Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Series Reveal: New Identity Crisis Super Hero Universe

Series Reveal: IDC versus IDCU

Because there’s too much superheroic adventure for just one series!

The IDENTITY CRISIS series centers on events and characters surrounding the Phenomenal Five, past, present, and future.  This will consist of at least the original IDC Trilogy.  (Did you catch that at least in there…?)
Hungry Gods:  Third-string superhero Spitball is recruited by the Army to save a small Midwestern town from the zombie apocalypse.

The IDENTITY CRISIS UNIVERSE is a free-flowing series of individual stories and novels peripheral the IDC storyline, featuring heroes and villains across the breadth of time and space within this rich spandex-sporting universe.  Some tales will interconnect like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, while other will be completely free-standing stories in their own right.  In the IDCU, the possibilities are endless!
Dreams of Flying:  Three tales exploring the past, present, and future of the Identity Crisis Universe.
“Invasion” – A trio of heroes go into space in a preemptive strike against an alien attack.
“Puppet Theatre” – A different kind of vigilante fights for justice from his recliner. 
“Dreams of Flying” – A grocery store manager has special gifts and fantastic ambitions, but his first encounter with real thugs teaches him a life lesson.

Both series may expand beyond all boundaries in the years to come.  So strap on your capes, adjust your goggles, and enjoy the ride!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Writing in 2015: February Recap

It is my intention to set my writing career on an upward course this year, as mentioned in my 2015 News Years Resolutions post.  So as part of my accountability and tracking toward this goal, I have been keeping better stats on my progress.  This helps motivate me to strive for better scores and to show my progress in the long term.  Of course, this is 99% for myself; most of you who may happen to be reading this won't especially care.  But some of my fellow indie writers may take an interest or find some inspiration for building their own efforts and careers.  These monthly posts will be cumulative and largely repeating of the same intro/premise with new numbers toward the end.  The December post will, therefore, be a nice picture of the entire year.

To read the full deal on these monthly posts, including how I count words and how I set my goals, you can read the January post here.  Otherwise, the rest of these monthly reports will be truncated to the stats alone, as below.

General Goal: 12,000 words per month (derived from 3,000 per week average)

January:  12,650 words (8550 words on the novella Invasion)
                  published The Prince and the Darkness
                  published Hungry Gods
                  Hungry Gods release sold well beyond my goal, had a nice halo effect that reached pretty much all my other books, and all the accumulated sales were spread across SIX different countries!

February:  15,400 words (9550 words on the novella Invasion)
                    redesigned my blog
                    submitted stories to magazines
                    ebooks of Hungry Gods also sold very nearly every day during this month

Saturday, February 21, 2015

5th Edition D&D: Jedi Knight

This series will be 5th edition D&D characters I make up, just for the fun of it.  I haven't played the game in 1.5 decades but like to keep up with nerdly news and I do really like this new edition.  I'm hoping to make at least one character of each class, probably spread out over the long term as time and inspiration allow.

My character creation policy goes like this:
   (1) Ability score are rolled on 4d6, discard the lowest. 
   (2) Create them to d3+2 levels in the chosen class.
   (3) Give them an appropriate magic item at 3rd and 5th levels.
   (4) I believe the PCs are the heroes of the story, so I generally give them max hit points, no rolling.  Though I do like the 5th edition roll or take better-than-half system.
   (*) While I like the personality traits, bonds, etc. of the background portion of the new creation process, I figure the big write up I'm doing covers that stuff.

I've also taken a shine to the optional "speed factor" rules in the new DM's guide, so you'll see those modifiers applied to combat initiative values.

PART I:  Character story and description
PART II: Game stats. 
PART III:  The mechanics and ideas behind the D&D character creation and the decisions I made.

Please also consider these characters to be copyrighted, as I’ll likely use them to write fantasy stories and novels in the hopefully not-too-distant future.

Damen Fireheart, Knight of the Obsidian Rose

Thirteen years ago, a tiefling boy was running for his life.  He and his parents had been traveling and happened into the wrong human city.  His parents were killed by a lynch mob prejudiced against his people, who are widely feared for their demonic traits.  The young boy, ten or twelve years old, scarcely had time to process his family’s death before his survival instincts drove him to flee for his own life.  He stumbled down an alley, around a corner, and smack into a cloaked man.  The boy bounced off the man and landed on his rear end.

The man drew a polished rapier from his belt.       

The tiefling boy, overwhelmed with fear, confusion, and injustice, closed his eyes and prepared himself for death.

His savage pursuers rounded the corner in search of their prey and came face to face with the man and his rapier.  He offered them a chance to turn around and go home.  None of them took it.  Though he was outnumbered eight to one, the cloaked man dispatched six of them before the last two decided that their hatred wasn’t worth dying for. 

