Free Fiction! Effort

Here’s a free drabble for you! Be careful at the gym, folks. Pride doesn’t build muscles…

***

He loved bulking more than anything. Screw those pretty boys with the flat abs and chiseled jaws, because Einar had his ancestors’ body, born from a thousand years of Viking raids. Thick with muscle, empowered by history, he gripped the barbell, ready to bench a weight that bent the metal.

One. His arms shook a little.

Two. He kept his bloodshot eyes on the ceiling.

Three. A little more shaking. The plates rattled.

Four. Tension built in his neck. He shook his head, refusing a spotter.

One more.

Five. His right arm snapped. He never got a chance to scream.

Advertisements

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 3.4.2018: Kindle Sale for ATHOM, Review Blitz, and a New Novel Signed!

If you buy a book,

Please support the author by

Leaving a review.

“Any Star Will Do” by Kevin Holton

HOLY WHAT? Folks, AT THE HANDS OF MADNESS is on sale, and climbing those ranks really freakin’ fast! It’s received overwhelming praise so far–all 5 star reviews and comparisons to George Romero and H. P. Lovecraft. Click the title above to go check it out, or if you want to read more about it first, click here to visit its page on my website.

I know this probably won’t be reaching the #1 paid Kindle Book spot anytime soon, but it’s not too far off from number one in its category, so if you hop over and buy a copy, for yourself or a friend, or even just to support me, that’d be amazing.

More excellent news: I’ve signed a contract with Mighty Quill Books to publish my sci-fi novel Nova EXE. Connor finds a sentient program on his computer one day, and it’s on the run from somebody. All it wants is asylum in his system. In exchange, it’ll help him with whatever technological matters he wants–but sometimes, what you want isn’t what you need.

More to come later, obviously, but woo! That’s THREE NOVELS in production! I worked with them on Dead of Winterwhich still has great sales and a 4.7 star rating from 9 reviews. I had a great time back then, and I’m looking forward to working with them now.

(Remember, if you’d like SIGNED COPIES as these release, subscribe to my Patreon! You’ll also get self-published releases, MP3 tracks/audiobooks, and THE GOLDEN GOD MYSTERY BOX!)

Also, I posted a BUNCH of Amazon reviews this week, some a tad more in-depth than the others. These include Stephanie M. Wytovich’s Hysteria and BrothelCrystal Lake Publishing’s Gutted, Jim Goforth’s Harvester’s TradeJames Melzer’s Crazy Eights, Alex s. Johnson’s Death to Fairy Tales, and all three volumes of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories anthologies. Make sure you get the Stephen Gammell illustrations if you buy! For some reason, the review to book number two won’t go up, but whatever.

If you want to know why I went to play catch-up, see the haiku above.

No diabetes updates, but I did royally screw up my knee a few days ago. Hoping that’s not a meniscus tear, or I’m in for a rough ride. On the other hand, my leg’s hurt for a long time now, so it wouldn’t be the worst thing ever to go see a doctor. Or, maybe I should just stretch more. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this next week.

That’s all for now, folks! Remember, even if you’re not out there buying my book(s), be sure to leave reviews for those you do read, especially indie stuff. The writers will remember you, I promise.

New Patreon story up!

Hey everyone!

My Patreon’s story for March is now live. Those of you that have already pledged can go here to read it.

For those of you that haven’t, pledging to my Patreon not only comes with a monthly story, but those stories get compiled into an annual collection, which you’ll get for free upon publication!

Higher pledges earn MP3 recordings, ebooks, and signed print editions–not to mention promotional opportunities for other writers, including tweets, IG posts, and a page right here on my website.

Here’s a teaser for this month’s story while you think:

***

The newspapers kept saying a killer roamed these roads, and there she sat, car quiet, just a hunk of metal on the side of the road. Hazard lights flashing their steady warning, she sat on the trunk, facing the open road, hoping somebody halfway decent would drive up and decide to stop for her. The sun set hours ago, leaving her alone with the coo of nocturnal birds and the cool wind kicking dust from the poorly maintained pavement into her eyes.

***

If you liked it, consider pledging at my Patreon! All pledges go to affording insulin and other diabetes-related stuff, with some for book advertising if the page does well. See you soon!

Cyborg Sunday, update 1.28.2018: Freestyle Libre, poetry, and Life is a Beautiful Thing

Monitor the blood:

When flesh tries to end your life,

Turn to computers.

