It’s been some time since I wrote an update. A lot has changed in the world, and that has naturally affected my work, as well. After a difficult winter, during which I was sick more often than seems entirely necessary, March brought the Covid-19 crisis to my doorstep. Since March 13th my part of the world has been under the onus of social distancing, which has gradually affected more and more parts of my life. Although it may superficially seem that my normal routine is not much different than what I’m doing now, the constant barrage of news and the worry for myself and those around me take an emotional toll, which can make productivity quite difficult.
It’s been a long time since I updated this blog. Life is full of twists and turns, and sometimes new priorities have to override preexisting obligations. I spent the latter half of 2018 focused on my two ongoing projects, Turncoat Chronicle and an unnamed novel. I chose to prioritize those works over reviews and blog posts. Then I had a long stretch of time where my day job had to take priority, and even finding time to work on my game was a challenge. Once I had reclaimed my writing time and started making major progress on the game again, another thing popped up. And so on, so life goes.
Lately, though, it occurred to me that it was time to post a small update on my recent writerly activities. During May and June I have been hard at work on both the game and the novel, while at the same time planning ahead for what my next ChoiceScript project might be. I examined and discarded a large number of promising ideas, which is why I am holding back on discussing the details of the current idea, at least until I’m certain that it’s taken root.
Since February, Turncoat Chronicle has been undergoing a closed beta testing process. Both feedback and changes resulting from it have been extensive. Some of the comments were expected, others less so. Revising and expanding chapter two, the meatiest section of the game, has also helped me rethink the structure for chapter three, which will require further revising when I get back to it. Readying the next beta version is my top priority at the moment, and to that end I’m working full-tilt on the second half of chapter two, including the much-anticipated romance scene.
The year-end mood has been upon me for weeks. 2017 feels like it’s been fleeing from under me, while at the same time, in retrospect, it’s been one of the longest years of my life. It’s hard to think of the passing year without remembering all that I didn’t accomplish. I had big ideas for this year, ideas that didn’t pan out quite as I’d hoped.
My plans to complete a playable game, top to bottom, met with repeated setbacks. I had hoped to have the final version of Girlfriend Material complete for release before the end of the year. Now I’m uncertain of when I’ll be able to set a hard release date for the game at all.
Work stress and real-life circumstances prevented me from dedicating myself to NaNoWriMo as I’d planned, though I participated in the latter half and managed to rehabilitate my daily writing habits. I ended November with ten thousand written words that I hadn’t had before, setting the course for a story sun out of 2016’s wordier — but still unsuccessful — NaNovel.
Apart from NaNoWriMo and my daily pages, I hadn’t tracked my word count at all in 2017. I think 2018 is as good a time as any to resume that habit. I hate to find myself at the end of the year, or even the week, looking back and unable to effectively assess how much progress I’ve made. 2018 is already looking to be a year of big changes for me, and the first one of those is going to be reviving my meticulously color-coded spreadsheets.
I plan to keep writing games and short stories in the year to come. January will bring my very first professionally published work, and hopefully also a review for the last book I read in 2017, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice. Behind the curve, I’m afraid, but better late than never. I’m also looking forward to the second iteration of Finally Finish Something Jam as an incentive to step up my work on Girlfriend Material.
There’s a great deal to (remind myself to) look forward to.
Happy New Year.
Some of the posts on this blog receive very regular hits, regardless of how old they are. Hits from Google, or from social media of the shareable kind, where someone might decide to revive an old-ish post and give it second wind. It’s easy enough to trace my most popular posts through this method, as well as by the hit-count which WordPress provides. It’s almost as easy to get to the bottom of why these posts in particular receive more attention than others.
Some of them are reviews for niche products, obscure enough that my little blog is able to climb up the Google results to a visible place, maybe even on the first page. I’ve also been getting a few Image Google hits since I started including images in most of my posts. By far the most important factor, though, are the creators of the media that I review.
I review both books and games, most of them visual novels or other non-combat games from small-to-tiny indie studios. Game devs like these have to do most of their own promotion work. Authors also find themselves in this position sometimes, if they are self-published or else backed by a small publisher. Maybe the larger media review sites pick up on their creation, maybe they don’t. Either way, they need reviews. They need to get their name and the name of their product out there, to reach the readers or players most likely to pick it up.
Reviewers also need content creators. Most obviously, we need media to consume and review, for entertainment as well as work. But there are many mass media products floating around that I could be spending my time and money on. I could add my voice to the huge internet chorus talking about Star Wars or Supergirl (as I sometimes have). The media outlets that produce those properties, though, will never be aware of me and my work.
Not so for the independent creators. My best-visited review is still the one for Solstice, MoaCube games’ hybrid mystery visual novel. As I pre-purchased the game and played it before the release, my review was published right around the time that it became publicly available. The developer retweeted it shortly after, which led directly to three days of record hits for my blog. It’s still my most popular post by far.
