Feb 3, 2014

Another Year of Worldbuilding

Worldbuilders ends tomorrow. I just posted my last set of pledges, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.

You see, every year I donate all the profits from my book sales to Worldbuilders, because Pat Rothfuss is awesome, and because Heifer International is awesome, and because helping them out makes me feel pretty awesome too.

This time around, that came to just over $2,530.00. I know, not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but hey, it's just over double what I brought in last year.

When I think about how The Will of the Elements started - as a story that I told my fiance every night while we were a state apart - it kind of boggles the mind. I mean, that's like 5 cows and 5 water buffaloes for people who need them in 2 years. 

From a story. 

That I related over the phone. 

Two hours at a time.

You know what? That does feel kind of awesome.

So, to anyone out there reading this, thank you for taking a chance on my books. Thank you to the people who reviewed them, to the people who recommended them to friends and family, and to the people who kept me having fun along the way. And thank you for helping to make the world a better and more awesome place.

Wow, that sounded kind of final... don't worry though! I've got stories and surprises aplenty to come. Maybe I'll even post something more than once every six months!

Aug 30, 2013

Portal Gun, in Depth

True to form, I took my sweet time updating this. So before I get into the nitty gritty details of putting together my portal gun, let me just say that PAX Prime 2013 is awesome. Seriously. The Pat Rothfuss panel? You had to be there... literally, because we all promised to not record it in exchange for getting to ask "3rd or 4th date" questions. It was great. Wildstar was looking classy (going to focus on their panel and off-site party tomorrow). SolForge remains one of my favorite Kickstarter projects ever, if only for the level of professionalism and the forthcoming attitude that they consistently display. If you aren't playing it, you probably should be. Lots of other cool stuff, of course, as always... but who cares what I have to say about PAX? Portal gun, here we come...

Okay, so last time I gave a brief outline of how we got the shells of the portal gun created. Once again, I cannot recommend florist foam highly enough; it is (relatively) cheap, easy to cut, easy to sand, and hardens like nobody's business after a couple coats of regular Elmer's glue. So, once you've got your shapes done, apply a couple coats of glossy paint (I use spray paint because pointing and spraying is about the limit of my artistic skill) and maybe a coat or two of a clear gloss finish to protect it...

...you're ready for the fun parts. Yes, I totally just used the same picture from last time. Forgive me.

Aug 21, 2013

Portal Cosplay Props!

So apparently I suck at updating everything all the time. I should make up for that or something...

Well, no time like the present, I guess. 

First, I'll mention something about how my wife and I are making a Portal cosplay. There. That was it.

Next, I'll come up with a not-very-clever way of saying that I got put in charge of the props (a portal gun and a GladOS helm, mainly) and then quickly make sure that no-one remembers this sentence by posting a picture of my portal gun test-fire in convention level lighting.

Yeah, something like that would be cool. Oh, and maybe one of the same thing under brighter-than-normal lightning!

Not quite as impressive, but you get the idea: it's a powerful light in that thing! But I should go back to the very beginning... so, for today's blog, here's how the portal gun got started!

Step one was to draft out the images. After careful measurements, here's what we came up with (well, mostly my wife):

Basic portal shapes, nothing fancy. Next, we prepped the florist foam (which you can buy in nice blocks at just about any craft store):

So, cutting the blocks to shape and gluing a few together. I'm not even kidding when I say this thing is big. After that, we marked out the shapes (once again, my wife, as she's the artist and I'm just around to move stuff and do numbers):

After that I hacked out the basic shapes using a knife or two:

Then it was time for some sanding. Like, a lot of sanding. Fortunately, florist foam sands like nobody's business, takes a shape very well, and gets surprisingly smooth:

Then we cut out a few more shapes, like the pieces we ended up using to make the portal gun nozzle:

After that... we did some more stuff... like applying glue to the foam (pro-tip, Elmer's glue will turn just about any type of Styrofoam rock hard, and in the case of florist foam, also make it surprisingly resilient):

And then a couple more layers of glue, until it got that just-been-glued shine:

Then a couple more things happened, like applying wood filler to everything so we'd have something nice for the paint to stick to (it's better than Bondo, and lighter too!) and painting:


I... may have skipped a step here or there. I mean, I didn't even explain the cake purse my wife made. Also, I got terrible at taking pictures once I started painting and adding LEDs and stuff. Tell you what, swing by in a day or two, and I'll have some more up-to-date stuff to show you. Maybe the costumes and the finished props. Or a picture of my wife with the books she won from Brandon Sanderson. Promise.

Apr 5, 2013

Pathfinder Character Intro: The Smith

They call him the Smith.

Some say he’s been around forever, just wandering the lands and doing as he pleases. Others claim he’s a dozen different men with a dozen different faces. Don’t rightly know about that, but there’s one story I’ve heard that had a ring of truth to it. Maybe it’ll give you an idea of what the man’s about.

Growing up, the Smith didn't get on with people. He was quiet, watchful, always paying attention just a little too well or not quite well enough. But people put up with him, because he had a good eye when it came to fixin’ things.

Cart threw an axle? He could fix that. Fence needed mending? He could fix that too. Sure, he always looked a little bored; maybe like it wasn't all that challengin’ for him, but most just wrote it off. Like I said, he had a good eye for finding problems and fixin' 'em.

Then there was a hard year, and old Tom down the road went bandit and killed a few people, and the Smith, well… he fixed that too. Some folk saw him right after and, sure enough, he still looked a little bored.

Now, I mentioned how people didn't get on with him before. I reckon you can conjure up how they felt about him after that. So one day, calm as you please, the Smith packed up a few things, walked out his door and down the road to the edge of town, and he just kept on walking. Some say he’s been walking ever since, an I don’t know that it’s a lie.

