This campaign is the best way to get signed copies of my Crematoria Online series. If you have a second, please spread the word on your social media channels, and to anyone you feel might be interested!
Well, here we are, the last day of 2019.
It’s been a hell of a year. I am not being hyperbolic when I say this has been the best year of my life. It’s had its challenges, sure, but those are all smoke in the wind now.
My greatest highlight is becoming a father. I’ve been a surprise dad to Little Miss 7 for a couple of years now, but having a bub is a whole other ball game. It’s been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever experienced, but also once of the most rewarding.
The other highight? I’ve had the most successful year of my life as an author. My Crematoria Online series has gained some serious traction, and it’s so awesome to see people as excited about my work as I am. I’m still working full time, so this is just baby steps, but at least I’m taking steps in the direction I want to go.
Here’s to a bigger 2020!
Still working away. I’ve put the Legacy of the Bloodreaver Kickstarter together, and I’ll be kicking that off soon. But I’m also doing a rewrite on the last quarter of the book. I want Legacy to be the best book it can possibly be, so taking the time to rewrite feels like a necessary thing to do.
Here’s a sneak peek of the Legacy of the Bloodreaver ebook cover!
Did I mention that there are now Crematoria Online t-shirts?
Keep in mind that this is pure alpha – I won’t be doing a structural edit until the first arc is done. But if you like it raw, then give it a read.
It’s a ‘bunch of friends get transporting into a tabletop roleplaying game’ story, but set in a distinctly Australian setting. It’s going to use a whole bunch of Australian mythological creatures, as well as classic monsters with an Aussie twist, while also celebrating my aborginal roots.
It’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever read before.
I’ve got so much faith in this series that the first arc already has a Dean Samed cover on its way.
That’s all from me for this year, folks. I hope 2019 has treated you well, and I hope 2020 treats you even better.
Wowzers, this update is super late! 10 days into December! Sorry about that.
I spent most of November preparing for my son’s arrival, and then after he came along it was a complete blur. But the hard stuff (and honestly, there hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of hard stuff for me) is completely outweighed by the good stuff.
The first baby cuddle, the first time he grabbed my finger in his tiny hand, the first time he smiled, and even the first time he peed during a nappy change (which hit yours truly right in the open mouth – lesson learned) – all of these moments are incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced before in my life.
I am in absolute awe of my wife-to-be Abbie. She is the strongest person I have ever met. I thought I knew what true love was before the birth of our son, but I didn’t have a fucking clue. I feel like my life only just started last month, that I’m seeing things through a brand new set of eyes. I feel like everything leading up to this was just practice.
In book-related news, Rise of the Crimson Order got a new cover last month, and new versions of the books are in the process of being uploaded to Amazon. The changes are not major. They include:
- rebalancing of stats of the items Lucas receives during the book, to ensure they adhere to the overarching gear power curve of the whole series
- addition of one scene, which alleviates some deus ex machina in a later chapter. If you’ve bought the Kindle edition of the novel, you should be able to update the manuscript when the update is live
I’m in the process of finalizing the new paperback version of Rise with the snazzy new cover.
This whole rebranding thing is for a reason. Early in 2020, I’ll be launching a Kickstarter Campaign for Crematoria Online book two. This will include a reward tier where you can get the whole story so far, which will include the two books, new cover(s) and matching spines, so it’ll look all pretty on your shelf. Book three will adhere to the same style when it’s done.
I have a lot of faith in Crematoria Online – I think it’s one of the finest things I’ve written, and I’m really excited to take you all on the journey through this story. So far, I have a whole Lucas Hutchins arc planned out, that will go for a minimum of two more books (four in total), with a potential for more after that.
Hahahaha, NaNoWriMo was a bust. I got 17k words written during the month. That’s still better than a kick in the teeth, but nowhere near the goal of 50k.
PS, if you want to see gratuitous baby + proud dad photos, visit my public Instagram. ❤
I was determined to get this out on the last day of the month, this time! This is just going to be a short one.
Working, working, working.
There are two major scenes that I need to add in to Crematoria Online book 2 before I can do my last editing pass. This process has been super slow, and I’m not going as fast as I would like to, but real life and my day job has a habit of getting in the way. But the day job also pays the bills, so it takes precedence until my writing can pay the rent!
