So. 2015 is here and none too soon. I was not fond of 2014. Not only were there awful things on the world stage like ISIS, Ebola, Robin Williams dying, and Kindle Unlimited, but I had numerous bad things go down in my personal life. The only good thing was that my writing career started to pay off, which is nice, but I’d pay back the money to erase a few key events (Where’s Mephisto when you need him?)
New Years is often the time when people make resolutions, and historically, I was never one for that sort of thing. I don’t plan in general, so trying to promise myself I’ll do things over an entire year ain’t happening.
In general though, I do keep my promises to you guys (blog posts not withstanding), so I feel pretty comfortable letting you guys know what’s coming up both for my works and the site in general in the coming year. Also, as this is a year in review (and I didn’t have a 5th Wednesday thing last month), I’ll also be giving some entertainment suggestions from the stuff I’ve read/listened to/watched this year.
Well we’re going to do it anyway, crybaby.
Okay, so I’ve ignored this long enough, but the bot invasion that crippled it last week was the last straw: I need a new forum. The options Dreamhost gives me as Concrete and PHPBB. I’m leaning toward the later because I know the software a bit already, but feel free to chime in on preferences and addons you’d like to see.
On a related note, Dreamhost is offering a Virtual Private server for five bucks more than I’m paying now. Seriously considering it. DH has been pretty good this past year and the VPS will let me go back to the nice site theme I had before, plus run the Project Wonderful ads again. I think revenue is stable enough now that I don’t have to worry about paying for it, so it’s something I will be seriously considering. Again, anyone that knows technical stuff better than me, feel from to tell me what you think, keeping in mind I make the big bucks only a Speculative Fiction writer who readily and often uses the term ‘speculative fiction’ can make (enough to eat delicious cat food almost every night).
Luckily, I have a remedy for that…
Stuff For Sale
Brace for me publishing all the books this year. Okay, maybe not all, but I’m going to try and get off my ass and actually start putting stuff out on a publishing schedule. Especially ‘missing’ miniseries releases like The Whitecoat: Networked and Rise of Morganna that should have been out by now.
Rise of Morganna is going to be out next week because it’s already been edited and such. All that’s really missing is the cover and any of you who have read the blog portion of this site will know.. I suck at art. It takes me weeks to cut together a cover and this one was worse because I tried using a stock photo with an actual person as a model and… no. (Speaking of which, I am going to try to learn to draw this year. Not a resolution, just a blind, useless hope).
I’ll have a release schedule up by the end of the month (bringing back the old solicits thing I used to do), but in general, you can expect a thing a month from me now that the main series books are in a place where the minis actually make sense to release.
Other stuff… well as I learn more design stuff, I’m going to be putting out more T-shirts and things in the Cafepress store. Clay Kronke, who you might remember from doing the fist Rune Breaker covers, was gracious enough to not only grant permission to use those covers for shirts and posters, but sent my higher resolution files as well. So there will be posters of at least A Girl and Her Monster’s cover, if only so I can have one over my desk. My friend also demanded I do just a black shirt with ‘HEH’ across the chest, so that’s going to happen too.
I guess it counts as a thing for sale even thought it’s not really, but I’ve been convinced to give Patreon a whirl. The offering will be getting updates to the site a week early.
And now for the part you really want to hear about:
What’s In the Works
So yeah, unsurprisingly, I will continue to write stuff this year.
First and foremost, because you demanded it, So I Married a Supervillain is back (and I should probably change the image for 4th Wednesday). Link Moss’s trials and tribulations in Megardia are only at a start as he must deal with an assistant who hates him, his wife’s villainous missions, and a conspiracy that threatens every superhero and villain in the world. It’s enough to make him wonder if ’til death do us part’ counted being hurled into the sun by his world’s version of Superman.
Second and also because you demanded it, Imago and Malady Place are on their way and will alternate once Liedecker: Life and Times ends in a couple of weeks. I especially wanted to get to this fast because the Imago pilot especially ended in a big ‘ol cliffhanger without any of the cast but Gable and PHOEBE introduced That needs to be rectified.
