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Don't say I don't listen to reader suggestions. Though the traffic for this site is substantially lower than the traffic I get at Goodreads, I'm going to pout in this little pointer here as per a suggestion given over there.

I've started a blog on Goodreads to ramble about literature. That will not comtain any cooking material or games commentary, just my writing. That blog can be found Here. If I think it's worthwhile I'll occassionaly cross-post content here on evcombine.net .

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 05/07/2015 at 08:40pm Eastern |

Belated Update

I've been neglecting my site agian. I shouldn't do that.

On one side is this massive Data Center Consolidation fiasco which has imparted a lot of stress from my day job. Largely in the form of exasperation, bureaucracy and uncertainty. On the alternate front, I've been suffering from a serious case of writer's block, with a few minor breakthrough in terms of text on screen. The problem being, these haven't turned into completed stories.

To try to distract myself from all this and perhaps slip into a productive state of mind, I went and played a few video games which I got on sale. The first "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" crashed every cutscene, making it hard to play through, so I ended up giving up. The two where I got far enough to see any appreciable amount of content were "XCOM: The Bureau Declassified" and "Bioshock Infinite".

XCOM TBD is a medicore cover-based shooter centered around an alien invasion of the 1960s. You're 'Generic Drunk Agent Model 1962' and your job is to shoot little gray men (and bigger gray men) from behind chest high walls. You get followed around by two boat anchors who will cause you to lose the game if you get your reserve stock killed off. They try to do something with your character's backstory, but you can tell how successful that is since I can't even remember his name a few days later. They imply something non-human about him, but I can't say if that pans out, I never finished the game. That was because I started putzing around with the other title.

I will say it up front, I didn't care for the original Bioshock. I got a ways in before I realized I just wasn't having any fun. I stopped playing and never looked back. This is why I'm so late to Infinite. It had to reach the lower "Ohay, I'll try that" price threshold as the previous entries didn't justify release-day prices from me. And I still feel cheated. In greaphical quality, the game is gorgeous, but I had to re-map half the controls to make them make sense, and look up others online because they weren't in the mapping list.

Where Infinite falls apart is in the story. The run and gun gameplay was 'okay' the skyhook mechanic was 'okay', the 'vigors' were nothing to write home about. By the end all I bothered with were lightning and posession. The problem was, it felt like the story and the gameplay were working at cross-purposes. And the writers were the biggest villain in the game. I honestly grew to hate every character in the game, especially the ginger twins. Whenever they showed up, I would litterly say "Oh shut up and get out of my way" or try to turn the whirlygig of death on them. It didn't work, but that didn't stop me from trying. Also, the ending just served to piss me off. It's as if the writers realized "We've finished the final boss fight but we've got all these plot points left over!" This resulted in a massive exposition dump that literally caused me to cry out "This is getting boring!" when in truth, I was already bored.

I couldn't tell you if I got the good, bad or indifferent ending, because I stated this write-up while the credits were rolling. I'll say it's probably the indifferent ending, because the post-credits scene was fairly ambiguous. The sad part is, in terms of storytelling, I give XCOM higher marks, because it didn't make me hate the cast, and I could actually empathize with some of the characters.

Both of them share one very similar flaw - the Halo Minus loadout. What do I mean by that? Two weapons and a melee attack. Everyone knows this mechanic, it was introduced to counteract the absurd situation where, at the end of the game, you're carrying enough guns to arm a small nation. However the two guns and a melee attack is too far in the opposite extreme for me. What happens is that I never try most of the weapons in the game except out of desperation. My first concen is that the new gear isn't going to be a good fit for me and I'm going to have trouble getting my preferred gear back when I need it. So I end up finding a solid general purpose gun and a heavy weapon I like, then ignoring everything else in the game just because I don't want to end up in a pinch with a frustrating weapon. Half the arsenal in Infinite never got picked up because of this. (XCOM had a firing range where you could see if you liked how a weapon handled).

I'm still trying to see where the praise for Infinite came from. You had 'meh' gameplay, horrible plot pacing, and overt, ham-fisted commentary on a set of beliefs the creators didn't seem to bother to get to know. But then again, that's all Bioshock titles in a nutshell. Why didn't I talk about the 'tear' mechanic? because it was really clunky, and if I didn't have to use it to advance, I didn't bother most of the time. It's the same thing with the 'Vigors'.

This next statement may sound strange and out of context. What disappointed my most was not finding something that could match the child-like glee of breaking a Chaos Marine's back with a Thunder Hammer. To elaborate, in the Space Marine shooter, there is a weapon, the Thunder Hammer, that is so egregiously fun to hit things with that I will end up clinging to it even when strategically, I should trade it out for longer-range weapons. Your reaction to seeing a warp rift open and Chaos Marines spill out should not be the squee and cry "Health Batteries". Come to think of it, having Chaos Marines spill out of one of the tears in Infinie might have made the game a bit more interesting. If you're going to go for multiversity, go whole hog.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 03/25/2015 at 2:00pm Eastern |


"Shadowdemon" was released today, and did far better than I was expecting, getting up to page one in my category and landing into a higher category by the end of the day.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,929 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#19 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Superheroes
#19 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Superhero
#94 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Science Fiction

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 11/28/2014 at 11:54pm Eastern |

My First Royalties Arrived

I'd have posted a scanned (and redacted) copy of the check, but I had Amazon Direct Deposit them. Still it's a few dollars shy of $40. I'm still in the red on the project. But, counting recorded sales in July and August, I'm closing in on the break-even point.

