Conflict Matrix: Some observations

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 12/22/14 11:00 AM
Last week I posted about using a conflict matrix to figure out stuff that needs to happen in your story. I've been working on mine for the past several days (11 significant characters = 110 motivations), and I've made a number of observations that could be helpful.

Conflicts should be isolated
When pairing off two characters, the source of conflict from character A to character B should only involve
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Conflict Matrix

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 12/17/14 9:00 AM
I am currently working on the outline of my 9th book, and I've hit something of a bump in the outlining process. The primary conflict of the story is crystal clear to me, and both the beginning and the ending of the story are pretty solid. But how I'm supposed to get from this beginning to the end, let's just say I haven't quite figured it out.

Now, there are several things I can do to remedy this. I could
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In need of some Christmas reading?

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 12/10/14 7:00 PM
Christmas is coming, and for many people this means extra reading time. For those of you who like fantasy, here's a deal you don't want to miss:

Quote

The freshest voices in fantasy bring you fifteen New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors. With fourteen stories and over one million words of captivating fiction, this epic fantasy set will keep you entranced.



https://scontent-b-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/1922286_762658143803637_4254941054233313096_n.jpg?oh=1002efedacf634fa4b701d07dcd3b917&oe=5510C50A
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Books that hit you just right

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 12/8/14 1:00 PM
A few weeks ago I wrote a rather long post about books that rub you the wrong way. Books that, despite being generally well-written, leave a bad taste in your mouth, or worse: affect your mood in a negative way. I realize that this is mostly a matter of opinion, and that books I might find absolutely disgusting, other people might find amazing. Which books are and aren't good isn't what I'm trying to focus on
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Genetic Memory gone wrong

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 11/30/14 10:29 PM
A theme sometimes explored in Science Fiction is that of Genetic Memory: the ability to pass on memories in one's genetic code. For instance It is a significant plot device in the Dune series by Frank Herbert, where the ability to unlock the memories of one's ancestors can give one significant power.

Modern science does not support this mechanism, but it's still an interesting concept to explore. Suppose it were possible, to somehow
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Musical Inspiration: Celtic Music

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 11/17/14 5:00 PM
In ony of my previous musical inspiration posts I mentioned that I often listen to Celtic Music while writing fantasy. To my own surprise, I've never done a spotlight on this before (at least, I can't remember it, nor can I find a musical post that mentions such music).

I'm not entirely sure if the term Celtic Music is even correct, as many of the bands, singers and groups I listen to can be classified in a number of different genres. But anyway, here's a number of songs that tend to
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New website is live!

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 11/14/14 5:00 PM
Remember when I mentioned wanting to build my own website back in March? Back then, my Wordpress-based site had been hit with a malware infection (due to a vulnerability in my contact form plugin), and I was concerned that my exotic combination of plugins was impossible to keep secure.

Fortunately, I am a Computer Scientist, so building a new site is definitely part of my skillset.

Well, if you're
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Books that mess up your day

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 11/13/14 1:00 PM
*** SPOILER ALERT - THIS POST SPOILS KEY PLOT POINTS AND/OR ENDINGS OF SEVERAL BOOKS ***

It is no secret that I love to read. Unless I'm completely exhausted, I always spend at least half an hour reading before I go to sleep. This has the added benefit of helping me get tired more quickly, unless the book I'm reading is one of those books I can't put down (about 1 in 10 books, I think), in which case it just helps me get more tired the next day (*cough* K.J. Colt
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Musical Inspiration: Ellie Goulding

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Music plays a great part in getting me in the right mood to write. Usually, I listen to Trance music, but every now and then I switch to different musical genres. I might listen to video game music, Emma Hewitt or Celtic Folk music (huh, I never
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Well that was stupid

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 10/20/14 12:00 PM
I've mentioned this on Twitter a couple of times, but I've been spending way too much time between writing projects lately. The main culprit for this delay has been the site you are looking at right now, with a vacation to Alaska also being a significant factor.

