Thursday, April 08, 2021

In Other News

 I finally started going to the gym again. It's been like a year, so of course I'm sore as hell after a few days. At least both shoulders hurt equally now! :-) But honestly I think the exercise will help keep my right shoulder issues in check. The hard part of course, as always, is building the habit back to go out 3 times a week.

What's funny is when I'm stretching out my shoulders / arms by doing big windmill like motions with each one, one at a time. The right shoulder makes a LOT of noises now when I do this. The left shoulder, which has been operated on and rebuilt about a decade ago is nice and quiet. Same for the elbows (though the left side was a lot more recent).

But i do need the exercise, now I just need to adjust my lack of schedule accordingly.

Yeah, So, I don't know what to call this post...


So... (ever notice how certain conversations always start off with 'So'?)

There's this 'author' who has been reviewing ALL of my books.

ALL of them.

Van Stry, Stryvant — all of them.

He's given almost every single book 3 stars.

On Amazon, 1, 2, and 3 stars are NEGATIVE REVIEWS. Says so, EVERYWHERE.

(And if you disagree with that, too bad. It's their sandbox, their rules.)

Now, I don't fault people for not liking my stuff. That's fine, to each their own, etc etc etc. I don't even respond to reviews unless they're just really off the wall, or they say something that's not true, and even then — rarely. (Well, unfortunately Amazon has taken down the ability to reply to reviews, which is sad, because it could be a lot of fun sometimes).

ANYWAY. I come across one of this person's reviews on another medium (and no, not naming them, don't want to call them out, they don't deserve that even if I ended up pounding my head against the desk). And I finally just had to ask, after like FORTY negative reviews: Why are you still reading me, if you don't like me?

They reply about how much they like my work and have almost always given me positive 3 star reviews....


Seriously, read the friggin' rules!! Especially when you're an author publishing on Amazon! There is NO EXCUSE for this kind of behavior. You want to be a pro? ACT like a pro! Read the damn rules; know what you're doing, then if you FUCK UP — own it!

All of this time I figured this guy had some weird hate boner going on for me. Especially from the way his reviews read (I read a couple trying to figure out just what the hell was going on and if I needed to be careful answering the door). I love it when people who aren't successful at my job try and tell me how to be more successful. Valens Legacy was my most successful series ever, selling about a million copies (if you count the audiobooks) and got me a lot of exposure as well as income. Hell, there are people in Hollywood still considering it for a series (fingers crossed).

So please understand if I'm just a bit ... hesitant ... to take advice from someone who sells maybe a handful of books a week. If you want to be successful in any business, the people you want to copy err, emulate, are the people who are going gangbusters.

But really, if you want to leave me bad reviews, fine. But the worse thing you can do is leave over 40 negative reviews, and then when finally called on it claim ignorance.

As an author, I no longer leave negative reviews, even if I hated the book. I'm a bit hesitant to leave positive reviews on Amazon, only because I don't want to get in trouble with Amazon, who sometimes pitches a fit when authors review another author's works.


If I wasn't such a lazy guy, I'd make up a page with a list of all the books I loved and just link it from my website. I actually used to have one, but it just got too hard to keep up with.


So yeah. Head-desk. And here I thought all this time he was just trying to prove that he was a superior author/writer and was trying to lure people away to read his books... (hell, maybe he is, I don't know. *sigh* Welp, another mystery answered. Maybe. Sorta. Ah, hell...)


Monday, March 29, 2021

Oh, there's a Discord server now...


I think this is the link to join - I'm not a big Discord expert so forgive me if I got it wrong. :-)

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Portals Of Infinity Audiobook Kickstarter is doing great!


So my Portals of Infinity Audiobook kickstarter is closing in on the stretch goal for the third audiobook.

That means if you pledge $30, you'll be getting 6 (six!) audiobooks. The current versions of Temples and Trials, The Sea of Grass, and Demigods and Deities, Plus Reprisal, Kaiju, and The Seven Worlds!

 All of that for $30! That's $5 per audiobook!

I will be adding some higher tiers to the Kickstarter over the next week, ones that have been suggested to me, as well as a couple I wanted to do as 'add-ons' but was unable to because of the way Kickstarter works.

