This Saturday I’ll be heading to London for AdventureX. Also this Saturday, Wolf at the Door – the collaborative folk horror game I’ve been working on for the past few months – will be heading to Toronto for WordPlay 2018. Check out the shamelessly self-reblogged post below for more details.
If you’re anywhere near Toronto and can make the trip, I highly recommend it: there are a whole lot of other great games (and talks) to catch as well, and you should also definitely check out the following post for those reasons as well.
I’d love to head to WordPlay myself but on top of having other plans and it being an impractically huge distance to travel (which pretty much rule it out anyway), they won’t even let me into Canada at the moment. In what feels like pretty much the most “me” turn of events ever, I can’t get to Canada right now because I’m Canadian. In order to fulfil the requirement that Canadian citizens travel into Canada on Canadian passports, I have to provide proof of Canadian citizenship or (potentially) be turned away for having Canadian citizenship. It’s hard to articulate just how stupid this is.
But this is getting a little off-track. The main thing take away from this post would be that you should definitely check out the following (much more professional) post on the Deck of Bards website. It includes a link to the Wolf at the Door demo – the first time it’s ever been available to anyone outside our team – and also you might like to subscribe to the Deck of Bards blog for more Wolf at the Door updates.
Slice-of-life folk horror game Wolf at the Door will be on show for the first time ever at WordPlay, a free annual games festival hosted by the Hand Eye Society. This year’s event will be taking place from 12-5pm on November 10th at the Toronto Reference Library. The current version of the game contains only […]
I promise that the title of this post isn’t pure gibberish: Ten Little Astronauts is being serialised by a company called The Pigeonhole. The story will be sent out as ten “staves” at a rate of one a day, meaning that if you subscribe before Thursday October 11th you should be able to read the whole thing along with everyone else who’s signed up: it’s a bit like a book club. And it’s free!
There is one catch, though: there are only a limited number of slots available and they’ve been going quickly. I’ll be following the serial myself to respond to readers, and I’m working on a Q&A sent by The Pigeonhole right now. That won’t be available anywhere else, so by all means grab a slot even if you’re due to get a copy of the book!
Setting up an account involves only an email and password, and once you’ve done that it’s not just my book that’s on there. You can also read titles by lesser-known authors such as Jodi Picoult and Jeffrey Archer (whoever they are). So that’s something.
If you’d like to support Ten Little Astronauts but haven’t already, this is your absolute last chance. The supporter list will close at midnight on September 17th, UK time. If you’ve never even heard of this book before, here’s a video – filmed on board a submarine – to tell you what it’s all about:
Everybody who supports a book at Unbound gets their name listed in the back to record their contribution. But with Ten Little Astronauts set to launch next month, the thing has to be typeset and printed which means – inevitably – they have to call time on adding new supporters.
If you’re reading this before the deadline, please do consider spreading the news however you can. Post it on Facebook. Send out a tweet. Print out this blog post, fold it into a dainty origami swan and foist it on somebody while shouting “HONK! HONK!” I promise I won’t judge you (though can’t speak for anyone else).
Remember: if your name’s not on the list by midnight on the 17th, it won’t be in the book!
I’ve been pretty heavily focused on getting Ten Little Astronauts ready for publication recently, which might be why I never noticed that two of my interactive fiction games were on the People’s Choice shortlist for Wonderbox’s Opening Up Digital Fiction Competition.
You can play either one by clicking its icon above.
I sent in a whole bunch of games back when the competition was open for submissions, but wasn’t particularly confident in any of them making the cut. To see two in there is a real surprise, especially since these two in particular are very different in tone.
Because I discovered this pretty late on, not only has voting now closed but the winners have already been announced! Sadly neither of my games are amongst them, but there was some pretty serious competition: the winners look absolutely top notch, and I encourage you to check them out.
This is hardly the first time something I’ve worked on has been up for a prize, but it is the first time it’s happened specifically for an interactive piece that wasn’t a team project. It just goes to show that it’s usually worth taking a chance on these things even if you’re not sure what will come of it. Also, do keep an eye on Wonderbox specifically: the competition is annual so if you’d like to take a shot at it yourself then you’ll have a chance next year!
If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter, you might have already had a chance to read The Garden of Eleven, the flash fiction piece I submitted to the final Hampshire Writers’ Society competition of their 2017-2018 season. That piece went on to take first place, and it’s now going on to be broadcast on Hospital Radio Basingstoke: one of the top five hospital radio stations in the UK.
If you’d like to have a listen online, it’ll be on sometime between 15:00 and 16:00 UK time on Wednesday 22nd of August 2018 (ie. coming up soon!). But time zones are difficult, so if you don’t know when that is for you, keep an eye on my Twitter feed: I’ll try and squawk about it an hour or so in advance.
