CategoryWriting

Project Tasman Post Story Q&A

It’s been a little while since I’ve talked about it on this blog, but for those unaware, I finished up my Twitter-based choose your own adventure story, Project Tasman, at the beginning of September. The story spanned from just after Thanksgiving 2019 until Labor Day of 2020, was over 70,000 words long, and had amazing engagement from a ton of readers.

As part of wrapping up the story, I’ve posted the story as it was decided in its entirety to Wattpad. If you haven’t had a chance to read Project Tasman yet, but want to experience the story as it was decided on by the Twitter polls, go give it a read. I’ll be posting alternate endings that weren’t chosen to the story over the coming months.

The last item I said I would do as part of Project Tasman was a Q&A session about the story. I’ve been gathering Q&A questions since early in the story and will answer as many as I can here. I’m going to keep my answers a bit more condensed here — otherwise you’d be reading a 10,000 word piece. That said, I will be expanding on a few of these answers in a Q&A podcast I’ll be posting publicly on my Patreon. That podcast will be available to everyone, so no need to pledge to listen (though I’d be grateful if you did).

Also — massive spoilers ahead for the whole story. If you’d rather not be spoiled, go read Project Tasman via the links above and come back here after.

What’s the biggest thing you’d change if you could start over with the story?

This is by far the question that I got the most frequently throughout the story. That said, it’s also the easiest to answer. I would change the whole concept of the changing names/false names that I had in the story. I had that idea at the very beginning of the story before I realized how insanely confusing that’d be to write. If I did it again, I’d limit the name changes to Carrie, Brielle, and Quinn. In Carrie’s case, the name change is needed to preserve the twist for her character. In Brielle’s case, it becomes critical to her identity in certain endings. And in Quinn’s case, she literally had a name change, so there’s no avoiding it for her.

You initially mentioned this would be a month-long project. What changed it into the novel-length project we have now?

I really got into the story. That’s pretty much the sole reason I kept going with it.

As for what I initially planned, I had this idea that the player character of the story, Alana, would be killing someone at the end of the story. And the premise was going to be that Alana was trying to solve this puzzle like a murder mystery to figure out who around her was the killer. Then at the end, she’d realize the killer was her. I still love this idea, but not for this story.

Why do you think there was so much shipping in this story, specifically the Brilana ship and the throuple ship between Quinn/Brielle/Alana?

Shippers gonna ship.

That said, I think people ship as a way to live vicariously through certain characters and what they want for that character (or themselves). The Brielle and Alana ship makes sense because Brielle is overtly sexual and uses it to her advantage against Alana. And I think people find that intriguing, which makes the shipping easy. As for the throuple shipping, I think that came about as a natural extension of Brielle being into Alana, as well as the fact that Quinn is polyamorous. I don’t personally ship it, but I get where it comes from. I did pay homage to this in the chosen ending — and it’s the only ending that could have been picked where this reference existed.

There was a poll in Arn’s loop where we had to choose a D&D alignment. You mentioned there was an alternative naming system you’d considered. What was it?

Your reaction was going going to be on some sort of scale between Lawful and Chaotic on one axis and Playful and Sexy on the other. That said, I never found a scale I liked and that fit, so I scrapped it.

Are there any scenes you felt limited in writing because of the Twitter format?

There are two scenes that jump out here. The first is the suicide discussion between Alana and Mel in Alana’s loop. I couldn’t go into this discussion as much as I’d wanted because I didn’t want to accidentally trigger random passersby. That said, I had a much lengthier, more open-ended discussion between them initially planned.

The other scene is the shower scene with Alana and Quinn at the end of Arn’s loop. It’s the one where Quinn and Alana are in the shower together after having a popcorn fight before Alana breaks down from the trauma and torture that is Project Tasman. If I weren’t writing for Twitter and the public forum, that scene would have gone on much longer — both the sexual nature that it starts out being and Alana’s eventual meltdown. I think it’s arguably the one time in the story where a very intimate scene (and I say that both sexually and then emotionally between Quinn and Alana) is needed and should have been done in deeper detail. But people get kind of pissy if you try to write erotica on Twitter, so I chose not to.

Why was Jeff such an inconsistent character?

Jeff was never meant to be anything more than a throwaway character. But then he became a bit of a meme early in the story, so I gave him a bigger role. This isn’t the first time I’ve had an ascended extra in a story, but it’s the first time they’ve been a hated character. I finally figured out how I wanted to write him. The problem was that it took nearly three-quarters of the story for me to find his voice. For most of the story, he was more plot device than character. This would be one of my first changes in a re-write.

