Wednesday, December 23, 2015

HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2015! Year in Review

Well, it's been quite a year. Ups and downs, ins and outs, and all of it survived to bring us to this holiday season. It's amazing. My wife and I just celebrated our four year anniversary and I couldn't be happier for that. It was a great day. She's been by my side for so much that is GZ. She's the editor and proof reader for the stories and my morale support.

I put two books out this year; Chaos Rising and GZ Tales 2. I haven't been able to keep any stock on my person or send to all the people on my list to send to, but there is so much in process that such will change. I'm listed as a guest for a great convention coming up in Spring (Southern Geekfest) and there will be more on that as the date gets closer.

Early in the year I tried my hand at Kickstarter, but a severe concussion ended that. I don't know if it would have been successful or not, but it really doesn't matter at this point. The work goes on. Putting the board game out with The Game Crafter has been excellent exposure for the game. People who have played it have reported it as a fun game and it made an appearance at Geekonomicon this month with the help of a good friend and supporter at the con, Steve Huckabee.

So the official score is two books and a board game. That's pretty darn good for a year's work.

Guest artists have stepped forward this year too and I couldn't be more grateful. Billy Barnette helped out with several illustrations that will be in the expansion set for the board game. Other artists are in consideration for the upcoming year where most of the work will take place to put the expansion together.

The art you see in this post is holiday art from last year, but it still holds up to festive theme and I am working on new art as well as improvements.

I look forward to blasting into a new year with a wonderful fan base of people all around. So happy holidays and every other way you look at this time of year. May all of you be blessed, happy and safe. See you next year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

GZ Tales Volume 2 Line Up!

In about 12 hours from the time I'm typing this, my fourth book should be available via Kindle/Amazon. When it's ready, I'll be doing the usual freebie book promotion to get it into folk's hands. Today, I'd like to give you the line up of what's happening in this edition of stories.

Volume 2 has 10 stories with some new characters and familiar faces too. Let's check them out by title and in order as they appear in the book.

London Fables: The taunting letter to police claims that 100,000 people are going to die. Is it a terrorist threat or just a diversion to something more sinister? Federal agents, Blacktide and Nyhtwulf will face off with a criminal crew called the Fables to find out. You'll wonder at a crime boss who calls himself, Mother Goose.

Anubis and Horus: The Castle of the Demon King: The cosmic duo are back! This time they are sent on a mission to rescue a captured Starknight. This pits them in a new villain's cruel game for entertainment. Meet Maestro! His debut is only the pre-beginning of what he has in store for GZ heroes! Anubis and Horus will never forget this.

Shadowplay: Someone is practicing a special and gory craft of killing on New York's homeless population. Federal Agents, Anthony James (from Chaos Rising) and Panther Steele seek a killer with "a knife in his smile". What they discover will challenge their combat skills and raise concern of future threats.

Appetites for Power: The whole Southern crew is back! Percival and Vicky meet back up with the Gator. When word comes that Amon Le Fey is still alive, they journey back to Gator's swamp. But Gator's hands may be full with a new enemy of his own! Enter Coven's newest weapon, the Piranha! A super speed cannibalistic killer with alligator on the menu!

Brother Whale: Killer Whale is the last of his kind and living on Earth. He's taken to being a protector of the seas. When he learns that whales of Earth are being poached and killed, he decides to take action the only way a sea faring hero can! You're going to love justice dished out like this!

The Fist of Allah: A hero from the Middle East reveals himself on a rescue mission. A terrorist regime has taken hostages and the Fist isn't standing for it. These terrorists are about to get a major lesson in right and wrong!

A Day in the Life of a Psychic: The Elven telepath, Dreamseer returns to Earth (after Chaos Rising) to visit. In her casual stroll through the city, she takes heroism to a new and unexpected level. All in a day's work? We'll see!

Return of the Demon: Demonjack makes a fiery and rage filled return at a medical center. Can Sandstorm and Electrode contain him before lives are lost? There's fire, wind and lightning in a showdown of epic proportions.

The Falcon and the Kestrel: Finally the full story of how King Falcon and Lord Kestrel became the enemies they are today. This is the precursor of stories to come. Learn the historic tale that will be passed down for generations on planet, Arconia.

The Fight in the Dog: Introducing, Dolphin Man! When you can shapeshift into any combination of animals, you can do almost anything. When investigating a dog fighting ring turns up something even more  heinous, this hero will become anything to get the job done right! Just don't let him near your cell phone.

There you have it. 10 tales of heroism that you will just have to dig into for yourself. Some do tie in to prior stories in Volume 1, so if you haven't read it, be sure to grab it! Just click on my "Author Page" link in the upper right or on the "Shop Now" button on Facebook! Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

And the turkeys are nervous. Hey, it's not our fault that they're delicious is it?

Lots of things going on as always. Special things are at the top of my list. Things like character dedications to my kids. I've been planning this for a long time now. I've only got two of them done but why not share them? They will be in upcoming stories in various places.

First, I'll start with my eldest daughter and the character for her is Celestia the Starknight. Starknights get blessed creature companions that are indestructible. They don't go down unless the knight they are bonded to does first. Starknights are also cosmic and can use limited scale energy blasts. Their swords have a shuriken on either side of the hilt that can be used as projectile weapons or to signal for assistance. The red loin cloth is a symbol of achievement, stature, and honor. Only a few Starknights have them. She shows up in my upcoming book, GZ Tales Vol 2. She doesn't have a huge part to play yet, but it's coming.

Next is dedicated to my second eldest daughter and this is Shiva Dyani. Shiva is a rank among the race of warrior women known as Cherifaun. The dragon tattoos are blessed to give physical protection and her katana can slice through about anything. The color of the dragons indicates rank so there is no confusion as to who is in charge. A Shiva answers only to the Empress and any Princesses. Dyani is a warrior woman all the way and then some. She has super strength to top of master of combat skills. When she shows up in the stories there will be no mistake of who she is.

