Monday, December 22, 2014

Free Excerpt on Wattpad, Whole Thing for a Buck!

I just posted the first four chapters of Hungry Gods on Wattpad (just click this line).

And I've just updated the preorder price on the ebook.  Now through January 31st, you can preorder this superheroes vs zombie novel for only $0.99!  Find your preferred retailer below!

Now go forth and read!  (And make a superhero costume.  And prepare for zombies.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Summer Movie Fantasy

Since my sword and sorcery novel Tarnish is making its last discount round on Amazon this week, I thought I'd repost this fan-casting I did for the eventual Hollywood blockbuster that will be made from the book...

* * *

Let's plan a blockbuster movie for summer of 2015, shall we? This is a "fan cast," which is where people who day dream about a movie being made from their favorite book, TV show, comic book, etc, come up with who they'd like to see play the roles of the characters involved. I haven't gotten the call from Hollywood quite yet for Tarnish (hint-hint, Hollywood), but I thought it would be fun to do a casting call to fill the roles of the main characters of this fantasy novel.

My thinking is not restricted by time and space, and I'm not even limiting this casting by talent -- one of these guys isn't even an actor! But here's my thinking...

Billy Cole/Wil Thunderstrike - 1st choice: I don't know any teenage actors - in fact, I generally don't care for teenage actors. They fill teenaged roles and probably get to thinking they are hot shit even though they can barely shave or drive. So I'm thinking a good actor for Wil would be a 16 to 18 year old Henry Cavill from Man of Steel and Immortals (I didn't even realize he was in Immortals till I started doing this blog post). Tall, strong, dark hair, intense. I think a younger Cavill would fit the bill nicely for our hero. (Though I think he told Jay Leno that he was a chubby loser when he was young -- hey, weren't we all?) In this pictures he's even wielding a spear -- perfect!

Billy Cole/Wil Thunderstrike - 2nd choice: Well, I suppose I should try to pick a teen actor too, barring time travel and fountains of youth. Browsing the internet for candidates... I kinda like Shia LeBeouf as an actor but i don't think he's got the physique to be Wil Thunderstrike, son of Ian the Black. So I picked this dude named Robbie Amell based solely on this picture from some fan-chick's website. But to be honest... I don't like his attitude.

Leon Shimmerskin - 1st choice: We need a guy who can pull off powerful and arrogant and nigh unstoppable. I think Mickey Rourke's big comeback in recent years with The Wrestler, Ironman 2, and Immortals shows he can be that big, muscular badass. He might be a shy bit older for the part now, but since we're not limited by the barriers of time, let's shade him back a few years but keep all the power and intimidating glare.

Leon Shimmerskin - 2nd choice: I suppose Chris Hemsworth does have some experience as a charming yet powerful, blond-haired fantasy superhero...

Ian Cole - 1st choice:  I have rewritten this a year after its original post.  In a flash of wisdom, I realized that Liam Neeson would make an awesome Ian Cole.  Though his talents might largely go to waste, since Ian isn't very talkative.

Ian Cole - 2nd choice:  This close up of writer Alan Moore, who penned the graphic novels  Watchmen and V For Vendetta, looks pretty dead on for Ian Cole.  And while in real life I think he is very tall, he's also very thin, so he might need a body double.

Trevor LeRouge: The aging and balding bard whose whit was as fast as his blade -- Paul Giamatti seems a perfect fit! A real actor who looks like a real person. (That's a compliment.)

Jade: Cunning yet cute, Jade is a thief and Wil's love interest. Again, I don't know any raven-haired teenaged actresses I would trust with playing my characters. Fortunately the internet is full of folks who do, so... Let's see here... Okay, one young lady who is now twenty and I have actually heard of is Nickelodeon actress Victoria Justice. She's got the look for sure, so let's give her a shot. Get her agent on the phone...

Mum Picklebriar: Mysterious stranger in the black hat, a storyteller with a gravelly voice and grit. I can see Russell Crowe in this role. In this pic he even comes with his own black hat.

Morlock: Even though Morlock the archer is about the closest of Shimmerskin's trio to Wil, I had a terrible time trying to envision an actor to play his part. Then someone struck me as perfect: David Wenham, who's cool scratchy voice was Dilios (the narator) in 300 and played the ranger Faramir in the Lord of the Rings movies (so he's got some bow experience too).

