Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 - Where Did It Go?

As 2012 comes to a close I guess I can have a look back on the year and if it was any good in the end?

The year started with a lot of potential. I had just published the Last Mask - Tradition on Kindle, excited about the potential of the novel. A publisher was interested in my Grindle game, and to see it develop more. And I was writing a short film script for a new director who wanted something similar to my Last Mask novel, learning how to squeeze a story into 10 minutes. So the year looked promising at that point, maybe things were going to improve this year.

Moving on a month later and things had quickly changed. The publisher was no longer interested in the game after I spent a month expanding and improving it. Apparently it now had too much in it, which was interesting. The director decided to not use my script in the end, after I did several edits, but I will just think of that as an experience at writing a film script, and maybe something will happen in films with other people in the future. And despite getting some great reviews, from people I didn't know, my novel hadn't done much on Kindle

A couple of months into the year and the potential of 2012 had seemed to return to the usual situation of nothing. The Last Mask failed to get past the first stage of the Amazon Breakout awards despite me believing it was better than a previous entry of mine that had advanced. I released my YA pirate novel on Kindle a few months later but sales of that were worse than the Last Mask, and even after giving 300 copies away it still has no reviews. 

So what do you do? There really didn't seem to be much point of committing another year to a novel if hardly anyone was interested in reading it. I continued plugging away at the art, but also with little interest from the people who might actually pay me to do it, and social media seemed to be getting less sociable. But enough about all this negative fun, was there anything positive to the year?

I did manage to win a competition this year, for a fan art version of a Summoner War's card, which will be out next year maybe. I also decided to start this Blog and build a new website to put all my work together, and show the world of Winterflood. I believe the website turned out well, and I don't know if anyone is visiting it but feel it is a quality display of the various things I can do. The purchase of an iPad also got me back into playing board games, and opened my eyes to all the different types of games available, and gave me a few ideas of my own.

As the year draws to a close I have now got back into game programming, currently working on a big project for 2013. So as the new year approaches maybe there is potential again, and maybe that potential may quickly vanish. Hopefully I will also self-publish the Last Mask in paperback, and there is still a chance that I will return to it next year and finish the other books. I remain positive  for what I am doing, and optimistic that this can be big, if I avoid people who just want to waste my time, as that is a commodity in short supply .

I also discovered while watching the Olymipic opening ceremony, as it shared a lot of my vision, that I am not weird but just British. So here is to more Britishness from me next year.

And on that note I end this short review of my year wishing that 2013 will be a bit more lucky than the previous ones, and that you all have a great one also.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Finding The Core

    Looking at what I was doing recently on the internet I realised I had spread myself here and there with all my art and writing, but I didn't have one place that people could visit that contained it all. So with this in mind I decided I needed a core, a website where I could put all my work and easily control how I presented what I was doing. A place people would hopefully get to know as the one location to see all about Winterflood.

W - The Core

    When I decided I wanted to create a site the obvious first job to do was see that is out there already from my fellow artists and writers, and if I am honest I was surprised by what I found. There seem to be too many who had just slapped their work on a site with no concern for how it was presented. We are supposed to be creative people so we should be presenting our work in a creative fashion, one that reflects our work. The website should be an extension of the artist in my opinion, a reflection of who they are and the type of work they do.

Golden Dreams - A Warm Welcome

   Now after a few weeks of hard work, and remastering of some old pieces along the way, I can now announce that my website is up and running. It contains a large selection of my art in tasteful galleries, and also pages about the various books I have done.

What Kept You? - A New Face

    I hope you all enjoy visiting this new site and I look forward to sharing many new pieces of work and news there in the future. Let me know what you think as I am always glad to hear from you all.


Website Link

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Getting Sand In Your Goblins

    On my previous Blog I showed you my entry for PlaidHat Games' Summoner Wars fan art contest. Well I enjoyed doing that one so much I had a pop at another, so I present to you in this Blog Krusk Summoner of the Sand Goblins.

The Original Card

    Here is the original card from the game. Krusk the summoner of the Sand Goblins, a survivalist faction that knows how to wriggle out of a tight spot.

The New Image

    Looking at the original character I liked the goggles on his head so wanted move them over his eyes on my one, and also change them to circular. I also like a good set of teeth so started there and worked out. I also gave him a bandanna as it gives him a more pirate or bandit feel.

