Wednesday, October 26, 2016

All the links!

Hey all you awesome people out there! Today's post is a special one. I've been having trouble with my author's page lately. Not all the books are attached to it properly. I've written to Amazon and haven't had any luck. On Goodreads they are pretty much all together, but not where it seems to really count. Naturally this causes confusion issues. So I've decided to create a post where you have all of those together in one place. But not only that (because just a set of links would be boring), but a recap of what you get and what the stories are about. It seems like the perfect time of year for this and folks have asked me where the best jumping on point is among my books. So, for your convenience I will also make a note of which those are. The name of each book will be linked to it's page on Amazon (for the hardback, but they are all in Kindle too). So just click on the name to get the book you want.

Chessmen: Opening Moves:  The queen died in childbirth and the king has been murdered. When the Royal Guard is framed for that murder they have no choice but to go on the run to protect the infant princess from the real killer. Pursued by mercenaries and assassins, attacked by monsters, and forced across the stars; the heroes soon discover a plot overshadowing their own problems and threatening their whole solar system. This is the origin story of a unique team of heroes. [Good starting point]






Chessmen 2: The Queen's Gambit:  Having survived what they thought was the worst, the Chessmen prepare to take the fight to their enemies once and for all. But Queen Margel has invited a new threat to do her dirty work for her. The Maker has come for the Chessmen and will take anything he wants in the process. He is a threat that neither side my survive. This story carries maximum action from beginning to end on a spiraling roller coaster ride with all new characters. Witness fantastic feats of power and survival. Will the Chessmen finally return to Chyssia?





Chaos Rising: When the Earth is enveloped in darkness bands of killers with strange weapons attack all the police precincts of New York City. Nothing seems to stop them short of taking off their heads. But that's only the tip of the proverbial ice berg. The White House is taken hostage and bizarre acts of evil erupt across the country. Hakim only just got his powers in the likeness of Anubis and will have to learn as he goes. A new team of heroes must band together to hunt down the cause of their problems before something even greater comes to destroy them all. [Good starting point and these events occur before Chessmen 2]




GZ Tales Vol 1:  Assassins with a mystery target, an imaginary friend that kills, the core of time and space, and a demon that serves Death himself, are just a few of the short stories that wait for you in the first volume. This book includes the short story, Tale of the Gator that won honorable mention in Writer's Digest. Some stories are origins that carry on and others are about heroes that appear in the novels. Either way, they are action packed and full of fun. [Good starting point]






GZ Tales Vol 2: Even more awesome stories about GZ heroes and villains. Meet Maestro, the King of Demons, take on poachers with Killer Whale, and see what a day being a psychic is like. Read stories that pick up where some left off in volume 1. You'll read about heroes in unlikely places with the strangest of problems.








Galaxy Zento, the Adventure Game: You've read the stories (or even if you haven't), now play the board game! Travel the universe for good or evil and race to complete your mission before anyone else. The characters from Chessmen are there as enemy or ally. Face beasts and obtain artifacts. Escape from dangerous traps. You never know what the deck will throw at you next. About an hour of fun for 2-6 players, aged 10 and up. This game is customizable so you choose what goes in the deck.




Galaxy Zento, Expansion One: Lots of great cards to add to your board game. Check out the all new Monsters! More spells, more characters, more artifacts! Comes with a tip guide on how to customize your game!







Marshmallow Fight!: (I would be remiss if I didn't put a link here even though it's not GZ). This is a great family party game! Perform stunts with marshmallows for points and be your household champion. You can finally play with your food! This game has been reviewed by PalladinElliott and FatherGeek with approval from both!


And there you have it! This will be the ultimate guide to all the links that I will share in a few places. If you haven't jumped in on GZ yet, you've been missing out. It's a universe of unique and original characters. People have said some interesting things about it:


- It's like Star Wars met Marvel.
- It's definitely not Disney.
- A new kind of space opera.

And the story is really only getting started. Big thanks to all my readers! More to come!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Art Process

Once in a while I get asked what my process is to my artwork. Today, I'll answer that question. I have several steps that I use to put my artwork together. Sometimes I work on a Wacom tablet, but my true love is pencil to paper. I'm going to use a pic I was just working on for a special prize set to go with my board game. This will be the art for the Horseman of Apocalypse called, Plague (or Pestilence if you must).

