I sometimes forget that I should be promoting myself, things that I’ve done, or books and shorts that I’ve written. I end up more passive than I would like to be by including it into my signature at the end of the blogs. But it occurs to me that maybe people aren’t reading those things. And it also occurs to me that being passive isn’t the answer. As I get ready to launch some more work into the world, I need to remind people what is already available as well.
I wrote this a few years back, but it is available for Free. And if you liked The Dark That Follows, it features Jason Mills doing his psychic thing (and if you haven’t read The Dark That Follows, you could do worse than having this short be your introduction into the world).
I’m trying to figure out this publishing thing. I’ve got the book, got a comic, got a little novella, but I know I need to do more. The chances of anyone having just one thing out there in the void and suddenly hitting it big are pretty low. And that’s fine with me. I know it is a marathon and not a sprint (to borrow that old cliche’). Still, the projects I’m working on don’t really feed the beast of The Dark That Follows. And while I have ideas for the sequel, I’m not ready to really dive in (too many other projects that must get done).
So how do I fix that? How do I get potentially more eyes on this book I wrote without writing another book in the same world?
An aside… when the four of us teamed up to form this little spot in the corner of the internet we talked about doing a short story for the site. Something that might even be able to use the name Tessera in its title or as its inspiration.
Jeremy jumped in, both feet first because that man is a machine. Maybe in an effort to make everyone else look bad (jerk!) or maybe to light a fire under our collective asses, he wrote Old Man of Tessera (free on this here website!).
I’d been thinking about a story, but I really wanted it to tie into The Dark That Follows somehow. Have a place where they could get the short for free and if they liked what they read, maybe they’d check out the book. Something extra. And a story began to shape itself in my mind.
A short story.
This is the old two birds one story idea. And while I didn’t name it Tessera or Tesserization or Tesselation or… (well, you get the idea), it does take a little bit of inspiration from trying to see a bigger picture from little bits of information.
So without further ado, I present to you Piece by Piece. You can find it here on the site, and shortly you should be able to find it for free download on the various other platforms… but you can get it first!
With the new year comes the dreaded resolutions. They say that anything you start, if you keep it going for 4 weeks, then you have created a habit for the long haul. We just passed the 4-week mark in the new year, so the question that comes to mind is how well are you/me/everyone doing on those resolutions?
I always start off the year with a blueprint of what projects I want to work on, which items I would like to have finished, and other things I would like to start. And I’m always very aggressive in the scheduling. In fact, most of the time just with the act of living your life, the goals are too much.
This year was no different, and a lot of times by this point in January I’m already thinking “Oh god, I’m so far behind. I wanted to have 50,000 words written by this point!”
(OK, I’m never that crazy. I have a day job and a wife I like to see from time to time, but you get the point.)
So here it is, 28 days in, and I feel pretty good about my progress this month so far. It’s not 100% what I was hoping for in the pie-in-the-sky scenario, but I’ve written more than 13,000 words thus far and I still have a couple of days to go to try for 15,000 for January.
So, what I’ve decided to do for my Resolutions post is instead list out some projects. Some are goals for this year. Some are literally goals that will happen in the next month. All of which should help remind me of the work I have done and what still is to come.
A – Anonymous Short Story – I wrote a short story last year for the upcoming Tales from Vigilante City Anthology that should be coming out sometime in 2020. It’s the story about the villain you never heard of… and how he likes it that way.
B – My Blog – A random hodge-podge of ideas and rantings and reviews and whatever else I happen upon at 2 in the morning. This blog will be the 401st entry on this website. Crazy.
C – The Crossing – A new comic book coming to Kickstarter in late February by Robert Jeffrey II, Sean Hill, and myself from 133art. A love-letter to parallel worlds and how tragedy can make us a hero or a villain.
D – The Dark That Follows – My first novel… I’m planning on putting it on sale soon to get more eyes on it.
E – The Echo Effect – My next novel, due out this Spring. A man finds that he is reborn into a new world whenever the calendar reaches 2024. Things have changed, but he has not. And he might not be the only one.
F – Forgotten Lives – I completed the first draft of this novel and if things go well this year, I’ll be releasing not only this novel but books 1 through 3 in early 2021. It’s my story about why we’re here… and how much control over our fates do we really have.
G – Gilded Age – I have ideas, but I also have a stack of graphic novels that I need to get into more people’s hands. So I’m hoping to do some conventions this year for that very purpose.
H – Hollow Empire – While Jeremy has come out with two additional chapters, my side has been quiet. However, that’s going to change with the 9th chapter of the serial we started about life in a medieval post-apocalyptic world.
I – Indiegogo – A reminder that The Gilded Age is available on Indiegogo here!
J – Journal of Impossible Things – Title was stolen from Doctor Who, but it is the folder where I put all my short stories currently in progress. I want to move 4 of them to the completed side this year.
K – Be a part of and fulfill at least 2 Kickstarters this year.
L – Lightning – A long-term horror novel project.
M – Marketing – For all of this stuff, I’ve got to find a way to get it in front of people which means figuring out Amazon and Facebook ads. Not looking forward to stumbling through all of that!
N – Newsletter – My goal is to send out at least 12 this year. With so many projects coming to fruition, I’d be dumb not to use it (heck, I’ve been dumb about it up until now).
O – Opportunities – Be open to any additional opportunities that may come my way. There always seems to be a random thing out there that I could never forsee.
P – Premade book covers – I’ve been lucky enough to find a couple that work perfectly for both The Echo Effect and SOULmate. Plus, in my wanderings around the internet, I found a collection of covers that have inspired some ideas that I’d love to write set in the world I can see.
Q – Query – I haven’t given up on traditional publishing, but right now I’m not sure how to break through that barrier.
R – I have promised to help my step-father-in-law collect his poetry and put it into book form. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will end up (his name is Robert, hence the “R”).
S – SOULMate – The second novel I’m going to release this year. It’s a story about a world where Soulmates are not only real but a status symbol.
T – Time – Whether I’m using it well or potentially misusing it, it is often the cause for any bottleneck. I need to manage my time better.
U – Untold Series – The series of books that Forgotten Lives belongs to. Coming in 2021, but written in 2020!
V – Vacation – In between all the words, I still need to get away to recharge the batteries. I’m not sure when or where this will take us this year.
W – Edge of the World – A novel that needs a thorough edit. It’s the story of a woman who travels to the ends of the earth to find and save her uncle.
X – eXtra work- Be willing to hit my goals, even when I’m tired and want to just goof off. Be focused.
Y – You Must Be This Tall To Ride – A comic idea I have focused on a slightly younger crowd. This is more of a long-term project.
Z – Zine – Last year, Egg Embry, Lee Beauchamp, and I ran a Kickstarter as part of their Zine promotion. We had hoped it would be done last year, but it has stretched into this year. We are closing in on completing it though (hopefully by Valentine’s Day – It is focused on Love, so that seems fitting).
I don’t know if I was any different than anyone else in class the first time we were “forced” to read Romeo and Juliet. The language was strange. The story felt too familiar – like I’d seen it a hundred times if I’d seen it once. And the idea that they needed to come up with some elaborate plan of faking death in order for the two lovers (who’d known each other about an hour before Romeo proposed to Juliet). It was just… too much.
But I didn’t hate it. I’m not sure I can fully remember how I felt about it. Just one of those things that you have to do in school. You read it, take a test or two on the material, and move on to the next classic. Occasionally they will lead you to someone becoming a favourite author (thank you Jack London for “To Build a Fire”). Sometimes you realize how much of a non-fan you are (Mr. Dickens, I’m looking at you).