Crow: As I was writing I envisioned a thinner version of Danny Trejo with a long ponytail, covered in tattoos, and swinging a huge mallet around. Machete is more than qualified to be Crow!

Lockheed: General scumbag and scruffy waste of space: Lockheed. Let me take you back to Heat with Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Val Kilmer. There was one lesser character who made an impact as a villainous creep that the audience really wanted to see dead. I'm talking about Waingro, played by Kevin Gage. "The grim reaper is visiting with you."

Brother Fabien: The "Boy Preacher," a young man who is both doubtful and a leader of the community. He's actually a more complex character than may be let on in this first novel. To fill his holy shoes I'm picking Jay Baruchel, who voiced the hero of How To Train Your Dragon. Young Mr. Baruchel would bring Fabien a great awkward dorkiness (no offense), a young guy who would like to break certain social barriers and "get the girl" but can't. Actually, thinking of him in this role gives greater depth to Fabien for me, which is amazing!

Jenna Knox: The musical heart of Redfield, and a lovely brunette, I can't think of anyone better suited to play the part and draw a crowd than Katy Perry herself.

Mad Dog McCray: This one image struck me as great for the weathered and wild face under the dog cowl of Mad Dog McCray: William Fichtner as bad guy Butch Cavendish in this summer's Lone Ranger. Fichtner is a fantastic actor, almost always playing smaller strong character parts, and it'd be awesome to have him as part of a Tarnish movie. Pull him right out of this picture, slap a dead dog on his head, and we're ready to shoot!

The Swamp Man: The mysterious cloaked master of Blood Marsh. The first thing that actually comes to mind is the Crypt Keeper, but we're not going for comedy here. And though it's not quite right either, I always liked the cloaked and cow-skulled creatures from Time Bandits too. So somewhere in between there...

Gromlins: Maybe we can borrow the Gremlins and spray paint them in appropriate colors for the film.

Redfield, Hobb's Turn, and Fellwater are all towns chocked full of characters, but the above castings cover all the biggest parts for sure. There's also a lot of actors I really like who don't appear here -- you can't just stuff all your favorites into one movie if they aren't right for the part, right?

Just another $100,000,000 and maybe we can convince some producer to go with this! I hope everyone will come out and see it -- and bring your 3D glasses!

If anyone else has any ideas on actors for these characters, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holiday Sales and Giveaways: Fantasy and Superheroes

This week only I have four different books enjoying a Christmas season sales bananza!

Today marks the beginning of the end of discount deals on the coming-of-age fantasy novel Tarnish.  Sunday to Sunday (December 14 - 21), Tarnish will benefit from a Kindle Countdown Deal.  It'll start out at just $0.99 for the first half of the week, then roll up to $2.99 for the second half, which is still half price!  At the end of the week it'll return to $5.99 where it's likely to stay forever.  (I've got too many new books to write to keep messing with this one, so get it cheap while you can!)

Monday through Friday, the 15th through the 19th, the superheroic short story "Puppet Theatre" will be free to download on Amazon.  Yes, free, so why not??!  It also includes a sneak peek (first chapter) of my new novel Hungry Gods.

And as I've already posted, my newest novel Hungry Gods (superheroes vs zombies, but probably not in quite the way you'd expect) is up for pre-order now through January 31st.  During this pre-order period it'll be at $0.99 instead of $5.99.  You can find the ebook for pre-sale on these sites:

And the fourth book on this sales roster is the GoodReads Giveaway for the paperback of my contest finalist novelette The Thorne Legacy.  Click below to put your name in the hat to win one of ten signed copies.  Ends tomorrow, December 15th!   

Finally, these fun Santa images were lifted from this article, which has artists and source links, as well as 28 more images of cool Christmas Santa mayhem.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My KDP Countdown Marketing Strategy

In a couple weeks I'm going to have two books go sale via the Amazon KDP Select.  Of course, this doesn't do much good if no one knows it's about to happen, so it pays to advertise.  It's easy to go overboard on that stuff, though, so I deliberately took a nice, moderate approach.  And I am by no means an expert.  I am not writing this to say "these are the site you should use to become a best seller."  I don't now any golden secrets there.  I'm just writing this because I'm proud of my simplistic, organized approach.  That's what I'm sharing here.