I have two more that will be showing up, but I'm not giving that away just yet.

I mentioned GZ Tales Vol 2 above. There are only a few edits needed before the book can be put together and the proof copy ordered. I was hoping to have it ready for Christmas, but it looks like January will be the earliest possibility.

It's holiday time and that means time with family and close friends (what ever works best for you) and reflection on the year prior. It's time to mercilessly stuff ourselves and then fall into food comas. I hope everyone out there has a wonderful holiday week.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

New Art November!

Heck yeah! I'm doing  new art while practicing my female forms. You can see three of these pics right here. More to come for sure. I have to admit, drawing the female form has been super tough for me. But then when my hands come into the mix with my cognitive state, things get screwed up. That's why my artwork is so simple in its form today. But I am putting in extra efforts, I do want it to look good. So I've added backgrounds to liven up the pics. I think the best one I've done so far is Lypsii the Althamite as she bursts through the faceplate of a Rotanian soldier. Second best goes to Traveler with  her fire staff. Of course I'm drawing straight from the stories.

Speaking of the stories, I have some junk to clear out of my laptop and I'll be forming up PDF files of the books done so far. Those will be going out to people for free in certain places. You have that to look forward to. The second book of short stories is coming SOON. You can bet there will be a giveaway to commemorate the occasion.

I'm quite a ways into the writing of Chessmen 2 as well. Over 40k words! The action is way over the top and more than anything seen in the first Chessmen. It's a gathering of characters that will blow your mind. Characters are coming in that will show up in future stories of their own.

Speaking of future stories, the baddest of the bad villains of GZ make his official book debut in GZ Tales vol 2. Maestro is the highlight attraction of the book and he will bring an evil to the table that is undeniable and menacing. More excerpts will be on the way this month from all the books.

Trying to use social media is not easy. Trying to get my stories out to people is also not easy. I've managed to increase Twitter numbers significantly, but it's a slow slow process. When I have those PDFs ready, I hope to get them out to reviewers. I also hope that's easier than getting reviewers for the board game because that's proven nigh impossible. Won't stop trying though.

As for the board game, remember that the special custom card offer ends on Thanksgiving. I do have some cards going out. You can still get into it. It doesn't matter what you want as a character (except I don't do porn). You can have super backwoods lawnmower dude if you want. But really, this game just needs to get into peoples hands.

That brings me to the awesome news announced by Geekonomicon that Galaxy Zento will be demonstrated there. It's cooler news than I've had all year. Big thanks goes out to Steve Huckabee who is running those demos. I'm going to make sure he has a little something extra to hand for free.

So there are good things coming up in GZ. Bit thanks to all you awesome readers for being there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Still Seeking my A-Team

It's no big secret that I'm still looking for a team to take GZ to the next level. While I do have a couple of people pitching in some artwork here and there for the board game expansions, I'm definitely seeking more than that.

I want to find someone who can be committed to the project from beginning to end. Not just an artist who does a few illustrations and walks, but someone willing to do more than that. I need people to help me get the word out and take on social media marketing, preaching to the masses, and yeah; even selling some games. Someone with a work ethic that may even rival my own (and mine is pretty strong if I do say so myself).

GZ can totally go places and I know it can. That's why I'll never stop creating, doing the artwork, or writing or trying to sell the game and get it in peoples hands.

I know what I seek is not a small or minor request. It comes with all the risks of failure that anyone could dream of. I've certainly taken some hard knocks in moving forward. But look, I'm still here. That  has to count for something. As a partner, I don't think you could find anyone more serious about it.

But it will take commitment and hard work with rolled up sleeves to make it happen. I'm not looking to give out ownership, but do know that I never forget those who help me and I will give back. Upon success, it's like this. If the game makes money, YOU make money. If I make money, YOU make money.

You have to be strong, have geek roots and be willing to work with me.

Who has what it takes to be part of my A-Team? Well, here are the places I want to go:

Graphic novels
App Games
Video Games
Card Games
Board Games
Already doing novels and short stories to establish a history.
Coloring Books

GZ needs a pro website with all the bells and whistles. It needs consistent and cool art postings of the characters in action. It definitely needs better pics of the female characters! I admit it.

The person or persons I'm talking about would have access to the GZ Facebook page as Admins so they can freely post GZ stuff and same for any websites or the blogspot. I do have a couple of people in mind that I'm about to approach, but we will see what happens.

How game are you? Are you who I'm looking for?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Galaxy Zento Heroclix!

No, no, I'm  not actually getting my characters made into clix yet. Sorry, I sure wish I were. No, today I'm diving into my personal fantasy of having my characters made into clix. What's Heroclix? Heroclix is a tabletop game played on a map. It uses figurines of comicbook characters on special game dials to simulate comic book battles. Here, are a couple of site you can visit to learn about it:

Anyway, it's my fantasy that one fine day my characters will become a set of Heroclix. I will likely do more than one blog on this. Why? Because I've actually made a set and designed dials too! HA! Credit for how I was able to make the dial maps goes to HCRealms. Love those guys. So if you don't totally understand this, it's okay. This post is just part of my dream.

So, allow me to show you the team of PAC (Parahuman Activity Commission), federal agents. They are in my novel Chaos Rising available on Amazon.

SANDSTORM: You see him right there, the worlds most powerful elemental. He has quite a few special powers (black bordered sections). General info for those who don't know the game. Each vertical section of numbers shows up in a special window on the plastic dial base. See the symbols on the left? Those are for (in order from top to bottom) Movement (how many spaces the character can go); Attack (how good the character is at attacking other characters); Defense (the number an attacker has to make with dice to hit this character) and Damage (how many times you turn another character's dial toward KO when this character hits them).

