Script Excerpt from Last Man Zombie Standing Comic

Last Zombie Standing | Unfashioned Creatures: A Frankenstein Anthology

Today’s excerpt is something fun! I wanted to share with you the first few pages of my script for Last Man Zombie Standing.

Did you know that I’m a fan of Vincent Price? I feel the iconic actor really brought a lot to horror, and there’s a lot to be said for the beauty of black-and-white television. I wrote the script with a few easter eggs built in; writing it was a little challenging, in the sense that I had to communicate my vision not knowing the artist. I’ve never met Josie Pi Grant, but I think she did a brilliant job breathing life into the undead imagery I had in mind.

If you’re interested in this comic, you can pick up a copy of Last Man Zombie Standing on DriveThruComics.com. Or, you can pick up a copy of Unfashioned Creatures, A Frankenstein Anthology from Red Stylo Media’s website.

Here’s the first page straight from my script!

Last Man Zombie Standing

PAGE 1

PANEL 1: The first image is a close-up of piles of newspapers lying on the edge of a lab table. The date is March 8, 1964. The headlines read: “U.S. Scientists Blamed For Outbreak.” “Millions Undead.” “Human Cloning A Disaster.” “Apocalypse Now!” Here, the title of the comic may be superimposed on the left hand side of the image in a gory, stylized font.

Silent Panel

PANEL 2:
In this image, we see we’re inside a science lab; the room is in total disarray. Piles of books and newspapers are stacked haphazardly on the floor. Tubes hang down from the ceiling. There are lab benches piled high with bottles of different shapes and colors. The light source is directed toward the right corner. The windows have been boarded up. There are mousetraps scattered across the floor, ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, and empty bags of airport peanuts. Mary Tyler Moore and other models adorn the walls; their pictures have been ripped out of magazines and taped up for decoration.

1 Dr. Powell (off screen from right): Dare I?

PANEL 3: We see DOCTOR POWELL leaning toward a coffin-shaped glass tube filled with an electric blue fluid. The tube sits at a 45 degree angle. Inside the propped tube, lies the body of Doctor Powell’s clone, 000138, but we can’t tell who the man is yet, just that he’s male. Doctor Powell is a tall, spindly man with high cheekbones, heavy brows, and a thin moustache. He is wearing a traditional white lab coat, shiny black shoes, and tweed pants. His clothes are worn and threadbare. A ballpoint pen hangs over his ear. His hair is graying at the temples and he looks malnourished. He still wears his beat up name tag and there is an old metal flashlight sticking out of his pocket. He also wears a broken watch. On his right hand, between the thumb and forefinger, is a series of digits: 000137.

2 Dr. Powell: Why, there’s no telling what the two of us could do. Build armies! Clone Eve! Find the cure!

PANEL 4: Here, see a close up of “Dr. Powell” in the tank and our suspicions are confirmed: this clone is Dr. Powell. He is not as malnourished as the scientist is, and he is clean-shaven, but the resemblance is clear.

3 Dr. Powell: Or should I say: “Just the one of us?” Yes… That’s right…

Discussing Characters and Change in Media/Tie-In

Marvel Thor

This is a post I stopped and started multiple times, because I found myself in that weird space between “I am a fan” and “I am a professional.” I am both, and I am very aware (and sometimes scared) what a critique of say, the Captain America-as-Hydra storyline would do for my career in the future (1). My experiences with media/tie-in have mostly been positive, but I’ve always gotten the sense that the bigger companies/IPs tend to err on the conservative side (2). As such, I feel I fared better because I recognized the business mechanisms in place early on, and learned to mitigate my feelings stemming from business decisions or changes made to a character, story, etc.

As time went on, I learned that working in media/tie-in isn’t the same for everyone. There are a lot of variables, and it’s unique depending upon the people and businesses involved. Occasionally, the sides of the box for a project were so well-defined I had a narrow band to work with; other times, I was given more freedom. Regardless, after a while I learned that my vision of a setting isn’t what’s needed or required at all times. You do have to have a certain amount of selflessness to understand that you’re not working on “your” property, regardless of how much you love, enjoy, or get paid to do the work. Sometimes, you are a talented storyteller or game designer who knows how to work within the confines of a project; at random moments you could be hired because that company wants to see your vision, your take on a beloved character.