And remember, if I hit the total goal of this Kickstarter ($20,000) You'll be getting all 10 (Ten!) of the current books, in audiobook format, by the very talented Jessica Threet!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Kickstarter for the POI audiobooks is now live!


 Those of you who have been following me may have heard that I have been planning a kickstarter to fund the production of audiobooks for my Portals of Infinity series.

That kickstarter is now live:

Portals of Infinity Audibook Kickstarter

If you're at all interested, please go take a look.

Friday, March 05, 2021

New Merch at my Redbubble Store

 So yes, I have a bunch of merch for sale now using the two icons I now have for my work. I actually ordered a bunch of it myself, just to make sure it looks good and is well made. I should get it in about 2 weeks. 

For those interested, here's the link ->

Thursday, February 11, 2021

They Don't Believe They're The Good Guys - Not Now, Not Ever

Someone put up an article the other day where they were talking about some story that followed the bad guy from some other story and there was that whole 'every bad guy is a good-guy hero in his own head.'

Yeah - that's bullshit.

People have this terrible habit of thinking that only they are real. That everyone else, everything else, thinks like they do, feels like they do, believes like they do. They fall for that tired old saw that 'he's only evil because X happened to him, and you'd be evil too if X had happened to you!'

Yeah - that's bullshit too.

Bad people know that they're bad. They know that what they're doing is wrong - they just don't care. They either feel they can get away with it and not get caught; or some soft asshole, who believes the above, will go 'aww they didn't mean it' and will either let them go or let them off with little to no punishment. If you've ever raised children, you've seen this behavior a thousand times before. Your child (or even your pet if you have smart enough pets) knows that they're breaking the rules, that you'll be mad, but they figure that they'll either outsmart you and get away with it, or you won't punish them.

For those of you who don't punish them - congratulations! One day your child is going to have the boom lowered on their head and they're not going to like that! You've done a lot to set your child up for failure or worse yet, a nice trip to one of those lovely state maintained facilities. But they're not really evil, they're just stupid, lazy, and self-centered.

Now let's talk about the evil people. I have had the experience of knowing more than a few of these over the course of my life. These people know, when they do wrong, when they rape or murder, or do worse to someone, that what they're doing is wrong. Evil even. Guess what? They don't care. Hell, not only do they not care, but some of them even get off on it. You see, to them, the rules are for you, not for them. They can do whatever they want and if it hurts you, so what?

They're not sociopaths, oh no, they understand feelings and they socialize quite well. But your little rules are meaningless to them. What's right and what's wrong is what they decide is right and wrong. And that's always what's right or wrong for them, or their friends/family, if they feel close enough to them. Take smoking pot. A lot of you know it's 'wrong' but you still do it. You look at the laws and say 'eh, I'll do what I want, because I want.'

Well most killers or vicious abusers feel the same way. Oh they know what they're doing is a lot more serious than smoking pot, and they'll approach it with a lot more care. They know it's wrong, they know it's even evil. But they don't care, because they're benefiting from it in one way or the other. You are meaningless to them. Or maybe you mean something to them, but this means more and they're sorry they're going to kill/beat/rape/cripple you, but they're going to still do it to you and move on. Because they're evil, they're perfectly fine with being evil, and they don't make any bones about it.

Are they heroes in their own story? Yes. But they're not the good guys, and they know it. People don't join certain gangs out there to be good guys. They join to be evil guys. The bad guys. There isn't some 'incident' that happened to them and made them decide suddenly to be bad. I've had some very nasty things happen to me. Terrible things, soul crushing things. I didn't decide to go out there and suddenly become a violent or vicious man because of it. Same for dozens of people I know personally and millions more I don't. My name is legion when it comes to something like that.

There are a lot of people in the world who don't care what the laws are or what they say, but are still good guys. They're good because they were raised with a moral code and they believe in it and strive to do good things and good works. Those people exist regardless of what the law says. Regardless of what bad, nasty, evil, or terrible things have been done to them.

