'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas

Friday, 24 May 2019

Gamebook Friday: 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas and the UK Games Expo

I'll start with the second one first. This time next week I will be at the UK Games Expo, at the NEC in Birmingham. You will find me and my ACE Gamebooks* at Stand 2-640, here:

One of the books that won't be on sale there this year is 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas, because (a) I'm currently compiling the play-testers' comments, and (b) it isn't due for release until the autumn anyway.

That said, while I am at the UK Games Expo, I will have a new Kickstarter campaign running, to fund production of a rules-lite traditional roleplaying game inspired by the 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas gamebook, called 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas.

It's something of a first for me. While I have crowded five ACE Gamebooks to date, I haven't tried crowdfunding a traditional RPG before, and I'm going to be using DriveThruRPG to deliver most of the rewards. What this means is that people will back to receive a Print Book Code and when the book is ready, they can choose whether they want a softback or hardback version, and pay print and postage costs accordingly. And if you back within the first week, there is a £5 discount on the basic Print Book Code reward options.
And talking of 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas, I will be taking part in a Q&A session about the RPG, on the Random Worlds chatroom, on Wednesday 29th January, from 7:30-9:30pm BST/1:30-3:30pm Central time.

Maybe I'll see you there, but in the meantime you can find out more about 'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas, and read a sample chapter on Character Creation, here.

* And the few remaining hardbacks in my possession of YOU ARE THE HERO Parts 1 and 2.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Today is International Sherlock Holmes Day

Today is International Sherlock Holmes Day, which is celebrated on 22nd May each year, because that was the date of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday.

Despite being a big influence on many things I have written, most notably the Pax Britannia series, I have only actually had one Sherlock Holmes story published*, and that was last year in the anthology Further Associates of Sherlock Holmes, edited by George Mann and published by Titan Books.

If you would like to find out what happens in Sherlock Holmes and the Beast of Bodmin, a story that is narrated by Sir Henry Baskerville, you can order your copy of the anthology here.

* Although I do have plans for another Sherlock Holmes-related project, which I hope to start work on in the next couple of years. 

Monday, 20 May 2019

'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas launches one week today!

'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas is launching on Monday 27th May 2019. Inspired by the ACE Gamebook 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas, it is a darkly festive, rules-lite, traditional RPG, that is ready to play straight out of the box.

One Christmas Eve, Santa Claus is abducted by Krampus, the Christmas Devil. The only ones who can help him are a group of toys, brought to life by Santa's magic.

'TWAS - The Roleplaying Game Before Christmas is being illustrated by Tony Hough and the majority of the Kickstarter rewards will be fulfilled by DriveThruRPG. And if you back within the first week, you can get a £5 discount on rewards offering print book codes.

So put the day in your diary, and hopefully I'll see you next week, over on Kickstarter!

Thought for the Day

"Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable."
~ L. Frank Baum

Friday, 17 May 2019

Gamebook Friday: ACE Gamebooks at the UK Games Expo 2019

Two weeks today, I will be at the UK Games Expo, which is being held at the NEC just outside Birmingham. The event runs from Friday 31st May - Sunday 2nd June, and Saturday 1st June sees the official launch of NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! (although it will also be available on the Friday).

You will find me at Stand 2-640, in Hall 2, on CMON Avenue and close to Keyforge Street. You won't be able to miss it, because there will be a huge NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! map covering the table and a banner with a dinosaur battling a sabretooth tiger behind it.

Click to enlarge

I will have all three of my ACE Gamebooks so far in print for sale, and some exciting news about a new project as well. And I may even have a few hardbacks of YOU ARE THE HERO Parts 1 and 2 with me.

So if you're coming along to the UK Games Expo, do stop by Stand 2-640 and say hello. Maybe I'll see you there...

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Happy Birthday, L. Frank Baum!

L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was born 163 years ago today. In fact, he died 100 years ago, on 6th May.

His classic of American children's literature has inspired all kinds of re-imaginings, from movies to TV series and musicals, and my own dieselpunk-styled gamebook The Wicked Wizard of Oz, which is even an exhibit at the All Things Oz Museum in Chittenango, New York, where Baum was born.