Weirdly, it was the 1996 version of the play starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes where I think I started to understand the story. Whether it was the modern setting, the delivery of the lines… maybe just hearing the words rather than reading them. Or maybe I was just in a different mindset 4 years after I’d initially read the tale. Maybe I had more knowledge about the idea for the reason I thought I’d seen the story over and over… it was because everyone was using it as a basis to tell a certain kind of story.
And with watching, the nuances of the actors’ performances lend themselves to seeing how even if I didn’t catch every word, I knew what the characters were trying to convey. Those little pieces that are completely missing from a read through.
I probably haven’t seen that version of Romeo and Juliet in over a decade, at least. But the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta puts on the play for the month of February. Courtney and I had been threatening to go and see a play there (lived here how many years and never went, what’s wrong with us). So we finally made it this past weekend.
Have you ever had one of your favourite songs come on and for some reason, it has a slightly different context than it ever had before? Maybe you hear a group of lyrics for the first time or just are in a different moment in your life… and suddenly the song is different for you. That was this performance this weekend. It was the same play and yet little moments caught me by surprise.
The dialogue of Juliet’s Nurse. Multiple times she stole the scene she was in just with the energy she had at the beginning of the play. Later when she has news about Romeo, Juliet calls her old, so she has fun at her expense. Previously I’d thought of the character as someone who toys with the two main characters, but in this, I truly felt the affection she had for Juliet to the point that she put aside her own grief for Tybalt’s death because Romeo was now Juliet’s husband.
Mercutio is my favourite character in the play. The movie version is ever in my mind with every line of his dialogue, but in this performance, the role was further defined as someone who loves life, someone who loves Romeo, and someone who would defend his friends until the end. “A plague on both your houses.” resonates with me. The futility of the war between the families.
I was struck by seeing the split of the Acts of the play. Romeo is the star of the first part with Juliet not appearing for a few scenes. It was enough where at the intermission my brain was thinking “wow, I thought Juliet was in more of this play.” Of course, the second half is Juliet’s time to shine. The split makes for an interesting compare/contrast that I hadn’t expected to see going into the play.
Lastly, Paris and his death in the crypt. I’m not entirely sure I even knew that scene happened prior to Saturday night. So when he appeared, in grief, it adds a bit of weird context to the story. Here was a man who appeared to be fond of this girl he sought to marry. So much so that he asks that Romeo lay him beside her… perhaps he’s not the villain or idiot I’d often taken him for?
Overall it was a great night with the words of the Bard ringing in our ears. I look forward to visiting another of his timeless tales there in the future.
By the way, did you know that I was participating in a Kickstarter for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons focused on Love, Knights, and Enchanters? It is called Love’s Labour’s Liberated. The Kickstarter runs through the end of the month. If you are a fan of roleplaying games, give it a look!
He hunkered in his hole, bobbing his head to the falling rain’s beat.
He tasted the ashes of the dead in the air.
And he knew it was his fault.
If I hadn’t come here,they’d be alive.
I guess I did them a favor.
Little streams of warm water slid across the broken streets over his head and plunged into his hiding spot. He hated the feel of the rain squelching in his boots, and he grimaced when the foul liquid peppered his hood. He hadn’t been this uncomfortable in weeks, not since the time he’d cut the fingers off a man who’d tried to steal his one and only apple.
My last apple. He shook his head.
Did he have to bleed on it?
Down in the muck and shadows, he waited for the rain to snuff the fires. The stench in his pit was unbearable. Two others had crawled down into the hole, but they’d been too slow, and had gagged to death moments later. The poisonous air in the city above had been more than enough to kill them.
He wanted out.
But he knew if he poked his head up too soon, someone was likely to nip it off…
To illustrate the pain and suffering of writing blurbs (and query letters…and synopses) I’ve challenged myself to write one-sentence descriptions of ALL my books.
Here we go…
BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO – 303 STRANGERS TELL CRAZY, FUNNY, AND SCARY STORIES OF THEIR BREAKUPS.
LORDS OF THE BLACK SANDS – FIVE CENTURIES AFTER EARTH SUFFERS A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST, THREE IMMORTALS VIE FOR CONTROL OF THE PLANET.
101 QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY– THE ORIGINAL ENTRY IN THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES ASKS SHORT, SIMPLE QUESTIONS WITH THE AIM OF PROVOKING THOUGHTFUL ANSWERS.
DARKNESS BETWEEN THE STARS – WHILE GAZING AT THE NIGHT SKY, THE WORLD’S LONELIEST BOY SEES THE STARS BEGIN TO DISAPPEAR.
SHADOW OF FOREVER – AFTER EARTH’S DESTRUCTION, A BROKEN MAN AND HIS AI COMPANION SEEK VENGEANCE AMONG THE STARS.
EATERS OF THE LIGHT – CALLISTA LIGHTBRINGER, A SENTIENT AI HOUSED IN A HUMAN BODY, JOURNEYS TO A DISTANT GALAXY IN ORDER TO DESTROY A RACE OF STAR-EATING SPACE VAMPIRES.
REALITY IS BEST SERVED WITH RED WINE – WHILE GULPING DOWN VARIOUS BOTTLES OF WINE, AN AUTHOR REMINISCES ON HIS CHILDHOOD, HIS DATING LIFE, AND THE STATE OF MODERN SOCIETY.
LIFE & DARK LIQUOR – WHILE SERVING HIMSELF SCOTCH AND OTHER POTENT COCKTAILS, A WRITER DWELLS IN THE DARKNESS OF HIS BASEMENT AND OPENS UP ABOUT THE SKELETONS IN HIS CLOSET.
101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PARENTS – TWO SINGLE PARENTS POSE SOMETIMES TOUGH/SOMETIMES FUNNY QUESTIONS FOR PARENTS OF ALL AGES TO CONSIDER.
THE ULTIMATE GET TO KNOW SOMEONE QUIZ – A DELIGHTFUL CRASH COURSE OF FUN QUESTIONS TO ASK SPOUSES, SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS.
LYS & THE HEART STOPPER – AN IMPRISONED YOUNG GIRL ESCAPES HER BONDAGE. ALONE, SHE JOURNEYS TO FIND THE DEADLIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD, THE HEART-STOPPER, THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN HELP HER EARN HER VENGEANCE.
NADYA THE DEATHLESS – AN IMMORTAL WOMAN DEFIES A POWERFUL ARISTOCRACY AND IGNITES AN ILL-FATED REBELLION AGAINST THE PONTIFF OF VHUR.
HOLLOW EMPIRE – NIGHT OF KNIVES – AFTER A PLAGUE WIPES OUT MOST OF A MEDIEVAL NATION’S POPULATION, FIVE LOST SOULS MUST SURVIVE THE HORRORS THAT FOLLOW.
DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK I – A YOUNG WOMAN LEAVES HOME TO MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR HERSELF, ONLY TO WANDER INTO THE HEART OF A HORRIFIC, WORLD-CONSUMING WAR.
DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK II– A DESPERATE WOMAN FOLLOWS HER LOVER INTO A BATTLE HE CAN NEVER HOPE TO WIN.
DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK III– AFTER INVADING AND CRUSHING HIS RIVAL’S HOMELAND, A WAR-CRAZED EMPEROR SENDS HIS CRUELEST WARLORD TO BUTCHER THE LAST OF HIS ENEMIES.
DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK IV– AS A WORLD-ENDING CONFLICT REACHES ITS CLIMAX, A YOUNG WOMAN MUST CHOOSE WHETHER TO JOIN THE WINNING SIDE AND BECOME QUEEN OR SACRIFICE EVERYTHING TO BETRAY HER KIDNAPPERS.
OLD MAN OF TESSERA – THE LONE SURVIVOR OF A DEADLY STORM STUMBLES INTO THE CITY OF TESSERA, IN WHICH NOTHING AND NO ONE ARE WHAT THEY SEEM.