The New Card

    So with the art done I mock up a card and here we have my version of Krusk, a summoner at home in the sands, just waiting to ambush you.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Imagine The Filth

    PlaidHat Games the makers of Summoner Wars, which I reviewed in my other Blog previously -, are currently running a fan art contest where you can re-imagine one of the summoners from the game. So I decided to have a go at it and below is my version of the Demagogue summoner of the Filth.

The Original Card

    Here is the original card from the game. The Demagogue the summoner of the Filth a demon worshiping faction that is all about mutation and dark rituals.

The New Image

    Taking this original character I then thought of the mutation aspect of the faction and imagined him with the mutation taken to an extreme level on himself, but still keeping the recognizable elements of the original character. So lots of tentacles bursting from his cloak was a central idea.

 The New Card

    So with the art done I then put him back on the card and here is the final art. The summoner of the Filth pushing his powers over the limit.

    It was interesting taking a character that already existed and changing him in my own way. We shall see how he does in the competition, and any comments here are appreciated as always.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Year a Legend is Born

    Welcome to the Blog, and this time I would like to introduce you to a boy called Scaramblous Jaike, and an exclusive conversation with the author of his adventures about the first book and how the series will develop. So without further ado let me introduce you to writer of Scaramblous Jaike and the Revenge of the Shadow Monkeys… me.

    Welcome to Talking to Myself, Stephen, it is great that you could take the time to talk to us today.

    Thank you, it is nice to be here today to talk to you about my new novel.

    Scaramblous Jaike and the Revenge of the Shadow Monkeys is your latest novel on Kindle so tell us a bit about it then, what is the story, and who is it aimed at?

    This novel is a fantasy tale aimed at a Young Adult audience but that doesn’t mean adults are excluded, and I hope it will appeal to them also. The story is about a group of children who live aboard a gigantic pirate ship called the Black Tide, a mysterious ship that is stuck on an island. These children have never left the ship, and seen what is beyond the horizon, so this novel deals with their first adventures beyond the only home they have known.

    I believe this is the first book in a planned series, so what is the series about and how will it develop?

    Indeed it is planned as a number of books. The series follows the adventures of Scar and his friends as they uncover an ancient mystery. The whole series is set over one year in Scar’s life and the dramatic events that will change it, events that have their foundations in this first book. As the tagline for the series states this is the year a legend is born, but we don’t know who or what that legend is going to be at the start.

    Will the Black Tide be the main setting for the series then?

    The Black Tide takes up about a third of the first book as we meet the children and their world, but we quickly discover other parts of the Dagga Isles, the world of the books. In the second book, Scaramblous Jaike and the Treasure of the Red Pirate, a discovery is made that opens up the whole of the world the children live in, and this will form the foundation for all the tales to come. So the Black Tide will be an important place to the story but there is a whole world of wonders still to be discovered in the books.

    For those who have read your other book The Last Mask – Tradition, how does this one compare?

    This book was originally done before the Last Mask – Tradition and is a very different series. Scaramblous Jaike is aimed at a YA audience, so entry to the series is suitable for children, but will also appeal to adults who like adventures of the imagination. Both books present a fantastic world to the reader, but obviously have their own distinct identities. The Last Mask has a more complex journey, with some darker locations, but the Dagga Isles hopefully contains an equally entertaining experience for anyone who has travelled into the world of the Joke.

    With entry being aimed at a younger audience, and dealing with children embarking on a fantastical journey, it is a bit like Harry Potter then? Are you just trying to cash in on the void left by the end of that series?

    That sounds a bit harsh to say I am just trying to cash in. I will say the series should appeal to fans of Harry Potter, as it presents an imaginative world, but it is a very different tale. The scope and scale of this series will take it places Harry couldn’t have dreamed of, and I am not afraid to kill off main characters as anyone who has read my work will know, so this series will have that edge.

    Sorry about bringing up Harry Potter, but obviously some might draw comparison. So what themes do you cover in the first book?

    The first book obviously deals with the children’s wishes to discover what is beyond the horizon and this leads to their first adventures. On this journey we come across the themes of friends and family, explored in various ways. There is also a bit of good old revenge thrown in, as the title suggest.

    Ah yes, the revenge of the shadow monkeys, so what are the shadow monkeys and why do they want revenge?

