July recap

New release!

In case you haven’t heard, my latest short story called Dark Ones has been released!

The story takes place 1250 years Before Gods’ War, making it the furthest back I’ve gone in Illuma’s history. I loved how this story tied several different elements together, so there are easter eggs for fans, and it’s just a fun story if you’re new to my writing.

Eshe awakens from a meditative trance when she feels a psychic force. Barbarian hordes, led by mysterious Dark Ones, approach the city and it is up to her, an order of monks, and the city guard to protect the citizens of Bisoro.

There might be more coming after this story. I ran a D&D campaign at The Round Table that started off shortly after some of the events in this story. We had a blast, and I’m tempted to explore this vast region more, either in D&D games and/or in stories. The more I think about it, the more interesting this whole region and time becomes. Of course I have my main novel series to worry about, and my slow writing schedule means I probably shouldn’t branch off to any large scale work. Maybe one day I’ll get back to this region and flesh it out.

I did a lot of editing this month, and am now up to chapter 20 complete in A Hero’s Birth. For book 4, the working title has changed to A Queen’s Edict, and I’ve decided to use a prologue/epilogue structure with the next series, too. I’d thought about changing it up, and doing letters between some of the characters, but it felt flat to me. So now I’ll be looking at the Emperor’s 6th Son, as he attempts to discover the ancient strength of Murgaphyie. Instead of going back in time, like I did with the Empire’s Foundation series looking at Matthew, these snippets will be happening at the same time as the story, with a parallel arc. It should work a lot better in building up the tension over the course of the series.

I’ve started work on Wizards’ War prototype v3.0. There are so many changes coming down the pipe!

  1. Miniaturization – the game pieces from v2.0 were too large to produce the game in a cost efficient manner. I’m shrinking everything!
  2. Tokens to counters – punch board tokens are expensive. I’m looking at ways to reduce the number of tokens and replacing them with wooden disks, painted with symbols. They’re dirt cheap in comparison, and still look awesome!
  3. Resources to counters – Tommy told me that the small resource cards I had with the game would cost a lot more than standard playing cards, because it means they need to change the formatting on the machines to make the cards. A less expensive way to do things is coloured acrylic cubes. They look great, and I can get different sizes to denote 1 or 5 resources of a certain type.

So I’m redesigning the boards, and putting together an itemized list of everything I will need to order to make 1000 copies of Wizards’ War (gulp!). It’s terrifying to look at the sheet with everything I need. No way is this happening without a successful Kickstarter, that’s for sure!

Because I don’t have enough to do already, I signed up to be a dungeon master at The Round Table. Every second Sunday, I’ll be dragging players, kicking and screaming, through my own story set in the Legacy of Mana world. It’s pretty exciting, and we’ll have our first session tomorrow! I wrote up a little introduction and showed it to Nat and he laughed. A lot. That evil, “everyone’s going to hate you so much” kind of DM laugh. Can’t wait!

Last but not least, July was a pretty good month! I don’t remember the last time I had three people read A Noble’s Quest (The Empire’s Foundation Book 1) through Kindle Unlimited in a 30-day span. Plus a few sales for A Noble’s Quest from the multi-author promotion I joined, and the rather lackluster launch of Dark Ones. Well, that just seems to be how short stories go. Can’t wait to launch A Hero’s Birth and have finished the Empire’s Foundation trilogy!

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

I’m excited to announce that I will be attending Kitchener Comic Con 2017!

I had a lot of fun at the event this year with Judge Brown, who asked me to be his booth babe and split his free table with me. It was such a great experience that I looked into getting a table in Artist Alley for next year. I asked some questions about the online shop selling spots at tables, and the next thing I knew the CEO of the convention had contacted me and offered me a deal.

Specifically, he sent me a meme of Doctor Strange saying, “Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain.” And then he locked me in a time loop where he made his offer several times. I really felt like I was Doctor Strange. Or Dormammu. It was weird and fun, all at once!

Right. The deal. So he asked me to go through his online content and edit it for clarity, since I’d had some questions, and so did some other people. In return, I’d get an Artist Alley table.

Yes. Please.

So this will be the second year that I get to go to KCC for free! (Well, technically I’m “working” for it, but cleaning up some website content? That’s fun!) They get easier to understand web content, I get 100% profits at the con. And seeing how well I did last year, I’m really excited to go again to meet some new readers and fans who met me earlier this year. It’s going to be great!

In related news, I asked if it’s at all realistic that we might be done editing A Hero’s Birth in time to have published copies ready for April. That’s only 4 months, which might sound like a long time to those of you who pay your editors, but when my editor is my aunt, and she works on it in her spare time for the payment of “patience” and my unending stream of wonderful things I say to and about her (not required, but I do it anyway because she deserves it for putting up with me!), 4 months is pretty reasonable. Fast, even. Ideally I’d like to do two passes on it, but the second round is always much, much faster than the first because the majority of the big issues are already dealt with. So we shall see.

Writing for A King’s Decree continues. After wrapping up their first major quest last week, this week was spent working on the characters dealing with what they’d been through. I’m using a structure where Grace is always first in the chapter, Sardo is second, and Trai is third. It’s worked out really well that way so far. I wasn’t sure it would, and was willing to change it if I ran into any problems, but it’s been great. This is the first time I’ve had any doubts about it, because Grace … well, she doesn’t ruminate a whole lot on what happened. What’s done is done, time to move on.

