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Author Archives: CrissyMoss

About CrissyMoss

I've been writing as long as I can remember.

Steel Soul Chapter 1

Steel Soul is out for pre-order! Release date is the 16th. Here is the first chapter:

Chapter 1

I couldn’t get over the smell of it. The world seemed slightly stale to me, like a gym locker.

I definitely was not in a gym locker. In fact, it looked like an old Dutch village, before cars took over the world. The little white houses with bare timbers were complete with tulips in every yard. Just beyond the town to the north lay a thick brooding forest right out of a Grimm’s fairy tale.

I marveled at the sounds of my shoes on the cobblestones, or the squish of the grass when I strayed from the path. Though tiny, with just a single road and a few scattered houses, the town itself felt charming. If I hadn’t put on the NerveGear I would have suspected I was back in the real world. Except for the smell.

Shouldn’t it smell like a spring day? Maybe the headset couldn’t produce the correct olfactory signal, I’d have to get it checked.

On my third pass around the area, another figure materialized, their back to me. The faint glow of immunity shimmered over them as it did with anyone just entering the game in a safe zone.

I squinted to read the blue letters hovering just over their head.

Cassidaya Briefoot
Level 1 rogue 18/18 HP

She was not exactly what I expected, but far be it from me to choose someone else’s avatar for them.

“Cas!” I called.

Startled, she turned around, and jumped back another foot, her hands raised to defend herself. Definitely a rogue with that move.

“Who goes there?” she asked, daggers ready.

“Really? Like you can’t see me,” I said. The armor was lighter than I thought it would be, and the spiked shoulders only impinged on my vision a little. “Cas, it’s me.”

“Freddy?” Cas asked.

“No real names,” I admonished her. “I’m Jupiter here, remember? And you’re Cas. Who else would it be? Come on, we spawned in together.”

“How would I know?” She stood, looking around us with wide eyes. “This place is huge! Someone else could have spawned in at the same time.”

“With the same name?”

She leaned to the side putting a hand on her hip, the dusky skin of her avatar shimmering in the sunlight. Her face actually blushed. Bloody hell, but the graphics were good.

“I didn’t think to look at your avatar name,” she said, sheepishly.

“Ah, well just focus just above my head a bit. You’ll see it there.”

Her eyes moved to the spot above my head and unfocused. She would see my own stats and health, also level one, but as a fighter I had almost twice as many hit points.

Jupiter Rocklore
Level 1 fighter 29/29 HP

“Now stop fooling around,” I said, giving her another smile. “We’re in spawn, we can’t hurt each other here, anyway.”

She relaxed, and I took a moment to look over her avatar. Willowy, with long black hair streaked with blue dye. Her skin glowed in the sunlight, and she wore a triangular mask that covered her mouth and nose, but left her cheeks visible. There were stylized shark’s teeth emblazoned across the mask.

“I thought for sure you’d be an elf or something,” I said.

“Humans get more perks available at higher levels.”

“Already min-maxing? I should have known.”

“The NerveGear might be new but leveling in an RPG is definitely not. I can’t say I’m surprised you took dwarf, though.” She shook her head at me. “You and your obsession with beards.”

All too true. We grew up on role playing games together, on and offline. It was the NerveGear’s ability to link users together in a realistic virtual world that really set it apart from all other virtual reality gaming devices. Previous systems had lower resolution, and the sounds weren’t as crisp. You could not produce the same immersion on the old VR that I now felt inside Yevelia. The NerveGear had a direct connection to the users brain waves, using REM sleep to produce the realistic shared dream. As far as our minds were concerned, we were there. No other VR system could compete.

“It is pretty glorious, isn’t it?” I stroked the beard in question. All the information was being transmitted into my brain back in my bed, but I could feel the rough, bristly hairs and the thick braids on either side of my mouth. I couldn’t grow a beard in real life, just tiny scraggly stubble that looked more like a rabid bear rug than a beard, thanks to my mixed genetics. But here I could be anything, so of course I went with the beard.

“What are those?” She pointed at my shoulder pieces.

I turned from side to side, showing off the evil-looking spikes.