    Well I obviously can’t reveal that here, as that is a surprise for the book, but I will give you this picture to show and hope your Blog readers are intrigued to discover more about the mysterious monkeys.

    Indeed, it does look interesting, and I can’t wait to find out more about the world of Scar and these vengeful shadow monkeys, but what drew you to writing a pirate novel in the first place?

    Why wouldn’t I want to write a pirate novel? Swashbuckling high seas adventures with a heavy dose of fantasy is the stuff to get the imagination flowing, and in a similar way to the theatre themes of the Last Mask, pirates are something that you don’t find a whole lot of books out there about. It is another area that I feel is greatly unexplored so I wanted to get in there and do some exploring.

    And it sounds like this is going to be another interesting world that you are going to have a great time writing as well. Thank you for taking the time to have this little talk with us today and we look forward to talking again in the future.

    Thank you for having me.

    So there you have it, Scaramblous Jaike and the Revenge of the Shadow Monkeys is now available on Kindle and Kindle Apps from your local Amazon, at a very reasonable price, and I suggest you all check out the adventures of this group of children and their fantastical pirate world today before any shadow monkeys get their revenge.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Cover Story

    I present to you today a special preview of my upcoming book that should be out this year, a collection of short stories that all share one common theme, although I won’t reveal what that theme is at this point.

    So I will let you see the art right now and leave you to maybe ponder what is lurking inside when arrives.

    The art obviously relates to one of the stories inside the book, but is it Science Fiction, or maybe that terribly popular Steam Punk, who knows? Well I do but this is all I am revealing for now.

    Here is also a short video showing the making of the cover from the early sketches to finished art. As you can see the title was placed right from the start so I could work the art around it, and the layout of borders and text matches my other covers for a consistency of work.


    Hope you enjoyed this special preview of the future book’s cover, and this little Blog showing it, and that you are now looking forward to reading the stories that lay inside, when they are finished.

Friday, 27 April 2012

I is for Indie

     Today we are talking indie publishing, now I know it is short for Independent but I like to think it is also short for individual.

    Before we get started let me introduce you to Winterflood’s Second Law, there is a first law but I won’t cover that here and anyone who breaks it will quickly learn it.

Winterflood’s Second Law

    This Law is that for every individual you add to a project, after yourself, you double the chance that it will screw up. So the Law states that for a project to succeed you need the smallest number of additional people involved in it to make it successful. The smaller the number of participants the less chance of failure and the greater chance of having to take responsibility for any failure that should arise.

    This Law rises from experience and I am sure most of you have come across it at some point.

Is it all about I

    So what does this have to do with Indie Publishing? Well as I said at the start I like to think Indie means individual and keeping with Winterflood’s Second Law, the production of my first Kindle novel, The Last Mask - Tradition, was an individual production, firmly reducing the chance of others messing up the project and firmly putting any problems on my shoulders. Keeping it as an Indie project also meant that everything produced for the project came from the same creative mind, they all matched the style of what was being produced.

    I painted the concept art before the novel was even started.

    I planned and executed the novel.

    I made the trailer with my art and music, and words taken from my novel.

    I painted the cover.

    I edited and published the novel.

    I promoted the novel.

 A Unity of Vision is I

    At every stage the same person was working on the vision, I could bounce the story off others to make sure it was working, but it was the same hands making the work and so I hope it all shares that same vision. The words match the pictures, and the pictures match the music. It all comes together through various medium to show the world of The Last Mask.

    If I had got someone else to do the cover or trailer then they might not have got it, they might not have presented the vision as I saw it, and they might have also failed to complete the task as per Winterflood’s Second Law.

    So I believe the Last Mask is a good example of how Indie Publishing can work. One individual taking all the steps in publishing a novel and completing them by their self to present something with a complete unity.

I see I

This thinking about Indie Publishing came to me after reading the feedback of Sammy H K Smith on The Last Mask - Tradition, where she stated what she thought Self Publishing was -

At this point I agreed with what she was saying and it made me realise what I was doing. So is it a good thing to be a team of one if your team can produce the goods, but if you have to extend the "I" then make sure the others are going to reflect your vision and they are not going to break Winterflood’s Second Law.

Beyond the I

Obviously there are others involved at some point, it is not like I can go review and buy the novel myself… well I could but that defeats the objective. So once it is finished you then have to launch it into the world and try to make your Self Published Indie book a Mass Market book, as that is who you are competing with. I am still hatching those plans but watch this space.