The cloaked man took the young tiefling under his wing and after two months of traveling, delivered the boy to the monastery that had raised him.  The Order of the Obsidian Rose was an organization shrouded in mystery, though rumor of their quest for perfection and justice was widely known in that quarter of the world.  The young orphan, whose name was Damen, was taken in and made an acolyte by the Order.  By virtue of his passionate and sometimes wild nature, the boy became known as Damen Fireheart. 

For nine years, Damen Fireheart lived and studied within the monastery.  He became a monk and knight of the Obsidian Rose; indeed, he eventually became one of the most noble and powerful of their small number.  The Order emphasizes perfect control and purity through physical and psychological means.  The tenements include justice and respect for all, no matter their race, status, or creed, and their first priority is non-violence.  When this is not possible, however, it is their duty to be the most powerful violent force involved in any conflict.  They are as the wind or the flame: to first be perfectly still and barely exist at all, and when required, to become an irresistible force that consumes all who refused their offer of grace and mercy.  Inwardly, this is achieved by perfecting one’s own mind and body.  Outwardly, this is evident by their mastery of the rapier and of magic.

The Knights’ focus on mastering their own skills are so great that, unlike other adventurers, they refrain from carrying or using magic items.  To compensate, their Order teaches them “vow spells”.  As long as they do not make use of magic items to enhance their abilities (including wearing magic armor), they gain access to these as bonus “known spells.”  At 3rd level they learn Shield, and at 5th gain Magic Weapon.

Nine years of training is the First Phase of the Rose.  Damen Fireheart then began the Second Phase of the Rose: to spread mercy and justice everywhere fate takes him.  And when he feels the time is right, he will enter the Third Phase of the Rose and return to the monastery to train the next generation until his death.


Fighter (5th level)          Race: Tiefling
Bkgrd: Acolyte               Align: LG


HP:  55
AC:  15  (chain shirt + DEX, max 2)
PROF:  +3
SAVES:  STR (+4) CON (+4)
INIT:  +3
SPD:  30

Init +5
+6 to hit
D8+3 (+5) dmg
Init +5
+4 to hit
D4+1 dmg
Init +5
+6 to hit
D4+3 dmg
Finesse, Thrown (20/60)
Init +3 (- level)
+6 to hit
Save DC (14)

  Darkvision, Resistance to Fire, 3 spells added below
  Shelter the Faithful, Vow Spells, Reputation of the Order
  Fighting style: Dueling (+2 dmg if using single one-handed wpn)
  Action Surge, Second Wind, Extra Attack (makes 2 instead of 1)
  Martial Archetype: Eldritch Knight – Bonded weapons (rapier, sickle), spells

Insight (+6)
Arcana (+6)
Athletics (+4)
Acrobatics (+6)

Martial Adept
 -- 1D6 superiority die
 -- Save DC (14)
 -- abilities: Parry & Reposte

Spell Save DC (14)      Spell Attack Bonus (+6)
Spells Known (4) plus Tiefling spells
Cantrips (2), 1st slots (3)
0: Thaumaturgy, Bladeward, Magehand
1: Witchbolt, Charm Person, False Life, Protection vs Evil & Good
Vow Spells:  Shield, Magic Weapon
Racial Spells: Hellish Rebuke (1/day, as 2nd level), Darkness (1/day)

Chain shirt
Heavy Cloak
Traveling Clothes
Only keeps as much money as he needs to get by
(Basic survival stuff)

III.  As I’ve said before, my goal with these character creation exercises is to make non-typical D&D heroes.  I also like to blend genres and in looking at the Eldritch Knight path of the fighter, I started assembling in my mind what that might look like.  The image I had quickly resembled Luke Skywalker’s darker look from Return of the Jedi, so I figured that was the perfect pitch for this idea: the D&D version of the Jedi Knight!  So most of the spells I selected were chosen to resemble a Jedi.  I also found that this order favored mastery of a single weapon, and so the Japanese Kensai came to mind.  So I melded these ideas together into something I think works as a cool character concept and altered the background and class just slightly to accommodate.

I also got incredibly lucky with rolling out the stats.  I usually roll out two or three sets of them and go with the best ones.  And I generally don’t mind having half of them pretty mundane (like in the 8 to 11 range) to be balanced and realistic, but I rolled great and once I added the +1 and +2 racial bonuses, I got a lot of 16s!  Ironically, the stats I cared about least for him were the iconic Fighter abilities of Strength and Constitution. 