If you've not read The Wicked Wizard of Oz yourself yet, you can pick up a copy here. You will also find a list of errata and some bonus material here.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Thought for the Day

"How To Be a Writer:
Awaken to sound of birdsong
Emerge from scented boudoir
Don silken writing pyjamas and special writing hat
Call for parchment quill pen fresh squid ink gold leaf
Small nap till tea time
Have butler bring crumpets, jam, baskets of kittens
Write lies all day long"

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Happy Birthday, J. M. Barrie!

J. M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan and Wendy, was born 159 years ago today. More recently, of course, I was inspired to re-imagine his characters and their story as an adventure gamebook, in which the island of Neverland is populated by more monstrous reptiles other than just one giant crocodile.

NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! goes on general release on Saturday 1st June and you can pre-order your copy here.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Thought for the Day

"How To Be a Writer:
Look into the abyss
See the abyss looking back
Tell the abyss to take a running jump

Friday, 3 May 2019

Gamebook Friday: 'TWAS the Kickstarter Update before the UK Games Expo

Which is a convoluted way of saying that I have news about 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas, Kickstarter, and the UK Games Expo.

To begin at the end, just four weeks from today I will be at the UK Games Expo. I'll actually be there for the whole weekend, so if you're around do stop by Stand 2-640 and say hello. You won't be able to miss me, because my table will have a huge map of Neverland on it.

And now to jump back to the beginning, this week I sent the play-test version of 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas to those Kickstarter backers who pledged at the Stuffed Stocking and Secret Santa reward levels, which means I'm on track to get the finished book to the publisher by the end of the month, so that it can be out in time for Christmas.

And talking of Kickstrater projects, the crowdfunding platform was 10 years old this week. I didn't launch in the UK until October 2012, and I crowdfunded my first project in December 2012. Since then I have launched a total of 10 Kickstarter projects and 8 of them have funded.

But I find myself in a strange situation at the moment. With all the physical rewards for NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! sent to backers*, and the eBook due to go out soon, and with Beowulf Beastslayer and 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas in the hands of others, at the moment, for the first time in a long time, I don't actually know what my next Kickstarter project is going to be, or when I'm going to launch it.

I have plenty of ideas for potential projects, it's just a case of making a decision with what to go with next. I could go with one of two different ACE Gamebooks, or a new non-fiction project, any of which I would probably launch in October. However, there is also a potential role-playing game, which I could even see myself launching in time for the UK Games Expo.

So, if you were me, which one would you go with next?

* If you've had a chance to read it, please do post a brief review here.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Gamebook Friday: 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas

We've had some glorious weather over the last week or more, here in the UK, so what else would I have been doing, other than editing a gamebook set in an arctic wilderness at Christmas time?

Anyway, I am feeling rather pleased with myself this morning, as I have reached another milestone in getting 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas ready for publication. Today I finished the first pass edit, which means that I am now ready to print out and proofread the gamebook right the way through, from beginning to end. What was only supposed to be a fun 300 section festive frolic, has turned into another 500 section monster. But it could be worse - at least it isn't 900 sections long!

Once I've completed my own proofread and play-test, and made any necessary changes to the master document, I will muddle up the sections, re-structure the book, and then it will be ready to send out to the other proofreaders and play-testers.

If you missed the original Kickstarter campaign, it's not too late to place a late pledge. Simply follow the instructions here.
And if you think a gamebook about rescuing Father Christmas, featuring elves and fairies, sounds a little childish, rest assured, it is as dark and  mature as any of my other adventure gamebooks, as this reader in America recently discovered when they received their backer copy of NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!

"Neverland: Here Be Monsters! is an amazing journey as one of four different characters. Will you be Wendy Darling? Maybe the classic Peter Pan? The amazing Tiger Lily? Or even Captain Hook. The characters aren't exactly like the book and movies that we've enjoyed and loved before. Rather, they are a twist on the classics. The story is enjoyable, with many options, twists, and turns. You might encounter Giant Serpents and Sabre-Tooth Tigers, or Saurian Lizards and a Colossal Crocodile. Either way, it is sure to be an adventure that you won't soon forget. If you are wanting to give modern gamebooks or choose-you-own adventure style books a chance, this is a great one to get started with."

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Happy St George's Day!