The same is true for those who only seek to do evil. They know what good is, what right is, they just have no desire to do those things for a lot of reasons, not all of which come down to some sort of 'mental' disease. Most of them are perfectly sane. Many of them have also suffered some terrible thing, but it didn't change them, they may use it to 'justify' why they do certain things, but that's just a lie to lure you in so they can get what they want from you.

Don't try to explain evil away. Don't try to rationalize it. Your only real choices in life are to either kill it, move far away from it, or leave it clearly impressed that if it fucks with you, it will suffer more trouble than it's worth. Sometimes you can respect it, but odds are you'll never really understand it.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

No, I'm Not Dead...

Someone pinged me the other day and mentioned that I hadn't posted anything in a while and wanted to know if I was alright or not. So I figured that maybe I should post something to let you all know that yes, I'm still here. And considering the kind of year we've all just had, I hope you're all still here as well.

Yes, the last few months have been challenging. There's been all the 'other stuff' going on that we're all aware of in the world, that's been filling the airwaves and the internet and that's really enough to drive anyone crazy. On top of that there were the revelations of just how Audible has been fucking all of us indy authors over, that wasn't fun and seeing sales on things that should be doing well, but weren't, you can't help but wonder 'is that 2020 messing with me? Or is it Audible's fucked up book keeping ripping me off?'

Not pleasant, trust me.

The holidays were good, and I ended up having to do about 5 grand in emergency home repairs (home repairs are always more expensive two days before Christmas and the day after New Years - but when certain things break, they gotta be fixed right away). It's also more fun when you have company during those little disasters. Living out in the country also makes it more of a pain in the ass as well, because some things you have to go to Dallas to get. During the holidays. Yeah, that's a trip.

But the holidays were a pleasant diversion and I enjoyed the company and the time even with those problems.

However, writing has been a trial. I've been on Book four of Dan's Inferno for almost TWO months now. I don't think it's ever taken me this long to write a book before  (well, Children of Steel took a year - but then it was my first ever novel). It's not the book, I actually -know- what the story is. It's just all been me. I've been struggling a bit and at this point if I could just get my act together I could probably finish the first draft in about two or three days.

Then I'll agonize over it, because it took so long I'm gonna be all worried that I got it right. I have been writing, slowly, on the side, in the evenings, chapters for a new Shadow novel. This one will be more of an anthology. I'm not sure yet exactly how I'm going to pull it off and theme it, but the first three 'stories' / 'chapters' all take place before he becomes Shadow - When he's still working for Boston Implantables (that's the place he went to work after he got out of college when he was still an 'avenger' and before he discovered sex and partying).

I have other stories in my head, that I've got notes on and which I'm constantly thinking about, I just need to push through these doldrums and get going on them. A new story that I'm going to try and sell to Baen books after talking with Toni, which will be a hard scifi story. I started with hard scifi and I've love to just do one again. Then there's the other stories I've mentioned that got put on hold last year when I had so many family and other issues to deal with.

Part of my problem is that unlike what you hear about most authors, I'm an extrovert. I like going out. I like doing things, I like being with people. Guess what I haven't been able to do all year? Yeah, that stuff. And it's made life hard and it's made some of the things that happened around the middle of last year harder to come to terms with. Like my mother's passing. Yes, we all knew it was coming, she'd been ill for a while and going downhill for years. But it still doesn't make it any easier when it happens. And all of the stupid shit that the governor back in NY was doing, made it even worse.

So it's been a bit hard to get closure on that.


I suspect that all of you out there have had it just as bad. This last year hasn't been a good one and I don't think things are going to get better overnight either. But it's not really my place to say. For now, my goal is to finish this book. DI may end up being only four installments instead of five, because it looks like I'll have covered all of the plot that I had originally made in four books. DI was never intended to be a long series originally, it was something I started after dealing with the worst of last year's stuff and to get me back up to speed so I could get back on track with the 4 unfinished novels that are sitting on my hard drive.

I'm just hoping that the unexpected things that seem to keep happening over the last two months just stop happening. Like, I injured my wrist and I'm in a brace now for two months hoping that I -don't- have to have surgery. Only time will tell. It's the little stuff like this that's been driving me crazy. I need to put my shop back together (I got a few new tools) and start working on another guitar, but - gotta wait for the brace. So I get a little frustrated, woodworking is one of my stress relievers. I swear at blocks of wood instead of at strange characters in my head. (The wood seems to pay more attention than they do, oddly enough).

