6.26.2005

Jaleigh Johnson...
has a Live Journal now at

http://www.livejournal.com/users/jaleigh_johnson/

Go on and check it out. :)

Hey Harley, now that you've finished the WoD submission ...
Don't forget to send it in!!!

Sheesh.

6.22.2005

Into the Wilds
Finally turned in the manuscript for "Into the Wilds." At 31.5k, it came out just over the goal of 30,000 words. It’s not a terrible infraction, but it stings a little since the usual modules are 24,000 words. I asked for the extension when I took the job and still went over count. Frustrating.

Fortunately, the publisher has been good about finding room for me. Certainly not a habit I want to cultivate, though.

And, again, a deep heartfelt thanks to the McCoy family for all their help. It's only a matter of time before they'll too busy selling their own stories to playtest mine, so I appreciate them taking time out on my behalf.

Embarrassment of Riches
I’ve always done my best to never turn down a writing contract. That changed yesterday.

The contract was for 20-25k words of d20 source book fluff. I would have loved to take the job but I just couldn’t promise that I’d have it done in time. Between the d20 World project and the potential for a Vampire novel, I just didn’t have the time.

Like a lot of you, I’m in that nebulous gray zone between full-time freelance writer and starving unknown author. I work days, write nights, and my schedule can only accommodate so much freelance work. You find yourself trapped in this very narrow space where you can’t make the jump to full-time freelance because your part-time gigs aren’t bringing in enough money, BUT you can’t take more gigs, because you are only writing part-time.

And … I don’t even have kids yet! (Applauds Kam, Elaine and Marce.)

As frustrating as the situation may be, it also has its benefits:

First and most important: Discipline. In between work, cooking, and sleeping you MAKE yourself write. During college I wrote when I felt moved. Nowadays I don’t have time to wait for my muse to show up, so I write before work, after dinner, on the bus, and whenever else I have a spare fifteen minutes.

The best part is, your muse learn to start showing up, latte in hand, for even those brief flashes. That little fairy is trainable.

Secondly, you learn Clarity. My writing used to meander like a drunken boxer. And, for better or worse, it still does. But I’m getting better. Promise.

Thirdly, Discernment. This one is a bit tricky. Some publishers pay better than others, and when you’re trying to decide between taking a 5k project for a reputable publisher or a 40k project for a publisher that has trouble paying its writers on time, chances are you’ll go with the smaller, but reliable, project.

That last one is tough for us wee-folk. After all, we need to be hungry --- and thankful --- for every single publishing house that is willing to give us some space on the marquee. At the same time, you need to know what you’re worth, and expect nothing less.

Sorta like being in love.

A Big Deathy Shout-Out...
To Mike and Chris. After years of hard work, the Frontier Fantasy Project will finally be published. For those of you who don't spend your free tiime hanging out on the Wizards boards, I can tell you that Mike began the Frontier project right about the same time as the Maiden of Pain contest. (You still might be able to find early drafts of the work on the Wiz boards.)

Their sucess is a joy to witness, since I've been lurking around the project since its inception. From humble beginnings, to a d20 triumph, and they've earned every bit.

Congrats, Mike and Chris!

6.21.2005

You're 5 pounds lighter in print.
Goodman games just sent me the proof maps for "Iron Crypt of the Heretics," their Gen Con special. And --- thanks to some incredibly talented cartographers --- they look great.

Funny thing is this: you, me, and every other shy kid on the block have been drawing these same maps since we were in elementary school. It is amazing the difference the art makes.

Wheel keeps on turnin'
Tonight I'm teaching my roomate's son how to roll up a d20 character.

Do you remember that day? I do.

6.20.2005

6/19 ettera...
d20 word count is up to 30k (out the 150 goal) ... and H cried herself to sleep on Father's Day.

Moral of this after-school special: writing can wait, and love your parents while they are still here, folks.

6.19.2005

Dragons by Firelight
H and I just got back from an 8 day camping trip. A sprint through the American Southwest (the setting for my WoD proposal), followed up by a wine tasting evening hosted by Spackle and Chernobyl Spice. Great way to spend out anniversary.

