Happy 2019

Hello all! Apologies for the recent silence. First came NaNoWriMo, then came major life changes that weren’t entirely expected. But now, 10 days into the new year, it’s time to get back to schedule.

Here’s a peak at my writing and game development related goals for 2019:

  • Indie Publish 3 Novels
    • The Woods at the End of the World (tentative title): A YA supernatural horror novel about a girl who might be one of the last people left on Earth.
    • Paragon (tentative title): An epic-length dark fantasy about a wayward scientist and his soldier companion who find themselves drawn into a cult that wants to recreate their troubled world.
    • (We Are All Made of) Glass: A horror-ish, YA-ish novel about a boy who finds himself trapped in a strange castle that doesn’t seem to want him to leave.
      • This one’s an adaption of the currently unfinished game called Glass.
  • Indie Publish at Least 1 Novelette/Novella
    • To Dust: A paranormal, post-apocalyptic story about a scavenger and her best friend who find more than scrap when they search an ancient house called the Origin.
      • If you came here from my email list, this is the Wish List story and it’s still on its way. A longer length than anticipated and the aforementioned life shakeups caused a delay. Updates will be coming to your inbox soon.
    • I may also aim for a couple more short story adaptions, schedule and inspiration permitting.
  • More Indie Publishing
    • All of Our Endings (Short Story Collection): On that note, I’m planning to put together a collection of my favorite short stories and flash fiction once further editing is done and publishing rights revert. These stories will highlight one theme that I’ve noticed showing up in a lot of my work – crossing thresholds. Worlds ending while others begin.
    • Introvert’s Anthem (Poetry Chapbook): I’m also working on my first collection of poetry, with themes centering authenticity, solitude, and purpose.
  • Game Development
    • Finally finish and publish the sequel to Happy Birthday.
    • Finish and publish a short horror game called Amaranthine.
    • Finish and publish an interactive fiction game called Remote.

I’ve been optimistic in laying out my goals. I don’t know that I’ll accomplish all of them, but I’m aiming to challenge myself this year as a writer and designer. I’ve had many projects in progress over the last couple of years – 2019 will be the one where I send them out into the world.

If you’d like to follow along, my email list will chronicle the journey.

I hope the year has treated you all well so far. What are some of your goals for 2019? Let me know in the comments so I can cheer you on!

New Weekly Schedule

Hello readers! Today was my first day back at school for the fall, so to make keeping up with the blog a bit more manageable, I’ve adjusted the schedule. From now on, there will be a new post every Monday, as well as monthly project updates and occasional misc. posts.

Look for new content according to the following schedule:

Monday Blues (1st Week of Month)
Monthly media recommendations
Poetry (2nd Week of Month)

Short poems or atmospheric pieces.
Story Craft (3rd Week of Month)
Tips for writing, revision, or game design.
Flash Fiction (4th Week of Month)
Flash fiction and a weekly prompt.
Monthly Updates (Last Day of Month)
Project previews and updates.

Thanks for sticking around throughout the recent schedule changes. Have a great September filled with good books and strong tea!

Revamp

In an attempt to keep this place active, I’m going to implement a new tri-weekly post schedule starting next month:

Monday Blues
Weekly media recommendations (of books, games, podcasts, and more) to help you find something new to look forward to at the end of each workday.
Tip Thursdays (1st and 3rd Thursdays)
Tips for writing, revision, or game design.
Thoughtful Thursdays (2nd and 4th Thursdays)
Short poems or atmospheric pieces.
Flash Fridays (1st and 3rd Fridays)
Flash fiction and a weekly prompt. Feel free to post your own shorts for each prompt!
Friday Updates (2nd and 4th Fridays)
Project updates, excerpts, screenshots, or previews.

Happy holidays, and good luck to any NaNoWriMo participants scrambling towards the finish line in these last few days of November.

Yearly Digest?

Whelp, it’s been forever since I updated this blog. The hush hasn’t been a lack of happenings, so much as a lack of time. Primarily, this is because I began attending a new college last fall. When this year’s summer break ends and fall semester starts anew, I’ll be a sophomore at DigiPen Institute of Technology, where I am pursing a Bachelor’s of Arts in Game Design.

Still, I’m going to make an effort to try to keep this place up to date, so to start, here’s a digest of what’s been happening in the past year.

First draft down!

I can happily report that I finally finished the first draft one of my upcoming novels, The Blue Crown. This is the same novel I talked about working on during Camp NaNoWriMo in my final post of 2015, and it so happened that I managed to finish off this draft during this year’s Camp sessions! The Blue Crown, now complete at 104k words, continued to surprise me. I’d expected to struggle and slosh through the final few chapters, but once I sat down and started, the end of the story came easily. This novel still needs a lot of work before it’s ready for readers, but it felt great to finally write ‘the end’ once more.

Final drafts are getting there?