Why would anyone want to kill Carrie?

Even though this was the chosen ending, I’d argue no one actually wanted to kill Carrie. That’s kind of the point of the moral quandary that I ended up going with as the theme of the story. Even when given that level of ultimate power, most people would struggle with deciding how to use it. And it’s completely understandable why.

I think the reason Carrie was chosen is because there was such a low likelihood of survival from her car crash. There is an ending where she does survive and that ending is my headcanon ending. But I get why people chose to have Carrie die.

What’s the worst choice we (the Twitter voters) made?

I don’t think there were any directly terrible choices made. The shippers taking control of Noel’s loop was the most ill-advised choice made, in that you learned next to nothing about Noel. But even this wasn’t completely a negative.

One one hand, ignoring Noel forced you to learn that Carrie and Sabrina are one and the same a full loop early. This lessened the impact of that twist, in my opinion. Had you learned about it on time, it would have happened at the end of Carrie’s loop. Readers would have gone through Carrie’s whole cloudcookoolander persona time, only to be hit with the wham twist of her identity at the end of the loop. And I think this would have hit REALLY hard.

However, that would have also locked you into a path where you make a choice about killing Arn at the beginning of his loop. The choice would have been either to kill Arn then, antagonize him, or question his motives. The former would have ended the story just after its midpoint. Antagonizing him would have locked you into a path where either you kill Noel, you kill Arn, or you die. The only way out of that would have been to question Arn’s motives — but by avoiding Noel, you also avoided turning on hard mode for the rest of the story.

By ignoring Noel, you also locked yourself out of the choice to kill Quinn. This is probably for the best, as the ending where you kill Quinn is a massive downer.

What’s your preferred ending to the story, both as a reader and as the author?

As a reader, I really like the ending we got. It’s bittersweet in that Carrie dies. But nearly everyone else gets what they deserve. Arn is shunned. Noel is in prison still. Quinn gets her happy life and maybe her desired polyamory. Brielle gets to work in a hotel in the Netherlands and maybe have the relationship she wants with Alana. Alana is at peace with everything she has to do.

As the author, I most wanted us to have the ending where Arn dies. Once I started planning it out, I made it where there’s only one ending where Carrie survives, and that’s the ending where Arn dies. In that ending, you have medical POA over Carrie now, but don’t need to consider euthanasia because she recovers miraculously. Brielle gets out and gets everything she does in the ending we got — except that she feels she needs a clean break from Quinn and Alana for her mental health. Noel stays stuck in Project Tasman. It’s all the good things about White Ending 1, plus Carrie lives in exchange for no polyamorous ending with Brielle.

As a side note, I’m treating the Yellow/Arn ending as the canon ending for any future projects you might see with these characters.

Who was your favorite character to write?

Carrie. Writing her actions and dialogue was so simple. I just said to myself “what is the most absurd response possible to this scenario?”. And that’s what Carrie did. She’s capable of being serious — especially as Sabrina — but that didn’t need to come through much here.

Who was your favorite character in general?

Quinn. I adore her character and her backstory. She’s the closest I’ve ever written to a me-level hopeless romantic in a story. If I re-write this story, that’ll come out more.

Who was your least favorite character to write?

I want to say Jeff, but that was more because I didn’t know what I was doing with him for most of the story. If I’m objective about it, the answer is probably Arn. He was one of two really morally gray characters in the story, the other being Brielle. While I think I did a pretty good job of developing Brielle in such a way that people were still rooting for her even if they didn’t like her, Arn was meant to be more of a character that you didn’t like even if you understood where he was coming from and could potentially empathize with him. And I think he just came off as a total dick in most cases.

Who was your least favorite character in general?

Noel. Fuck Noel.

Was there a scene that we didn’t get to see that you wish we had?

There’s a scene I’d originally written for the end of Noel’s loop where you end up hiding in Quinn’s room while she’s sleeping. This same premise happens in the version of the story you all got to see, but the key difference here is that she wakes up in the loop where you stay with Noel. Remember, in that loop not only are you and Quinn not together and you’re back with Noel, but Quinn is very broken up about it.

The scene in question features Alana talking to Quinn about how she’s scared about Project Tasman without specifically explaining why or what’s going on. And Quinn gets very protective of her. The scene gave a bit of foreshadowing to Quinn’s darker past. It was also meant to reinforce the fact that she loves Alana unconditionally, even if that love isn’t returned. Because, again, I adore Quinn and she’s insanely loving.