Now back to it. Those who know heroclix may just choke a little at the sight of power like this. His ability to switch up powers serves to show just how many ways he can use his elemental forces. Since he's an elemental/weather controller and shape changer, it all makes sense. He has a high price tag in use since he costs 260 points. You wouldn't see him in lower point games.

ELECTRODE: The Nuclear-Electric Man moves at twice the speed of light and hurls super powered lightning. He's Sandstorm's partner and protege. His points allow for  a duo team with his partner in a 400 point match. I'm confident they'd be dangerous. I should also mention their Team Ability since listed on a team (PAC). When outwitted their defense rises by 1. His trait is powerful, but outwittable, unlike most.

ATOMIZER: He can cause inanimate objects to go atomic by mental command. He can control those explosions to any magnitude (as far as he knows). His favorite object is a ping pong ball. He tosses them at perpetrators to subdue them shockwave style.  He's Redeagle's partner. His special attack power has been done before so it shouldn't be too much of stretch. It lasts his whole dial but his attack numbers aren't outrageous.

REDEAGLE: The Native American hero with animal senses, super strength and a wicked eye for shooting. He and his partner Atomizer fit nicely in a very small team for 200 points. They would also work well for general built teams. I think his dial is really pretty basic for sharpshooter character with a couple extra powers.

BLACKTIDE: This dial demonstrates his disintegrative powers and all the ways they work. He punches through defense like a champion and it's nearly lethal to attack him up close. Fortunately, he has to get fairly close to be dangerous. But that's where his partner, Nyhtwulf comes in.

NYHTWULF: The Twilie demon who is Blacktide's partner, point costed to be with his friend. It's dangerous to attack Blacktide up close, and dangerous to attack his partner from range. Never mind the fact that Nyhtwulf can carry a friend 12 spaces. They can almost human shield each other.

So playing them all together as one massive team will cost 849 points. Not awful for a large point team. I don't think they are terribly off balance either. Each team of two fits in a team point category and should be able to hold their own there. So, Heroclix fans, what do you think of my guys as clix? What would you do differently? Let your voice be heard in comments and have a great day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Update: Game Cards and Short Story Lineup!

Development continues for all things Galaxy Zento this fall! I do love keeping my roster full of fun things to do. I keep my personal deadlines fairly loose, but there is much to look forward to!

CUSTOM CARD OFFER: I have the artwork for two custom cards for owners of my board game. The special offer still stands until Thanksgiving. Anyone who purchases the Galaxy Zento board game is going to get their own personal character card that only they can play. The cool thing about this is that you can be pretty much anything or anyone you want to be for the custom offer. As you can see from the artwork, one person chose a ranger style elf and another chose a variation of the serial killer, H. H. Holmes. I'm not going to show you their stats but I will tell you this;

The ranger has a ranged attack of 10 spaces. When he get's played there will be no safe place on the board from him. Holmes will drop traps on other players whenever they come out of the main deck against him. It doesn't matter where those players are on the board either. That's just a couple examples of how powerful you could be. All of these customs will sport high character defense and abilities to use magic, making your character the envy of your gaming table. So if you are the kind of host who likes to worry or abuse your players, this is perfect for you. It won't guarantee you to win every game, but you'll sure play like a bad ass. Here's where to get it: LINK.  Note that the game is made print on demand but you should still get it in less than a month or near.

SHORT STORIES: I've been hard at work on the next book of short stories, GZ Tales Vol. 2. I've got a great lineup of killer tales. Keep in mind that they continue a history from Vol. 1 and other stories. They will also connect to future stories. Check out these titles:

London Fables: Explosive candy canes and a trapped bell tower are just the tip of the iceberg when Blacktide and Nyhtwulf to go London to stop a terrorist plot. London may never be the same.

Shadowplay: An invisible killer is practicing his craft on New York's homeless population. Anthony James and Panther Steele have to track down an alien psychopath before he ups his victimology.

Anubis and Horus at the Castle of the Demon King: He's the baddest villain that GZ will ever know and this is just his introduction. Brace yourself.

Brother Whale: The aquatic hero, Killer Whale is an alien to Earth and the last of his kind. When he discovers whale poachers, the kid gloves are off!

The Fight in the Dog: You're going to love seeing justice delivered to these creeps. The animal shape changing hero, Dolphin Man is called in to help stop an animal fighting ring. It's justice animal style!

That's just half the roster for what is going to be a blast of a book! If you haven't  dived into GZ yet, you still can! Just hit the link in the top right corner of this page to my Author's Page! Read the first three books in any order you want! You'll find the stories stand alone well.

COLORING BOOK: Yeah! A coloring book! Why not? I've already posted free coloring pages at the GZ Facebook page. But there's going to be a lot more than that to work with in the coloring books. I'm doing lots of touch up art to make it more worth your while too. Each book will be based on the history of the stories so you can almost follow along from them!

Plans are still moving for the first expansion to the board game that will introduce new characters, traps, and spells. They'll come with instructions for customizing your board game experience. Seeing artwork of multiple artists may also be possible here. The adventuring continues! All I can say for sure is to stay tuned as I continue to crank out the hits. I swear, there's too much going on in my head!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Farewell, Clint Thomas. We barely knew ye.

What I have to say today is special and dedicated but also fitting for my standing in this blog overall. Those who follow me know that I have a special place in heart for people who stand up for what they believe in, no matter what other people may think. That was Clint Thomas all the way.

Clint ran the only comic book shop in Monroe, Louisiana. On top of that, it's the smallest shop I ever saw in my life. But don't let that fool you for one second. Clint was a kind and generous man. He'd cut you a deal on your purchase without you even asking. You'd be surprised too. But that's just what he loved to do for people.

"Are you sure that's all you want to charge me?"

"Heck yeah. It's no big deal."