There is great free camping near Santa Fe and Taos. I was able to spend most of my evenings reading source material for the d20 World by the campfire, highlighting passages as I went. I started mapping out the world and trying to make all the pieces fit. Now I’m going back through the material, collecting the notes by chapter, and working up maps of the world.

Happy Fathers Day, Dads!
Me, I'm pretty damn lucky. After the obligatory teenage clashes, my relationship with my father has only gotten better with each passing year.

But for those of you with especially challenging relationships with your fathers, or for those of you whose fathers have passed, I wish you the best in sorting out those feelings.

6.11.2005

To Forge a World
Or Thank Goodness for the Office Copier

Tonight I’m staring at – literally – several hundred pages of source material for my largest d20 project to date. The stacks are the sum of twenty-odd authors, each having their own vision of heroic fantasy. My job is to give it form, a structure and a cohesion, that will allow d20 players to traipse from one to the next.

J.L., who has also had experience working with d20 publishers, asked if I’m the sole author responsible for all 150,000 words. Thankfully the answer is “no,” but I will be the sole fool responsible for bringing the works together. The raw material, the ore of the imagination, is all before me – now I’m the lucky punk who gets to forge the parts into a believable whole.

This project has very little to do with actual writing. It is more of a GMing exercise – perhaps the GMing exercise, making the discordant and divergent appear to be part of a greater plan. That’s the GM’s cardinal lie: “No really, I planned this all from the start.”

And in a sense, it isn’t a lie … in every game I run, I do plan on fudging, faking, cheating and improvising from the start. Mike Wallace calls it “jazz” GMing, but I don’t want to give jazz a bad name. ;)

Tonight it begins: the reading, highlighting, dog-earing, and more reading. That, and the search for the mother of all expanding folders.

Good stuff. If I could meet the Harley of 20 years ago and tell him that he’d get to do this project, he’d never believe me. Of course, he’d secretly hope for the chance, anyway. He’s a shy sort of kid. :)

Anyhow, I haven’t had much chance to check in on my friends lately. I hope you are all doing well. Kam’s book is out, and should be shattering sales records. Eric’s book is up for pre-sale and should be doing the same. Ian sold a story, and Chrissy too. All in all, it is a good time to be a young writer.

Back to the pile. Write well tonight and let me know how your projects are coming along.

6.04.2005

Kameron Franklin Book Signing
From Pens and Swords:

"Saturday, June 18, 2005, 7pm
Book Signing
@ Vancouver Borders (164th & Mill Plain)

I will be signing copies of Maiden of Pain and Realms of the Dragons II. The store will have copies of both books on hand for purchase."

You should all be there! I'll get a map quest image (and clean up this post with some links) when I have the time tonight ...

Life Is Too Short
My last few commissioned works have all been gaming modules. A few months ago I promised myself that I was going to take some time off from d20 work and devote myself to writing straight fiction – no source books, no module work. Straight fiction for fiction’s sake.

Last night I received an email calling for a 100+thousand word d20 product --- essentially a book length gaming project.

So much for abstinence.

Contracts aren’t signed yet, so nothing is set in stone. But the chance to work on something of this magnitude is a powerful lure. It will mean putting down the fiction pen for another 7 months or so … but when I find myself worrying about it, I just think back to another example of game designers-turn-authors: Hickman and Weiss.

The truth is, I’m lucky just to have the opportunity to write d20 adventures. This was never anything I thought that I would get the chance to do, and I certainly never thought I might get paid for it. (And all it took was one rogue submission. If any gamers are reading this, I heartily encourage you to query your favorite publisher --- it’s easy, fun, and there are few things better than getting paid to write games.)

In a moment that gets quoted far more than it deserves, I once said to a friend, “Life is too short to not be a hypocrite.”

This wasn’t meant to inspire a moral free-for-all. What I meant was that clinging to a principle simply for the sake of it being a principle is silly. If the situation changes, and your judgment doesn’t hold true, maybe it is time to change your judgment.

A week ago I was determined to limit myself to writing fiction. Now it looks like I’ll be writing gaming material for a bit longer.

Lousy hypocrite. :)