The reason for my launching this campaign at all: my newest book, Hungry Gods, which is now up for preorder.  To help that along, I am also putting a related short story, Puppet Theatre, on for free and my other novel, Tarnish, on a countdown (both the week of December 14, btw.)  By launching countdown deals on these two works, I hope to draw more attention to the third.

The initial, guiding principles I wanted to use were:
   1. Budgeting.  I didn't want to spend more than one day's worth of time or more than $100 on this.  (Because I believe that, despite a lot of talk about this subject, marketing for us little-known writers just starting out is going to have a very limited effect.  Therefore, I also employed:
   2. 80/20.  How can I get 80% of the effect from 20% of the effort?

So then I set my plan:
   1. Marketing plan.  Meaning, which services am I going to use?
   2. Author central messages.  I went to Author Central and added a line to my books pointing them all toward the 50% preorder deal on my newest book.
   3. Set my KDP dates.  After checking the availability of my chosen services, I set the countdown and freebie periods and made them official.
   4. Buy the plans.  For those marketing outlets that I'd selected (now that I had my official dates), I went ahead and bought the services.

Easy, right?  Again, I'm not trying to blow anyone's mind here, I'm showing how I simplified the process for myself to keep it organized, easy, and cheap (on time and money, both of which I need to be frugal with).

So which sites did I choose?  I decided to not go with some of the tweeting services I've seen.  I just don't know how reliable a medium that is.  It seems to me that a lot of those thousands of followers could be (1) fake and (2) largely authors like myself who have signed up with intent to advertise, not necessarily buy.  So I skipped the tweeters.

I found a service at that allowed me to submit my freebie listing to 30+ different services by filling out just one form.  Talk about 80/20!  Definitely worth it to me for the $15 fee.  Similarly, I picked just two email services that seemed to me to be relatively big fish with nice presentation rather than ones that didn't look quite as professional.  I went with ($20 for the higher tier service) and BargainBooksy ($40 for SF).  You can judge for yourselves whether these were good choices.

The obvious question is, "What about Bookbub?"  I did submit there multiple times but never made the cut.  (I suspect it has to do, at least partially, with not having enough reviews yet.)  There were a couple other services I was looking at too, but in order to stay within my budgets I decided that that was it.  Good enough.  All I really needed was for potential readers to be directed to any one of my books, which are all wearing arrows pointing toward the new novel.  That's the ultimate goal here for me anyway.

So there you go.  No revelations, just sharing what I've done.  Will it work?  Don't know yet, but I sure hope so!

Any indie authors with tips, suggestions, or questions, please do comment!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Superheroes vs Zombies for Preorder on Amazon

I almost feel this post is a bit premature but... The book is up, so I guess it's right on time, right?  Plus I wanted to show off this awesome cover that Trevor Smith has just completed for me.

So Hungry Gods it's up for preorder on Amazon now, (click those words there to go there right now) and will shortly be up on B&N, Kobo, and Apple iBooks.  Preorder will run through January 31st and during that time the ebook will be $0.99 now, becoming $5.99 when the book releases.  So get in there early!

What's the book about, you ask?  Here's the blurb folks:

Superheroes. Undead. ‘Nuff said. 

The country’s premier superhero team is missing. So when a mutant monstrosity goes on the rampage, it’s Spitball to the rescue! He’s a third-string hero today, determined to be first-string tomorrow. And the Army may be giving him just the chance he needs. Spitball’s been invited to undertake a secret mission into America’s heartland. What he’s about to discover, however, is not a chance at stardom but a horror movie come to life... 

Hungry Gods is a fast-paced adventure of costumed superheroes, government conspiracy theories, and flesh-eating zombies. 

'Nuff said.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Embarrassing Cover Issue

I was all excited to receive my box of 25 copies of The Thorne Legacy paperback today… until I opened the box.  I'm sorry to say that there's a resolution issue with the printing.  I thought it was a problem with the printer at first, but it may have been on my end after all.  So I think I may have messed up the first batch.  Poop.