THE HECATOMB – A GHOULISH MONSTER AND ITS OFFSPRING STALK CITIES AT NIGHT WITH THE AIM OF KILLING EVERY LAST HUMAN IN THE WORLD.
A DOOR NEVER DREAMED OF– IN A DISTANT EARTH FUTURE, TWO YOUNG MEN ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF AN APOCALYPTIC WAR COLLIDE.
101 QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN – WRITTEN WITH WOMEN IN MIND BUT ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE, 101 QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN FOCUSES ON LOVE, LUST, AND THE BREAKDOWN OF TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLES.
101 QUESTIONS FOR MEN – GEARED FOR MEN, THIS ENTRY IN THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES ASKS QUESTIONS ABOUT SEX, RELATIONSHIPS, AND MUCH MORE.
101 QUESTIONS FOR MIDNIGHT– THE STAKES ARE RAISED AND THE QUESTIONS DARKER THAN EVER IN THIS FUN, ENGAGING ICE-BREAKER BOOK. PUT IT ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE AND WATCH THE CONVERSATIONS IGNITE!
THE SLEEPERS – A WEALTHY STUDENT IN A FAR-DISTANT FUTURE IS TASKED WITH DESTROYING AN ALIEN WORLD TO SAVE HUMANITY.
LET THE BODIES– A LITTLE GIRL SUFFERS ALONE WHILE EVERYONE IN HER CITY VANISHES.
101 DEEPER, DARKER QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY – 101 TOUGH & FUN QUESTIONS TO TEST YOUR MORALITY, CHALLENGE YOUR ETHICS, AND ENTERTAIN YOUR FRIENDS.
101 SEX QUESTIONS– LOVERS AND LAUGH-SEEKERS ALIKE WILL FIND ENTERTAINMENT IN THIS SEXY SIDEKICK TO THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES.
DARK MOON DAUGHTER – YOUNG ANDELUSIA ANDERAE IS SEDUCED BY A MESSENGER AND CONVINCED THAT HER BUDDING BLACK MAGIC IS THE KEY TO SAVING THOUSANDS OF LIVES.
NETHER KINGDOM – AT THE WORLD’S EDGE, A SORCERESS AWAKENS TO THE TERRIBLE REALIZATION THAT SHE ALONE CAN STOP AN INVASION OF OTHERWORLDLY HORRORS.
444 QUESTIONS FOR THE UNIVERSE– MEANT TO ENTERTAIN FOR HOURS, 444 QUESTIONS IS A GRAND COMPILATION OF SERIOUS YET FUN QUESTIONS.
THE LITTLE BOOK OF BIG QUESTIONS– SCIENCE AND MORALITY COLLIDE IN THE ULTIMATE CONVERSATION-STARTING BOOK FOR SMART PEOPLE.
101 WAYS TO FIGHT ABOUT POLITICS – LOADED QUESTIONS ABOUT IMMIGRATION, THE PRESIDENCY, AMERICAN CULTURE, AND OTHER HOT-TOPICS. FOR SELF-REFLECTION, READERS CAN TACKLE IT ALONE, BUT THOSE WHO PREFER HEATED DISCUSSIONS WILL WANT TO READ IT IN MIXED COMPANY.
101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PEOPLE – IN THE MODERN WORLD OF SWIPING LEFT AND NEVER LOOKING BACK, 101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PEOPLE ASKS READERS ABOUT EVERY FACET OF LOVE, LUST, AND HUMAN ROMANTIC CONNECTION.
MACHINA OBSCURUM – A COLLECTION OF SMALL SHADOWS – A LEPER DEDICATES HIS LIFE TO SAVING CHILDREN, A WOMAN ACCEPTS THE RAREST OF ALL MURDER CONTRACTS, A GIRL SUFFERS INSANITY IN A SPACE COLONY, A TRAIN-HOPPING DUO CROSSES THROUGH DIMENSIONS, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE…
See? Blurbs are fun, right?
There’s no better way to grab a reader’s attention than through a good, quick description.
The horror! The horror! We’ve teamed up with a spooky host of publishers for a new ebook bundle. Get creepy tales like Cold in July, Parasyte Vol. 1-2, and Lovecraft’s Monsters. Plus, your purchase will support the Arthritis Foundation!
$392 WORTH OF DIGITAL BOOKS * PAY WHAT YOU WANT * DRM-FREE * MULTI-FORMAT
Short stories, graphic novels, and books featuring characters like Dracula, Jack the Ripper, and Sabrina along with original content. Written by Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, Alan Moore, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and more.
Bloat Games is excited to announce Tales From Vigilante City!
Tales From Vigilante City is an all new street level super hero short fiction anthology which is to be a companion piece to Bloat Games recent successful Kickstarter SURVIVE THIS!! Vigilante City which is an RPG heavily influenced by the 90s cartoons Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men, Spider-man and TMNT.
Tales From Vigilante City will be compiled and edited by Eric Bloat (from Bloat Games, Creator of the SURVIVE THIS!! Game Series & Vigilante City) and by ENnie and Origin Award winning author James M. Spahn (from Barrel Rider Games, Creator of The Hero’s Journey & White Star RPGs).
Bloat Games is currently accepting super hero short fiction in the genres of Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi & Young Adult. We are chiefly interested in stories that feature “normal” human vigilantes but also are accepting stories about Anthropomorphs (think TMNT), Mutants (think X-Men), or low power level metahumans, mystics, psions, etc.
· Accepting 2.5K-16K word count.
· Pay is $0.01 per word
· Payment made via Paypal only.
· Payment grants Bloat Games Non-exclusive rights to publish the story. Writer retains all other rights and Intellectual IP and can resell the story to other publishers.
· All submissions and inquiries should be sent via email to email@example.com with the subject line: TFVC Submissions.
· Deadline will be announced later, based on response.
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Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links.
As of May 17th, Kindle Worlds will no longer be accepting new submissions. Previously published Kindle Worlds stories will no longer be available for sale on Amazon.com on or around July 16th. The Kindle Worlds website will be closed on August 29th.
When Kindle Worlds rolled out, it was with three worlds fan-fiction authors could play in: Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Vampire Diaries. Over the past five years, this number has grown to ninety. Ranging from other television shows to romance to comic book superheroes, the line seemed to be the answer for many aspiring writers who populated fan fiction boards and posted their latest versions of the characters. Expanding on moments from the series, whether that was television or in print form, Kindle Worlds encouraged them to not only continue what they were doing but actually get paid something for their efforts. If your work was over 10,000 words the royalty rate would be 35% of net revenue. Works between 5,000 and 9,999 words, which would be priced at $0.99 would provide a royalty of 20% of net revenue.
It really felt like a win/win scenario for all parties.
There were a few caveats to this. Authors would need to follow Amazon’s content guidelines. In addition, anything new that was created within the world would potentially be owned by the license holder. Still, even with those parameters, Amazon was able to launch the website with titles from some established authors. They put the spotlight on these works and the fan fiction began to populate. A look today shows The Vampire Diaries as the largest library with 232 submitted stories with GI Joe (124) and the Silo Saga from Hugh Howey (122) coming in at numbers two and three.
One of the early Kindle Worlds.
In light of the announcement, the questions of what to do with those works fall back to both the original authors and potentially the license holders. When Amazon closes the doors, the rights will shift back to the author who could then strip out any reference to the Kindle World in question and potentially put out a “clean” version of the story for sale. Whether that is worth the effort or perhaps these become lost treasures mentioned on an author’s website and nothing more.
