New Website

I’ve just launched a brand new website! I’ve found that this site simply wasn’t doing the best job of connecting with readers and growing a network of people who are passionate about fiction that will change the world. So I’ve spent the last couple of weeks building dunhamwriter.com and I know you’re going to love it! If  you have enjoyed following this blog, I strongly encourage you to check out dunhamwriter.com. I’m going all kinds of exciting things there, including offering free stories delivered chapter by chapter to everyone who signs up for my email list.

I won’t be automatically transferring followers from this blog, so if you want to keep up with me, you’ll have to head to the new location. I’ll be sure to make it worth your time!

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Free Serials Coming Soon!

Do you love stories? Books, movies, TV shows, video games; stories in whatever medium are incredible. They give us a chance to escape to a new world, see things from new perspectives, and just enjoy ourselves for a while.

What if you could get stories delivered to your email for free? Not just any stories, but exciting tales of adventure and suspense filled with engaging characters and set in far away worlds.

If that sounds great to you, I’ve got good news! I’m launching two brand new serials soon and the first one will go live tomorrow! These serials will be available here on CrossFireFiction.WordPress.com but they will go out to everyone on my email list a full week early.

The one that will begin tomorrow is “The Howling Wood.” It’s the first serial in the fantasy series, The Samokei ChroniclesYou can already read “Everyday,” the first story in this collection, on my website. “The Howling Wood” picks up the story decades later and reveals more about the mysterious myths and legends of Samokei. You’ll follow Thom, a member of an order of woodsmen and trackers known as the Vilka, as he tries to lead a most unusual party safely through the Howling Wood. They’re stalked by a pack of deadly wolves but the greatest danger is something none of them could have ever imagined.

If you want to be the first to read Thom’s story, click here to sign up now!

The next serial will launch on July 6 and it’s set in the same world as my latest novel, The Other Side of Hope. It’s an alternate history in which the global roles of Christianity and Islam have been flipped. If you’re wondering how that could have happened, this serial is for you! It’s set in the months leading up to the Battle of Tours – the day when Charles Martel halted the Muslim advance into Europe. But this time, history won’t unfold the way you remember it. Each month, you’ll get a new chapter in the story of Adrian Bernard, loyal bodyguard of Odo the Great. Odo was the Duke of Aquitaine, a kingdom in modern day southern France, – and long time rival of Charles Martel.

To read Adrian’s story and witness the events that led to the world you find in The Other Side of Hopeclick here.

When you sign up, you’ll get to choose which serial you want to receive (both is always an option!). You’ll get one chapter per month from each story. You can always find the serials here on my website as well, but you’ll have to wait an extra week. Trust me, you’re going to want to know what happens next as soon as possible!

The Other Side of Hope is On Sale Now!

The Other Side of Hope is available on Amazon in both paperback and eBook editions! Currently those are two different pages but Amazon assures me they will combined into a single page “within a few days.” We’ll see how that goes.

Either way, you can get whichever version you like now. If you don’t know what The Other Side of Hope is all about yet, you can find some information, including a video, here. You can even read the first two chapters for free right here on my website. Pro-tip, though, you can read all the way to the beginning of Chapter Four by going to Amazon and clicking on the Look Inside button. And once you’re there, you might as well buy a copy, right?

In case you’re still not convinced you want to buy it after watching the video and reading the opening chapters, stay tuned for a giveaway. There will be one coming soon and who can say no to free stuff?

Kickstarter for Novel

I’m a little over halfway through the Kickstarter campaign for The Other Side of Hope. The goal of the campaign is to make sure I have the funds necessary to spread the word about this book as much as possible and be able to pay a professional cover designer. Of course, I can publish it without those things but I believe this is a very important book and I want to do everything I can to get it in peoples’ hands. If you haven’t already, take a look at some sample chapters and get hooked!

