 1.5k to 7k words long, and is gonna be bad ass, so hurry up and get your stories in!

See the full submission call here.

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Cyborg Sunday, Update 4.29.2018: Just Monika, game development daydreams, and synchronicity everywhere.

What does love sound like?

Does it sound like a heartbeat?

Or a heart breaking?

“Reality,” by yours truly.

Okay, so, I wrote about Doki Doki Literature Club! earlier this week, and its grip on my brain hasn’t let up. If anything, I’m growing more obsessed with this game after having beaten it. Yeah, I bought the fan pack. I may or may not have a playlist on my phone for DDLC-themed music. …I’m a nerd with a glitched-up brain and a penchant for reality-bending horror, sue me.

Despite the fact that a part two wouldn’t make sense, I’ve hopped on the Hype Train and would love to see its story extended–or, humor me, turned into an entirely new game genre.

Those of you who’ve played DDLC, picture this: the same principles that made the game so compelling brought into a narrative adventure game, i.e. Life is Strange or Before the Storm. Combining the intense story focus and branching decisions with, say, Nier: Automata’s ability to reprogram your character by adding/removing functions would be a seriously epic experience.

Imagine, for instance, if you had the decision to remain relatively human or augment your character with cybernetics, and doing so would grant you world-bending control over the other events? What if you could augment your decisions with a Deus Ex style CASSIE mod, gauging everyone’s moods artificially, allowing you to know exactly what they want to hear–at the expense of being able to care about the people you were talking to, or perhaps having them realize that you’re manipulating them?

Maybe you wouldn’t have Max’s time-rewinding powers, but a simple wetware hack could let you predict every possibility of somebody’s actions, winning fights before they start and preventing the next Chloe from shooting herself again, making you hard to kill and highly feared. An antagonist starts talking trash, so you mute in-game volume and the attack falls on literally deaf ears. A flashbang goes off, so you lower the gamma/brightness and up the contrast to compensate. Somebody yells in a foreign language, so you set up English subtitles that your character reads.

Narrative adventure games thrive when emotions are on the line, rather than just lives, like in other sames. I haven’t played anything recently where both you and the characters had as much at stake as in Doki Doki Literature Club!, and I’d love to see a developer explore the possibility of erasing a character from the game, but your protagonist retaining ‘memory’ from old save files–if you have them!

Or, put yourself in Monika’s shoes. What if you could program enemies out of existence, rewrite unfavorable dialogue, change people at will, at the expense of the game’s stability? Old video games kind of did this, i.e. how unpredictable life got if you kept using cheat codes in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but a game that worked that into the plot would be revolutionary, to say the least. Let’s get a techno-pocalyptic version of Hellblade going and see what happens!

I have a LOT of ideas here, so I can only hope a game studio appreciates them and hires me on as a writer. I do have an application out with a particular developer… and I’m not sure if it means anything, but I met a woman who was basically a real-life Chloe Elizabeth Price the other day, in both looks and personality. Fingers crossed that means something!

But in the meanwhile, it’s fitting that I’m wrapping up first edits on TWO novels this week: Nova EXE and These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream. In the first, a self-aware computer program befriends an unassuming man whose life soon spirals uncontrollably. In the latter, a woman moves back to her childhood home to reconnect with the mysterious presence there, soon finding her definition of reality shattered to pieces. Like I said, fitting, considering that Monika’s whole thing is being horrified at her own flat reality and needing to break everything to have a taste of something real.

And, on that note of having seen too much, I’ll be setting Visions from the Veil up for pre-orders this week!

Beyond that, I’m seeking representation for my award-winning screenplay, The Mirror Game. 

Busy, busy, busy! Still hoping to get that full-time job soon. I love writing, but would have no problem scaling back my personal projects to collaborate on a big team project. Writing a novel is great, but there’s something really great about working together on a bigger project. Hopefully I’ll get to join a great team soon.

Until then, you have a great day, and thanks for stopping by!

…And here’s that playlist I mentioned. A little short, but fun and energetic. Plus, if you loop it, it feeds perfectly into itself in a never-ending cycle of distorted, obsessive love.

Virus” by Andrew Stein

Doki Doki Forever” by Or30

Delete Me” by NateWantsToBattle

Just Monika” by Random Encounters feat. OR3O & Adriana Figueroa (Note: the video isn’t the same as the straight-up song)

Get Out of my Head” by TryHardNinja ft. Sailorurlove

Your Reality” cover by Cristina Vee

 

Cyborg Sunday, update 4.22.2018: Writer’s life, giving up coffee, and applying for my dream job

Somehow, I thought that

Giving up coffee would suck.