However, I was also excited to see that the paperback has been selling!  I hope those who receive it and say, "Gee, this cover looks kinda pixelated and crappy" will come to this blog to launch a complaint and find that I'm aware of the issue and fixing it.  It's too late for those who have already ordered, and for those who will eventually get the copies I have now ('cuz it's too late to get new ones before the Goodreads giveaway ends), but please know, Dear Readers, that I'm working hard to maintain a high level of professionalism here.  Mistakes happen and I'm hoping to make most of my errors now so I can learn from them early on.  I get better with each miff I make. ;)

By the way, there's still two weeks to get your own copy for free in the afore mentioned giveaway.  Just click here to see the book's Goodreads page...

All in all, the story itself is still the same high quality, action-packed, tear-jerking, contest finalist material on the inside, no matter what the cover looks like outside.  But I am embarrassed to have put out a fuzzy looking cover in the first place.  (It looked great on the digital proof, I swear!)

Working to correct the error.  Please enjoy the story inside despite the fuzziness outside.

UPDATE:  Actually, looking at it the next day, it isn't that bad.  Still a bit fuzzy and disappointing, but not terrible.  Fix is still in-process.

FURTHER UPDATE:  Seems the art is just too detailed to look good blown up and thrown on a paperback cover.  And that's a problem for me...  I love this image but, unfortunately, I may need to replace it with something simpler and more viable.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Military Science Fiction Giveaway

My contest finalist novelette The Thorne Legacy is now in paperback, which means I can give it away on Goodreads.  So that's exactly what I'm doing!  All you have to do is click the right button on GR (assuming you have an account, or want to start one) between now and December 15th and you'll be entered for one of ten copies, FREE.

Check out the giveaway here:

Goodreads randomly selects the winners at the end of the giveaway sign-up period.  Good luck!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Twitter THIS!


...That's how that works, right?  With that little "at" symbol on the front there...?

So I'm finally on Twitter.  I've been avoiding it forever, even though it's been highly recommended to writers for years.  I can't promise I'll get on there very often, but I've at least accomplished Step One.  And I'm semi-sure that all my pessimistic, paranoid delusions about it will be proven wrong in time.

So let the cyber-ranting begin!  Twitter THIS mutha ------!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

5th Edition D&D: Cthulhu-Warlock

I've decided to reposted this to my new website because this is by far the most popular post on this site.  Apparently there's a lot of D&D gamers looking for a good warlock build, most likely of the dark and mysterious Cthulhu variety.   blackeye_cvr-mini
female elf with a bow in the forestThe 5eCC is a 45 page PDF.  Here's the description:
Fantasy author J. D. Brink first discovered Dungeons & Dragons more thirty years ago.  Finally, with the advent of the Dungeon Masters’ Guild, he can now share some of his own game innovations with fellow players of the world’s greatest roleplaying game.  
Contained herein are more than 40 pages featuring custom game rules, a new experience point system, and 16 new feats for players.  But that’s not all. 
A Cthulhu warlock, steampunk mage, Shinto samurai, and rogue spymaster: these are just 4 of 10 characters created from new takes on existing classes, complete with detailed backstories and decision descriptions.  Ten characters meant to provide players and DMs with new inspiration for developing their own worlds and the heroes to save them.     



“Kinda a funny looking feller, eh?  Don’t look dangerous, but something ‘bout him makes me skin crawl.  Better keep a distance.” – Constable’s Deputy, Dunwich

Warlock (3)
Alignment: CN


HP:  24
AC:  12
PROF:  +2
SAVES:  WIS (+4) CHAR (+5)
INIT:  +2

RACE:  Human

* Dragon chess gaming proficiency
* Life of Privilege
* Languages: Common, Elven

* Otherworldly Patron: Great Old One
* Awakened Mind
* Pact Boon: Book of Shadows
* Eldritch Invocations:
-- Beguiling Influence
-- Mask of Many Faces

