Would You Rather / Hateful Ace / The Witness

Hello dear readers!  Things are going well; I am waiting on my editor at Skyhorse to have a look at the final draft of the MS.  From there it’s line and copy editing.  I can’t wait until I can share the cover with you!!

In the meantime, I wanted to share a few neat games with you.  For one you will need nothing but people, for the other you will need people and a deck of cards, and for one you’ll need the game itself and a thinking cap!

I played a game called Would You Rather on New Years Eve, and it is fascinating.  It’s a game where one person posits a question to the group, and each person has a go at picking the thing “they would rather”.  The devil’s in the details though; the best ones are the ones that divide the group in half.

Here are some of the “would you rathers” that stuck with me.

Would you rather: never have eggs again, OR never have berries again?  (To clarify, “berries” are things that are berries in common parlance, not any technical bullshit like “tomatoes are berries” or “strawberries aren’t berries, they’re aggregate accessory fruits”.  And never having eggs again includes anything that eggs are in.)

Would you rather: Whenever you encounter stairs, you don’t know what they are or understand what they work, and to use them someone must explain them to you, OR have every article of clothing you wear jingle like it’s full of a ton of loose pocket change?  (To clarify, you don’t remember you don’t understand stairs; every time you encounter them is like the first time, and you simply cannot use them until someone helps you grock what they are.)

Would you rather: Have your mind in a gorilla in a lab being experimented on, with the knowledge that you will eventually be retired to a sanctuary at the end of your life, OR have your mind as it was at 4 years old, in a horse, working as a trail-ride horse.  (To clarify: as a gorilla, you are you with all your experience and knowledge.  You may have a chance to communicate with your captors, or a chance to escape, but only after years of failed attempts.  As a horse, you are you as you were at 4 years old.)

It yielded some interesting discussions.

Another game you will need a deck of cards for.  It’s called Hateful Ace, and it’s a neat party game as well!

BTW there’s a huge market for collectable decks of cards right now; Kickstarter has been a boon for designers!

So, grab a deck of cards and shuffle it up.

The game is about trying to guess how good or how bad something is, according to the person talking about it.  Good things are red, not so good things are black.  High cards are more, low cards are less.  So a red ace is best, a black ace is worst.  A red 7 is pretty good.  A red 2 is just barely ok; black 2 barely not ok, and a black 7 pretty bad.

So someone goes first and draws a (secret) card.  They look at it and formulate something to say that will enable the other players to guess the card.

Say I draw a Jack of diamonds-

I’d have to think of something I thought was pretty good.  It could be something that happened to me, or something in general that I made up.  I might say something like “…When you see your book cover for the first time.”  And one by one, the other players guess what card I have.  If someone nails it bang on, guess stops, and they’re awarded the card as their point.  If no one gets it, it goes to whoever is closest.  In the event of a tie, you can do either carry the point over, or do a tie breaker question with another card.

When it’s someone else’s turn, I won’t know what card they have and have to guess it using their clue.  So if I said to you, “Seeing someone achieve their lifelong dream of becoming a published author, and you really dig their book,” what would you guess?  I’d have to guess

because to me that’s pretty damn good.  (By the way, that 10 of diamonds comes with 3D glasses; it’s a set of 3D playing cards!)

The last game I want to mention quickly is “The Witness“.  It’s a puzzle solving game where you wander around a beautiful island and solve puzzles.  I can’t say too much without it feeling like spoilers, so I’ll just show you some pictures, and then a link to a video review from one of my favourite content creators right now, Justin MacElroy.

So it’s pretty beautiful and beautifully pretty!  The puzzles are fun and challenging, and truly there are some innovative things to stump you until you have a lightbulb moment.  I really recommend this game if you like solving puzzles!

So that’s all for me for now.  I’ll keep you posted about the progress of my book, Sleep Over.  I hope to update here more regularly, even if it’s just to say hi and to show you neat stuff I’ve found, writing or otherwise.  🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Heidi out.

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For when bets get serious: Supreme Poker Plaques

My husband’s latest Kickstarter just went live, and I wanted to share it with you.  He had great success with his first project, Wild Gears, and now he’s delving into the world of poker.

He plays in a regular game with some friends, and as the game goes on, they cut low value chips out of the pool, and are left with only the large chips.

But he found that sliding huge stacks to bet was cumbersome and inelegant.  He searched around and found that the thing he was looking for already existed; you have seen them too, in Casino Royale.  Like, how cool are these?!

But the only ones he could find were not nearly so cool as that.  They were light and made of cheap plastic.  So, my husband being my husband, the only logical thing to do was to design and make his own.

