I still love Story Forge

Was writing today, and I’d been working towards a meeting with a character I hadn’t met yet in the novel. I had some of the information about what she was, but I didn’t have any deeper picture of who she was as a person.

Then I looked at my bag, and realized I’d brought my Story Forge cards with me to the coffee shop. (Yes, I am living the stereotype, I know.) Pulled the deck out to the minor character spread, shuffled and dropped. Ten minutes later, and I’ve got a really interesting minor character who fits into the world and can drive the story forward even more effectively than I originally imagined she would.

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Expanding my horizons

I’ve been thinking about it, and figuring out what I want to do, both in terms of my blog and my writing career. Not in the “Should I pack it in?” kind of way, but more in the, “What do I do to make sure that I’m actually working on these things?” kind of way.

To some extent, I’ve been going pretty good on the keeping writing direction. I’m editing the second book, trying to work on getting at least two hundred fifty words written each day. I feel like I’m making good progress on whipping the second novel into shape.

But I need to do something more with this blog, just writing on my writing isn’t enough. It’s certainly not enough to keep me blogging regularly. Writing is a solitary task, and I’m shouting out into the distance for the moment (another problem that I need to fix), so I need to talk about more than a single novel.

So I’m going to add my social stuff here and cooking. I like to experiment in the kitchen, and I’ve been creating dishes– well forever, really– but mostly in the past few months after my wife and I moved into our new apartment and we’ve been looking to be more self-sufficient.

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Been away a while

Sorry about that…
Life has been getting away from me for the past couple of weeks, which is really inexcusable, for so many reasons. Not the least of which is I’ve burned away valuable momentum on the Kickstarter.

I’ve been busy. I’ve had to help my girlfriend move out of her old apartment and in with me, and that in itself has been an adjustment that I’ve been trying to figure out. Being alone means I have all the time in the world to write, but that’s really not the case when you’re dating someone. So I’m still working on trying to find a balance. I know I’m not there yet, will probably never be there, but I’ve got to try. This week and next I’m going back to focusing on getting more work done on the second novel, I’m just starting to work in some of the threads of the larger plot in that book.

Still need to put out some press on the Kickstarter project and really try and kick out the jams, and I’ll probably be talking more about that tomorrow or the day after. Going to try for two or three updates this week, not counting one for the Kickstarter project blog.

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Off to a good Kickstart

A couple of updates on what’s going on:

  1. The book was released on Kickstarter yesterday, and I’m already over $700! This is really great, and makes me hope that maybe the project is out of the gate with enough momentum to succeed.
  2. I had a breakdown of my car on Monday. It wasn’t fatal (to humans or automotive), but something like that is never fun.

I want to thank again all of the people who’ve supported me on KS, and I know you’re going to enjoy the novel!

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Quick Post, More Later!

Just launched the Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spellchaser/reckless-magus-book-release

Go back and get the book!

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A new favorite tool

Okay, I’ve managed to get good progress on writing on the book this week, even moved to the second section of the book (I hand off the book in sections of 10k words to my beta readers). And I got an update from the cover artist this morning: she is almost done in the next few days with the cover, which is looking so awesome, I just can’t wait to show you what it looks like.

But I promised a fun post, didn’t I? Not just a rehash or updated progress post. So I’m going to talk to you about a new tool that I’ve used as both a writing exercise for my mind and something to help me switch my brain into writing mode after a full day working. I found Story Forge on Kickstarter a while ago, and the concept looked really neat: a deck of cards like a tarot deck with ideas on them. If you want to pull together a random idea, you just shuffle up the deck and draw yourself a reading just like you would with a tarot deck. I like it, the cards are pretty open-ended, much like tarot, though in this you’re being honest in your fictions.

The booklet that came with the deck has offers a selection of potential spreads that could be used, ranging from quickly generating a minor character to a full layout if you wanted to build a hero’s journey. Before I get to work each day, I’ve built up a minor character. I’m not sure if all of them are going to get used, but it should eventually offer an excellent draw file for when I need to flesh a character out.

