Writer of the Future!

I keep forgetting to brag about this… my scifi/western novelette, Hundred Years A Day, was awarded Silver Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest for the first quarter in 2020! Wooooo!

This story’s an odd fish, written in first person POV in fairly harsh vernacular. Gritty, dark, funny, sad. Not the most accessible thing I’ve ever tried to do. At 16,000 words it’s a funky length, too — far too long to submit to most magazines. I did find some publishers on Duotrope who take long short stories and novelettes, so I’ll do another edit, maybe add in a couple scenes I originally cut for length, and see what traction the story can find. If not, I’ll self publish with some cool artwork. Not quite a graphic novel, but ink illustrations along the way like an old John Carter edition.

My greatest regret is that I couldn’t quite scrape into the next tier, Runner Up. Along with getting published, these folks get a professional critique and a fancy dinner along with the GIF.* It’s the missed critique that haunts me…

* Full disclosure: the above image is actually a JPEG. ‘GIF’ is more impactful, don’t you think?

You only get to write one first novel…

This one’s mine:

Capture

It’s young adult Fantasy/Science Fiction, subcategorized as Weird Western and Steampunk. The blurb reads:

Seven strangers shipwrecked on mysterious Circle-X Island band together to defend a dying village from an ancient reawakening evil.

Of course I appreciate your support, feedback, and reviews!

This was a spur of the moment decision to write, and I never had written so much as a complete short story that I can recall. In fact, the source material was in service of a role-playing adventure I was designing. My background is in game design and entertainment, so this was not unusual. But, as I continued to develop the concept I realized I was much more interested in the story than the game.

I woke up November  1, 2014 to an email from NaNoWriMo telling me it was time to start writing my novel. It was the first day of National Novel Writing Month.  This event and organization had captured my imagination not long before, and I stuck my name on their mailing list.

Humans can write a novel in a month?

Well, if someone out there can legitimately pen a novel in a month (50,000 words — not War and Peace, but it still counts,) I figured I could do it in two or three. I already had a solid outline, characters, and the feedback from running beta tests of my game concept. That left only having to learn the entire craft.

Many revisions later, including a professional content edit, and at least a year down the road, I figured it was done enough. I could open to any page and not actively cringe. People I don’t know have bought, read, and liked it. Weird, but I have to say it’s been more successful than I expected.

It’s published under a pen name, Archer Diman. The letters share an eerie similarity to those in Eric Hardman. I wanted to be able to experiment with the self-publishing process without using my professional name, and also to insulate the feedback from anyone who might know me and have a bias. This has worked out really well!

My experience with Amazon publishing has been mixed, but mostly positive. This book has been atop numerous Amazon lists in the US and UK, like #1 Young Adult Steampunk. Yet that status is entirely tied to Amazon promotions that I can only run once a quarter. In between promotions it seems invisible, languishing. Getting it up and running was super easy, though, and their publishing experience itself has been solid. It’s even available in on-demand paperback.

I’ll put out a second edition sometime this year with a new cover, dedications, etc. If there’s ever demand, I’ve a couple more short novels in mind for this cast and location, too.

I’ve written way better short stories and an epic fantasy novel since, but you only get one first novel. It was never going to be my best unless it was the last.

All told, I’m a proud poppa =)

New Tome of Sou…

New Tome of Souls up at Difficult-Terrain! Discussing the building blocks of role play…

Tome of Souls Codex 1:2

“Debate aplenty has been spent and even blood spilt over the nature of man, the influence of his blood versus the circumstances of his life in his moral shaping, and the touch of gods and fate on what burns in his soul.”

– Tome of Souls, Codex 1 pt. 2 – Jareminkle the Elders “Elements of Character”

 

If the role playing aspect of a tabletop RPG is something additional to the game aspect (otherwise it would just be called a “G”), what are its equivalents to stats like strength, intelligence, and even skills and abilities? What are the building blocks of role playing and how are they quantified, if that can be done?

read more…

The Framers Were Gamers

The Framers Were Gamers

Here’s a Gamasutra blog post from a couple years back examining the US Constitution as a game design document. It was featured by the editors for the day, and I’ve recently proposed it as the theme for an hour talk at this year’s Game Developers Conference Online. Looking to have some fun for that with a road trip from Boston to DC to conduct primary research and get pics and vids to support the presentation with historical background materials.