The Last Mask - Tradition is available from all good Amazon Kindle store, links on this page.

Do you see what I did there...

Till the next time I will leave you with I.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Reality Digital

What a strange world I live in…

    I paint pictures on the computer and then upload them to the internet, to be viewed by the virtual world. At no point today do I draw on paper or paint on canvas. There are no physical versions of my art in my world; it is all just ones and zeroes floating around inside machines.

    I write books on the computer, I edit them on the computer, and then sell them on the internet as eBooks on Kindle. At no point do I write or print the story out to edit on paper. If I want to make notes I jot them down on my mobile or keep them stored in that mass of electrons called my brain. I don’t even sell my book as a traditional book with traditional paper. There are no physical versions of my stories in my world; it is all just ones and zeroes floating around inside machines.

    I talk to people on the computer, and I have conversations and make jokes with them all over the world. I never met these people, so I assume they are real, but these people live in my computer. They are digital personalities, who might turn up when I turn on my computer, and disappear when I turn it off. There are no physical versions of my friends in my world; it is all just ones and zeroes floating around inside machines.

    I think while sitting at my computer, about this world. I make art that isn’t in reality, I write stories that aren’t in reality, and I have friends who aren’t in reality. My world is all just ones and zeroes floating around inside machines.

   I wonder if I exist in reality.

   If I turn of this machine will I stop being me?

    Shall I give it a go…

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Art of Death

- There is nothing like a good death -

    After a recent review of the Last Mask, which was saying about the amount of death in the book, I was starting to wonder if I was a violent person, who likes to bump off his cast at the drop of a hat. I was also looking over some old files for a fantasy book I was returning to redraft, and as I looked over the cast list next to a few of the names was the word ‘Dead.’ A lot of people were not going to make it out of that first book, and we are not talking about minor nobodies. So I pondered this deathly situation, and came to a few conclusions.

    The Last Mask is front loaded with death; the trouble is I am the only one who knows the pattern of the whole series, and the other two books currently have a much lower death toll… currently. 

    But what this does is make the world appear to be deadly. There may only be a couple of death after the first book, but the reader is on guard and aware of what a deadly place this is from what has been established in the first book. Once you paint this world where anyone can die then you have established the rules.

- It is not safe around here -

    A good death of a major character sets up the whole tone for the series. The reader will believe that no one is safe, and any of these people could drop dead at a moment’s notice. If we look at a couple of classic TV series we can see how this worked. 

    Taking the original Star Trek, we never really felt that the main cast were ever in danger. They might catch a disease and age rapidly, but we knew they would be back to normal by episode end. The only ones in danger were the nobodies in the red shirts, and that became an exploitable joke in the end. 

    Now if we look at a series like Babylon 5, they killed of major characters in the first series and this gave us a world where we were never sure who was safe, a world where we could fear for the characters and be shocked at what was to come. They built a more believable world where we could feel for the people and not know if someone was going to make it out alive that episode. Peril was believable.

    So it is always good to have a major death in establishing a world, even if that character is only made to die.

- Bringing them back from the dead -

    Once you have killed of your important character it is not unheard of to bring them back again, Marvel do it all the time, in fact I think they fit the graves with revolving doors to save time. So if you are tempted to do this, and yes I have a few that do plan on a return, then you should at least have their death have a meaning on the character. The individual has to have been changed by the experience. Imagine if a character lost an arm, it is going to have a big effect on them, so why shouldn’t death change them in a big way.

    It is important that they have to be changed in some way to make killing them off in the first place relevant, otherwise death just becomes nothing, a minor inconvenience.

- Potter must die... maybe -

    The final problem with death involves falling in love with your characters and not wanting to kill them off when the time comes for the deed. There is a certain author, who shall not be named, who created a boy wizard, popular with a few people. Now if you followed the books to the end then it seem to make more sense that they main character should have sacrificed himself at the end to defeat the Big Bad, as he seemed to have a part of that person inside him. But I believe that the author chickened out at the end, no doubt worried about horribly scarring numerous young girls around the world, and he lived.

    If you are going to kill a character then don’t chicken out. Give them a good, bloody, send-off that will be memorable to the reader, make their life have meaning and their death an event that will stay in the readers mind. And if girls worldwide are bawling in tears from the loss then you have done your job well.

