Dragon: The Conclusion!

Parts 07 to 12 of the Dragon comic I created when I was wee are now up on Flickr.

I embed part 08 here, because it is an episode of which I am fond. In order to get the most comic with the very least drawing required, I introduce a character who is invisible. PERFECT.


(Reminds me of a photo-strip in the early 80s Eagle, The Invisible Boy. Typical panel: a photo of a hedge, with a thought balloon: “I wonder what’s happening on the other side of this hedge!” Genius stuff.)

Read the entire 12-part epic here. And thank you for your indulgence.

Dragon: 02 to 06

I’ll embed #2 just because:

The rest are all available over on flickr. I don’t think anyone wants me to put these all on the blog – do you?

In these episodes you meet Zappy the Trigger-Happy and Gizzard the Naughty Wizard, which google assures me remain unused character names to this day. PWNAGE!

You also gain a clear appreciation for how I was getting bored with the actual drawing bits, so lots of heads floating in blank space and big lettering and that sort of thing.

And the jokes get stupider.

Nevertheless, this continues to make me smile, so i inflict it upon the world 🙂

Read the whole series here!

Writing again

Here’s the first evidence that 2012 is going to be less wall-to-wall overload than 2011: I’ve started writing again.

Pulled out my old fantasy novel manuscript Fell, because several people have told me its the thing I’ve written they liked the most. My amigo Dale, who knows a thing or two about getting fantasy novels published, talked with me about it a couple years back, specifically about the value of a strong opening, and that conversation stuck. And it would be nice to get some joy out of this thing.

Also, hey – it’s an editing pass! That’s a nice, easy way to get the writing muscles firmed up before diving into something completely new. Right?

What this has meant in practice: a few short sessions tapping away. The opening 2,000 words almost totally rewritten. I’m really pleased with what feels like a much stronger opening! But it seems that I now have to completely overhaul the fundamental structure of the ENTIRE NOVEL.

Nice and easy. Hmph.

Back to it…

ICONS: The Mastermind Affair

Warning: this post is about tabletop roleplaying games. Sorry if it makes no sense to you.

Mastermind Affair cover

Just released: The Mastermind Affair, PDF-format adventure for the ICONS RPG. (Written by me.)

It’s a hefty 45-page adventure suitable for most traditional-type Supers RPG settings – I guess it’s a bit more DC than Marvel in its shadings. It has a whole mess of villains, all with that great Dan Houser art – you can see some of them in the preview pages. It has a descriptive character aspect of which I’m inordinately proud, but I can’t tell anyone what it is because it’s a minor spoiler. It’s a neat adventure and if you like Supers stuff, you’ll get a kick out of this.

Best of all: it is only a buck ninety-nine, American. The publisher, Adamant Entertainment, has adopted an “app-pricing” model where everything costs just under US$2. This means you can get ICONS itself, the amazing full RPG game, for $1.99 as well. (Also my older stuff for the same price.) It’s a fascinating and exciting business move, and I think it’s the way all digital products will inevitably go – music downloads, e-books, online newspaper subscriptions, etc will all be getting massively cheaper as it sinks in that the value proposition is different to that of a physical product.

So, $1.99 for a fun adventure. That’s about $2.60 in NZ pesos. If you are of gaming ilk, do consider it.

(Sadly, although the playtesters are credited, their amazing characters are not included. You’ll need to ask them for descriptions.)

Xmas Gift Idea: JAAM 28

The latest issue of JAAM has been out for a few weeks. JAAM is a literary journal containing poetry and prose and varying amounts of non-fiction essays, photos, illustration, interviews… This time it also contains something by me. So naturally, a blog post telling you to buy it. That’s how these things work.

JAAM has been published out of Wellington since ’95, when it launched at the same time as a Victoria University Writing Club – the product of Mark Pirie’s enthusiasm and drive. The club lasted a few years before dissolving into a loose network of friends, but JAAM has published regularly since ’95. Currently an annual publication, edited by Helen Rickerby and Clare Needham (who were both in that original Class of ’95), this issue has the theme of “dance”.

I’m pleased to have a story in there because I really have a lot of love for JAAM, and its relaxed and unaffected sense of style. Also because, as mentioned in my author bio in the issue, I was there in ’95 when the club began and the journal was announced. It took me a very long time to submit something.

The story printed is one of the dozen short pieces I wrote last year in my short story binge. I sort of dread reading it in printed form because nothing makes you see all the limitations in your own craft like being published. But people have been very kind and it did get accepted in the first place, so. (In the JAAM-linked writing group there was a running joke that was also partly serious, where you’d always preface sharing your new work with a comment about why it sucked and you hated it.)

