Progress Report #8: K.I.S.S. and a September Twitter/FB Sabbatical

I mentioned earlier that my last show was this past weekend. Now that my world has mostly stopped spinning, it’s suddenly gotten very small–which means a renewed focus on four little letters. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. Essentially, it’s about deconstructing the most complex ideas into their simplest components. This philosophy is very popular among the tech crowd, but I’ve seen other variants of the idea, too, often referred to as the science of simplicity with respect to wardrobe and reducing other decisions to avoid distractions.

The past year has been filled with a lot of Deep Stuff, for me, and while it was necessary and important to go through another series of Life, the Universe, and EverythingTM events…I’m fried. I had a great time being a guest and speaker at a lot of shows, and was able to meet with a lot of friends–old and new–but now that my travel is over, it’s time to tie up projects and forge ahead. Thus, K.I.S.S. By narrowing my focus, I remove distractions and excuses so I can focus on my goals.

To help put me back in the right frame of mind for a heavy production schedule and a new stage in my career, I’m logging off of Facebook and Twitter for the month of September. It’s a real challenge, for me, because I have so many people that contact me via these mediums, as opposed to e-mail, either for work or to hang out. Ergo, I’m giving y’all the heads up that I’m avoiding those mediums as much as possible for the month of September. If you’re trying to contact me for work, please use e-mail because I’ll probably miss it!

Games

Q2 and Q3 brought quite a bit of announcements your way, including several new Firefly RPG nominations for the Origins Awards and ENnie Awards. We were up against stiff competition, including Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, and were honored to be included among such fantastic titles. We were also very grateful to accept the ENnie 2015 Judge’s Choice Award for Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics and hope you’re enjoying the game.

We’ve had a number of questions about where the line goes from here. As we’ve mentioned in our interactions with fans, we’re taking a pause to promote the releases we already have for the line. Including the two releases I mention below, we’ve released six books so far for the Firefly RPG. Though the line launched a few years ago, we still have fans asking about the game as if they’re discovering it for the first time. For us, our focus is on highlighting the supplements because a lot of fans aren’t aware they exist. If you’d like to help, remember that reviews and actual play are lovely for your fellow fans to read. This really helps fans decide what they want to pick up. So thanks!

Since I write, edit, and manage projects full-time, this means that I’ve been looking forward more than I have been in the past few years. After all, despite the decisions that happen with respect to any project I’m working on, as a freelancer it’s my responsibility to ensure that I’ve always got something in the hopper so I can earn a living. That is why I’m pleased to tell you that I’m the developer for the Hunter: the Vigil Second Edition and the Conan RPG based on the literary works of Robert E. Howard. My roles on both are not as intense as they were on the Firefly RPG, which is partly why I’m able to fit them into my schedule in addition to other projects. Because my travel has now ended for the year, that enables me to get more done as well.

In addition to these announcements, I released the following since Progress Report #7: the Workhorse Edition.

  • Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim – This is a book filled with lots of great material for players and GMs. Both digital and print are now available!
  • Ghosts in the Black – This is a Firefly RPG campaign supplement. The story was designed by Robin D. Laws, and I’m happy to report it’s now available in digital and print.
  • World of Darkness: Gothic Icons – What’s gothier and angstier than Gothic literature? Gothic Icons! Now available in print.
  • World of Darkness: Dark Eras – Wrote the Hunter: the Vigil supplement for this book for 1690s Colonial America. We handed in our expansion material and new art notes for Dark Eras I, and Dark Eras II is due shortly.
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn RPG – I contributed to the Skaa supplement for this game and Logan Bonner is my developer. Last I heard, it’s still coming out.
  • Vampire the Masquerade Dread Names: Red List – Fans can play as an Alastor to hunt the Camarilla’s worst enemies. Or, alternatively, Storytellers can drop one of the Anathema into their Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle.
  • Vampire the Masquerade: Ghouls – Currently in editing.
  • Conan RPG – We’re currently working on wrapping up the corebook, and are expecting a few pieces yet for the manuscript. I’ve got about three-to-four hundred applicants to sift through before I propose them to my teammates.
  • Codex Infernus – I developed the setting for this hell-themed Savage Worlds supplement, and the publisher is working on a relaunch of the Kickstarter. More soon!


