Category Archives: Writing

Blogs about reading, writing, and the creative process.

A Taste Of “Quantum Crisis”

Most people know me through my work on Vampire: The Masquerade or White Wolf/Onyx Path RPG books in general. Not many know that I also do a lot of work in fiction and on other RPGs, covering a range of topics. This “A Taste Of” series features samples of my work from areas most people might not know about, along with places you can buy the book to read more!

Mark Truman of Magpie Games (and now, involved with the amazing Firefly RPG) asked me to write for two anthologies, both for games he Kickstarted that ended up acquiring anthology stretch goals. The second was for We Are Dust, a collection of stories about the end of the world. We agreed that I could do some “junk science” sci-fi stuff, and I found a great conspiracy theory about endless power derived from quantum particles. The rest became “Quantum Crisis.” If you like blockbuster movie-style crisis stories, you’ll like this.

If you do like this first part and want to read the rest, you can get We Are Dust from DriveThruFiction, on Amazon Kindle, or directly from Magpie Games! Continue reading A Taste Of “Quantum Crisis”

A Taste Of “I Knew Him”

Most people know me through my work on Vampire: The Masquerade or White Wolf/Onyx Path RPG books in general. Not many know that I also do a lot of work in fiction and on other RPGs, covering a range of topics. This “A Taste Of” series features samples of my work from areas most people might not know about, along with places you can buy the book to read more!

Moving away from the World of Darkness, Mark Truman of Magpie Games (and now, of Firefly RPG fame) asked me to write for two anthologies, both for games he Kickstarted that ended up acquiring anthology stretch goals. The first was for By No Means Vulgar, a collection of “remixed” Shakespearean stories. I decided to take a 1940s spin at Hamlet, which ended up being “I Knew Him.”

If you like this first part and want to read the rest of the story, you can get By No Means Vulgar from DriveThruFiction, Amazon Kindle, Indie Press Revolution, or directly from Magpie Games!

Continue reading A Taste Of “I Knew Him”

A Taste Of “Second Chances”

Most people know me through my work on Vampire: The Masquerade or White Wolf/Onyx Path RPG books in general. Not many know that I also do a lot of work in fiction and on other RPGs, covering a range of topics. This “A Taste Of” series features samples of my work from areas most people might not know about, along with places you can buy the book to read more!

Rounding out my tour of World of Darkness fiction (so far — there’s more to come!), Rose Bailey asked me to write a Vampire: The Requiem long story/short novella for her Strix Chronicle Anthology. We talked ideas back and forth for a while, and she told me what she really wanted was a noir-feeling story about betrayal. From there, I was able to put together exactly that. If you like crime drama and stories of amnesiac vampires, you’ll like “Second Chances.”

If you like this first part and want to read the rest of the novella, you can pick up The Strix Chronicle Anthology from DriveThruFiction!

Continue reading A Taste Of “Second Chances”

A Taste Of “Just A Bite”

Most people know me through my work on Vampire: The Masquerade or White Wolf/Onyx Path RPG books in general. Not many know that I also do a lot of work in fiction and on other RPGs, covering a range of topics. This “A Taste Of” series features samples of my work from areas most people might not know about, along with places you can buy the book to read more!

This taste continues the World of Darkness theme, but moving into the new World of Darkness. Matt McFarland wanted me to do something interesting and creepy while setting up the (then) upcoming God-Machine Chronicle setting and rules update. I remembered an article I found about zombie ants, and the story just evolved from there. It’s a story of unrequited love, archaeology, and not-at-all sexy biting called “Just A Bite.”

If you like this first part and want to read the rest of the story, you can pick up The God-Machine Chronicle at DriveThruFiction!

Continue reading A Taste Of “Just A Bite”

A Taste Of “The Magadon Job”

Most people know me through my work on Vampire: The Masquerade or White Wolf/Onyx Path RPG books in general. Not many know that I also do a lot of work in fiction and on other RPGs, covering a range of topics. This “A Taste Of” series features samples of my work from areas most people might not know about, along with places you can buy the book to read more!

The first taste isn’t too far from what people know. It comes from Rites of Renown, a Werewolf: The Apocalypse anthology. Bill Bridges asked me to contribute a story to it, and I decided to write a monkeywrench caper. It’s two parts Leverage and one part pack politics. If you love werewolf snark and abducted family members, you’ll probably enjoy “The Magadon Job.”

If you like this first part, you can read the rest in Rites of Renown, available through DriveThruFiction.com! Continue reading A Taste Of “The Magadon Job”

Seattle 2054, Part 3: Outline and Asset List

Now that I have a rough idea of what I want to write, it’s time to turn those rough ideas into something resembling a structure. The goal here is to go from potentially doing anything to some concrete needs so I can start writing a script.

Continue reading Seattle 2054, Part 3: Outline and Asset List

How To (Maybe) Get Work As A Freelance RPG Writer

For those that don’t know, Onyx Path Publishing is holding an open call for new freelancer writers (and they clarified a few things). While I’m not involved in the process, I spent years going through the “slush pile” of unsolicited submissions. I saw just about every mistake it is possible to make in attempting to get hired. Here are a few of them, so you can avoid making the same mistakes if you’re interested in being a freelancer in the RPG industry (although much of this applies to any kind of writing submission).

As a note: I refer to “client” here. Usually, this is the company you are applying for, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s the same thing, in the case of very small companies. For clarity, I just went with “client,” and I use female pronouns because I can.

Make sure all examples of your writing are polished. I was surprised to learn how many people asking for writing work would send in badly-written emails. Misspellings, bad use of punctuation, and “text speak” don’t inspire confidence in someone trying to hire you for your ability to clearly and evocatively communicate a world or complex rules, and it just makes your well-polished submission look suspicious.

Don’t talk shit. Don’t talk shit about yourself and say how much you suck, because your client may agree with you. Don’t talk shit about the client’s products and how you’ll make things better, because she might decide she’s just fine without you. Don’t talk shit about other writers, because you might find yourself working with that writer. There is not one situation I can think of where talking shit helped.

Follow the fucking guidelines. You are not special. Processes are in place to help incredibly busy people get through a lot of material. If you break the process, you’re making more work for your potential client, which is a terrible way to start off a business relationship. If you’re good, your creativity will come out in the submission, not in how you submit it.

Don’t name-drop (sometimes). The client doesn’t care if you once knew Neil Gaiman. The client doesn’t care if you’re friends with Stephen King on Facebook. She cares about what you can do for her, and that’s it.

There’s an exception here: references. If you’ve worked with someone in the past that you know your client has worked with, there’s value in mentioning the connection. It gives your client a chance to talk things over with your mutual work connection to assess what you’re like working with as a writer.

It’s a job, not a lark. The client is (likely) treating this as a business. Writing to her to tell her that you thought it would be fun to try to do some writing between your real hobbies isn’t going to help you get any contracts. Even if you’re freelancing now and then as you have availability, treat it like a job.

Learn as much as you can about being freelance. With extremely rare exceptions (which are just about always spelled out), you’re going to be working on a project-to-project basis as a contractor. This is not a full-time job. You will not be relocated. You will not get benefits. You will need to handle your own taxes (although some clients will send you tax information). You are not an employee of the client. While asking questions like these won’t usually tank a freelance gig, it does betray a distinct lack of knowledge, and that can be hard to overcome if you’re wanting to negotiate for a pay increase after a few contracts.

Satisfaction is not guaranteed. None of this will guarantee you work. You will hear stories of people who broke some of these rules and got work. Every situation is different, and everyone brings different things to the table. But if you avoid these mistakes, your odds of getting noticed, and thus getting hired, go up considerably.