New Stuff I’ve Done: LFNE

August 25th, 2014news, rpg

I realize it’s been a while since I updated the sidebar on stuff I’ve done recently so I thought I’d do that and spotlight a couple things in a post as well. If you’ve paid any attention to the 2014 Plan on the left (and I know you all check it daily), you’ll see some of this reflected there. I’m breaking this into two posts with this first one focused on Little Fears Nightmare Edition releases.

Little Fears Nightmare Edition

I’ve released a trio of new supplements for Little Fears Nightmare Edition with one full-sized supplement and two mini ones.

Book 3: Blessed are the Children


Not every child is the same.

They are different than other kids.
Some would say strange.
Some might say cursed.

But they are called the blessed.

Blessed are the Children focuses on the realm of spirits and ghosts within the world of Little Fears Nightmare Edition. From the kids whose souls are different than others to the monsters who pursue them, Blessed are the Children introduces six new character options including Gifted, Soulless, and Changeling, numerous creatures from Closetland, rules for possession, a new take on the Spirit Drain ability, a full standalone episode called “My Soul to Keep”, and more.

Goodie Bags

First off, I wrote up a couple “Goodie Bags” supplements for my Little Fears Nightmare Edition line. Where “Campfire Tales” are standalone episodes for game moderators to use with their group, “Goodie Bags” are small expansions that introduce new characters, enemies, or (later) areas of the real world as well as Closetland. The first two in the line are below.


They are the Butterfly Knights.

Goodie Bags #1: “The Butterfly Knights” is a bite-sized supplement for Little Fears Nightmare Edition that adds details to the sworn protectors of the mysterious winged creatures that appear in Closetland and have the power to heal–or to empower the very monsters the Knights must battle. Goodie Bags #1 talks about the Knights as an organization, details the three top members of the Knights, including full GMC and PC write-ups, and contains a half-dozen adventure hooks you can use to tell your very own tales about the Butterfly Knights.


Baba Yaga’s Children are hungry. For you.

Goodie Bags #2: “Baba Yaga’s Children” is a bite-sized supplement for Little Fears Nightmare Edition all about the cannibalistic creations of the witch-crone Baba Yaga. Cast from their mother’s hut, these creepers roam Closetland and the real world looking for food. The more human, the better. Goodie Bags #2 talks about how these monsters come to be, how they hunt, who hunts them, and includes three new GMC characters, full write-ups for these creatures at all three monster levels, and a half-dozen adventure hooks you can use to tell your very own tales about Baba Yaga’s Children.

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Back in the Saddle of the One-Year Plan

March 15th, 2013fiction, news, operation: awesome

February was a bad month as far as getting any of my own writing done. All my energy was spent on work for the day job (which is awesome) but it left little time for finishing Five-Story Drop (the upcoming supplement for Streets of Bedlam) or getting words down on these six novels I’m writing this year.

As a result, that counter in the left column hasn’t budged a millimeter. (And none of you called me on it. FOR SHAME.) I hit a point where I simply couldn’t abide that. Yes, I was writing. I was writing five days at week at the job. But that’s no excuse. That’s not the point of the One-Year Plan. The One-Year Plan is about doing my own stuff. And I shouldn’t allow myself to make excuses or get distracted. Back in the saddle with me.

As it’s the middle of March now, I’ve revised my second novel from the YA Superhero book to this Middle Grade science fiction tale I’ve bandied about for a bit. It’s half the word count of the YA Superhero book, and maybe that’s a bit of a cheat, but I’m still learning and adapting to this whole process. The goal for me remains producing work that can be revised and pitched and hopefully sold. If the details change, I’m okay with that. And this book I’m working on currently is a lot of fun so there’s that. Half the joy of working on spec is the ability to do what you want to do.

So! Book 2: MG Sci-Fi has launched. Back to 1K a Day on it (in addition to 1K a Day on Five-Story Drop). Onward!

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The One-Year Plan: Goal One – Met!

February 6th, 2013fiction, operation: awesome

I finished a novel last night. I’m still a bit stunned by it honestly. It’s a Middle Grade novel, sure, so it’s 1/3 the size of a standard adult novel (what most folks think of when they think of a novel) but I hit the writing goal I was aiming for and the threshold for the market. (I even went over the goal as you can see by the bar to the left.)

I wrote my first novel (a 50k word YA book) back in 2007. That was almost six years ago and I can now finally say that wasn’t an isolated incident.