Content creators and reviewers depend on each other. Books need readers, and so do blogs. When someone links to my review, they’re not only promoting their work, but also mine. They are also, to a lesser extent, promoting every other piece of media I’ve reviewed on this blog. Just as I rely on other review blogs, and on creators retweeting each other’s self-promotion, to find the subject of my next post. In fact, that’s how I find most of my favorite games and books, these days, especially through review-intensive sites like Goodreads.
Crossposted to Dreamwidth.
When I put together my Patreon support tiers, I promised some backer-exclusive content. Since then I’ve been working on putting these things together. There are some updates about my games in progress, and some fresh short fiction. This takes a while because I want to make sure that you’re receiving quality content that’s worth the price of admission.
Over the next couple of months I’ll be posting snippets from a political fantasy text adventure that I’ve been working on. Later in the year I hope to share something from my next Twine project, which will be much more game-like in structure. I also have some new flash fiction that needs to go through the editing wringer before it’s ready for consumption.
Anyway, that’s it. I have some exciting stuff in the works and I hope you’ll be excited about it, too.
If my search terms are any indication, there are a lot of frustrated people skipping over my blog. As a writer I aim to entertain and inform, so I took these suggestions to heart. And so I present, answers to questions I didn’t know people were asking:
- “sunless sea warrant of redemption” – try Gamepedia’s Sunless Sea wiki, they have an article on legacies in the game. Personally, I recommend against the Correspondent legacy, no matter how badly you want to raise your Pages skill. Starting with a blank zee chart might seem like a pain, but the fragments that you earn from exploring convert to secrets, which are hard to earn otherwise early in the game. If you’ve created unique engines or cannons, go for those. You should know that 50% of a skill means accumulated skill, which doesn’t include the background-specific bonus at the start of the game.
- “dark parables game order” – TV Tropes lists the games in order of release. If you’re a new player just trying the series out for the first time, skip The Curse of Briar Rose and start with The Exiled Prince or Rise of the Snow Queen. They showcase the games’ strengths much better, I think.
- “barbara gordon porn comics” – uh, all right. I guess try scans_daily on Dreamwidth, they’re the best source for fancomics.
- “that which yields is not always weak” – I assume this caught me because of my meta about diplomacy skills in Long Live the Queen. This is actually a quote from Jacqueline Carey’s delightful Kushiel’s Legacy books. I don’t have a review of these up, but I read them years ago and found them delightful.
- “who is oracle in dc universe” – excellent question, anonymous Google user. Oracle is the second persona of Barbara Gordon, the Silver Age Batgirl. Along with Dinah Lance (the Black Canary) she founded a team called the Birds of Prey. As a world-class genius and master-hacker, she became a networking nexus for superheroes small and large, and maintained an absolutely alarming database of secret identities. She’s the best.
- “how does dialogue develop hazel’s character” – I think I’ll leave this as a reader participation question. If you mean the character from The Fault in Our Stars (which I have never read) try SparkNotes.
- “queen at arms romance” – well, I romanced James the first time around, and it was pretty cool.
[Image by Alexis Wilke via WikiCommons.]
Nominations for WorldCon 74‘s Hugo Awards opened earlier this month, and will remain open until the end of March. Hugos are awarded in a number of different categories. In 2015, I wrote a number of short stories and other works that meet the qualifications.
Works that qualify for the short story category (stand-alone stories):
- “The Katabasis of Queen Esther“, originally posted on March 2015 (1666 words).
- “Hail the Hunter“, originally posted on June 2015 (3500 words).
Works that qualify from the Collar of the Damned ‘verse:
Reviews and other posts that qualify for the related works category:
- Review of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (August).
- Cold Women, a review of CW’s The 100 (September).
- Bounty Hunters in Space, a review of SyFy’s Killjoys and Kameron Hurley’s God’s War (November).
- Review of Failbetter Games’ Sunless Sea (November).
- Every Hero Needs a Villain, a perspective on CBS’s Supergirl (December).
- Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December).
And so, 2015 is over. It’s been an interesting year. I’m not certain whether I can comfortably look back on 2015, but I feel confident in saying that I look forward to 2016, and that’s no mean feat. My writing goals for the past seven months have mainly been “write!” and so it’s difficult for me to assess how well I’ve met them. I accepted some new challenges and took some new risks.
Here are a few things I am happy about, this year-end:
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 370 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
You can now support me on Patreon. A link has been added to the blog’s navigation strip.
I am very grateful to all my readers for their support, comments and appreciation over the years. Commenting on posts and linking to my blog were and are enormously encouraging for me. Now in addition to that you have the option to offer material support, which will allow me to continue writing full-time as I have been for the past several months.