S1.17 You Sunk My Battleship…Again!

This was You Sunk My Battleship?Again! by Elise Abram
Read more about Alice Mable in I Was, Am, Will Be Alice by Elise Abram.

Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and Computer Studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. In her spare time she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.
Find more at eliseabram.com.

Music is provided by MADS.

You can support 600 Second Saga by giving us a 5 star review on iTunes.

Formatting roundup

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the novel lately and part of that was formatting. I read a bunch of stuff. I bring you a formatting roundup. Some of which helped. Though the other thing that helped is the CSS I know from my other life.

I clearly still have a lot to learn, a lot. But hopefully, I did ok with this book. Epubs are what I’ve been using for Kindle and Smashwords. So far I’m not noticing anything horrible doing it that way. I haven’t yet gone into the world of physical books so I don’t have anything about that. Just the epubs.

Formatting with Scrivener

This is super long and detailed from Garrett Robinson a whole bunch of steps. At the end of each post is a link to the next post.

Compiling with Style. I don’t know that I have style.

And if you’ve been going, I keep hearing about this Scrivener but I’ve been holding back because I want to be able to use my iOS device? Good news!

Good News!

Scrivener is coming to iOS soon… Which means, yes, I’m going all in for an iPad Pro – hopefully the 12 this fall when they do a refresh. I got a chance to play with one and I’m really excited about it. I think it will be a good writing tool. Though I’m still waiting for an outstanding audio editing app.

Dig into the code

If you are breaking into the code there are some other resources. I’ve tried using tools for Mac to set up ePubs before I officially got frustrated. It was official. I have a certificate here somewhere.

Table of contents from a site dedicated to making better ePubs.

And a big ePub resource.


Who doesn’t love a numbered list? The Book Designer wrote about 6 Things to put in your ebook.

Dangerous Metal trailer

I have a pretty thing to share! A Dangerous Metal trailer.

A huge thank you to Stefan Budansew for the work on this trailer.

The audiobook is currently going through final checks so it should be out soon. I’m very excited about having it live. The July 29th episode of the podcast will also be Dangerous Metal related.

I will have some more updates later this week, and a roundup post of some kind.

S1.16 An Apple Tree

An Apple Tree is written by Katelyn Moose.

Listen to season 1 episode 6, An Ill-fated Scarf for more about Ann.

Katelyn writes YA fantasy and is currently working on a deep sea adventure novel as well as a magical series featuring a trio of diverse heroines.  She lives with her husband, two energetic boys and one crazy cat.  She reads every chance she gets and still amazes people with her ability to read and walk at the same time.

Read the text for An Apple Tree
Music is provided by MADS.

You can support 600 Second Saga by giving us a 5 star review on your podcast tool.

Dangerous Metal

I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t been posting as much last week and this. But it is all for a good reason. I’m putting the finishing touches on my novel and getting it ready for launch. Dangerous Metal is a cyberpunk thriller and I’ve got some brand new things to share.


Dangerous Metal ebook cover

Dangerous Metal ebook cover

I will, of course, be doing an audiobook version as well. (Recording is what has been devouring my time.)

Dangerous Metal audiobook cover

Dangerous Metal audiobook cover


Eva is happy to get her life back to normal, or as normal as it can for a woman who had half her brain replaced by a computer implant of her own making. Then Ernie, the ex who put a hole in her skull, shows up for dinner with her parents.


So it is up and ready for preorder at Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords and plenty of other places. Or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

It isn’t up for preorder on audiobook but as soon as that is live I’ll be sure to post a link. I’ll also be giving away a few audiobook codes.


I keep warring with myself about this. Do I warn people? This isn’t a nice book. One of my beta readers called it unglamorous and a book that sits cold in your gut. This isn’t a warm fuzzy book. This isn’t about people taking a happy vacation. It is a cyberpunk thriller so it really shouldn’t be, but even for cyberpunk…it isn’t just a noir with pretty tech. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of pretty tech. I love the tech. But it isn’t a detached story.

Part of me is like NO!! don’t tell people to not read your book, you have got to be kidding me! That is the worst idea. You are supposed to tell people how awesome it is. (And it is awesome, another beta reader said it had all the feels.)

But…I don’t want someone to pick this up thinking it is a light-hearted romp. So, buy my book, but be aware.