First I start with pencils. I just use a number 2 and sketch away with basic shapes and refinement.  I work on paper that's at least 50 lb weight. That means it's sturdy and less likely to crumple when I erase pencil marks. I do have a tendency to use what's on sale if what I really want is too expensive. Hey, artists have a budget after all. I don't get into a lot of ultra small details at this level because my hands simply can't do it. On today's pic, I was having an exceptionally good day. Any other time and smaller details get added digitally.

Next is inking (photo above) This is the hardest part for me. I have to ink when my tremors are at their calmest. That's usually first thing in the morning because I haven't done anything to tax myself yet. For new readers; I have MS and my work is part of overcoming that. I have a cup with more than one set of drafting pens in it. I use several tip sizes to preserve the detail I'm aiming for. Even so, some errors will have to correct in the digital step.

Digital. I take the photo that you see from the ink step and load it up in Photoshop. I crop the image and use a layer called 'threshold' to instantly make it digital black and white. At this point, I can use tricks to zoom in on lines and correct them or make sure they are all connected where I want. I can add small details (see if you can spot the changes) that my hands weren't letting me do before. Once I have all the lines fixed and have added details I want, I get to my favorite part.





That would be coloring. I use the filler tool for the flats and then brushes for all the other details. I can zoom in and add all sorts of neat details like bloodshot eyes. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not the most tech savvy guy. I still don't know a lot of tricks and even videos don't help with my specific programs as much as I'd hope. But I'm learning and that's what is important.

Now that you see Plague in color, you might be wondering what he's holding. Well, it's not his sneezy cloth. It's the Scarf of Pestilence. The nasty looking end can give you any disease while the clean end can cure any ailment. On second thought, maybe that's how he fuels the thing. Nah. Hope you enjoyed the simple breakdown. I have more drawing to do!

Friday, September 30, 2016

The God Pack

Actually, they are called Lord Entities and Entities in GZ rather than gods. Pantheon gods are actually a lesser power compared to the officially ranking entities of the GZ universe. But what is this about?

It's about a very special game accessory that I'm putting together. Players will only be able to get it under special circumstances. What it can do for customizing your game experience, well, check it out.

The lore: Way back in ancient times there was a war of the gods. The pantheons of Earth had become restless and took to fighting each other. Many died but not before the fighting reached out beyond the stars. The numerous deaths tilted and broke the balance of good and evil bringing Chaos into the universe. The remaining gods had to pool their power to contain Chaos and seal him away. They were successful, but the damage had been done. To repair the balance, a new universal pantheon was formed under the supervision of the four lord entities (Destiny, Time, Nature, and Cosmos). Three pantheon gods were promoted to entity status in order to govern their position of the balance. Set and Thoth, survivors of the Egyptian pantheon were given the positions of evil and neutrality. Thoth's position had the added requirement of protecting the balance as a whole, even moreso than simply being neutral. Thoth became the direct opposition to Chaos. Crimson King was a leading pantheon member of a distant galaxy, ravaged by the war. He took the mantle of good.

Each entity has their servants and agents to work for their perspective side of the balance. Who will you serve?

An entity or lord entity is put in the main deck. When revealed on any player's turn it acts like a super event. Some stay in play and continue to affect the game. Some grant you a special power, putting you in the service of that entity. These powers are huge, but let's take a look at the entities first, shall we?

Mother Nature (Lord Entity): When she is revealed, the player who revealed her is healed of all damage and negative effects (including spells). Nature remains in play giving all beasts +3 attack and defense.  -So yes, she helps and hurts at the same time. What would one expect of her?

Destiny (Lord Entity): When he appears, all players roll 1d20. The highest roll becomes a Herald of Destiny (whether good or evil) and gets the Herald of Destiny special power card from outside the game. After this, Destiny is removed from the game (does not go in the discard pile).

Time (Lord Entity): Does nothing on appearing but stays in play. At the beginning of each player's turn, that player must roll 1d6. 1: Lose a goal token (from a time anomaly), 2-3: Nothing happens, 4: Gain 2 achievement tokens, 5: Lose 2 achievement tokens, 6: Gain a goal token (Yes, 6 can cause you to win the game).

Cosmos (Lord Entity): When revealed, the player who revealed him must roll 1d6. On 1-3: Incur his wrath and all players take 1 damage. On 4-6, incur his benevolence and all players are healed of all damage. Cosmos is then removed from the game (does not go in the discard pile).