I’ve now finished two novels and each one was a learning process. Each proved I could do it. Each proved that failure stems not from my inability but from not being dedicated to getting it done. Each taught me a lot about the novel-writing process from the inside, the stuff you simply do not learn theoretically. Each one highlighted certain shortcomings of mine but also shined a light on some of my strengths. I came through each one with a list of things that worked and areas I needed to focus on both during the editing process and when approaching the next story. The process of each has been invaluable.

I look forward to starting my next novel in a couple days.

Before I move on to that next novel though, I thought I’d look back over the past month, talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what I aim to do now.

First off, I have a confession.

I Did a Bad Thing
I wrote without an outline. I know, I know. I wasn’t going to. Truth be told, this wasn’t even an existing idea from the Big List. It’s still Middle Grade horror, so it fit the slot, but I started with a premise and an opening scene then went from there. I didn’t know what was going to happen next most of the time. A lot of my daily word counts began and ended a single chapter. I made sure to curve each chapter into a cliffhanger or similar attachment point which made sure I had a launching pad for the next day’s writing.

This worked surprisingly well. I’d sometimes stop in the middle of a chapter and think about how to steer the story but having that cliffhanger goal gave me focus. It taught me about making sure each chapter bends, rises and falls—hitting the pavement with enough force to bounce back up right before you cut, insert page break, and follow that momentum into the next chapter.

That which moves the writer to write moves the reader to read.

Still, for my next book, I’m doing the outline. I’m taking some days to map out the big beats and do up some character sheets before I start.

I Learned Oh So Very Much
A bunch of writing advice I had read over the past few years suddenly made sense. What were previously good ideas gained a new sense of relevance and meaning when put into practice. The one that hit me in the face hardest was “The protagonist drives the story.” The hard truth is I’ve suffered from passive protagonist syndrome for a long time, loving the idea of the person who has to react to the situations in their life, but that’s just not a good idea. Your character is John Henry and the story is that mound of solid rock. You need to give your protagonist a hammer or they’re never going to tunnel their way through it. (We’ll ignore that whole “dying at the end” part.) Every single time I wondered why my story felt like it was dragging or falling flat, it was because I hadn’t given my protagonist an obstacle or some motivation or a reason to be where they are. I could sing that from the mountaintops, folks.

All Day Every Day Except the Days I Didn’t
I aimed for 1k every day. Most days, I hit that. A lot of days, especially in the beginning, I exceeded that considerably. A couple days, I did half that. A few days, I didn’t get any writing done at all. Some nights, I was done with my 1000 words in half an hour. Other nights, it took 90 minutes or more. But I stayed in front of the computer and wrote.

A lot of days, I didn’t feel like writing anything at all. As I said above, I missed some days. All but one was due to exhaustion. Two of the nights, I fell asleep before the kids did. My day job went through being auctioned and purchased by a new company during all this and that was distracting—but I still made count almost every single day. “Not feeling like writing” isn’t good enough. Being physically unable to focus, fine. I’d skip or let myself only do 500 words or so on those days. But I’m not idly wondering if maybe I’d like to write a book here. I decided I was writing novels this year. That meant committing to the work.

When I initially started 1k a Day, I worked mostly as a freelancer so I would often have time during the morning or afternoon to fit in the words. This time around, I work a day job—which is also as a writer—and almost all my writing happened in the evening. The exceptions to that are the weekends where I wrote during the mornings but finding the time usually meant not watching that show, not playing that video game, not getting that extra sleep. Carving out the time meant sacrifice. But, sitting here with a draft in my hand, I don’t miss the sleep, don’t care I’m behind on my shows, and I don’t regret not playing that game. The sacrifices were worth it.

Make No Mistake: The Book is Rough
It’s not good. I’m not being immodest here. The book has problems with tone, pacing, structure, and character/event contradictions and inconsistencies but that’s okay. This is a first draft. I wasn’t aiming for perfection; I was aiming for done. I can’t edit a blank page but I can edit this. I can revise this. I can make it better. Will it ever be a book worth shopping around? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. I finished a Middle Grade novel. Which means I met my goal. Which means I can finish another one. That is what’s important for now.

What’s Next
I’m shifting things up a bit. I have a real itch to write that YA Superhero book so I’m going to do that next. I don’t mind that I’m shifting things around a bit. As long as they’re not impeding my forward momentum, I’m willing to ride the wave a bit. I’ve already started the wordometer on the left. Since February’s a short month, and I already missed some days finishing the first book, and the YA goal is 50k, I’ll probably do a midpoint check-in rather than wait until the end of March to update.