Today is a day for remembering when a Turkish knight killed a Libyan dragon, thereby ensuring he would be venerated as the patron saint of England*.

When people first stumbled across dinosaur bones, they mistook them for the ossified remains of dragons. And many of those 'dragons' have made it into my latest ACE Gamebook, NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! Here's what one reader had to say about it:

"A worthy addition to the series. This book will be an awfully big adventure for those looking to dive into this twist on a familiar tale." - 5 stars

And while I'm in book-plugging mode, today it also Shakespeare's deathday (and probably his birthday). To mark the occasion, why not pick up a copy of Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu, a collection of fifteen stories of eldritch horror that blend the Bard's most famous plays with Lovecraft's most terrifying creations?

* I wonder how many of the Brexit rabble will be hanging English flags out of their windows today, unaware that they are celebrating the achievements of someone from Turkey?

Friday, 19 April 2019

Gamebook Friday: JG on Gamebooks

For those of you who may be interest, I was interviewed recently for Phantasmagoria Magazine, about Fighting Fantasy and my other gamebooks. You can pick up a copy of the magazine here.

If was also interviewed a while ago for a Bulgarian gamebook site, Legacy of Kreya. You can read an English translation of the interview here.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Steampunk Thursday: Pax Britannia im Deutschland

It's been a few years since my first two Pax Britannia books were published as German language editions, but now they're back, with German titles this time, and brand new cover art. And very impressive they look too!

Unnatural History is now Welt aus den Fugen, while Leviathan Rising has been rechristened Gefahr in der Tiefe.

Bother titles are due to be released on 31 May 2019, courtesy of Luzifer-Verlag.

Don't forget, my steampunk-inspired take on Alice's Adventutres in Wonderland is also available in German, as Alice im Düsterland, and can be purchased here, from Mantikore-Verlag.

Monday, 15 April 2019

The 107th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic

Monday 15th April 2019, mark the 107th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The events of that dark day form the opening part of Wendy Darling's adventure in my latest ACE GamebookNEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!.

Through the day I have been playing through the adventure on Twitter, and it's not too late to join in and have your say regarding how that story develops. Just look for the #NeverlandPlaythrough hashtag, and vote for your preferred option.

Thought for the Day

"Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don't make compromises, don't worry about making a bunch of money or being successful - be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices, and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency." 

~ Patti Smith, singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist

Saturday, 13 April 2019

NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! Playthrough on Twitter

Monday 15th April 2019, mark the 107th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. To mark the occasion, I am going to start a playthrough of my latest ACE Gamebook, NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!, on Twitter.

So if you've been wondering what a gamebook adaptation of Peter Pan and Wendy would be like, join me on Monday, on the #NeverlandPlaythrough hashtag, to play through the opening passages of the adventure.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Gamebook Friday: Forthcoming Gamebook Events

Just seven weeks from today, I will be attending the UK Games Expo at the NEC in Birmingham. I will also be launching NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! there on Saturday 1st June (although it will be on sale on the Friday too), and selling and signing my other ACE Gamebooks throughout the weekend.

And then on Saturday 6th July I will be in Oxford for Alice's Day, and giving a lecture* at the Weston Library about Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland.

And then in August, I will be a guest of Manticon, in Germany, from Thursday 15th - Sunday 18th August.

And not long after that, it's Fighting Fantasy Fest 3 on Saturday 31st August, at the University of West London in Ealing.

And after that? We'll have to wait and see, but I will be at Dragonmeet in London, come December.

* i.e. - a talk.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Thought for the Day

"Knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do."

~ Jeremy Strong, children's author

Friday, 5 April 2019

Gamebook Friday: NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!

You may have noticed that I've not been blogging very much lately. Well this is because I've been working on three different ACE Gamebooks projects simultaneously. I've been getting Beowulf Beastslayer ready to send to the publisher for laying out, I've been editing 'TWAS - The Krampus Night Before Christmas, and I've been packing up the rewards for NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!

Prepping the parcels for posting.

At the start of this week I posted the books to the NEVERLAND backers, and many have started to receive them. The book isn't officially released until 1st June, when I will be at the UK Games Expo, and if I'm honest, I'm hoping a few more reviews might appear on the book's Amazon listing page between now and then. In fact, if we hit 50 reviews on Amazon, I have a little surprise planned for everyone.

