Ten Little Astronauts was released one year ago today! I’ve got a post about that over on the publisher’s website, and don’t want to repeat too much of that over here, but I think it’s worth just saying – once again – thanks to everybody who helped get the book to where it is today. The book has had a great response and is incredibly close to 100 ratings over on Goodreads: it could well be the first of my works to reach that milestone!
Up until now I’ve tried to post updates about book events and whatnot on Unbound directly as well as over here, but the further Ten Little Astronauts‘ initial launch fades into the past, the more important it becomes to have some other way of reaching people. With that in mind, I’m going to do my best to put out regular newsletters from 2020 onwards.
If you haven’t already heard about them (and it’s not something I’ve ever put a huge amount of effort into promoting), my newsletters are a summary of everything I’ve done in the previous month, sent out (ideally) once a month. You can also subscribe to notifications whenever I release a new work, though in practice I don’t tend to send those out as it usually coincides with a regular newsletter: there’s not a lot of sense sending two emails. I’ve neglected to send one the last few months, but if anybody is reading this and thinking “Hey, I would like to keep up with this sort of thing (but don’t want to have to sift through loads of social media notifications)!” then please do sign up: having a few more people on the list would do wonders keeping me motivated to send them out!
Unbound has opened up a special Christmas Shop of books and bundles that would make good festive gifts, and Ten Little Astronauts is among them! This bundle would be perfect for anybody you know who loves sci-fi so much they’d definitely get through more than one book before New Year.
This is currently the second most ordered bundle, which I realise isn’t saying much as the shop has only just opened and most have yet to see any orders at all, but still seems like a pretty promising start. Most books have an RRP of around £10, so four for £25.99 is a bit of a bargain. Also, if you order before the 17th of December (from within the UK) the bundle should arrive in time for Christmas.
Even if you’re not shopping for sci-fi, do check out the full selection of books and bundles: there’s quite a range on offer!
The 25th Interactive Fiction Competition is now over, and the results are in! Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir came 33rd in the end, which may not be a Top Ten result but I’m still pretty happy with. There were 82 entries altogether so that’s very much in the top half of the rankings, and apparently high enough to score a small cash prize and possibly some other stuff. (IFComp is pretty generous when it comes to runners-up: if you’re on the fence about submitting something in 2020, I highly recommend giving it a go.)
The range of responses from the judges is interesting: the game attracted more votes than most (I’m guessing because people saw the title, thought “Haha what?” and clicked it), and managed to snag every possible score from one to ten. It didn’t divide opinion enough to earn me the Golden Banana of Discord (which, as you can imagine, I really really would have liked to win), but clearly there were at least a few people out there with strong feelings about it, and quite a few more who got a chuckle out of it. For something I hammered together in about a week, I think that’s a pretty good response.
I’ll be aiming to produce a slightly more ambitious version of the game in the not too distant future, which I’ll hopefully make available as an actual printed gamebook. There should also be an ebook, an online version, and probably a mobile app.
Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir got a mention in Part 2 of The Short Game‘s IFComp 2019 podcast! (That bit starts at 00:39:27 if you want to skip ahead.)
It’s great to see the game reaching people in any form – this being my first time entering IFComp, I’ve been pleasantly surprised just how many players have already given it a go – but it’s especially nice for it to be so well received!
If you haven’t yet played Unsee Elixir, this might be a nice little lead-in to it, and if you haven’t got involved in IFComp at all, it the podcast as a whole might point you towards some good ones to try. You’ve got until November 15th, you only need to rate five to be a judge for the event, and naturally it’s easier to manage that number in that time if you throw a few short ones into the mix. For an introduction to the entire event (and a few more games), do check out Part 1 of their IFComp podcast as well.
This is Just to Say
I have not eaten
that were in
the fruit bowl
you were very
they had stones
to bin them
Since Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure will be returning to EGX next week, I thought it was about time I uploaded the audio from its appearance at EGX Rezzed back in April.
