The Dungeon Escape

Last weekend at CONduit, the Space Balrogs debuted my newest game, The Dungeon Escape!

Character Example

An evil wizard has captured and enslaved a large group of humans and dwarves, planning to sacrifice them to raise Gornash the demon to wreak havoc on the earth. The wizard botched the ritual, resulting in his own horrible death and leaving all the intended victims free, deep in a dungeon. Now they must fight their way past traps, dark magic, and monsters if they ever want to see the light of day again.

This is a role-playing game for huge groups of players… like hundreds. The audience each gets a character sheet, like the one shown. There are eight different professions to choose from: Brawler, Healer, Tinker, Teacher, Hunter, Farmer, Trader, and Sorcerer. They choose their gender, race (human or dwarf), and skill. Then, as the game progresses, they have an ability they can use once, they pick things up with their hands, and lose hit points. When they get to one hit point, a special kicks in. The character sheet is designed to be ripped as the game goes, so they don’t need pens or anything during the game.

A group of panelists draws encounter cards and rolls dice. The players react to the action as it unfolds. A combination of luck and strategy determines if they survive.

The games both went really well. I even had people asking if this game was available to buy. (Maybe, we’ll see.) We got great feedback and figured out how to adapt it to large groups. We are planning to play it full scale at Salt Lake Comic Con in September, so come and join us!

Cover Reveal! The Actuator 2: Return of the Saboteur

Actuator 2 Ebook Cover

We have cover art! This series had been a huge undertaking. I’ve been thrilled with the amazing covers by the talented Michelle Johnson. You can add it on Goodreads now. For those of you waiting for the next book in this epic saga, it comes out on July 20. The paperback will be coming out the same time as the e-book for this one. Also, I’m having a book release party at a real bookstore soon after. That’s different than the usual FB release parties we’ve been having. I’m pulling together the stories for the next book in the series now: The Actuator 2.5: Armageddon Chronicles! Although it is a short story anthology which is technically outside the main trilogy line, you won’t want to miss the amazing reveals in it. To whet your appetite, here’s a quick blurb for Return of the Saboteur,

Chaos seized the Earth while Machine Monks fight to keep the prized ‘Actuator’ safe from enemy attacks. The ‘Great Change,’ which swept over the prior landscape of the world, left the protectors of this wondrous machine weary, and vulnerable. The only viable resolution for the monks is to push forward and locate the key that can shut down the fantasy realm surrounding the base. If they succeed, Xenwyn will die.

Meanwhile, Jon Van Allen is haunted by the enormous death toll on the rise throughout the earth. He bravely accepts the mission to recover the next key when no one else can find it. Despite pain from his prior injuries, he refuses to let the rest of humanity suffer—even though he and his love, Glass, might not survive to see each other alive again. The burden of allowing millions to suffer needlessly proves too much—especially if he can fix what has caused the living nightmare enslaving the globe.

Desperate to keep Xenwyn alive, Red McLaren determines to find a magical cure to heal her, hoping he can administer it before Jon returns with the critical key. However, every time Red takes Xenwyn across a new border into a superimposed ‘fantasy’, her life might end.

This leaves Dragon Star with no choice but to locate the Saboteur before it’s too late. The architect of the reigning dark world may have some insight that will help them alleviate the resulting disaster. If not, he at least deserves to suffer like everybody else.

Each in their own way fell short in their roles to protect the world from the disaster that unfolded…. None ever dreamed the Actuator—designed to make the world better—could yet make the world even worse.

Don’t miss the next exciting installment in The Actuator series! If you haven’t started it yet, get the two-time best-selling book 1: Fractured Earth on Amazon now.

Writer Mama #Bloghop

SW7

Happy Star Wars Day! May the fourth be with you.

Making no comment whatsoever about the gender bias in this bloghop’s title… Just kidding, Sharon Bayliss said Papas are welcome, too. Plus it’s a great idea. How do authors juggle a family with their writing? In my case, as with many others, it also includes a day job in the mix.

At a book signing, Terry Brooks told me, “You write because you have to. If you don’t have to, do something else.” For me, writing is meditation. It’s the only time my attention-deficit brain focuses like a laser and gives me some relief from the myriad stresses pulling me in so many directions. So I must write. Unfortunately, the only time-machines I have access to are in my stories. So here are my tips for carving out a few precious hours when you’re used to being “on” twenty-five hours a day.