That's par for the course around there. For a small shop, Clint still managed to pack folks in for gaming tournaments. Free comic book day is a standing room only event and everyone who is anyone shows up. I never heard him complain and I never  heard anyone say a harsh word in his store. That was just the environment and I knew I wanted to come back.

Now, people who don't frequent comic books stores and who didn't know him very well, laughed at him and I'll tell you why. Every election time, Clint would run for Mayor. This year he ran for Sheriff. And this is why I'm writing about him today. Clint didn't care what anyone else thought of what he was doing. He could do it and so he did. He had no fear of failure. Not being voted into office was zero deterrent to him. He pursued his dreams maybe better than half the people around here.

I admit, when I was new to this town and heard he ran for Mayor, I thought he was crazy. Then I got to know him. Crazy like a fox. Because he had no fear to pursue his dreams. We could all learn a lot from that alone. Clint was a true example of how other people's opinions don't have to rule your life. They sure didn't rule his and he was a better man for it.

Clint left this world in the way a lot of people say they'd prefer. In his sleep. Maybe that's part of his reward toward the next life. Painless transition. I sure hope so.

Clint always put my Galaxy Zento stuff up in his store and never asked a thing in return. But when I could, I bought things from him. It was the least I could do. Everyone is going to miss him. I don't know what will become of that little store now, but it will never be the same. If they keep it open, I'll sure go there. If not; it shall be fondly remembered.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In spite of Multiple Sclerosis

Really, it's more like 'in spite of anything barring my path', but I think you'll get the idea. It's helpful to remind myself what spurs me on to overcome disability and be even borderline productive. With the seasonal change bringing barometric changes, the cognitive fogs have been slapping me around. Imagine allergy season getting you moderately stoned every day instead of plugged up. Or consider that your cognitive abilities (to think clearly) are plugged up instead of your sinuses.

All the more reason to fight like a cornered animal.

The less you do, the more MS takes away. The less you use any particular life skill (especially physical) the faster MS takes that away. You have to pace yourself, but definitely don't want to just give up. Even so, MS, or as people are calling it now 'the MonSter; does a lot of damage to a lot of people. It's not so easy to just overcome.

I really hate the fact that I can't work a regular shift job. I have to be able to rest at any given time my body requires. I also have to be able to move around because my nerves go haywire from time to time. So I work from home and put my power into things I always wanted to do.

Wanted to write books about my fantasy universe: published 3 of them so far.

Wanted to make my own board/card games: published one board game so far.

Want my son, who has autism to understand that Dad is still productive: working so far.

My hands don't want to do my artwork. I force myself forward anyway. I will fight for what I love to do until I can't sign my name anymore. That's why I dedicate my artwork to everyone who fights MS or other disabilities  to keep doing what they love to do. That includes just being able to get out of bed on any give day.

You have to have some spite against the disease. You really do. It's amazing what you can accomplish if you just turn Hulk against MS. Decide that MS can go to hell and you're going to make it across the room today (or to the park, or whatever). Yeah, I'm stubborn in some of the wrong ways too, but you kind of have to be. What are the wrong ways? Well, you pay for what you do in a day when you have MS. The harder you exert yourself, the harder MS tends to hit back. So if I got outside and dig that rotten portion of tree root sticking up in my yard, I'll probably be physically and mentally useless for about three days.

I'll probably still try to do it.

Just to spite my MS as if it were an entity that could understand said spite.

So, between showing my son the importance of never giving up and giving MS the finger; you pretty much have my reason for doing anything. What do you do in spite of your MS? Let me know in the comments. I'll end this with an uplifting song:

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Amazing People: The Blind Roboticist

They call him, Robo Doc. Dr. Marco Bitetto is an award winning roboticist. That means he develops robots and artificial intelligence programs for robots. But hold on. Those of you who follow me regularly, know that I'm all about people who don't give up based on various disabilities to do what they love. So how does Robo Doc fit the bill. Well...

He's blind.

Not only has he had to overcome blindness, but when he was a kid; the so called experts labelled him as retarded. He had to overcome blindness and dysgraphia to teach himself how to write. He also learned two languages on his own. Wait a second; what the heck is dysgraphia? For him, it was insult to injury.

Dysgraphia is a disorder in the ability to write. We aren't just talking about bad handwriting here. It's more like a short circuit in the neuro-process that allows you to write words. It also messes with other fine motor skills as you might imagine. But the Doc didn't let this stop him.

He developed programs that helped him move forward. He achieved a Bacheoler of Science Degree in Computer Systems Engineering from the State University of New York in 1991. He even worked as an engineer for a radio station.

During his education at the University, he was so distinguished in his skill set that he earned scholarships and grants the whole way through. Basically, he was paid to go to school. Try that on for size. He built two laboratories in his house to do his undergraduate work.

Really, you can see a great deal about him to the technical and historical at his Amazon page HERE. Read down the column on the left!

Now he's developed artificial intelligence programs that could seriously change the world for the disabled. And he's not looking to start a business, rather help the people of the disabled community overcome as he has. Some of the AI programs he's developed have worked for him as a voice interviewer, translations of color and patterns to sound, and the applications for these could be limitless.

You can see a video that demonstrates an artificial intelligence called Kate on his Amazon page. If you have a love or fascination with robotics programming, you should check out his books too.

You can also find Robo Doc at Goodreads HERE.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cards of the Boardgame: The PC's

I've tried doing a video series called Card Talk, to show how the cards work in Galaxy Zento the board game. Sadly, I just don't have good lighting or a location conducive to making the videos right. So it's time to go the blogspot way.

PC means Player Character. During game setup, each player is dealt a PC at random. Each PC has specific strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, you can build on the weaknesses if you're even slightly lucky. The game has 6 PC's (but more are on the way) so let's go over them. First a quick explanation of the symbols/stats:

Star: This is the PC's attack modifier. When ever a d20 is rolled for an attack, this number is added to the result in order to reach the target's defense.