Again, I wanted to emphasize mastery of one weapon and magic.  A sword was pretty much a must, and among swords what weapon is more graceful and requires more study than the gentleman’s rapier?  To supplement the perfection of that art, I selected Deuling as his fighting style, and as his 4th level Feat I took Martial Adept, giving him two abilities from the Battle Master aspect of the Fighter class.  These, naturally, would be parry and reposte. 

You might also notice that I swapped out a skill for the Acolyte background: arcana for religion.  In this monastic order, magic is taught over gods.  And when trying to decide what magic items to give him, as according to my own blue print a fifth level guy gets two, I was coming up empty.  I was going to roll some out for inspiration, then decided to not give him any.  I came up with the “vow” idea and compensated him for his lack of items by giving him bonus spells.

Racially, I wanted to not go human again (as I usually do go human), and figured having a race with innate magical abilities would mesh well with this.  I also figured having the hated outsider would work well.  (Worked for Drizzt, right?)

As with all these characters, I enjoyed the process of creating Damen and hope to make use of him (or some semblance of him) in my fiction in the future. 

Now here's a bonus image for your Drizzt fanboys and girls (of which I am not):

I happened on this amazing live-action cosplaying Drizzt by Farmerownia, which can be found here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Viva La Revolucion! Again!

When 2014 was new, we had a “Fugitive Fiction Revolution” during which we made changes of attitude and updated some policies.  I’m feeling the need for another yearly reassessment of where this publishing venture is going and how to adjust course as an author to make my journey toward freedom a shorter one.  So those thoughts are swirling around right now, and while I may not enumerate them for all to read here, I’ll be working on that behind the scenes.  One change is quite obvious right now, though, if you’ve been reading this blog at all lately: I changed the look of this blog.  Again.

I did really, really like that “magazine” layout.  I liked the look, I loved that there were images everywhere that made it easy to browse recent posts and pick out something that interested you.  That was great. 

The big drawback—and the main reason for the change back to the old style—was that I couldn’t insert a column of images or links along the side.  As an author, I feel like having all my attractive book covers displayed for your perusal is important.  The “magazine” style had a hidden column that only appeared if you activated it, and then it only showed a small black box that would link to somewhere if you clicked it.  

Not as useful.  I really wish I could combine the two styles, but I didn’t see that as an option.  I might be able to do that with another site provider, but that would mean uprooting and moving all my stuff, as well as having all my links and printed materials out there not going where they’re supposed to anymore, which would suck.  I’m already facing that with a box full of bookmarks that bear the old website that Google allowed to vanish out from under me because they wouldn’t respond to my calls for help, so…  


Another factor of my 2015 Revolution is a reduction in cyber-time spent doing…  well, pretty much everything.  I only recently got onto Twitter and I've been trying to “build my platform” and network and meet other fine writers that way, but again…  That’s time NOT WRITING.  So those of you on Twitter, please don’t feel offended if I don’t follow-back or seem to pay a lot of attention there, because, well, I’m doing more productive things with my limited free time.  (Note that if you send me a direct message, though, I will respond in relatively short order.)  

I also spent some time, and will spend more, updating the Fugitive Fiction website.  Click here to check it out, especially if you’re interested in ordering paperback books, and especially if you’re a bookstore or interested in ordering multiple Fugitive Fiction paperbacks.  You’ll find good rates there.  

(Please note, though, that it isn’t worth the resources required to make that “bookstore” there fully functional at this time, so if you want to order any, do use the Contact Form and we’ll get back to you and make it happen.)

Okay, I guess that’s all I have to say on this topic for now. 

OH WAIT!  It’s worth noting (or tooting, as in my own horn) that ever since Hungry Gods released there has only been one day thus far that I haven’t sold books, which is very exciting!

And speaking of that kind of encouragement, I need to get back to work on “Invasion”.  It’ll be the longest story in Dreams of Flying, which will be a collection of four or five in the Identity Crisis series, shedding a little light on some of the backgrounds hinted at in Hungry Gods.  Planning to publish around June of this year, if all goes according to plan.

Okay, that’s it.  Thanks for reading!   

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two-For-One, Dark Fantasy Double Feature

A quick word on a two-for-one, double feature deal.  The Prince and the Darkness offers both of my darker fiction pieces from 2013 at one fantastically low price!  You can buy this combined ebook volume for only $3.99, vice paying $2.99 each for A Long Walk Down a Dark Alley and The Prince of Luster and Decay individually.  That’s a total of five stories of dark fantasy, crime-noir, black magic, and vampiric beauties for only four bucks! 

Here’s some links to some of your favorite retailers where you can buy it right now.  It may also be available at some of your other favorite places.  Look for it and let me know if it is, I’d love to hear about it!