If I get another opening on the schedule, We’ll be seeing Descendants: LA again. Felix really needs to deal with Icthiani’s odd behavior toward him, Glass is facing her condition worsening, and… oh yeah, the team has a mindbending elven noble to confront.
Over in Liedecker Institute, we’ll be taking a trip back into time to the origins of SD-108, the Thull breech into Faerie and what happened after. Afterward, we’re going to have some high school fun—group projects (which should be three two-issue stories following three groups of LI students doing a project assigned by Alexis!
Meanwhile, the Descendants.
It all begins Monday at 12:01 – the beginning of the end for Volume 7 in the form of the Avalon Rising arc.
The dragon Armigal warned them. Now the island of Avalon has returned to this world, heeding not a prophecy but an agenda that dates back to the 4th millennial BC. The Adriel make a move on the island in hopes of capturing a holy object to give them an advantage in their crusade. Of course Our Heroes fly out to stop them, but in order to do so, they need a diplomatic babysitter in the form of UK government agent, Grand Dodger. None of them can guess the real origin and purpose of Avalon—or the manner in which it chooses to defend itself…
Avalon Rises will get us through to Volume 8 in which we will have the long-awaited ‘Descendants… IN SPACE’ issue, the return of some badly-missed villains (Yes, Liedecker fans, he’ll be back in the main series again), and the introduction of more of the DU; from US, British and Japanese super-teams, to new Faerie activity.
Oh, and here’s something juicy: The emergence of a superVILLAIN culture in the DU.
It’s gonna be a lot of fun.
Outside of the stories, I’ll be working on the WoE d20 game, releasing some supplements for playtesting, doing a ‘Travel Guide’ for the World of Ere, and the book on DM-ing I mentioned a few weeks ago. If I manage to get the money together, there might also be and RPGMaker game (or parts thereof) in the future. Back in the day, I actually did make a short game with the PS2 RPGMaker game, so I know how to do it, just need time and software.
And with my future plots all laid out, let’s do a bit of year-in review: a few mini-reviews of media I experienced this year and think you should check out too. Some is new, some is old, but it’s all good in my opinion.
Stuff To Read
NPCs by Drew Hayes – First, a confession: While I purchased or picked up a lot of works by fellow Pen and Cape Society alums, I haven’t been able to read them because my desktop Kindle app refuses to start up and I apparently need to punch the registry in the face to fix that. Sigh.
Luckily, my best friend (who you all might know as the poster Pele from the forums) bought me the paperback version of this book. Paperbacks rarely get locked out by hardware glitches.
If you’re a tabletop RPG fan, this book is great, a story of what happens when the player characters fail to complete their mission—and the NPCs have to do the job. I would call this the Discworld of meta-Fantasy. The world isn’t full-on RPG Mechanics-verse, in that the characters don’t know about bonuses and such, but they d know adventurers are weird folk who talk funny and love killing monsters way too much.
Which makes the whole thing hilarious when they then have to fake being adventurers and turn out to advance not by experience, but via character development. I won’t give anything away, only to say that the way the world has ‘adapted’ to adventurers being around is funny as hell and I was happy to see there was a sequel hook at the end with hints toward there being something much, much bigger going on.
Don’t come in expecting ‘serious’ Fantasy. Hayes’s style is energetic, witty and completely irreverent. If might stuff is light, this book is straight comedy and damn good at it.
Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch – The long awaited sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamorra and Red Seas Under Red Skies, RoT is another venture into the unique fantasy world Lynch has created. Not-quite-steampunk (much like Rune Breaker in that respect), it is Fantasy set a few hundred years ahead of where we typically see Fantasy settings. Our heroes are, once again, awesome con men, only this time, they’ve finally been pushed into a corner and forced to work for a group they swore they would never work for.
Now, the thing about this series, the Gentlemen Bastards Cycle, is that it’s always been a bit dark around the edges. There is a scene in the very first book where I almost put the book down and swore off Lynch’s work forever… but it was balanced out by the fact that I was already hooked by the cleverness and likable characters. This happened again in the second book and in this book… well I love the plot, I love the characters, but once more Lynch go very close to getting me to disengage.
