Thursday, May 2, 2013

How do you...write a novel?

I received a question from a fan writing books. 

Adnan: Hey dude…I need to know…how do you write a book? Lol xD I mean…like…I have a bunch of ideas and but I feel like they've all been done before.

Okey dokey, so the essence of this question (as you could probably guess) is not how do I write a book, but how do I start writing my book? In all honesty, it is a heck of a lot easier than I a lot of people realize because what many people believe to be a daunting task (100 pages, 1000 pages, etc.) really amounts to constant applied effort and a solid vision of your book. 

Rather than talking to you about writing out an entire book here and now, I think the most important part is getting your ideas in order. 

So here is a quick template that may help you get started. 

What is your book about? Sum it up in at most, two sentences. 

Ex: A Scholar's Journey: The Divine Tempest (my book)

A scholar and his protector fight against all manner of supernatural threats as they search for truth in a world turned upside down. 

Who is/are your main character/s

Penndarius Greyson - a naive scholar who is thrust into a world of intrigue.
Soren Luna Mortalitas - a talented fighter who was drawn into battle by his family's past. 

What can they do? How do they do it? What makes them special? 

Soren is a hand to hand fighter with a checkered past. His brother is an assassin and his father killed the rest of his family. He has an enhanced body: minor increases to strength, endurance, and regeneration.  

Where does your book take place? 

Therra, an original fantasy world. (Fill in the details later, such as how magic is used, what races exist, religion, etc) You just want a rough idea of what you are writing about. 

Who is your main antagonist/s? (The bad guy)

Diametries Malus Aequitas - a speaker for the god of law and order, intent on bringing daemons into the world. 
Kestrel: A daemon sent ahead to open the way for his brethren. 
Dayvion Luna Mortalitas: An assassin who serves Diametries. He is also Soren's brother. 

Who are your side characters?

Jadice Fillial: A highly religious captain in the white guard and servant to Diametries. He and his brother are unwittingly drawn into the speaker's plot.  
Aedan Fillial: An intelligent shrewd captain and brother to Jadice. 
Urielle Sincero: A seer for the god El'ron. She comes to Deiyil to watch events as They unfold. 
Azlea the Ashen: A magus from the Pentacle who comes to oversee negotiations between the anthra and the rahlien. 

What demographic are you aiming for? 

Young adult, epic fantasy

Now for the main body of your book.

This part is a bit more free flow, but my process generally comes down to me thinking up a number of interesting scenes that I want to write and then putting them into the step by step of events.

I call these "Epic moments". They are designed to cause the reader to hold their breath. Imagine the scenes that stick in memory, like in the Two Towers "Ya gonna have ta toss me!" I can still visualize that scene, even though it has been a few months since I've watched the movie. It is these scenes that will make a reader talk about your book, "Do you remember when..." that is what you are going for. You want people not just remembering your stuff, but talking about it too. Most books get passed around to friends and family, they sell because a reader connects with the author's writing style.

The most important thing that I find is that I have fun. If I'm having fun, the reader will too.

Anyway, thank you for reading! Have a great day!

Feel free to follow me (Herrick) on twitter or facebook too! '

I am currently listening to No Plan B by Manafest

My kickstarter  was successful, but if you like check out a secondary funding link here.  And you can still support my continued efforts.  you like, I'm funding the editing of my second book and it is a great place to get a copy of either The Divine Tempest or my upcoming book A War of Lies. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guest post by Ross Watson

Hi there guys, Herrick here. Today I have a wonderful suprise for you all! My friend and Colleague Ross Watson is writing a guest post for my blog!

Boost Resources

Greetings, readers! I was very pleased to work alongside Herrick when I was writing quests and dialogue for Darksiders II at the ill-fated Vigil Studios. When Herrick invited me to write a guest post for his blog, I jumped at the chance – I have my own gaming blog where I’ve been chronicling my thoughts on gaming for over a year now.