If you’d like to catch Exponential Adventure at the main EGX event, it’ll be running from 13:00 to 13:45 on Friday the 18th of November. Even if you’re not there in person, the Fringe Theatre schedule suggests that you should be able to catch it streaming live on the official EGX YouTube channel, so you can still enjoy my live interactive* theatre thingy from the comfort of your own home!
*Unfortunately you can’t actually interact with it over the internet.** You’ll only be able to have a hand in the story if you’re there in the ExCeL centre.
**I guess technically you could still yell at your computer screen, but I won’t be able to hear you. Also, you’ll probably get some funny looks from anyone who can hear you. Especially if you’re in a library.
I had big plans to enter IFComp this year with a big fancy sci-fi game, but they were pretty much scuppered by a perfect storm of things getting in the way: I got called up for jury service again (making me the only person I know who’s done it twice), I snagged some extra freelance work, and EGX accepted my Fringe Theatre panel (also making me the only person I know who’s done it twice).
Since that plan went out the window, I came up with a new one:
It’s exactly what it looks like.
The scenario is going to be pretty familiar if you played Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure: Girth Loinhammer (Dungeon Lord) is unsatisfied with the public perception of his seriously evil dungeon, but this time – more than that – he’s traumatised by a certain something he was unfortunate enough to witness during its day-to-day operation. A certain something he wishes to unsee. Continue reading
If you missed my live reading of Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure at EGX Rezzed this year, then good news! You’ve got another chance to catch it. I’ll be performing at the EGX Fringe Theatre at 1pm on Friday the 18th of September!
This will all be happening at ExCeL in London, and it’s my first time there. In all honesty I’m a little disappointed to see EGX move away from Birmingham, but I’m also incredibly happy to get a chance to take my work to the “big” EGX. I think it went well last time (which I assume is why they’re letting me do it all again), and if you did manage to catch it back in April then you’ll be happy to know that the odds of hearing any of the same storylines again are more than a hundred to one.
If you don’t already have a ticket for EGX, you should know that they’re now running a little low. Early entry day tickets are already gone, but you can still catch my panel with a standard Friday ticket. There are also a limited number of Super Passes left, which will get you in early all four days. If you can stick around for the whole thing, I highly recommend it: if the London version of this event is anything like the Birmingham one, there’ll be way too much to see than you have time for while it’s running, let alone in just one day.
Finally, if you’d like to come along but can’t shell out for a ticket, you might like to know that Tranzfuser is looking for abmassadors (but be quick – applications close at 5pm on the 15th of September). Not only will you get free entry, they’ll pay you £70 per day to run their stand. I don’t know for sure that you’d be able to duck out and catch Exponential Adventure, but I figure there’s at least a possibility you could make that your lunch break or something. Regardless, it sounds like a great opportunity, and I’d be applying for it myself if I weren’t already attending as an exhibitor.
Last week Wattpad began accepting Twine stories on Tap – a mobile platform for interactive fiction – and I’ve begun the process of converting my own work to submit. You can already find Ultraviolent Unicorn Deathmatch of Destiny on my profile there!
This version of the game has a little more graphical flair than the one that originally went out as part of Flash Fiction Month 2017, with a style loosely based upon the physical edition I had printed earlier this year. I’ll likely opt for a similar setup if I ever release it as a standalone mobile app: the default Twine stylesheet isn’t spectacularly well suited for very small screens. Continue reading
I’m putting together an illustrated omnibus of all my Flash Fiction Month pieces from 2012 to 2017, and I need your help! This thing will include 186 stories – 31 for each of the first six years I took part in the event – and I’d like at least a significant portion to have an image to go with them. Read on even if you’re not an artist: it matters less than you’d think!
This Google sheet lists the full selection of stories, organised by year (as well as a link to each one to refresh your memory). Produce an illustration for any of them – even if it’s just a doodle on a napkin – and I’ll consider it for inclusion in the book. I don’t promise to add in everything that’s sent, but I don’t rule it out either! Here are some tips to maximise your chances:
- The images will probably be included on their own page, which means it’s preferable for each one to be portrait (taller than it is wide).
