Word Foreword
Will's Weird Words

Word Foreword

Changes Comes in… Lots?

This amazing art features store owner and game designer Matt Fantastic bursting out of my chest. By Rob Hogan.

This amazing art features store owner and game designer Matt Fantastic bursting out of my chest. By Rob Hogan.

It’s change time again. I’m working on finishing the last of the transitions to the new website. I need to art up the place, which is something I’ll be doing over the next few months. But, I got the domain name, set up the pages in a way I think is sleek and will organize things that way I want them, and transferred over all the old blog posts. As I write this marks the day the new site went live after about four or five weeks of outlining, making some aesthetic decisions, fiddling with different designs, scraping it all, starting again, etc. and another two weeks of actually putting in the legwork. So, that’s done which is great.

You know there’s a “but.” And here it is. There have been some other changes in my life recently. All positive, though. I’m gonna go through them one at a time in no particular order. Some of them I’ve had some time to decompress and others have happened fairly recently (or even still happening).

The first is that I left my job at Upper Deck. No hard feelings, or anything like that, but it just wasn’t quite the match I thought it was. It was a moment of learning for me, and I think for them too, which is great because it means everyone improved along the way. I met a lot of great people and was featured on Marvel’s social media – which was a lot of fun. I got to work on some of my favorite properties, meet a lot of people, do some traveling, but ultimately it wasn’t the right job for me.

Before I go into what I’m doing next, I’m going to paraphrase an important and enlightening conversation that I had with my partner back in January. Only a few months after I had started Upper Deck and I was already starting to feel the grind up against me of things not lining up to be the job for me. I expressed my discomfort and displeasure of a few things, and she asked me what I wanted to do. She wouldn’t say it, but the fact is that she was frustrated. We’ve moved a lot in the last few years for various jobs I got. We moved from southern Illinois to Florida in October of 2015. Five months later we moved to Reno to work in distribution, and almost two years after that Upper Deck took me and we moved to North County, CA. Her hearing my frustrations wasn’t something she wanted to hear.

But she asked me what I wanted to do. Because the reality is always wanted to make a living on writing. She knew that, but she was goading me. I rarely (read: never) said it out loud though. When we got through that, and I said it, she pointed out that all of these things that were making me unhappy weren’t really making me unhappy, more that it just wasn’t what I wanted. I had clawed my way up from a part-time GameStop associate in 2010, to the Marketing Manager of a huge corporation in 2018. It was all the drive and ambition, but it was being directed in the wrong way.

And gods old and new, she was right.

So, we sat down and talked about how to make that happen. What I needed to do, different ways to make income. I wanted to make it a year into my relationship with Upper Deck before leaving – allowing myself to pad my resume, get some writing credits, etc. I started talking to different people about writing for their games. Rulebooks, fiction, content, anything they needed. Of course, this all came to a sort of halt when I realized that I couldn’t do most of these things while at Upper Deck. My first job was for a friend who needed help running his companies blog – a recurring gig that paid, and I got to put my name on it. I was thrilled. Turns out the company wasn’t so great, but I got a few months of work out of it before it fell apart, and it was something that I could do while keeping my day job.

Green Ronin Publishing, my new family.

And then a dear friend approached me about a different kind of opportunity. One that would let me leave Upper Deck and spend more time focusing on my writing – and frankly I was tickled to be part of such an amazing team.

So what am I doing now? I’m doing sales for Green Ronin Publishing. They publish amazing RPGs like Fantasy AGE, Mutants & Masterminds, A Song of Ice and Fire RPG. That doesn’t sound like writing, you say. Your right. But without a steady income, I can’t do that fulltime yet. The folks at Green Ronin understand and have encouraged me to find opportunities to write and are flexible enough to let me do that.

Druid City Games, makers of The Grimm Forest and Guardian's Call.

