Crumbly Writer: Blog

"Lost With Nothing to Lose" outlook

August 3, 2018
Posted at 10:53 pm

At the risk of including some spoilers (nothing major, just telling you the story isn't all dark), the bleak initial chapters won't continue indefinitely. The entire point of the first four chapters (Section I) is to lay out the basic story conflict: that the human are unwanted and untrusted, and everyone would rather do them in and forget about them. But now, Al has worked out a compromise and both sides are gambling their futures.

The Tandorians are praying the humans can do what no one else has—including the Inquisitors—while the humans are gambling that they can pull off a miracle, knowing their promised solution is a complete lie.

So now they continue, as the humans attempt to find a way to succeed, but as I promised, the story gets better (most positive at least) from here. At least until the ending, that is. ;-D

Not-Quite Human 2: Lost With Nothing to Lose

July 20, 2018
Posted at 4:07 pm

Well, after repeated false starts, I've finally gotten the story straightened out (aside from the one quote (epigraph) for Section I).

For those who don't remember the story very well, I've reposted the updated version of The Cuckoo's Progeny on SOL, however a glitch in the system won't allow me to change the directory list, so I've posted the revised version (Section breaks, epigraphs and images) as "Cuckoo's Progeny 2" on SciFi.

As with all of my stories, this book was completed before posting. I published the story, Lost With Nothing to Lose a little while ago, but the final installment, Building a Nest of Their Own is taking longer than anticipated. As a result, I'll only be posting a single chapter per week, to allow me to finish it on a timely basis.

(The problem isn't anything wrong with the story, but with my health, as I've been suffering from some severe sleep issues (I'm unable to sleep, so am exhausted most of the time, and often crash to make up for it), hence the various errors in the initial postings. I'll try to only post the chapters on the days that I'm actually awake from here on out.)

This story is quite different from the original, as it follows Al and his 'crew' as they wrestle with a 2nd culture which has no use for them, but here, their very lives are at risk, as they have to prove to a militarized society that they can be trusted—not an easy proposition, as Al manages to save their lives by weaving some tall tales he's incapable of fulfilling.

I've also make another change, launching a Not-Quite Human Box Set before the entire series is complete. Thus, if you purchase the Box Set for a discount, when the final book is released, you'll receive merely by updating the story.

Each of the books is also discounted on smashwords until the end of July if you enter the discount code "SSW25" for Lost With Nothing to Lose and the Box Set, while the rest of my stories, including The Cuckoo's Progeny are discounted 50% (discount code SSW50). (Note: I'm no longer found under "Crumbly Writer" there, but under my actual name "Vincent Berg".)

I hope you enjoy the story, as it took a LONG time to put together, and my editors really demanded excellence this time (Thanks, guys).

As always, feel free to comment and point out errors, though with posting errors, I usually figure that out pretty quickly but it takes a while to correct (typically the next day before they appear).

Vincent (aka. Crumbly Writer)

Smashwords Sale: July 1 - July 31st, 2018

July 2, 2018
Posted at 9:40 pm

For smashwords semi-annual sale, I've reduced all of my books by 50% except for the two newest: "Lost With Nothing to Lose" and "Not-Quite Human Box Set", which are both being offered at 25% off. Use the codes "SSW50" and "SSW25" to get the savings.

Sadly, lulu doesn't offer such contests, while Amazon requires you to give your material away for free before they allow you to offer similar sales.

For those still waiting on the prices, when I finally post "Lost With Nothing to Lose", I'll also discount a few of my more recent books, making them more affordable for everyone (and even more so for the next sale).

Visit You can also view ALL the Smashwords books on sale at

"A House In Disarray" distraction.

May 20, 2018
Posted at 3:29 pm

How do you like that. Just after posting my worries that readers wouldn't respond positively to Em's diversion to the west coast during her investigation, my scores shot up substantially. I guess readers don't see it as a distraction after all, as it strengthens Em's character, gives her more depth, finally makes Amanda a more complete character, and gives time for the case to 'mature' back home.

Seems my instincts have once again been borne out, despite my fears to the contrary.

That's everyone. I appreciate it. Maybe I'll write another mystery or two sometime in the future.

"A House in Disarray" background

May 15, 2018
Posted at 1:50 am
Updated: May 15, 2018 - 10:25 am

I'd wanted to explain a little of the history of this story when I first started posting, but much of the detail revolves around how it concludes, and I didn't want to include any spoilers.

The topics: police brutality, the subsequent bad publicity, et al, were already dated when I was finishing up the story. As the number of police shootings mounted over time, the sides congealed between those being shot, and those who didn't want to consider what produced such responses, so it became an 'us' vs. 'them' issue, and while nothing really changed, it made the story feel terribly dated.

And then, deciding to challenge myself. I went and hired a professional content editor, for a significant amount of pocket change, to help me learn how to self-edit my own work, which was the cause of the friction in the story comments with my editor.

Long story short, she disappeared for a couple months, with nary a word, and dumped a radically changed story in my lap (via email), informing me I'd need to hire another editor to 'fix her mistakes', and that I needed to 'accept' her edits as they were, instead of picking and choosing which to implement (like normal editors do). However, instead of raising issues and suggesting fixes, allowing me, the author, to decide how to resolve them, she rewrote whole tracks in her own words, often reducing three to five paragraphs to a single one. (The initial prologue is a sample of her work.)

What she left me with was much easier to read, but she also robbed the characters of ALL of their motivations, gave me flat-out incorrect advice about writing. The worst part was, since she rewrote so much of the story, I couldn't ignore her bad advice without the story sounding schizophrenic, as it would then be told in two 'voices', mine and hers.

As a result, I paid her fee, and dumped the story into the trash as I found it utterly unusable. And there it sat for a couple of years, making it seem even more dated than it was. What eventually saved the day, was my decision to finally throw out ALL her changes, with the obvious exception of the prologue. We then had to re-edit the entire thing for a third time, where we did a much more thorough job. (She wanted to toss out the entire exchange between Becky and Em, the whole 'multiple partners' thing, and focus exclusively on the crime.)

That's why I'm still adverse to hiring expensive editors. I'd done my due diligence, asking for personal recommendations from a variety of authors and sending her a sample edit (the prologue), which we discussed. I'd thought we had a decent working relationship going into the exchange, but I was wrong! Now I'm not sure I can trust any professional. Apparently, she decided my approach to writing wasn't what the traditional publishers were looking for, which I've always acknowledged, and she decided it wasn't 'publishable' without a complete rewrite-by her!

That explains the extensive delay in the story. The story about the plot is a bit more involved. When I started the story, I asked for and received a resource from someone on SOL, Serena Jones, whose father was a policeman and who provided insights into their psyches (most notably the 'sleeping around with multiple partners as a way of keeping their partners from being overwhelmed'). That, in itself, led the story into an entirely new direction.

I thought, making the lead detective a lesbian, would make the story seem less obnoxiously sexist, while also providing an interesting insight into how a single woman might survive in an all-male world of law-enforcement (in its early days, at least). And from there, came the entire section dealing with Em's 'side trip' with Amamda.

As many of you might have guessed, the exchange between them, like the initial 'sex talk' with Becky, is essential to the overall plot, rather than merely diversions from the basic mystery. In short, they address how Em resolves her 'unwinnable' situation of investigating her boss, while also reconciling her womanizing her girlfriends.

Anyway, I thought this extensive history of the story would help you all appreciate a decidedly nontraditional police story a little more.

And please, as always, let me know whether you prefer my approach, or the editor who made such a mess of it. ;-D

Vincent Berg (aka. Crumbly Author)