He spent a long time designing graphics to put on them, using the four card suits as inspiration, and came up with some pretty slick designs.

The plaques will be stamped metal, like a coin, with the designs in enamel on them.

Each one will weigh about 50 grams; that is a heavy plaque.

He got a render done that shows what he’s going for, though I imaging that the real product will be far cooler, due to the weight and the feel of them being made of frickin’ metal.

And naturally, if he was bumping up against this problem, other dedicated poker players must also have had these ideas too.  So he has made a Kickstarter, and if anyone else is tired of lame piddly chips, and want to instead make serious bets like a pro, they can get in on it too.

If you are so inclined, the Kickstarter is here: Supreme Poker Plaques.

I’ll be sure to post photos when we get prototypes; these are going to be sweet.

Here are a few of the designs up close:


So there’s that!  If we see something that should exist but doesn’t, we can’t really help ourselves but try and get it made.  😉

Cheers dear readers.

Heidi out.

World War ZZZ: Phase 4

I now enter Phase 4 of my latest project.

World War ZZZ is a book about what would happen if the world stopped sleeping.  It’s gripping, compelling, and heartbreaking.  It showcases the depths that humanity can sink to, and also the heights to which it can soar, when put to the ultimate test.

It’s written.  It’s edited.  (Side note- this is the fewest edits I’ve ever received from my beta readers; I’m getting pretty darn good at editing!  Or maybe the story was so good that their attention was elsewhere?  Either way I’m pretty stoked.)

And now comes a part I’ve previously dreaded: approaching agents with the work to see if they would represent it and take it to publishers.

But I’m not dreading it.  I’m actually feeling pretty pumped about it.  Why?  Because I know this book will pull people in.  I know it will sell.  I am so confident in this manuscript that I am in danger of feeling overly confident.  A little arrogant maybe even.

After all, this was the most difficult thing I’ve ever written, and it turned out damn good.  Damn good I say old chap.

Or maybe this feeling is covering for the terror of agent-hunting yet again?  *nervous laughter* 


In any case, I’ve queried a few agents who I’d love to work with.  Watching interviews and looking at their existing clientele is a great way to see if an agent is for you, and so far I’ve found several who I think would rep this novel well.

So I’ll keep you updated with how it’s going.  Every full request bolsters my spirit, every rejection is expected.  I’ll grab one of them enough to go to bat for World War ZZZ, and then we’ll get this party really started.

In the mean time, here’s a great way to find and share music I’ve been participating in:

plug.dj.com is pretty neat!  You basically are in a room with people sharing music, and you can share too!  You have three options when a song is playing: woot! (you like it), grab (you like it enough to save it for later listening), and meh (you don’t care for it).

I’ve been listening to tunes with the folks on the Miner Apocalypse minecraft server, and you can come see if anyone is DJing, here. If not, set up a playlist! 🙂  Once I begin my next project, I’ll be playing music to write to here.  (I’ll let you know when the tunes star flowing in case you want some writing background sound too!)  I love making playlists to add to the ambiance of whatever genre I’m writing.  Western Inspiration, Noir, Epic Film Soundtracks, Rock.

If you hear something you like, grab it for later, and then find it in iTunes!  I’ve bought more new music from hearing it on plug.dj than anything else recently.

Hope to see/hear you there!

I played Banished for a little too much there… I had three builders building their town’s first Tavern, and I’ve never seen them work so fast.

Heh.

What else.  Oh man, at the end of writing, I was binge-watching TV shows like it was my job.  It was such a good escape from the horrors I was crafting in the novel, even though some of the shows I watched took horror to a whole new level.

Like, holy smokes.
It’s terrible, but such a guiltly pleasure.

And then it was Attack on Titan.

I could write a whole post on this one, but I think the less I say, the better.  I went into it knowing very little, and it was a better experience for it.

I’ll tell you it’s an anime, it’s brutal, and scary and disturbing.  There are giant monsters that eat people.  The monsters look like people.  We made walls to keep them out, and we live in a safe zone inside the outer wall.  The show begins on the day that this outer wall is breached.

Just an amazing show.  Many feelings.  Such tears.  Wow.

Yesterday, after I spent the morning querying, I watched Rick and Morty, and I loved it.  Oh, Dan Harmon is involved (you know, from Community?).

It’s pretty dope.  And then around episode 6 it goes from funny to like, way more serious than I was expecting.  Like, things got real.  And I loved it even more.

The last of the TV worth mentioning is this stunning HBO miniseries, True Detective. Talk about sublime characterization; my god man, this show pulled me in and wouldn’t let go until the final second. I gotta recommend it.