So what I’d like to talk about today is the concept of “boost resources.” This is my term for mechanics in RPGs that are used by players to get some kind of mechanical advantage during the game.
These resources go by many names; Fate Points, Hero Points, Bennies. What I think is really interesting about them is that it puts some control in the hands of the player towards achieving meaningful success – which is a huge goal for most roleplaying games.

Anything that helps give a player more opportunities to be awesome is a good thing in my book!

Now, the specifics of how these resources vary from game to game. For me, a good “boost resource” offers the player meaningful choices, adds some control to the character, is /not/ a replacement for experience points, and has a possibility of a small amount of narrative control. Sometimes, boosts are merely re-rolls, but others are strict bonuses.

I spoke already a bit about meaningful choice above, in that a boost resource can offer a player a better shot at doing something fun and awesome during the game. Unfortunately, many systems in the past have used boost resources as experience points as well, which in my book is a cardinal sin of game design. Boost resources should not be hoarded to improve the character over the long term… instead, those boost resources should be used during each game to provide those memorable moments of awesome. I vastly prefer a resource that gives an undeniable bonus rather than a simple re-roll… re-rolls have the side effect that sometimes a re-roll will be the same or even worse than the original test.

Now, narrative control is the most unusual of the options I mentioned above. What narrative control represents is the ability for the player to describe events or elements of his surroundings, or even some minor developments in the story. The boost resource represents a form of bargaining with the GM. In effect, the player says “I want there to be a fire extinguisher on the wall,” or “The evil king happens to be standing underneath a massive tapestry,” and the GM responds with “Sure, but you need to turn in a Fate Point.”

Results for this kind of bargaining are going to vary wildly from GM to GM, so keep in mind that YMMV!

In my own personal experience, I enjoy this kind of back-and-forth communication with the GM, and sometimes a boost resource is well-spent to have a convenient chandelier to swing on when the time is right!

Below I have listed some RPGs and briefly explain how their boost resources function:

Feng Shui
Resource Name: Fortune Dice
Resource Notes: Fortune dice can be used to roll an additional positive die for tests, meaning that the test will always be better. A character’s total Fortune is used for general “luck” of the character. This resource refreshes every session.

Resource Name: Hero Points
Resource Notes: Spent for re-rolls, bonuses, going first in a combat round, restoring spells. 2 points can be spent to avoid death. Limited narrative control is spelled out in the abilities of a Hero Point.

Star Wars D6
Resource Name: Force Points
Resource Notes: A spent Force Point doubles the effect of the character’s roll (as long as it affects the character himself; it can’t be spent for the spaceship’s armor roll, for example). Force Points are awarded for doing cool, cinematic acts. Force Points also act as a form of tracking a character’s morality – force points equal “light side” vs. the “dark side.” Dark Side Points can also be awarded for acting villainously.

Warhammer 40K Roleplay
Resource Name: Fate Points
Resource Notes: Spent for re-rolls, bonuses, going first in a combat round, limited healing. Can be “burned” permanently to avoid death. Fate Points typically refresh every session.

Shadowrun 4e
Resource Name: Edge
Resource Notes: Spent for re-rolling failures (so no roll will ever get worse), going first in a combat round, additional actions. Can be “burned” permanently to achieve critical success on a single roll or to avoid death. Edge typically refreshes every session. Edge is also used as a general measure of the overall “luck” of the character.

Resource Name: Possibilities
Resource Notes: Unfortunately, Possibilities are also a character’s XP. Possibilities can be spent for limited narrative control and to boost a character’s result for any test. Possibilities are always an improvement – there is no way that the test will be the same or less than it was.

Marvel Super Heroes
Resource Name: Karma
Resource Notes: Unfortunately, Karma is also a character’s XP. Unlike the other resources on this list, Karma is much more granular – it is spent 1-for-1 to improve a roll on a percentile system (d100). MSH’s unique chart system means that karma can be spent to achieve any level of success desired. Karma is awarded for acting in keeping with the tradition of a classic superhero.