I’m still recommending the book because, seriously, where else are you going to get a series about a Fantasy con artist and heist, but at the same time, I’m kind of dreading what’s going to be in the next book because Lynch seems addicted to having one utterly horrible scene per book and I’m really not happy about that.
Blue Beetle Vol 1 By John Rogers – I love the 3rd Blue Beetle. I even liked the darker and edgier series he got and then lost in the New 52. But you know what’s funny? I started at issue 12 of the original comic series and have never read the opening story arc.
As it turns out, I really didn’t have to. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great comic in the beginning. It introduces Blue Beetle III, Jaime Reyes’s excellent supporting cast (who only get more excellent), the interesting idea of a super-powered juvenile street gang, and all that. It’s just that this book is an example of how Big Comic Events can mess up good comics.
See, Blue Beetle started out less than a year before DC’s One Year Later event, where all the titles skipped a year to set up mysteries across all comic lines. To his credit, Rogers took that and went big, having Jaime’s scarab (his power source) freak out and take over, leaving him to come to one year later having no idea what happened.
The unfortunate side effect here was that it reset all of the relationships and situations, making the first story arc… well not irrelevant because it contains stuff that hints at bigger things later… let’s say unnecessary to enjoying the comic. Still, those issues are excellent and you won’t feel like you wasted them.
Stuff to Listen To
I am a boring, boring man. Most of my reading this past year has been old stuff (Congo, Etiquette and Espionage, Warbreaker) and most of my listening… has been news radio. Sorry, but it’s just good white noise and it lets me stay informed on all the awful things in the world that I can then turn into supervillains (like my own governor’s hilariously petty corruption)
I did get two albums this year though. Both to the bleeding edge of nerdiness.
Confession time! I have never actually seen the actual show Wicked. I’ve read (and disliked) the book, but I’ve never seen the show because I live in the farthest point in the universe from culture. I’ve only ever seen one show and that was Man of La Mancha at a dinner theater. On a high school field trip.
… which reminds me, why d I not own that soundtrack? It’s freaking excellent!
I got into Wicked because of an ancient web series (I mean circa 1999) called The Argonauts that was about high school friends with the POWER OF ANIME. No, seriously, one of them had giant robots (Juniper’s Genokaze motorcycle is a tribute to one of them and The Dungeon is named after their website) one had a hyperspace mallet, etc.
EDITOR’S NOTE: HOLY CRAP, IT’S STILL ONLINE!!!
EDITOR’S NOTE 2: The Reckoning – HOLY CRAP THERE ARE NEW EPISODES!
In it, they fight a giant who—I am not kidding—sang excerpts from the Wicked Soundtrack. This being 2001, I immediately pirated those three songs I had them ever sense. Then just this past year, I happened upon the full soundtrack in the five dollar bin at Walmart and leapt upon it like a rabid nerd on a copy of the Wicked Soundtrack.
As for a review, all I really need to say is that Wicked is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz from her perspective and in a kind of ‘Everyone in Oz was in High School Together’ deal which is way cooler than it sounds. The songs carry their own weight in telling the story, this being a musical and all, and they are infinitely quotable.
First, interesting anecdote. If you were around here last year, you might know that I was confused to discover that singer Marian Call had followed me on Twitter at a time when I have all of ten followers. In my quest to figure out who this was, I ended up becoming a fan of her work, even recommending her album Vanilla last year.
I finally figured out how she knows who I am via the magic of Google: As it turns out, she did a tour a few years back called The Ladies of Ragnarok. Sooo… yup.