The other novel I’ve mentioned quite a bit in the past, Paragon, is still in the works. I’m about 85% done with the fourth draft, but because of a bunch of plot and character changes, I believe it’s still going to need one more read through. I had hoped to complete the final draft and prepare it for querying before the end of the summer, but it doesn’t seem that’s going to happen. However, I do believe that getting Paragon out there by the end of year is very possible, and that will be my next major goal.

I’ve also already begun to pick at The Blue Crown. It is admittedly a bit of a mess in its current state, but not as much as Paragon was after it’s first draft. There are a few plot holes that need to be plugged and some rough edges that need to be polished, but I actually think there’s a possibility of this one being ready to go before 2017, as well.

That game demo is almost done

As for that demo of Glass, my full-length RPG game project, it’s almost done. It’s taken a hell of a lot longer to get it ready to share than I expected, with lots of little bugs and balance issues rearing their ugly heads, but I’ve also taken the time to add in a bunch of new combat and exploration features that I’m pretty happy with. It’s slow going, partially because I’ve also begun working on a few other game projects and because school kept me busy with game development work as well, but it is getting there. The only thing I have left to do is run through the content several times and make sure everything goes smoothly, from beginning to end.

On that note, if anyone would be interested in doing some pre-release playtesting of the demo, don’t hesitate to let me know. When the time comes, I should be able to offer compensation to those willing to test the game and provide feedback, but I’ll post more about this once it’s ready to go.

New RPG Maker MV projects

The semi-recent release of RPG Maker MV has served as a somewhat productive distraction from several of my other projects. After all, it’s hard to ignore an engine that’s shiny and new.

Right now, I actually have two game projects going in MV. On is a life simulation game mixed with dungeon crawling elements, which is still in its early stages of production. The other…I think I’m going to keep a bit of a secret, for now. However, I do hope to have this one ready for release by the end of 2016, as it’s already in its alpha stage of development.

2016-08-13

A screenshot of one of my MV projects. Hmm…this one looks a lot like Happy Birthday.

Fun with Unity Engine

Aside from RPG Maker, I’ve also invested some time in learning to use the Unity Engine. Actually, this is partially because it’s very similar to DigiPen’s Zero Engine, which is what I’ve been learning and using at school. It seems a shame to not be able to put some of those new skills to use in personal projects, since academic projects, while valuable in their own way, just aren’t the same, and I feel that getting your hands dirty on your own is often actually the easiest way to really learn and grow. So far, I’ve mostly gone through a bunch of different tutorials, but I do have a simple platformer game in the planning stages. Working with a new engine and on a new gameplay genre has admittedly been a breath of fresh air. Unity really is tons of fun.

Academic game projects

Of course, what I’ve spent most of my time with over the past year has been school. DigiPen likes to talk about its rigorous course work, and after freshman year, I can safely say that it isn’t kidding. DigiPen delights in keeping its students busy.

Still, at least the coursework is fun in its own right. While at the school, I’ve actually assisted in the creation of three game prototypes, lead the creation of one complete game, and designed and created several different board games, which was something almost entirely new to me, but surprisingly engaging.

I’ll talk more about these academic games projects, and what the experience at DigiPen has really been like, in a separate post on the topic, but in summary, in my first semester, I did narrative design for an adventure/puzzle game called Push the Button, level design for a puzzle game called Quantum, and narrative design and level design for a puzzle platformer called Artificial Platformer. In my second semester, I was both the lead designer and the lead writer for a murder mystery adventure game…expect it wasn’t a murder mystery because the college’s strict ‘PG’ content rating doesn’t allow murder in its projects, it was about a cookie jar. That was a fun one, in its own dysfunctional way. All of these games were completed in teams, and aside from working on the design of the games’ content and their narratives, I also dabbled with art and sound design, and did a hefty amount of programming and gameplay implementation from scratch, especially with Cookie Jar.

All in all, school has been a really great experience. There are a few things that bother me, such as a couple of sub-par teachers and the school’s general, dismissive attitude towards the subjects of solo projects and narrative design. Personally, I feel solo projects are really important for any game designer/developer in terms of learning who they are as a designer, and in terms of becoming well-rounded. Team projects have their own benefits, for sure, but they aren’t the same as really digging into your own project and facing down your own weaknesses, as well as really building on and discovering your strengths. In a team, it’s too easy to stick to only what you already know. Also, anyone who doesn’t believe that narrative design is an important aspect of game design is out of touch with the game industry and its diverse audiences as a whole, but these topics would also be better off in a different post. Despite these complaints, however, the school has definitely helped me grow as both a game designer and as a person, and I’m looking forward to returning next month.


All of this aside, I’ll update this blog more often during the coming school year. If there is anything you’d especially like to hear about, let me know. Has anyone experienced any exciting happenings since the August of 2015?

 

Spring Summary

Well, I haven’t exactly done a fantastic job of updating this blog regularly. Part of this is because all of my projects have been fairly slow going recently, because honestly, these last couple of months have been fairly difficult. I have a lot going on in my life right now, both positive and negative, and it’s been hard to not so much find the time to write, but to focus on it. Things have been going slightly better recently, though, and I want to stay on top of both my projects and this blog during the summer.