“Like them? They’re Dadron’s Blessed Shoulders, a pre-order perk. It doesn’t look like much, and it has crap for armor, but it levels with you so you never have to get another pair of shoulders again. The added armor might be the thing that keeps me from dying in a battle.”

“You pre-ordered?” Her avatar’s eyes grew wide, her chin dropping a bit in a good illusion of shock.

“The first mmorpg on an NerveGear Virtual Reality system? You bet your sweet blades I did.”

“But it’s been out for almost six months. Why didn’t you play until now?”

I hesitated, like I’d been caught red-handed. “I…um…I didn’t have a NerveGear.”

“You pre-ordered the game but not the headset?”

“Come on, Cas. I’m a student on basic income. I don’t have a job like you do. You know I had to save for it.”

She had the decency to look a little ashamed of herself. She knew my living situation. Automation hadn’t taken her livelihood away from her yet, but she had been to the slums where those living off subsidies, like me, lived. She knew what basic income got you in the city. A sardine had more room than I did.

My mother told me about life before everything was run by automation. You could get a job at a fast food restaurant or mall shop, something menial that even the unskilled could do. Then it became more cost effective to buy machines to do all of the work rather than pay for employees. Starvation lead to high crime and riots. The government came to the rescue with basic income alternatives.

It worked as well as any government program—oversight, corruption, implementation problems. Some survived, some barely got by.

It was the entertainment industry that kept everyone from rioting again. There was enough food, but cheap entertainment through books, movies, and games, kept the population from becoming hostile. Who cared where you lived if you could pop into a virtual world and have a mansion?

Cas turned her back on me to save us both from the conversation.

“Alright, alright,” she said, “I guess I can’t fault you for being excited for Yevelia, it does look pretty awesome. Come on, let’s go find a quest.”

Yevelia, like any other massive multiplayer online role playing game (mmorpg) of the age, made it simple to find the first quest. There was a non-player character (NPC) right next to the spawn point clad in the shiniest armor I had ever seen.

Every lacy scrawl on his breast piece and embroidered edges of his sleeves were rendered in exquisite detail. And yet all he did was walk back and forth on the cobblestone, his stride stiff and precise. It almost seemed excessive.

“Should we group before we go in?” Cas asked.

“Sure,” I said, “if you know the keys. I’m not quite sure how this all works, I just jumped in.”

“You pre-ordered but you didn’t learn the keys?”

“I may have been caught up in the lore of Yevelia.” I lied. The truth was I couldn’t look at the game for the longest time. Every time I did, I felt like an idiot for spending so much money on something I couldn’t even play. The first step into the world had been like a vindication for me. I could finally experience the thing I had been dreaming of for months. But I wasn’t about to admit that to anyone else.

“You call up the menu with a cupped hand moving from the left, like you’re pulling something,” she said, miming the action.

I tried it and a floating menu appeared. My name, Jupiter08, was written in neat blue script at the top.

Jupiter08 Rocklore
Level 1 fighter, 29/29 HP
Strength – 6
Constitution – 3
Agility – 5
Endurance – 4
Intelligence – 3
Luck – 4
Resistance – none

Beneath my stats were several menus. Inventory, skills, friends, options, and a few others.

There was a soft ring in my ear, and an orange marker appeared next to friends. I tapped it and saw a request from Cas at the top.

“You’ve got this all figured out already?” I tapped the accept button.

“Only the basic controls. I read a few things, watched a let’s-play last night, and got the gist of it all. A lot of the basic controls are similar to any other NerveGear game, but this will be my first RPG in it.”

“You did all that, but couldn’t look up how to read avatar names?”

“Oh stop, I knew how, I just didn’t think of it.”

“Well, you’re elected group leader, then, oh wise one. I’ll follow your lead.”

She rolled her eyes at me again. Oddly it felt just like we were back on the college campus. She held the same simmering disdain for my witty humor.

“Who goes there?” asked the NPC as we walked up to him. Cas gave me a look as if to say “see, he gets it” before answering.

“Cassidaya Briefoot,” she said with a half bow.

“Jupiter Rocklore,” I said, bowing.

“And why are you here?” he asked.