* Spell DC (13)  Spell Attack Mod (+5)
* Warlock: 2 Cantrips, 4 Known Spells, 2 Spell Slots at 2nd Level
-- Cantrips: Eldritch Blast, Prestidigitation
-- 1st Level: Hex, Arms of Hadar
-- 2nd Level: Suggestion, Crown of Madness
* Eldritch Invocation: Disguise Self at will
* Books of Shadows: Druid (WIS)
-- Cantrips: Shillelagh, Produce Flame, Resistance
* Magic Initiate Feat: Bard (CHAR)
-- Cantrips: Mage Hand, Minor Illusion
-- Once per long rest: Dissonant Whispers
* Ritual Caster: Wizard (INT)
-- 1st Level: Find Familiar, Unseen Servant

FAMILIAR:  Lovecraft, the ferret (fiend)

* Intimidation (+5)
* Arcana (+4)
* Investigation (+4)
* History (+4)
* Insight (+4)
* Deception (+5)
* Persuasion (+5)
* Bonus Languages: Primordial, Abyssal

* Magic Initiate
* Ritual Caster

* Ornate cane (club), 2 daggers
* Studded leather armor
* Fine clothes, Scholar’s pack, scroll of pedigree, 2 signet rings – one of Fellcorr family, one unknown (arcane focus)
* His uncle’s estate in Dunwich


Jansen Fellcorr came from a family of minor nobility and had lived most of his life in abject boredom.  The life of privilege didn't disagree with him, per say, but there was very little about that easy, controlled life that held his interest.  He made study and observation ("people watching") his hobbies, sometimes following strangers all day, even back to their homes, to discover the secrets of their lives.  Jansen was an intelligent, polite, and rather creepy young man.

The death of Hadspen Fellcorr--Jansen's uncle--went largely unnoticed, as Hadspen had been the strange and estranged black sheep of the family.  Jansen, at twenty-six years of age, barely even remembered his uncle Hadspen.  But when he heard of the man's passing and saw how the rest of his noble family chose to ignore the black sheep's death from their flock, Jansen made it his business to find out more.  (He had nothing better to do, after all.)  It took him a week to travel to the city of Dunwich, where his uncle had lived and died.  The Dunwich mortician and Hadspen's landlord were only too happy to turn over the odd nobleman's personal effects and quarters to the nephew who had come to claim them.  Though he had lived there for years, no one in town seemed to know Hadspen very well, nor did they want to.  It was rumored that he dabbled in dark magic and secrets best left undiscovered.

It was in his dead uncle's home that Jansen uncovered new mysteries and a new purpose in life.  Hadspen's quarters were filled with books and rarities: drawings and journals, maps and star charts, ancient artifacts and dusty grimoires.  Jansen dove in eagerly and lived in Dunwich through the summer,  fall, and into winter.  And it was on the bitter cold evening of the winter solstice that he finally unlocked the same key that his uncle had years before.  It was on this cold, snowy night that he finally met Hadspen Fellcorr's other-worldly benefactor.

Jansen has taken his uncle's place as the servant and apprentice of a strange, extra-planar power.  He has, in fact, surpassed his uncle and become an actively mobile agent, taking on the title of Eye in the Shadow.  The motives of his patron are unclear, even to him, but he serves it with no less devotion.  Be it good or evil, Jansen's benefactor seems to be an entity of shadow, deception, knowledge, and madness.  Though his master speaks to him only rarely, Jansen continues to follow wherever his destiny seems to be leading.

As an adventurer, Jansen carries the same cane that his uncle had used in life.  This is a very ornate walking stick carved to resemble an alien tower on another plane of existence.  It is patterned after the very structure that is benefactor inhabits, be it a palace or a prison.  His loyal companion and familiar, Lovecraft the ferret, acts as his eyes and ears, sticky fingers, and only true friend.  Jansen wears two signet rings: the Fellcorr crest on his right hand, and, on his left, a ring bearing a symbol unknown to any court in this reality.  Jansen uses his family pedigree only when needed to infiltrate or influence others along his course, preferring to forget the worthless life of nobility he’d lived before.


I actually did quite a bit of dark research myself to see what options and spells I wanted to take with this character.  Warlocks have three paths they can follow, called Eldritch Invocations, and in a way I have managed to take all three here rather than settling for just one!

