#FreeFantasy #FreeBook #Free #Kindle #Award #Epic #Fantasy #Adventure #Sword #Sorcery #Rogue #Knight #Original #Fun #Reading #Covidtime #Bingeread #Binge
Okay, this has been so much fun. Playing with these writers is hilarious, interesting, and sometimes even poignant. From the left: Yang-Yang Wang, Erin M. Evans, Rhiannon Held, (Erik Scott DeBie’s DM station), Emily Teng, (Randy Henderson’s spot). Five episodes now! I only haver crappy pictures, but here’s what it looks like from the player’s side. Check out past episodes on our YouTube channel, watch live on GenConTV on Wednesday evenings (6:30 PST), or more on dungeonscrawlers.com.
Next Wednesday evening at 6:30 on the Gencon Twitch Channel. Here’s the link.
That was the lead. Here’s the explanation.
Turns out, I’m an ON. Original Nerd.
If you went to high school with me, you probably didn’t know I was a Dungeons & Dragons devotee. I kept it in the closet. It wasn’t cool then, and I cared about cool. I had met the game in the sixth or seventh grade when I was already a fantasy reader and Tolkien junkie, and it had been love at first sight. D&D made it possible for me to dream up my own worlds and characters and stories and to share them with friends. Fast forward to 2014, when I published my first fantasy novel, and you can see how that story arc played out. Or at least seemed to play out. Because a year ago a former student pointed out this new thing called D&D “actual play” live streams on Twitch.
I checked it out, and it blew my mind. People were actually video streaming their weekly D&D games. I used to make fun of people who watched YouTube videos of other people playing video games, but I’m a honeyed ham if I didn’t suddenly GET it. Live stream D&D sessions are suspenseful, funny, alternately action packed or thoughtful, character-rich, and strategic. Plus, since it is in fact a kind of nerdy improv storytelling, it is often full of surprises.
The most famous of these D&D live streams—now with hundreds of thousands if not millions of followers—is called Critical Role, led by voice actor Matthew Mercer for six other voice actors in LA. From the moment I learned of it I binge-listened to Critical Role’s podcast version on my walks, and after a while I had a “Lightbulb!” moment. How hard could it be to create one of my own? (Bha! Answer? INSANELY hard, but that’s a story for a different post.)
Of course, I didn’t know any voice actors in Seattle, but I did know a bunch of fantasy writers… What if I could get a bunch of fantasy authors together for a weekly game and live stream it? What if we could get sponsors and someone to produce the shows?
That was sixteen months ago. Next week—after hundreds of hours of practice sessions, video production, and planning—we stream our first live session on the GenCon Twitch channel. We’re calling it Dungeon Scrawlers. (Hey, the internet voted on it; at least it isn’t Dungeon McDungeon Face. )
The members are, in alphabetical order, Erik Scott DeBie (our DM), Erin M. Evans, Rhiannon Held, Randy Henderson, (me) Stephen Merlino, Emily T, and Yang-Yang Wang. Several of us know each other from critique groups, three of us are Writers of the Future award winners, and the first two have well over a dozen Dungeons & Dragons novels to their names.
Looking forward to that first session! If you miss it, we’ll post it on YouTube a few days after. All the links are on the Dungeon Scrawlers website. 🙂
#DnD #D&D #Dungeons and Dragons #Twitch #stream #Brimstoneangels #shadowbane #Silver #thejackofsouls #WOTF #FinnFancy #rpg #gamer
AFTER THREE YEARS OF WRITING, RELEASE!
And you know, I kind of like this one better than the first… In any case, it’s definitely longer, which means more of everything you got in the first. As one reviewer wrote,
“It’s got all the good stuff: soul-eating demons, mind-controlling magical rings, explosions, heartbreak, moral dilemmas with no good outcomes, betrayal, more explosions.”
CHECK IT OUT ON AMAZON, OR IF YOU’VE READ IT, WRITE A REVIEW!
AND TO CELEBRATE, BOOK ONE’S EBOOK IS FREE!
If you’ve been following my progress with Book Two, you’ll notice the working title, THE KNAVE OF SOULS, did not make the final cut.
I fully thought book two would go to press with that title
But a couple months before publication, I was at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver, and a good writer friend of mine, Heather Webb, commented, “Isn’t the knave the same card as the jack? And isn’t the title of your first book, The Jack of Souls? By naming the second book The Knave of Souls you’d be naming it the same as the first book, but in different words.
And I had to admit she was right.
But I didn’t. I resisted.
I explained to her that I was using an older meaning of “knave,” meaning “foolish person,” but even as I said it I knew it was a poor excuse, and that she was right. Damn it. Plus, another large fraction of my readers might not be familiar with the term “knave” at all., which would also be a problem. Double damn.
I had actually loved The Knave of Souls.
But I faced the music, and when I did, I was stuck for a title.
So I went round and round on it, noodling for a new title for months as I finalized the manuscript and got the cover going. The title crisis came to a head when I was three weeks out, and still had nothing.
The Fool of Souls was the next closes thing, but it didn’t have a ring to it. Heather had liked The Ace of Souls, which I agreed was cool, and had a ring to it, but which felt too modern, to me., Apprentice of Souls (meh), Squire of Souls, (meh).
So I switched suits. “Souls” was the suit that referred to the Unseen Moon, the moon that controls the magic of the spirit world and dreams. Since the Mad Moon is the moon controlling entropy and the magic of destruction, I’d imagined the Mad Moon’s suit would be “Fires” or “Flames” or something like that, but it hadn’t come up yet in the books, so I hadn’t settled one. After much deliberation, I eventually landed on, The Jack of Flames, but I wasn’t excited about it. Finally, my good friend Mark said, “How about The Jack of Ruin?” and it stuck.