And then there’s the “distractions” news … my writing speed will likely suffer somewhat, although the gaming events are only every two weeks, and it’s in the day time when I don’t normally write anyway. But there’s this huge D&D campaign that’s going to be starting up with character generation on Sunday the 18th at 1pm at The Round Table. There are multiple Dungeon Masters (DM’s), and they’re hoping for 20+ players who will all be on one team, working toward a shared goal but going in separate directions. The DM’s are in secret contact with each other, and when their party moves through the region, it’s possible for the teams to run into each other in real time, at which point they can communicate and work with each other. Apparently they’re running a Pathfinder campaign in a similar way, and they just had a big boss fight with all the players making up two groups. It sounds absolutely epic, and I’m excited to take part!

I’m just not sure what kind of character I want to play, yet. It will depend on what sort of campaign it is, I suppose. If it’s one of those typical “heavy on fighting, light on parley” sorts of games, I probably won’t put a lot of thought into it and just make whatever the party is lacking (say hello to the team cleric!). But if role playing is encouraged, that’s where the fun comes in. Here are some of the ideas I’m rolling around in my head…

  1. Atheist Paladin
  2. Minotaur (Silent Beast subrace) Monk (Yes, I want to play as Margaff from 1100 BGW (Before Gods’ War))
  3. Druid (Circle of the Moon) who is hellbent on reclaiming civilized land for nature
  4. Half-Orc Barbarian/Monk with Multiple Personality Disorder – internal conflicts abound! But oh, that armour class… Dex + Con + Wis
  5. Clumsy Bard with a Whistling Nunchaku
  6. Blind Ranger with a fear of being touched (haphephobia)
  7. Warlock who loves his demonic patron a little too much
  8. Depressed Chaotic Good Cleric who can’t commit to just one god

They all sound pretty fun to play. Maybe not fun to DM… I don’t want to make the DM mad, so I’ll definitely let him/her have veto power.

And for those of you who made it this far, here’s a treat. I’m doing a small promotion for Boxing Day (Dec 26th) where both of my novels will be on an Amazon Countdown deal, starting at 99 cents for each one. Maybe it’ll lead to a little bump in sales to bring me into the New Year.

Falling into darkness

This was a good week, in terms of word count. I’d set out to try to write only 2000 words because it’s a busy week, and somehow managed to hit my usual goal of 3000!

I’ve come to the conclusion that Trai is Thomas in terms of self-doubt, but taken to a whole new level. I think I wrecked him. He’s been trod upon by his oldest sister his whole life, and now his cat is saying to him all the worst sorts of things that people tell themselves. It’s like he has two voices inside his head, beating him down.

Given the deadly failure he just experienced, I don’t know if I can fix him. I don’t know that I want to. This book is going darker than I expected when I set out. I mean, the D&D campaign was basically psychological warfare against the players, but as ideas change and are tweaked, and the characters start having more realistic reactions to the events around them it feels heavy. Looking ahead, I’m trying to think of when this story is going to lighten up, and I’m not sure it does.

I guess I’ll roll up my sleeves and put my characters through the Hells and see how they come out on the other side. While Trai is wallowing in self-pity, Grace is tough and I expect her to be the most unchanged throughout. Sardo will have her faith shaken, but I think she’ll remain positive. Maybe. I think I need her to, so there’s light in the story. We’ll just have to wait and see how it progresses, I guess.

Ruistyfles and I will be attending KW Tri-Con! I just have to pay for the table, and we’re all set.

I didn’t get much in the way of interest from fellow authors for sharing a table for GenreCon in Guelph, so I’m going to open it up to everyone else. If I don’t hear from anyone, I think I might try going it alone. It’s a 3-day convention, and the table price is pretty reasonable. I just hope it’s better attended than the last time I went, when it was under different management. My discussions with the vendor liaison have been positive, so I’m hopeful that it will be good.

My physical books are now available at The Round Table, a local game cafe. As soon as I set foot in the place last year, I wanted to get my books in there. The fantasy theme is amazing, and I’m really excited that they’ve started taking local authors’ books! I feel like it’s gone full circle now, after playing through the campaigns in D&D so many years ago, and now they’re for sale in a place that celebrates gaming.


Sometimes I amuse myself

Writing went well this week. I had a couple nights where I sat down and words flowed without too much trouble. Part of this was because there were excellent philosophical discussions between Trai and his cat. The conversation ended with a wonderful/awful turn of phrase that fit Trai’s personality perfectly. I’m usually no good at that sort of thing. Sometimes when I think something’s funny, writers will say, “Don’t do that.”

No, seriously, when I wrote 1100 BGW (Before Gods’ War) (about minotaurs), I put in a line about how one of the big males was attempting “to cow” a female. I liked it. Someone else said whether I put it in intentionally or accidentally, it needed to go. Sure, it was corny, but sometimes I like to write corny things, dammit. But as it was part of an anthology, I decided to heed his advice and turf it.

But this time it’s my own work, and I will not apologize.

I talked about Eclipse in last month’s Patreon supporter e-mail (you want in on the scoop? Pledge $2 per month to get these sorts of fascinating feline insights (not to mention your name in the dedication section of my next release, an e-book of your choice, and my eternal gratitude)), but I might just talk about her again next month because I’m so pleased with this joke.

Paperback copies of all my books will be available at The Round Table! I dropped them off this weekend. This is an exciting development, because the game store has a strong fantasy vibe to it, and I feel like “my people” are going to see my books there and be interested.

The next Guelph Genre Fiction meeting will be at Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro, beside The Bookshelf in downtown Guelph. If you’re interested in learning about book promotion, or sharing your own successes and failures, please feel free to come by on Sunday December 4th at 2pm!