That said? Change sucks. Change is hard. And yet, change is all but guaranteed–especially for properties that age or become so popular iterate works are constantly generated. Star Wars, for example, has been around for forty years, and in that time there’s been movies, comic books, novels, graphic novels, short stories, a live action TV show, Christmas special, etc. But, as a fan we all remember our “first” experience with Star Wars and, more importantly, how it made us feel. So, when we intersect with Star Wars again, and Anakin Skywalker’s maturation and eventual fall to the dark side doesn’t generate the same feelings as Darth Vader did in the past, we are upset or disappointed. Maybe we watch Episodes I, II, and III anyway. Maybe we wait until something new comes out (3). But, for a kid? Episodes I, II, and III were their first experience with Star Wars, and for them the feelings those movies generates is just as powerful as ours were back in the day.

I am hugely sympathetic to the challenges companies and creators face with respect to new storylines for this and many other reasons. It is very hard to work on a property that has such devoted fans who expect to engage with a specific kind of story or version of a character. Only, flagship properties often sell because of their iconic nature’s visibility and prominence, and to a certain extent there will be a portion of the fanbase who will always buy those works no matter what. I personally feel there’s more room for change to expand, rather than subtract, audiences because there’s so much to explore to modernize characters, stories, settings and reach hungry readers.

That said, I personally believe that changes can only happen up to a point. That line, that point where it’s no longer welcome… Well, that’s the boundary between “this is a re-imagining of Thor” versus “this is a new character who wields Mjolnir but is no longer Thor”. What we’re talking about here isn’t the difference between iconic (static or unchanging) vs. dynamic characters, but changing an existing character or a setting beyond recognition. Sometimes, those experiments can and do work, and I’m of the mind that Emerald City and Tin Man are both fantastic examples of that. Other times, however, changes don’t work because there’s a decided lack of connecting threads between the reimagining of that character and their former self–other than their name or artistic depiction. That, for me, is when the creative change fails, and that becomes more nuanced and complicated with each passing iteration (4).

My feelings tend to worsen when the character is turned inside out, and the hero is flatly depicted as the villain–the very thing they were fighting tooth and nail against. Switching heroes into villains, and vice versa, affects the story irrevocably. By doing so, the theme and message of that narrative arc is now in conflict with previous iterations as well; that change wouldn’t be something I’d expect to resonate well with fans–especially with respect to iconic characters like Captain American who are rooted in American pride and history. Yes, we’ve had our complicated villains (Magneto) and I’m a big fan of writing in those morally gray spaces for both protagonists and antagonists, but how far can/should you change the essence of an iconic character? The answer, to me, is that sometimes big changes aren’t necessary to tell a powerful story. Sometimes, you don’t need to change much to make a story new. Sometimes, it’s more important to recognize the responsibility that comes from writing a character like Captain America.

Before I get back to writing, I wanted to close by addressing the poor reception of Captain America-as-Hydra storyline. If you are a creator, please know that once your work is published you have no control over its reception. None. I tell that to every writer I hire, and even I need that reminder sometimes. It sucks, but that’s the nature of the beast. And second, I would hope that it’s obvious there are other ways to generate new story arcs that are fresh and new and relevant without changing the character’s essence. I came up with several for Cap, because that was my way of dealing with my frustration, and currently am trying not to spend time writing fanfic. (Twist my arm… Maybe later…) Okay, hear me out. My reimagining is about Loki tricking Cap to leave the Avengers by shunting him into an alternate, seemingly-peaceful universe where he had settled down with Sharon Carter and his three kids–only to find out the peace he enjoys was engineered by Hydra. Unfortunately for Cap, in this reality Hydra is a yet-to-be-discovered force of great evil, and he’s the only one to see them for who they really are. When his kids recite rhetoric reminiscent of Hydra’s b.s., how does he respond? How will Cap deal with the knowledge that he can stop Hydra by going on the offensive? Will he be able to shock an apathetic society into action, and at what cost?

Anyway, given the many many conversations about comics I’ve seen in the past few days, I thought I’d offer some thoughts about changing beloved characters from my creative perspective. ‘Til next time!

(1) Write for Marvel? Of course, I would. Are you kidding me? That said, no I am not a fan of this storyline at all.

(2) Often, I’ve been fed the line that companies want to hire folks who are a fan of their characters/settings, and over time I’ve found that this isn’t necessarily the case. Sometimes, that’s shorthand for: “We don’t want to hire outside of the people we already know.”

