Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 2
Challenge #1: Write an editorial piece including precisely three questions. One must be answered with a lie, and at least one of the others must remain unanswered. The story must also include an existing headline and two of the following items: a sudden disappearance, an ‘expert’ witness, a talk show host, the phrase “off the record,” a banana.
“Friendly” neighbourhood superhero Spiderguy is once again the talk of the town following his sudden disappearance in 2014. But who is Spiderguy, and is he truly friend or secretly foe? The answer, undoubtedly, is foe.
The caped crusaders of our fair city fall into two categories: those who serve justice openly, and those who hide behind a mask. Who is Spiderguy? Is the figure who returned in the wake of Major Megaton’s spectacular demise the same one as before? Despite years of tireless photojournalism, even I cannot say. But what I know for certain is that true heroes have nothing to hide. The openly superpowered Astounding Welt – host of popular talk show Wednesdays with Welty – had this to add:
“The main reason I never seriously tried to conceal my identity is that I’ve got a very distinctive face. I didn’t really expect a little domino mask would do anything, but I’m not sure I could fit one of those full spandex deals over my head. Broccoli Man has much the same problem: if you grow a giant green afro as part of your costume, it’s not as if you can just pop a hat on top of it and hope nobody notices the rest of the time. You’re pretty much committed to making your superhero identity your only identity.” Continue reading
One of the advantages of having already gained a substantial level of support for Ten Little Astronauts – which is now more than halfway funded with over 200 supporters – is that it’s started to attract more attention from the media. It ended up in the news twice this week, so I thought I’d go ahead and share!
This article was the result of an interview with Lev Lourie (with the photo taken at Fair Oak Library), and appeared in the new Eastleigh Times on the 30th of November:
Just the next day, on December 1st, the book also got a place in Portsmouth’s Star & Crescent under the headline: Bringing Agatha Christie into the Space Age Might Land Local Writer a Book Deal. I actually wrote this one myself, as a contributor!
It’s great to see the book reaching a wider audience, and I hope this will help to secure the rest of the funding by the Christmas deadline. Still, if you want to help the book out and would like to spread this around yourself, that would make even more of a difference!
Dungeon Lord lovers rejoice: I’ve signed a contract for another book, and this one features none other than Girth “Meatthrust” Loinhammer himself. Just look how happy he is!
If you’re subscribed to my newsletter or a regular at the open mics I read at then you’ll have known about this for quite a while, but Aperture Editions are now on board to publish Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure, the massively interactive Dungeon Lord story that I’ve been working on for the past year and a half. This thing’s huge: it’s currently 150,00 words in total and it’s still not quite finished. The version available online only includes half the content. There’s a lot I’ve held back. Continue reading
Yes! Ten Little Astronauts has reached 30% funding through Unbound. The last little bit of that came very quickly indeed: pretty much just over this past weekend. You can find the update on their site here.
If you haven’t pledged already, this would be a spectacularly good time to do so. The book has had so much support these past few days that it’s currently trending on Unbound, and if that continues – particularly if it earns a place on the front page of books – even more people are going to discover it. If you’re one of the next 15 people to put in a pledge, you’ll also get your name in an interactive sci-fi story I’m working on as well as the regular rewards.
Harvest Moon, the folk horror story I was offering as the 30% milestone reward, will be going out to supporters soon. For the 35% milestone reward I’m planning to release a never-before-seen Face of Glass myth telling the origin of the elements and the creation of Man. If that takes your fancy, you might also be interested in Silent as Still Water.
And please, even if you don’t intend to put in a pledge yourself, consider sharing Ten Little Astronauts with anyone you think might enjoy it. That 100% mark is creeping closer and closer, but I can’t reach it on my own!
You might recall Craft Keep VR from my writeup of EGX 2016, where I was lucky enough to try out the virtual reality fantasy artisan game first hand. Well, there’s some exciting follow-up news. First of all, Craft Keep is coming to Steam Early Access on the 10th of November: that’s less than a week away!
Second, I’m writing this thing! At EGX I got talking to the developer, Arvydas Žemaitis, who said that he was looking to include an interesting story as the player travels about setting up shop in all these weird and wonderful locations around the world. Naturally I sent off an email about it after the event, and here we are! Continue reading
While preparing the paperback version of Osiris Likes This, I took the opportunity to revise a few of my other books as well. In most cases that involved little more than making sure the front and end matter was up to date (the “Books by Damon L. Wakes” page has grown significantly since the earliest ones were first released). However, for Face of Glass, I wanted to do something a little more significant.
