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!

Paragon Preview

(Friday Updates: I’ll post updates from my projects every other Friday).

Well, school is over for the summer, but with over 5 books in various stages of (near) completion and 3 indie games in the works, I’ll be staying busy.

I’d like to share an excerpt from Paragon, a dark fantasy thriller and my favorite child longest standing novel project, for the first time.


CW: violence, blood, death

End of Summer

“Tell me, what is it like to die?” the woman hissed, so close that the man tasted the heat of her words. “I’ve always wondered.”

The man couldn’t breathe. Pain pulsed up through his spine and tied knots around his lungs. He lay on his stomach, wet grass cooling his dry tongue.

Every instinct told him to pull out the chakram embedded in his back, but he couldn’t. His body simply wouldn’t work anymore. The wound itself wasn’t particularly deep, but it burned. It burned like he’d been gouged by fire instead of a blade. It burned, and then it was cold. Cold like there was nothing left of his tingling skin at all. He shuddered, fresh blood trickling down his sides with each tiny movement.

Memories from the last few moments flickered in and out through black haze. Even as his fellow soldiers had fled, he hadn’t. He’d charged that woman – the one who’d sliced his brother nearly in half – out of anger. Blind, desperate, stupid anger.

Her circular blade had blocked his dagger. She’d stopped him, sent him stumbling, and thrown the chakram after him. His armor had already worn away through the hours of combat, and the weapon had buried itself into him without mercy.

What a childish mistake. A Lyrum should never confront a Human, not physically. He should have guarded his distance and relied on his Translation instead, if only the long struggle hadn’t exhausted his strength to summon it. He’d let his rage take hold of him. He was a fool.

The Human approached the Lyrum soldier, fallen leaves crunching beneath her boots and signaling the end of summer. Her paced movements belied the chaos of just minutes earlier. It seemed the conflict was nearing its end.

“I suppose it’s foolish to ask you about something so frightful as death when you don’t feel fear in the same way Humans do,” the soldier’s voice was as calm and dissonant as her body. “You’re lucky, really, even if that makes my job less satisfying.”

She yanked the weapon from his back, spurting blood splattering her stained armor.

The Lyrum snarled, “you’re the one who feels nothing! I don’t know what kind of soul you have that lets you do this, but it’s one that has much more to fear from death than mine.”

The Human laughed, “why would I be afraid when I have nothing to lose?”

Her boot slammed into his skull.

The Lyrum’s teeth clamped shut on his tongue with a screech.

“Tell me,” the Human ordered, “what are you and your kind after? This whole mess was futile from the start. Surely you’re at least intelligent enough to realize that. What were you trying to do?”

The Lyrum glowered up at her, the embers of his hatred smoldering in his eyes.

“Tell me!” she snarled. “Tell me, and I’ll end this quickly. Otherwise, I’ll hear you beg.” Her nostrils flared. “I know how to make you suffer.”

The Lyrum remained silent.

The Human’s fingers clenched around her chakram. “You -”

“Johanne, that’s enough!” a voice ordered from somewhere behind her. “There’s no need for this.”

A Human general strode towards them, a scowl on his face. The gold accents on his armor gave his title away, shimmering under an afternoon sun as beautiful as any other during the first days of autumn.

The woman didn’t look at him. “For creatures that live on instinct, Lyrum make so little sense. It should have fled with the others.” Her dull face lit up, “still, this gives us quite the opportunity.”

She rammed her heel into the Lyrum’s skull a second time, and he rewarded her with a series of sputtered coughs.

“Stop!” the general spat. “Shakaya Johanne, I order you to stop. It’s not going to talk. They never do.”

Shakaya hesitated, but her narrowed eyes never left the Lyrum.

The general’s face hardened, “have at least a little honor. Put the poor thing out of its misery and call it done. I believe it’s the last of them.”

The Lyrum stared at the mud, no longer able to move. It seemed he’d be heading out for Heaven early. He thought one last time of his family in Riksharre, assuring himself they’d be just fine without him. Just fine…

Shakaya glanced up at her general with the gaze of a scolded child. Something flickered behind her blue eyes – something cold – but it faded just as quickly. A smirk took its place, “with pleasure.”

The Lyrum smiled. The second squad should have arrived at the Academy by now. If his comrades succeeded…if they succeeded, then everything would be worth it. He might be a fool, but so were the Humans standing over him.

He closed his eyes. He never saw Shakaya raise the chakram a final time and slam it down where his head met his shoulders.


Thanks for reading. Feel free to chime in with thoughts or comments, or to share excerpts from your own projects in the comments for feedback.

If you’re interested in finding out what happens next, my email list will feature more updates and previews, and discounts when Paragon and my other projects find their way to release.

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?

 

My NaNoEdMo Project

TempAlong with many other writers this month, I’ve been participating in the NaNoEdMo challenge. An unofficial cousin of NaNoWriMo, the goal of EdMo is to spend 50 hours editing a previously written draft. It provides a completely different set of obstacles and rewards.

My project of choice for this particular challenge is a fantasy novel called Paragon. While Night Plague was my first completed final draft, Paragon was actually the first draft I ever wrote to completion. Finished a few months earlier than Night Plague‘s initial draft, it is also over twice as long, at approximately 133k words. And way more complex and way more of a mess than Night Plague ever was. I’ve been revising it for almost three years, now.

Paragon is a story that is particularly special to me. Perhaps it’s because it represents the first time I wrote ‘the end’ on a piece of original fiction, but more likely, it’s because it somehow feels more ‘me’ than any other project I’ve worked on. When I initially started writing it on a whim, during the summer of 2012, I never had the intention of anyone else reading it, so it’s very…uncensored, so to speak. It touches a lot of themes that mean a lot to me, albeit in some pretty strange, twisted ways. It also features characters that have been with me, in some form or another, since high-school. Paragon‘s two mains originally appeared as villains in multiple other stories I never finished, before I eventually decided they needed their own novel. I have to admit that I’ll be a bit nervous about sharing it once it’s finally finished, because it happens to be the mixture of both personal and quite bizarre, but I am determined that it will happen. Paragon will escape out into the world, one way or another.

It’s a bit disheartening, though, because even after so much work (it’s currently at its third draft, already), it still needs so much more. I’m cutting one character completely, rearranging certain plot events, adding new scenes, splitting up chapters into more manageable chunks, and still finding typos. Ugh. It feels endless. Right now, I am behind the daily hour goal, by, well…a lot. My college finals week is nearly over, though, and I’m hoping to really crunch some hours after that. The story deserves the sweat.

In addition to frantically working to catch up, I’m also going to post a few editing tips up on this blog that I have personally found helpful, throughout the rest of this month.

Anyone else participating in EdMo this month, or otherwise doing a lot of editing? Do you have one story out of those you’ve written that is most special to you?