(3) The reason why new stories are told within the same universes over and over again is often financially (and sometimes contractually) driven. This is why we have many, many Batman and Spiderman movies.

(4) I think Batman is an exception here because DC has embraced many different iterations of the character, while retaining his essence and complexities.

    Mood: Blah blah vampires blah
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: MANY
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: You know, pretty damn good. An hour’s worth of walking.
    In My Ears: A snoring cat. Oh, will Lord Lardbottom’s trials ever cease?
    Game Last Played: Pokemon GO. Review forthcoming. Post gym. No, not “a” gym, a Pokemon gym.
    Book Last Read: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: The Star Wars trilogy, remastered
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Unknown Armies Books 1-3, and Kobold Guide to Gamemastering. Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming this month!



Progress Report #10: On Writing Like the Wind

I just realized that my last progress report was from December of last year. Whoops! Rectifying this today, so I can keep you apprised of any new announcements coming up.

In Project #9, I talked a lot about the importance of doing research when writing historical era research, and how if you are writing about the past it’s quite possible you’re going to get things wrong. As an addendum to that, I think it’s important to remember that even though writers are very, very smart, because we know how to research and look things up and talk to people, that doesn’t necessarily mean our intentions or our work will be interpreted the same by every reader in a cultural, intellectual, or emotional fashion. This is pretty exciting, in my mind, because it means we can have conversations we couldn’t before and learn from them–provided we’re able and willing to listen. Sometimes, however, that’s a bit of a challenge as there might be constraints as to what the next steps might be, or parameters (especially on bigger named properties like Star Wars or what have you) that writers are bound by. Regardless, I see this as an opportunity rather than a challenge, and though I cannot be perfect (nor do I want to be), I feel this spells nothing but good news for the relationship between writers and readers.

I should also point out that a lot of work listed below is past tense; I’m always open to discussing new opportunities. Thanks! On to my tips for writing like the wind!

To Write Fast, Write Smart

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote 10,500 words in one day, and I “think” my fastest slog was 25,000 in two days back in college. I have written 12 or 13,000 in a day, too, but I’d much rather write 3 to 5k at a steady speed than lose my humanity, hurt my writers, and/or fall into the black hole that is my brain. However, there are some reasons to write fast like…procrastination, zombie projects (e.g. manuscripts you thought died but came back to life and need to be shot in the head. again.), shifting deadlines, life crap (being sick), etc.

Retention-wise, when I write fast I average between 90-95%, and ironically I retain more when I’m sprinting than when I’m not. A couple things to remember, though: I started writing when I was very young and focused on literary fiction through college, so I’m not new to this writing thing. Do I get neurotic or forget to exercise my story brain muscles if I’m too focused on one thing or the other? Ab-so-frigging-lutely. Writing is not a static thing for me, and it never has been. However, I feel that my experiences are important to mention, because sometimes I find folks put a lot of pressure on themselves to soak up all the writing advice they can to poop out great stories and write fast or write perfect when in all actuality? The only solution to figuring out what works and what doesn’t is to keep writing. It’s really the only way to internalize processes that are external to start–and yes, those processes can be forgotten or buried depending upon what your focus is. Something along the lines of… If you want to write novels, then write novels. Don’t write short stories or games and expect to know how to write a novel. Or, more to the point, my favorite acronym ever (K.I.S.S.) is sometimes the best way to proceed. If a thing doesn’t have to be complicated, why make it so?

Anyhoo… In order to write fast, I feel it’s important to take into account what you/I know about your/myself as a writer. I think that some of the self-analytical bits are hugely important, because if you don’t know what your process is or how fast you write in different areas, then it’s really hard to plan word count as a metric. I should point out that I do map a lot of my goals to word count for Day JobTM sorts of things, but haven’t done that for the spec stuff in a while, even though I’m starting to do that now.

Some examples of things I know about my writing speed are:

  • If I have to worldbuild during or after a project, I write slower.
  • I hate wasting time on a draft, only to throw it away.
  • I worry that my bad habit of using filler words (e.g. that) in a draft will make the story uninteresting.
  • Research is my kryptonite, because I love to do it.
  • Writing cold is the hardest thing for me to do.
  • I know that I can write, consistently, somewhere between 3k to 5K per day if I’m writing full-time.
  • Writing a variety of characters/scenes/etc. is slower going than a chapter on “a” topic.
  • Writing a chapter on a single topic bores me to tears.
  • I need to hear the character’s voice in my head before I write them.
  • I write fastest/best when uninterrupted for short periods of time.