Comics

Last time, I talked about how defeated I felt. However, I’m really stubborn. Amazingly so. Ergo, I’ve hit this hard and am now in full-on pitch mode. I am working with a few people as collaborators and mentors, but until we’re ready to announce I’d much rather give you the basics. Call this my safety catch, since I’ve been through too many “Hey, let’s announce!” “Oh wait, it just got canceled” cycles. Thus, here’s the basics about what is in the works (with codewords):

  • Starry Alpha – Working on outlines for an established property. Pitch!
  • Pinefresh Theta – Pitch, full script, and sample sketches sent off to an anthology.
  • Sparkle Mega – Full pitch in the works for a short-term series.
  • Red Sigma – In addition to pitching, I am going the small press publishing route for a collection. Still in the planning stages on this one, though!


Fiction

Fiction is still on my radar, and there’s been some movement on that front.

  • Gods, Memes, and Monsters – My story “Three of a Kind” was recently published in this collection.
  • Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling – I’m co-editing an anthology with Jaym Gates for Apex Publications. Here’s the announcement. We’ve gotten in about a dozen stories so far, and I’m really excited to see this come to light.
  • Novella – I have a dark, science fiction novella I need to finish revising so I can sub that out. Codeword: Red Byte
  • Novels – Another round of revisions on Novel A (Codeword: Silver Dagger) in May, Novel B (Codeword: White Fang) probably not until July. I want to rework the plot for B.


Non-Fiction

New for this project update! WOO! I signed with Red Sofa Literary to represent a worldbuilding book I wrote.

  • Worldbuilding Book – I’m working with my agent to hone my pitches for interested publishers. Pretty excited about this!
  • For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher – A book of essays written by Jason Sizemore, the publisher for Apex Book Company as part of the company’s 10 year celebration. I have written a satirical essay which is titled “The Case of the Mysterious Splatter.” It has footnotes. Many, many footnotes. It’s now available.
  • The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary in the ‘Verse – This language guide for the Firefly TV show will be out this Spring from Titan Books. You can pre-order it now. Awesome!

That sums up the new releases and a few projects that are in progress for me. Back to the grind!

Writing 101 Advice from Geek*Kon 2015

Quere Baby Deadpool Pole Dancing Avatar

Geek*Kon 2015 was a mixture of seeing old friends and making new ones. I did have a great time and these fans are doing everything they can to put on a great show. I was thrilled to see folks like Emma Bull, Greg Weisman, Christopher Jones, Will Shetterly, and Alex Bledsoe speak to up-and-coming writers, fans, and all around great people.

Rather than give a recap of every panel and anime-related item I purchased (*coughs* Jiji rocks!), I’d like to highlight some of the wonderful advice given during my Writing 101 panel. The panel consisted of Alex Bledsoe, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull and myself. Here are some of the nuggets of advice given during the panel that I hope inspires you to write your heart out. Please note that I made every attempt to attribute said advice correctly, and some of the comments are sub-attributed to Steven Brust. Rather than rehash many of the tidbits I’ve mentioned here on my blog, today’s spotlight is on the other authors and their words of wisdom.

  • Point-of-view (P.O.V.) solves everything. Brust/Bull
  • Story starts with your P.O.V. character. Shetterly
  • Deal with the precipitating event as the first part of your story. Bledsoe
  • What serves the story is what you don’t tell. Shetterly
  • With respect to critiques and feedback from readers, “Worry about reader problems vs. reader solutions.” Shetterly
  • I write first drafts to create a skeleton. Bledsoe
  • With respect to revisions: “I pace around my house, reading the manuscript aloud.” Bledsoe
  • Figure out what drafts are supposed to do. e.g. They can be systematic or intuitive. Bull
  • Make the story more specific during revisions. Shetterly
  • What really matters, is the story itself. Shetterly
  • It’s better to write a bad first draft, than no draft at all. Shetterly

We also talked about info dumps and the Dread PrologueTM, and how many of the info dumps can be avoided by choosing the right character when selecting which character is telling the story. We also mentioned how it’s okay to suck (you’ve no doubt heard me say that before), and how the senses are crucial to add in layers of worldbuilding. For example, Bledsoe mentioned that a sense of smell can really make a big difference.

I hope today’s wrap-up inspires you to write, write, write! And remember, you’ll never internalize or finish what you start unless you sit down and simply…write. GOOD LUCK!

    Mood: Luxuriating in this damp, windy weather.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Mostly managed!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH.
    In My Ears: Tron Legacy soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Kingdom Rush
    Book Last Read: For research, not pleasure. Ergo…
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Frozen. Because in my house, it’s a horror movie.
    Latest Artistic Project: Sewing project that turned out to be a pescatarian oni. Don’t ask! Am planning Halloween-related crafts, however.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. A new one coming soon! SOON I SAY!


My Geek*Kon Schedule

Geek Kon

I’ll be a guest at Geek*Kon this weekend. Here’s my fabulous schedule! You’ll hear more about my upcoming book, The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse, and other stories in the pipe.

