Three Interactive Serial Pitches

My next project is an interactive serial where my patrons are able to vote on the direction the story flows at the end of each episode. I have three prospective story ideas to choose between, and I’m letting potential readers vote on which one they find the most appealing.

To help people decide, I’ve created a pitch video containing information on each of the three potential storylines.

Have an opinion? Questions? Let me know in the comments.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Bullet Journal Walkthrough

As a creative professional with a lot of different projects up in the air at any given time, I’m always looking for ways to improve my productivity and better organize my workflow. I’ve tried a number of different methods, and the latest iteration involves what is known as a bullet journal.

A bullet journal is simply an analog method of tracking your life. I find that the mental process of writing something out longhand is distinct from typing or other digital record keeping, so the creative process of making the journal itself, while not terribly time consuming, is part of the process.

Here’s the basic structure of my journal.

Index

The first spread in my hardcover journal is the index to the rest of it, and I present it here in four columns.


The first column is for quarterly, monthly, and daily logs. The second is for project tracking. The third is for lists. And the fourth is basically everything else.

Logs

At the highest level I’m tracking everything quarterly; this fits both my general production schedule and the fact that I’m starting this journal at the beginning of July, the first month of the third quarter.

On the left page of the spread you can see each of the three months of the third quarter, where I’ll add long-range notes and scheduling information. On the right you can see my third quarter goals:

  • Release Open Proxy
  • Finish Galvanic Century Fate Core
  • Consistent Twitch and YouTube content creation
  • 12 short stories
  • 6 working class creative episodes.

The mid-level are my monthly spreads. On the left we have the days of each month with whatever events or notes are necessary. On the right we have a wordcount tracker, and color coded trackers for any other habits that I’m trying to build consistency with, as well as my weekly Twitch and YouTube schedules for the month.

As you can see I spent much of the first few days of the month engaged in administrative nonsense, so I haven’t actually had time to write anything, stream, or practice my pixel art skills.

Finally, we have the daily logs. These are mostly checklists of what each day requires, random notes, and other events.

These logs form the basis of the journal’s activity tracking, to-do listing, and general note taking. I’m sure the style and format will evolve as I get used to them and figure out what exactly I need to do to make them useful in the sense of my own personal workflow.

Project Tracking

I’m also using the bullet journal to track the progress of the different creative projects I have up in the air at any given time.

Pictured here is the page for Open Proxy, tracking its development through the process of pre-writing, revision, cover design, layout, release, and marketing.

It still needs a little work, I think, but you get the general idea.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Trick Shot: A Shooting Gallery Remake

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that one of my hobbies is game design. Now, I’m an author, a podcast producer, and I publish RPGs, so the line between “job” and “hobby” is thin, but perhaps best addressed with the question: Does it make me any money?

Game Development does not. We’re talking video games here, not the tabletop RPG stuff that I sell.

Trick Shot

How to Play:

Click on the game screen above to make sure it has focus, otherwise you won’t be able to play.

Rubber duckies will scroll from top to bottom. You have 5 shots to hit each one, firing by pressing the space bar. The goal is to shoot as many as you can in two minutes. After each hit, your rifle will be placed in a random spot with a random orientation, so the trick is to figure out the timing before using up all five of your bullets.

Why did I make this?

Trick Shot is a very simple game made for a very simple reason. Two reasons, really.

  1. Actually finish a project
  2. Figure out some stuff in gamemaker

So I took a day and I made this from scratch based on the old 1976 Fairchild Channel F game Shooting Gallery. Making the duck pixel art was probably the most time consuming. It’s not perfect; sometimes the gun will spawn facing slightly to the left making hitting the targets impossible. If I had a mind to, I’d add more resolution options and the potential of touchscreen/mouse support.

But why bother? It’s a simple little game that isn’t really intended for public consumption. Just a learning tool. That said, I’ll be releasing a stand alone executable slightly improved version for my patrons on Patreon. Not much of an incentive, I know.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

“Best Novelist” nomination

I’ve been nominated for the Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago” Best Novelist award. I have no idea what twist of fate has led to my name alongside Mary Robinette Kowal, Kathleen Rooney, and Stacey Ballis, but I full intend to take advantage of this glitch in the matrix before it corrects itself.

My latest novel, Network Protocol, has also been nominated for “Best New Novel.” What?

So g’wan. If you’re a fan of what I write, vote for me. It’d be a huge help, even if I don’t win.