'The Art of Death' use it well and it will reward you and the reader.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Reflection and Rebirth?

    "The Clown has departed into the shadows. Now it is time for reflection, and to ponder for what shall return. "

    Today seems to be a good time of the year to ponder what has gone before and what is to come, a time of change and rebirth. Currently I am reflecting on the previous few weeks of social networking and wondering what I am doing on the world of the internet, and how I am perceived.

    It seems that I share a similar image to my novel The Last Mask, both apparently about clowning around and possibly being a bit dark and depressing. So our perceived images don’t seem to be attractive to the masses, or the few for that matter. People read the forum posts or watch the trailers, and then slowly edge away, with a nervous smile upon their faces. Even the Goths are scared, and that is depressing.

    I like to think that The Last Mask is an intelligent fantasy that explores our humanity, but I believe that many can’t see beyond the word “Clown” and that some don’t even know what a clown is and isn’t. The novel isn’t all clowns, there are more gypsies in the novel than clowns, but people don’t call it a gypsy novel. Clowns are scary, people keep saying, but the novel isn’t a clown novel if they looked.

    And I ponder why it isn’t selling. It has had a few excellent, genuine reviews from people who have read it all, so I believe it isn’t a rubbish book. Maybe it is too different from what people want to read, maybe it is a path they do not want to tread, or maybe I am just crap at selling it to people. So therefore maybe the problem is with me, the product that is Winterflood is not currently right.

    You try and joke around with people, and genuinely be friendly, but this doesn’t seem to come across. People might just think you are the fool who is always cracking a joke and has nothing serious to say… “Here comes that comedian Winterflood again”. In previous Blogs I have tried to put across serious points in a light hearted way, with the addition of things like goats and agents, but I think it is all getting lost.

    So it is time for a bit of a rethink and to drop the comedy. I am looking at a new website and hopefully through that I can express better the work and the ideas, so I will leave you with a new tag that I think will work well for the Last Mask and indeed for me, and we shall see what returns from the shadows sometime soon... maybe.
    “It is not just about a bunch of clowns.” 

Friday, 30 March 2012

Bubblegum Memories

    A long time ago in a galaxy far far away… well actually it was London and about 1977 to be exact…

    A film was about to be released on the world that would change everything as we knew it, but this was in a time when there was no such thing as the internet, and TV coverage was not as it is today. This was a simpler time, when a film could be released without us knowing all the details before we stepped into the theatre… yes we called them theatres back then also.

    So there was this young boy in 1977, about to have this mighty film launched upon his innocent mind, and what did he have to get him excited about this coming attraction?

    Bubblegum cards. 

Yes indeed, that was this little boy’s introduction to the first Star Wars film.

    The cards came out before the film was released, so he clutched these wonderful cards in his little hands and dreamt about what the images meant, he imagined what the possible story was and who all these strange characters were. The films were special to him as kind Uncle Lucas always released them around his birthday, he would always remember where he had seen them and this initial epic would be the first film he clearly remembered seeing a film on the big screen.

    But the memory of the cards had its own special place, as these were where the imagination started. This was the year that crafted the individual that went on to make his own tales of imagination, and his own strange characters that hopefully had other little boys sitting somewhere waiting to discover more of his world.

    So let me now take you back to this time and share a few of these cards and maybe the memories that went with them…

    Artoo-Detoo was a little droid, we had no idea what a droid was in those days, today you can’t turn without falling over one, but back then this little bin-like fella was a strange looking character, and that was before we had even heard a single tweet from him.

    Darth Vader an imposing looking person, I mean just look at this picture. He is all dressed in black, so he must be evil, and he is pointing, so he is evil and of some authority, he also has someone dressed as a German behind him just to reinforce the fact that he is evil… and captures princesses for a job or fun.

    Luke and Leia, ah what a romantic couple they make. Here they are about to swing across the CHASM. That sounds scary and Luke sounds heroic to do it. Every boy must have wanted to be Luke and win the princess, and every girl must have wanted to be Leia and date a farmer. They were undoubtedly star-crossed lovers… what do you mean that is his sister, what sort of twisted mind thought of that one!

    Rebels defending, now this is another image full of mystery. Who are the rebels and what are they defending. This corridor was a centre of action in the cards, with a number showing the story and the previous Evil Pointer being shown in said corridor… no doubt pointing a bit more. It was also confusing to the little boy as there were pictures of our heroes dressed as Stormtroopers, so were the guys in white really the baddies?

