alanajoli: (Default)
I've had several thoughts for blog entries lately, but it's not always easy to find the time to sit down and write. Luckily, I have a netbook, which makes it possible for me to type this right now with a sleeping Bug on my arm. Another reason I've been putting off blogging, as I mentioned earlier, is that I don't like to post when I owe [ profile] lyster a chapter of Blood and Tumult. If I can sit down to write a blog entry, I think, shouldn't I be writing 1500 to 3000 words of a chapter instead?

Cowriting Blood and Tumult has been a lot of fun thus far. I love playing in Baeg Tobar, as the setting has so much potential. And the way that Max and I are writing -- trading off chapters -- makes the fact that we have an outline less of a detriment to my creative process. Usually, knowing what's coming next doesn't work well for me. Once I write it down, it's no longer the surprise that keeps me excited about the story. But since I'm only writing half of the chapters, the excitement becomes wondering how Max will tell that next part of the story, how he'll flesh out the details, because I probably would have chosen a different way if left to my own devices. That then feeds into what I'll write next, since his interpretation of the outline naturally impacts how I'll see the next part of the story.

(Speaking of Baeg Tobar, did I mention that my second short story, "She's Never Hard to Find," is up? The first story featuring the same characters is "No Matter How You Hide Her.")

It's not quite the same as working on a comic script, but it does share similar qualities. The best part, for me, of working in comics is seeing how the artist interprets the words I've put down on the page. Even when I give a panel by panel script, which is how I tend to write comics, there's a lot of room to interpret every detail. Seeing how the art turns out is a huge adventure!

Speaking of which, Steampunk Musha -- for which I was the co-writer on the original RPG, the editor for the d20 version (which never came out on its own; it's currently being converted to the Pathfinder system, but it will be released eventually!), and the writer for a couple of comic scripts that have yet to become full comics -- is now a Kickstarter project! I'm tremendously excited, as funding will enable creator Rick Hershey to develop a lot of projects that have been sadly languishing in the pipeline, waiting for funds to make them possible. The goal is quite modest ($5000), but will go a long way toward making fiction, games, and comics in the setting a reality. He's also offering up art, products, and even becoming a character in the setting as donation incentives.

If you're interested in seeing more Musha (or you're just interested in seeing me back in comics, which I'd love), please consider a small donation. Or just spread the word! We appreciate it.
alanajoli: (Default)
I had really, really intended to do something to celebrate Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Wretch day, but honestly, I never marked it on my calendar. All the work that I have out of the submission circuit is older, and therefore doesn't really reflect me as a writer now (as much as I like some of it, I acknowledge that it's from an earlier stage in my apprenticeship), so I'm not sure I want to post it in honor of the day. I may post it later as sort of an archive for people who are interested. We'll see.

So, here's a cheer for those Wretches who did celebrate the day, including [ profile] mistborn. There's a list available of the participants here. Also [ profile] sartorias has, in honor of Shakespeare's birthday, also posted a list of non-traditional publishing formats, self publishers, and small press folks who don't get the recognition they deserve. I think that sort of effort ties right in to the PSTW movement.


In other news, preorders are up at the ERS store for the Steampunk Musha Player's Guide. Hurrah!

More Musha

Apr. 16th, 2008 02:08 pm
alanajoli: (hiroko)
I posted too soon! As it turns out, today Rick put a preview up at the ERS store, complete with the cover:

You can get the first 11 pages here, right from the front page. It sounds like the full book will be available for download in the next few days!
alanajoli: (Default)
Every so often, Rick Hershey slips me a little sample art work so I can see what's going on with our Steampunk Musha projects. We've just finished up the text for the d20 version of the player's book, so that'll be out and available in the near future (I don't have an exact release date, but I expect that "any day now" is probably about right--it'll be available through the Empty Room Studios store). At any rate, I got permission to share a little bit of the teaser art with you guys, so here it is:

This is one of our Shangti Cowboys--gunslingers who tend toward being private eyes and bounty hunters. They're our most noir characters, I think--so, of course, I love them. In fact, the first comic script I did was the introduction of Amura Hiroko, a female Shangti Cowboy, to her side-kick, a rooster Juunishi-p'o (small creatures that share human features with the features of animals from the Chinese zodiac) named Del. I'd forgotten that my script is actually up on my Empty Room Studios profile page, if you're interested in seeing how I go about scripting a comic. Remember though that this was my *very first* script and it still hasn't been turned into actual serial art yet. I'm still looking forward to that!