It’s not all that bad.

“Doing Without” by Yours Truly

Bruce Lee once said, ““It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

I’ve decided to put this to the test by giving up coffee. I know what you’re thinking: “Uh, Kevin, you’re a writer! How are you going to do this? Without coffee, you won’t be able to stay up into the late hours of the night, hammering away at the keys as though they owe you money, demanding your sleep-deprived consciousness provides a few words that you can trick people into believing are compelling.”

Then I’m like, “I also don’t drink or smoke,” and you’re probably thinking, “Good Lorde, man, how dare you? There is such a long, glorious tradition of writers, American or otherwise, sinking into the mire of their own self-destruction in pursuit of what it really means to be human! You betray all those who came before you by rejecting such glorious decay!”

Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. Plus, I don’t know you. Maybe you didn’t think any of that, but here’s a word of advice: you don’t ever have to be miserable or sleep-deprived to write. While certainly a little less tortured, being happy and healthy will bolster your sensibilities and give you more resilience. It’ll be way easier to keep writing, especially in the face of rejection, if your body and mind are well.

As far as my writing goes, I have nothing to report this week. I subbed a poetry manuscript, but no rejections or acceptances.

BUT… I just applied for my dream job. I’d be writing with a video game company I really respect. That’s all I’ll say. Don’t like sharing too much when things are still in the works. I have a good feeling about it, though. A real good feeling. Let’s hope giving up coffee has a butterfly effect!

Along those lines, I hear coffee increases insulin resistance in Type 1 Diabetics. There’s conflicting evidence here, and paradoxically, some suggest it decreases the risk of Type 2 in non-diabetic subjects. However, other data shows it exhausts the body’s endocrine system, contributing to the development of T2D and Addison’s Disease.

This bears significantly more investigation, both in my life and otherwise, because the prevalence of autoimmune disorders in modern America is unbelievably high compared to previous decades. If mass coffee consumption is linked to the development of such issues, we could potentially treat or prevent a number of conditions by eliminating it from our diet–or insurance companies could use a coffee habit as a ‘pre-existing condition’ and deny you coverage. Wouldn’t be surprised if they did this already for heart problems and blood pressure issues.

So far, it’s only been 2 days since my last cup, but I seem to have some increased insulin sensitivity, so that’s cool. I’ve been weening off via green tea though, so I’m not sure if the caffeine in that has an effect too, or if the insulin resistance comes from coffee itself. Either way, I’m saving money, so that’s cool.

And, doubleplusgood, lower caffeine means lower stress reactions. I’m super excited waiting to hear back about this job, so kicking caffeine to the curb was great timing.

I’m off to hurry up and wait, by which I mean write. Hope you have a great week!

 

Cyborg Sunday, update 4.15.2018:

A leaf on the wind

Doesn’t care how hard its blown:

It enjoys the flight.

“Fate”

Hey everyone!

Bit of a mixed bag on my end lately, as I’m sure you can imagine, given that I missed last week’s update. A bunch of different events collided at once–visiting a tiny family member for her birthday, accidentally ripping out my Libre sensor, trying to find more gainful employment–and by the time I even realized I forgot my weekly post, it was, like, Wednesday.

Dull news: I got my Google Analytics IQ, so watch out, data! I’m observing you.

Epic writer’s news: My feature screenplay “The Mirror Game” won fourth place in The 2018 International Horror Hotel’s horror category! It was my first screenplay, too, so that was really something. There’s a festival starting May 31st and I don’t exactly have a lot of disposable income, but hell yeah am I going to go!

I also hit my 100th short story publication! Hit it a while ago, actually. I miscounted. My bad. Either way, that’s two resolutions off the 2018 list!

Lastly, stay tuned, because I’m having a cover reveal for Visions from the Veil soon, and it’s going to blow your friggin mind’.

I want to end on the high notes, so that’s all for now. Have an amazing day!

Cyborg Sunday, update 4.1.2018: Happy Yeaster!

Puns are the highest

And lowest form of humor:

Both at the same time.

“Schrodinger’s Punchline” by Yours Truly

As you can see from this Instagram post, I have a strange, stupid, and pun sense of humor. My sister wasn’t too happy with it. Still, what did she expect from The Pun-isher? She chose to come back to The Punderdome instead of staying up her college for Yeaster. You can’t complain about my sense of humor if you decide to ride shotgun in my Punderbird.

I won’t keep you. It’s a double holiday! Go celebrate. Hug, laugh, prank, and perform some well-intentioned psychological warfare on the people you love. I’ll talk more about myself some other time.