First, take writing seriously. For decades I dabbled in writing. I put some words down here or there, sprinting through a book occasionally. I didn’t know how to edit, so I slowly amassed a dozen books over the course of twenty years, most of which weren’t good enough to show anybody. Eventually, I realized I needed to take it serious. It was important to me, not just as an occasional diversion. So I began reading books on how to write, talking to friends about it, and attending writers conferences when I could. Learning the skills is the minimum.

Second, prioritize. Don’t just prioritize what you want to write, prioritize your whole life. Despite feeling busy all the time, I knew there were plenty of other distractions in my life. Everybody has some down time. I watched television and movies, played games, and painted models. I left the priorities in place. Job and family had to come first, but video games certainly didn’t. I haven’t painted a single model since. (Although, when I become a full-time writer, I plan to pick that up as my “break” from writing as my day job.) Also, I realized I had to read less. As much as I loved books, reading took too much time.

Third, experiment with writing times and places. Humans are supremely adaptable. We can live in arctic tundra or steaming jungles. We can sleep odd hours, eat strange foods, and find ways to feel alone among teeming hordes. If you have a job and family, you probably don’t have the luxury of blocking out nice four hour chunks of time when you are rested and feeling creative. Such extravagance is reserved for people who have somebody else supporting them. Don’t despair, though. Hard working parents have a kind of mental energy and drive the pampered artists can’t channel. So I recommend looking at your life and finding time, regardless of when or where, when you can snatch part of an hour. Lunch break? On the bus? After the kids go to bed? In the morning before they are up? Don’t just try it once and think, “I’m too tired, it doesn’t work.” Force it to happen for a few weeks. Give your mind time to adapt. Once you train it to know when the time for writing is coming, it will step up to the plate and deliver. I know somebody who wrote a whole novel during his lunch hour at work. For me personally, I discovered I write best in the morning when everybody else is still asleep. So I get up early on Saturdays, holidays, and vacations to bash out a couple thousand words. If I plan for it during the week, my limited writing time is remarkably efficient and productive.

Fourth, stay off social media. Maybe I should say STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA! Do not check e-mails. Do not go on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else. Don’t check it first before you write. Don’t peek while writing. You can do that when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, but you can’t write in line at the grocery store. (Maybe you can, I’ve never tried. I assume it’s possible.)

Fifth, get your family on board. Talk to them about your adventures. Get their ideas. Share your heartbreaks and successes. When you meet your goals, celebrate with them. Hopefully, they will see a benefit to helping you and ease up on your stresses when you write.

Finally, don’t stop writing after your first book. You wrote one! Yeah! Have a party! Send it to friends and family and a critique group. Do NOT stop. There are no one-book-wonders in the writing world, not really. If you are going to be a published author, you will need to write more than one book. Don’t get out of the habit. Don’t lose your writing time. Take a small break. Think of a new story. Then get yourself two chapters into the next book. It took me a dozen books to get published. If you take a long break after book one, it can easily become the only book you ever wrote.

The journey is worth it. Good luck!

(If you want more authors’ ideas on how to write with kids and/or a job, see the rest of the Writer Mama #Bloghop. I know I could use some new ideas.)

Poet Noir with the Gangrene Band

Poet Noir

I recently had one of the most fun experiences of my life! I was invited, along with my fellow Space Balrogs, by the amazing Craig Nybo to write a short story and read it while the Gangrene Band jammed in the background. Immediately my mind went to beat poetry, and the result, POET NOIR, can be seen here. The conductor, Mark Robinette, was amazing and the musicians, having never practiced or heard anything about what we wrote, did an absolutely stunning job. Craig mixed it all together and called it Freestyle Gargoyles II. You can buy the album all over the place (available on iTunes! I’m track #2) and just today they released the video! I’m the first ten minutes or so. So check it out!

The Gangrene Band performs Freestyle Gargoyles II, Featuring Poet Noir by James Wymore

Don’t miss the rest of the stories by Holli Anderson, Jason King, and David West. I was surprised by how dark and musical they all were. Awesome!

If that’s not enough, Crowd Surfing did a documentary. A “Making of” kind of thing, which was aired on television all over the state. Crowd Surfing Freestyle Gargoyles

If you want to read the transcript of my story, I have posted it here on my page.