So, my solutions to this knowledge help speed up my writing. I think of these things as prep work, and they might include:

  • Elevator pitch – If I don’t know what the story is about, then that is wasted effort. Yes, sometimes I need to write to find the character’s voice, but that’s a different and intentional exercise to solve a separate problem. Even if I don’t have an outline, at bare minimum an elevator pitch or short synopsis will keep the story contained.
  • Word sprints – For this, all I need is a timer and an hour of uninterruptions. Then, I write as fast as I can for that hour, after my prep work is done. I’ve written (at most) 1,300 words this way.
  • Milestones – I use milestone planning when working on larger projects, to set smaller goals. This really helps because if a deadline shifts, I can use word sprints after doing massive amounts of planning (e.g. research, character/dialog sketches/word lists) to get the project done.
  • Write to the beginning – This tip came from John Hornor Jacobs, but it’s a really good one. Instead of writing to the end of a scene, write the first couple of sentences in the next section to mentally prepare yourself for a head start.
  • Revision checklists and filler words – I plan to be wrong or to have errors in my work, and this reduces my anxiety about writing drafts as well. I know I use filler words, so sometimes I have word lists, character names/place names, etc. Sometimes I’ll put words in brackets or use a highlighter; I almost ALWAYS read my work out loud and change the font/spacing, to give me a different perspective on my work.

For me the key to writing fast is to do prep work both before and after, knowing that the in between bit (the actual writing) is the middle of my process–and not the end. Freaking out about the end is what significantly kills my ability to write, so I remove that anxiety by shifting the work and emotional weight to a multi-step process. This both occupies my mind and helps me the more I write a specific kind of project; this is partly why doing anything “new” can freak me out more, so I tend to overcompensate by planning more up front work.

Often, I have to remind myself that I cannot revise a blank page, and I cannot sell the story that hasn’t been written yet. Sometimes, to push through that, writing fast is the only way to get over that anxiety, because then I have a draft to edit and revise–which is more than I had to begin with.

Hope this helps you find your own process. On to the updates!

Games

I’ve got some new updates for you on the games front. Huzzah!

  • World of Darkness: Dark Eras – Wrote the Hunter: the Vigil supplement for this book for 1690s Colonial America. This is now available for fans to purchase.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: Ghouls & Revenants – Contributed and edited this book. This is now available for fans to purchase.
  • Robert E. Howard’s Conan RPG – This hasn’t been released yet, but my understanding is that it will be shortly.
  • Codex Infernus – The Kickstarter was successful, and it’s now available for fans to purchase.
  • World of Darkness: Dark Eras II – Contributed to the Geist: the Sin-Eaters supplement for the 1580s-90s Roanoke Colony. This hasn’t been released yet, but it will likely be available this Fall.
  • Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition – I’m the developer for this, and I’m working on the outline and putting together my team of writers. The submission guidelines are available here.
  • Court of Shadows – I designed a new setting for Shadowrun with Jason Hardy, and contributed several thousand words to this unique supplement. The book will be out this Fall.


Fiction

  • Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling – We raised ~24,000 on the Kickstarter and had close to 1,400 backers. We were able to bump the pay rate for our storytellers and add two essayists. The collection is in proofing right now, and I’m working with Jason on delivery and timing.
  • Red Byte – Revisions put on hold.
  • Pratchett on Acid – 25K into the new novel, and it is…creative? Inventive? Heh, heh. Though, I’m going to flip this into a novella, because I think the story will be stronger in that format. I’m having TOO MUCH FUN with worldbuilding.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Dark Ages Anthology – I’m editing a collection of stories for this setting, and we are now in second draft stage.
  • TBA times three – Wrote three media/tie-in short stories for [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted]. Two of those collections will be debuting this Fall.


Comics

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

  • Anthos – Two rejections.
  • Sparkle Mega – Full pitch is still in the works for a short-term series. The pitch window hasn’t re-opened yet, so this got put on hold. Found out the publisher doesn’t pay, though so am confirming this before moving forward.
  • Red Sigma – In addition to pitching, I am going the small press publishing route for a collection. Still in planning stage.


Non-Fiction

Super yay!

  • Worldbuilding Book – Pitches are being sent out. Yay!
  • The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary in the ‘Verse – This language guide for the Firefly TV show is now available AND it has an entire section for the Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin) AND an interview with the fabulously talented Jenny Lynn!.