For an indy author who had the fortune of people writing in their worlds, more eyes should translate to potentially more sales. This removes one of the avenues to get the word out there. Though, there is always the chance that the license holders will come up with ways to keep those versions out there, pointing new readers to their own series while still rewarding their fans who wrote the stories. Some writers have already taken to Facebook and Twitter to announce they have “something in the works”, so authors would do well to continue to pay attention to their World’s Creators in the coming months.
Now that I’ve made fun of everyone else’s artistic work, it’s time I turn the cannon on myself.
Here’s everything I’ve ever written, but with smartass descriptions.
Darkness Between the Stars – An uneducated farmboy happens to notice the world’s about to end while fixing his father’s tractor.
Shadow of Forever – The aforementioned farmboy picks a fight with a gang of space vampires, accidentally triggering an interstellar war.
Eaters of the Light – An immortal blue-haired girl decides she’s not allowed to have sex until she eradicates every alien species in the universe.
Down the Dark Path – Book I – A redheaded girl decides the best way to improve her social status is to follow a murderer into the woods. Meanwhile, a guy with a beard builds a shitload of boats.
Down the Dark Path – Book II – Rather than live happily in a beautiful city where everyone loves her, a lonely woman stalks a clueless soldier directly into the battle he’s trying not to fight. The soldier’s friend (his hopelessly lousy wing-man) starts killing everyone with a purple sword.
Down the Dark Path – Book III – A bearded douchebag uses his sword to turn his enemies’ country into Seattle. Meanwhile, five guys try to end a war by marching through a swamp and bitching endlessly about the weather.
Down the Dark Path – Book IV – After ruining a bunch of people’s lives, a woman decides to marry a creepy old wizard. In a petty act of revenge, her boyfriends and their cohorts sneak into the wizard’s house and start breaking his stuff.
Reality is Best Served with Red Wine – A lonely writer glamorizes his alcoholism using uncomfortable stories from his childhood.
Life & Dark Liquor – Already sloshed from too much wine, an author lurks in his kitchen while pounding scotch and talking about his grandma.
101 Questions for Women – A sexist pig attempts to disguise his chauvinism by approaching women with inappropriate questions.
101 Questions for Men – Too terrified to go out and get laid, a guy poses questions about sex and beer to other guys.
The Sleepers – After a family trip to the zoo, a rich kid lets his dad talk him into genocide.
Let the Bodies – A little girl counts her grandpa’s money while watching everyone else die.
The Skeleton Sculptor – Rather than actually pick up a sword and fight, a lazy soldier writes a diary about all his missing friends.
The Circle Macabre – A cranky woman swears off men and annoys the locals in her bid to become a Ghostbuster.
101 Deeper, Darker Questions for Humanity – Not content to ruin just one party, the asshole returns with the goal of depressing even the most optimistic people.
101 Sex Questions – A sex-addict with no relationship skills breaks into normal people’s bedrooms and begs to watch them do nasty stuff.
Dark Moon Daughter – Thinking it’ll be the life change she needs, a red-headed woman dyes her hair black and starts having an affair.
Nether Kingdom – Fully gothed-out, a woman wanders the countryside in search of her dad’s house. Meanwhile, a guy starts a war just so he can have a séance in a cave.
444 Questions for the Universe – The party-wrecking A-hole returns, compiling a crapload of philosophical BS to annoy and frustrate his friends.
The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz – Too cheap to hire a proper cover artist, an author asks his five-year old son to paint a book cover.
Big Red Shiny Buttons – There aren’t any actual buttons in this book. It’s really just a bunch of questions designed to help parties be 4% less dull.
101 Reasons and 101 More Reasons to Break Up – A tipsy loner harasses people at the bar while attempting to collect bizarre break-up stories.
Lys & the Heart Stopper – A cute medieval co-ed gets out of jail and decides to party with a mass murderer.
The Hecatomb – An art lover and his offspring stay up late at night to torment local villagers and build Legos out of dead stuff.
Hollow Empire – Night of Knives – Five homeless people with crappy hygiene do their best to avoid living normal lives. The five include an overweight leper, two lovers who refuse to have sex, and the world’s most negligent mom.
101 Questions for Humanity – An asshole who never studied philosophy in college decides to ruin everyone’s buzz by asking complicated questions.
101 Questions for Midnight – The aforementioned asshole shows up really late and craps on the party. This time he brings a pile of immoral questions to pester everyone with.
A Door Never Dreamed Of – Two racists decide to impress their girlfriends by using high-tech gadgets to slaughter a bunch of people who can’t even move.
The Little Book of BIG Questions – This guy didn’t even graduate college, and yet he thinks he can match wits with Socrates and Stephen Hawking.
101 Questions for Couples – Two people with zero romantic experience pair up to write a book about love, sex, and what it might be like to not be utterly alone every night.
101 Questions for Single People – After being swiped left too many times on Tinder, a guy groans about how hard it is to land a date.
Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows – A morbidly obese guys runs a day-care center, a pothead decides to get pizza, a woman starts dating the dude she murdered, an arguing couple kills in the name of train-hopping, and much, much more…
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I’d love to say these were all jokes and that none of these descriptions are accurate.
After reading the Kickstarter for the gamebook, Rider of the Black Sun, its rekindled my love for Choose Your Own Adventure-style projects. Putting my RPG review aside for a day, I look at two gamebooks, two comics, and a fantasy prose anthology as I combine all of my interests – games, comics, and writing – in one article!
Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!
“Malika – Warrior Queen is a historical fantasy that takes place in a 15th-century West Africa. Part Two concludes Malika’s epic story!
Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika (pronounced “Ma-LIE-ka”): Warrior Queen follows the exploits of queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. In Part Two of the hit graphic novel series, Malika uncovers a painful betrayal by one of the people closest to her. The treachery unnerves a usually stoic and composed Malika, allowing her enemies both known and unknown, internal as well as external, encircle her, positioning themselves for the destruction of Azzaz, the empire she spent her entire adult life building. Can Malika recompose herself and save her people once again? Or is this betrayal the beginning of the end for Malika and the people of Azzaz? Only time will tell.
It’s been amazing to see how well Malika has been received since it’s release in May. One of the most rewarding experiences was having chapter one of the graphic novel selected for Diamond Comic’s Free Comic Book Day event in May, where it was one of the most sought-after and best-reviewed books of the bunch!
Producing this series has definitely been the most painstaking for me as a writer. The last two years have been filled with sleepless nights, months of research, moments of self-doubt and more. But I’ve loved every minute of it. Why? Because as much as this is a fictional story, it is both heavily inspired and framed by African history. I drew inspiration for some aspects of Malika’s story from one of West Africa’s most significant female rulers. Queen Amina of Zazzau. In addition to that, Malika’s empire, Azzaz, is surrounded by African kingdoms and empires that existed before colonization. Africa has a wealth of history and mythology that is yet to become mainstream knowledge for everyone to experience and be inspired by. My hope is that the Malika series slowly begins to change that.”
“J. M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’ in this brand-new, thrilling gamebook adventure!
NEVERLAND is a brand new adventure gamebook – a multi-path book, very much in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, in which you choose the course of the story – inspired by both Peter Pan and Wendy, by J. M. Barrie, and The Lost World, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
It’s Treasure Island meets Jurassic Park! It’s Cutthroat Island meets King Kong! It’s Pirates of the Caribbean meets The Land That Time Forgot! It’s Pirates versus Dinosaurs! And you can play as either shipwreck survivor Wendy Darling or automaton avenger Peter Pan. Anybody who has read and played The Wicked Wizard of Oz or Alice’s Nightmare in Wonderland will have a very clear idea of what to expect!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Amazon UK links have been replaced with affiliate Amazon US links.]
