The Faith Machine


Welcome to the dangerous, clandestine world of ESPionage.
Welcome to The Strip, where operatives on the fringe command teams of ‘Cards’: Agents cursed with subtle, specialized, and sometimes sloppy psychic powers.

tone milazzo


Picking Up the Ghost
a YA urban fantasy of ghosts, lies, and voodoo

The Faith Machine


Welcome to the dangerous, clandestine world of ESPionage.
Welcome to The Strip, where operatives on the fringe command teams of ‘Cards’: Agents cursed with subtle, specialized, and sometimes sloppy psychic powers.

tone milazzo


Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vol. 2
featuring ‘The Ginger Jar’

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San Diego writer of speculative fiction in prose and comics. Author of the YA urban fantasy Picking Up the Ghost, the upcoming E.S.P. and espionage novel The Faith Machine, the upcoming graphic novel Dead Woman and the upcoming RPG ESPionage. Everything’s upcoming up Milhouse.

Open to freelance work punching up stories or homepages, script-doctoring, beta reads, or other opinion vendings.

Stories have been with us since the first hunter told another about the one who got away. Stories are what make us human. Stories lead to understanding. Stories are cooked. Fiction, religion, biographies, gossip, gaming, and history it all goes into the pot and out comes as fiction. To those ends I’ve been around, professionally speaking. Marine, taxi driver, teacher, scientist, and coder. This breath of experience has given me a little knowledge about a lot of things, good and bad.

A good story reaches beyond the scope of its words.

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Recent Posts

Hard Come, Easy Go

Two cloud storage services went to war on my new computer. MEGA and One Drive dumped all their contents into the same folder, then both locked up because they were full. In the extrication process, I lost half the data.

(Yes, I’ll backup my backup going forward. No reason to suggest this.)

I salvaged some off another computer before it synced the destruction. Dropbox still held the oldest of the files, from back when that was my cloud storage. And a large chunk of the PDFs I can download again from the source. The worst thing to go missing was the 20,000 words I’d written on my next novel, the sequel to The Faith Machine. All gone, every word of it.

So I got inebriated, spent an hour watching Falco videos on YouTube, and resigned myself to rewriting the first two fifths of a novel. Then it hit me, it was still on my NEO 2.

Extracting the files from the NEO became its own series of digital hurtles, but I got them. All I lost was the first pass of copy edits.

That hour was the longest week of my life. Computers suck and I hate them.

5th Thing I Learned While Writing The Faith Machine

A Role-Playing Game Can Serve as Series Bible

A beta reader for The Faith Machine suggested I develop the setting into an RPG setting. And I had most of the work done. Not only did I have all of the world-building for the first novel, when I had an agent she had me outline two more books (for the magic words, ‘stand along novel with series potential’). So I had two more sets of adversaries and settings. Not to mention, notes for possible short stories and comic scripts I hope to finish once The Faith Machine builds an audience. I took two weeks to spill all the notes into a single document. As an unexpected benefit, organizing this information allowed me to see inconsistencies and gaps that needed to be fixed or filled in.

For example: I’d been using Card as spy slang for psychic, Hand for the team, and Player for team leader. When writing up the Spy Jargon page it occurred to me: The player’s boss should be called the Dealer. The agency they work for is the Table. A government that finances one or more Tables is called a House. And the entire psychic espionage community is The Strip. I wouldn’t have though of this if I hadn’t written up the role-playing game. Even if I don’t make a role-playing setting for future projects, organizing this information in a series bible has benefits.

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4th Thing I Learned While Writing The Faith Machine

To Outline the Hell out of a Story Before I Write It

At 12 pages, I thought I’d outlined my first novel. Oh the ignorance! There were a few plot points, sure. It touched on most phases of the Hero’s Journey, of course. But it was hardly an outline. It fell flat in the middle, no second act to speak of. and complications had to be thrown in to inflate a novella length word count to a full novel.

When I finished outlining The Faith Machine I had 77 pages of notes, one page per scene, one scene per chapter. Now that’s an outline. I kept it in a loose-leaf notebook, so I could easily rearrange, remove, or replace pages if necessary. Each page loaded with bullet points; the opening, end, and critical plot points and character beats at the very least. Lines of dialog, things to foreshadow, foreshadowing to payoff, pop culture references to hide. Every scene modeled after a function in a programming language; a few things come in, a few things come out, a few global variables might be updated, but always keep it simple. If a scene was doing too much work, making too many contributions to the plot, that scene needed to be broken up into two or more scenes.

This wasn’t a ‘fill ‘er up and get ready to write’ situation. When I’d outlined to the end I carried that outline with me everywhere I went. Whenever I had time I’d open it up and add details, thinking about who characters physically moved from setting to setting, edited out the redundant, fleshed out the skeletal. For every character got a continuity pass where I focused on what they were doing and where they were. I was revising before writing.

When it came time to type out the prose, I’d been thinking about these scenes for months. Some of them dropped right out of my brain and into the page. The scenes, and thus the plot, needed very little work going forward. Even after workshops, beta reads, and editorial.

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