Book Launch Announcement (Times Two)

Hello. Yes, I know this is a non-Monday post. I have something to say.

*clears throat*

KOTOV SYNDROME WILL BE RELEASING ON JANUARY 23, 2021!

Announcement – Part 1

Oh. Hi. If you can still hear over the sound of my all caps shouting, I have some things to tell you about.

I’ve been talking about my work in progress book, Kotov Syndrome, for nearly three years now. I recently shared that I have a fancy awesome cover created by the talented Lauren Restivo. Since that point, I’ve reviewed three proof copies of my book, done a few rounds of editing, and gotten very angry KDP’s inability to handle the italic version of Helvetica1Seriously. This was the weirdest thing. There’s no good explanation for it anywhere in KDP’s documentation. The only thing I can figure is that Word technically classifies Helvetica’s italic version as an oblique font rather than true italics. But still. It’s fucking Helvetica. It’s been around since 1957!. That said, I think I’m finally done with editing (aside from one last grammar and style check). That means I can finally submit my manuscript to various platforms and setup pre-order. That, in turn, means I have a release date.

As of today, you can pre-order Kotov Syndrome as an ebook and paperback through various channels. I’ll be linking to some places where you can buy at the bottom of the post. While I encourage you to pre-order via whatever channels you enjoy the most, if you don’t care, I would recommend pre-ordering the ebook through Amazon or Apple Books. The more pre-orders I can get for an e-book, the better. As for paperback, feel free to request through your own local book store or your shop of preference. I personally adore Barnes & Noble, but I know that’s a me thing. And hey…while you’re at it, you should totally request my book through your local public library. Because that’d be the coolest thing of all.

I do not intend to do a hardcover version of the book at this time. While I’d personally love a hardcover of the book, there wasn’t a ton of interest in it outside of myself — especially not at the price point I’d have to put it at in order to even break even on a hardcover. If there’s enough pre-order interest in my book, I might change my mind. Additionally, if I can get enough support on Patreon to be able to fund some advertising for the book, that would potentially change this as well. So, if you’re not a patron and wish to help put me in a position where I can do hardcovers, go support me on Patreon. Please 😀

One other quick note I want to throw out there. This book deals a lot with mental health issues, as you’ll see in the synopsis. For every book I sell (pre-order or otherwise), a portion of the money I make will to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I don’t know an exact amount yet, as there are still storefronts working on being setup. That said, I’m leaning towards something like 15% of the proceeds I’d make for a book.

Synopsis

So what’s this book about? You know, since I’m encouraging you to buy it and stuff.

Kotov Syndrome Cover

Kotov Syndrome focuses on a young woman, Erika Edens, who is struggling with life. She’s stuck in a dead-end job, suffers from mental illness and recurring nightmares, is estranged from her family, and is unlucky with love. Out of the blue, Erika’s ex-girlfriend and only previous long-term relationship, Abby Lin, contacts her out of the blue. There’s just one small problem.

Abby is a computer simulation. And she needs Erika to save her.

The story follows Abby as she adjusts to living life as a computer simulation in an android body in a world increasingly hostile to this technology. Meanwhile, Erika finally has her long-lost love back in her life. But can she put her demons aside long enough to co-exist with Abby as a roommate?

Trigger Warnings: Alcoholism, anxiety, bigotry, car accident, death, hate crimes, homophobia, intrusive thoughts, mental illness, racism, sexism, strong language, trauma/PTSD, violence

Feedback on Kotov Syndrome

While Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of Kotov Syndrome are not yet available — more to come on that — I wanted to share some feedback I received from beta readers on the book. These pieces of feedback have been shared with the consent of the beta readers in question. While they did review a working version of the book, I feel like their feedback is worth sharing, hence asking them and then doing so. Quotes may be shortened for clarity, but are otherwise unaltered.

It’s an easy read. Like not in a childish way, but some books just seem heavy and need breaks. I didn’t want to stop reading yours. – K.N.

I read through it in 2 days on the first reading on my phone, so it is definitely not boring. – T.

Abby and Erika feel very real and they both feel very…whole. It’s absolutely like getting a glimpse of full, real people with rich histories that, even if I don’t know them, they’re there. – E.J.

The entirety of what I have written for Chapter 22 is “That… was terrifying”. SO. MANY. FEELINGS. – S.S.

I do really like Erika’s character though. She seems very real, and very flawed, which is nice. Not a heroine, yet relatable. – T.W.

Announcement – Part 2

Wait, you say, confused why I’m speaking for you in the middle of a blog post that you’re reading inside your own head. There’s a part 2 to this announcement? Yes, there is.