UPDATE: As the Humble Weekly Bundle is only ever available for a week, the links to it here will no longer work properly. Anything that originally pointed to the bundle in which Spoiler Alert appeared will instead point to the current weekly bundle. Chances are there’s some good stuff in there, but it won’t be the same stuff I’ve described below.
I’ve been putting off sharing a lot of interesting things just because I won’t be able to do much with them until I hand my 20,000 word final project in at the end of the month. However, this is something I think it’s well worth passing on now.
For anyone not already sick of hearing about it from me, Spoiler Alert is a platforming game played entirely backwards: You un-collect coins! You refill the health bars of fallen bosses! You sprint backwards right-to-left through a cartoon landscape while rain falls up!
If that sounds like the kind of bizarre thing you’d get from me during Flash Fiction Month, then I’m afraid that’s mostly down to coincidence. Though I did have a hand in it, the game was already in great shape by the time I got involved.
My main contribution was the final/first boss, Mr. Deathbunny:
So that’s the first part of this post’s title covered. The second part is the Humble Bundle. This thing is both a great idea, and a great deal: it’s a name-your-price bundle of games with whatever amount you decide being split between the game developers, the guys organising the bundle, and a deserving charity (you decide who gets how much). You could get Spoiler Alert and four other games for a dollar if you wanted to. Spoiler Alert on its own is typically about £2 (or £5 if you’re after the collector’s edition, which is what you get here), so if you want to try it, now’s the time.
However, I’d recommend sinking in a little more. The Humble Bundle typically offers additional games if you pay more than the average price offered at that point, though at the time of writing the big bunch of games is being offered at a steady $6. That’s not a bad offer given that it includes a Professional license for GameMaker Studio, which would ordinarily cost $149.99. Also the source code for Spoiler Alert itself.
If you really want to splash out, $12 gets you the Android export module for GameMaker (ordinarily $299.99). However, that bundle tier is almost all GameMaker-related, so if that’s not something you’re interested in then a $287.99 saving could still end up being a waste of $11. Personally I’ve gone for the $12 option, since I’d love to be able to put out a couple of mobile games even if they’re no more ambitious than Blacklight 1995 or Rainbow Bears’ Playtime.
So just to sum up, Spoiler Alert is in this week’s Humble Bundle, and it’s possibly the best bundle I’ve ever seen. I know with downloadable games that the chore of setting up an account to buy them can be more of a put-off than the money itself (perhaps especially when it’s such a trivial amount) but the Humble Bundle is well worth keeping an eye on.
Disclaimer: I’m plugging Spoiler Alert because I played a small part in making it and want to see it reach more people. However, that part was small enough that I don’t get any royalties or anything. I have absolutely nothing to do with GameMaker Studio or the Humble Bundle whatsoever. (I just think they’re neat.)
I’ve noticed two things recently. One is that, as with this week, I often end up with a lot of stuff going on at once. The other is that I sometimes go a long time without releasing any new work.
That’s not to say I’m not actually producing anything. Along with my Creative Writing MA, I’m still working on Inhuman Resources and the Alterworld collection, and I’ve got a handful of less conventional projects on the go as well. The problem is that, individually, progress on those sorts of things doesn’t really warrant telling everyone about them.
I figure the best way of dealing with these two issues—nothing for ages; everything at once—is to save up news and send it out monthly. And so I’ve set up a mailling list to do just that. If you sign up, then you’ll get a summary of things that have happened each month and you can pick and choose what you want to read about in more detail. There won’t typically be any news in there that isn’t covered in various tweets and blog posts, but the newsletter will make it a lot easier to keep up with what you want and skip over what you don’t.
If you like, you can also sign up for email notifications when I release new work. This sort of thing will also appear in the main newsletter, but only once a month, so the notifications will be handy if you want to hear about new stories and whatnot as soon as they’re available.
In addition to that, I’ll be using the newsletter to push myself to finish work regularly and to reward my most dedicated followers. For that reason, each month’s newsletter will include a brand new story not available anywhere else. There may be other newsletter-only or newsletter-first goodies down the line, but at the moment this is the one I really want to do.
So to sum things up, this newsletter will be a regular, reliable way of keeping up with what I’m doing. It’ll cover everything that’s happened over the course of a month—so you won’t miss any news—but at the same time it will only be sent to you once a month, so there’ll be plenty of time between updates.