Thematically, it’s actually a better title. But the change means, of course, that the third book needs to be start with “The Jack of…”, so in that respect I’ve painted myself into a corner. Still, I have lots of time to figure that out.
The proof copy of my second novel, THE JACK OF RUIN, just arrived!
If you are confused by the title, which for almost three years was THE KNAVE OF SOULS, I apologize. But this is better for a number of reasons. More on that later–it is time to celebrate!
It comes three years to the day since I released book one, and ****** I am just days away from publication! ****** 😄
#finishednovel #newfantasy #sequelunlocked #hallelujah
Good news: The Knave of Souls, Book 2 is in the beta-reader stage!
That means the manuscript is complete, and it is in the hands of a few smart reader/writer types who are giving me feedback. They’re looking for problems of consistency, clarity, engagement, fun-factor, etc. In fact, it is now in the hands of the last beta-reader, and I hope to hear from him next week.
After next week, I hit it with revisions and tweaks, and then it’ll be time for the copy editor. 🙂
In the meantime, here’s a look at the full cover art, including the wrap-around to the back cover (which is the left half of the painting). The characters on the front cover, from left to right, are Harric, Fink, Caris, and Spook. 🙂
Hey, cool news. Submitted The Jack of Souls to Awesome Indies for a review a year ago, and finally got the review. Awesome Indies is a great site for pre-screening indie novels. Their motto is, “We take the risk out of buying indie.” Hehe!
You out the review and the site here:
SORRY FOR THE LONG GAP IN POSTINGS
I posted like mad over my November retreat, but stopped during winter break, and though I’be been writing since, I haven’t posted. I was in France for some of that. Here is a terrifying picture of my family and I at 13,000 feet in a glass box over an icy crag of the Alps.
SO! ENOUGH FOOLSHNESS! AN UPDATE!
I’m sending Chapter 52 (The End) for peer crit this Saturday! Feels great, too. I’m pretty happy with it. PLUS, for those of you who agree with me that 2.5 years to write a book is too long, it’s coming in at about 160K words, which is 30K words more than the first book, so, hopefully that 20% more Harric, Caris, Sir Willard, Ambassador Brolli, and Father Kogan will make up for some of the wait.
Below, some of the crit notes from the Chapter 51 peer crit session. I love scribbles. I find beauty in these artifacts. Hope I don’t become a hoarder.
Forgot to post yesterday, but think of this post as a two-day post, as both days are on the same chapter, what I’m calling the Battle Scene. Today at Cafe Fiore!
For the record, I did get my minimum of 4 hours in yesterday on the Battle Scene. Also attended a Writers Cramp meeting for a critique of Chapter 21. As always, Cramp raises the bar for me to another level. Thanks Crampies!
Today, an 8-hour day: Goal after Battle Scene: I finish up the Battle Scene and Dive into the Post-Battle Scenes.
The audiobook for The Jack of Souls is up for preorder on Audible, and it’s freaking fantastic! I am so pleased!
Here’s an audio file of the opening pages. The actor, Alex Wyndham, went with an English accent—probably because of the lofty material, 😉 –and he rocks it! Turns out he’s a great character actor.
Even in the first minute I love what he did with the barman. II can’t wait to hear how he did Caris and Willard and Brolli and Bannus’s voices.
I shall have to subject my kids to it on the road trip to the mountains this weekend. Mwa-hahaha!
Weirder than Fiction
Building Believable (and Fantastic!) Fantasy Worlds
Reality is often truly stranger than anything you could make up, so it pays to research.
Take this picture from a late 17th century fashion mag displayed in the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam. Look close.
Look how hard these guys are working! That hair! Those stockings! Those accessories! They look like 80s glam rockers!
Turns out, there was a name for this Captain Jack Sparrow style of dress back then. Here is what the Rijks Musuem had to say about them in their Fashion Magazines exhibit: They were called, “The Incredibles.” Not kidding.
So This was Actually Satire of the High Fashions of the Rich!
Still, I am not sure they succeeded in making it more ridiculous than the actual fashions. How could they? Here is one of the men they mocked, also from a fashion mag of the time:
Dude. You’re wearing pink and white candy-cane-striped tails with yellow pantaloons. Nailed it.
Extremities of Female High Fashion
I wish I had more pictures of ridiculous wealthy men’s attire from the time, but most of the extreme examples are of women’s fashion.
Like these insane hairstyles for women.
The Ship one is my favorite:
Here is the Timeless Message of High Fashion:
1) Since no one could possibly do work in such attire, I am clearly wealthy.
2) Since the time it takes to design and execute such confections of hair/clothing makes it impossible to do any actual work during the day, I am clearly wealthy.
3) Since the cost of my fashion–not just in time but in money–is astronomical, I am clearly wealthy.
Building This Principle Into Fantasy A World
A good illustration of this in fantasy is in Martin’s A Game of Thrones (the books, anyway) where the fashion of the noble women of the slave city of Meereen is a dress that is essentially a mummy wrap from neck to ankles, making it impossible for the women to walk in anything but tiny little steps. Clearly, those women are NOT doing any work!
Here’s a dress from modern day high fashion that might have been from Meereen:
Finally, a Note on the Timelessness of Junk Grabbing
Okay, pant-sagging may not have been around in the old days, but the Incredibles did, apparently, grab junk. They were straight up Gs.
In January, the Ashworth Avenue Book Group picked The Jack of Souls for their next novel and asked if I’d come to their meetup to chat with them. Last night we met at my good friend Jeanne’s home, and I had a blast with them–some not even fantasy readers!–talking about the book, the characters, the process of writing.
They had a lot of fun questions, tangents, ideas, comments, wine, pizza, quiche, wine.
Thanks, Ashworth Book Group! I had a great time. 🙂