The recent censorship drive on Facebook hasn't hit me yet. I'm on Mewe as well now, so when it does, well, hopefully I'll survive it. I think I'm going to start posting here weekly as well, just so you all know what's going on. When you see someone like Larry Correia being banned from his own groups, groups he never talks politics on, because they're afraid of something he 'might' say, a guy who's got like 50K fans there... well small fries like me can be crushed in an instant. I've stopped posting completely on Twitter and am debating shutting the account down. I probably should scale my posting on Facebook back more than I already have. Because there are definitely witch hunts going on and I have felt the long arm of the federal government when the powers that be decide they don't like something you said - and you know what? I don't want to go through two years of not being able to get a job again because I'm on a 'list'.

So I'll probably be cutting my presence on social media back, hopefully a lot, and try to just focus on my writing and try to ignore the insanity around me. Maybe when the brace comes off and I can play again I'll see if there's a bar band that needs a bass player and spend my evenings doing that a couple times a week so I can start getting out again.

I'm hoping to get my website redone here soon, to something a bit more professional, and I should probably start putting up links to the books of my friends out there that I really like. Some of them I'm sure you know, but there are others you might not know and they're good writers with good stories and very much worth checking out. And if conventions ever start happening again, maybe I can start going to some of those and giving you (those of you who want to that is) chances to talk about things in the stories and ask questions and such.

So, yeah, not dead (yet) and just a bit frustrated with everything that's happened to all of us this last year. I got a ton of projects and things I need to get finished, and I'm pretty much the only one who can do it (I really need to find an assistant I can trust and hire them), so at times I feel kind of 'task saturated' and all that. I gotta lot of things I want to do, I just need to start getting them done.

So here's hoping that this year is a better one for all of us.

Take care of yourselves, PLEASE. You're the ones that make this all worth doing.

Friday, December 04, 2020

The Double Neck Guitar is Finished!

The idea of a double neck bass/guitar is something I've been interested in for a while. I've built a lot of kits over the last couple of years and I decided this would be the last 'kit' I did, before I moved on to trying to make my own bodies and eventually necks as well. This is a much more difficult kit than the usually ones, due to size and the addition of another guitar neck, as well as the associated wiring and pickups.

So understand that before you get into it. Especially if you plan on customizing it like I did.

Now the schematics I got for this originally had both necks always 'on' (or 'live') and the two switches were each three-way pickup selectors. I didn't like that setup so I made a number of changes in the wiring.

First I took the upper switch and made that a selector for which neck was live/on. You could do 'Bass - Both - Guitar', depending on the position of that three-position switch. I left the bottom three-position switch on the guitar to its normal 'Bridge - Both - Neck' selection. However, the selector switch that was in my kit was a five way, which I didn't care for. So I replaced it with an actual three-way. While functionally the same, I didn't like having two positions that were neck only, and two that were bridge only - which is how you had to wire up the five-way to make it work.

Second I had to change the Volume / Tone pots to deal with the new switching set up. The initial design was one volume, one tone, for each neck. I wanted to have separate volume controls for each pickup, not unlike most Les Paul's, so what I ended up doing was buying four 'stacked' pots. Each pot has two knobs. The inner one is volume, the outer one I wired for tone. So every pickup now has an individual volume and tone control. This made the wiring a little more involved, especially as the outputs from each neck had to go through the selector control between the necks.

The third major change I made was I added a second stereo type output jack. The main jack only puts out whatever you have the neck selector switch set to, while the stereo jack always puts the guitar pickups out on one channel and the bass pickups on a second channel. Each channel is always 'live'. This would allow you to wire two different amplifier stacks, simultaneously. Otherwise you'd need an A/B foot switch (you do NOT want to run a bass through a guitar stack; you can blow out the amp with the lower bass frequencies).