At the Kickstarter campaign, you can get amazing rewards like an autographed copy of the book, an illustrated map of the alternate history United States, and even the ability to name a character. Even if you can’t donate, you can still help me spread the word. So share this post, share the campaign link, and help me tell people that an awesome book is coming!

Kickstarter Happening Now!

The time has come! I’ve officially launched the Kickstarter campaign for The Other Side of Hope! There are 25 days and I need to raise a total of $2,500 to fund the publishing and marketing of the book. So head follow that link and pledge now!

If you need more encouragement before clicking though, here’s a few of the rewards I’m offering supporters:

  • Advance eBook copy
  • Signed paperback copy
  • Unpublished prologue set at the point-of-departure for the alternate history
  • An illustrated map of the alternate version of the northeastern US
  • MP3 of the song used in the promo video
  • Ghostwriting/editing services
  • Name a character (only 2 left at the time this post is going live!)

So head on over to the Kickstarter and claim your rewards now!

Just a Drop – Interactive Version

Most of you know that my short story, “Just a Drop,” was recently published by Nebular Rift Science Fiction magazine. I’ve also mentioned that I’m working on an interactive version of the same story. The final goal for that project is an iOS app and eBook, both of which will be fully interactive. But, as an intermediate step, I’m releasing an online version… today!

I built the interactive version of “Just a Drop” using a super slick tool called Inklewriter, created by Inkle Studios. If you’ve never heard of Inkle before, click that link and go take a look at some of their stuff. Their work includes interactive versions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Jules Vern’s Around the World in Eighty Days that you don’t want to miss.

Now that you’re done looking at Inkle, I hope you’re ready for some more interactive fiction. Or, if you’re not sold on interactive fiction and want to try it out before you pay for one of Inkle’s creations, you can take a look at Just a Drop and read/play for free. All I ask is that you leave a comment here and tell me what you think!

You’ll follow the final minutes of Scot, a man sentenced to death in a society where all violent crime warrants capital punishment. But, unlike the original version, this time, you can guide Scot’s decisions along the way. Will Scot quietly accept the fate he’s been taught he deserves? Or will his determination to survive overcome his upbringing and lead him to fight for his life? It’s all up to you!

Kickstarter Campaign Coming!

You already know that I’ve finished the first draft of The Other Side of Hope. I’m currently working on adding some extra material and making some crucial revisions. That won’t take much longer and then I think I’ll be on track to publish in April of this year!

But publishing a book takes money.

People usually assume that self-publishing is the quick, easy, cheap way to publish a book. While that can be true, self-publishing a book the right way takes money. Maybe not huge piles of money but still, money is needed. The biggest reason for this is marketing. I wish that writing a great book was enough to ensure that it would sell. It seems logical, right? Great Book = Best Seller. If only the world made sense…

In reality, lots of great books sit unnoticed while lots of mediocre ones climb the charts. Why? Marketing.

I believe The Other Side of Hope is a great story. One with potential to literally change the world. Bold, I know, but no one has ever accused me of having small dreams. However, it can’t achieve that potential if no one reads it.

I’ve put together an aggressive, but still cost effective, marketing plan that I think will spread the word about The Other Side of Hope. To help pay for that plan, as well as cover design and printing costs, I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign.

For those who don’t know, Kickstarter is a crowd funding website. It’s a place where anyone who wants to raise money for a project or product can tell the world want they want to do and ask for help. It starts with someone like me, with an idea they need money to bring to full reality. I set a fundraising goal, in this case, I’m currently expecting that to be $2,000, then people pledge money to help me meet that goal. I’ve set up a reward structure so that you get different rewards depending on how much money you pledge. If the goal is met within 30 days, the money is sent to me and I use it to pay for that advertising plan, my cover designer, and to get the book printed. If the goal isn’t met, no money changes hands and I have to find another way to make all this happen.

As you’ve probably guessed, I need to tell lots of people about this campaign if I want it to be successful. I’m starting by telling you now, before it launches, so you can already be thinking about helping out. Once it launches (hopefully right at the beginning of February), I’ll announce it here again with a link and start telling everyone I know. And plenty of people I don’t.