Shield: This is a PC's defense. The number that has to be reached on a d20 roll for a hit.

Speech Bubble: This is the recruitment ability. Possible allies have to be recruited with a d20 roll. This modifier is added to the result to reach the recruitment number on an ally's card (shown in the same symbol).

Arrow: This is the modifier for evading enemies. Basically sneaking away from conflicts instead of fighting. This is also done with a d20 roll compared to the requirement on a character or creature card in the same symbol.

Not all abilities have symbols. There are modifiers for Spells (if the PC can use them at any time), Traps (to escape them) and Obtain for grabbing mystical artifacts (which are not the same as items). As a note, I will tell you that there are powerful items coming that will require an obtain roll.

So on to the 6 PC's that you can play in GZ. (Click on images for better view)

WIZARD: Why not start with possibly the coolest of the bunch? As you can see, the Wizard is not a hand to hand combatant. He gets no modifier for combat. His defense is low, so you'll want to get him an ally as soon as you can or items if you can find them. Where he becomes a super power is that he is the only one of the six who starts out able to use spells. Spells come from their own deck and get drawn at the beginning of your turn. You don't have to reveal them until they are put into play. The Wizard's modifier for spell use is a 10, making any combat he uses spells in, much better. If he attacks a PC with a spell, there's a good chance he'll hit. And he can be at a comfortable range to do it. As an added bonus, unlike anyone else who gains magic use, he can draw 2 spell cards for his turn instead of 1. When he wins combats with spells, he gets an extra achievement token (used as wild card modifiers where ever you want).

PSYCHIC: The Psychic has decent numbers because, well, being psychic has it's advantages. She's excellent at recruiting allies or avoiding trouble with enemies. She's average at dealing with traps too because she can "see" her way around them. Where she's really great is her special ability. Once per turn you may look at the top card of any deck. You may put that card on the bottom of the deck. You can use this ability to give yourself a chance at a better draw for for your turn, or to prevent the person after you from getting a cool card that happens to be on the top of the deck. If you gain spell use, you can use this ability on the spell deck for yourself. But, you can also use it to mess up spell draw for someone who can draw them. You can only use this trick on your turn though, so use it wisely.

STRONGMAN: The brute of the game. He's good in combat, and that's really about it. He gets a great modifier against beasts and monsters along with gaining an extra achievement token for winning combats with beasts and monsters. Don't be too quick to dismiss him. With his head start in combat (which is extremely important) he only gets better from there as you find things to build him up with. Thanks to his bonus, he's also one of the best PC's to have against a beast called The Monstrosity. We'll get to those later though.

SOLDIER: Extra good at combat, average at recruit and evade, but makes up for it as soon as you give him a weapon item. Modifiers from weapon items give him an extra +2.  His defensive power of +2 attack and defense if attacked by another PC makes him a thorny target. The bigger he gets, the meaner that becomes.

SPEEDSTER: Arguably, the most awesome stats of the game. Super speed is super cool. She gets awesome attack and defense stats and her evade is monumental. A +3 to movement doesn't hurt either. She can either keep far away from PC's that would attack her OR stay close to those she wants to target.  Check out her "disarm" special ability. Once per turn, during movement, you may make an attack roll on an adjacent opponent. If successful, steal 1 item from that player. Continue your movement. So, basically, you're running along, pause next to someone, snag something from them, and run away. How annoying can you be with that?

INVENTOR: Another PC who really doesn't start out as a combatant. He's good at recruiting help and is a master with traps. Giving him items is also awesome. With him, the +4 from a laser rifle becomes +8. Then his attack shoots up to a +10. His tinker ability is also very handy. During your turn, you may discard an item to take any item (not artifact) from the discard and put it into play for yourself. You also don't roll to obtain items (which will be more useful with upcoming expansions).

I'm happy to report that the first expansion for GZ will have 18 new PC's to really spice up your gameplay possibilities. I'll do a report on them later on, when closer to release.

To see more of what this board game is about: go HERE.  To catch the books that the game follows, click on my Author's page link in the upper right.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Survival: Kidnapped by a Serial Killer

Today on a page called Brolo Nation on Facebook, I posted a survival challenge of the following:

"Survival Challenge: You wake up on a mountainside disoriented from chloroform. There is a note with you that reads: "You have 10 minutes to get your wits about you and start running. Let the hunt begin." Assuming you are of decent health and mobility, what do you do? (You are starting in a wooded area, but not all of the mountain is woods)
For you smartassess out there, you've been picked clean of electronics or knives or anything of the sort. You don't even have your wallet.
Edit for excellent question: What are you wearing? Shirt, jeans, shoes (you may assume you have laces) you may assume you are wearing a belt. And it is summer."

I was asked about a few more points and I will add that you wake up at about 10 am. You are surrounded by trees and the woods extend to about 100 yards down the mountain. To your left is open field type terrain and to the right is jagged rocky terrain (but also clear) Terrain merges at the 100 yard mark and mixes together. There is no guaranteed answer for this so the correct answers are those that keep you alive the longest. People didn't die on the discussion thread immediately, followed more of the points I'm about to post.

First of all, 10 minutes to shake off chemical effects is a bitch. Even so, you have to try and take in your surroundings and quickly. You need to know, if possible, how you got there and where your killer may be. Were you dragged or brought in by a vehicle? If you were dragged, that will tell you what direction you came from and will be the least likely false trail. It would take a great deal of effort to drag you in all sorts of circles on the tilted terrain and around trees. Next, footprints. If there are none, no difference, but if there are, they could tell you a couple things about your captor.
1: How tall he is. You already know he's big enough to move YOU (if you are a larger person this could be bad news or good news)
2: What direction he left in. While you can't trust it, it's a starting point and shouldn't be ignored. There are distinct possibilities here. This may be the way he want's you to think he went (the more evident the tracks, the more this is likely). Or it's the way he really went (less evident tracks "may" point to this but also indicate his skill) You can't trust either one, but they can play into the direction you choose to go.