Another week

As I mentioned I still have some finalizing pieces to do so I think I won’t likely post again this week. Podcast episode on Friday (and it will be a light-hearted romp!) but that’s all until next week.

Thank you!

S1.15 A Puzzle Piece

A Puzzle Piece

Found Marble – Perhaps a puzzle piece

A Puzzle Piece is written by Mariah Avix.

You can learn more at 600 Second Saga.

A Puzzle Piece is a prelude to Thieves. You can download it for free on iBooks, Amazon or wherever fine ebooks are found. You can also purchase the audiobook on Audible or iTunes.

Music is provided by MADS.

You can support 600 Second Saga by giving us a 5 star review on your podcast tool or by becoming a patron.


A Puzzle Piece

I yawned and flicked away another set of screens. I refreshed the page for the thousandth time tonight. If I was right, and I knew I was, then the next puzzle would be dropping soon. There was a faction of people who were sure it would be next week at like 2:15 am, but they were wrong.
But the clock was ticking. I drummed my fingers on the desk. Refresh.
The last puzzle had been a video. Most people dismissed it as just some testing or some idiot who didn’t understand how to work basic file uploads. But some of us knew the truth, when you stripped out the noise and adjusted the speed and added in a few filters it was all perfectly clear. I’d given away the answer to other pieces, but I was going to hold onto this one.
Refresh. A file! I downloaded it. It was just a text file. I was expecting something…more interesting. I sighed and checked to see if anyone else had figured it out and started on it yet. The file was huge. Text shouldn’t take more than a moment to download.
I flipped back to my browser. The file was gone. I still had it, the download had gone through. But it didn’t exist on the page anymore, the link was gone, everything was gone, it was just like it had been minutes ago. A white page with a single string of numbers and letters and in the bottom corner a tiny little video of supposed static.
I opened the file. It was garbage. I wasn’t actually surprised that it was garbage. They all started out this way. The trick was figuring out what it really meant. I made a copy. I made another copy. I saved it to a physical drive. I stuck the physical drive in my safe.
I checked forums to see if anyone had commented on it, everyone else would have posted if they’d seen it. They were silent.
This file was mine.

I pulled the blanket up over my eyes. It was too bright out. Then I remembered the file. I hadn’t gotten anywhere last night. Or this morning. It was 6 a.m. when I finally went to bed. It couldn’t be that much later now, but I was going to crack the code.
I climbed out of bed, stumbled to the kitchen, and smashed the button on the coffee pot.
Last night I tried all of the easy decoding tricks, I knew none of them would work. The only thing that I found, was one simple note at the top of the file.
Share this and the key will be destroyed.
I was going to be the only one to figure this out, and I was pretty sure I had until next week Tuesday at 2:15 a.m.
I sat down at the computer and drummed my fingers on the desk, waiting for the coffee–and inspiration.

I stared at the cursor, blinking at me like a monster. “You are a demon from hell sent to rend my soul from my body.” I smacked the tiny box on the screen with my finger.
Share this and the key will be destroyed.
No. This had to be solvable. And I was going to be the one to solve it.
I started to type, I tried number sequences.
Primes, cubes, the Fibonacci sequence. They were all too easy.
There had to be a secondary key. Maybe it was somewhere physical. So far all of the information had been completely US centered in a way that was a little odd, like the rest of the world didn’t exist. I started running some location decoding scripts.

I stood in the middle of the park. It was four am and I’d been looking for the key for hours. A six hour bus ride got me here just at dusk and I had been alone in the park all night.
I scoured all the satellite photos I could get my hands on. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I didn’t find anything that looked like a key. Since the park wasn’t that far I thought I’d just show up and look around. I maybe should have thought it out better.
I waved the light from my phone around hoping to see something out of place. I didn’t know how much time I had or what I was looking for. So far I’d collected almost two dollars in change, but no pattern I could figure out.
A glint caught my eye and I headed toward it, maybe I’d get enough in change for the bus fare home. I crouched down.
A marble this time. I took a photo, in case the location or position was important, and then picked it up. It was strangely heavy had a thread of coppery orange running through it. I spun it in my hand and it looked like 7. A number. A clue. My heart raced.
Two hours, seven dollars, and sixteen marbles later the sun started to come up. I headed back to catch the first morning bus.