This is one of Rick's concept drawings of Hiroko.

Real quick news on the progress of DocuPen. I made the OCR software work today and think I am picking up some good technique with it that will enable me to finally make some progress on my scanning project. Actual pictures and description later!
alanajoli: (Default)
So, today I finished going over the Steampunk Musha d20 RPG. Because of the Open Game License, we had the chance to use some really good Asian-flavor content that needed to be adapted to the setting, so over the past two weeks, I've been adding details, flavor text, and generally converting mechanics to the Rosuto-Shima setting. Being back in that world has been a lot of fun, and I hope that the d20 crowd will like it when it comes out as an e-book. It's nice that some companies, like Paizo, are committed to sticking around in 3.5, as it keeps the market open for those of us who started working on a major d20 product before 4e was announced.

From what I understand from Rick Hershey (the brains behind this operation), the Player Guide will be coming out as an e-book, followed by the GM's guide, which will have more pclasses and more detailed setting information. We also worked on a bestiary at one point, so I'm sure that will be incorporated somewhere. It's exciting to see this content, which was on-again, off-again when we heard the 4e announcement, *finally* coming together as an actual game. Once I've got some release information, I'll definitely pass it on, but for now, it's going to the actual *game* editor--rather than the pseudo-editor/main-writer who's patching up the content to make it all feel Rostuo-Shiman. ;)

That's pretty much what I did with my weekend (although I did catch the local high school production of Fiddler on the Roof and finish Vicki Lewis Thompson's first paranormal romance novel, so it wasn't all work). Now I've got a short story outline to write, an adventure that was just recently requested with a fast turn around, and maybe some actual work on that novel I keep talking about...


Mar. 17th, 2008 09:58 pm
alanajoli: (scc-writers-strike)
Several fun/interesting links today.

First, Jennifer Estep, who is the author of Karma Girl (which I blogged about) and Hot Mama (a semi-sequel), is having a contest on her blog to give away copies of the books and t-shirts. She's also now on [ profile] fangs_fur_fey, and will shortly be taking over the world. Just in case you wanted to prep for that.

PW blogger Rose Fox wrote an interesting post today about the weakening divide between YA and adult fiction, particularly in SF/F. She also quotes [ profile] janni's recent rant about adult authors who are shocked by YA topics. If you've been following that conversation (or [ profile] sartorias's recent blog on the same, which was also quite good), it's definitely worth the read.

I don't know that the boundaries are shrinking so much as that they were a little artificial to begin with. Many of the books that were shelved in the YA section I grew up with (which I loved and was very lucky to have) were probably originally marketed to adults, and many books about teens are shelved in adult fiction. I don't know that the distinction between the two needs to be bolder--but I think adults should make the realization that a lot of YA fiction might also appeal to them, which might make them less shocked at the content (or might help them understand modern teens a little better)...

Courtesy of Neil Gaiman's blog, we have a report from The Onion about the Novelists Guild of America strike, which has apparently affected no one. (It's a bit scathing in its satire, but funny none the less.)

Lastly, Stacia Kane posted a wonderful conversation with her six year old daughter that is just about the epitome of geek parenting on League of Reluctant Adults.

As for me, I got done with this round of editing my Serenity adventure for Margaret Weis (whose changes were all dead on--I only disagreed about one, she countered with reasons why it wouldn't work, one of which was roughly "Joss is boss," and I was convinced). Tomorrow, on to some Steampunk Musha work I've been putting aside for months (I'm still working on it Rick!) and some overdue reviews that I've been meaning to turn in. But for now, I'm going to go finish By Venom's Sweet Sting.
alanajoli: (scc-writers-strike)
The New York Times posted a story yesterday about the "Missing Pieces" episodes of Lost: shorts that will air only online. In a contract between ABC and the writers for the shorts, the writers (and actors) will receive residual income for the work they do online.

"I think it is a pretty good model," Carlton Cuse, one of the writers, told the reporter. "What it shows is that there is basically room for a partnership between writers and the studios in a new medium. It's where I wish we were headed instead of being stuck in this standoff."

The rest of the article is pretty interesting, too. With the amount of web content my favorite shows are producing (I thought NBC was leading the pack on this with all they did for Heroes last year and all the new content they're producing for Chuck, but it looks like ABC is running right alongside them), I have to wonder if all of the original material is being compensated like it is for ABC. And if the original material is receiving residuals, why the hesitation to provide residuals (a percentage of profit, not a flat fee) for streaming?