This can happen! And it will be awesome when it does.

The Nature of Choice

I’m feeling a bit philosophical today so if you’re not in a similar mood, I’d recommend coming back to this post at a later date. Fair warning.

In exploring the possibilities and challenges of interactive fiction, I find myself constantly bumping up against the thorny philosophical, and occasionally theological, question of choice. How much choice do we actually have? How much influence over the outcome of our lives?

You see, in writing IF, I often find that I’m creating the illusion of choice and freedom. Readers can choose from a variety of options in any given situation and those choices do have real effects on the story. Yet they are always driven inexorably forward to certain major milestones. While in the midst of creating such works of false freedom, I can’t help but wonder if real life is rather similar. We can make choices, thousands of them on any given day, but do they really change what happens in a meaningful way? Or do they just thrust onto side streets and down rabbit holes that all lead ultimately to the same place?

And would it really be so bad if that’s the way it all worked?

Is our free will really as important as we think it is? Or could we possibly take some comfort from knowing that the course of our lives is unfolding according to the grand plans of a master writer?

Just a Drop Published!

As I work my way along the long, slow path to publication, I’ve been posting updates here. Keeping a sort of journal of the journey. Well, today I’m thrilled to share a major step on that path. My short story, “Just a Drop,” has been published in Volume 3, Issue 11 of Nebula Rift Science Fiction Magazine.

Technically, the story has been available since December 18, 2015, but I haven’t been promoting it too widely just yet. That’s because it’s currently only available to those who subscribe to magazine. If you’re interested in subscribing, you can do so on Amazon for $19.99/year. But on January 18, the issue containing my story will be available for individual purchase. Once that happens, I’ll be sure to spread the word a bit more widely, including providing a link here.

Just as a small teaser to get you interested, “Just a Drop,” is set in the future, after a devastating series of world wars. In order to prevent future conflict, the developed nations of the world have banded together in punishing all violent crime with the death penalty. The story follows the final minutes of Scot, a man who was sentenced to death and now must face his fate.

As an additional teaser, I’m also creating an interactive version of “Just a Drop.” No firm release date on it yet, but it’s close enough to say that it’s coming soon. The plan is for the interactive edition to be available both as an eBook on Kindle and an iOS app. Keep checking in for details and a release date in the near future!

Creating Characters – Consistency Matters

There are plenty of mistakes to be made when it comes to crafting convincing characters but I’d say the biggest one is a lack of consistency. If a character acts a certain way in one scene, it’s important that she acts the same way in another.  Unless, of course, there’s a good reason to explain the change. But if you establish early on that your character is afraid of heights, then have her calmly walking across a tight rope a few chapters later with no mention of that phobia, you’ve got a problem.

Consistency is key when it comes to personality, preferences, manner of speaking, background, and a thousand other details. You can’t ever drift when you’re writing a character. Each time you need to write a line of dialogue, get in that character’s head. Don’t put words in his mouth, let him say what he would say. If he was real and actually in the situation you’ve put him in.

Now, when it comes to major characters, this is usually easy. We writers often become very attached to our main characters, spending hours developing every facet of their personalities and backstories until they feel as real as our best friend. For some of us, maybe they even become our best friend. Writing such characters is easy, natural, because we don’t have to imagine what they would say or how they would respond. We know them so well, that every line virtually writes itself. The challenge arises, and many manuscripts fall apart, when we go to write less important characters.

You know the kind I’m talking about. The ones you didn’t spend much, if any, time thinking about beforehand. The ones who are mainly there to fulfill some role that’s necessary for moving the plot forward. The general recommendation, of course, is to avoid such characters entirely. But when you just have to use one, make him consistent. Down to the small details of the way he walks and the way he talks. When you do this, even for characters so minor as to be insignificant, all of your characters will feel more real. Your entire manuscript will take on new life.

So remember, consistency matters.