I wanted to favor spellcraft with this guy, partially because Warlocks have such a weird and limited magic-user mechanic.  (Though I do like that they work in a different way than the rest.)  I took the Book of Shadows, which lets me pick 3 cantrips from any class list.  I chose Druids and Shillelagh, a spell that lets me turn Jansen's fancy cane (club) into a magical weapon of moderate power.  Therefore, I kind of get the bonded weapon invocation.  I also tend to make human characters, so I started with two Feats.  For both I took more spells, which gave me access to Find Familiar, thus effectively giving me the Chain invocation too.

BAM!  All three Warlock paths in one character!  And I have an amazing number of spells for a 3rd level character, especially a warlock!

And while he is magicked up pretty darn well, he’s not going to dodge or take a hit very well.  But not all characters need to be combat powerhouses!  I like how Fifth Edition clearly states the three main aspects of game play: not just combat, but also exploration and social interaction.  Jansen is a brainy magic user who will excel at the second and third aspects far more that the first one.  As a player and DM—as I’ve said before—I like to make sure skills and non-combat spells are valuable in the game too.  This character will put his best ability score—Charisma—to good use, along with useful INT- and WIS-based skills.

His role as the Eye in the Shadow makes him a spy and a manipulator.  I chose many of his spells to specifically fit his shadowy and Cthulhu-like nature.  I also considered an owl and raven for his familiar, both of which seem very Cthulhu to me, but the ferret just seemed to fit more comfortably somehow.

I actually really like this character concept.  He’s just begging to be in a story/novel someday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

D&D: the New 5th Edition

I can remember my first Dungeons and Dragons box set: the red soft-back books, the colorful, gem-like dice (the d20 was purple!), and the excitement of opening it as I sat in the car of the old Potter Village parking lot as my mom continued shopping.  She must have known it was the only way to shut me up so she could keep going about her hunting and gathering.  I was already somewhat aware of the game, thanks to the Girdners, who lived next door, and my cousins Mitch and Chad.

Now, a thousand years later, the Fifth Edition has come out.  I have been in and out of the game ever since I was seven or eight years old (maybe sooner), playing in junior high and high school, and then in college, and I even ran a game in the barracks when I was in the Navy the first time, which was the most fun campaign I'd ever been a part of.  That was 1999-2000 and the last time I've actually played, though being a old nerd, I wouldn't mind playing again.  When my son is old enough, I'll be corrupting his group of friends for sure!

My favorite version of the game, as I'm sure a lot of folks will agree, was 3.0 and 3.5, which was so good that when Wizards of the Coast (who conquered TSR quite some time ago -- actually, that's not fair, I should say rescued TSR, which was in dire straits)...  Where was I?  Oh yes, when WotC had a crisis of confidence and moved on to 4th edition, which resembled in every way possible the online game World of Warcraft, another company (Paizo) resurrected and improved upon the 3.0 system, creating their own version called Pathfinder, which I'm happy to see if still flourishing to this day.  (Wow, that was a long sentence!)

So after WotC broke down in a desperate attempt to attract WoW players, I had given up on them and the game of all games, the great grandfather of all role-playing and video games.  (That's right: without D&D, all you guys who think Xbox is cool but rolling dice is for dorks, you wouldn't have anything.)  BUT, this year, WotC came out with 5th edition, and I must say, I LIKE IT!

Allow me to hit some highlights as to why I think Wizards of the Coast has once again brought D&D back from near death.  I can sum it up nicely by saying that they've simplified game play while adding more depth to the characters.  The rules now get out of the way and allow you to just play.  In previous versions, there was a chart and table for every damned thing you could think of.  Rolling dice took precedence over having fun and telling your own stories.  Things would slow down so you could consult the appropriate charts and rules, which took ten minutes to find, and then calculate the new math.  In 5th edition, the math is simplified so you can pretty much keep track of everything in your head, which allows for the story to continue uninterrupted.  Character creation, meanwhile, has taken on more dimensions, allowing for a greater diversity of heroes with more customizable abilities.  It's win-win, people!

