June Recap

Happy Canada Day!

You remember that comic strip I made with Matthew Strongblade back at the start of the year, because it wouldn’t get out of my head?

It’s baaaa-aaaack! I was sitting at The Round Table with Nat at the end of May and he was talking about how he was editing a comic book. I made the mistake of mentioning how I’d love to do a comic some day, and told him the details of my “community voting choose your own adventure” comic. He LOVED it. Talked about ways of monetizing it to keep it running. He said basically what I’d already been thinking… run it for a year with one character. I’d start off with Matthew, then go to Hendricus Wyrmstriker. Then who knows after that? Pellin? Marcus? Ramar? Arus? Others I haven’t even dreamed of yet? Adventure after adventure, all leading up to the exciting conclusion shown in the prologue of A Noble’s Quest (The Empire’s Foundation Book 1)!

Anyway, I’ve been talking with my friend about how to make that sort of setup work, in terms of my website. Since it won’t be a simple linear story (yes, you might cause Matthew to die, and have to go back!) I’d have to have some sort of map laid out so people can see where the story goes, or is currently, so they can vote. Probably not an issue to have a “current panel” button that links to the latest one, but mapping out the previous panels so people can navigate them to catch up on the story might prove tricky. We’ll see.

Another issue is how to do the “Pay to vote” thing. I already know it’d be dirt cheap – 50 cents or something like that for a vote. The problem is implementing a system where someone pays to vote. Is it a constant stream of micro transactions? Do we let people have a tab, so they can charge up 10 weeks all at once for $5 and take out 50 cents each time they vote? I don’t know. I’m thinking it might be better just to crowd fund it to pay for the whole project in one shot, and then reveal it slowly to people as they vote. Patrons would then get bonus votes, so they could vote twice and have a larger say in the direction the story takes, and start saving up for the second comic that follows Hendricus.

Does the comic sit on this site, or do we create a new one?  I’ve implemented social media logins to limit problems with bot spam. As it was, I had to turn off comments on this blog, because I got a steady stream of spam messages for drugs, porn, etc. I’m going to try leaving comments on for this post, and sharing it to Twitter (where most of the bot spam seems to come from) and see what happens.

I’ve found an artist I’m excited to work with: Sal, aka TheDarkCloak. His stuff looks amazing, and his idea for pricing is right around where I thought it would be. We’ve talked about doing a “simple” art form like Table Titans, and if we get a bigger following, we can do more. That right there is a good reason to go with Kickstarter, I think, so we know how much we have, and what kind of quality we’ll be working with.

Anyway, it’ll still be a while before this becomes a reality. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, with the new novel being edited, and a board game under development, but maybe late this year we can get this ball rolling!

Another blast from the past, the interview I did for the We Got The Geek podcast aired this month! It was the first time I’d been interviewed at a convention, so I was excited about it!

Game design for Wizards’ War has been going swimmingly. June started off with a lot of play testing and a meeting with Nat from Lynnvander Studios to go over the rule book. A couple clarifications were requested, but otherwise he sounded quite pleased with how the game is coming along.

Mid-month we had another game board design night. Lynnvander Studios was off to a convention, so I think my game was the only one there. Mike finally got a chance to play, which was great! Dave had some interesting ideas for expanding the game to include the ability to destroy buildings. So we brainstormed it, and decided to not only let you destroy other people’s buildings, but also let you tear down your own buildings. It means one of your Workers is busy for a while, and you’ve lost your resources that you put into the building, as well as any future use of the building. But it allows you to change your mind after you’ve filled up your city. Additionally, siege engines and Pellin’s fireball have been tweaked to give them more functionality.

We squeaked in another 3-player game at the end of the month and had a lot of fun with it. It was a “fast mode” game with double resource gathering, and I think I need a couple minor tweaks to it, but otherwise it went pretty well.

I have holidays, and I’m hoping to get a bunch more play testing done while I’m off work!

The first 12 chapters of A Hero’s Birth are edited! My aunt has been blazing through the second pass. By my best guess, the book should be ready to release into the wild in October or November. I think that might be too late to submit it for the Campus Authors event and Guelph Book Bash, which is a shame. I’ve got three plaques on my wall, one for each year since 2013. It’d be nice to get the 2017 one, but I doubt it’ll happen. C’est la vie!

While waiting on editing notes, I’ve started working again on book 4 (or book 1 of the Strongblade Siblings series, I never know how to refer to it). The siblings are fighting again. Surprise, surprise. But Sardo has Wizard Runner now, which is an exciting development. Why does a holy rogue need a war horse? You’ll just have to wait to find out!

Kitchener Comic Con 2017

My last convention for the year is my favourite one… Kitchener Comic Con – #3KCC2017 (although I might be getting roped into another con in November – we’ll see)

The Good

Disclaimer: I was asked to help fix up some writing content for KCC this year, and was given a table in Artist Alley as compensation. Special thanks to Ronald Hoppe for that! Hopefully next year won’t be so chaotic leading up to the event, and we will have time to get everything cleaned up well in advance!

I showed up late, like I’m some sort of big shot celebrity (really, I drive a 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan that’s dying (seriously? Only 7 years old, with under 90,000km on it, and it’s dying? No more Dodges for us!), and my wife scheduled a test drive for a new (for us) set of wheels for the same morning, and being able to get places took priority). There were a few open tables in Artist Alley, and I was told to take my pick. I got a pretty sweet spot, front and centre near the entrance.