This month I put together a new gear generator for Crematoria Online to make sure that all of the gear that Lucas and friends receive is level and rarity appropriate as the series continues on. And I do mean for it to continue on for some time.
I shared the basic underpinnings of this generator over on my blog earlier in the month. If you’re thinking about writing a LitRPG or GameLit novel, and want to get an idea of how you might chart out a power curve, I’d recommend checking it out.
As a result of this gear curve being actually figured out now, I’ll be revisiting Rise of the Crimson Order to ensure that all the items in there fit the curve. I’m also going to revisit that novel and make some big quality of life improvements in the first book, in preparation for the release of book two. I want to give the absolute best reading experience I can as the series continues on.
Speaking of improvements, Rise of the Crimson Order will be getting a new cover soon. Book Two will be getting a cover in matching branding, ready for when it launches.
I was hoping to have another short story out for Halloween this year, but it wasn’t finished in time. It’s still coming though, but I’m not sure when.
Next month marks the start of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month that I participate in almost every year. This year I’ll be participating, but I know I’m not going to hit the 50k goal. My son is going to arrive any day now, so my writing time is going to be diddly squat.
However, I have wanted to put together some non-fiction books for some time. Crematoria Online Book Two will be sixth finished novel, and my eleventh total book. I
’m starting to feel like I know what I’m doing well enough to be able to provide some advice to people who are just starting to take their writing seriously. So I might split my NaNoWriMo focus between the first episode of a serial LitRPG, and those couple of non-fiction projects.
If you want to be my NaNoWriMo Writing Buddy, shoot me a request!
Last year I published a tough love guide on how to prepare yourself for NaNoWriMo. You might want to have a look at that, too.
I’m knee-deep in Crematoria Online book two at the moment, and one of the main concerns I had was making sure that the progression of statistics was consistent, meaningful, and fun. Making them foolproof on the author’s part was also important, because he is an accomplished fool.
So I put my Excel-fu to good use and made a spreadsheet.
I’m sharing my learnings, because I feel like the math/stats aspect of writing GameLit/LitRPG is not something narrative-focused writers come to easily. So this might help.
You can automate your statistics in a way that makes sure your characters will always be getting level-appropriate gear. It’s as easy as putting your character’s level into a cell, choosing the rarity, and boom – your spreadsheet will pop out appropriate stats for that piece of gear.
The best part? Once you’ve set this up, you can use it for your entire series. I wish I’d done this before publishing Rise of the Crimson Order!
First up, you need to esatblish three elements in a single worksheet:
A table of levels and default stat growth
For thes above dummy stats (none of these are what I used for Crematoria Online), I chose an arbitrary formula: Primary Stat = Level*2.5. You can choose absolutely any formula that fits with your intended power curve.
Next, you need a table of gear rarities and the effects those rarities have on the stats of the items
Once again, these values are arbitrary. Choose your own values that will work for your world.
Lastly, you need a table of equipment slots and their gear weightings
A piece of chest armor won’t have the same stats as a pair of gloves, or a necklace, or a pair of boots. These stat weightings are designed to give some variance in the actual stats on the items, so they feel more appropriate.
Once you’ve set all of these tables up with your own data, now you can create your gear generator. You could do it on the same worksheet as your stat tables, but I like to keep them separate. It’s much cleaner.
Here’s where the fun starts.
You’re going to need to harness the power of VLookup to get this working. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realise just how powerful Microsoft Excel is even without getting into the realm of macros. Here’s the Microsoft page on the function, but there are heaps of resources out there that will help you learn it.
There are four main elements to your gear generator that you need to understand before proceeding:
- Blue – These cells require Data Validation. Set these up as a drop-down list, so that values from your table of gear rarities and table of equipment slots are selectable.
- Grey – this is free text, but you’ll only be putting your numeric level numbers in here
- Yellow – VLookup. These cells are there to grab the modifiers and stat weightings you’ve put into your raw data tables so you can use them in formulas here.
- Green – formulas. This is the nuts and bolts of how your stat score will be generated. Without the above three types of cells set up, the formulas won’t work.