Oh yeah, I haven’t just been studying storytelling/rotting my brain with TV… I have been play testing a board game in development, and reading.  I read The Handmaid’s Tale (how on earth did I go this long without having read Margaret Atwood!  I skipped grade 11 English so maybe it wasn’t entirely the school’s fault…).

I’m also giving Neil Gaiman a rare 4th shot.  Usually it’s 3 strikes and you’re out.  But when I tell people I’m not into Neil Gaiman I get looks like I’ve just drowned a sac of puppies or something… *sigh*  So I’ll try again.  I really want to like his writing.

Anyway this post is bordering on the rambling, so I’ll end it here.  I’ll keep you updated with good news as it comes in.

Thank you all for your support.  It’s really lovely of you to continue to stop by and see how things are going on this long road to being a published author!  ❤

Cheerio.

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

PAX 2013: Top 10, and the Record Speed Bureaucracy that Got Me There

Well hello there!

Been a while.  It’s been a little slow going on the writing front; sometimes it’s a slog, and you just have to muscle through it.  ._.

I just got back from PAX!  Penny Arcade Expo is a huge gaming convention in Seattle, and this year it went from Friday August 30th to Monday September 2nd.  Four days of wicked awesome gaming fun with my best friends, and 80,000 other people.

We had an 8 bed room at a hostel.  I made a nest up on the top bunk by the window, and it was excellent.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

This is perhaps the most clutch example of bureaucracy I will ever recount.  I still cannot believe it happened.  Truly, I am in the luckiest timeline.

9PM the night before leaving for PAX: someone in my group posts on our coordination thread that they just realized that their passport was expired.  The rest of us gave our condolences and continued packing.

So at about 9:05PM, the night before we leave, I also discover that my passport is expired.

There was much freaking out, but I kept it together.  Discovered that it was possible, though not likely, that I could get a new passport in time to make my 11:30 bus the next morning.

10:05PM: get passport photo taken.  Thank goodness for late night convenience stores that take passport photos.

That night I packed and figured out the timeline for the next day.  If I got up at 6, I could get in line for the passport office at 6:30.  When it opened at 7:30 I was the first in line, of about 40 people.  I explained my situation to the teller with a good a mix of urgency, optimism, and cheerfulness, but with an underlying panic that was impossible to conceal.

Longer story shorter, my new passport was handed to me at 11:17AM.  I was in a cab at 11:20, and on the bus with all my friends at 11:25.

I cannot believe that worked.   The people at the passport office in downtown Vancouver are wizards, literally wizards.

Bonus: my friend who was in the same predicament got his passport as well and made it to PAX in time for An Afternoon With Patrick Rothfuss.

Onto PAX!  Here I shall share my top 10 games to check out.

#10: Against the Wall

Against the Wall is a first-person platforming-adventure game set on the side of an infinite wall.  You have a weapon/tool equipped to manipulate sections of the wall, pulling them outwards so you can climb on them.  This game looked challenging and fun and I look forward to trying it out. (by Michael Consoli)

#9: Mushroom 11

I only got a quick look at this game but it seemed really neat; you’re herding an ever-growing fungus through a side scrolling maze. (by Itay Keren)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkFGbMYmeT8#t=5m54s

#8: Orbitor

There was a contingent of Australians up on the 5th floor of the main convention hall, near the PAX10, and I had a brief peruse to see what would catch my eye.  Orbiter jumped out at me because of how insanely beautiful it is.  It’s a space game where you orbit stars and moons and blow them up for energy.  The effects are eye catching and the soundtrack is great.  Just a beautiful game that I look forward to playing more of.  (by Tim Stasse)

#7: Aarus Awakening

This game was eyecatching- everything in it started hand drawn on paper.  The concept was neat and challenging- little beasty-dude can teleport to where your mouse cursor is.  I had a tough time picking it up, but that was mostly because I was exhausted by the time I got to it.  This is one game I will be playing again, when I have skills like basic hand-eye coordination, and brain function once again.  A neat game.

#6: Cannon Brawl

Cannon Brawl is out right now.  My husband plays it a lot.  He was very excited to meet the creators of it; he made a shirt and they were pretty thrilled to see how into their game he is.  They signed it for him, and played the game with him.  The creators are super cool, and their game is absolutely fantastic.  Think Worms Armageddon meets tower defence, with real time zeppelin warfare and destructible terrain.  It’s super fun!  Check it out, and get your Cannon Brawl on.

The next three on the list are all about sound.  Visuals and gameplay are great, but mostly it was the soundtrack that drew me in.