Karma (Lord Entity and daughter of Nature and Destiny): She does nothing on the reveal but remains in play. Every time a player hits another player with a ranged attack, they must roll 1d6. On 4-6, that player takes 1 damage. (Keep in mind that 5 damage is fatal)

The Four Horsemen (Sons of Nature and Cosmos):

War: Remains in play. Every time a player enters combat with an enemy from the deck or initiates combat with another player, they must roll 1d6. On 1-3 that player's opponent gains +10 to attack. On 4-6, the initiating player gains +10 to attack.

Death: Remains in play. All hits in combat result in damage tokens. (Normally combat only results in one damage token to the player who lost the combat)

Plague: Upon appearance, all players take 1 damage. Remains in play. On each player's turn, they must make a d20 roll of 12 or better or get another damage token.

Famine: Remains in play. All players modifiers and movement are cut in half rounded up.

Entities of the balance:

Thoth: The player who reveals him rolls 1d6. On a 6, that player gains the Guardian special power card and Thoth is removed from the game (does not go in the discard pile). On 1-5, that player gets that many achievement tokens and Thoth is shuffled back into the deck.

Crimson King: If the player who reveals him is "good", they get the Starknight special power card. If they are "evil" they lose all powers. If they have no powers, they lose all achievement tokens. When a player gets the Starknight card, Crimson King is removed from the game (does not go in the discard).

Set: If the player who reveals him is "evil" they get the Minion special power card (and Set is removed from the game). If they are "good", they lose all powers. If they have no powers, they lose all achievement tokens.

Chaos: The player who reveals him, rolls 1d6. On a 6, their alignment becomes Chaos and they gain the Chaos Lord special power card (and Chaos is removed from the game). On 1-5, lose that many achievement tokens and shuffle Chaos back into the deck.

That's just the main cards of this little pack of cards. There are a few events to add and yes, two of them can send entities away (remove from game). One of the events causes you to become a servant of one of the entities and gives you special powers.

So what do you think? Are there any suggestions you would make on the effects? Shoot me those comments!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fall Update: Guess what's here!

This week has been loaded with surprises and now you can catch up on all of them at once. The first image you are seeing with today's post is the cover art for the box and yeah, it's the expansion set! I'll be getting my first copy from Thegamecrafter.com sometime in the next week. After I check it over, so long as all looks good, it will be launched. How much is it going to be? Just 24.99.

Now, with holiday shopping already starting, it's as good a time as ever to plug the board game and you get get your copy HERE for 44.99. It's new and improved to match the new layout of cards in the expansion. But then there's the lore of it all and there's something new to that too.

The newest novel and the second book in the Chessmen series is now available via Amazon and Kindle right HERE.  Be sure to use the "look inside" function for a quick sampling of the story as it begins. If you haven't read the first Chessmen story you can find it at the link in the upper right regarding the books. Here is where I have to address something more serious.

There is one thing the new book is  not going to be, aside from filled with action and adventure. It will not be FREE. For every book prior to this, I have done a free giveaway and put a lot of free books into people's hands. Unfortunately, it's time to admit that this has not been good for my own bottom line. I strive to be low cost in a tough age and I hope my readers will understand. The idea behind the free giveaway marketing is that it brings in sales of the other books and, in the last five years, this has simply not happened. That's not to say I'll never give anything away for free again, you can bet I will. Just not at that magnitude anymore. Just can't do it.

Okay, enough seriousness. I have been asked to clarify the order the books go in for people who want to catch up. Where to start? The exact order of the books is as follows:

Chessmen: Opening Moves
GZ Tales Vol 1
Chaos Rising
GZ Tales Vol 2
Chessmen: The Queens Gambit

Now, in the first three books, you could start with any of them. There is a character connection, however from Chaos Rising to the second Chessmen book. I won't tell you what those are of course, you'll just have to read for yourself.  So what will this have me working on now?

Crazy Harry
More artwork of course and more stories. My next bookwork will be GZ Tales Vol 3 and that is going to have some awesome stories in it. I can tell you that the adventures are only going to escalate from here. After that, I will dive into chapter work for the book that comes after Chaos Rising, tentatively called Wicked Ways. And for my in between time when I'm not writing I'll be working on the game expansion for New York City and the GZ combat system card game as well. Sound like enough for me to do?