Which means that a lot of the work I had done finding gigs paid off. So far I’ve done rulebooks for Druid City Games, and am likely to do more in the future. I have a few other rulebook gigs lined up in the near future with some other companies, which is a good feeling. I also have some writing work coming up for one of Green Ronin’s books (that I get to work with the amazing Malcolm Sheppard on) which makes lots of sense given that, ya know, I work for them. I’m also working with Jaym Gates, an incredibly talented editor, who leads Green Ronin’s magazine, Nisaba. I’m writing a series of short stories for the magazine set in Aldea (the setting for the Blue Rose RPG).

But what about my other projects? That’s cool. The novel I’d been writing Project: 571 Days has a finished first draft, which is great news. The not-so-great news is that I significantly dislike the ending. The last act took almost two months to finish because I had so much trouble visualizing it from the outline. I re-worked it, still didn’t like it, decided to power through, disliked it, decided to re-read and do some edits from the start, and it still just didn’t feel right. Instead of struggling with it anymore I decided to power through, finish it, print it out, then shelf it. I need to get some distance from it.

That means it’s time to take another project off the shelf, though. There are two other pieces I’m currently working on. One is a traditional fantasy short story, Project: Prince about an exiled prince who puts together a motley crew of adventurers who find ancient relics. It’s getting rather large already at around 7k words. The second project is Project: Ignition which is a modern superhero story about a teenage girl who becomes pyrokinetic. I finished the first draft in the middle of last year. I re-read the first draft, marked up some notes and came to a few conclusions.

  • I was trying to make Ignition an ensemble piece, and it’s not. Second family is an important aspect in the story, and in my mind, that meant each character had to not only be just as important as the others, but they also needed the same amount of screen time. That’s not true. Ignition is about a girl finding her second family and what they mean to her. There’s a world of difference.
  • It was too long. The first draft only clocks in at 64k, which is on the smaller side of novels, but passable. But when I did the outline I stuffed in quite a few things that, frankly, don’t belong there. When I hit these points in my read, I wondered what it would look like if I removed them and the story seemed to flow a bit better. What does that mean? Well, Ignition is getting new life as a novella in the second draft.

That seems like a lot. And it is, but I’m going to do more. Now that the construction is done on the website I’m going to be doing something else. I’ll be setting up a Patreon in the next few weeks. Given what I do I think the Patreon will offer two things. Short stories and One Page RPGs.

The short stories will be set in the same world as Ignition and focus on completely different characters and events as the novella – and instead will just work to grow the world of superheroes. If Ignition is the Green Lanterns then these short stories will be The Flash – technically they live in the same universe, but they rarely connect or crossover.

The One Page RPGs will be similar to Honey Heist, Everyone is John, or those found in github’s annual 200 Word RPG Contest (which just ended, and if you’re interested in those things, you should check it out here). I’ve written a few of these, and even submitted one to the contest this year, and have a few designer friends who use these sorts of challenges to flex their creative muscles. I started doing it as well, and find it really satisfying to work within such a small space and still try to get the math, themes, and feelings right.

I would do one of each a month – that way folks can patron me for one or the other – and if they want both it’s just a bonus for you.

bard-social.jpg

“Is that all?” you ask while I cry myself to sleep. And the answer is “No.” because there’s something else I’ve been doing for a few weeks. My partner is a host on Twitch talk show called Fresh Cup of Geek on the Bard Podcast Network (I know, it’s a mouthful). Her and the other host, Jason, talk about lots of pop culture stuff every Thursday night. Mostly video games, but occasionally they hit things like books, movies, and TV shows. But Bard has a few other shows, including Dicey Tales, and Boardgame TV that they sponsor as well, all through their own Twitch channel.

An old friend of mine, who ironically shares the same name as my partner, is a producer on the network and has helped them put together these shows and hosts. They’re growing awful quick and needed some help. So I came on board to help them with their social media outreach, and we all agreed they could use some extra helping developing new shows and improving the ones they had. So I’m a producer on a few of their projects. I think my official title is Vice President of Yelling.

That’s all. This was a long update, quite a bit longer than I expected, and yet I can’t find anything to cut.