Some examples for you:
-- The general game-play rolling has been streamlined with advantage and disadvantage.  Instead of looking up modifiers on a chart, you might have one of these conditions applied to your rolls.  In either case you roll two d20s when you make your hit, skill check, or whatever.  If you have "advantage," you take the higher; "disadvantage," you take the lower.  Done.  Simple.  For example, if you are wearing noisy heavy armor, you have disadvantage on your stealth checks (rather than modifiers to your roll).
-- Proficiency.  While I do like the 3.0/Pathfinder system of putting points and levels into skills, this is way easier.  Every character has a Proficiency Bonus based on their level (and it's the same bonus across all classes).  You add this one number when determining bonuses to hit in combat (if you are proficient with the weapon), casting spells, using skills and tools you are proficient in, and making saving throws (that you're proficient in).  If you are not "proficient" in those areas, you don't get this bonus to the roll, you just roll it without.  When you get skill slots, you become "proficient" in those skills, add this bonus and your ability modifiers.  One number, so many easy uses.
-- Saving throws.  Branching off the above, all saving throws are now Ability-based.  So saving against poison is a Constitution save, while dodging a trap or dragon breath is a Dexterity save, and resisting a charm spell is a Wisdom save.  And some classes are better at dodging than enduring poison.
-- Critical hits.  No rerolling to see if it's really a critical hit, and no weird per-weapon multipliers.  Did you roll a 20?  Then roll twice as much damage.  Period.
-- Resistance and Vulnerability.  If a creature has resistance to a certain damage-type, it takes half damage.  If it is vulnerable to that type, it takes double damage.
-- Class features.  Every class has multiple paths it can take starting at 3rd level.  You could have two or three characters of the same class in your party that are all unique in how they play and where they are going. Each class also has its own mechanics in a way, which is cool but kind of counter to the "simplification" philosophy.  For example, the ways that Wizards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks use and acquire spells are all slightly different, but in a good way.
-- Background.  Another nifty addition to character creation is that everyone picks a Background as well, which comes with its own bonus skills and special abilities, along with motivations and personality traits that help flesh-out the character.  Examples include Soldier, Criminal, Guild Artisan, Hermit, and Noble.

Now comes my favorite part: the naked women.

I mean, character creation!  I might enjoy making characters more than actually playing them.  I just like making up interesting characters with different traits, stories, and abilities, which also lends to my writing.  In fact, coming up with game characters has led to some story, even series, ideas.  And I expect this will as well.

I plan to make up a new character for each class in the new D&D system, maybe more than one.  Of course, this will take some time: months, maybe a full year!  I'll do it here and there as time and inspiration allows.  But it'll be fun along the way!  My intention is to take each class and make someone different than the norm, so we'll see how it goes.  I'll roll out Ability scores based on the 4d6 and discard one system, and I'll roll d3+2 to determine a random character level. At 3rd and 5th levels I'll give them a magic or special item.

The first one will be a Warlock, as inspired by my friend Josh, who is back in the Midwest and getting to actually play the game.  He made a Cthulhu-type Warlock, which made me want to make one!  So I did, bloggable sometime in the near future...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween Sale on Horror Stories

Just a quick note here letting you all know that NOW through Halloween weekend, my adult horror collection A Long Walk Down a Dark Alley is marked down to only $0.99 (ebook version).

I know for sure that it's up at that price on Amazon and Smashwords as of this posting, but sites like Barnes & Noble and Kobo might take another day or two to catch up on the price change.  (Just click on the site names here to check.)  Enjoy!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Finding (and Losing) Time to Write

A quick (and dismal) observation:

I woke up first this morning, which is normal, but being Saturday I thought, "Ah-ha, finally, time to write while the family sleeps!  I'll get another chapter knocked out."  I came downstairs, let the dogs out, and turned on my laptop.

First, check the email, really quick.

Top email is from Joni at the Writers of the Future Contest saying the WotF Blog has posted the contest results.  Hey, there it is, my name in lights.  Oh, look at that, she even posted me as "stationed in Japan," cool!

Well, I guess I could blog that quick.

Write two brief paragraphs, add picture.  Done.

Well, I could tweak and add those other blog pages I've been thinking about.  Fix one page, add two more.  Easy but takes time.
Post updates for new blog page to two Facebook pages.  (I hates me some Facebook...) Respond to a couple updates from others posted weeks ago.