On the same day that Kotov Syndrome is releasing, author duo Jacob Crawford will be releasing the second book in the Dark Sentinels series, this one being called The Assassin.

For those unaware, Jacob Crawford is a mother-daughter author duo comprised of P.E. Crawford and E.V. Jacob. E.V. is a dear friend of mine and I could not be more excited than I am to be launching our books on the same date. I’m also the editor for The Assassin and believe me when I say that I am hyped as fuck for this book. While The Assassin is not available for pre-order at this time, you should consider picking up the first book in the series, The Shadows, to have something to read while you wait on our books to come out.

Where You Can Pre-Order Books

If you’re interested in pre-ordering either Kotov Syndrome, I’ve put plenty of links below to help you do so. As we get closer to the release date for these books, if there’s anything you can do — or would like to do — to help spread the word about said books, we’d love your help. More info on that to come in the near future. If/once The Assassin is available for pre-order, information for that will be posted here as well.

Kotov Syndrome Pre-Order Links

NOTE: Pre-order links will be posted beginning September 22nd as they go live on retailer sites. I’ll add more links as they become available, though that may not necessarily be on the 22nd, as I’m running into some delays with pre-order links going live. While you’re waiting on the pre-order links to go live, you should add the book to your Goodreads shelf. All links below are USA unless stated otherwise.

Ebook
Note: The price should be either $3.99 or $4.00 (USA). If it’s more than that, someone is marking the price up on you.

Paperback
Note: The price should be $17.00 (USA). If it’s more than that, someone is marking the price up on you2For example, Chegg.com has this book available for pre-order for $20.99, while Alibris (not to be confused with Adlibris below) has it for $26.70. Don’t buy from them. They’re marking you up..

Some Fiction For Your Weekend

Hi all. You’ve likely noticed that the blog has been pretty quiet lately. There are a number of reasons for that, including the world still imploding, my life being significantly more stressful as of late, the fact that I’m doing a lot of backend work on the blog that’ll go live in the coming months, and the fact I’m working on planning out some stuff that I’ll be announcing on the blog in the short to mid-term future.

That said, until the blog changes and said announcements happen, I really don’t have a ton of posts that’ll be going up here. There are two Pokemon posts I have planned at this point. One will go live the first week of September and one will go up the first week of October1Both dates are tentative.. But for the reasons I mentioned above, that’s all I have directly planned that I’m ready to talk about at this time. I know that unfortunate, as there are a number of you who were reading regularly, but it’s just the reality of where I’m at.

One thing I haven’t posted a ton of recently is fiction work on this blog. I have a few things I’m working on, most of which are not online. That said, I do have three fiction works that I’ve put up on Wattpad that I’d encourage you to give a read to if you have some time. If you’re a Wattpad user, I would also ask that you vote for the story parts, add them to your reading lists, and comment on them, if you’d be so kind.

Project Tasman

 

To read Project Tasman, click here.

Earlier this year, I took some time on this blog to talk about my experience writing a choose your own adventure novel over Twitter. Said novel, Project Tasman, is currently in its next to last chapter on Twitter. The first 11 chapters of the story are up on Wattpad, meaning you have a story that’s almost a full-length novel if you have a ton of time to kill this weekend. This story has been incredibly fun to write and has been very well received on Twitter, so I’d encourage you to give it a read if you enjoy the synopsis below.

Synopsis: Alana Quevedo finds herself caught in a sadistic experiment where she must choose to kill another participant of the experiment and doom a second to going through it again. Who will she save? Will it be her fiancee with a dark, secretive past? Her whiz kid younger half-sister who may never come out of a coma? Her half-brother who controls their sister’s medical care? Her abusive ex-boyfriend? Or will Alana choose to give mercy to an alluring and seductive stranger who never seems to tell the full truth?

Meeting Charlie Madagan

 

To read Meeting Charlie Madagan, click here.

Those of you who are regular readers of the blog might recognize the name of this story, as I trialed the story here late last year. This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell since 2011 or so, but haven’t felt confident enough in my writing until recently to feel like I could do the larger story justice. This story is currently on chapter 4 of what will likely be a 40-50 chapter story, so this is a great time to get in and follow along while the story is still in its infancy.

Synopsis: Kyler Stone must interview reclusive billionaire Charlie Madagan for a college writing class. The interview — and the subsequent lessons Charlie teaches him — will change the lives of Kyler and those closest to him more than he could possibly imagine.

