Story Notes: The Long, Cold Dark

Are you reading The Venturess? You really should be. Go, do it now, it’s free and barely hurts at all. I want to take a second, though, and talk about this latest installment, The Long, Cold Dark.

I started it with a couple ideas that I really wanted to introduce/talk about- namely, Laurie’s backstory, and the Dead Corps (more on them in a second). When The Venturess started, it was kind of a happy-go-lucky thing. I viewed it as sort of a serious Futurama (the parallels are fairly obvious). In that vein, Laurie’s backstory is dark as hell. Aspects of it have been alluded to- as with Chip’s father in the beginning of the second series- but this week throws what she was into pretty stark relief. I’m curious to see the reaction, even with the small readership so far, that it elicits. There are big choices in this storyline, so I am curious to see how the vote goes.

Which brings us to the Dead Corps. If I could go back, there would be no Venturess, just these guys. Man, I love these guys. I need to talk about them from two perspectives, the story perspective, and the writing perspective.

Story-wise, I love these guys. Basically, the beings themselves are parasites. We’ll see that borne out no matter which way the vote goes (though the consequences are radically different). But they are awfully judgey parasites, and seek justice throughout the galaxy. They do this by attaching to their victims and seizing control of their body, which, at that point, is effectively dead. But the mind they leave alone, so the victim is trapped in a prison of their own memories, until the body falls apart entirely. I won’t say more, since that curtain will be pulled back in the next couple stories, but, as far as baddies go, I am pretty proud of them.

But let’s talk about writing them for a moment, for the writerly types among you. The problem was, essentially, that I had a locked room murder mystery on my hands, except in reverse. The only two characters I had available were Laurie and the Bartender. Both are worldly-(galactically?) wise, so having either of them be ignorant of such a threat would undermine their credibility. Also, I didn’t want 500 words of a 1,000 word story to be rambling exposition, either by me or by a character, so a combination was arrived upon. A flashback, slight incredulity from the Bartender, and some clarification from Laurie, and what needs to be revealed, is, along with its emotional ties to the character who is in the emotional center of the story.

So, please- head over to The Venturess, read it over, and vote on it!


Story Notes: The Venturess

In case you’re not familiar, The Venturess is my free, ongoing, crowdsourced science fiction story. What does that mean? Every Friday, a new story is posted. At the end is a poll. You vote for what you want to happen next. After a week, voting closes and yours truly writes the next installment. Rinse and repeat.

This is a concept I have always loved- and I think a lot of people have, growing up with the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books (which is a trademarked term, natch). I wanted to find a way to make that work online, with anyone who wanted being able to participate. I think this way works very well, and hopefully you do too. In the near future, I’d like to be posting more frequently, but more on that in a sec.

As to the story itself, I wanted a fun, open SciFi universe. Lasers and aliens and FTL travel and all that. I wanted engaging characters that readers would care enough to vote on their fates, and had to have them doing something that would allow them to see the sights in said universe. Package delivery worked for Futurama and Firefly, so The Venturess is a cargo ship.

venturessWhile it’s certainly lighter than a lot of what I write, I wanted the voting process to carry meaning. Which is to say, there is no fridge to hide in- Characters can die, and have. It’s not Game of Thrones, either, where every choice leads to a bloodbath. Sometimes the endings, such as they are, will be happy. Other times, not. It all depends on the votes.

About those endings: It’s in an episodic format, obviously, but think of it as a TV show with ‘seasons’: Each one contains a story arc. I don’t have a set number that it will take, because that would be too much planning- I’d rather let the votes play out as they need to. So some might be longer, some shorter.

The other thing I wanted was for this to be free- free to read, free to participate in. But, time being money and all that, if it’s something people enjoy and want to support, I want to give them (and myself) that opportunity. So I set up a Patreon for that purpose. If it gets to the point where it is something a lot of people are enjoying, and supporting, I will change to a weekly schedule (and if people really enjoy it, I will start a second story in a new universe, with new characters).

‘Season’ three started this week. It goes to a much darker place than the first two, so if you haven’t yet- come aboard! Read and vote for free, and if you like it, please consider chipping in!


If You Read One Blog Post…

…Read this one. Why? Because this is the one where I ask y’all for the something.

In case you didn’t know, I write a SciFi choose-your-own-adventure. I would really appreciate it if you read it, and voted on it. It’s a really fun thing to write and, hopefully, to read.

Yesterday, I opened a Patreon to support it. Basically, if you’re not familiar, it’s like an ongoing Kickstarter, in that instead of larger one-time pledge, every time a new post goes up (every other week, in this case), a small pledge is made. This way, I get to keep working of fun projects like The Venturess. So, if possible and you’d like to, please, go and back it. Thank you!


A Sense of Purpose

2014, for me at any rate, was a bust. There was plenty of external stuff that’s not worth going into, but there was quite a bit of internal struggle, re: writing. The short version is that I wasn’t happy with the editing with 3024, but didn’t catch the problems until after the book was out. Sales lagged, and I didn’t want to push the marketing too hard on a sub-standard product, so it languished for a while. On top of that, I wasn’t particularly sure if self-publishing was the road I wanted to take in the future, for a whole list of reasons.

But now, I have a direction- or at least, I think I do. So here’s the roundup of all my projects, and my goals and plans for them for 2015:

3024AD: Series One: Finally, finally ready to roll. Books will be sent to Kickstarter backers shortly, along with the other rewards. From there, it is a matter of getting it into bookstores, and pushing marketing, etc. This will take place over the next month and change.

3024AD: Series Two (and more): This has been one of the sticking points for me. My original plan was for 3024 to be a novel, with the short stories being sort of complimentary to it. But, on the whole, I like the idea of telling the whole story through shorts. So, as my outline sits right now, there will be two more collections, but I’d wager that will expand to at least three. It will be like Pulp Fiction, but in space, and everyone dies. OK, not everyone. But most of them. My goal is to have editing done for S2 by June.

Full Length Novel: I am working on two- one is a sort of Steampunk thing, the other pure scifi fun and insanity. The latter is the one I am going to attempt to finish first. I do no know if I will self-publish it, or seek and agent/traditional publisher, and I think that will depend on how the 3024 stuff goes. But, it will be finished by years end.

The Venturess: This is, of course, pure fun. SciFi Choose your Own Adventure. This is a passion project, so my goal for this is to get as many people reading and voting as possible. But I also want to drink and need to eat, so I am in the process of organizing a Patreon campaign around it- that way if you want to chip in, you can, but will keep the project itself completely free. Incidentally, there are now social channels for The Venturess- Twitter, G+ and Tsu so far. Follow it, vote, and if you feel so inclined, keep an eye out for the Patreon.