    Finally we get to Han and Chewie, now these were the pair that got the imagination rolling. Han looked like a cool guy, and he had a freaking giant bear with a crossbow as his sidekick… and wasn’t a farm boy who dated his sister. This was probably who the boys really wanted to be, either that or Chewie of course.

And so that brings to an end this little memory of Star Wars and how a few cards stirred the imagination of a little boy. It was a simpler time, when we could be excited by the mystery of what was to come by the simple form of an image… and then bad Uncle Lucas gave us Manakin and those Midchlorine thingies, and the boy was already disappointed by the taste of gum now he thinks about it.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Comfy Shoes

    Comfy shoes are nice, we slip them on and get that familiar feeling, and they fit in all the right places. This week I slipped a comfy pair of shoes back on and it was like returning home again, although the comfy shoes in question were in fact of a big shiny clown sized nature… yes the Last Mask continues where it left of and I have started to craft the final two volumes, returning to the world that is welcoming to one and all.

   While editing the first novel I had no problem reading the tale over and over again, which seems a bit unusual for editing, and indeed was eager to get back on with the rest of the series, as I wanted to read what happened. That last bit may sound strange to you, as I am the writer, but it is true, I am just as eager to find out what unfolds in the story as everyone else hopefully is, and I am really missing a good, crazy read.

    The flow chart I use for the trilogy is nearly complete and I even wrote a rough draft of the very final scene, oh just wait until you read that one. So what I wanted to present here are two extracts from the first novel, which I hope show the world of the Joke and why I like returning to this interesting world.

    The first extract contains the arrival of our most darkest of characters and also contains some of the first writing done on the book, although it undoubtedly went through a bit of a change as it made its way to final edition -
    Dark tendrils of mirth crept out of the shadows and wove their way across the green fields towards the big top; the merriment of the show within the circus drawing them towards it like a bright flame.

    He was approaching. His black claws reaching out into this world like a slithering death, exploring this fresh realm that was full of new sensations, but also held many old memories for this ebony clown.

    The Harlequin moved with a grace that was not a part of this world, his dance a thing of sardonic joy and his smile a sneer of pain. His every step brought dead flowers to bloom for the briefest of moments, restoring their life back to vivid colour, before withering them once more to dried dead husks. Death passed in his shadows for he was the master of their dark depths and none would escape his decaying gaze. No mind would be left whole again on this day.

    Beside him crept silence, the pale shattered ghost of the twisted mime called Sile. Her face a distorted work of art that bore no resemblance to the beauty she once wore, a visage now twisted by the cruel humours of the Joke. Wisdom and madness lurked within her mind as her baleful eyes sought out their goal, broken pits of raven dark scanning the land with a hunger for this soul.

    And before this grim pair trotted a dog wearing a big, frilly white collar, a pug whose face also bore the marks of the Joke. A snout made red and an eye circled in blue, highlighting the face of the one called Rex, a compatriot of the dark who knew where the true power was.

    Across the fields they moved, this grotesque trio, leaving a wake of death in their path. The Harlequin knew their goal was now near, as this was the time and the place of which they had told, but the clown still remained out of reach, his face unseen by Sile’s dark eyes.

    The music of the circus continued to draw the shadows near, but for others the missing of the performance would cost them very dear.

    Hopefully the contrast of light humour and dark poetics comes across in this scene with the contrast of a pug dog trotting along in the company of a dark twisted pair, a theme often repeated in the novel. To write the world of the Joke it takes getting your mind in the right place, but with this series it currently seems to be no problem doing that. You worry that maybe you can’t repeat what you have done before, but it feels like they are waiting for me to get back.

    And now we come to our second extract, the point where we are introduced to probably the most memorable double act in our journey through the Joke -

    Bludgeon Lane was not a very noteworthy place within the Joke, not a sight that you would go out of your way to see. It was a fairly quiet lane, due to the fact that only one house remained occupied, and the fact that that house remained occupied was the reason no one else wished to live in this lane any more.

    The house was a lopsided shell of suffering and degradation, a home to the horrors of a twisted pair, the two nastiest, most evil individuals you would ever have the misfortune to meet. And if you did happen to meet them, it would most certainly be to your misfortune.