Tire tracks means he has a vehicle of some sort. So you know more about his tools, anyway.

Next, you can't stay where you are. If you can see far enough away to see where terrain changes, he can see you from just as far away. He gave you 10 minutes and will likely be watching. You can't just sit there and try to eagle eye for him either, It's a waste of time. What this will also tell you, is a narrowed down point of where he may be. A psycho who wants to hunt you will be armed in  the best way to be in control. That means a rifle. Since psychos of this kind are meticulous and detail oriented, you know he knows the entire area better than you. All the same, you have to move. Seek out the densest area of terrain you possibly can. The closer trees are around you, the less open shots anyone has on you. This may buy you a few more minutes since he has to come closer or change position to get at you. Now you can take in more of your surroundings except that you best be flat on the ground so long as you are on the ground. Even so, you can figure out your next move from here and finish shaking off the chem effects. Remember those tracks you saw and pay attention. You wouldn't want to run right into him before you're read.

Check your inventory. Note that I said you can assume you have a belt? So you have a belt. That's a handier tool that your captor realizes. It's a weapon and first aid all in one. What, you've never been clocked by a belt buckle? That's a piece of metal on the end of basically a leather whip by the way. Or you can put a couple of fingers through the metal loop, hold the point outward and have a minor stabbing or punching weapon. Don't forget strangling. You're belt is also a life saving tourniquet, or an anchor for up in a tree. It's a tool for bundling items you find too, like sticks you sharpen with a jagged rock. If you have shoe laces, they can be useful too. 
If you are a woman, this scenario assumes you are wearing a bra (because I wasn't specifically thinking of women when I wrote the challenge). You have another weapon.

Gain a vantage point. Even if you climb a tree for a better look around, you are making  yourself less of an easy target. You need to find ways to make it so you can see better than he can. It's also unlikely that he'll expect you to disappear into thick cover only to climb a tree. He expects you to panic and run down the mountain side (which is something you must not do). 

Watch out for traps. Who says the guy is out to play fair? Expect his turf to have surprises. If you were to just run for it, you wouldn't notice the signs of those surprises. Leg traps under branches, trip wires, etc. If your captor was generous enough to set traps, trip them and scalp them for usable parts and weapons. 

Find a way to make him come to you. This may mean getting into a good hidden position and waiting for several hours. Chance's are he's not impatient to kill you. You will have to make it look like you outright vanished. There's two ways to do this: up a tree, or into the ground as much as possible.

If you do have to run for any reason, do so between trees as much as possible and for as short of a distance as possible. Long runs will work against you. You need to find ways to drop out of sight suddenly.

Set something on fire. If you know how, a sudden range fire would do a lot to attract attention and screw up your killer's plans. True, also a federal offense, but are the authorities in for a hell of a story from you! Using the side of the woods nearest the rock terrain gives you a chance at sharp shale or maybe some flint. 

To sum up, your chances of living increase if you:

1: pay attention to evidence of your surroundings
2: move to cover
3: watch for traps
4:utilize your inventory
5:do the unexpected in any way you can

None of that guarantees your survival, but then that's not the point of the challenge. Do you agree or disagree with anything or have your own ideas? Be detailed and tell me what you would do in comments. Hope you enjoyed this.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

End of summer update

Lots of promising things going on as Summer draws to a close. I didn't give away half as many things as I wanted to, but there was no helping it. This summer's accomplishments have been few but very good. Releasing Chaos Rising (novel) and the board game were no small potatoes. Both were long in the making. Now it's time to get the next book of short stories done along with some artwork for the first game expansion.

Recently there has been a lull in development as I get my son ready to go back to school. I get the feeling this is going to be a big year for him. Primarily he's in 8th grade, but the school works with him where his actual strengths are. His math is back a couple grades, but the plan is to catch him up so he can go on to high school. If that means another year at the school he's attending, it will be worth it.

Sports season is coming in full swing and my wife will be doing scoreboards at the radio station. Weekends are going to be fairly closed off for a lot of things. But I'll use the extra time to keep on creating and writing. I have plenty to do.

Come January, we hope to make a trip to New Orleans for a new place that's opened up there. I've med the owner on Facebook and I'm excited about checking it out. It's called the Bad Wolf Bar and Grill. They are going to have gaming and other nerd geek ventures going on there. My game may be making an appearance. Be sure to check them out.

In the coming months I will be getting my game out into people's hands and into cool places. Exposure is promising. Speaking of exposure, my books got into people's hands this summer with three freebie specials. I can only do a freebie giveaway like that once every 3 months for each book, but it was a success.

It is not easy to be seen in the endless ocean we call the internet. I strive to learn all I can about acceptable ways to market myself and my work. Sometimes I think it would be easier to defuse complicated explosive devices, but one can never give up. You give up and guarantee you'll be invisible before you know it.

With my son at school, I'll be taking advantage of some quiet time to really get some stuff done. At least that's always the plan up front. You never know what's going to happen to challenge your efforts. Best laid plans right?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Character Development: My Formula

How do you create all these characters? This is a question I've been asked many times. I have dozens to an easy couple hundred characters in my head. I joke that they haunt me and it's pretty much true. As I think about it, how to develop characters can be the difference to a seemingly living thing and a flat piece of paper. Here is how to create that believable character with depth and bring it to life.

Think of everything that makes up a person; right down to the smallest detail. That is what makes up a character.