Outside of Galaxy Zento, I want to point out that my family/party game Marshmallow Fight now has two glowing reviews (reviews are not easy to get) and you can check those out at the following links by author:

PaladinElliott
FatherGeek

And you can get this game HERE also at theGameCrafter.  If you are considering developing your own game, I highly suggest looking into theGameCrafter. Not only can you put together a playable and nice looking prototype; you can continue developing with their step by step process and even sell your game on site (print on demand). Excellent quality, shuffleable cards, and bright colorful rendering. I have loved making my games through them so far. Customer service also gets an A+ from me. So check it out. And if you are looking for games further off the beaten track and want to support some true indy designers, you will be in the right place.

Seems like I have enough to keep me busy during the school year. The only thing I haven't been doing is conventions. Well, that will change around Spring, so stay tuned! Much more to come!

Monday, September 12, 2016

This board game just got a makeover!

My adventure board game, Galaxy Zento (based on the characters of the epic universe by same name) just got a huge makeover. There is a lot that's really cool about this and I'm going to spell it all out right here.

First, why the makeover? Because of the new layout being used in the expansion set. At this point in the planned sets I have for this customizable game (two sets include new boards) it just seemed like a good time to make sure there's a uniformity in the cards. Even a couple of my harsher critics really liked the new layout. The open art at the top of the card gives the artistic feel I was aiming for. The framed text gives the look that players wanted. Yay, compromise! But wait, I hear another question brewing.

But dang it, Dave, what about all the copies of GZ that people have already? Excellent question! Glad you asked! Because here's the truth of it. Not that many people have a copy of GZ yet. So here is what I'm doing. Everyone who has a copy so far is getting a whole replacement set of cards absolutely FREE. That's just my way of thanking them for their support.

But are you going to change the layout again? What then? No. I will not be changing the layout from this point on. New cards will have the same layout. The only way that may change is if GZ gets picked up by an publishing company with new agreements and whatnot, even then, not much should be changed.

So, you see, this really was the best time to do this. Right now, I'm waiting on the first set of new cards so I can check them over. Once I've done that, barring any corrections, I'll relaunch the board game and the expansion should happen very soon after that. Finishing touches are going into the expansion artwork now. If you would like to check out all the new art and card effects for the board game, you can do that HERE.

Check out the expansion set (what's done so far) HERE.

So what's next? That's easy! Next will be my fifth book and second novel in the Chessmen series: The Queen's Gambit.  It's a novel that will be jam packed with even more action than the first. After that will be GZ Tales volume 3 with work starting on the New York expansion of the game. That doesn't even include the juicy surprises I'm working on!  So keep those dice a rolling and we'll see you next time for a new and wonderful update.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Iron Maiden founder dies of Multiple Sclerosis

Clive Burr, gone too soon
Let's say you have dreams you want to accomplish in life, like writing books, designing games, or heck, anything. Then lets add something to that, namely a life threatening disease that could take you out anytime it feels like it. Let's put this in perspective.

Do you understand how your body works? At the very end of everything your body does, responsible for everything your body is capable of, is your nervous system. Multiple sclerosis (at a laymen level of explanation) is a disease that eats your nervous system. Now pause and think about that for a second. Every single function of your body, your organs, your senses, requires your nervous system to function.  Without the electric charges of your nervous system, your heart will stop beating. UNDERSTAND? At any time, if you have MS, it could damage the nerve actions required for your lungs to work. It can screw up your swallowing reflex and choke you to death. Got it?

That is what I live with. People tell us to shut up about having MS; that we are just full of excuses. Oh if only that were true. You see, you can get therapy for being "full of excuses". And if I were full of excuses, guess what, you'd never see me complete a damn thing. And what brought all of this about today was this story:

Clive Burr, founding member and drummer for Iron Maiden has died of MS at only 56 years old. He was diagnosed in 2001. Treatment for MS made it hard for him to pay for his home and general life. Think about that. He had amassed something of a fortune by being one of the worlds greatest heavy metal drummers. MS took it all. Would you say his problems were just excuses? Really?

I take copaxone shots to stabilize my MS. They cost my insurance nearly 6000 dollars a month. And still, my legs randomly go out on me, I have strange gasping fits, cognitive fogs, dizziness, and severe fatigue for no discernible reason. I have hand tremors that ruin my artwork and make even general things difficult. My insurance, medicare, lists me as "catastrophic" in coverage. It's a twisted situation.

Now, let's set aside my personal dreams for a moment (namely my universe of Galaxy Zento and all that it has going for it with 4 published books and a board game). I'm also a disabled parent of a young man with autism. Without being able to go out and work a regular job to teach him about life, I have to do something. I can't have him thinking that a disability like mine (without letting him know how easily it could kill me) means giving up on lifelong dreams or even making an effort at life itself. I can't be the disabled Dad who stares at the walls all day. That is what Galaxy Zento is for. It's the job I do to show him how to live, in spite of what holds him back.