The paint job is a metallic water-based paint. I shot two coats. On top of that I shot 15 coats of clear gloss (water based) - except for the back of the necks, I shot clear satin on those (I find a gloss finish to be too sticky when playing). I do believe I should have used four coats of grain filler instead of just two, I think the back would have looked nicer, it is a huge piece of wood.

I used conductive paint in ALL of the cavities. I hate hum and the stuff works. I put copper foil on the back of the plastic cover plates and made sure everything was well grounded.

I used Teak oil on the fretboards - three coats.

The frets did need a fair deal of leveling. They weren't pressed in very consistently from side to side either. I have a leveling bar, which makes the process a lot easier. But then you have to recrown, and  polish, all those frets. Which is this case was like 48 frets.

I don't put the truss rod covers on for about a month or two, because the necks do need time to settle in.



The holes for the wire routing coming out of the pickup cavities are too 'high' in some cases. Especially with the extra wiring I was running. So I had to widen some of those holes and make them 'lower' so I wouldn't have to worry about the pickups interfering with the wiring and vice-versa.

The small pilot holes for the tuner machines on the guitar neck are really poorly placed. It would have been better not for them to have been drilled at all, as they weren't uniform, which means the tuners don't exactly line up. I could have done those better myself.

One of the bass pickups was bad (South pole bar coil blown). This one took me a long time to track down (weeks) - I thought I had mis-wired something. Soapbar pickups are also Expensive! $300 is about what you're going to pay for a pair. Fortunately I found a pair of Seymour Duncan's on sale during Black Friday, so I only had to pay about a hundred bucks for a new set. (I have S & D on most of my basses). Part of what made it hard to find a replacement for them is that the size of the soapbar pickups on this bass is NOT one of the standard sizes. It's more like a 5-string size.

I also didn't like the way the bass pickups are routed through the guitar pickup cavity. It made changing bass pickups with the strings on really challenging. If I were to do it again, I'd drill a separate passage.


In General:

I would definitely rate this bass/guitar double neck as one of the harder kits. Especially if you're planning on changing the way it works. I bought this back around May of this year, but I had three other guitars to do first: two Les Paul's from kits (6 & 12 string with after market pickups and pots), and a custom Jazz Master that wasn't from a kit that required very special parts and wiring.

A good deal of what slowed me down was waiting for the switch and pots I ordered after deciding to change the way it was wired. The entire thing was finished end of October and then I spent weeks trying to figure out what was wrong with the bass until I finally took out the pickups and found one had a blown coil. Then I sat on it for weeks more until I found replacement soapbar pickups on a Black Friday sale and then had to wait for them.

I may upgrade the guitar pickups as well, seeing as I just put a much better set of bass pickups in it, but for now I think this is enough.

I also put D'Addario strings on both necks and not the strings that came with the kit. I like flat-wounds on my basses these days, and the D'Addario guitar strings are worth the money as well. 

Edited to add: I just discovered that the nut on the guitar is bad. The high E slot was cut too deep and now it buzzes on the first fret. So I need to buy a new nut and replace it. Not happy about that, replacing nuts is a pain in the ass. This thing has had MORE problems, all due to shoddy manufacturing. This is why I won't be making any more chinese kits.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

This is why I'm getting out of Audiobooks

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The Double Neck

 I didn't want to listen to any news today, so staying away from the computer seemed like a good idea. 

Instead I spent the day in my shop working on the Bass/Guitar double neck. At this point I'm just waiting for the dual volume / tone pots (I ordered four so each pickup gets it's own). And the stereo jack. This guitar will have two jacks: The first one is a mono jack and you use the selector switch on the guitar to choose between bass or guitar. The second one will be a stereo jack, where both outputs are live all the time: One channel will be Guitar the other will be Bass. This way you can use separate amplifier stacks. 

Here's what it looks like at this point, without strings or the pots:

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Book 3 of Dan's Inferno is on Amazon

 So yes, in a day that's been 2020 encapsulated, at least there is one good thing! My latest book under my pen name, Jan Stryvant, is now live!

Dan's Inferno, Book III - Heritage


Here's a pick of the cover (one of these days I'll figure out how to make them linkable again - blogger changed UI's a few months ago).