#5: Soundodger

It’s like asteroids, but you can bend time.  Oh and also the soundtrack sometimes kicks into reverse, and so does everything else but you.  It’s hella cool, and free to play.

#4: Electronic Super Joy

Sidescrolling 2D platformer that has a kickin soundtrack to accompany you on your perilous journey.  The look and feel is really great.  Bought it when I got home.

#3: Crypt of the NecroDancer

This is a fantastic concept that’s so well implemented I could have played this game all day.  You move to the beat of the music to keep your combo multiplier going, and it rocks my socks.  This had such a crowd around it, mainly because they had a DDR pad hooked up to it, so people had to get their feet moving to the beat to dodge skeletons and fight dragons in this roguelike rhythm dungeon crawler. No picture could do it justice; you have to hear it to believe it, and everyone watching was bobbing their heads along to this awesome game.

#2: BattleBlock Theater

This game was round 2 of the Omegathon, and boy oh boy was it fun to watch.  It’s like Smash Bros, but with more game types, and with the cute factor pumped to 500%.  Customizing your little battle dudes before the fight is super fun; there’s a jillion different heads to get.  I bought it when I got home, and have a stoic lion head as my mug of choice.  Want a party game?  This is the one.  Epic fun times ahead with Battleblock Theatre.

#1: Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Holy moly this was fun.  Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime at the top of my list for sure: it’s beautiful, sounds amazing, and is so inventive I fell in love with it immediately.

It’s two player co-op.  You and your partner are manning a ship, and there are four guns, a shield, a giant space lazer, and thrusters, and you have to operate the ship in real time while being assaulted by space aliens, and simultaneously trying to save whole planets that are being attacked.  It’s super fun, and I cannot wait to play more of it.

But wait there’s one more: it was the most hilarious thing to watch and then to play.  Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a game where you play an octopus in disguise as a normal human dad, trying to fake his way through normal human stuff without letting on that he’s an octopus in a suit.  Controlling the jelly-noodly-flip-floppy-cephalopod resulted in constant laughter.  Having to do such mundane things as “Get your daughter the milk” and “Make coffee” resulted in near catastrophe as my flailing tentacles sent things flying around due to my inept control.  It was so, so funny, and I will make everyone that comes into my house play it, so that I can laugh at them.

So that’s *my* PAX10.  PAX11 I suppose.  There were so many games, and even more that I list here that I’m looking forward to.  The final round of the Omegathon was “Spy Party” and I think I’ll get it and play the heck out of it, and I will learn a new meaning of the word “subtlety”.

(My lanyard by the end of the con!)

That’s all for now folks!  Thanks for checking it out.  I hope I’ve inspired you to take a look at a few of these games and see if you like them.

Cheers.

Heidi out.

Checking in, Space, Baby Cakes

I have spent the morning reading over past short stories, seeing if can do any work on them, or perhaps adapt them for the screen.  Seems as though I’ve been infected with the screenwriting bug, and it’s addling my brain into wanting to write more scripts.

Good?  Bad?  I never wanted to write short stories; they were supposed to be a stepping stone for larger projects.  And now that I’ve had some success getting them published, what do?  :O

While I’m bandying that about in my head, I will see if any of my fellow writers need a second set of eyes on anything.  I’ve contacted a few of my writing-exchange peeps, and maybe I can help them out with whatever they’re working on.

Oh hey, did you ever want to know how many people are in space right now?

Heh.  Spoiler: it’s 6.  I can’t wait until we’re in the tripple digits for this.  I am ever excited to see how space exploration progresses in my short window of observation (another what, seventy years?).  🙂

And now, BABY CAKES!  Teeny, tiny cakes.  They were fun.  My friend and I made them before games day, and then the group feasted on the fruits of our labour.

Getting the components all laid out:

Cutting the mini-cupcakes to size:

Taking up the whole table:

Some of the finished products: (d20 for scale!)

So tiny!

The two-layer cakes were amazing.

Each one more adorable than the last!


Tiny LAYER cake you say?

Heh.  Sure was fun.

Bonus pic: our SUPER close game of Lords of Waterderp (this was before we scored our Lords mind you, but WOW!):

Good thing I’m back at the gym again!  Nice to be able to indulge every now and then.

Cheers guys.  Hope you’re feeling as good as I do right now.  😀

Heidi out.

Some pictures for yoooouuuuuu!

Well, it’s my six-year Cakeday on Reddit today.  In honor of the occasion, I put together Imgur albums of all my pics!

Have a browse, there’s some good stuff there.  Like these:

So if you want more… go here.

And for regular pics: here.