Now that I've started writing again (working on book 8), I'm noticing that my speed isn't exactly up to par. On the one hand this isn't all that
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Let's have a 404 party

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 10/17/14 12:00 PM
One of the more recent additions to this new site is the detection and handling of 404 (file not found) errors. This is done primarily to give me insight in malfunctioning parts of the website, but it also helps search engines and such.

One side effect, which my old site has as well, is that it exposes a lot of "invalid requests" that are sent to my site, namely that of vulnerability scanners. As of writing this,
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Trance Music Pet Peeves

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 9/28/14 10:00 PM
A recurring theme on my blog is the "Musical Inspiration" category, where I tell about music I listen to while writing. More often than not, these posts involve Trance Music, which tend to be pretty long songs. Generally, they feature introductions that last anywhere between 1 and 3 minutes before you get to the good parts.

A good example is "Crimson Soil" by Hemstock and Jennings:

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Implementing Social Media Logins

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 9/19/14 8:00 AM
This new site (currently) has three different ways to log in:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+


Originally, the site only supported Twitter, but when I gave the first few people a demo they suggested supporting other social media sites as well. My experiences with the various login methods have been mixed.

Quoting @JSteenbeeke on Twitter

Twitter: easy. Thanks mostly due to http://twitter4j.org . (2/4)

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Feature Creep

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 7/7/14 12:16 PM
I mentioned a while ago that I'm working on a new website, which will replace this one sometime in the future. Part of building this website involves converting all (or at least most) existing blog posts to a new format, complete with auto-migration of old style URLs to new style URLs. As a result of this, I'm rather hesitant to post new material on the current site. Each new post means more data to convert, and trickier URL management.
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Damn you Newton!

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 5/23/14 9:59 AM
This has been bugging me for days.

Last Wednesday, while taking a shower, I was thinking about my current work in progress Urban Fantasy series. Among a lot of other things, it involves a limited form of telekinesis. As a result of it being fantasy, I break quite a few laws of physics. This isn't really all that strange. But seeing as it is urban fantasy (i.e. it takes place in "our world"), I try to keep things
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So much for that hobby

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 5/18/14 10:34 PM
Last Friday, I received a newsletter from one of the many sites I use to buy Warhammer 40K supplies, in which they discussed the imminent release of a new edition of Warhammer 40K, and how that would impact orders from their site.

The mail by itself wasn't all that unusual. This site sends updates on a regular basis, and around a new edition things can get a bit hectic. The unusual thing about this whole thing is the fact that Games Workshop is releasing a new edition so soon after the
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Unrealized story potential

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 5/6/14 9:32 AM
Years ago I was sitting in the local cinema, waiting for a movie to start, when a teaser for an upcoming Science Fiction movie started playing. First, a Universal Pictures logo, followed by a bunch of doors opening and the voice of Judi Dench narrating:

Quote

By the superstitious, they are called the Hood of the Devil


We see a semi-transparent woman, wearing chains, walking down a stairway and
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Sidetracked

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 4/28/14 9:24 PM
If you've been paying attention, you'll have noticed that I haven't written a single blog post since late March. After a considerable number of posts in January and February, my posting frenzy lost momentum sometime in March, and I quit posting altogether in April. In addition to this, my Twitter activity dropped to an absolute minimum, so I'm guessing some people might be wondering what on Earth is happening with me.

I'm still very much alive!

As I wrote back in Febuary, I
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Site admin fail

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 3/24/14 9:26 PM
Today I wanted to write a large-ish post about how I obsess over sales numbers, but it seems the stars weren't aligned properly (or if you prefer a more scientific explanations: the Higgs Bosons were feeling heavier than usual). Where I normally have no issues logging into my own site, I could not, for the life of me, remember my password.

Normally, this is solved pretty quickly by resetting my password into something easier to remember. Just hit "Reset Password", enter e-mail,
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Project Noodle

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 3/17/14 9:12 AM
My blog got blacklisted by Google a little over a week ago, as a result of a malware infection. With each page requested, two pieces of Javascript were inserted that were doing "bad stuff" in the background - downloading malicious software. I managed to clean out the infection, removed the plugin that gave them the vulnerability, and I patched up a few holes in the process.