Anyway, even though I talk about me in this post, I’m only a few pages of a wide-ranging and nimble collection. The Xmas gift idea suggestion is a genuine one. This is good stuff, to be enjoyed.

JAAM is (or soon will be?) available at Unity Books in Wgtn and other places like that.

Novel vs. Baby

Oh curse you babby! For you have win!

Been obvious for a while now that the writerly push was not going to achieve an End-state before babby day, even if babby decides to be well late. So the contest is hereby over. I declare loss!

Reasons for loss are twofold:
* Got really, really busy with stuff. It threw me out of my groove and took over my life, and even token continuation of novel was not possible during. Sad to say, but that is life.
* Novel got harder than I expected.

I’m gonna talk about that second one a little. I’m conscious of writing this during Novel Writing Month, when lotsa people are pushing through to write a text in one short month. This is the opposite of that. There, the goal is to hit wordcount – to just! keep! writing! until you get where you need to go. Everyone knows that when you come out the other side of NaNoWriMo, you are faced with the task of editing and shaping what you created into something you can stand behind. But by creating something to work with, you have already overcome the greatest obstacle.

Working on Day One at first felt a bit like that. I had a clear vision of where I was going and how to get there. I launched into the project at speed and raced through the first major act without pause, confident in my direction and the strength of the core idea.

Then I hit something unexpected. The narrative in front of me, which had previously been a straight, clean road, suddenly became a huge and complex interchange with different routes racing off in dozens of new directions. To change metaphors: it was like a firework – one trail going up, then a sudden explosion into dozens of new lines.

Now, I tried to pick one and get on with it, because that’s how you get things done; I’ve done it in the past. But this time I realized quickly that the problem was deeper than that. I knew my start and I knew my ending and I knew the arc of my middle, but it all got tricky when I tried to line them up and match them to the world I’d set up and the concerns I set in motion.

It all got complex. You can see it in the journal – an unbroken stream of prose suddenly starts jumping back and forth with scenes being written increasingly out of sequence until there were arrows everywhere dragging this bit into connection with that bit. Scenes lost context, like images flashing on a screen. And then finally the writing stalled out completely to be replaced by notes to myself, charts and character notes, explorations of the various options ahead. That’s what I’ve been working on for a while now, sorting stuff through in my head now rather that writing a novel and seeing what doesn’t work. I’ve even dragged out the Dramatica engine for the first time in half a decade to see what it has to say. (Answer: useful stuff.)

It’s perhaps a sign that my craft is getting better – that I can see problems coming a mile away. But I’m also keenly aware that I’m putting a lot of work into this that isn’t helping progress towards The End. And that seems to matter – although it feels like work, it also doesn’t feel like progress.

Anyway. Babby is the winner. Novel will have to be patient to reach its full expression.

Fruits of Labours

Been working hard the last month or so, and in the last few days there’s some nice outcome of that.

I’ve been working out and writing the launch exhibition for the new Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre. Really interesting building, really nice location. My role in that work is now done, and it goes on to other Eklektus team-members to handle installation and other bits and pieces like that. Very satisfying, and good to develop a new writing skill – writing for exhibition reminds me of teaching crossed with writing for the web. Full opening is October 21st, so if you’re passing through Waitomo after that stop in and see the building and the exhibition!

Also yesterday stopped in at Sidhe, to see a bunch of concept art and a playable prototype for a game we’ve been working on for some time. I am, it must be said, not the most competent player of games but James E was very kind as I flailed about. Exhilarating. Concept art has really stuck in my head too, and I’m scribbling away on the next stage of the project with some enthusiasm.

So it’s nice to see my work translating into stuff in the world. In the news last week was word that Madagasgar Kartz (for which I did spot dialogue) has “been Sidhe’s top seller, with the number of units sold recently reaching seven digits“. Safe to say that’s the biggest audience my writing’s ever reached!

State of Play

Man, I’m looking forward to when that baby gets born so I can finally catch up on some sleep!

No, wait.

Still in the depths of a sustained busy like there has not been since I cleverly arranged to finish my Masters thesis in the weeks leading up to my wedding. Achieved the rare trifecta of working Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Unsurprise: this has severely hindered progress on Day One in the novel vs. baby race. But I am not downhearted. When I get through these weeks I might be able to put some proper time in and make up the deficit. It’s about how much I want it done, innit?

Timely link: Chuck Wendig on how to be a writer. (Thanks to the people who took a look at the opening pages of D1, by the way. Comments v. helpful.)

Right. Back to work.