Fostoria

 

To read Fostoria, click here.

One of the biggest recurring features of this blog used to be my various short stories I wrote, either as responses to writing prompts or as concepts I decided I wanted to write about. Fostoria harkens back to that time, as this story was inspired by a series of tweets discussing how the only way to get one of my friends to visit a cold climate would be one a rescue mission. This is what came out of it. It’s a short read, but if you’re wanting to be able to read a full story this weekend without having to wait for any follow-up, start with this one.

Synopsis: Corri is on a rescue mission to save her boyfriend, Rian. But Rian doesn’t know he’s in danger.

WIP Update #7 – Title and Book Cover Reveal

Do not adjust your calendars. You are seeing another work in progress update less than two months after my most recent one. I know this has literally never happened with this specific work in progress, but it’s for a good reason.

Dear readers. I’m ready to reveal the cover and title for my book. The title of the work in progress that I’ve been working on since early 2017 will be Kotov Syndrome. The book’s title a nod to a phenomenon originally described in chess master Alexander Kotov’s book “To Think Like a Grandmaster”, wherein a player overthinks a complicated situation so much that they actually make a poor move out of desperation. The title also happens to be shared with a song by post-grunge band Rise Against, though no fiction book shares this title.

My artist for the book cover of Kotov Syndrome is the extremely talented Lauren Restivo. Lauren is the creator behind the work at Beanie Cap Prints where she has a portfolio of her work as well as some lovely prints and charms you can buy (I’ve purchased a few of the charms for myself and others…I’m a fan). You can follow her on Twitter where she often posts her artwork @beaniecapprints. She also does some 18+ art for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Not linking here for reasons1Read: The one time I did try to link to an 18+ artist’s work on my blog, Bloglovin’ threw a shitfit about my blog and banned me from being publicly shown for three years. So…, however, if you go to her Twitter bio, you should be able to find her account for that pretty easily. You can also support her on Patreon — which you should do if you can spare the money right now.

Without further ado, here is the cover for Kotov Syndrome. Hover over the image for a more clear version.

To say I’m excited about how the cover turned out would be a massive understatement. Lauren took an idea I had and ran with it, both making it her own and making it look far better than I had anticipated in my mind.

I don’t have an update quite yet as to a release date for the book, as I’m still finishing up some lingering beta reader feedback that got delayed due to COVID concerns. That said, this does put me one step closer to having this book — an over three year project at this point — published.


If you enjoyed the post you just read, please consider supporting me through my Patreon. Memberships start at only $1 and help support the costs for this site, as well as my other creative endeavors. You can also support me by purchasing my book, An Epilogue to Innocence, here. I also offer editing services on this page.

We Need a Change

Note: If you’re here for the My Pokemon Gym series that typically posts on the first Monday of the month, the next post in the series will go up next Monday, June 8th. Until then, here’s this post.

I’ve been thinking for a few days about exactly what to write here. And frankly, whatever I could write here will be inadequate for several reasons. But I recognize that not saying anything — and not taking action — is more problematic than stumbling over my own words.

The American culture of racism and police brutality is one that has cost countless lives and has continually held down an entire segment of the fabric of the country. It’s a fact of life that I was very much shielded from growing up and one that it took me well into my adult years to fully understand the scope of. Even though I saw what was going on in the world around me, a part of me felt like it couldn’t be as bad as I would hear from the news or from people that didn’t look like me. I felt this, at times, despite the rational part of my brain and the logical person in me seeing the preponderance of evidence pointing to the contrary.

I don’t feel that I can be inactive about this anymore. While I do my best to support people of color, in particular writers and other creatives in the communities I’m part of, I know I can do better. I’ve made an effort to do more to amplify voices that have better perspective than my own, and I do intend to continue to do so.

I also am looking to make an effort with my pocketbook. Part of the challenge that I’m running into there is that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as funding cuts that will impact my household income as soon as this month, money has become very tight for me. That said, I do have a source of income, albeit a small one, that is still purely discretionary. That is the profits from my first book, An Epilogue to Innocence.

Beginning today, June 1st, 2020, all profits from An Epilogue to Innocence will go to The Marshall Project. If you’re not familiar with them, The Marshall Project is a group that provides nonprofit journalism about criminal justice. Without groups like The Marshall Project, the dark underbelly of the American criminal justice system would remain shrouded in a veil of ignorance for those who do not live through the experience of being a person of color in the United States today.

If you would like to purchase An Epilogue to Innocence, you can do so at this link. If you would like to donate to The Marshal Project directly, do so by clicking this link.