As a result, the contact form is disabled for the time being. If you need to contact me, send me a message
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Musical Inspiration: March 2014

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 3/11/14 3:40 PM
Last week I finished the first draft of Book 6, and I'm currently enjoying a small writing hiatus while I mentally prepare for Book 7. In the meantime, I want to share a few new songs I've discovered for helping me write:

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Obsessing over reviews

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/27/14 10:00 AM
I've been getting a number of 3-star reviews for Gift of the Destroyer lately. Essentially, these reviews amount to "it's a good story, but I have issues with <insert valid criticism here>" or "excellent story, but". Some of these reviews hit a bit of a nerve, the first was followed by some Twitter venting:

Quoting @JSteenbeeke on Twitter

Hmm, 3-star review stating GOTD needed more editing. Some criticism was just, but come on! That…

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Small World

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/26/14 11:16 AM
I often discuss books with my co-workers, as many of them are avid fantasy or science fiction readers. Their tastes vary, as do their preferences for reading mediums. We have people who insist on using paper books, a few die-hard e-book fanatics (myself included) and at least one guy who only listens to audiobooks.

But a few months back, an interesting conversation� happened with a co-worker who shall remain anonymous:

Co-worker: Hey Jeroen, have you ever read the In
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Dear Recruiter

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/24/14 11:23 AM
This post is a refer-back-later post, which I can show to recruiters when they send me a contact invite on LinkedIn. This is to save both them and me some time.

R: Please connect with me on LinkedIn!
J: You didn't read my profile, did you?

R: You can't expect me to read all that!
J: That's your job, isn't it?

R: But it's really long
J: The first sentence would have
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Giant Asshole Alert

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/18/14 9:18 AM
Disclaimer: Do not read this article if you are sensitive to profanity
Remember that article I wrote a few weeks ago about harassment policies and conventions? That article is just one small piece of a larger trend that has been going on for the past few months, with many Science Fiction and Fantasy authors speaking out against marginalization and harassment of woman involved in all things SF&F. This is not limited
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The other kind of headhunters

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/17/14 12:07 PM
I'm not talking about these kind of headhunters:
https://www.jeroensteenbeeke.nl/images/c02cc14e7d3b1d607c625e6145fca3beadee9ad8eca85880368a2dfa389d086d(image courtesy of Herb Roe, taken from Wikipedia, licensed� CC-BY-SA
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Musical Inspiration: February 2014

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/14/14 2:48 PM
A new bunch of songs to help me get "in the zone" writing-wise:



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In other news

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/12/14 10:00 AM
Just a few minor bits of news:
  • Progress on book 6 has suffered a minor setback as I cut two chapters of backstory info-dump
  • I've found a new cover artist for my upcoming five book Urban Fantasy series. I'll post more details once the covers are done.
  • All EPUB editions of all my books have been updated, mostly to get the forced page breaks between chapters fixed. The iBook and Barnes and Noble versions may take a few weeks to update, however.

That is all.
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Neglected hobbies

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/11/14 12:56 PM
I often joke that I have too many hobbies. It's true, really, and the most obvious solution would be to drop a few and focus on the others. Sounds good in theory, but you decide which hobby you're going to drop, when you love them all equally. Part of the problem is a decrease in free time as a result of wanting to lose weight - I spend a lot more time playing Dance Dance Revolution to burn extra calories (and it's working, I've lost
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Cover fever

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/7/14 11:53 AM
One of the most fun parts about writing books is getting a cover. From what I've seen so far, this is the same for both us indie writers and our traditionally published colleagues - we all get excited when we can reveal our new book covers. It's generally a lot more work for us indie guys, since we don't have a publisher arranging things for us. We need to pick our own artist, figure out what we want, and then hope the artist gets it right. So far, I've only had good experiences with this, especially
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And just like that, Amazon isn't my primary sales channel

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 2/4/14 1:57 PM
It's a bit of a bad habit of mine to check my sales stats multiple times each day. This is normally limited to Amazon, since it is easiest to load on my cell phone. While checking sales that often doesn't make my books sell faster, each new sale or download makes me smile (whereas not seeing any changes has no noticeable effect).