Appearance: A character's appearance sets the stage for how other characters will react on sight of him or her. Is he a dusty dirty vagrant with torn clothes and matted hair? Or is he meticulous and refined in an expensive three piece suit? Maybe she's more casual in a comfy t-shirt and jeans with holes in the knees? Don't forget to accessorize with jewelry, handbag, or maybe an expensive pair of boots. For an exercise in how people look, just go to any public place and look around. I'm not suggesting you engage in staring contests, but think about what stands out to you as you see different people. For people that really stand out, go to People of Walmart and look through the photos. Imagine how you would describe their appearance in writing.

Behavior: How does your character act and react to their surroundings and other characters? What are his or her standard emotions. Happy go lucky? Constantly irritated? Paranoid? Different people have different ranges of behaviors. It's important that those behaviors interact with setting, events and other characters. Reactions are an important part of those behaviors. How does your character react to a lost puppy or getting a parking ticket? How do they treat people around them depending on how much they care? What if they just don't care? Behavior is the glue that holds your character together and connects all of what they are. For exercises in human behavior just go to Youtube and start watching videos of the things that people do. Ask yourself how you would write about those behaviors and attach them to your character.

Now we get more in depth:

Quirks: These are the aspects of your characters behavior that stand out and add spice to their "makeup". Take my character, Nyhtwulf, for example. His greatest quirk is a love for foil wrapped cream cheese. He eats cubes of the stuff complete in the wrapper. He doesn't understand why humans take the wrappers off. To him, that's part of what makes the treat so delicious. Special  habits that help define your character and give it depth, make them more believable as a living and breathing thing. I once knew a lady who was a heavy smoker. Whenever she exhaled the smoke, she did so through her nose with her tongue sticking out. She had no idea that she stuck out her tongue every time, she just did it. Everyone has nuances to them that make them who they are. Quirks, habits, or what ever you want to call them can be seen in everyday life easily. You don't need a lot of them in one character either. Treat them like salt in a recipe.

Beliefs: What does your character believe (or not) in? Are they ultra religious? Maybe he's an atheist? Does she believe in unicorns? Beliefs are not limited to the religious alone, rather a full scale way of life. Belief extends to political standing and ideals. At their very heart, belief defines a character's alignment of good or evil. Consider the beliefs of a narcissistic sociopath. Such a person believes that all other people are lesser beings, put on Earth for their personal use or amusement. The Bushido Code is a way of  life for ancient samurai.  Political parties, psychological studies, and religions are fine ways to look at belief.  To see belief in action, look to social media like Facebook. What's going on on your friends pages that play to belief?

History: A character without personal history is either flat or a background character. History speaks to the character's life experiences. You can go back in their life as much as you wish to give him or her history. Events of childhood shape a character for who they are today. Past mistakes lend to experience and shape how future choices are made. Depending on the story, characters don't need a great deal of history. Some stories have a greater history on their own that guide and build the characters. History that overshadows the personal. That's okay, so long as characters have believable reactions to those events. For an example of how personal history looks, think back on your own. What events of your life, shaped who you are today?

Fears: Not all characters have major fears, but some will and it really helps define and bring them to life. My character Blacktide has the power to disintegrate any solid matter by touch or even at range. When his powers manifested in his youth, they killed his parents. Blacktide has to be ever vigilant that he not touch people without precise control of his powers. Even with help of a psychic connection with Nyhtwulf, the fear of hurting innocent people is alive in his mind always. Don't forget that a phobia is great for character development too. Major fears should be sparing, but natural fears fit everywhere. Fears go hand in hand with a characters greatest concerns about the world they live in. Take today's concerns for great examples. Do you know anyone who is worried about war in the Middle East or the job market? How would you write about these things to flesh out your character?

Trials and Tribulations: Characters need problems and life events to react to and interact with. Not just the main antagonist of your story, but other things too. Trouble paying the rent on time? Looking for a job in a hard market? Health problems? Or maybe they just have spontaneous runs of bad luck? Problems create empathy with the reader. I know when I read about someone stubbing their little toe on a door jamb, I instantly empathize. Who doesn't know what that feels like? But don't forget that they need triumphs too. They need those upswings that we all hope for in life. We all need that lucky quarter on the sidewalk from time to time. They may be small and not in line with the major focus of your story, but they make your character come to life.

Relationships: Very important for how characters interact with each other. Are they best friends or casual acquaintances? Love, hate, friendship, disdain, all important factors and they change from character to character. Who they like and dislike and how the interact build on all the characters involved. There are many examples already written here and you do your own study in public or on social media. You can even see how that changes based on the circumstances of the conversation. We all know people on social media tend to be more bold than in person.

My list is certainly not the only way to look at character creation, but it's filled with the general basics. It's often the little things that make characters believable and alive in the mind of the reader.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Board Game Quandry: Reader's Advice?

Yes, I'm asking you, the gaming reader, for your advice. Consider that what you post here may become the advice sought out by other game creators like me.

Points to consider:

-I'm not just a game creator, but also an author and I'm trying to make GZ it's own standing universe. It has a long way to go with hopes for apps, graphic novels, and maybe even video games. I'm not just looking to take GZ one direction, but many.

-No matter what is available, everything will get future improvements. New editions with improved art and function are always in consideration. For that matter, I'm collaborating with an exceptional artist and the image is his drawing and my coloring. People are already digging it.

-If I do this, it will put games in players' hands. Players will also be able to rate my game on site.

My board game is fully playable. I'm working on a tweak here and there, but essentially it's ready and I'll have those improvements done first.

What I'm thinking of doing is going ahead and making my game available to order on The Game Crafter website for 45 dollars a copy. A few of you wonderful people were willing to back it on Kickstarter at 50.

Not only will this put my game out there for you and other players, but it will provide me with a modest business income that I can grow with.

So what do you gaming folk think of this idea? If you want to look over the information on my game you can do so at this LINK.

I value your input and appreciate it. Rock on gamers! Keep those dice a rolling!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Writing: How to choose an idea and go forward

It's the creative's curse. You have so many ideas in your head for a story that you just can't sort them by thinking. So what do you do? I had this awesome question recently and realized I needed to put it here to help others. Here's my suggestion.