The VLookup can get a little tricky, so I’ll break down what I’ve done. For the yellow cell next to Weighting I want my spreadsheet to automatically change the weighting whenever I choose an equipment slot.
This is the formula: =VLOOKUP(C2, Ref!N2:O14, 2, 0)
Double dutch, right?
Let me break it down.
- C2 is our reference cell. This is what the VLookup function looks at to determine what other value is should display. In this case, it’s looking at the cell containing Head.
- Ref!N2:O14 is an absolute reference to a table selection. It encompasses two columns – N & O, and continues from row 2 to row 14.
- 2 refers to which column in the defined table we want our VLookup to display once it finds the value in C2. The cell values such as Head, Chest etc are column 1. Our stat weightings are column 2, and the weighting is what we want to display.
- 0 refers to whether we want an approximate match, or an exact match. We want to be exact, so we choose 0 = FALSE.
For the modifier VLookups, I have directed my spreadsheet to look at the cell next to Rarity instead of the gear slot cell. You should be able to set this up yourself now.
If you get those working, your spreadsheet is going to sing.
Once your drop-down lists have been set up, and your VLookups are working, you can now start on the formulas to calculate your gear attributes.
The 2.5 in the above formula matches the *2.5 I used in my original table of levels and primary stat calculations. If your stats grow at different rates (eg, health grows faster or has a more complex calculation behind it) then you’ll need to alter this final formula to suit.
These calculations are subjective, and the ones I’ve used in these examples are just examples. Play around a bit and make sure your math matches your story!
So now that it’s all done, here’s a couple of examples of the output.
A pair of max-level Rare legs
A pair of max-level Epic legs
Once the gear is generated, I play around with the stats a little before putting them in the book.
Placeholder Rare Legs
Requires Level 20
Placeholder Epic Legs
Requires Level 20
As you can see there, the stats don’t exactly match the output of the spreadsheet, and I’ve done this intentionally. There’s always a level of randomness to stat generation in most games, and I like to make sure there’s an element of variance in my books too.
So there you have it. Go forth and create your own power curve spreadsheets if you like, share it around, and let’s demystify this element of GameLit/LitRPG writing!
So you know how I said I’ve been pretty bad at updating my blog? Well, September’s update is coming 6 days into October… whoops!
I’ve spent most of September working through beta reader feedback of Crematoria Online Book 2. I’m happy to say that those who have finished it so far have thoroughly enjoyed it. But like with any beta reading process, there are some bumps to smooth off, and some places to focus on to make the story even better.
This book came out to be about 138k, which is roughly 490 pages. I’ve got another couple of scenes to add, and some rearranging to do, and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to end up breaking the 500 page mark. It’s going to be a whopper.
My beta reading team are superstars. If you want to join the team, please get in contact with me. There’s still time to read a sneak peak of book two before it goes to publishing, and book three will be going out for beta reader early next year some time.
You know how I said that the title Legacy of the Bloodreaver was locked in? Well, I’m rethinking that. I should probably learn to shut my mouth until things are finalised, hey?
BUT IT’S ALL SO EXCITING AND I LIKE TALKING ABOUT MY WORK.
There’s another in-universe short story, similar(ish) in length to Thirty to Fifty Feral Hogs coming for Halloween, too.
There’s some other things I want to talk about re: Crematoria Online right now, but they’re not set in stone, so I’m going to listen to my own advice and shut the fuck up.
So many ideas, so little time. I’m enjoying writing LitRPG at the moment, but there’s a straight up horror novel festering away in my grey matter demanding to be written too. After Crematoria Online Book 2 is published, I might sate that urge. We’ll see how I feel after book two launches.
I might want to get straight into Crematoria Online book 3 and finish the trilogy off, or I might want a break. We shall see.
Bub’s nursery is built. We’re stocked up with baby wipes and nappies. I’ve finished my swaddling training. We had the baby shower last weekend, and it was a lovely time. Thank you to everyone who came. ❤
We’re drowning in dinosaur paraphernalia, which is a wonderful state to be in. I hope our little boy is going to love dinosaurs as much as his Dad.
I started my new job this month, and it’s been great. I’m working back in the city now, which means I’m able to get back into my exercise routine. I’ve dropped 5kgs already, and I’ve only been back 3 weeks. I feel so, so much better.