Today, however, I decided to also check my other sales channels (in addition to Amazon, this means Lulu, Kobo and Brave New Books).
  • Kobo: No changes
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The "no Scotch" thing

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/30/14 9:28 AM
The last few days, a number of suspicious looking messages appeared on my Twitter stream:

Quoting @JSteenbeeke on Twitter

I might be slightly intoxicated. And src=hash]#amwriting - this can only end well



Quoting @JSteenbeeke on Twitter

Another evening writing session. No Scotch this time, I promise! src=hash]#amwriting

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Harassment at conventions

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/29/14 11:20 AM
I read a number of blogs by fellow authors, both obscure and well-known. One of the more famous blogs I read is Whatever by Science Fiction writer John Scalzi, who never fails to be insightful on a whole number of issues. It helps, of course, that I agree with him on many issues.

In the past few months, he has posted a number of
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Trapped in a tobacco commercial

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/27/14 9:45 AM
It is a well known fact that most books I read are fantasy books (divided about 60/40 between epic and urban fantasy). I also read quite a bit of Science Fiction, though not quite as much as I did when I was a kid. A genre I have picked up more recently (that means: since my early twenties), is Alternative History. I got introduced to this genre while browsing Wikipedia for something World War 2 related, through which I ended up at the World War series by Harry Turtledove.

I've read a
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A whole bunch of low-price fantasy books!

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/24/14 9:00 AM
Regular readers of my blog will know that I regularly participate in cross-promotions and giveaways. This weekend I am teaming up with the people from I Read Fantasy to bring you a whole bunch of low-priced fantasy books, and a chance to win a number of Gift Cards for Amazon or Barnes and Noble. For details, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

http://i.imgur.com/yQ2csxe.jpg
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Cleaning up the EPUBs

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/23/14 12:12 PM
Back when I started self-publishing my novels, I used two different channels to distribute my ebooks: Kindle Direct Publishing, and Smashwords. Each platform provided a different challenge with regard to distribution, mostly because of my choice of writing software (TeXMaker, a LaTeX editor). KDP requires a zipped HTML file (easiest format for me to convert to), and Smashwords required a Microsoft Word file. The former was easily automated, but the latter proved to be a nightmare. Each time I made
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A note on current projects

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/22/14 12:03 PM
I often refer to books by number on Twitter, and yesterday I realized this might be a bit confusing for people. This post is meant to clarify the numbering on stuff I'm working on. I'll update this post as I continue writing new stuff. Basically, the books are numbered in the order in which I finished (or intend to finish) writing them.
  1. Gift of the Destroyer (Published)
  2. The Raven's Endgame
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Combat in space

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/21/14 9:39 AM
Recently I finished reading a pair of Science Fiction trilogies by fellow indie writer Michael R. Hicks (namely: The Last War and Redemption), after a co-worker recommend them to me. While I quite enjoyed both trilogies (with the exception of a certain bit regarding the character Jodi in Final Battle), it made me wonder about the portrayal
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The anthem

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/14/14 8:54 AM
From the various posts on this blog, you know that listening to music is an essential part of my writing. I've posted a number of songs over the years, and the songs I listen to vary from book to book. I know that many other writers do this as well, while others require complete silence.

But something I've been wondering about for some time, is if other writers have one song they listen to above all others, one song that is always part of their playlist, that they can always count on to
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A writer's doubts

Jeroen Steenbeeke  Jeroen Steenbeeke
Posted 1/9/14 8:08 AM
I am currently working on a series of Urban Fantasy novellas, and recently completed the alpha reading version of the first book in this series. While my alpha readers are taking a crack at it, I am in the process of outlining the second book, which I hope to start writing next week.

In addition to my outlines, I've written an extensive document with back story and plot progression throughout the series, and had it checked by a friend who is an expert at finding plot holes - while he had
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