I’m a fan of gamebooks/Choose Your Own Adventures/Tunnels & Trolls’ solo adventures and I’m a fan of Peter Pan so this book is the concept. What would you do as Peter Pan? Jonathan Green lets you decide.
More books by Jonathan Green are available through Amazon here:
“Everyone’s favorite mistress of shadows is back! But can she defeat the bunny lord?
Penumbra: Fear the Bunny Lord, is the story of the Mistress of Shadows meeting her greatest foe, a lagomorph with great night vision!
On a heist to steal a piece of alien technology, rumored to increase the abilities of any Empowered who holds it, she faces off against Wild Hare. He has an aim to test his skills against the slickest of escape artist. Together with the small army of security, Wild Hare will make sure it isn’t Penumbra’s lucky day.
Will she succeed? Will she get paid? Did she think to bring carrots? Back the comic and you’ll find the story in your email before even Penumra could steal it!”
UPDATE 2017-11-15 10:15AM –Ed Jowett shared the creative team with me:
Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance is a nice guy who does gaming and comics and employees lil’ Egg Embry. He has two Kickstarters up right now, this one and the Era: The Consortium – A Universe of Expansions 2. He’s one of the hardest working folks in gaming and this comic is a product of that work-ethic. Zany heroic comedy as a thief faces a bunny-man!
To see more comics, and books, from Shades of Vengeance, click here.
“The Awakened III brings together several amazing authors to tell their stories of triumph, failure, fear, and acceptance.
On the world of Grimaton, turning nineteen is more than just a rite of passage into adulthood. When the two moons cross, it can also change your life forever. As awakened, the men and women of Grimaton are possessed of magic in the form of a special bond with an animal or a knack for manipulating the underlying energies of the land. They throw rainbow fire, swim beside alligators, or shape the blood of their enemies into weapons.
Join us for a third time as publishers Battlefield Press International and Samurai Sheepdog work together to bring ten amazing authors together. In our latest anthology you’ll find tales of triumph, failure, fear, and acceptance set once again in the fantasy world of Grimaton. Enjoy new stories with the heroes and villains from Book I. Meet entirely new characters as interesting and dynamic as the rest. Return to the fictional realm of the awakened and watch as its remarkable history continues to grow. When the moons cross, anything can happen.
Darren W. Pearce
Jonathan M. Thompson
Hal Greenberg and Ken Shannon
Interior art by Ruth Ducko”
When Jonathan M. Thompson of Battlefield Press International told me about this – that his company was trying out prose publishing – I was excited by the prospect and even more interested after seeing the contributor’s list! It’s sword, it’s sorcery, it’s prose, it’s a series, and it’s a win! They have two prior anthologies to sample (links below).
More books from this series are available through DriveThruFiction (here) or Amazon:
Decision Underground is a choice-based novel in which you must choose your own path through a dangerous and twisted criminal underworld where making the wrong decision could lead to very serious consequences ranging anywhere from getting locked up for the rest of your life to being murdered horribly. Choosing wisely however, could lead to stacks of cash, infamy, and most importantly; your freedom and your life.
Like I mentioned with Rider of the Black Sun and NEVERLAND – Here Be Monsters!, I am a fan of solo adventures/CYOA/gamebooks and this one is, to me, unique – a Choose Your Own Crime. Instead of being set in fantasy or sci-fi or superhero worlds, it’s set in our world and you’re a nogoodnik. Grand Theft Auto the book, I like the concept and want to see how it goes… I mean, how many endings are death and how many are jail?
Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:
Dracula, Quasimodo, Dr. Jekyll…they are the monsters that stalk your nightmares. Haunting the pages of books for centuries, they are the embodiment of all that emerges from the shadows when you close your eyes. They are the deformed, the hated and the incomprehensible, fated to walk in the darkness alone forever.
Or are they?
From twelve amazing authors come twelve new tales, stories that go beyond the blighted surface to see into the heart of the beast. They are stories of acceptance and redemption, love and passion… and chance encounters that forge the love of a lifetime.
Stop running. Stop hiding. See past the monster. Look into the face of fear and you might just find the soul of a man.
“Sanctuary” by Harper L. Jameson Inside the hallowed bell tower of Our Lady, a monster was hidden by the righteous meant to protect him. Seeking help from the almighty against the furor of a crazed priest, Esmerelda found more than a monster inside the church…she found salvation.
“Bander Snatch” by David Michael Charlie has a secret – a centuries old secret – which has forced him into a life of solitude and lonliness. In order to rid himself of his curse, he has to give up the first piece of normal he’s ever had. Will the Jabberwock win again?
“Beyond the Shallows” by Kristy NicolleWhen English beauty and avid poetry lover Ophelia is holidaying with her two sisters in 19th Century Blackpool, she finds herself unmistakably called to the water. Will she flee in horror at what lies beneath the waves, or can she learn to look beyond the shallows?
“He Calls” by Alice K. Wayne When the Master of the new world summons you, will you surrender your body to Cthulu’s call, or choose to be fractured by madness?
“Yielding to Temptation” by Jess Raven Skyla had one job. Get in, get the prize, get out.The house had other ideas.When she finds herself trapped with too many secrets and a man who claims the impossible, can she stay strong enough to fight the darkness for a man who captivates her, or will she become prey to the Portrait of Dorian Gray?
“Holding the Devil” by Stephanie Farrant Hell isn’t a game. A night of passion and a promise of her heart’s desire seems too good to be true for Evelyn Church. The price is high and the road dark. But can she trust the devil?
“Hyde and Seek” by Katie H. WeillGabriel John Utterson is drowning in law school debt, so when a lucrative employment opportunity as a guard for a handful of mental health patients presents itself he accepts, and commits himself under the hands of Dr. Jekyll. But who is Ms. Hyde?
“Behemoth” by D.M. Earl Trying to find that rare woman to share his heart with, Francis
N. Stein- Aka Stitch – struggles to live detached, battling his honorable and dark
sides. His ‘special powers’ further complicate his ability to exist in society, searching for something he has never thought possible- a kindred spirit.
“Night Music” by Desiree King On a fateful night, a young songstress finds herself in the wrong place at the worst time. A shadowy figure seems to fall from the darkness to save her, but who is actually the monster?
“Wickedly Ever After” by Stephanie Ingram Somewhere over the rainbow, good and evil struggle for power. But in a
land of magical possibility, can the wicked get a happy ending?
“Immortal Devotion” by Lou Tenn The Father of Vampires has lived in solitude, believing that she didn’t exist. After she finally made an appearance, her family business proves to complicate things.
“Loving the Hound” by Mila Waters When death comes, so does he. He’s the hound, the messenger no one wishes to see. But when Emmaline ‘sees’ past the omens, he’s given the chance at something he’s never known before.
Every year I want to make October something cool. I want to watch as many horror movies as I possibly can. I want to fill the excess time with scares and vampires and zombies and whatever monster lives under my bed.
Yet, every year, I look up and it’s basically Halloween.
But not this year. This year I’m determined to do something every day. Whether it is a movie or a short film or a short story or a game or whatever… I’m going to embrace it!
Day 1 – Honeymoon
(currently streaming on Netflix)
Directed by Leigh Janiak – Staring Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway
There are four characters in this movie and two of them only appear for about a total of 5 minutes of screen time. The entire focus of this movie is on the newly wedded couple who have gone to her cabin in the woods for the week. A week of isolation, and sex, and fishing and strange lights outside, and wandering around in the woods and…
But really, this movie owes more to something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Gaslight than anything else. It is really about how much do you know the person you’re with. And if they act “strange” is something actually wrong with them or is it you, being paranoid. As the viewer, you are there with Paul, trying to figure out if there is something legitimately wrong with Bea or if we might be dealing with a situation more different than we think.