If you want to read the ins-and-outs of the newsletter and notifications, you can find those here, or if you just want to hop right in and sign right up, the form to do that is over here. Of course, if you don’t want to sign up at all, that’s fine too: I’m not going to change the way I post anywhere else.
…but you will be missing out on monthly stories, and also the sock puppet will get it.
My journey to university comes in two chunks: a bus to the nearest train station, then a train into the city. By car, it takes twenty minutes or so. By public transport I’ve got to head off about an hour and a half before I need to be there. It’s actually not that bad since I can use the time to catch up on reading and/or pick stuff up from the shops on the way.
But yesterday I had a perfect storm of mishaps that really screwed things up. I had intended to go in an hour early and see if I could work on my current coursework project (which involves Twine) on the university computers. However, I’d forgotten that the buses come slightly earlier in the hour if it’s earlier in the day, so I missed the one I was aiming for. The next one got me into town just in time for the train, but there was nobody selling tickets at the station so I had to queue up to get mine from one of the machines. That took long enough that by the time I got to the platform, the train was just leaving.
Which is where the good luck comes in!
Figuring that I had more than half an hour before the next one, I headed over to the game shop where I worked last Christmas. I’d handed in a CV a while ago hoping to get some more seasonal work, so it seemed like the thing to do would be to follow that up. As it turns out, that was definitely the thing to do. I start tomorrow!
While having a job again will almost certainly force me to prioritise some things (namely the course and the job) over others (the Alterworld collection, my jewellery sales and Beyond the Black Throne), I’m hoping that it won’t totally eat up all the time I could possibly be spending on personal projects. If nothing else, I’m still hoping to produce regular (if nothing else, fortnightly) Black Throne updates, and I’m also hoping to put together something rather ambitious for Christmas this year. I wouldn’t like to spoil the surprise, but as I’ve just got the news and I’m feeling good about this right now, I will mention that I’ve got an entire freakin’ orchestra behind this one. Alright, I’ve got permission to use a wonderful piece of music they’ve already recorded, but I’m still chuffed to have this kind of talent on board, and I’m determined to make the most of it.
So yes. The course is engaging, my own projects are going places, and I’ve got a job again. Things are good right now, even if–perhaps because–public transport can be kind of a nightmare.
To keep up with the ongoing exploits of everybody’s favourite Dungeon Lord, just head over to Beyond the Black Throne where there are giggles, groans and goblins aplenty. I won’t be regularly announcing Black Throne updates on this blog, so if you want to keep up with the story in future then you might want to follow that blog or @BlackThroneNews on Twitter. Alternatively, Beyond the Black Throne will be updated every Thursday, so you could just check back once a week.
It may only be the second part, but I’m already hugely enjoying writing this thing. It’s a form I have virtually no experience writing in, so I wasn’t sure what kind of start it would get off to, but I’m happy to say that all the suggestions receieved were extremely promising, and that on this occasion I’ve made use of every single one of them. That almost certainly won’t happen every week, but I will be making an effort to work in as many as I can. Do get them in quickly, though! If I’m going to keep to my planned schedule, I’ll need to start coming up with new chapters at least a day or two in advance. Anything coming in as late as Tuesday or Wednesday is unlikely to make it in (though there’s always a chance it could be relevant to a future update, so don’t give up hope!). Also, from this point onwards (if I’ve set things up right) you should no longer need to provide an email address in order to leave a suggestion. That might change if I start to get floods of spam, but ideally I’d like to make things as easy as possible for anyone who wants to contribute.
This week also marks the first chapter to include animation, and there is quite a bit of it! While that did significantly increase the amount of time it took to put this chapter together, I feel that the extra character it adds is well worthwhile and I’m likely to get quicker (and better) over time. I’m also still cutting out new puppet parts—even for the Dungeon Lord, who I initially designed to be as versatile as possible—so once I’ve established a cast of characters things will hopefully get easier. At the moment, cutting new shapes accounts for roughly half the time spent creating images and animation.
Already, it’s clear to me that reader input is going to completely change the way I write this. I already knew that I was giving up control of the plot as a whole, but what I hadn’t considered was how much of an influence suggestions would have on the humour within it. That’s going to be interesting to explore in future. However, to do that I’m going to need a steady stream of suggestions, so if you haven’t already, tell your friends! The more people get involved, the funnier this will be.