The Jolly Roger Black Flag edition hardback alongside The Wicked Wizard of Oz collector's hardback.

NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! has been a long time coming, and it's great to see it out in the wild at long last. I just hope that, when people come to read it, they think it's been worth the wait...

Monday, 1 April 2019

Thought for the Day

"On the same day as that lovely 5* review, I find a 3* review of another of my books, headlined: "Tedious, very tedious". This is as it should be. Some people should love them. Others should hate them. Never try to write a book that everyone will quite like!"

~ Rod Duncan, author

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Short Story Saturday: One of the Many

Yesterday, news broke on the Barnes & Noble website about a new anthology edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane. And here's the cover...

See that 'and many more...' at the bottom? I'm one of the many, having contributed a story based on one of my favourite parts of the whole Alice mythos*. Wonderland: An Anthology is due to be published later this year, on 17th September 2019.

But twelve days before that, on 5th September, Scarlet Traces: A War of the Worlds Anthology, edited by Ian Edginton, is due to be published, and here's the cover...

See that 'AND MANY OTHERS...' at the bottom? I'm one of the many again, having also contributed a story to this particular anthology.

So if you're a fan of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The War of the Worlds, and my short fiction, then there's plenty to look forward to this September.

* If that's a thing.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Thought for the Day

"Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference."
~ Stephen King

Friday, 22 March 2019

Gamebook Friday: Alice in the Land of Nightmares

Apologies for the lack of blogage in recent weeks. The thing is I've been working on three ACE Gamebooks, one way or another - from prepping for publication, to editing and writing - as well as writing a short story for an anthology that's out this autumn, and organising Fighting Fantasy Fest 3.

In other words, I've been busy.

But I also have some good news.

Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland is coming out in a Spanish language Argentinian edition this May. In Spanish the title of the book has become Alice in the Land of Nightmares, and it is the first gamebook to be published by games company El Dragón Azul, and features awesome artwork by Maria Paolo.

So, if you're a collector, keep your eyes peeled come May!

And here's that glorious cover art in full.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Thought for the Day

"Don’t throw away books. Books aren’t clutter. They add room. They make a small space infinite. They’re not mere objects, they’re portals. You open one up and you enter a different world."

~ Matt Haig, author

Monday, 11 March 2019

Thought for the Day

"The more time you spend outlining and brainstorming before you write, the less time you'll spend rewriting. But each writer excels at different portions of the process. Find the balance of preparation to rewriting that is right for you and don't worry how other writers say to do it."

Friday, 8 March 2019

Gamebook Friday: International Women's Day

This time last year, I posted about the heroines who feature in my ACE Gamebooks, concluding:

"And then there is NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters!, which I am currently in the process of writing, and which features not one but two heroines, the Lara Croft-esque shipwreck survivor Wendy Darling, and the Sabretooth-riding heroic hunter Tiger Lily."

Well NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! has now gone to print, and here's how Wendy and Tiger Lily ended up in the book.

Wendy Darling
Shipwreck Survivor, The Girl Who Lived

Oldest child of George and Mary Darling, Wendy was eighteen years old when she and the rest of her family – including her younger brothers John and Michael, and their pet dog Nana – boarded the RMS Titanic at Southampton on 10th April 1912, for the passenger liner’s maiden voyage.

She is well-educated, well-mannered, and resourceful. While at finishing school in Switzerland, as well as learning the formal rules of etiquette and improving her French, she also learnt how to fence.

Tiger Lily
Heroic Hunter, Saviour of the Accala

Daughter of Chief Great Panther of the Accala, and therefore technically a princess, Tiger Lily nonetheless dreams of being inducted into the elite warrior brotherhood of the tribe. She is already well on her way, having raised her Sabretooth steed Fang from when he was a cub, after his mother was killed while protecting him from one of the terrible lizards that dwell on the island. She is adept at using not only her flint-headed tomahawk axe but also a spear, whilst hunting with Fang.

Tiger Lily models herself on the great Warrior Queen Lai Tai’Glaa, the legendary ruler of the Accala who supposedly first brought her people to the promontory the tribe now calls home.

NEVERLAND - Here Be Monsters! goes on general release on 1st June.