Toxic workplaces are a hell of a thing. If you’re in one, get out at all costs!
This month I re-read The Outsider by Stephen King. I very rarely re-read books, but I made time for this one. It was even better the second time around. Check out my review on Goodreads.
Borderlands 3 came out this month, and so did The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch. I’ve been waiting for both of these since they were announced.
Borderlands is one of my absolute favourite series, and I’ve been have a blast with Borderlands 3. I’m not a young man anymore though, so my gaming time is limited. I love how wholesome FL4K’s relationships with their pets are. I also dig that FL4K is intentionally non-binary, and the language used in all of their dialogue and text reflects that.
I finished Borderlands 3 last weekend, and it was a really satisfying campaign. I won’t delve into spoiler territory, but I was really happy with it.
Link’s Awakening DX was one of my very favourite games on my GBA Color. I remember playing through Link’s Awakening (non-DX) on a regular Gameboy, and the colour of the DX version just blew my freaking mind. Now seeing it in glorious 3D with lovely current-gen animations is a treat. I’m also surprised at all of the old memories firing off in my mind about it.
After not playing that game for like 20 years, I still remembered about the hidden bottle at the bottom of the fish pond and how to get it.
I went and saw It Chapter 2 this month, and wrote some thoughts about it. Spoilers inside!
Abbie and I went to see It Chapter 2 on Sunday. It was one of my most hotly anticipated movies of the year. While I thought it was great, it didn’t quite live up to the expectations I’d worked up for it.
I’ve been historically pretty bad at updating my blog, but I’m going to make a concerted effort to at least do monthly updates.
Earlier in the month I released a standalone story set in the Crematoria Online universe – Thirty to Fifty Feral Hogs. It was a bit of an experiment for me. I wanted to see if I could write and edit a story, design a cover, and publish it in two days, and I did it. I’m happy with the result. It got a glowing review from the LitRPG Podcast, which gave me a warm fuzzy feeling like a feral hog waiting to burst out of my skin.
The sequel to Rise of the Crimson Order is almost done. I’ve written almost 120k words in two months, and I think that’s a testament to how much I love this story. It’s just poured out of me. The scope is bigger, the new characters are just wonderful, the monsters are crazier, and I just can’t wait to share it with you.
This is the fastest I’ve ever written a book. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt like I kind of know what I’m doing, and it’s really blowing my mind to think that this is the ninth book I’ve written.
Even writing those words blows my mind.
A note on the title of the Rise sequel; It’s gone through a couple of permutations. Initially it was Rage of the Lightless Depths, which I liked but didn’t love. Then, it was Wrath of the Sanguine Scourge, which I was hoping to keep up my sleeve for when a specific event takes place… Then, it was Legacy of the Blood Queen, which I also liked but didn’t love. Now, it’s Legacy of the Bloodreaver, which I love, and that’s the final title.
If you’d like to be a beta reader for Legacy of the Bloodreaver and think you could get through a 500-page novel in a month, please get in contact with me.
Crematoria Online is my focus at the moment, but I’m also planning on what comes next for 2020. I don’t have much to announce right now, but low-key? There’s a new trilogy just begging to be written, and it’s going to be big.
Rise of the Crimson Order paperback fuck-up
Sometimes you have to lean into your fuck-ups.
My pal JoAnn messaged me early one morning this month and said “Hey Matt so I came across something a bit weird in your book… first page of chapter 26 seems like it’s actually from chapter 26 of Metropolis 7” with an accompanying screenshot.
Cue the absolute terror of having fucked up so bad.
I went and checked my own version of Rise of the Crimson Order and yep, sure enough, almost half a page of the wrong book was there.
What happened was that I’d used the Fallen Metropolis Omnibus paperback file to prepare the Rise of the Crimson Order paperback file. Paste & Match Style is a lifesaver when it comes to making sure you have consistent internal formatting.
But if you’re a dickhead like me you might forget to delete a section of another book that you should have deleted…
It’s been fixed now, and every paperback version of Crimson Order from here on won’t have a random snippet of Fallen Metropolis at the beginning of the chapter twenty-six.