As for the poor schmuck from Colorado who bought the paperback - I'm afraid I haven't gotten the re-proofed version into CreateSpace yet (I'd planned to do that over the Labor Day weekend). You got the old, error-prone version.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 08/29/2014 at 5:45am Eastern |

Update for the Sake of Update

I still don't see what is driving people crazy. Multiple people have reported "rafts of proofing errors" in Shadowboy. So I hired another proofer to go over it. The results have been nothing significant. You could change the manual of style used to change the validity of anything that has been uncovered. I do not understand what has these people so up in arms.

Anyway, I'll be updating the eBook with the re-proofed content when it is ready. I'm debating what to do about the sequel. The options are to have it edited and self-publish again, to try for the elusive traditional publishing contract. I still haven't broken even on Shadowboy, and the cost of re-proofing hasn't helped much.

Astute readers might note that I've moved back to calling it 'the sequel'. This is because I'm debating changing the working title to 'Shadowdemon' from 'Gruefield'.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 8/10/2014 at 7:55pm Eastern |


I passed two hundred sales of Shadowboy today. I guess this is a kind of milestone. It's been out for less than a month and had no advertising more than word of mouth. I still haven't broken even on the up front costs.

Update 8/2/2014: For the month of July I sold 424 eBooks worldwide.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 7/24/2014 at 9:53pm Eastern |

High Expectations

Sometimes I wish I didn't pay attention to feedback I get. My reaction is often "That sounds like a fantastic book - I wish I'd gotten a chance to read it", because it never sounds like the book I'd written. Then I start to fret about how I'm ever going to produce a sequel that lives up to the high standards set by the book I've never seen from these comments and reviews.

It gets even more confusing when I'm talking to my test readers about the sequel that I've actually written. When I read it, I see an incoherent mess with no cohesive plot that was clearly stitched together from three unrelated story ideas. It's legible but of less quality than Shadowboy. But when my test readers read it, they claim it's better than Shadowboy, with one even complimenting the 'improved story flow'. I am at a loss. I want to see the book they read, because it doesn't sound like the book I wrote. Sadly, the text turns out to be unchanged from what I sent them.

I just don't get it. That makes it kind of difficult to actually live up to the hype.

Update: I made the mistake of trying to figure out how many sales rates as 'good'. I can't find a number, only the rates for 'bestsellers', which is not what I'm expecting with no marketting.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 7/15/2014 at 4:15pm Eastern |

Apparently Some Even Read it.

Of late there have been sales of the Shadowboy Kindle edition. And apparently, some people even read it, because I got a Customer Review

In other, unrelated news, I was reading an article online about Doctor Who rumors, and they used the term 'Omnirumor' to refer to the persistant rumor that X mass of lost episodes had been recovered for Y reasons. I misread the headline as containing the word 'Omnirunner'. My thought was "I've never heard of that serial, and I've been watching Classic Who for years". After realizing my mistake, I thought "Omnirunner sounds like a speedster, or somesuch." As far as I can tell, it's not in use as a codename yet. I'm thinking about using it for a character's codename.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 7/14/2014 at 1:21pm Eastern |

People have Actually Bought Copies

Forgive me for sounding shocked, but I still haven't gotten a review from any of my customers, but I'm still moving eBooks of Shadowboy. When I woke up this morning, it still hadn't broken into the top hundred of a broader category, but it was firmly in the top hundred for Superhero books.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,992 Paid in Kindle Store
#51 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Superheroes
#60 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Superhero

PS, don't ask why I'm up at 3:30 in the morning.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 7/14/2014 at 3:25am Eastern |

I Have Hardcopies

I got my first printing of "Shadowboy" from CreateSpace. There is only one problem - the cover is too dark. I've contacted the cover artist, and we're going to work on this. But I do have a picture. Sorry for the blur, I'm a terrible photographer.

There are flaws in the copies I have, but I've fixed them for new printings (except the cover).

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 7/11/2014 at 9:25pm Eastern |

Shadowboy Lauches!

While there were some pre-release sales, Shadowboy is officially launching. I have some store links for you. Such as:

CreateSpace direct (I like this one - I get the most royalties per sale there.)
Kindle eBook (This has the lowest ticket price of any version)
I implore you - buy a copy. Buy several and give some away. (I am kinda broke, I could use the cash)

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 7/2/2014 at 02:45pm Eastern |

Pre-Launch Launch

While I haven't yet gotten the final cover art from my cover artist, There is still the opportunity to buy (or borrow) Shadowboy as of now. But, only in eBook format. Why? Because I can update the cover on the eBook and people who've already bought it will get the update. I can't do that with a print on demand copy.