Anyway, the funniest part about this is that because I became a fan, she’s one of the few famous people on Twitter who I follow but haven’t jawed at. Twitter is kind of awesome in that some goof writer like me can trade jokes with Wil Wheaton, talk politics with John Rogers (my writing hero), and even demand Brandon Sanderson (My other writing hero) tell me I suck (It makes sense in context—but he did not reply). And yet, the circumstances here are so weird that I feel like some sort of creepy fan trying to reply to her. And this after I’ve traded tweets with Alyssa Milano –who I AM a creepy fan of – and told Nathan Fillion that he was a very pretty man (Also makes sense in context: he asked.). No this isn’t name dropping
Anyway, I’m apparently a bad fan of Marian Call because I bought Vanilla and Something Fierce while never knowing about her first album. Why is that important? Got to Fly has this song:
… Which I had downloaded an AMV of and enjoyed for years before hearing about Call.
The world is weird.
Anyway, the album is good. Actually it’s more specifically nerd-centric than the following albums, feature songs about Firefly, for example.
Stuff to Watch
A lot of my year with television was given over to The Green Hornet, as per the Let’s Watch I did. Plus, I bought the entire series of Avatar, so there’s that. So what new stuff did I watch and love?
I talked about Lost Girl a bit way back when I was snowed out of my house. At that time, I only saw two episodes pretty deep in the series. Pele once again came through and the second part of her Christmas gift this year was Season 1.
I really enjoy this series. It’s sort of like Charmed, but updated for the 00’s. There’s magic and fantastic creatures (I will forgive that they are mostly budget-friendly humanoids… even the lightning bird), magical world politics and Kenzi, the adorable human thief who seems convinced that the succubus lead Bo is a superhero.
The succubus part is my one problem with this show. While I appreciate that the thin ‘let’s make this all sexified’ premise does provide us with a rare positive bisexual TV character, the fact that Bo’s superpower is effectively to give people she touches an orgasm leads to some skeevy situations that the show doesn’t completely own. She’s sad that she accidentally killed people, but forced arousal is okay? No, Bo, it is not. My headcannon—to save my morality—is that she is just making herself really attractive to them so they’ll do what she says. Which si still kinda evil, but better than going all Marvel Comics and Spider-man with the implied rape.
Other than the unfortunate implications and a romance subplot and love triangle I can take or leave, the writing is pretty solid and they have fun with the fantasy critters, even pulling out critters I wasn’t aware of.
So I finished Avatar for a third time just in time for the first two seasons of this to go on sale.
Legend of Korra is a show that stands alone really well, but becomes AMAZING taken back-to back with Avatar: the Last Airbender because a thing Aang does in a single episode, Korra does as a season arc and when you figure out what’s going on and why thins are happening the way they are you mind will be blown.
That is, if it wasn’t blown by the beautiful animation. I’m not an art guy but gooooooreeeous.
Oh and Bolin is best character. Full stop.
The sticking point of it though is that everything I want to talk about is a massive spoiler (except my grousing about the Equalists). Maybe once I get the new forum up and running, I’ll start a new topic with a spoiler warning…
Godzilla ’98 was hot garbage. Pele disagrees with me, but… she’s wrong. Wronger than Wrongy McWrogningsson on an electrified wronging machine. It was awful, boring, disrespectful to my second favorite Kaiju, and just… dumb.
It was also totally worth it because then this series happened. And now there’s a boxed set with the whole damn thing for $10!
There is so much I want to say about this series and what I taught me about writing—good and bad—just from watching it over Christmas that…
I’m going to do just that—next week.
Next Week: The Kajiu Who Loved Me – Learning From Godzilla: TAS.
Fantasy heist novels aren’t the most common type but I can think of a few. No, if you read the Gentlemen Bastards it’s because you like the quality of Scott Lynch’s writing (excellent, true), or you actually like the darkness, or you want books heavy enough to serve as improvised weapons. I haven’t braced myself to read the latest one yet either.
I’m fine with proofreading some more BTW.
Seems like there’s interesting stuff ahead.
Please tell me Grand Dodger isn’t a codename. It’d just be such a grand given name for a modern-day gentleman adventurer.
I wasn’t kidding about that note I made for Malady Place, by the way. Forward. Waiting for it. 😛
And NPCs is the best dang thing that Drew Hayes has written. I’m thinking of reading it again in honor of him announcing that the sequel is happening this year.