    Within its dank depths a single tiny candle fought a valiant battle against the darkness, fighting back the shadows that echoed with the cries of terror and pain, as a clown sipped at his tea with pleasure and disdain.

    Flopsy enjoyed a nice cup of peppermint tea at the end of a hard day’s work, and today had indeed been full of hard work, some of which still remained under those dirty nails of his. But now was the time to take a brief pause from the activities of the day, and to put his big feet up for a moment’s break, to enjoy the melody of pain and suffering that crept up from the depths of this place.

    Savouring the pleasure of the tea, while seated in his favourite chair, he let the labours of his love wash away, until he heard that familiar gentle jingling of bells approaching from the dark, making the tails of his cap shake gently, and his big red nose quiver with anticipation.

    The lonely candle shuddered.

    And so we meet our tea loving clown, a scene that I had been waiting to write as the drawing of the double act had been crafted long before this scene, so their expectations of what I was going to do were high and I couldn’t disappoint them now, as they can get violent.

    The shape of the final two parts of the trilogy is shaping up well and the comfy shoes are indeed feeling very comfortable for this epic journey through the Joke, so I would like to now leave you with an exclusive peek at book two, the very first piece of dialogue from said volume.

“Popcorn, Mister Scamboldi?”

Friday, 23 March 2012

Campfires and Stars

    Once more, gentle reader, let me return you to our lovely cave, the place we tell our tales sitting around a roaring fire, the attentive minds of our audience hanging on each word we utter, well except old Rumforl at the back who seems to be snoring.

    Our agent Ugg is busy counting his goats and dreaming of all the things he can do with them, but that is not of concern to us, and we will deny any knowledge of said doings when the authorities turn up. No we, the teller of tales, are in our element, we have a tale and we have an audience for the telling of this here tale, so what could possibly be better.

    Let’s be honest with ourselves, we are not going to get rich from the goats charged once Ugg has taken his large cut, we are not going to have a bevy of fur clad, beauties hanging off our finely crafted arms, and we are not going to see our names carved into the side of the mountain. This is our lot in life, to sit around the fire and tell our tales, but this is the best part of our job, this is the reward for our hard work. We sit there and regale our finely crafted musings, and we watch the reactions of our audience as the tale unfolds, accompanied by the constant bleating of Ugg’s new goats of course.

    Time passes and we now find the cave has gone, Ugg has been banged up, and our audience no longer sit with us and enjoy our tales. We now sit on our own, crafting our work before casting it into the wide world for distant readers to enjoy. Our tale may be gathered up and enjoyed upon the far shores of this planet but we may never see this, we may never know the effect our work has on our audience. But then one day we get a reply, maybe it is a review, maybe it is a bleat… sorry tweet, and on that day we connect with our audience again, taken back to the cave and our lovely fire. We hear what they enjoyed, we are told about their experience with our story and we get our greatest reward, the knowledge that someone has taken the journey through our tale and that they have enjoyed what you have done.

    Reviews and feedback are our reward today, they are our way of knowing that what we spent hours toiling over has achieved a goal, and that someone out there really wants to hear your tales. They are far more valuable than the dreams of riches, beauties, and mountain size names. So if you have read a book let the author know if you enjoyed it, show them that the work, they have probably done in the seclusion of their creative sanctuary, has reached out and affected someone else because that is what we love.

    But this is only half the story because there is another side to this tale, the things we could not see when we were sitting in our caves telling tales, things called stars. What we don’t love are stars that are not of the five varieties, the less than perfect score. And why do we hate them so much?

    They are saying our work was not of tip top quality, implying it was lacking in the audiences response, but they are also of an annoying ambiguity. Someone pops along and slaps a four star rating on your work and then happily skip away without a word, leaving said writer pondering the score. You sit there and you think why has my finely crafted tale only achieved a four, what was lacking to make it drop a star? And god forbid someone gives it a single star without comment, is this just someone who hates you, why are they so against what you have done?

    If we get a five star we know someone has enjoyed the work, and a response of said enjoyment is always appreciated by us, but if we get a lower mark then surely we should have at least some comment upon how our work was not enjoyed to its tippy top level. They do not inform us of how we can improve and at the end of the day that is what we aim to do.

    So, gentle reader, please remember in this time of global expansion it is rare for a teller of tale to connect with their audience, feedback that our tales connect is our gold and empty comments our bane. So be careful with your stars, and be kind with your comments.