I blinked at this. It was an NPC, a computer algorithm searching for keywords. We just had to say the right keywords to get it to give us the quest. Usually they had keywords buried in dialog for you to repeat, but this walking tank wasn’t giving us much to go on. What would this NPC react to? Greed? Altruism? An NPC of little words made finding the quest a little tougher.

“We’re adventurers seeking fame and fortune,” I said with a smile.

“Adventurers? Pah!” He spat on the ground.

Well, greed was out.

“You lot are the reason the town is in ruins!” The captain glared at us, and I could feel the anger rolling off of him.

I squinted above his head, looking for more information and saw his name light up in soft blue text.

Captain Thanas Lightbringer
Level 30 Guardian 850/850 hp
Captain of the once glorious elven village, Trelisa, now one of the sole survivors tasked with restoration.

Rebuilding a ravaged city didn’t seem like much of a quest. It probably involved fetching supplies, but at level one we couldn’t be that picky.

“Adventurers like us?” Cas asked. “What happened?”

Captain Thanas looked back over his shoulder at a tall building at the end of the plaza. It was the only three-story building in the village, and there was foul green smoke coming out of all the windows.

“I’m sure you can smell it.” He spat in our direction again before walking away from the plaza.

“Well, I think we know where to go,” I said.

Immediately a card popped up in front of me.

Quest Granted: Noxious Smells. Find out what caused the green fog in the Trelisa mayor’s office.

“The mayor’s office, huh?” Cas said. “I was wondering why it smelled like gym socks around here.”

“I thought I had a broken olfactory device.”

“Doesn’t look like it. Shall we go?”

I tightened my grip on my hand ax, the only weapon I had, and nodded.

 

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Posted by on November 11, 2018 in On Writing

 

Steel Soul

Can a disease infect a virtual world?

Jupiter finally got his hands on the newest immersive VR system, and he’s logging into Yevelia along with his best friend, Cas. Yevelia has everything he wanted; magic, monsters, and a chance to level up. Everything he doesn’t have offline.

But there’s something odd about the first quest, and the NPC’s. And why did the developers include a plague that is slowly spreading across the game?

Something’s wrong with Yevelia, and the AI seems determined to use Jupiter to right the wrong.

The newest #litrpg of the year!

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2018 in Updates

 

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It’s not always what you think.

I, like most young writers, did the natural thing when I joined social media: I followed authors of books I loved. Some were great, like Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman that speak about respecting others, making great art, and sometimes the struggles of life. They do what they can to help those in need and encourage others to do so. They share their love of books, words, artwork, and comics. And it’s a wonderful corner of the social medias. Even when I disagree with them sometimes (because it’s very hard to find someone you agree with 100% of the time) I never feel like they are talking down to me, or feel that I am less of a person because I disagree with them.

Then there are other authors I had to stop following. One I wrote about before, others said some really awful things that made me hate going to twitter, and after a while I just had to stop following them in order to have any semblance of a happy life. I wanted to talk about things that concerned me in the world, even take action when appropriate. I didn’t want to feel like the sky was falling every time I opened my phone. I couldn’t live like that, so I stopped following them.

Today I saw one of those authors have a small rant on twitter and blame everyone except for himself for his failure. You see, he was fired from his job. He even admits they said they fired him for his vulgarity and confrontational behavior on twitter. He said it was something different: it’s the right wingers! They did it! They caused him to get fired by constantly harassing him because of LGBTQ characters in his stories.

So I was curious and went to look at his book. 39% of the reviews are one star. I started reading through them and review after review after review mentioned poor writing, short sentences, and boring characters. Only three of the reviews I read mentioned feminism or LGBTQ. Even the reviews that mentioned the “social justice” angle mentioned the poor writing. Then I found this lovely review:

No! Surely it isn’t that bad, it can’t be possible. So I read the first two chapters and…it’s worse!

I have no doubt that someone loves this type of writing. I have read parts of other books that try to break from the mold and make something different. Tree of Codes was made by cutting away words from another book to make a new story. The Lovers Dictionary is poetry made entirely from dictionary entries. There are many books out there, especially in literary circles, that have unusual, or intricate stylistic qualities to them.

You won’t find them in the latest Sookie Stackhouse, or Magic the Gathering franchise novel. You won’t find these unusual turn of phrases inside a Nora Roberts novel. What you’ll find inside each of their stories is consistency across the brand, from how characters are described, to common phrases and sentence construction.

