Tag Archives: superheroes

#My5: Inspiration, or Weird Associations #amwriting

One question most of us penmonkey types get asked often is how we come up with these wacky story ideas, what inspires us, and what exactly is a “heckbiscuit”? That last one might just be me, but the point still stands. Many folks just want to know what makes artist brains do art. KM Alexander, a delightful gentleman who writes disturbing things, asked me to participate in a celebration of this question and its various answers, called My5. As such, I present five things that have inspired my stories. Specifically, the Maze Beset trilogy of superhero novels.

1. The X-Men. Back in college, which happened so long ago cellphones hadn’t been invented yet, I read X-Men titles. I wound up in enforced proximity to these comics often and picked them up to pass the time that otherwise would been blank boredom. Prior to college, I had been exposed to the X-Men cartoon, so when I had the choice of several different comics, I picked up the X-Men ones.

My favorite X-Man is Nightcrawler. Because duh.

On the whole, the movies have been kind of disappointing, but they came out too late to blunt my interest in the characters.

This is the basis for the humanity of the supers in the series. They have lives and families, and the story isn’t really about the superpowers. The powers are just the cool guns and tech they use.

2. The Heroes TV Show, Season 1. Never mind the later parts where it got really weird. The initial season showed supers in a way I hadn’t personally seen before. Superhero as everyday person with a bizarre power and no spandex really appealed to me on many levels. I know comics have been exploring this idea for a long time, but aside from X-Men, I never got into comics much. I like lots of words and not many pictures. This show happened during a segment of my life when I had time to watch TV, and it hit a lot of buttons for me. I looked at that and Hmmed and muttered a lot.

This is where the basic idea of the novels came from. Genetics, conspiracies, modern day action, and all that.

3. Marvel Super Heroes RPG (MSH). Technically, this happened first. I started playing D&D in high school, which turned out to be a gateway drug for Shadowrun, Vampire: The Masquerade, and MSH. That’s right. D&D is, in fact, a gateway drug. For other RPGs.

MSH is ridiculously silly. I once used random chargen to create a character made entirely of strawberry jell-o. I’m not saying it was a good character or I ever played it, but random chargen gave it to me. Another time, it gave me a character with two forms. One was stupid and the other was smart. Ah, MSH, you’re adorable. Because of you, I have a lot more d10s than I need for anything else, ever.

But this is where the idea of random, bizarre superpowers entered my head, which is the foundation on which the trilogy sits.

4. Mutants & Masterminds RPG. Like MSH, M&M provided an opportunity to be a superhero, only this time with less silly rules. Before starting the novels, I started an M&M game on the Myth-Weavers RPG bulletin board site. The game, now in its sixth year and still chugging along with two of the original players, began with exactly the same premise as the novels.

More importantly, I present a quote from the character generation section, specifically the (Alternate) Form power:

Swarm: Your “body” is actually thousands of other tiny creatures: insects, worms, even little robots.

It’s not hard to see where the idea of a person being made up of a swarm of tiny dragons came from. Thanks, Green Ronin Publishing!

5. Friends. (Sorry, no pictures!) A staggering number of my ideas come from chatting with friends. I say “What if…” and then we ramble on tangents via chat or in person until the idea is awesome. In this particular case, the two players mentioned in #4 are friends who’ve been playing the characters of Jayce and Liam for all of those six years. I shamelessly yoinked their characters (more or less with permission) and used them. Bobby came from having an NPC of that name who interacted with their characters and became a real person for having done so.

Those are my five. Check out these other #My5 posts for more ramblings on inspiration: KM AlexanderMichael Ripplinger, Laurie Tom, Eric Lange

Dragons In Pieces #Ebook Bundle

WARNING: Blatant self-promotion ahead.

I’m pleased to announce that Dragons In Pieces was selected to be included in the Zombies, Monsters, and Gods ebook bundle from BundleRabbit. The bundle is Pay What You Want, which means you get to set the price for up to $44 worth of awesome fantasy and sci-fi ebooks.banner

As a value-added bonus, a portion of whatever you elect to pay for this bundle goes to a charity of your choice. Looking for more info about the books? Check here.