This is one of those movies where I enjoyed it right up to the end, but the coda was probably unneeded in its present form. Definitely worth watching if just for the slow build of things being just wrong.
Day 2 – The Things
By Peter Watts
You can read this short story at Clarkesworld for free here.
If you have read John W. Campbell, Jr’s novella Who Goes There? or seen John Carpenter’s The Thing, then you might have an idea of what this short story is about. But instead of a strict retelling from another of the humans, this is from the POV of the Creature.
Watts does a great job in almost making The Thing into a sympathetic character who is as confused about our world and our ways as we are of it. There is true anguish as it tries to decipher what it can about humanity’s nature, why we would choose to become stuck in one form, and all the ways it thought it could potentially survive the encounter.
If you’ve seen the movie, Watts also has an answer about who might have been human and who might have been a Thing at the end.
There isn’t anything unique about the story. A girl is alone in her house… or is she? Even if we’ve seen that movie a thousand times, when it comes to the horror side it really boils down to, is this thing scary?
Through the use of the soundtrack, slow shots, a couple of jump scares, and an occasional camera shot that is just off-center making you watch the background more than any character in the foreground.
It has a viewing suggestion that I will echo here: watch alone, in the dark, with headphones.
Ever sat down to write, draw, or paint and struggled to restart the movie in your mind?
Ever curled up to read a good book, only to find it hard to withdraw from the rest of your day?
Shutting the real world out and rediscovering the dark corner of your imagination can be challenging.
Weapons are available beyond a quiet room, an empty house, or a glass of red wine. I believe music, and more specifically soundtracks, can help artists soar back into the atmospheres of their minds.
Before ever setting pen to paper (or more typically fingers to keyboard) I like to close my eyes, focus on the scene I’m about to write or the tone of the book I’m about to read, and select a song or album from my collection to match the mood. While it’s true I prefer the atmospheres of rain, shadows, clouds, and dark caverns filled with cacaphonies of ringing swords, every book and every chapter therein has its own music.
You need but find your own.
Here are nine of my favorite selections. Whenever I need the rain to fall, the swords to sing, or the bones to rattle in my mind, I call to music. Try these out, and leave the rest of the world behind… (Click the track titles to listen to each song.)
The Shadows Betray You – Hans Zimmer – Dark Knight Rises – For building up to an intense scene. The Shadows Betray You thumps and thuds its way to a terrifying crescendo. Use it to build the foundation of something powerful on the page.
C.L.U.– Daft Punk – Tron Legacy – For the big reveal. The thrumming beat here is its own journey. Imagine walking down a long road, a dark city on all sides, and arriving at a tower too vast to see the top of. That’s C.L.U.
The Prestige(Entire Album) – David Julyan – I can’t say enough about this album. Just put it on repeat and leave it on in the background while you write or read 100,000 words. It’s powerful. It’s atmospheric. You’ll sit up in your bed and feel the rain falling on your shoulders.
General Zod– Hans Zimmer – Man of Steel – Dreaming up a fierce battle? Reading that chapter? (you’ll know the one) Zod is the battle and the aftermath, the war and the battlefield, the soldiers and the cities burning behind them. Try it.
The Princess Pleads for Wallace’s Life – Braveheart – James Horner & The London Symphony Orchestra – Need sweet? Need soulful? Need your heart to thump a little bit slower behind your ribs? The only thing better would be to have Sophie Marceau show up at your house and weep on your shirt sleeve.
Like a Dog Chasing Cars – Hans Zimmer & James Howard – The Dark Knight – This one is for the fleet of alien spacecraft descending on the world, the evil army beating their drums as they march against a hopelessly overmatched castle full of good guys, and for the car racing down the highway at night with the shadows crawling up behind it. The Hans Zimmer theme continues…
This is Madness! – Man of Steel – Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL – So you say you’ve got two warriors standing off, eh? They’re the last men standing, and the fate of the world hangs on the outcome of their duel. You need drums, lots of drums. You need ten thuds for every crash of their blades. You need This is Madness!
Am I not Merciful?– Gladiator – Hans Zimmer – By far my favorite on the list. If you’ve seen the movie, you know how it ends. This is tragedy refined into one of the finest tracks ever written. It’s for death. It’s for shattered hearts. It”s beautiful.
Time – Inception – Hans Zimmer – Time is the triumphant, bittersweet, epic end of everything. Time is the last survivor standing atop the world’s last tower, the wind streaming through her hair as she looks down upon the world she has saved. If you stumble across any track on here, let this be the one.
Enjoy these. They’re all great on their own or coupled with the albums they appear on. And yes, I do love Hans Zimmer. When Down the Dark Path becomes a movie, he’s the only soul on the earth who’ll touch the soundtrack.
If a show sets up an expectation that anyone can die and then showcases a handful of characters… is it really being true to its core premise? To put it another way, at what point does your desire to see further main characters killed off interfere with story and enjoyment? When does worry as a viewer disappear? When is it replaced with apathy at what may come?
“I just don’t feel like any of the main characters are in real danger.”
Both a solid argument and a bit of strangeness all rolled into one. For we all have watched the serialized shows for the past twenty some odd years. And with their coming it means we are watching lives twist and change through each zombie apocalypse, vampire slayer, gangster talking to a shrink, plane crash survivors, high school teacher turned criminal mastermind… all of it. Through it all, whether we knew it or not, we were watching a show not only likely to get some characters killed off, but they might very well be people we enjoyed watching. It put us at the edge of our seats week in and week out.
Does that change as the shows go on longer? Assuming the writing quality doesn’t suffer from the weight of its own success, is the idea “Anyone can die” enough of an idea to ensure the ratings don’t suffer.
And if it does, what can the writers do to bring that… fear back to the viewing experience?
I read comics, a format where if you read the adventures of Batman or Spider-man then the one truth is pretty much universal – the hero isn’t going to die at the end of the issue (and for this argument I’d like to say that yes, some of these characters have “died” and they have come back – but you have decades worth of stories where they just go on and on). My point is that I don’t need the fear of death for my characters to enjoy a comic book. I just need the story to be compelling in some fashion or another.
I would think that in order to have a serialized show there has to be a consistent POV. And while many serialized shows have contained multiple POVs, I still must care somewhat about the characters. So a lot of times the whole idea of “No one is safe” is very artificial. Buffy killed off a potential main cast member in its pilot episode. Angel did the same about half-way through its first season. Lost killed off some characters you loved and let others you hated stick around for longer than they should have.
Odds were high, though, that Jack and Buffy and Angel and Walter were going to keep going for the majority of the show. And I would assume anyone who loved those shows wouldn’t want those particular characters to die without some huge (HUGE) reason behind it from a story perspective.
The two shows currently airing which try to walk this line (as far as the idea “anyone can die”… well almost anyone… well maybe just the supporting characters… and Sean Bean…”): Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
From what I’ve seen and read from both series (being a fan of the books and comics), I have to believe each contains a handful of “untouchables”… at least until the final season of each. There are certain characters I expect will continue to breathe life in their respective universes. GoT – Arya, Danny, and Tyrion seem the most likely. WD – Rick and Carl… with Carl actually being the absolute last survivor from our original group (my personal theory on how that story could/should possibly end).
The Walking Dead probably has the greater burden of the two, being in the post-apocalyptic world where, if we’re being honest about it, people are just fodder. A place where every day could and probably should be your last. Over the seasons they introduce new characters and kill off preexisting ones, but there has slowly become a “core” group who have managed to stick around from season 1 through the end of this last season. Is it a bad thing this has happened? Remember, we’re not watching an anthology where the characters only are on set for the episode or two. We need to build a connection with them (thus connecting us to the show itself).