- Colour illustrations are absolutely fine (and people reading on phones and tablets will see them in all their glory), but bear in mind the interior of the paperback will be printed in black and white. Most e-readers will show the images in greyscale too.
- Bigger is better. I can always shrink or crop a large image to fit the book, but I can’t do anything to conjure more pixels out of a smaller one!
- Scans are preferable to photographs (if you’re working on paper/canvas/whatever). Each of my #draw365 images is just hastily snapped with my smartphone, and they really suffer because of it. If you don’t have access to a scanner, this blog post offers some handy tips on how to get good photos (even on a phone).
If you’d like to submit an illustration, simply add your name and a hyperlink to the Google sheet. That’s all there is to it, but if you’d like to tell your friends too then that would really help me out a lot!
The goal here is ideally to have one illustration for each of the 186 stories in the book. I’d settle for less, and I might consider more, but that one per story seems like something to aim for. Obviously nobody’s had a chance to ask any questions yet – let alone frequently – but here’s an FAQ anyway.
An FAQ Anyway:
Q: Will I get paid for this?
Q: Will I at least get a copy of the book?
A: If I end up using your artwork, I’ll send you a free ebook! I’ll probably send one even if I don’t.
Q: Why should I send you my work for free?
A: Literally the only reason is “Because you want to.” If you don’t, then don’t. Absolutely do not consider doing this for exposure. That’s a terrible idea in general and in this particular case I can’t even promise it’ll get your work in front of a significant audience.
Q: No, seriously, is there any reason I should get involved with this thing?
A: I think it’ll be fun! If you like any of the stories I’ve produced for Flash Fiction Month, this is a chance to engage with them and create something for future readers to enjoy. If you just like drawing and want to get involved with a big project, that’s great too!
Q: What’ll happen if you get more than one illustration for the same story?
A: I’ll probably just choose my favourite and the other(s) will go unused. However, if it’s a long-ish story then I may be able to fit both in.
Q: How should I add my name and link to the spreadsheet if someone else has already illustrated that story?
A: Just stick them in the next available cells on that row. I don’t anticipate that there’ll be too much competition.
Q: What’s stopping me doing an absolutely rubbish scribble just to get a free book?
A: Nothing. Scribble away! But again, there’s no guarantee I’ll use it and therefore no guarantee of a free book. (This is the internet: I acknowledge the possibility that 5,000 people will send me a hastily scrawled dickbutt, but I’m not emailing out books for the privilege.)
Q: Can I submit more than one illustration?
A: Yes, submit as many as you like!
Q: You’ve emphasised that quality isn’t much of a concern, but I’ve got an idea for something really good! Will that look out of place?
A: I certainly hope not! I hope that people will endeavour to produce work of the highest possible quality, much as I did when producing these six years’ worth of stories. However, I realise that people may find they don’t always quite manage to achieve their own expectations, as I did when producing these six years’ worth of stories.
Q: What exactly am I letting you do with my artwork?
A: By submitting an illustration you are granting me the non-exclusive right to reproduce that image for commercial and non-commercial purposes, which is what I need to make, sell, and promote the omnibus. You maintain all the rights you would have if I weren’t using the image at all (which is actually kind of a grey area when it comes to fan art, but I’m not exactly going to sue people for drawing things I’ve invited them to draw!).
Q: I’ve already drawn fan art of one of these stories! Can I submit that?
A: Yes! I actively encourage it.
Q: I’ve already drawn something that wasn’t specifically based on one of these stories, but might as well have been. Can I submit that?
A: Yes, that’s fine too.
Q: Is there a deadline for this?
A: Not currently, though I’d like to be able to release the omnibus sometime in 2020.
If you’d like to submit an illustration (or a few!) then here’s that link to the spreadsheet again. Even if not, I hope you’ll consider sharing this around. I think it could be a neat project, and I’d like anyone who might be interested to have a chance to get involved.