To Vote:

Go to the Ballot, click on my name. It might have you sign up or just give your email address. Oh, and you’ll have to disable adblock to get it to work. I appreciate your sacrifice. You can also vote for Network Protocol.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Network Protocol, second in the cyberpunk thriller series Shadow Decade, has been released

Network Protocol, the 2nd book in the cyberpunk thriller series Shadow Decade, has just been released.

The family you choose can get you killed

Spring has come to Chicago, and Erica has adapted well enough to the future to settle into a peaceful routine. She fills out applications, goes on job interviews, avoids people, and tries to adjust by watching the decade of television that she’s missed. The less she leaves her apartment, the less confusing 2026 seems, and Kate — the ruthlessly competent inner voice that’s kept her safe — has been silent since the mastermind behind the attempts on her life was arrested.

Still, social isolation isn’t all its chalked up to be. Erica’s lack of a support network becomes increasingly problematic as the gang that runs her Block gets swept up into a citywide gang-war, and narrowed eyes increasingly see her as an outsider in their midst. Can she open up enough to find acceptance?

For the first week of release, until the end of April 2017, both Network Protocol and the first book in the series, Cold Reboot, are available in ebook format for $0.99 cents. That’s a $2 investment, cool, right?

Both books are also available as paperbacks for around $15 through Amazon. I’ll be shipping it out to all of my $10+ patrons around the first of May, so if you want to get it a little cheaper consider signing up for my Patreon. I only ship out the paperbacks and hardcovers the one time, so if you want a copy that way, now’s the time to sign up to avoid missing out.

  • $15.99 paperback from Amazon

Speaking of hardcovers, those will be available in late May, early June. If you want one, I’d suggest maybe picking up the ebook now while it’s a dollar, and then signing up for to my mailing list to get notification when that’s available. Or, if you support my Patreon at the $25 level, you get the hardcover when it goes out. As an added bonus, if you subscribe to the Patreon at any level, you get a free download link for my ebooks. All of them. All of the released books. And bonus episodes of the Working Class Creatives podcast. And a bunch of other stuff.

If you do pick up a copy, I’d love to hear what you think of it. Write a review. Post it to your blog or Amazon, put a link in the comments below. It really helps out.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

On YouTube: A Vlog

So, that interview podcast I launched? Yeah, well, thing is, I’m not the greatest extemporaneous speaker. It’s not really my job. I’m a writer, I give words so other people can say them.

So I started this vlog to help be get better at the talky-talk. Check it:

Eh? Eh? Eh. Well, it’s a start. Subscribe to it if you want to see where it goes. Comment and let me know if you have any advice.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

On Marvel and Diversity: Track more than direct sales, idiots

Marvel Comics has blamed its declining sales on their lackluster attempts to shoehorn in “diversity” simply by having comics feature female and POC characters. Marvel’s sales have been in a steady decline since the late 1970s, and this sinking spiral is due to a neverending cascade of poor business decisions.

Direct Market

Marvel and DC Comics track their sales almost exclusively through direct market pre-sales. Chances are you didn’t know that, and may not be entirely sure what that means, because it’s some hardcore nerd talk. Basically it means that sales only count through the distributors to comic book stores.

Specifically, when the owners pre-order comics several months before the books are released. It doesn’t matter how many copies the store actually sells; the numbers are crunched back when orders for the new issue are first taken.

Yes. That means that any hype that springs up after the first issue of a book pretty much doesn’t count. If the issues fly off the stack like mad? Doesn’t count. If you wait and buy the trade paperback? Doesn’t count. Buy a digital copy online? Doesn’t count. Fan appreciation? Doesn’t count.

Unless you asked your comic book guy to pre-order you a copy as soon as the book’s listing shows up in the distributor catalog, your purchase doesn’t count. Oh, sure, if a title picks up steam and sells out fast our shop owner might order more copies for the newest issues, but for a monthly book that’s looking at at least the third issue, and books often take a few issues to pick up steam. Especially if Marvel isn’t pushing them very hard, and the title relies entirely on fan review and word of mouth.

Which is usually the case.

So Diverse Book X is announced and listed in the catalog. The only people who pay attention are the hardcore comic fans, who, as a group, may not care about attempts to reach out to a broader audience or be actively hostile to it. They may not seem interested, which leads the shop owner to order low.

Comic Rack

A few months later, the book shows up in the shop. Maybe people love it. Maybe they eat it up. Maybe its a slower burn, but by the time shop owners realize and up their orders, Marvel is already disappointed in sales, so they’ve cut back their expectations.

The book, regardless of popularity, is canceled based on sales data from months ago.