Savage Worlds
Resource Name: Bennies
Resource Notes: Bennies are meant to be awarded by the GM in return for clever play, keeping the players entertained, and cinematic action moments. Bennies can be spent to recover from being “Shaken” (allowing your character to take an action he would otherwise be denied), to soak physical damage to the character, and to gain a re-roll of a particular test.

Ross Watson

Feel free to follow me (Herrick) on twitter or facebook too! '

I am currently listening to Firefly by Owl City

Check out my kickstarter if you like, I'm funding the editing of my second book and it is a great place to get a copy of either The Divine Tempest or my upcoming book A War of Lies. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to become the Bruce Lee of writing (or whatever) Part 1: Picking your characters

Writing a fight scene in a book is not an easy task. There is a lot of stuff that goes into a good fight scene. So lets look at how you go about writing the perfect fight scene.  This is part one, so we'll look at picking your character. (Hey...this is kind of like Dungeons and Dragons!)

I don't use any of these characters in my books. But! They are great examples that everyone knows. That makes it easy for people to relate. Let's get going!

Pick your perfect characters for the fight


The hulk is the guy you throw into a fight when you want to break a city. (That's right a whole city.) His opponents can be big. They can be intimidating and they can even be gods! "PUNY GOD!" (the HULK again)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What is a Blog tour? For the Blog dork.

Going on a blog tour is a great way to market your product/project. You are looking at getting your face in front of hundreds, thousands, possibly millions depending on how much attention you get. Soooo, how can you do a blog tour and what should you understand prior to going in?

This may be basic, but blog tours are essentially just jumping onto someone's thought page and posting yourself up as a guest. 

Getting onto a blog is rather easy/hard. You only need to find a blog that correlates with your interests and then contact them with a request to be on their blog. It is up to the blogger whether they want to include you or not. 

There are companies that offer blog tours. They request an amount of money and will guarantee that you will be on a set number of blogs. Their prices range dramatically from 25$ - 1000$ depending on what you request and which blog tour company you use. These groups have a giant e-mail list with hundreds of bloggers CCed on. They have more contacts than you do and have special contests (you provide the prizes) that WILL grow your twitter account's followers and facebook. 


70 blogs will post your information up (what is this, what is it about, etc. just a quick blurb)
10 reviews
8 guest posts
6 interviews

What to expect!

You should expect four types of posts that you will end up being featured with. 

Information/add post: This is just the blog posting up a "Hi there is this product, here are links" and no opinions or further input. It is essentially an add on the front page of a blog. 

Guest post: A guest post is essentially just you saying a few words for the "camera" so to speak. It is your thoughts and what you write about is entirely up to you. The post should be about 500 words or so, nothing special but it should be a bit about you and what you do. Make it fun and interesting. 

Here is an example:

Interview: If you request an interview, the blogger will send you a few questions that you should answer in short concise replies. If your replies are too long most bloggers won't post all the questions. Your questions will range from personal questions like favorite food etc. to professional questions like what is you *insert product* about/like? Try and keep everything within elevator pitch length (two sentences). Also, it is important to showcase your personality. I think it is just as important to be an internet personality that is fun to read as much as have a fun product to sell. Remember you are selling yourself AND your product in an interview. 

Here is an example:

Review: These are a bit tricky. You will want to get the blogger interested if they are going to review your product that means they will need to dedicate some or a lot of their time. Some bloggers actively seek out things to review and are open to requests, but others are picky and will only review what they want rather than what they are presented with. There is nothing wrong with sending a request but be prepared to get rejected or not get a response period. Also, some blogs actively only give good reviews, unless something is absolutely abysmal where as others will offer honest reviews. The most important thing to remember is that you asked them. Don't take it personal if they give you one star. 

Here is an example:

Feel free to follow me on twitter or facebook too! '

I am currently listening to Get Through This! by The Art of Dying

Check out my kickstarter if you like, I'm funding the editing of my second book and it is a great place to get a copy of either The Divine Tempest or my upcoming book A War of Lies. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

TUTORIAL: Making A Unique Fantasy World

How to make a fun, exciting and UNIQUE fantasy world.