    And if all this talk of the cave is baffling you then please check out the Blog from days past.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A Grin Development

   Today marks exactly two years since I had an idea, so I thought for today’s blog I would share a grin development, or how my game Grindle got to where it is now from that day.

A Simple Idea – Grindle Prototype

   I came up with the original idea for Grindle on the 7th March 2010, after my friend discussed with me about doing a game together for mobiles and if I had any ideas. 
   At that point I didn’t have a clue, but when I went to bed my strange mind got to work and when I awoke the next day I had Grindle in my head, a game where you are shown a row of four grins of different colours and then after are asked to pick a certain colour. A simple idea that I felt would be easy for my friend to program but would also make for an interesting game. So that next morning I set about doing some rough graphics and even knocked up a basic version of the normal game in Game Maker to show him what I had come up with. There were also three additional modes – Time Attack, Full House, and Grindle Mode.

   So with the Prototype complete my friend set about doing a version for Android. A number of months passed and progress was slow, with eventually the project seeming to die, but I wasn’t willing to let it end there and as I am one never to look at something and say I can’t do that, I decided to do a version of my game myself.

A Foolish Plan - Grindle Extreme

   Returning to Game Maker I set about implementing the other three modes. I had no experience with programming so this was very much a learning process, trying to work out how to make random grids, having countdown clocks and various game play ideas that I hadn’t a clue how to do. 
   At this point I came up with the design having a tribal tattoo feel to it, which would hopefully appeal to the a modern Alternative market. 
   After a few months of hair pulling work I eventually had it done and in November of 2010 released Grindle Extreme on the Game Maker site. It got a few good comments and made me realise a number of things that needed adding, but it was an achievement for me to have got the game complete and working to how my initial design had laid out.

   The game then sat there twiddling its fingers until in 2011 when I decided to submit it to the publishers of Game Maker, as they also published some of the games made with GM. The creator of Game Maker replied to me a couple of months later and said he felt that the game was interesting and well executed, but he didn’t think there was enough in it. I asked him if I gave it an update would he be willing to have another look and he said he would.

The Final Fantasy - Grindle Oni   

   With the goal of adding more I then spent two months making the next version of Grindle, which I called Oni. The Alternative tribal look was refined, the graphics were all redrawn for a potential HD product and a lot was added. The game now had an additional nine game modes including a follow the light pattern game, a variation on Find the Lady, and a twist on the picture puzzle games. 
   I learnt a lot during this time about programming and it was even trickier doing it as I had to add the new elements while also building them around the existing ones. But two months later I had Grindle Oni finished, it had 120 Challenges, a tweak system to alter the game, and two new tunes to go with the original, yes I did the music also.

   So there is stood Grindle Oni, and again I felt I had achieved a lot with this. Looking back on the original what once looked good now looked very crude in comparison. And then I submitted it back to the publisher. 
   A while later I got the response, an extensive list of feedback on my game and apart from some cosmetic elements that could be improved the overall comment was there was too much. Yes the game now had too much content, is it possible for a game to have too much?

   In typical Winterflood fashion I had made the game too much. 

   Later he put me on to another company who was now handling the publishing of their games; the man there looked at the Grindle Extreme version by mistake and said he was interested but when I showed him the Oni version they pondered it for a couple of months.

   In the end they felt it didn’t fit their idea of the mobile market today, so I had manage to produce a game that matched my books and art, something distinctly me but without a possible market. With this apparently final nail in its being published I then decided this month to share the game with the rest of the world, it would just be sitting on my computer doing nothing otherwise, and I still think people will enjoy it.

   I hope you enjoyed this little recap of the games journey from quick idea to final product, I don’t know if there may be still some development in it but it is there for people to play and hopefully have fun with. So please now raise a glass and wish Grindle a happy birthday and if it had a cake it would no doubt have a Grin on it :)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Last Mask Covers Uncovered

Ladies and gentlemen, today for delectation and disdain I present the three covers for the mighty epic they call The Last Mask Trilogy -

- Book 1 -

The opening act, with the Harlequin setting the 
performance off to a fine start.

- Book 2 -

A bit of a puzzle develops in book 2 as the question of 
identity takes center stage, a puzzle indeed.

- Book 3 -

The end of the trilogy. As the show develops we deal with power, 
and it looks like someone is about to crack up.