Enjoy!

My Acquisitions Page

I added a new page to my blog: Acquisitions.

I realized a lot of agents and editors have a page where they post credits for books they have been a part of. Although my contribution to these books varies, I feel like it’s been an important part of my literary journey. Some of these books were assigned to me by the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press. Others I found along the way and brought to them. In any case, they are all books that affected me as I read them and I recommend them all.

My Editorial Acquisitions

Wolf Cover

Prophet of the Badlands

Steampunk Story Contest!

It’s almost time for Salt City Steamfest! That means CONTEST!!!

Do you think you can spin a yarn worthy of the Salty Dog? Aye, many of you might. But only one will earn the approval of Captain Wymore and get the saline canine bragging rights. For one exemplary Steampunk, victory awaits!

The Salty Dog
Short Story Contest Rules

The Clockwork
– Only Steampunk stories are allowed. (See definition under “The Cypher” below.)
– No excerpts, previously published short stories, or short stories under consideration by other magazines or publishers are allowed.
– Stories should be between 2,000 and 6,000 words long, submitted as an e-mail attachment in .doc format (only).
– Each entry must be submitted by e-mail to james@curiosityquills.com with “Salty Dog: Title by Author” in the subject line.
– Entries must be in Garamond, 12 point font, 1.5 spacing, and 1″ borders. No page numbering.
– The writer’s name (with optional penname) and e-mail address must be at the top of the entry document.
– All entries must be submitted by 11:59 PM on Independence Day (Saturday, July 4) 2015.
– The author must attend the Salt City Steamfest in July 17-18, 2015, or the entry is forfeited.
– The decision of the judge, James Wymore, is final.

The Cypher
– While the exact definition of “Steampunk” remains enigmatic, for the purposes of this contest, Steampunk will be defined as:
* Historical Science Fiction
* Historical Fantasy
* Speculative Alternate History
– Character and a good story win the day, but the Judge will give preference to stories set in Utah before 1899.

The Treasure
– The official contest winner will be announced and given the 2015 Salty Dog award at the “Writing Steampunk” panel at Steamfest.
– The winning author will be awarded a contract with Curiosity Quills Press to publish their story in a print and e-book anthology.

Now get those difference engines spinning out some fish tales!

Back to work, Edward!

I know it’s fallen out of favor with Comic Book fans, but I really liked Batman Forever when it came out. I think Val Kilmer’s time as Batman was too short. The best part, of course were the performances of Two-Face and the Riddler. At one point, Edward Nygma attempts to talk to Bruce Wayne. His boss keeps trying to dissuade him by saying, “Back to work, Edward!” For some reason, I think of that whenever I’m supposed to be working and other things have distracted me. Well, not every time, or that would be hundreds of times a day… but sometimes.

The_bookkeeper_by_van_Dijk

Anyway, that’s what I thought today when after weeks and weeks of working on “side” projects, I finally got back to working on a novel. I had a couple of short stories to write, a few anthologies to start, and a role-playing game to flesh out. I’ve been editing, too. Also, I had a bunch of submissions to make for the Comic Book, Sundown. However, I finally got caught up today. So I dusted off the novel I’m working on and looked at it again.

To be honest, I was starting to worry that the novel wasn’t any good. As I took some time away from it, my doubts began gnawing at me. I started to wonder if I’d made a mistake and should just abandon it. So I threw myself in to the side work for months and didn’t face the reality of the situation.

Incidentally, In “On Writing,” Stephen King warns against this very thing. He points out that taking time away from a work almost always sours it, and one should loyally work all the way to the end of one project before picking up another. It would be great if I had the luxury of doing so. However, I have a day job and a family. Not to mention, if I didn’t take care of editing and side projects in a timely fashion, they’d never get done. When I got permission to do the second Actuator anthology, I had to jump on it. When Steven L. Peck agreed to an anthology (different one), I had to jump on that. So I don’t regret my choice, but as Mr. King predicted, I had soured on the novel I’d set aside.

Today, I decided to jump back in and see. I would just read through the eight chapters I had done and see what needed to be hacked and try to fix it. If it was awful, I would know. Luckily, I found I still love it. The characters drew me right back in and the story is fun. I didn’t get much new writing done, but I feel good about where I’m at and ready to push forward. Whew! That’s a relief!

So, now I’m back to writing THUG #1. :)