Some might not be safe for work (just weird/hard to explain to coworkers etc).

Cheers.

Heidi out.

12PAX: Coming at it as a Writer

This was my first PAX.

For those not in the know, PAX is Penny Arcade Expo, a gaming convention.  It spanned the three days over the Labour Day long weekend, and had many things that interested me.

I went to a ton of panels with interesting people talking about interesting things.  I mostly tried to come at it from my perspective as an author.  It was nice; a lot of the talks really applied to writing, and not just in video games.

I wanted to share a bit about some of the writing related panels I went to, and the points I took away from them.  The speakers were engaging and humourous, informative and well thought out.

First up: Loving The Alien: Non-Humans in Fiction and Games.

This is extremely relevant to writers of science fiction and fantasy in particular.

The panelists were Erin Evans, author of Brimstone Angels and The God Catcher, David Noonan, lead writer of TERA, and referenced weekly in our D&D campaign, and Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron campaign setting in D&D, writer of two trilogies, as well as the creator/writer on a host of other RPG and computer games.

I know, right?  Writers makin’ it.  So good.

These good folks talked about non-human characters and the challenges faced by writers trying to flesh them out.  It was interesting, though I felt rather pretentious when I had the thought “I know all this.”  I DON’T know all this, but I guess it feels like that sometimes when you’ve spent time thinking about a topic.  …But then, I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking about this; I am in the throws of writing a novel where the main character is non-human.

The one point I hadn’t really thought about was, when you have non-human species, show them interacting in places where they’re forced together with other species.  You get to see all kinds of tensions, their differences, but also their similarities when you show where their borders clash.  Showing a non human character in their element is fine and dandy, but show them at odds with other species to really make them shine.


The next day, a panel that caught my eye was called Making Magic Work: Designing Magic Systems for Games and Books.  I was, unfortunately, behind the last person admitted.  :/  The Tabletop Theatre was consistently too small for the number of people that wanted to see the panels there.  I saw tons of people turned away from every talk there!  I hope next time they have a bigger venue for such interesting panels.  I found an interesting read if you’re into magic systems.

One good thing happened there, even without me actually getting into the panel: a girl in the line got a game going.  It was a simple game to learn, and a lot of fun.  It drew strangers together.  I purchased it post haste!  I ended up proliferating her idea, and started a game of it while waiting in another line up.  It was just a fun social interaction that left everyone feeling great.

The game is “Spot-it” if you’re interested.  Colours and shapes; you’d think it was easy.

Anyway!

Later that evening, I attended “Setting the Mood”, on what makes a good RPG.

I was pleased to see Keith Baker again; he had a lot of interesting things to share about his experience with RPGs.  Also on the panel were Will Hindmarch and Logan Bonner.

These guys had a lot of RPG experience between them. They went over many great ideas, from using music as an aid, to party cohesion, to dealing with problem players. It was all about steering the story in the direction it should go, helping players play their characters, and just having a good time.

Ok, not explicitly about writing, but it was about storytelling.  It was a lot of anecdotes, some good Q&A, and just a lot of fun.

On the third day, I went to a panel called “Sympathy for the Devil: Creating Killer Villains for Games and Books.”

This was a lot of fun too.  It was hosted by, again, the fantastic Erin Evans, as well as Susan Morris (author of Writers Don’t Cry, five books, and D&D for kids!) and Philip Athans (author of several of the Forgotten Realms books).

What this panel made me want to do was just talk with them about vilains.  Interesting panels have this effect.  It sometimes causes the Q&A to get a little dumb (we’re here to hear the panelists, not you, random audience member).  But my friends, who were also listening with me, and I had some great discussions afterwards about villains and villainy.

It was interesting hear the panelists talk about their favourite villains; my friends and I made observations about them based on which villains they identify most with.  I completely agreed with Erin Evans, who said the her favourite, Ozymandeous, was not actually a villain.

One of the most interesting points they made was to have someone trusted turn out to be the villain.  Guy keeps supplying you with weapons?  Arms dealer bent on destabilizing the region for his master plan.  Sometimes it’s easy to have a stereotypical view of villains.  But the best villains have good ideas, make you want to join their cause, help them carry out their grand plans.  It just so happens that they’re going to kill millions of people in the process.

The more human you make your villains, the more compelling they are.

So, that was PAX from a writer’s perspective.  There were a lot of other interesting things going on, and I think in my next post, I’ll write about it from the perspective as a gamer.  Good times.

…Especially when the creative team from Ubisoft joined our gaming session in our hotel on the last night.  Wow.

But more on that in my next post!

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.