So, in an attempt to catch up, here’s the condensed version of what went on during April and May:

Camp NaNoWriMo

I signed up for Camp with the standard 50k word goal, but it seems I bit off more than I could chew. When I went into Camp, I really wanted to push through and finish one particular novel that I’d started, just to get it out of the way, because, in truth, it’s a project that I don’t enjoy all that much, and I was writing it more for practical reasons (it’s a story with a plot and theme a publisher specifically requested). Turns out, that wasn’t exactly setting myself up for success. Not even the deadlines and motivation of Camp could keep me from procrastinating. After several missed days, I eventually jumped ship completely, and started ‘pantsing’ an entirely new novel. This actually went fairly well, and it was interesting, because this was the first time I’d ‘pantsed’ a story, with no planning whatsoever, for a long time. It felt really different. Nonetheless, while it was fun at first, not having a proper outline did eventually slow me down, and I only managed to reach a combined total of 25k words for the two projects during the month.

So, I lost Camp. For the first time. At least I did learn a few things, I think, about what works and what doesn’t. If this had been during a time when I had been more able to focus on writing, maybe it would have gone better, but I guess not everything always goes according to plan. I do still intend to work on both Camp novels, though. In particular, I’m going to do some proper outlining on the new one, and then get back to work on as soon as possible, as I’m really rather fond of it. The first one I attempted…I’ll continue it, but at a slower, side-project pace.

NaPoWriMo

NaPo went well during the first week, but afterwards, my lack of focus affected it, too, and I ended up dropping out of the challenge, save for the last three days, where I wrote three additional poems to bring my total to ten poems out of thirty. It was fun, but the timing was just really poor. I wish that NaPo wasn’t always the same month as April Camp. Nonetheless, I will more than likely give it another go next year.

Local “Exquisite Corpse” Event

By sheer chance, I happened to be at a local bookstore, and noticed a flyer for an “exquisite corpse” (composite story) writing event that it was holding for Independent Bookstore Day. On a whim, I signed up, and wrote chapter 7 of the composite story at a public desk, with the words displayed on a big projector screen in the middle of the store while I was writing. That was…interesting. I wasn’t particularly satisfied with what I wrote, but for the half an hour time limit, I suppose it wasn’t bad. I still haven’t picked up my copy of the finished book from the bookstore, yet. I’m eager to read the whole thing (I was only allowed to read chapter 6 prior to writing) and see how it sounds, and to see how the next writer continued off of my submission. This was actually really fun, though. I would definitely do something like this again.

The Avon Fanlit Writing Contest

The Avon Fanlit contest is going on at JukePop Serials right now, where anyone who wants to can contribute chapter submissions to an ongoing romance story, based on prompts. I don’t generally write straight-up romance, and doing so is pretty out of character for me, but the contest looked like too much fun to sit out on. I only found out about it 48 hours before the chapter 1 deadline, but I did get my submission finished on time. Chapter 2 is currently open for submissions, but I think I’m going to pass on this one. I will probably pick the contest back up on chapter 3, though, and will probably write at least a couple more of the five total prompts throughout the rest of the spring and summer. It’s actually a pretty neat way to let loose and experiment with writing, and to get some feedback. I’d recommend the contest to anyone with at least a mild interest in – or who’s at least tolerant of – the romance genre.

Other than that, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from my revisions on Paragon, the fantasy novel that I consider my main project. I’ll get back to it soon, but I needed a little change of pace. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of editing on my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m hoping to get both the revisions and the rest of the drafting done on that one before NaNo 2015 rolls around. I’ve been trying to catch up on my serials, as well, and as mentioned in the last post, I’ve also been working heavily on Glass, my game project. Here’s hoping the summer will be productive!

Has anyone else had any big events or struggles during the spring?

Welcome

Hey there,
I’m Rowan Rook, a novelist and novice game designer. My first novel, Night Plague, was published by Severed Press back in August 2014, and I’m currently working on a several new projects, including the partially released serial novel, Living Ageless. In addition, I also dabble with fanfiction, poetry, and anything else that can tell a story. While I have separate websites focused on my novels and my game projects, I wanted a more informal environment to interact with readers and gamers, other writers, and to share and discuss my own experiences, and so I decided to give blogging a go.

With posts on an approximately twice-per-week basis, this blog will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Upcoming books/projects and their progress
  • Previews and snippets of upcoming novels
  • Character bios and interviews
  • Poetry
  • Photographs
  • Discussions of the writing craft
  • Tips on writing, editing, and outlining
  • Tips on fanfiction and other fun projects
  • RPG Maker tutorials and tips
  • Discussions and tips on NaNoWriMo and other similar events
  • Helpful writing and game design tools
  • Reviews and recommendations of books, games, etc
  • And more!

I hope you enjoy your stay, and find the posts here fun and helpful. If there is a topic you’d like to see covered, feel free to let me know, and feel free to join the discussions with comments or questions!