My usual way of going about cons is to set up my table, take a photo, share it on Google Plus (no Facebook on my phone, thanks), and get to work … sitting there, engaging people who stare at my books for long enough that I figure they’re interested.

The photo had to wait. In the first 45 minutes of the con, I sold 6 books and a poster, which is definitely a record for me. I wish I could say that the insane pace kept up all day, but at least there was steady traffic until about dinner time.

One of the students from my lab came down to check out the con. Although she lives a couple blocks from Kitchener City Hall, she hadn’t heard that Kitchener had a Comic Con, so when I told her, she really wanted to come down and check it out.

There were a ton of awesome cosplayers, and I had a great chat with Judge Brown. He’s writing a book, and flying high with it, so that’s awesome! I draw on other writers having fun with their writing like some kind of psychic vampire. It’s invigorating to hear about others having a great time!

I also saw Sarah WaterRaven, who I met at GenreCon. We had a panel together on writing, and she stopped by to chat. She was at KCC as “The Press,” doing interviews for the We Got The Geek podcast, and she wanted to talk to me! Normally something that momentous would hit “The Great” section at the end, but believe it or not, there’s something even better coming up! Even so, this was a major highlight for me. She also asked if I’d be interested in attending another con in November (and also mentioned Ad Astra, which I’ve heard about a few times now, and I’ll probably attend next year).

There were also LARPers (Live Action Role Players) in attendance from Alura Larp. Colton Schug stopped by to chat with me in the quiet hours after 5pm on day 1. If you’re in the Niagara/Hamilton area and interested in LARP, check them out!

At final count, I sold 13 books and one poster. Considering my usual 1-2 sales per month on Amazon, that’s some pretty great outreach. On the second day I also had a lot more people take business cards, saying they wanted to order ebooks. So if that happens, the second day will have been even more worthwhile. But I never count those sales before they happen, because more often than not those cards don’t actually lead to sales.

The Bad

I hate to say this, but I’m not sure it made sense to have this as a two day event. It felt quiet compared to last year. Aside from the hectic start I had on day 1, it was pretty slow the rest of the time, with a few little spurts of activity. After how crazy it was last year, I was expecting more people to come through this year. Not sure why it didn’t happen. From posts I was seeing on Facebook, they were getting attention from the media. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t complain after selling a lot of books (for me). I just expected it to be busier, and I heard some other vendors saying the same thing.

The Ugly

I don’t think I’d say anything was ugly about this con. I love KCC. I’ve attended two years running now, and it’s been good to me both times. I’ll definitely go again.

The Great

I had a milestone moment that I need to share with you all. Seriously, this is the kind of thing that writers live for.

On day one I had a young guy (I won’t mention him by name, since he’s a minor, but he knows who he is) approach my table and start talking to me about my books. He was really enthusiastic, and I had a lot of fun discussing my stories with him. While chatting, he would ask me if I had various things in my stories – demons, necromancers, elves, holy knights, ents. The only thing I said no to on that list was the ents, but I think he’ll be pleasantly surprised with the ending of A Noble’s Quest (The Empire’s Foundation Book 1), because I forgot there’s a scene where there’s something ent-like. Not an ent exactly, but probably close enough to please him.

Anyway, he purchased A Noble’s Quest, A Wizard’s Gambit (Empire’s Foundation Book 2), Demon Invasion, and the poster for A Hero’s Birth!

After the convention and unwinding at home with a movie, I checked my e-mail to find he’d contacted me to ask if he could talk about my books on his YouTube channel. He signed off saying he’s my biggest fan.


I have a biggest fan (who isn’t my daughter). I’m going to have to sit back and let that sink in for a while.

March Recap

This was a pretty great writing month!

Not only did I break the 70,000 word mark on A King’s Decree (book 1 of the Strongblade Siblings series), I also submitted a short story for the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award (you can read the first half on April 1st over on Patreon, if you sponsor me for just $2/month).

While at Gryphcon early in the month, I also started on a new series of short stories and hammered out 3000 words for those. The Bulwark, the Hero, and the Ranger will not be available for a long time, as I’ve used up my editing funds and then some. But it was fun getting a start on it, anyway.

Campus Authors, 2016

I attended the Guelph Campus Author event for the third year in a row! The library was under renovations this year, so it was held in the science centre atrium, which was quite nice. Over 90 authors were celebrated this year, and you can see those who came for the event in the picture above. (Yours truly is in the back row in the green shirt)

Changing gears, I attended a game design night at The Round Table and I’m moving forward with designing a game. I won’t go into too much detail here (hint, hint, Patrons will learn more), but it really brings me back to my youth when I used to design all sorts of games, from board games to fleshing out my fantasy world with the Neverwinter Nights game toolbox. It’s a lot of fun (except for cutting out all the little pieces for the proof of concept) and I’ll be showcasing the idea on April 4th at the next game design night!

April 1st and 2nd is Kitchener Comic Con! I’m excited to have been involved in helping out, providing writing feedback for them for sales and press releases. This should be a great convention, with thousands of people coming through the doors! This is definitely the largest con I go to, and I can’t wait!

Additionally, this month I will be drawing the winner of the fantasy mug! If you’re wondering what that’s all about, you can see the post I made recently. If you want to enter, you only have until I draw the winner’s name on April 11th!

Finally, the Guelph Genre Fiction group will be meeting at the Red Papaya at 2pm on April 30th. If you’re a genre fiction writer and Friend of Vocamus Press, come on down to chat about “Titles” and “Book Launches!”