Game of Thrones goes through episodes where no one dies, and then all of a sudden, everyone is gone. It also has the benefit of being much closer to a planned ending (only 13 episodes left total between this season and last). Things are coming to a head, which means those characters we’ve grown accustomed to watching may slowly drop away without us realizing it’s about to even happen.
So is unpredictability a good thing or the only thing?
I’m not sure if past a certain point it matters all that much. Most of the time, I’m willing to forgive a show some smaller things if they’ve delivered on their promises in the past.
So obviously I think everyone can die at any instance? No. Honestly, I assume most main characters are going to make it a little while longer. I don’t expect to Sansa die anytime soon… I don’t expect Michonne to kick the bucket this coming season. And that’s the thing… I don’t need to fear for their lives… not when I can still fear for their souls.
Sometimes these things take time. And by the time I mean way too long to actually have passed before a story leaves your head and hits the page. And sometimes you can ensure a speedier process by just outlining and sitting butt in chair. But sometimes the finish line is so close that it completely eludes you. There is nothing to do but wait patiently while it all comes together.
That’s what happened yesterday. A couple of years worth of thinking about possibly, maybe we can, no we can’t, what’s it missing, what does it need? When will it be finished?
Yesterday Courtney and I released our second Veronica Mars Amazon Kindle Worlds Novella! You can find it right here!
Because much like Pringle’s, you can’t just write one story in the Veronica Mars universe and be completely satisfied. There are too many possible characters to write about. When our first novella came out, I wrote about it here. In that, the character of Max was not only the easiest choice, but it felt like no one else would immediately use her for their own stores. This time around if you are writing during season 1 or most of season 2, you can’t avoid the character of Duncan Kane. He’s Veronica’s on again/off again boyfriend. Yet, at times you really don’t know what’s going on in his head very much. To both of us that presented an opportunity to maybe see what makes this character work or not.
No biggie, just hanging out with the Ghost of my dead sister.
His parents are controlling. His sister was murdered (and for a while, it looked like he might have been the culprit). He is best friends with the guy is now dating his ex (and rooming with the guy).The reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).
There some complex stuff going on in there. Add to that the summer sessions between seasons make for decent fodder in the “I want to know what you did last summer” vibe.The reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).
That said, the reason this one took longer was that the core story came so easily. Which seems counter to how this whole thing should work.Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).
“Duncan’s current girlfriend’s car has gone missing, and he can’t ask Veronica for help (because of the whole – she’s his ex).”
Pretty straight forward, right?
What happened was we wrote 90% of it and then couldn’t quite figure out what the missing 10% was. Some of it was massaging what we had, but some were to add in new scenes, try some different kinds of story-telling in the B story with his therapist sessions.
What we have now is something we’re both very happy with. I’m interested to see how it does in comparison with the first one.
An excerpt from the novella:
You’d think she’d care a little bit more about what happened, but the woman is unbreakable. It is always about appearances with her. And right now, she can’t go to any of the dinner parties without the looks of pity from everyone she knows. She can’t spin it, so the next best thing is to remove herself from the equation until enough time has passed that it doesn’t matter anymore. Some new scandal will reveal itself and things will return to her version of normal.
She tries to make it all about me, but truthfully, it’s all about her.
Her social class.
I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes it’s better to sit there and remain silent. And then there are the other times. “Don’t you think the justice system might look poorly on Dad leaving the country given the obstruction charges?”
Her look is a mixture of astonishment that I‘d even bring up her husband’s temporary incarceration, and her defense mechanism immediately deflects. “Don’t worry about that. That’s why we pay our lawyers the immense fees.” Then, without missing a beat. “Now go pack. I want to leave early in the morning.”
“No.” I’m sure it won’t matter. She never listens. “I’m staying. I have classes. Finals.”
“Didn’t you hear me; you can do all of that over the computer.”
“Duncan. This isn’t a request. You will-“
“I’m tired of being handled. That’s all you do anymore. I’m not sure if it’s because you feel guilty about how Lilly didn’t follow in your footsteps or what? Do you think if you control every little thing I do then nothing bad can ever happen again?”
Self-published authors are a force to be reckoned with in the publishing world.
As of June, 2017, more than 45% of all new published works are from non-Big Five, non-publishing house writers. And while a majority of readers’ money is still used to purchase traditionally-published works, indies consume an ever-growing piece of the pie.
This is the world we live in. This is the new face of books, writing, and marketing. Perhaps one day the pendulum will swing in another direction. Or…perhaps not.
The device that changed everything…
And yet, behind the scenes of the indie revolution, there’s a battle brewing. The most coveted resource of the modern writer isn’t always money, recognition, or even literary success.
Wander the social media accounts of most self-published writers, and you’ll find one thing in common: requests for reviews. New and established authors alike believe the key to getting noticed on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, and Smashwords is having reviews…and plenty of them. This is true for any product, but perhaps doubly so in the minds of the self-published. The perception, if not the reality, is that a pile of four and five-star reviews will earn authors more clicks, and thus more buys.
And while it’s a common theme amongst indies to state, “We’re not in competition with each other – we’re all allies here,” it’s simply not the case. Savvy and successful self-published writers know full well that all resources are limited, that readers aren’t in never-ending supply, and that while good reviews are little chunks of gold, not everyone cares to write them.
Trouble is; while in search of reviews, many authors are in the habit of shooting themselves in the foot.
Here’s just a few of the negative behaviors exhibited:
Authors spend more time appealing to readers’ willingness to review their books…rather than presenting appetizing stories, blurbs, and cover images
Authors chastise (either directly or indirectly) readers who either leave no reviews or less than favorable reviews
In frustration, authors publish full-length articles complaining about negative reviews
Authors post complaints directly to their social media accounts
And most grievously, authors forget their audience isn’t other writers, but readers
We all get it. We know marketing is typically the least enjoyable part of the self-publishing process. For a new (or even established) author to leap into the world of selling books is intimidating. Unfair reviewers do exist. Trolls are out there. Readers probably could help out and leave honest reviews more often than they do.
It doesn’t matter.
Authors new and old need to consider:
In self-publishing, just as in all other parts of life, no one really wants to hear complaints
The vast majority of people who read aren’t authors, and have no interest in the laundry list of issues self-published writers face
Time spent complaining online and publishing negative articles would be better spent creating, marketing, and practicing one’s writing craft
It doesn’t take much negativity to drive potential readers away – they’re here for the story, not a diatribe about the publishing industry
It’s almost understandable. It’s human nature to suffer frustration. The temptation to vent, complain, and commiserate is powerful.
But authors (and in fact, everyone) would do well to resist.
Truth is, a few negative reviews won’t sink a determined writer. Nor will a handful of bad reviews kill sales for a high-quality piece. If an author’s story is truly a work of art, chances are it’ll rise above the others regardless of a smattering of one-star pings. And it’s worth mentioning that authors who earn passionately negative reviews are probably authors who provoke feelings among their readership.
And that’s kind of the point.
Rather than take to the web in droves to protest negative reviews, authors would serve themselves (and their contemporaries) well to write more, write better, and to brush away the sting of readers’ disdain like so much dirt off their shoulders. The humble, self-aware author absorbs one-star hits privately. They’ll know every reader is different, that trolls and ill-intentioned people do exist, and that their book, while painstakingly created, probably isn’t a groundbreaking masterpiece beloved by every single reader in the world. Those kinds of books are rare. Most of us will write our whole lives and never create such a thing.
And so most of us will suffer bad reviews now and then.
And that’s ok.
What should one do when a beloved story gets one-starred?