To take a beloved franchise of hundreds of books and then turn it into a literary exposition….well I can’t say that I’m surprised that it wasn’t received well. The author blamed a lot of the bad reviews on the poor reception of the last movie, and how “toxic” the fans were. I wrote my own review of the latest movie in this franchise and this particular author would have called my review toxic, too. It doesn’t matter that I had legitimate things I didn’t like about it. I dared to speak against it so I’m part of the problem.

And that’s where I guess my opinions sour on certain authors, artists, or people in general. Just because someone criticizes your work that doesn’t mean they are criticizing you. Just because they didn’t like your work it doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad, in some cases (like this one) it probably was just presented to the wrong audience. Someone would have liked it, but not the fans of this particular franchise.

Right now I do want to make a point. I am criticizing the author, himself, directly. Blaming others for the fact that you got on twitter after poor sales and bad reviews and lambasted everyone who hated your work as trolls, and vulgar names, is down right terrible behavior. “Poor sportsmanship” would be a nice way of putting it. I have no doubt that there were some awful horrible people out there that said some nasty things to him. I’ve had those people in my chat, or stream, as well. I used the block button, or more often the mute button, and I stopped seeing their nasty comments. Then I went about having a happy life, which is the best revenge to any negative people out there. And sometimes I’ll even laugh and make a joke back and get them talking to me as a person instead of being an asshole.

I do know that sometimes it gets out of hand and people can do things offline instead of just through a keyboard. In those situations it’s important to keep your family safe. But in the vast majority of online interactions the easiest way to de-escalate a situation is just not to engage with the idiots online. Because they’re just that, idiots. If you stoop to their level then what does that make you?

And lets be clear, it wasn’t the LGBTQ angle. There are plenty of LGBTQ characters in many franchise books that are doing well. Here, choose a book from thousands of books that have LGBTQ lead characters in any genre out there. Most of them have really good reviews unless they have bad writing, or bad story. That’s how reviews work. Even when there are trolls making bad reviews it won’t be a large percentage of them.

Anyway, that’s my rant. And this is why new authors are told not to read their reviews. Don’t do it if you can’t handle the negative ones. And if someone says “your writing is bad” either listen, or put your writing to use where it will be appreciated. You don’t kill the characters in romance, and you don’t write literary fiction in a scifi space opera story. It never works out.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2018 in On Writing

 

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A quick update

Just a few quick updates today.

I am finishing the last bits of The Costume Shop today and re-uploading the finished book, complete with some awesome artwork inside that my child did. They also did the cover, so I’m really happy with it.

The artwork they did is amazing, and black and white so it won’t matter if you’re on kindle, or if you get it in print. It will look just as fantastic.

On the print front, I will get that made soon, I hope. I’d like to have that available before Christmas.

I also got the edits back for the first book in my litRPG series. I’ll send the next book out for edits once I get the first one finished. So far everything is on track!

Plus I’ve been doing a lot of art over on my instagram for #drawtober and #inktober. That’s been fun.

The coloring book is live! It’s only available in print because… well… it’s a coloring book.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2018 in On Writing

 

Covers, all the covers!

 

I am expecting edits back soon for the first book in the new novels, and I’m tweeking the covers a little, but I have a finished draft.

I am so excited for this series. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, and I’m really happy with how it’s come out. I’m sure that the edits will make things shine! Plus book three is already half finished so I’m pretty confident it will be out in December.

Steel Soul: Jupiter and Cas log into the nerve gear for the first time and take on their first quest, rescuing the mayor. But things aren’t quite what they seem!

Steel Heart: The roads aren’t safe, and there’s more than in-game death at stake.

Steel Line: The Hub… and that’s the only hint you’re getting for that one till December. 😉

For the covers, the figures were all designed by Abi Grey. I did the backgrounds and typography.

Really, I can’t wait to get them out there. It’s going to be a lot of work once I get the edits back, but so worth it.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2018 in Updates

 

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New books?

It sometimes feels like forever since I’ve had a new book out… even if it’s only been a few months. But….I have a new book out now!