0, 7, 9. The same numbers over and over. I had all 3 numbers in red, orange, green, and a dark blue. I had a yellow 9, a purple 7 and 9. I let the marbles roll around on my desk, trapped by a couple phones, a pen, dinner and my keyboard. I had tried running them as keys in every order I could think of. I was pretty sure it was just those three numbers, but there had to be another piece to the key.
I lined them up in order, all the 0s, all the 7s, all the 9s. I didn’t think this was all the marbles in the park. Someone else would find a purple 0 at some point. I paused and looked for images of marbles found in the park. They rolled around again.
The rainbow. I lined them up in order of the rainbow and grinned. This would be the final piece. It fit all the requirements of a good key.
I rolled the marbles aside and started in on running through the possibilities.

I had the file decoded. I was pretty sure I had decoded the file. But I still wasn’t entirely sure what I had, even less sure what to do with it. It looked like bank account information. All the rest of the puzzles had led to the next clue. This couldn’t be the final clue. Could it?
Why would someone go through this much trouble for this? I put my head on the desk and growled. I wasn’t sure what I’d been expecting to find at the end of the chain of clues but it wasn’t this. This didn’t seem like the end.
It was 2:15 am and I hit refresh on the page. Looking for something, anything. Feeling entirely dejected. What was the end goal? What was the final step? It had just been a game, a puzzle, a really hard interesting puzzle. Some people said there would be an encryption job, I’d take that job; some thought it was a government conspiracy, to do what I wasn’t sure; I had never really considered the end of it myself, I was so focused on the puzzle.
Hundreds of bank accounts were wide open. Maybe it was a trap, trying to get someone to steal, but wouldn’t they want to get more people if they were trying some kind of entrapment sting?
A new file. I downloaded it to start again.
Maybe it was just a puzzle, I kept playing and locked the other file away.




Is it ok to like your own work?


Paperwork! (Sarah@Flicker)

I’m currently recording Dangerous Metal (which I hope to have out by the end of August!) and I’ve a few times run across lines that have genuinely made me smile and go, oh I really like this.


“You watch too many movies. I do more than drive recklessly and shoot blindly.” He was smiling, the tension easing. “I also do paperwork.”

It isn’t entirely a light-hearted romp about paperwork. (Read not at all light-hearted.)

I was going to write a fancier post today but I’m entirely amused with this line and have to go handle some other things, so I’ll leave you with this.

S1.14 The Battle of the Dragons at the Inlet

The Battle of the Dragons at the Inlet is written by Jane B. Night.

If you’d like to read more about Uleric and the Lunar Dragons then grab a copy of Secrets of Arach Innis.  Currently free on Kindle Unlimited.

You can learn more about Jane B. Night at her webpage. Read more work by Jane at Amazon, on Twitter, or at Goodreads

Jane lives in Ohio with her twins. She is an avid reader and a hobbyist gamer.

Music is provided by MADS.

You can support 600 Second Saga by giving us a 5 star review on iTunes or your podcast tool.

Listen to 600 Second Saga

Subplots and complexities

So I know I’ve talked about the endless pushes to cut, but adding can have value too. Sometimes that value is in subplots and complexities. I think of the try-fail cycle often as I work on plotting things. These are reading about it things.

Writing Excuses

I love this podcast, I do keep looping back to it over and over. This discussion of pantsing talks about my favorite thing which is “yes-but/no-and.” This focuses on the try-fail cycle. Having a character just succeed and succeed is boring unless those successes just make things work. Successes that make things work are fantastically useful. Failures that make things worse are also useful.

Creating Subplots


Side Quests

Some people like them! I think it is important to remember that people like and enjoy the subplots.

(Yes, I’ve written on this before. This is more links and resources about it, hopefully helpful. It is something I think I will continue to come back to over and over. Character I don’t feel like I struggle with quite the way I struggle with good plotting skills. The thing I think that would make me better, weirdly would be doing something like running a tabletop roleplay game campaign, but that is a TON of work and requires knowing a LOT about the rules of the game. I am always in favor of throwing out the rules for a good storyline, which people who have been my GMs clearly know, but I think that works less well when you don’t have someone going, no no, there are rules, this isn’t all about the story.)

stat plots

I’m trying to make a plot/subplot joke but I feel like it isn’t turning out well…. Christophe Dang Ngoc Chan (cdang)