I think I’ll offer up one that I know is going to show up in the second book, even if only in a round-about fashion: The Beggar King

  • Highest god of the Pantheon, The Beggar King
    • Base Nature – Order
      • The Beggar kind is the driving force behind to compact of the gods, the agreement that holds the stasis in the world of the Shamans. He is the one to whom has been given the position of judge of the gods.
    • The Influence of the Universe – The Mentor
      • Order and The Mentor combine to make me see this character as a the sage king and judge of the gods, the one who seeks to teach them discipline and control.
    • The Achilles’ Heel – Chastity
      • The Beggar King has, in service of his position, cut himself off from passions. He stands in judgement over a world that he no longer truly is passionate for. Most of the other gods have begat children who walk the world, but not Him.
    • The Influence of Family – Poverty
      • To accept the position as leader of the gods, the God was forced to give up all his possessions and mantles, to give up even his name for the right to rule and judge from a stool or simple chair, never to take a throne.
    • Driving Passion – Innocence
      • The Beggar King seeks to give his subjects the peace of not knowing, believing that the compact is the best way to protect them from the wars that drove the council to first shatter the world.
    • Their Destiny – Victory
      • The world is forgetting the old ways, even the spirits who live in the near Dream Lands no longer remember the nature of the wide multiverse. The king is a scant few generations away from a world in which none of the threats can reach them anymore.
    • What stands in his way – The Doctor
      • This one I’m editing out, if only because I think it gives way too much in the way of potential spoilers.
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Weekly update

Sorry I didn’t write one of these last week, the holiday week was kind of crazy for my schedule, trying to get life settled back into some kind of normal and get myself back on a regular writing schedule that allows me the time to actually cook my meals at home.

On the Kickstarter: I’m still waiting for the cover art, but once I’ve got that, I’ll be ready to launch. I’ve got a lot of support and some really good ideas coming from some of my conspirators on this project, and I think this project has the potential to really kick ass.

On the second novel: Still working on it, and I’m almost done with the first section, where I’ll open up the book for the beta-readers. I’m starting to get an better handle on where the story’s going, but I’m also of the opinion that I do need to start a second project once I start editing and revising this story. It doesn’t matter if it’s one of the non-commercial stories that I have kicking around, I just need to keep writing, I like the feeling when I write.

I want to try and write one more post this week, either Wednesday or Friday. Look for it, it’s going to either be another bit of flash fiction or something else fun. If I’m very, very lucky, I’ll also have the cover art to show you and an announcement for the KS campaign.

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Free-Verse Writing

I’ll have more later in the week. The tentative plan is to launch the Kickstarter this weekend. I’m finalizing the rewards, video, and all of the copy for the campaign. I’m really grateful to the people I’m working with to help me on this project–my dedications is going to be terribly easy to put together.

Then again, what starting writer doesn’t offer all of his thanks to his editors? They’re the people who help you turn a book from a rough story into something on which you’re proud to put your name.

Since I’m going to be tight for time this week, I’m going to offer up a bit of flash fiction based on this image from io9.


Payday comes around again, and once again I’m just a little bit short of the money I need to make rent.

I know, I know. I was supposed to be good this month, but James, my idiot roommate, decided to drink away most of his rent. Now, you can’t exactly blame him. We’re both three years out from grad school and still neither of us have a job that lets us do anything but feed ourselves ramen and pay the bastards at the banks just enough to keep the wolves away from the door. He cracked this month, so I covered for him. He did the same for me when I cracked two months ago and threw my money down the drain at the casino.

But we have a way to earn a little bit of the cash back. There’s this clinic, just around the corner from our rat-hole. They offer some free services, but they make most of their money from Extraction. Heroin’s been gone three decades, and still people have track-marks running up and down their arms from where the clinic’s needle goes in and takes away the pain. Just a little prick with the needle, and they sift and sort out from your blood the wonderful chemical cocktails that drive you to fuck up.

I started getting extracted six months ago, right after Lucy walked off. Walked in, coughed when they put the stethoscope against my chest, then had my ten minute session with the needle. That was my first experience with “the lows.” Right after I walked out, Lucy’s departure stopped hurting so much. I got almost $1,000 for all the love I had for that girl and the first good night of sleep I’d had since she left.

