The Space Cantina – Dark Winter Spotlight


Dark Winter Spotlight on

So the very kind and awesome Community Team for SOE’s H1Z1 ran a spotlight for Dark Winter today! I can’t tell you how amazing and awesome that is! I’m pretty humbled by it to be honest.

You can find the story here!

It also pushes me to make the best story I can. People are reading this story, and some are even enjoying it. For the first time, I have people waiting to reading stuff. That’s a very freaky thing. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to bring entertainment to even one person every week. So for everyone out there reading Dark Winter every week, and even those who give it a look and decide it’s not for them, thank you.

I will do my best to give you an awesome story.

Behind the Name of Dark Winter

Dark Winter is a work of fiction. It’s Fan Fiction, actually, inspired by the H1Z1 Zombie Apocalypse game by Sony Online Entertainment. There’s been some speculation about the name and I thought I’d talk about it here.

The term “Dark Winter” comes from a mocked scenario by the US Government in 2001. It simulated a bioweapon attack on a major US city using a highly virulent form of Smallpox. The scenario has the outbreak occur on Black Friday at an international airport. Operation Dark Winter was run to determine our readiness in the event of such an attack. Sadly, our healthcare system was found woefully ill prepared for such an event. You can read about it online at Wikipedia or wherever you get your information. It’s a pretty fascinating read.

The upcoming game “The Division” also uses this scenario for the background to their game. I used the term “Dark Winter” here as more of a metaphor, though I did have the outbreak in Mount Hope occur on Black Friday.

History! Yay!

Anyway, thanks for reading everyone. I should have Part 7 ready later this week, barring hold ups. I’ve had kind of a busy week so it might not happen on Friday. We’ll see. If it doesn’t, I apologize and will instead post it as soon as I can. I don’t want to publish a half-assed story.


The Space Cantina – From the bottom of a well


So it’s been quite a while since I had an update on here. Sorry about that, it’s mostly me. Okay? Really, it’s me. Not you. You were great. You ARE great and that’s what’s important. Take that with you. Hold on to it. Cherish it.

Actually I’ve been swamped at work. For those who don’t know, I work in the Video Game industry and the company I work for is ramping up for some big goals. What that means for me is a ton of overtime. I mean a ton. I didn’t know what a metric f*ckton was until now.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing, oh no. I’ve been writing as much as I can possibly dare. I’m still working on that novel and it’s coming along. Novels take time though and I definitely am finding just how much. I’ve revamped and retooled parts of the story half a hundred times, but I feel like it’s finally getting there. Maybe I’ll even have something to share soon. Maybe.

What else? 36 Hours got a whole new revision (actually 2 revisions) and is currently out and about, so perhaps I’ll have something to talk about on that front soon. You never know!

Did you enjoy Hallow Hill? If you haven’t heard, FYI Weekly is running it on their site! Go check them out! Also, I want to say hello and thank you to all those wonderful folks in Perth who are reading it!

I have a new revision of Hallow Hill coming, but the world is different. Aranor is getting a big revamp, a good reskinning as it were. I can’t wait to unveil parts of it for people here soon. I’m pretty proud of it!

Anyway, if you’re still here, thanks for reading!

The Space Cantina – The Blood in rework, Hallow Hill Debut



Hello folks, this is just a quick update to say that I’m reworking The Blood so it’ll be a few weeks until I can get it back up and going again. Until then I’m going to run a complete novella I wrote called Hallow Hill. This is a gritty fantasy novella set in the same world as The Squire and is part of the same continuum, though with different characters. This is only its second draft so if you see weird things about it, please call them out!

Thanks for reading. You gals and guys are awesome!

The Space Cantina – Novel, gaming, brain melting

If I don’t stop this incessant posting in the Cantina, it will become a habit. Won’t that be a ridiculous turn of events?

Unlike last night’s post, which was brought to you by a bottle of red wine, today shall be a little more coherent. Almost. I just wrote 3100+ words on the novel after working 9.5 hours formatting 5pt text at work, so my eyes are a little bloody and cross-eyed. Don’t judge me. Actually go ahead, just judge me with AWESOME. Or candy. Or wine. Wine gets more posts.

So today I had one of those writing days where the chapter I was working on just didn’t come to me as easily as the rest. I knew what needed to happen in this chapter but starting it felt awkward to me. I actually wrote two beginnings this afternoon, the first being cut and transferred to the chapter before (roughly 500 words of it anyway). Then I began again once I found my pacing and starting point. Almost every Chapter of this novel has a small storyline of its own, crossing through its own arc and resolving one small detail at a time. It’s a lot harder to do than simply flowing from one to another and I’m not sure I pulled it off.

As a first draft, I’m really not worried about it yet. On the second draft I’ll make sure to cut all the stupid fat and find where to streamline the story. For anyone reading this who is convinced every single word you write is precious, they aren’t. You’re a writer. You write words. You can write more. Cut the bad ones and make way for the better ones. “Kill your darlings” and all that jazz.

On a musical side note, I’m currently listening to the wonderfully talented Julie Fowlis. If that name sounds familiar, perhaps you saw the movie “Brave.” She sung two of the songs in that movie, but she generally sings all in Gaelic. It’s haunting and gorgeous and makes me want to write Fantasy again, even though I’ve left for the stars. I’ll be back though. One of my novel concepts is a gritty low-magic Fantasy, so I can’t let it go.