Until then, I’ll be writing. Doing that 1k every day I can. By the end of March, I should have a finished draft of a YA book. That’s exciting.

Talk to you later.

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The One-Year Plan Begins Now

January 1st, 2013fiction, operation: awesome

The grand odometer of life has flipped another digit, and I’m staring across a field of 365 chances to fulfill some dreams until it does so again.

As I talked about back in September, I aim to become an honest-to-goodness novelist this year. My current plan is two Middle Grade books, two Young Adult books, and two Adult books. Though I’ve swapped the order of the MG books from what I detailed back then, that’s still the basic layout I’m sticking to.

Because failing in public sucks, and the shroud of anonymity allows for too many excuses, I’m posting my word counts in the sidebar, starting with Book 1: MG Horror (um, not official title), so you all can keep me honest. I’m going to incorporate updating the word counter as part of my daily writing routine so I should be able to keep it current.

The goal is 1,000 words every day. Only takes 30-60 minutes to do that much so I have the time. The trick is making use of it.

If you’re so inclined, I invite each and every one of you to call me on it when I don’t update that counter. I’m sure I’ll have some excuse but you have full license to call me on my crap. Email, Twitter, Facebook, IM, even by phone or text if you have my info. Harass me. Keep me honest. I’d sure appreciate it if you did.


Operation: Awesome – The One-Year Plan

September 25th, 2012fiction, operation: awesome

About a month ago, I talked about how I needed to add new direction in my life (“A Metaphorical Haircut“) and that, even though I was sitting pretty with a great job at a great company, I was left partially unfulfilled because I very much still wanted to break into the fiction market. At the end of that post, I declared that I was going to write a novel.

Well, I’m going to retract that.

Next year, I’m writing six novels.

Now, before you think I’ve gone Forbeckian in my madness, these are not all full-length adult novels. I will be writing two Middle-Grade novels, two Young Adult novels, and two Adult novels. Word count-wise, that’s two 30k books, two 50k books, and two 90k books for a total of 340k words. Totally doable inside twelve months.

I’ve long maintained a list of potential projects for the day I acquire infinite monkeys to make use of all these typewriters I have laying around. I revisit the list periodically to cull the bad ideas, add new (hopefully not bad) ideas, and lay out a sort of priority. It’s an intimidating thing to stare at such a list and realize all these babies may never be born. I faced the same situation over a decade ago when I was trying to sort out which of my many game ideas I was going to work on (the winner being the game that turned into the original Little Fears).

Ultimately, back then, I had to pick one of the better ideas and just run with it. Because if I didn’t start on any of them then none would ever get done. So yesterday, I went through the list and added up, in an ideal world, how long it would take me to bring the better ideas to form.

Turns out, it’d take about five years.

I went through the list again and pulled out the best ideas—the strongest ideas, the most marketable ideas—and it turns out, at 1k words a day, I could get them all to first-draft format inside a year.

The fact that two books stood out from each category was coincidental. But it works nicely. I get to ramp up word count every two projects and also use some non-writing time the first half of the year to research and plan out the adult novels (one of which is quite intimidating plot-wise).

The goal here is first-draft quality. If I can revisit any during that time, great!, but I’m aiming only for a solid draft.

As for schedule, here’s how that looks:

Book 1: MG Drama – January 2013
Book 2: MG Horror – February 2013
Book 3: YA Superhero – March & April 2013
Book 4: YA Sci-Fi – May & June 2013
Book 5: Adult Drama – July, August, & September 2013
Book 6: Adult Thriller – October, November, & December 2013

Something I really like, seeing it laid out like this, is the diversity of not only the market but the genres as well. I get to scratch a lot of different itches here. And autumn is the perfect season to write the last book which is a nice coincidence.

The rest of this year, I aim to clear my extracurricular plate in preparation for The One-Year Plan. That includes all the projects remaining on the Streets of Bedlam docket and a potential short story.

Throughout The One-Year Plan, I’ll run word count trackers and post updates on this site so you all can help keep me honest and on track. I’m sure I’ll be looking for first readers as I finalize each draft and I’ll use this as a means of getting some volunteers if you folks might be interested.

So. Onward. Come 2013, I stop wanting to be a novelist and I finally become one.

© 2010-2013 Jason L Blair except, y'know, stuff that belongs to other folks.