I got a bunch of feedback from reviewers of my first book The Divine Tempest and one of the BIGGEST things they are saying is that my fantasy world and the characters therein are unique. I honestly didn't think about that when I was writing up my book. In fact, I just wanted to make a world that would be fun and tantalizing to the imagination. In light of this feedback I want to share the love. Mayhap you will find it enlightening as well or possibly just an entertaining read. Shall we get started?

The first part of the process is rather simple. I do something called stream of thought writing, where I just put ideas that I simply think are cool or awesome on the page. Everyone has these ideas, like “Man wouldn’t it be baddass if…” and then bam! That goes on the page.

I like guns and fire magic. GUN FIRE MAGIC YEAH! Haha, so now you are having fun and you want to write a character that uses gun-fire magic. I’m excited, are you excited? This actually helps develop the character because YOU are giddy about getting started. That level of energy that you can then throw into your project will translate into the character and make them that much better.

The same thing goes for the world. What kinds of things do YOU think make a good fantasy world? Why did you like these ideas? What was it that really made them shine? Think about what you like AND dislike. Do you like werewolves? What about elves, dwarves, and orcs? What is it about these creatures that makes them sing in your head? You may not want to ACTUALLY have orcs, dwarves, and elves in your book, but they are EXTREMELY good influences for fantasy specifically.

As an example, I freaking love werewolves and vampires. Oh man, I can’t get enough of them, but I don’t really enjoy writing horror which is a bit of a problem if I want to include either. (Nothing wrong with the genre, it just isn’t my thing) That was when I started investigating what TRAITS made these races so awesome!

For werewolves I realized I like the shape changing aspect, weak one moment a raging machine of walking death the next. (1..2…3..DEATH!) So, I set out to create a race that would fit this particular bill, but would also fit within the world I was to create that I could also use in the long run and not just as a one shot “Oh this is cool, look it is shiny and fun!” for one scene. Enter the anthra (Short for anthropomorphic kind of sort of). This is a race of beings that can transform into large humanoid animals. (Like a werewolf, but bears, hawks, squirrels, etc.) But, they can only transform at night. I wrote out their society to be nature loving and vaguely influenced by American Indian tradition.

Then vampires. I have always seen vampires as troubled souls that walk a blood filled living nightmare where they are forever a beast, trying to escape by faking their humanity but never truly succeeding. This is tempered by their amazing physical attributes and makes them silent brooding characters with explosive combat ability. One of my characters (shh, spoilers! Special kudo to anyone that guesses which character!) is just that. He is tainted by a cursed bloodline and is constantly haunted by nightmares of his past. I also kept the increased combat abilities (increased durability, strength, and regeneration) but got rid of the daylight sensitivity because that would severely limit his usefulness in the story. Given that there is only one of him, I felt it was okay to make him a bit strong.

These are only a few examples of how to make your book fun and unique. Hopefully it has been helpful! Feel free to follow this blog for future posts and if you have any feedback, feel free to post it in the comments below! Cheers everyone!

-      Herrick

Feel free to follow me on twitter or facebook too! '

I am currently listening to ONION! by One Ok Rock

Check out my kickstarter if you like, I'm funding the editing of my second book and it is a great place to get a copy of either The Divine Tempest or my upcoming book A War of Lies. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New concept art for the second cover of ASJ


I have a little concept artwork from the AMAZING artist doing my cover for my second book. His name is Ryan Cabral. He and I have been working on the second book's cover intensively. Here is a little snippet of the process.

I asked for a basic concept that he send me. We go back and forth a lot and this was the first thing he sent me. I tell him what I think and then we went back to basics.  Penndarius is not placed yet.
First concept: Top Baalor the main antagonist, left to right, Kai the newest addition and Soren who returns from the first book

Friday, January 25, 2013