Hopefully you're all asking "Where can I get this book?" If not, I'm disappointed. However, that's easy. You simply stop by Amazon Here and buy it. You could also search on "Shadowboy" or "Robert McCarroll", but I gave you a direct link.

Why is it $3.99? I paid for an editor. I need to recoup that cost. No, seriously that's why I set that price point. I do plan on running promotions in the future, and if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow the book from the lending library. I'm not sure the rate of return for me on borrowed units.

For those of you who missed it, the link is: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LD8IRG2 . If you read it, please leave an honest review.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 6/28/2014 at 09:15pm Eastern |

State of the Series 6/25/2014

I've finished the first draft of Gruefield, which clocked in at a measly 94,000 words. I'm debating tacking on a short story just so the finished product passes the 100K mark. I've also started drafting the third book in the series, which is under the working title 'Dirge of Carcosa'. It's only up to 3500 words right now. I'm up to the start of part 20 in terms of integrating the final edits into Shadowboy, making me more than halfway through that tedius process.

In other news, here's the line of the day:

"I just spent a few hours making small talk with an alien in a grocery store." - Travis Colfax, Dirge of Carcosa

Oh, and there was a line of the day I'd forgotten to post a while back:

"I get the part about the psychic gnome fooling people into thinking he was still comatose. Somehow that's the normal part of today." - Donny Colfax, Gruefield

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 06/25/2014 at 5:25am Eastern |

To the Commentariat

If some of you have followed my orange link (Muahahaha! Fools!) You'll see that I've been depressingly honest when I've described myself in my comments. Shocker! Someone who has nothing to hide, but doesn't want to be spied on is honest online? Pretty much.

No, I will not use the term 'Reasonoids' to describe you people. I don't like that label. You can self-describe that way, but to me, you are always the Commentariat.

If you're confused about this update - it probably isn't directed at you.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 06/12/2014 at 8:23pm Eastern |

Gruefield Lives!

There are times when I start to despair. When I look over my work and go "This is a bloody mess". Then there are times when I get a spark of inspiration, take the bloody mess and weave the dangling plot threads into a coherent subplot so virtually seamlessly it almost looks like I'd planned it that way all along. Such a development happened while I was plugging away at Gruefield this past weekend. In addition to burning through six thousand words in a single day, I no longer feel like the book is incoherent and falling apart.

There's another thing that happens from time to time. I stumble onto a single line of either dialog or narration that even out of context encapsulates to much of the surrounding scene it's almost magical. An early one of these was:

I swear the man was eighty percent bitterness and twenty percent coffee.
when decribing what at the time looked to be a minor character. More recently was the less colorful narration:
I'd managed to save Ixa. Now someone just needed to save me.
Little gems like this do not make a story on their own, but from their gleam, you can extrapolate much about the surrounding prose.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 06/09/2014 at 5:56am Eastern |

Why Take Down the Old Content?

In short, I've decided to take down the old E-V Combine content because there was no luck on finding an illustrator, so I've had to shelve the idea of doing a web graphic novel based upon my back catalog. It clutters the site and it won't be relevent again unless I return to that universe and resume writing. (Or let people see the back catalog in it's low quality state). I've instead decided to focus on what I can produce - prose. Now, I can't stand reading from a computer screen for extended periods of time (including those built into tablets), but I've found eInk quite comfortable. So even if Amazon wasn't a near perfect vector for monetizing the various gobs of content that spill from my keyboard, I'd still endorse their regular (non-Fire) Kindles. As a result, that content which I choose to ePublish will be available in either .prc or .mobi format (same thing really). Though I still have to figure out the best way to point visitors to the opportunites to buy those which I'm not giving away for free. Some crap isn't worth charging people for, but if I think you might enjoy it, I'll think about posting it for download.

My current big projects are Shadowboy, its sequel, Gruefield, and a bevy of shorter tales set in the same universe. In it's current state, Shadowboy is a 108,500 word novel (length may change somewhat in final editing) which I plan to release once final clean-up is done. I'm not sure how spoiler-free I want to keep the promotional material, but that will be the first round of new content I'll be posting. Anything that contains spoilers should be marked as such, as I want people to enjoy their reading.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 06/05/2014 at 6:29pm Eastern |

I'm Calling a Do-Over!

If there was anyone who visited this site before, you will note that there has been a long lapse between when I last updated and now. I can't say I'll have regular updates, but I'm revamping the site. Why? Because I've almost got a new book out, and I want to get things all pretty in case anyone stops by. I also pan on trying to advertize the crap out of this one so that people will buy it, and the chance of some of them stopping by here means cleanup is in order. One thing I want to try to get going is a storefront for direct sales. That part will be tricky. (I stopped paying for an SSL cert years ago, so I'm probably going to outsource the eCommerce part to Amazon or something).

I'll be clearing out a lot of the content which originally gave this site it's name. That project has apparently collapsed, so I'm converting my namespace into a site for blathering about my books. I will keep the random pages about cooking, and am debating if I want to keep the game commentary around.

-- Robert McCarroll

| Posted 06/05/2014 at 5:02pm Eastern |

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