Friday, August 21
7:00 to 7:50 – Spooky Scary Awesome Action
8:00 to 10:00 – Gaming with the Guests

Saturday, August 22
1:00 to 1:50 – The Shiniest Things in the Gorramn ‘Verse
3:00 to 3:50 – Fiction Writing 101 – Mendota
5:00 to 5:50 – Vampires in Fiction – Green Bay/Milwaukee

Sunday, August 23
1:30 to 2:50 – Build-a-World Game Show

Signed with Red Sofa Literary

Red Sofa Literary

Happy to announce today that I have signed with Red Sofa Literary.

Jennie Goloboy and I are fine-tuning my proposal for a nonfiction book filled with worldbuilding games geared for writers. I couldn’t be happier about this development, and I’m looking forward to working with Jennie on this. More news as I get it.

Happy reading!

Gods, Memes, and Monsters Preview

Gods_Memes_and_Monsters_cover_350

Popping in today to give you a quick preview of my story titled “Three of a Kind.” I designed this pastiche about internet furies based on three programming languages, and I’m including the first couple of paragraphs for each one. They get progressively stronger, language-wise, as the pieces go on to represent the fury and how they feed off of our rage. The structure also ties into the language in some fashion, which is clearer to readers familiar with those languages once you see the whole piece.

The anthology, called Gods, Memes, and Monsters: A 21st Century Bestiary, has been published by Stone Skin Press and is available from their store directly or wherever books are sold. Please do check this out as there are dozens of amazing and very fine authors in this collection including: Chad Fifer, Charlene Challenger, Chris Lackey, Dave Gross, David Barnes, Dennis Bolen, Dennis Detwiller, Ed Greenwood, Ekaterina Sedia, Emily Care Boss, Gareth Hanrahan, Greg Stafford, Greg Stolze, James Wallis, Jean-Francois Chenier, Jerry Schaefer, Jim Webster, JM Frey, John Tynes, Jonathan Blum, Jonathan Howard, Julia Ellingboe, Kathryn Kuitenbrower, Kenneth Hite, Kurt Zubatiuk, Kyla Ward, Laura Lush, Molly Tanzer, Monica Valentinelli, Myna Wallin, Nancy Kilpatrick, Nick Mamatas, Patrick O’Duffy, Peter Ball, Peter Chiykowski, Peter Dubé, Peter Freeman, Richard Dansky, Robin Laws, Rupert Booth, Sam Agro, Sandra Kasturi, Silvia Moreno-Garcia…and many, many more.

If you’d like an eBook, please consider picking up a digital bundle of PDF, ePub, and Mobi formats for Gods, Memes, and Monsters: A 21st Century Bestiary from DriveThruFiction.com.

Three of a Kind
by Monica Valentinelli

aWduaXRl
(Base 64)
“Ignite”

“…shots fired at yet another elementary school in Virginia just days after…”
“…though he’s a veteran political commentator, his surprising set of remarks have forced women’s organizations to withdraw funding from…”

“…when asked how should we get young people to care about major issues, she answered: Do what I did. Cast a little-known actress into the role of an iconic super heroine…”
I am one of three entities, sisters of spirit and flesh. When you first meet me, you won’t recognize me when you do, for I will be invisible. Yet, I am everywhere. Nowhere.
I am online on a website, in the comments, on forums and in chat rooms. I am lurking on your phone, spying on you while you talk to your friends, send your lover naked pics, bitch about your mom or your whiny best friend.
Can you see me now? My form becomes more solid each time you get angry; each time you get pissed off, each time you vent about something someone else said online.

6275726e
(Hexadecimal)
“Burn”

We are valkyries, succubi, poltergeists, imps, harpies, serpents and sinners who live on in bytes and pixels, feeding off your melting-cheese-on-the-asphalt rage, your hours wasted worrying about stupid bullshit, and your regret for diving into yet another flame war.
You’ve already met my sister, Ignite.
Thanks to the demon on your shoulder, the fires of your personal hell have been raging on in your mind.
I attack after Ignite, hit you hard every time you lash out and type a pissy comment, forcing you to stick around and wait for a response.
I can smell your fury burning through forum after blog after website. Burn, baby burn.

011000010111001101101000
(Binary)
“Ash”

Regret.
(I feed off of your guilt.)
When you were with my sister, Burn, your eyes were bloodshot, flames were shooting out of your nostrils, and your fingers flew across your keyboard. You posted hundreds of comments that’ll get lost in a matter of hours…
(And still completely searchable to anyone who cares.)
…which is the equivalent of thousands of Calories.




Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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