I think this is the first time something of mine has gone out as audio like this, but we’re hoping it could become a regular thing for HWS – with the winning competition entry being broadcast every month.
I saw this tweet today, and after several failed attempts to come up with a response in 280 characters I figured it was probably worth making it a blog post.
Edit: The tweet itself has since been deleted – apologies if any links no longer work.
The thing that really stood out to me here wasn’t so much the original tweet as the majority of responses to it:
On the one hand, I feel as though these people are missing the point of the original tweet: if nobody supports authors financially, they will not be able to write. On the other, I’m not sure that point was particularly well made in the first place.
Buying books on sale isn’t the same as buying from charity shops, which isn’t the same as ARCs (advance reading copies), which isn’t the same as piracy. I’d like to be able to say “what all these things have in common is that they don’t give the author any money,” but buying books on sale does. The best I can say is “what all these things have in common is that they give the author less money than they might get otherwise, at a time when it’s already almost impossible to make a living from book royalties,” and that’s considerably less snappy.
Basically, this is why I opted for a blog post rather than a tweet. I think Twitter’s demand for brevity is partly why people are (I believe) getting the wrong end of the stick, and why Sarah Bennett felt it necessary to expand upon the charity shops point specifically a few hours later:
If you read through the response to this post, common points raised are:
- New books are expensive.
- Charity shops offer a low-cost alternative for people with little disposable income.
- Second-hand books guarantee that somebody is paying for the author’s work in a way that free ARCs and piracy don’t.
- It’s unfair to lump charity shops and piracy together.
- Not everybody has access to libraries.
These are all perfectly reasonable things to point out. However, a lot of the things said in favour of charity shops could be (and often are) said about piracy:
Some of these I seriously agree with: if a reader prompts someone else to buy a book then it barely matters where they got it, and if they can’t afford to buy it then the same thing could be said. Others are completely ludicrous: money may not be more important than art, but it sure does make it easier for authors to continue, you know, writing books instead of dying in the gutter.
But one point seems to be consistently overlooked: financially, it makes no difference to the author if one reader buys a paperback that gets donated and sold through five charity shops in succession or if one pirate buys an ebook and five readers download it for free. It makes no difference if one person buys a copy and five family members read it as well. Each of these scenarios represents six people reading one book sold.
I think what’s most striking to me about the whole thing is this:
- People seem to care deeply about the value of books, but are largely unconcerned about whether any of their money reaches the author.
- People firmly believe that everyone should be able to read what they want, but if you can’t afford to buy it new then you’ve got to wait for someone wealthier to sell or donate their copy.
- People want everyone to have access to books, but if you want to write them then you’d better have enough money to sustain that as a hobby.
The ideal solution here would be to make sure that libraries were well stocked and widespread, but at this point that’s looking like a very long-term goal. In the more immediate future, I think a more achievable aim would be this: please buy new books if you can afford to. If you can’t, don’t worry about it. Also, and most importantly, please leave reviews and share the things you love – however you get hold of them.
And on that note, if you care about this sort of thing then you might be interested in Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers. Making books available for everyone to read is a worthy goal, but it’ll have much more of an impact if a wide range of people are writing them too.
I got stuck in a library for about an hour yesterday so I used the time to write a Twine game on my tiny, Frankensteined-together netbook. That game is Damon L. Wakes’ Stuck-in-a-Library Simulator.
Yeah. This is my life now. And you get to experience it too! Through the medium of interactive text. Fun.
Back in May I set up Codename Caerus: a game project bringing a team of people together to make something better than any of us could have produced individually. That something is still in the works – it’ll take more than a couple of months to see it through to the end – but we’ve made great progress and Codename Caerus now has a title: Wolf at the Door.
Our efforts so far have been focused on getting a demo prepared for submission to AdventureX. At this stage, it’s not in good enough shape to share – this one’s just to demonstrate that we have the bare bones of a working game – but it can be played start to finish and most of the gameplay that’ll appear in the finished version is already present in some form or another. In some ways it’s already more ambitious than what I first planned, as we’ve got in-game sound: something I wasn’t even sure was possible to do in Twine back when I organised this! Continue reading
This isn’t the first time a game I’ve worked on has been put in front of people like this, but it is the first time it’s happened with something that’s entirely my own work. It’s great to see it reaching so many people! Just over the past two or three days it’s become the most played game I’ve ever produced, overtaking Blacklight 1995 which I released almost five years ago. For comparison, Teatime Simulator has been out less than a month. Continue reading
I have a brand new Twine game for you, and this one comes with Prizes!
Lovely Pleasant Teatime Simulator is a relaxing narrative game about—
Actually, you know what? I’m not gonna bother. You know this isn’t really a straightforward Afternoon Tea simulator, and I know you know, so there’s really no point in me typing up a description pretending that it is. Continue reading