Thus endeth the latest update!

Progress Report #9: A Storm Has Passed

Last time in Project #8, I updated you with news about the Firefly RPG, including several awards the line won, and mentioned several balls in the air following a Twitter/FB sabbatical in September. As of today, I’m caught up on everything (e-mails, included), and am heavy on the pitch phase, but I’ve got some updates for you that follow after some words about the intersection between research and reality.

This year, I wrote a lot of alternative history and that required loads of research, ranging from the Inquisition to Western colonization and Mussolini-era’s Italy. The key refrain, over and over, that kept coming up was the difference in motivations and values between oppressor and the oppressed, colonists and natives, religious and less devout. This translates, of course, into the way that history is written, but also in the way that it’s perceived. There’s a lot of knowledge that has been obscured for many reasons, in part because the past is not always reexamined to incorporate a different perspective, especially if that alternate view represents a people (or in this case, several peoples) that were hurt, murdered, victimized.

Why go this deeply into the past? Roleplaying games, in particular, provide players with the unique opportunity to examine the past in the context of a game. In my experience, gamers are excellent, fantastic readers who will devour anything you put in front of them, and take that a step further by reading more on the subject. By addressing these topics within the confinement of the space provided, I know that other players and designers, such as myself, will dive into the past and learn more about it. And, while a lot of players might not make a correlation between past and present, especially since this research is put through the lens of alternate history, the material and the game can be both challenging and compelling because it makes villains, heroes, and the people caught in between all that more real.

In addition to roleplaying games, I find historical research is a fantastic way to dig deeper into worldbuilding. Though problematic tropes can be avoided, I feel that the only way to do that is to read multiple perspectives. For example, you might have seen the heated discussions about the Washington Redskins. The word “redskin”, however, has deep historical, cultural, significance that you can read about here. Reading how the past has led to the present, gives writers a deeper sense of the semantic and literal significance of words, and I feel this is why it’s so important. Writing stories and designing games can be entertaining, sure, but I feel the future of media isn’t to repeat the past for the sake of repeating it, especially since we have faster access to more materials to do deeper research than ever before.

Games

Speaking of gaming, I have some fantastic updates for you. As of today, all of my current gaming commitments are complete, but there are more in my future.

  • World of Darkness: Dark Eras – Wrote the Hunter: the Vigil supplement for this book for 1690s Colonial America. My role in this project is now done, and it’s off in the ether of post-editing and development.
  • Vampire the Masquerade: Ghouls – My role on this, too, is now complete, and is in post-editing and development.
  • Conan RPG – I finished my contribution to the corebook, and stepped down as the project manager. Jason Durall has taken my place.
  • Codex Infernus – The Kickstarter was successful, and my role is now done.
  • World of Darkness: Dark Eras II – Contributed to the Geist: the Sin-Eaters supplement for the 1580s-90s Roanoke Colony. The chapter has since been sent off to editing. Of all the things I wrote this past year, this was the most challenging for me.


Comics

I have been talking about how challenging comics is. So I’m going to continue mentioning what I’m doing to make this a reality.

  • Starry Alpha – Last time, I was working on outlines for an established property. Unfortunately, the line has been canceled so this fell through.
  • Pinefresh Theta – Pitch, full script, and sample sketches sent off to an anthology. I was rejected in favor of a different author, who wrote a similar story.
  • Sparkle Mega – Full pitch is still in the works for a short-term series. The pitch window hasn’t re-opened yet, so this got put on hold.
  • Red Sigma – In addition to pitching, I am going the small press publishing route for a collection. Still in planning stage.


Fiction

Phew! So many updates here… I got through half of NaNoWriMo (e.g. 25K) before I had to stop in favor of zombie projects and proofing that ate up a lot of time. The writing sprints greatly impacted my creativity, and the story got out of control so I had to rein it back in. There’s other stuff not listed here, too, but as 2016 progresses it’ll make more sense.

  • Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling – Core of the anthology is done, and we’re working through open submissions.
  • Red Byte – Revisions put on hold.
  • Pratchett on Acid – 25K into the new novel, and it is…creative? Inventive? Heh, heh

  • Non-Fiction

    No new movement, here, but I wanted to remind you what I’m working on and what’s coming out.

    • 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!

    Thus endeth the latest update!

    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!

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