 Costume Shop is available for pre-order, and released on the 12th of October.  This is a fun little story that is written a little like an RL Stein book, and would be considered young adult. Just in time for Halloween, too. You’ll also notice I’m releasing it as C.L. Moss instead of Crissy Moss. It’s a slightly different tone than my other books so I wanted to make sure it was a little separated.

Also, Dragon’s Flame is free his weekend. Now is your chance to grab it. If you enjoy it I would really appreciate a review.
This fantasy novel is the first in a series. Book two should be out sometime the beginning of 2019 (which isn’t far away. Boy does time fly.)

I will also be putting out a new coloring book called “Little Beasties” before the end of the month, just in time for the holidays.

The next book I’m sending to the editor is the litRPG series. Keep looking for them later this year.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2018 in Updates

 

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The Search for Independence: part 1

I haven’t written a blog post in a while because I didn’t really know what to say. Things are moving along on their slow way to finishing, and a lot is happening, but they are kind of up in the air at the moment.

This last couple of weeks I’ve realized that the best option for my health is to either work at a small location with few people at it, or work from home, so I’ve been looking into working from home more and more. I’ve found a lot of options, and resources, and I’m trying to find what will work best for me. I am going to be taking a multi stream income approach for the best results.

First, my books of course. I have three scheduled for the editor, one currently at the editor, and two more I am working to complete. The release will be Costume Shop by end of this month, Steel Soul in October, and Steel Heart in November. I’m hoping to have Steel Line (book three of the Steel Series, my litRPG) or Dragon’s Heart (book two of my Half Blood Sorceress series) out in December and January. That’s five books in five months! Sign up for the newsletter here to hear when they come out.

On the art front I’ve uploaded more images to redbubble for stickers, t-shirts, and the like. I’ve also got some ideas for Halloween and Christmas themed fabric for spoonflower. I’ll be doing those soon. I’m also working on drawing something every day, even if it’s just working on a larger project, and I’ve been showing the work over on Instagram. I’m considering doing some sort of comic or story line for the art, I’ll have to see if I can come up with a good story for it that can fit into a series of little strips. Right now I’m focusing on finishing a coloring book, and getting that up on amazon/etc.

And of course I have my etsy where there are pins, key chains, and other physical things I’ve made. That includes the little enamel pins you see here.

Then the last arm of my working plan….freelancing. This is the tougher one since I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve been doing some research and finding various places where I can submit to write for blogs and magazines, and it’s been an interesting learning experience. Most of them require you to do a lot of prep and fill in the questions before you can even do actual work. And learning about it is difficult too because there isn’t a guide or anything, you basically have to piece information together from other sources until you figure it out. I guess that’s why only those with perseverance make it in the freelance world. I don’t have a lot of perseverance, but I do have self preservation, and if I want to stop working in an office where I keep having asthma attacks because people wear perfume…. here’s an option. I just have to make it work.

There is one more thing, and that’s recording. I have a twitch, and two youtube channels (one for art/writing, the other for gaming) that I haven’t been using that much. I stopped using YouTube because they took away my monitization, and I wasn’t doing a lot with it anyway. Twitch I haven’t been able to do as much because I’ve been sick. I’d like to get back into making videos, probably once or twice a week. I think trying to do them every day was too much and it just got overwhelming so I stopped. I also want to stream on twitch. I really enjoy playing some of the more story driven games, like The Turing Test, and talking about the different story situations. The Turing Test has been really interesting because it deals with AI, and what separates people from machines, and when a computer becomes creative. It really made me think about Googles Deep Dream simulation, and where tech is going.

I’d also like to stream some of the artwork I’m doing, maybe some of the larger projects. I’ve done a few streams like that, but the goal is two a week. One game, one art/writing. Scheduling doesn’t quite work yet, but I’m trying to figure that out. Every time I set a schedule something comes up on those days.

The other thing I’d like to do is start tracking this progress, showing what I’m doing and where I’m succeeding and failing. I think I’ll call it “Road To Independence” and put up a video every week with my trials and tribulations, as well as my successes, so expect that. It might mean fewer games, and more working on writing/art/marketing…but if that means eventual independence I’m all for that.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2018 in Updates

 

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