Seven copies were printed and shipped by Amazon containing the print error. If you’re one of these people and you want a replacement copy, please let me know. I’ll send you an unfucked copy at my expense.
I’ve got lots of stuff going on in real life at the moment. In a couple of months I’m going to have a newborn son arriving on the scene. So I’m trying to stock up on writing and sleeping time now. When he comes, it’s going to be all about him, and I can’t wait.
I’ve been miserable pretty miserable over the last couple of months. (Toxic workplaces are draining in the worst kind of way). I’ve put on weight when I should be losing it. I’ve been in a pretty dark place mentally, but I’ve been converting all that negative emotional energy into creative energy and using it to get the next book finished.
Everyone is afraid of the black dog. I know I was for years, but as I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve realised that he’s not so bad. The black dog wants you to run, and it’s up to you to choose whether you run away from your goals or towards them.
As I’m sure some of you have noticed, I launched nervousmonkeys.com earlier this year and you might be wondering just what the fuck that’s all about. TL;DR, there are heaps of plans, but not much I’m ready to talk about just yet.
It’s my intention to start narrating audiobooks in the very near future, and Nervous Monkeys will be the vessel for that. I’ve got my fingers crossed that ACX will be opening its doors to Australians in 2020. If not, there are other avenues, and I’ll have more news on this front later.
Aside from that, my lips are sealed until things are more solid.
Well, here’s something I never thought I’d see. SBS has created an interactive documentary about the land of my people, the Butchulla, called K’gari.
What does K’gari mean?
Well, in the Butchulla language it means paradise. It’s the traditional name of the island known as Fraser Island. Before this piece done by SBS, I have to admit, I didn’t know the nitty gritty details of why it was called Fraser Island. I knew it was named because of a white woman, but I didn’t know the depth of the story that went along with it.
I had no idea the story had been so twisted by white panic, but I’m not surprised.
Clear 10 minutes out of your schedule to have a look at the presentation by SBS. Especially if you’ve got teenage kids who are just trying to get their heads around how to tell the difference between truth and untruth in a world where fake news (aka propaganda) is set to change the course of history.
Now for a personal tangent.
I didn’t know I was part of the Butchulla people until my great grandmother, one of the Butchulla elders, came to my primary school to talk about the dreamtime. She asked me “You’re Steven’s boy, aren’t you?” and back then I didn’t know my Dad. But I knew that was his name. She told me she was my grandmother, and the realisation hit me.
“If you’re aboriginal, then so am I!”
She told me that even though her skin was dark, and mine was white, we were still family. That was a bond that nothing could break.
I learned about my culture late, and I’m still learning every day.
Her name was Olga Miller, and along with her brother Wilf Reeves they wrote and illustrated the first Australian Aboriginal children’s book – The Legend of Moonie Jarl, which was originally published in 1964.
In 2014, it was reprinted for the 50th anniversary by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and I was lucky enough to get a copy.
I doubt anyone caught it, but in my Crematoria Online series, there’s an island-based seafaring race called the Kigarians, that hail from the Kigari Isles. I know that’s not how you pronounce K’gari, but it was my way of putting a little bit of my culture into my fictional world.
A small celebration, if you will.
Fallen Metropolis: Omnibus Edition brings together three stories in the Galactic Waste universe in one package! It includes the full-length scifi horror novel Fallen Metropolis, its prequel novella The Fall of Metropolis Seven, and the short story The Traveler!
Remastered and ready to take over the galaxy, the Fallen Metropolis Omnibus is a relentless thrill ride that takes hold from the first page and doesn’t let go until the last.
Draco Goldwing and his crew of intrepid space marines detect a distress signal in unfriendly space. The Metropolis Seven, a long-vacationer starship on a ten-year cruise around the galaxy, is floating adrift in the crushing gravity of a binary star system. The 100,000 passengers and crew on board are set to roast unless Draco and the crew intervene.
The massive ship is as silent as a crypt. The ship has been taken over by something not seen before in the entire galaxy’s history. Something hungry.
Captain Goldwing leads a mission aboard the Metropolis Seven while the remaining crew members of the Icarus play babysitter with a psychotic madman who will stop at nothing to reclaim his freedom.