Somewhere in here the family woke up and came down.  And now, two hours later, I have spent two hours of my novel writing time screwing around on the internet.  Almost all writing-related, but still...

Email is not writing.  Blogging is not writing.  And Facebook sure as hell is not writing.  


Writers of the Future Blog Post Live

Just a quick add-on to my previous posting: the WotF Blog has officially posted the results for the third quarter, which you can view by clicking here.  Joni (the director) also always says where the entrants are from, and in my case she went so far as to say "stationed in Japan," which made me smile.  Thanks, Joni!

Speaking of which, we're stocking up on bottled water and battening down the hatches here.  We're in TCCOR 3 right now (that's Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness), which means a typhoon is expected to hit within 48 hours; Sunday night was the last word.  Now our real Japanese experience begins!  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fantasy on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners' Lending Library

I have just enrolled my fantasy novel Tarnish back on KDP Select for a limited time.  This means that right now, if you have access to Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, you can download Tarnish for free.  Right now.

Go ahead, check out the description and reviews on Amazon.  Notice the especially the quotes from professional reviews and reading blogs, such as Tales of the Talisman Magazine.

As a matter of fact, there's a full review in Talisman's newest issue (volume 10, issue 1), available here.  A big thank you to editor David Lee Summers and especially to Karissa Sluss, who read the book and wrote a very thorough and well-thought review.

As I've blogged about before, the downside of entering the Faustian KDP Select deal is that you can't have your ebook published anywhere else.  So for the next three to four months, the Tarnish ebook will not be available anywhere but Amazon.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Writers of the Future Contest Results... At Least Mine

My story for the last quarter, which will also be featured in the Identity Crisis collection Dreams of Flying sometime next year, did not win the contest...  But it did receive an Honorable Mention, which is pretty darn nice!  There are thousands of entrants every quarter, so being selected for an honorable mention is still, well, an honor.

So now I'm going to revise the story and submit to to other markets.  If it gets picked up for publication that will likely delay the release of Dreams, as it's standard to wait a year for rights to revert back to the writer.  But getting published in a big magazine or fiction website is certainly worth the wait!

You can check out the talented eight finalists of this quarter who are going forward toward winning by clicking here.  Good luck, everyone, and congrats!

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Superhero on

My humorous superhero adventure tale Puppet Theatre is now available on Amazon for only $0.99!

You can find it by clicking right here.

In other news, this is likely the last post I'll be typing up on this side of the Pacific.  The next few weeks will be even crazier for the Brink family than the last few have been, so please understand if I don't get back to writing or blogging for a bit.  But I'll see you all on the other side of this world-spanning wormhole when I get the chance!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weird Web Pirate Bull$#!^

I don't know if I should be flattered or offended.  I notice that at some point in the last week or so, someone else has taken over my old writer's blog URL.  "jdbrinkfugitive" is now the site for some cheap hair care curling iron crap. How weird is that???  Someone decided that "jdbrinkfugitive" had the ring they were looking for to sell curling irons?!  Maybe they figured I was soooooo damn popular that using my discarded website would guarantee then a rich flood of customers!

Hmm.  Not likely.

I don't recommend anyone buy anything there.  They surely have to be some foreign con job.  Who else would purchase that very specific URL to sell a totally unrelated product?

The scary part is that I still had log-in access to my blog, so hopefully that didn't go both ways. I have now deleted my blog at that address, for whatever good that does.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hot Chick with a Sword


A couple weeks ago I finished the second draft on Part One of the book (basically the first third of it) and was able to get together with Amy Thunderhawk to take some pictures for future use on a cover design.  The sample here is just to give you a taste.  There is a lot of graphic design work that will go into removing her from my kitchen and placing her (along with some other elements) into a cool-but-creepy book cover.  
That's the progress part.  The pause part is this: I'm now nine days out from shipping my entire family and life to distant Japan with the Navy.  We are in a state of CHAOS right now.  I feel guilty stopping long enough to even write this.  So work on this project will likely be put on hold for a good two or three weeks.  But I still intend to have it finished by the end of the year.  
I'll let you all know when I've reached the next milestone along the way!