Amy’s at the desk again when I walk in the clinic doors, and when I caught her eyes I saw the despair in them. “Bob, I thought I said I didn’t want to see you or Jimmie here again for another three months.” We’d known her back at Uni and she used to hang out with us before her girlfriend, another mutual friend, cut her wrists and left a note saying, “Let’s see them get their money out of me now.” They got $328.67. “You’re coming in too often.”

Her compassion did her credit, and I told her so, “You take a trip with the needle, you’ll get a couple thousand of compassion easy, Amy.” She looked at me hard for a second, but before she could say anything I went on, “I’ve got to. We need rent money, and James drank up half his rent money at the bar last night. This will be the last one for a while, I just need the $250 for a standard extraction.”

“And we’re not going to deny Robert his freedom of choice, are we, Amy?” Amy’s supervisor, the clinic’s owner, had come up behind her while we were talking and set a hand on my friend’s shoulder, giving me a wide smile full of teeth. “A standard? Follow me, Mister Gibon.” I followed the old woman down the hall of the clinic back to the machine. “You were just in here a few weeks ago. Your last psychical is still in effect, so we can dispense with that bit of business.” I nodded, because that was an extra $20 in my pocket if I didn’t have to take a deep breath and cough.

The room with the machine was in what used to be the operating theatre of the clinic, back before PP had been run out of business by the Paul administration. It was a gleaming mess of tubes and steel filters attached to a new-looking clinical chair. I settled into the chair, relaxing back into it. I could already feel it, that numbness that the machine gives you, even before I felt the prick of the needle in my arm. After a few minutes in the machine, I heard the doctor’s voice, “Robert, I’m not getting enough through the filters on the normal setting.”

I turned my head to look at the neat little row of bottles, all my emotions dripping into medical vials beside my head. I could see that she was right. The vials labeled “love” and “hope” were dry, while “joy” was almost as empty. The only vials I had filled even to their first markers had been “peace” and “empathy”. I knew she was right, I wasn’t even producing enough to earn me $100, much less the money I needed for rent. I started to panic, my voice catching in my throat. Then the trickle into “peace” stopped. I stopped myself long enough to take a deep breath and ask the doctor, “Can’t we turn it up? I need the money for rent. Just enough to make rent?”

She nodded in the affirmative and played with something on the controls, then I felt the machine kick into high gear. I think I also felt the doctor slipping more needles into me, but all I could feel was the oncoming lows as all the chemicals were filtered out of my system. I lost myself in that low trip, or maybe I just passed out from the pain.

When I woke up, I was alone in the operating theatre. On the tray beside me was my receipt and a stack of bills. I folded the bills, thinking about why I was here. What right did James have drinking away my rent money? I decided I was going to head home and straighten the fuckstick out.

And on the tray, the receipt: 30ml compassion, $350. 15ml Peace, $100.

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Working smart, courtesy of the folks at Evil Hat

In Reckless Magus I’ve got a number of characters who communicate with each other using mental communication. As I was writing, I threw the text between <<>> to indicate when a character was speaking psychically, like so:

Abe looked at the Esper with a sour expression, “Was that really needed?”

Simon looked to at Abraxas and responded, <<He was not going to to assist us otherwise. He will not help us knowing you are a Spellchaser.>>

That worked in my first draft, but by the time I went back to edit the book, I thought I needed something more to make the text stand out, so I changed the text inside the angle brackets to italic. It looked much better, but every time I had to process the text, I would lose all formatting.

But before I could start to groan about having to send each draft through a second pass to edit back in the formatting, I caught a post from Evil Hat’s Fred Hicks about using Indesign’s intelligent styles. It really helped save me from headaches, and I just wanted to tip my hat to one of the people who I’ve been paying attention to in the business of creativity.

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Building a Platform

At the advice of a very good friend, I’m going to be working on building my social media presence as we approach the launch date of the book. I’m using this article on building your writing platform to help me.

Oh, I hadn’t mentioned, had I? I’ve put the book to bed, and I’m now working on what I’m going to do for the release of the book. I’m in the process of getting the cover art commissioned and preparing a Kickstarter for a release event. If schedule holds true, the project should go up the first of July and run to the first of September. This is going to be a little scary and a lot exciting.

I actually spent this weekend shooting the video for the KS, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I hope everyone else likes it, too.

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