Cyborg Sunday, Update 3.25.2018: Delays, Reboots, and Upgrades

Sometimes, showing up

Is all you’re needed to do.

Be present. Be there.

–“Showing You Care” by Yours Truly

This entry is backdated on account of me failing to follow the usual routine. I attended my sister’s volleyball tournament and left early in the morning. The introduction of these variables through off my normal operations, and I got near-nothing done through the day, my weekly post included. She did well, though, and I was glad to go.

Plus I got to hide a piece of bread up my sleeve, pretending to pull it from behind her ear as part of a very stupid series of ‘rye’ pranks and jokes I’ve been pulling on her for nearly a y-ear (all puns intended, obviously).

Diabetes-wise, I’m back on my muscle-training routines and yoga, leaning away from cardio. It’s kept my blood sugars under significantly better control, to the point where I’m orbiting 90 mg/dl, rather than 140 or so. This has led to some mild lows, but they’re worth the reduced highs and better overall feeling.

Point is, I wholly advocate diabetics pursuing weight lifting and other muscle engaging activities, as it’ll keep insulin sensitivity in a far better place. Just be sure to get enough protein to stave off those persistent drops!

In terms of writing, no new acceptances, but plenty more added to The Reflection and The Echo, which is cruising along nicely. A few short story calls I’d like to write for, but I’ve been tied up with other stuff lately, and can only do so much. But there’s something new coming soon–something you might not have been meant to see.

Visions from the Veil, a collection of short stories, is on the horizon.

Admittedly, part of my time recently was spent playing Warframe, which I got back into for a bit, but I’ve already lost interest again. That’s the trouble with ‘free’ to play games. As The Binding of Isaac satirically pointed out, they’re really Pay2Play, and once I realized I couldn’t progress through Saturn without extensive, purchased upgrades, teammates, and other crap, I uninstalled.

Time to reset my brain back into ‘full throttle.’

Besides, for me, games are like reading: a chance to get away from the outside world with a relaxing, solitary activity. I know I’m far from the only one who feels that way. If you build a game so that solo players get crushed, you alienate a massive chunk of your audience. Keep that in mind, developers.

Of course, Warframe has like 38 million players or something, and really cool lore if you struggle through everything, so it’s not going anywhere. Plus I bet I’ll be right back playing again if they ever do Warframe virtual reality, especially if it’s Matrix-style full immersion. …But I’ll lose interest again just as quickly in favor of plugging into yet another Resident Evil RE-make.

Anyway, that’s all a long way away, so for now, I’m signing off. Have a good one!

 

 

Cyborg Sunday, Update 3.11.2018: Free Fiction, a Book Launch, new BGM, and Sweet, Wonderful Rejection

Measure a man only

By how he withstands defeat.

Truth lies in hardship.

“Behind the Mask” by Yours Truly

First off, no cyborg news. I might’ve torn my meniscus, but we’ll come back to that in a fortnight. I see a doctor on the 20th. All good vibes are appreciated!

Also, if you’re interested in a FREE STORY, check out “Throw Away the Key” in this week’s Trembling with Fear!

Also also, Fatal Fetish launched today from J. Ellington Ashton press! I’ve got a story in here titled “Glutton for Punishment.” The anthology title should tip you off, but it’s hella kinky. I’m slightly miscredited on the Amazon author section, but I assure you, I am Kevin Holtow. And I’m fixing that.

Any writers out there looking for some cool BGM would also do well to check out ChilledCow’s Lofi Hip-hop station. It’s pretty great.

Lastly, I subbed “Against the Odds” to Things in the Well’s Beneath the Waves anthology. I got shortlisted, but it didn’t make the cut. Frankly, I love that. I went up against huge competition and just missed it, meaning it’s a pretty good story, but others were slightly better. I’ll tweak it and find a new home somewhere else real soon.

What’s to come? Here’s a snapshot:

–I’m wrapping a zombie story today, but you know me. They aren’t just zombies. There’s something else in the horde, vicious, cunning, not alive, yet not quite dead…

–I’ll be wrapping edits on Before My Eyes (title may change) this week and sending that out for indie consideration.

–I’m 6k into The Reflection and The Echo, which I’ll be subbing to agents.

–More promo for ATHOM, of course!

And, I have a funny feeling I’ll have even more news coming up this week… So be sure to stop back this time next Sunday for another update!

As always, thank you for reading. If you’d like to support me and get monthly fiction, MP3 readings, and even signed copies, check out my Patreon. You’ll be helping me afford insulin and stuff, which is super great of you.