Consider whether the review has any valid points
If so, address them in your writing, not on Facebook
“Since its inception BlackSci-Fi.com’s goal has been to be “the premier site for the latest updates on Sci-Fi, Sci-Fact and Fantasy entertainment, news, people, places, and events and the measure of their impact on the African-American community, while also seeking to inform and inspire the imagination of individuals who aspire to live beyond the boundaries of everyday life”
Join Editor-in-Chief Robert Jeffrey II, and contributing writer William Satterwhite as they discuss the in’s and out’s of working for BlackSci-Fi.com, the websites goals and future plans, while touching on the general state of Black speculative fiction.”
“Join writers Bobby Nash, Milton Davis, and Robert Jeffrey as they discuss what happens after (or during) writing a book (novel, comic, short story, etc). Enjoy this insightful look into each writers path to becoming a published author followed by a Q&A session.”
“The Ups, the Downs, and Everything Between
By day, mild-mannered 9 to 5-er, but by night they create worlds! Join freelance writers as they discuss keeping a balance between the daily rigors of their 9-5s and writing careers.”
“Role-play, write-up, and crowdfund your RPG adventures!
Have an original adventure, series of monsters, or tabletop game? Interested in crowdfunding its publication? Join Egg Embry and Leland Beauchamp for a a beginner’s guide to monetizing your tabletop RPG products. We’ll create a D&D creature to take through a hypothetical Kickstarter (idea to pitch to funding to production to delivery to what comes next).”
Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:
Edited by Maurice Waters, President of BlackSci-Fi.com and Creator Shawn Alleyne of Pyroglyphics Studio, “The Scribes of Nyota” aims to inspire imagination, while shining a light on a segment of society whose stories aren’t often heard.
Definitely check out the book because there are a collection of awesome stories and art to be found in the anthology.
The Crossing: Moonlit Skies, tells the story of two dimension hopping heroes, who find themselves on the run from crazy moon god worshiping acolytes.
In other words, for our protagonists, a typical Monday.
There’s gun play, hover trains, snappy dialogue, and high action. The story acts as sort of an interlude within a comic book series concept that fellow Tessera Guild member/ novelist/ comic book writer John R. McGuire and I have come up with.
Stay tuned for more news on the comic book series, but for now you can take a dip into the world of The Crossing by picking up the anthology here.
Terminus Team Up #1
Who doesn’t love sci-fi superheroics with great dialogue, awesome art, and kick ass stakes?
A description of the book reads “Amber Fox is just your regular dimension hopping acquisitions expert. But sometimes you end up needing to take a job from the more shady of characters. So when Amber is hired to steal a rare item of note from a team of super-powered individuals known as Terra Force, she may have overstepped her bounds. And let’s just say that Terra Force don’t take too kindly with people breaking and entering…”.
You can also pick up Tessera Guild member John McGurie’s second issue in this series that takes place in the world of his creator owned project The Gilded Age, here.
A thousand years from today, nearly all of humanity is jacked-In. We sleep, connected to machines, dreaming our lives away. For most people, it’s the perfect life. But for the few who never jacked-In, it’s exile. Abandoned, persecuted, and betrayed, the Outs plot their vengeance across the centuries. And when they open the Door, only one way of life will survive…
It’s not just my fellow guildmate, Egg Embry, who has dabbled his toes into the Roleplaying Kickstarters. I have kicked in for a couple, here and there. Sometimes it was because of the game, sometimes because of the creators, and sometimes just because.
However, it wasn’t until Egg presented me with a fairly unique Christmas present last year that I ever got to participate in the creation side of the process. As he alluded to in his post “Kickstarter Reward Level: Vanity Press – Yrisa’s Nightmare and Rats in the Street“, myself, Egg, and our friend Leland all had the opportunity to come up with a trio of characters that would appear in Yrisa’s Nightmare.
One of the things you tend to do when you roleplay, no matter the system, is create characters. Obviously you create the ones you are going to actually play, and then after you get them going you think of about 100 more that might be cool to play. I have folders upstairs of all the characters I’ve ever played in a game, but lost to time are the others who might have had backstories or perhaps some were just a collection of stats, never to see the light of day past some random afternoon or evening.
I like to think that this bit of daydreaming has come in handy for writing fiction. Novels normally have need of tons of characters – each the hero of their own stories. Perhaps some of those lazy Sunday D&D characters have gone onto a second life within some story without me even realizing it.
This was a little different, as this would be a character who needed to “fit” into the world Lucas Curell had created. And while it wasn’t stated anywhere that the three characters needed to be tied to each other, we felt like it might act as a cool Easter Egg for anyone reading the adventure.
Egg actually had his character, Celltar Drumthunder, mocked up by the time Leland and I came onboard. Here was a good-looking guy who travels from town to town playing his music wherever he can find a tavern with attentive patrons (or at least the kind who might part with some hard-earned coin). Of course, he repays their kindness by allowing them to invite him into their homes where he generally takes their most valuable of possessions. Through some form of magic, the people only realize it is gone, and not that Celltar might have taken it.
It was Leland who thought “I think it would be neat to brainstorm a connection between them, then make the character. If they blend together, it would add story.”
Would they be a gang? Or…
“One could be a bounty hunter looking for someone who is stealing these heirlooms.”
“Or maybe the lost love who is still under the spell.”
There was Kaiya right there. I took the lead on her character. Then a little later the thought of a Wererat was mentioned who would become “Sully” took shape (who Leland wrote up). And it was really there that the connection made some sense and how they tied together made some level of sense. The key points and connections were:
A noble who was going to marry a noble woman.
He was cursed at their engagement by a thief.
Possibly mention he’s hiding from his ex-bride.
Cursed a noble at his engagement party.
Tried to use a spell to marry a noble woman.
First groom was cursed, and they did not marry.
Almost wed to a bard who put a spell on her.
Rats in the Street. Featuring Wererats.
Now there was some concern that these types of connections might not work for Lucas. Perhaps it might be too overt. Maybe it just couldn’t fit in the world he was trying to craft. Heck, maybe we were trying too hard to put our own spin on these characters and doing the “group thing” was not a great idea. Still, we decided to work them up.
Worst case, we thought, we could use these characters for something else on our own.
The great thing about working with others on any kind of story/character/fiction is that you have someone to bounce ideas off of. People who can see something slightly different from you are able to do. And last, but not least, is that you have built-in editors to help make sure you’re not misspelling every other word. What followed was a series of back and forths among the three of us as we worked up a first draft, then a second, and then a final draft in a format Lucas was looking for.
Appearance – This is not only their physical appearance, but also trying to convey some level of insight into their actions. Sully might have been a “lost soul”, but he still held himself in a “regal manner”.
Personality – I’d say this one probably ties most to the actual roleplaying of the character by the Game Master. Celltar was “certain that the world owes him”. “Lazy, liar, and showman.”
Goals – These felt like something which would boil our characters down to their basic instincts. What did they want to do? And maybe how would they get there? To transform into someone they always wished to be. To restore themselves. To get through life as easy as possible.
Hobby – This was as simple as “drinking” or losing themselves in research.
In Yroden (where we lay our tale) – Here was our thoughts on how and why the character might be in Yroden (and thus how they might tie into the actual adventure). This was really the crux of the character and really would determine whether or not the character(s) would end up being used.
Now done, we sent it off and waited…
When Lucas responded he said he loved the interplay between them, but had a twist in mind for using them. Kaiya would actually appear in Yrisa’s Nightmare where the other two would get referenced. However, Sully and Celltar would get their proper appearance in the companion adventure Rats in the Street – especially since that one featured a gang of wererats.
From the City of Brass Character Entry for Kaiya Blackmoore
And that, as they say, was that. The characters appeared in their respective stories, and my own hope is that some Game Master out there has not only spotted the connection, but worked it into his own story. Maybe Kaiya is out there helping fight wererats alongside some adventurers. Maybe Celltar has finally found the wrong person to charm. Maybe Sully has found a cure after all.