Now, the way the story goes, the Smith wandered far and wide. He fixed things where he found ‘em broken, earning his keep in the world doing jobs where jobs needed doing. He learned the value of a good day’s work and saw many wondrous things. Luckily, he was just a young man without much more than his own two hands and the wits the gods gave him, and there wasn't all that much trouble he could get into.

Well, that changed on a gloomy day when he met up with an alchemist who was down on his luck. The poor fella had a donkey with a bum leg, a wagon with a cracked wheel, and a canvas cover that was ripped right down the center. On top of all that, it looked like it was about to rain.

“Help!” the alchemist cried when he saw the Smith passing on the old road. “My luck is down and my donkey’s lame! My cart is bad and it’s going to rain! Many gifts I could bestow on a sharp man with a clever soul!”

Now The Smith had been wandering the world for some time. He’d seen the marvels of fire and light they’d cooked up out in the East, and he recognized the mark of a trained alchemist on the side of that cart clear as the nose on his very own face.

“I can fix your cart and get your mule moving. I can mend that canvas up so as you’d never know it was torn to begin with. I can fix things for you, but in return I’ll have you teach me the secrets of fire that only an alchemist knows.”

The alchemist gave a start at this, as it wasn't the kind of thing that he expected a young man on an old road to know of. But there was something about the Smith, about the way the miles rested on his shoulders, that maybe it wasn't so surprising after all. Then again, he was just a young man, and the alchemist saw an opportunity in that. With a sly smile on his face, he agreed to the Smith's terms.

True to his word, the Smith bound up the cracked wheel and corrected the cart’s alignment so it rolled smooth and easy as you please. He found some berries to dull the donkey’s pain, and even fixed the beast’s shoes while he was at it. He got the tent mended quick and clean, and even added in a little weatherproofing to keep off the elements. The alchemist saw him work and just stared in awe; he’d never seen a man quite as apt at fixing things as the Smith.

When he was done, the Smith dusted off his hands and turned to the alchemist. “ I've fixed your cart, your donkey, and your canvas. Now you owe me the secrets of fire, and no trickery.”

“You've done most everything I've asked,” the alchemist said slowly. “Completed nearly every task. But I don’t think I should explain…” He grinned, a mischievous look in his eyes as a large drop of water fell from the sky, landing right between them. “Despite all that, it’s going to rain.”

At this, the Smith scowled. He knew a problem when he saw it, and he saw that the alchemist had never planned to make good on the bargain. A second drop of rain fell, and the Smith looked up at the sky, scowl deepening. And sure as the hair on my chin, the rain stopped right there and the clouds cleared themselves right up.

Now the alchemist saw this and he was sore afraid. Trying to short change a wandering vagabond, that was one thing… but trying to cheat a man who could stop the rain with a glance? Well, you don’t become an alchemist without a healthy dose of superstition, and despite his turn of bad luck, he was a very good alchemist.

“Wait, wait, wait, I just misspoke! I’m sorry sir, it was a joke!" He rifled through a stash of documents behind his seat, hands shaking. "I have it here, right on this scroll!”

The Smith took the roll of paper, inspecting the careful notations before nodding to himself. He looked up and gave the alchemist a very hard look. And in that moment, the alchemist saw something in the eyes of the Smith, something of a man almost resigned to fix things when they were broken, even though it brought him no joy. Something of a man who had fixed old Tom down the road when he went bad. Something of a man so practical it was terrifying. And the alchemist knew, this was simple not a man you tried to short change.

“A-and for your time, another toll!”

Now, as I said, this alchemist was a very good alchemist. He’d collected a regular treasure trove of rare and exotic loot from the four corners of the world, and when he saw that look in the Smith’s eyes he dove for the heavy chest in the back of his cart. From it, the alchemist drew an artifact the likes of which has rarely been seen on this world.

“I noticed you have many tricks and thought perhaps that you could fix this thing I’ve had stashed in my trunk. To tell the truth, I think it's junk.”

The Smith had traveled near everywhere. He’d seen many things that needed fixing, and he’d known what to do with most of them. But this… this was something different. With trembling hands, The Smith took the battered, beaten object, little more than a tube rigged with a few gears and levers. Cracks ran along its surface, the brass finish was scratched and scuffed, and the trigger was loose. Even still, it glinted in the afternoon light.

“What do you call it?”

The alchemist considered the question for a moment and shrugged. “I've only ever seen that one, but I think that it was called a gun.”

At this, the Smith smiled and, possibly for the first time in his life, he didn't look bored. No, not one bit.

Mar 5, 2013

Read an E-Book Week!

In celebration of Read an eBook Week all of my books are free on Smashwords until 3/9. Use code RW100 at checkout.

Wind-Scarred: Technology vs Magic, Round One

Water-Seer: Healers and killers and gods, oh my!

Child of Lightning: High-speed chases on flying ships? Check. Quest to save the world? Check. Waffles? Check.

A Kiss of Fire: Wow, this one really sounds like a romance title, huh?

Feb 15, 2013

This is a very short post

Still alive. Still writing. Have some new stuff coming up soon, but in the meantime my wife and I will be playing some Pathfinder starting this weekend. Expect stories. Ooooh yes...expect stories.

Jan 1, 2013

A Year in Retrospect

So 2012 was a big year for me. Promotions, video games, YouTube videos... Oh, and I wrote a science fiction trilogy.

A good year, all around.

Just as a quick recap, over the last quarter of the year my book sales have raised at least $802 for Worldbuilders (since I won't see sales reports for anything other than Amazon for a little while).

So for those of you who have been with me through it all, those of you who are new to the world of the elements, and even the random people who ended up here by mistake, here's a short story for you.