When you have so many ideas crashing around in your head that you can't sort them just with thought along, you need some writer's tools to help you out.

Get a notebook and label it "For Writing Ideas Only". Feel free to decorate it, color on the cover, whatever. But inside, is only for your writing ideas. Keep it where you can always find it.

Make a list. Jot notes on each idea as you remember them. You don't have to make it long winded half story length stuff, just notes. That way, when you do pick a project and complete it, you can come back to your notes and pick another one.

But how do you choose? That's on you. There is really no best way to choose what your first project is going to be. All of them are likely begging you in your head to be completed. You will have to make your choice and then focus. Yes, focus. One of the hardest things a creative can try to do. But do it you must in order to make any headway on that first project or any after it.

One thing I suggest, after you've brainstormed all those ideas and written them down; is to put them away and leave them be for a few days. Come back and look them over later after writing them down. You may find new perspective on your ideas that needed time to gestate. You may find the act of writing something down as a resolve to the mind storm. You've given your ideas a kind of tangibility that allows them to be dealt with easier.

Will this make the ideas stop whirling through your head? Um, no. I'm afraid there is no cure for that. You can only hope to organize them a little and find a path to move ahead.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your notebook and get to jotting down those ideas!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Chaos Rising: An inside look

So, as many of you now know, my third book is officially available on Amazon. You can click on my author's page link in the upper right of this page. But what are you going to see beyond what I've already given? Well, today I'm giving you a bit of a who's who to help you out.

The Ultimate Threat: The villain of the story is Jonathan Stormy Knight and he's on a mission to release the god, Chaos from his imprisonment. While that sounds like something that's been done, the threat is no small one. Chaos in the GZ universe is the embodiment of all technology in the universe. He appears as a colossal sized robotic entity with swirling search lights, canons and lasers. His hand alone is bigger than a four story building. His concept is an idea that, while beneficial, technology is stealing our humanity. The result is a hole in the balance of good and evil, resulting in chaos. Stormy engages in a number of bizarre plans that confuse the heroes, but everything he sets in motion damages the balance.

The Rookie Hero: Hakim is a lost college student who is given the powers of Anubis, Guardian of the Dead. Throughout the book, he discovers how to use his many abilities and learns what it is to be a hero.

The Old Veteran: Sandstorm is arguably the most powerful human being on Earth. He has the power to shape change into weather and elements in any combination as well as control those around him. This story brings him out of retirement from the CIA to join a government task force. He can feel the damage being done to the planet because of the sun being blocked out.

The Protege: Electrode, is the nuclear electric man, capable of moving at twice the speed of light. He's Sandstorm's partner and student. He'll follow Sandstorm anywhere, even the depths of space.

The Damaged One: When Larry Peter's disintegration powers manifested, they killed his parents. His powers are dangerous and sometimes out of control. As Blacktide, he tries his hand at becoming a hero, perhaps as personal redemption. He will meet someone who will become the best friend he ever had.

The Demon: Nyhtwulf comes to our world from the castle of the Four Horsemen and meets an unlikely friend. If you ever wondered if a demon could be a hero, wonder no more. Nythwulf comes to Earth with an endearing innocence of the world and delights in discovering its wonders (like cream cheese).

The Heroic Damsel: Her name is Nightfall and she can cause mental blackouts by touch. She's the one who may just teach Anubis everything he needs to know to be a hero. She may even show him he can be in love again.

If you miss out on the free giveaway (that's going on through this coming Monday, July 13th), you can still get your digital copy of this epic for 99 cents.

As always there is more to come an next I plan to have a second book of short stories put together. After that, it's Chessmen 2 (long awaited I know).

Enjoy the story, heroes and remember; never give up.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Building your workspace

For the longest time, I've been doing my typing and art in the dining room that we don't use for anything else. The office was split diagonally for my actual work space and my wife's computer. Then my wife made me an offer to go ahead and just move my artistic stuff to the dining room. I went a touch further and converted it to an official space.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to being creative it helps to surround yourself with your creations. Past that, things that inspire your imagination. Heroclix, for example, is my favorite game. I put quite a few on display as inspiration and my collection will actually be moved under the table soon. You can see the heroclix all over the two white shelf units on the right side of my work space. Those shelves also hold dictionary, thesaurus and art books. I'm not done with the organization yet, but you can see where it's headed.

On the left side you can see my geek shelf. It has all sorts of cool geekiness that has been randomly collected. Some are gifts, like the Monty Python rabbit and some are from Loot Crate. There's a giant heroclix figure because he doesn't fit anywhere else. But then we
get to the most important parts of this arrangement. That would be the creations of the Galaxy Zento universe. In the white shelves there is a copy of the role playing game. You can see the art posted all around.

Then there's the table. I built that table from a solid wood door and banquet table legs some 10 years ago. I burned a mural of my universe in the top of it. It was in the office but I had two strong guys from across the street move it for me. No way I can move it myself anymore. It's blasted heavy. A hundred pounds easy. When I work at my table, it's like being there. It's a solid piece of my creativity. It inspires.

Now on to the shadow box you see on the left wall. That's also very special to me. In it are custom heroclix figures of my characters. Yes, it's a little known dream that one fine day I can have a heroclix set of Galaxy Zento. Alas, my characters need to be a lot more popular for that to happen. Still, it was fun to make them back when I could do that sort of thing. And they are for my own enjoyment, not meant to infringe on Heroclix in anyway. The cool thing  is how tangible it makes my characters. Sadly, it's not their exact features, but pretty darn close.

It did wear me out to do all this, but it sure feels worth it. Today I'll finish sprucing it up and then I'll getting to more creative work.

(click on images for closer view)

For better views of the table go HERE.