#Superheroes In Denim

I’m officially announcing the release of a 3-in-1 edition of the Maze beset trilogy. It includes a brand new short story and a selection of non-Bobby character-based flashfic of the ‘day in the life’ variety. The combined edition will be released in early May because I have to finish other projects (*cough*Ethereal Entanglements*cough*) by the end of April, and this omnibus edition actually requires work to assemble. It seems like a really minor thing to do, and yet, it’s actually a major pain in the butt.

I present the omnibus cover, which I am delighted by. This edition will go into the Kindle Unlimited program, so if that’s your book-reading preference, you’ll be able to find it there. If not, the three separate books are still available all over the place. When the interior is finalized, I’ll be offering the full package of new material as a freebie option for signing up for my newsletter as an alternative to getting ARCs of everything I release.

superheroes in denim

Dragons In Pieces Goes Audible #audiobook

At events, people always ask about audiobooks. They’re easy to wedge into your day, during a commute, a jog, a grocery trip, or any other time you need to see where you’re going but not think too hard. Unfortunately, it’s challenging for independent authors to produce audiobooks. We’re faced with three choices: pay someone to do the whole thing for us, go in with a voice actor/producer for a royalty share, or do it ourselves.

Each avenue is fraught with peril, though of different types. I’ve wanted Dragons In Pieces to be an audiobook for a long time. I first went looking for a voice actor to split the royalties with and came up empty for talent I liked the sound of. Doing it on my own felt out of the realm of possibility due to my lack of ability, equipment, and recording space. Also time. Editing audio tracks is at least as time consuming as editing a book.

In the end, I paid someone to do it all for me so I could focus on other things. Like publishing books. Dragons in Pieces, the audiobook, was produced by Skyboat Media and narrated by the award-winning voice talent of Stefan Rudnicki. It’s been worth the wait. He’s brilliant, and I’m proud to have his voice paired with my story. Having professionals handle the whole process means it’s significantly more awesome than I could ever have managed.

Also available on Audible.

Dragons In Flight is Now Available


Dragons In Flight completes the Maze Beset Trilogy, and it’s now available in ebook and paperback, pretty much everywhere you can get books online. Looking back, I kind of regret declaring this to be a trilogy from the outset. Not that the trilogy is bad or anything, I happen to feel it’s good stuff. It’s just that now, I’m done with that story, and I feel like there are still more stories to tell with the characters. There’s nothing stopping me from treating it like a prologue to a series or a collection of standalones, I just think that, in retrospect, I probably should have set it up as an open-ended series from the start.

This particular volume took a long time (for me, anyway) to feel like I got it right; the final version bears only minimal resemblance to the first draft. It was a hard slog to make it feel complete. I’m now waving a sad goodbye to Bobby, who will probably never be my main character again. Instead, I’m taking a close look at the female characters, and thinking about making one of them the focus of a new story in that crazy world.

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All Good Trilogies Come To An End

I wrapped up proofreading on Dragons In Flight today. Of all the parts of writing books, this is my least favorite. My method is to read the book backwards, paragraph by paragraph. That way, I don’t get involved in the story, but still see sentence structure well enough to catch (most) word omissions and other typos. It works well. It’s also incredibly boring and mind-numbing.

The book is now in formatting, which is when I remember that I have to do silly things, like write the acknowledgments and back cover copy. It’s a peculiar thing, to try to decide who should be thanked and how. I really said everything I have to say on that front for the trilogy in the first book, Dragons In Pieces. As such, this one is short and to the point, singling out just the folks who’ve been extraordinarily awesome.

It’s been suggested to me that I should write more books with these characters, and I’m thinking about it pretty hard. They are fun bunch, and I did leave open potential places to go and things to do. All I have to do now is decide which character to drive for it. I think maybe one of the women deserves her own book or two. Do you have a preference for which one?

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