The Fans

So sales decline because the only metric that reaches Marvel (and, incidentally, DC) are how comic book stores think that their fans will feel about their comics. And the fans themselves are an increasingly shrinking niche audience.

Young Romance ComicBack in the 1970s Superhero Comics were only one of many genres. There were war comics, and crime comics, and horror comics, and westerns, and mysteries, and romance. Jack Kirby and Joe Simon started Young Romance, a comic that persisted for 208 issues with really excellent sales. Comics were sold in gas stations and bookstores and newsstands and basically everywhere, so were easily accessible to the general public.

Then everything went to hell. There was a late 70s crash. The Big 2 shuttered a lot of their books. Marvel basically only survived the 70s on the strength of the Star Wars license.

The 80s weren’t much better, and the start of a series of poor business decisions predicated on short term benefit. The comics that sprang up were almost exclusively superhero-focused, creating the image of comic fans as interested in only a narrow slice of subject manner. Into the 90s both major companies engaged in gimmick after gimmick to profit from the speculator bubble of the era, establishing habits that would make it increasingly difficult for new fans to approach the media. Prices rose to increase profit margins even as the economy tanked.

Now, in 2017, Marvel’s event-heavy schedule and DCs incessant reboots have created an environment where new fans find it hard to invest in 28-page books that cost $3-4 a pop. Marvel and DCs’ target market is that shrinking population of collectors and die-hards who will keep buying even if they hate what’s being produced. Everyone else has cheaper entertainment options that don’t go out of their way to insult and exploit the readership.

And they blame “Diversity.”

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Working Class Creatives: A Podcast

Not too terribly long ago my Patreon reached its first milestone of $50 per month. I do this thing where when we reach some, I offer my patrons some sort of group reward. The $50 reward was that I’d refine my textual updates into a regular podcast where I’d talk about my process.

Well, like I usually do, I went overboard. It’s not my fault, really; I just sort of floated the idea of maybe having a guest host or doing an interview of one of my fellow writers or artists and was swamped with responses.

So instead, my simple idea of a development log turned into a bi-weekly interview podcast.

Working Class Creatives

Every other week I’ll be talking to another creative professional about their path, their secrets, and their missteps. On the off-weeks I’ll record special Patreon patron-only bonus episodes that might be closer to my original conception of a dev log, or they might be off-topic non-interview discussions with other creatives I know.

We’ll see how it all sorts out, aye?

Today’s interview is with audiodrama producer and writer Paul Sating. Go on over to Working Class Creatives and give it a listen.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

Doctor Who for a Dollar through Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle is a digital storefront that regularly offers collections of electronic products at a deep discount. You get one set of goodies for as little as a single dollar, a second set if you beat the current average donation, and a third set if you pay the flat ceiling, which is usually around fifteen dollars. A portion of your payment goes to the publishers, some goes to Humble Bundle itself to offset costs, and the rest goes to charity. You can set who gets how much when you check out.

It’s great. I buy from them frequently, usually video games – they give out Steam codes, so it’s pretty convenient, and I end up trying out a lot of games I wouldn’t have bothered picking up, for as little as a dollar.

Their latest offering is a collection of Doctor Who audio products from Big Finish.

  • $1 gets you the first six episodes in the Destiny of the Doctor audiobook series.
  • Beating the average (currently at $6.64) gets you six full-cast 8th Doctor audiodrama, and a seventh Destiny of the Doctor audiobook.
  • Paying the full $15 gets you all of the above, plus three full-cast Torchwood audiodrama, something called Doctor Who: The Churchill Years, and the last four Destiny of the Doctor audiobooks.

I usually only go for the single-dollar or “beat the average” options, but this time opted for the full package. What can I say? I’m a fan, of both Doctor Who and audiodrama.

I haven’t had the time to crack into all of it yet, but here are my first impressions.

Destiny of the Doctor: Mildly disappointed to discover that these were audiobooks rather than audiodrama at first, but the narrators are very good at what they’re doing, and the dialog captures the essence of the classic Doctors very well. I’m into it.

8th Doctor Adventures: I was a big fan of Paul McGann’s Doctor. Unfortunately, audio drama like this is really the only way it’s ever been presented. That said, I’m looking forward to listening to these – and interesting to see what kind of production values Big Finish works with.

Torchwood: I really enjoyed Torchwood, and was sorry to see it go. Looking forward to this, and more John Barrowman.

So, yeah, a lot of value for $15. Check it out yourself. Let me know what you think, or if you can recommend any other Big Finish products as essential.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.