–“Autoimmune,” by Kevin Holton

This week’s haiku is obviously about diabetes, but I’m starting with cyborg news, because I finally decided to try a continuous glucose monitor–for real. I’d used a silhouette model in the past, but hated it. The thing was bulky, uncomfortable, and snagged on everything.

The Freestyle Libre gets my full endorsement! This nifty little device lives up it its name, providing a detailed scan Final Fantasy-style. Aside from how small it is (about two stacked quarters, as the website claims), this gives me a readout of my current blood sugar, an arrow indicating if I’m going high or low, and a graph so I can see trends. Each lasts for ten days, though it takes twelve hours to start reading, and so far, it seems pretty accurate.

I already know for a fact that my glucose control is better than before, so any diabetics looking to improve their monitoring or just reduce finger tests ought to check this out. The best part? I didn’t even feel myself insert it!

I’ll update you next week on how the Libre works toward the end of a sensor’s life cycle, but I can’t imagine it’ll be a problem.

On to writing news…

I had three poems picked up for an Anti-Valentine’s Day anthology with Azoth Khem publishing. Another poem of mine went up on The Bold Mom, and another four are up with The Horror Zine. No fiction this week, but hey, eight poems? That’s a nice haul! I might have a collection ready soon… Maybe two, actually. Theme is important!

The REALLY big news this week is that the first audiobook of Harmon Cooper’s Life is a Beautiful Thing is up! Why’s this big news? It’s performed by yours truly. That’s right! I began acting in middle school, and fell out of it due to some personal stuff in high school, but have begun dabbling in the area again as of late.

Life is a Beautiful Thing follows Meme as he trips–metaphorically and literally, thanks to his addiction to designer drugs–through a satiric capitalist cyberpunk hellscape where corporations decide America’s fate. This book is chock full of psychotropic imagery, sex, drug use, and body switching, so buckle up! It’s a wild ride.

I’ll be narrating the next three, in addition to some works of my own soon. Stay tuned. Updates to come.

You know, I wrote that haiku up above about diabetes, but it actually applies to Cooper’s book, too…

Anyway, thank you for stopping by. Drop a line below if you’d like to say hi, or see me talk about something specific next week. Have a good one!

 

 

Cyborg Sunday, Update 1.21.2018: Crimson Inc, The Horror Zine, JEA, and the Waiting Game

Patience. Still your heart.

No good ever came from rushing.

Slow down. Breathe. Relax.

–“Virtue” A Haiku by yours truly

 

Hey everyone,

Not an overwhelming amount of stuff to share today–not even actual cyborg news, beyond ‘my blood sugars have been funny the past day or two’ and ‘I still have diabetes.’

I’ve mostly been holding out, waiting to hear back on a variety of subs. Painting the White City Red is still on hold-out for a particular press, as an editor expressed interest in those poems, but I haven’t heard too much yet. The Gospel of Decay, NOVA EXE, and Absolute Zero are still under consideration in various places. A bunch of short stories and poems are out in different venues, so we’ll see how that goes. I also sent Crimson, Inc. out last night. Oof. Waiting.

I did have four poems ultimately accepted for the upcoming issue of The Horror Zine, and a short story, “Sound and Furry,” accepted to the Endangered Species post-apocalyptic anthology from J. Ellington Ashton Press. All that’s been pretty fun!

The Call of the Void got rejected from Villipede Press. That’s okay–it’s almost a relief to have something out of the queue!

I made a New Years’ Resolution to hit my 100th short story pub this year, and while I’m well on the way (87/100), I have two ideas for longer works that are demanding my attention. Hm…

That’s the beautiful thing about writing, though. It’s all about momentum. We learn about this early on, usually in middle or high school: a body in motion stays in motion, while a body at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force (which is why it’s so hard to get out of bed in the morning!).

With a career like this, self-driven, where everything depends on your ability to put your ax to the grindstone and get it done, there are always outside forces. There’s rejection, the day job, family matters, health crises (I should know), stress, mental illness (comes with the job, amiwrite?), and freaking out over the latest news blast about what the US President did this time, or what North Korea’s planning, or blah blah blah.

So keep going. That’s all the advice I have for you. Do not stop. Even if you write absolute garbage one day, hell, if you write poorly for a week, a month, don’t give up. If you’re a writer, your career depends on three things: skill, patience, and luck. Skill develops over time. Patience is the ability to tolerate time. And, as Thomas Jefferson once said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” So work. Get it done. I don’t believe in luck. I do believe in you.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’re looking for fiction, check out my Patreon–it has some free content to give you a sample of what I’m cooking up!

Drop a line below if you’re feeling chatty. I love hearing from you.