Before I go, I do want to mention to all my gaming followers that I’m now working with a new fansite covering the still-unnamed “Project Titan” from Blizzard. It’s called Titan Everything and is headed by my friend Andy (also from if you remember us there) and Bill from You can find us here. We’ll be covering up-to-the-minute news and breaking stories as best we can. Currently we have a news and rumors column that has everything you could possibly find on the subject. Go read! Now. Like, right now. For it is full of awesome and win.

Just ask Spock.

See? Make it so.

The Space Cantina – Thoughts, there are thoughts in my brain

Okay, because my little reader base here is still very small I get to get away with all kinds of stupid things. Example number 1, changing my header whenever I’m inclined. And so, I’m inclined.

I decided to do this because I’m getting pretty serious about this whole blogging fiction business. I enjoy it, I love having people come here, read my schlock and come back again for more. That is insanely cool. I don’ t even think insanely cool is proper diction. Doesn’t matter.

My name is Michael Lee Kern, and I’m a writer. I liked the sound of Michael Lee as a pen name but there’s about… a hundred million of us. So, I’m just going back to Mike Kern, which is what everyone really knows me as. I know, it’s a rough transition, but we’ll all get through this together. That is what teamwork is about. Getting me through things.

Okay enough yammering. This is also because I’m preparing to take my blog off wordpress and host it myself. For those inclined to prayer, please say one for my sanity?

The Space Cantina – Why I believe in fan fiction

Welcome to the first installment of The Space Cantina, the place on my blog where I basically talk about writing, the writing business, or something completely nerd-tastic. Tonight I want to talk to you about Fan Fiction and why I think it’s pretty awesome. Also, I’m listening to songs from the 90s, which is similarly awesome.

When I was 14 years old I got my very first computer. With that computer, I also bought the game TIE Fighter. My dad spent a couple of hours getting the damn thing to work, mucking around with SoundBlaster drivers or some such (remember when we had to do such things in DOS? The future is great isn’t it?).

Okay let’s fast forward ahead a few months. In my mind it’s forever, but when you’re 14 everything is forever. My first break-up? Traumatized. Anyway, this game had me in its grips like some tentacle creature from Gorab 9, devouring my brain and filling it with tons of awesome crap. At the time I didn’t know it, but I was beginning to tell my own stories. I imagined how I might do things differently, how I’d react if I were Maarek Steele and flying for the Emperor. Around this time I joined an online gaming group called The Emperor’s Hammer and then the New Republic, who were basically a bunch of guys who played the same game I did. We made up fictional pilots and wrote back-stories for them, shoved them into fictional squadrons and had an amazing time pretending it was all very real.

Then we created a newsletter and in each newsletter we printed stories. I wrote my very first one when I was 15 years old. It was horrible and full of laser blasts and impossible events, but you know what was fantastic? At 15, no one told me I couldn’t do it. I wrote it and they put it in the newsletter and other 15 year old kids like me read it. They liked it, so I wrote more. I wrote an entire series of adventures with a character I so imaginatively named “Miek Kenr.” In case you were curious, that’s just my first and last name rearranged. Don’t tell anyone that Lee is just my middle name (and my pen name to avoid fictional stalkers that I pretend are there).

I was 15 years old and I wrote 10 chapters of 3000 words. I’m not saying this to brag in any way, shape, or form. What I’m saying is that I wrote that much because I was having fun and the ideas kept coming. I didn’t really consider myself a writer back then, I just wanted to experience Star Wars in my own way, so I wrote the adventures I wished I could read about. It was later, much later, when people said “Hey, Mike, you’re pretty decent at this, have you thought about being a writer?” that I considered it. Until then, I was having adventures in a fantastic world George Lucas gave me to play in.

Without that world and that desire to have those adventures I would have never ventured in the world of fiction. I was able to plot and develop characters without the need to create my own world and develop all the scenery. What it let me do was practice without realizing I was practicing. I evolved from those dreams of flying X-wings and TIE Fighters into writing new characters in new places within new universes of my own. Without the support of that existing sandbox, I’m not sure I could have developed plot and characterization at that time and had it come off as anything more than stilted renditions of myself.

I believe in Fan Fiction as gateway drug, a first sip, that playground where all the kids are just as new as you are. Step into that world and take the gifts that are there for you, a world you already know and a story structure you already understand. Use that framework to build your own stories and your own characters. Make them unique and full of complexity even if you think you can’t. Try. If you fail, so what? No one will tell you that you can’t try and if they do, they’re idiots and not worth listening to.

I hear you internets, I know about the slash-fic and the Fan Fiction out there that just pits X against Y or has X fall in love with Y. That’s fine too, but if you’re going to do that, use what exists (world, rules and characters) to develop your plotting skills. Make it interesting, make it your own. I believe in Fan Fiction because you already love the world you’re writing in. I’ve killed half a hundred worlds of my own creation because I hated them. I threw them into fires of disgust and burned them all into ashes of irritation, and I’ve been writing for a long time. It’s hard, I know, but you’ll get there. Until then, if you have an idea about flying TIE Fighters, fighting Husks or punching Diablo in the face then don’t feel afraid to write it. No one can say you can’t.

I still write it, take a look through my blog if you don’t believe me. I got started there and I’m not ready to give up on all those people who gave me the courage to write those first words.

I believe in Fan Fiction. I hope you all will too.