And every time someone tells me my artwork isn't good enough or my game isn't good enough to be given any consideration, they actually help me with him. Because when I don't give up, just because people hate on my work, it shows him something. And I can't just wait in life until I can afford to pay someone else to do the artwork. If you can't see why after all you just read, I don't know what to tell you.

I know my art isn't the best you can get. It's cartoony and not seriously "graphic". Its not like a Rembrandt painting. But it's also not like I don't work hard. I work very hard and beyond my capabilities at times. That means I hurt myself to get things done. Hard to avoid actually.

But every single day, I have to wonder if I am going to be able to function for the whole day, or just part of it. That's because MS can take me out at any given level of exhaustion at any given moment of time; no matter what I've actually been doing. I could totally just be sitting on my ass, doing nothing, and crash anyway.

Is it so terrible to want people to understand? I mean, I get it if someone just doesn't like my work and they turn their nose up at it. That's going to happen. But for those who tell me I'm full of excuses, that actually stings at times. Maybe it shouldn't. But over 400,000 people in the US alone have MS. And it totally depends on what area(s) of the nervous system are damaged for each person, but its capable of killing you outright.

Famous people who died of MS

Celebs with MS

Even bigger list

Just to be clear; I don't expect anyone to jump on a bandwagon and buy things from me just because I have MS. I do want people to realize that I'm not your average game designer, not your average artist, not your average author. I'm not even your average parent, husband, or human being. It's understanding and awareness that I'm after. What would you want in my situation or if you have MS. If you do have MS, what is important in awareness for you? Feel free to post in comments.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Creators: Understanding your audience

It's not magic
Your audience is a collection of the people who follow your work, taking interest and ultimately buying your product. So how important is it to understand your audience? Well, if you don't have your own marketing team or money to dump into advertising, it's fairly important. If you aren't already considered some kind of guru or master of your craft, it's fairly important. Your audience is how you make a name for yourself. But how do you manage that?

Right now, you can break your audience reach into three forms; internet, local, and in person. Internet offers connections to far more people at great distances, but can be super difficult to navigate and gain the acceptance of those audiences. Anything in person is usually much simpler because you have the human connection that the internet lacks, but you are limited in access to people based on who is physically at whatever event you are part of.

Let's look at the internet audience. Everyone goes to the internet. You practically have the entire world at your fingertips. Or do you? You certainly have access to a great diversity of consumers. But there's a huge catch. Unless you are paying for advertising (and this session of my blog assumes you aren't) you can't just jump into some forum of people and say, "here's what I'm selling, everyone!". It won't work. That's because the one thing you have to understand about the internet audience is the universal bloody eyed hatred of spam. This hatred is so strong that it makes internet social marketing a veritable mine field.

This is even if you are talking to people of a group that is all about the product you have created. That's even if the forum you are taking part in, has clear rules that allow you to share your project in certain time intervals. It's not evil to be excited about your product. It's a great achievement for you. But this is the rule you need to follow.

Be a person first. People on the internet want to know that you are personally a human being they can take interest in. That means the want to have idle chat and basic entertaining post share. They are going to want to that for a significant amount of time as well. After all, how long does it take to get to know someone. They want to know that you aren't just a market bot on the net. No, just saying you aren't isn't going to work.  This is how you market yourself as a person. Just take part in the average discussions and present yourself as an interesting human being. Be yourself as much as you can.

Local audience is important too. This is audience you can go out and spend time with in person. Making local connections branches out into more local connections. But what's the secret? Be interested in other people. Learn about them and their projects. Be supportive of their projects. Often enough that will come back around to you. Be social and prepared to just shoot the breeze. Be personable. Remember that in many situations where you are approaching other people, the dynamics are the opposite of the last point I'm about to make.

The best way to find that "in person" audience is at events like conventions. The primary difference is that people are now coming to you to find out what your product is. It's a big part of the exact reason they are there. If this goes well, word of mouth will carry news about you. The more events you can go to for your book, game, etcetra, the better. This is practically the polar opposite of trying to market via social media outlets.

To sum up, remember that your audience is made of people. You need to understand what they want. They want you to appeal to their interests. Find the people who have the interests that match your product/project, and you will move forward (so long as you remember they are people first).