But then, I'm clearly in the writers' camp on this. :)

In other news, the cover for Chapter II of Cowboys and Aliens II is up. Rick Hershey did an *amazing* job, as always, and it's just a stellar image. If you haven't had a chance to check out the comic, now's a great time to do it, as we're getting back to our regular posting schedule.
alanajoli: (Default)
I just discovered today that my blog is actually working in syndication over at Tokyopop! Hi manga readers!

Since I'm reaching the comics crowd, I'll take a moment to talk about Cowboys and Aliens: Worlds at War. We're back to the story now after a couple of weeks of concept art, and it's just thrilling to see my scripts turn into actual comics. Sometimes it's interesting to see how the artists take ideas and run a slightly different direction with them. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Rick (Hershey) ended up giving much more focus to the facial close-ups than I'd realized I'd put forward in the script. The result is stunning--getting right up close to the characters' faces carries emotion better than I'd imagined.

It will be interesting to see how people read today's page, when it goes live. My intention had been to imply that the room was full of noise--and I don't know if we succeeded in that. The second panel shows definite argument in the background--but does it come across as hushed? Noisy? How do you show widespread noise in a comic without resorting to "bang" and "pow"? (Even that doesn't really cover it.)

I'm learning more and more as we go, and loving the whole process. I hope those of you who are along for the ride are enjoying it also!
alanajoli: (Default)
I got my contract in the mail today, so it's official: I'm the new writer for Cowboys and Aliens: Worlds at War, the sequel to the original Cowboys and Aliens graphic novel by Platinum Studios. The first volume is still available online, and though we'll be departing from the style of storytelling in the original, we are drawing on the first volume for characters and set up.

The entire project is being led by Jeremy Mohler (of Baeg Tobar), and everyone working on it is part of Empty Room Studios. Rick Hershey, the creator of Steampunk Musha, is the primary penciller for the series. Daniel Harris, who I haven't worked with before, is the colorist.

Doing the research on this has been skads of fun. After doing some initial research on the world in 1873 (Platinum provided us with quite a bit), I started looking up information about the Apache to better flesh out two of the main characters. I studied Native American Anthropology in college, so doing linguistic and religious research has been refreshing, even though I imagine very little of the actual research will show up obviously in the comic.

The really exciting thing about Worlds at War is that the stories take place all over. So we'll be covering everything from the shift between Edo and Meiji Japan to the Boers (Dutch rulers) of Transvaal (South Africa) and their ongoing conflicts with the Zulus. Because we want to keep everything as realistic as possible--to provide a counterpoint the fact that the series revolves around an alien invasion--each section is going to involve a research period getting us up to par on the cultures and politics of the area we're working in.

As soon as the project goes live, you can be sure I'll post the link!
alanajoli: (Default)
We're finally close to finished with the Rosuto-Shima Bestiary (tentative title) to accompany Steampunk Musha RPG. Rick Hershey has been producing some great illustrations (along with choosing the major content, then handing synopses over to me to expand). We've been working on this project on and off since October, I think, and it's nice to see it finally coming together (with the help of a couple additional contributors, including Peter C. Spahn, who is much better versed in the Iron Gauntlets rules than I am, given the number of books he's written for PIGames).

I also, in my procrastination, watched Shrek again. After having read several volumes of Fables in trade paperback last week, it's amusing to see the fairytale spin in a completely different (and more family friendly) fashion. Reading Fables again after having read "The Sisters Grimm: Fairytale Detectives" series made me wonder if Michael Buckley had read the comics before being inspired to write his novels. Some of the characters end up being very similar (some, of course, not similar at all). It would never have occurred to me, for example, to include Little Miss Muffett as the wife of the Spider--but she appears that way in both the comics and in the children's series.

If anyone has particularly good recommendations in the "fractured fairy-tales" genre (for lack of a non-Bullwinkle term), I'd love to hear them. That whole concept never gets old in my reading life.
alanajoli: (Default)
Today, an interview with me is on the front page of Baeg Tobar. It also features my very nifty profile picture by Rick Hershey.


In other news, the novel is crawling right along. I've been using the techniques of bribing myself and etc. I did try a scene from a different point of view than I'd been intending to use, which ended up being a great suggestion.

So thanks to everyone who has posted with good motivating ideas. I'll keep plugging away.

Edit: Here's my current status on Regaining Home.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
33,744 / 90,000
alanajoli: (Default)
This is a message from Rick Hershey, the creator of the world of Steampunk Musha, for which I wrote most of the RPG book.


Cross posted from the Forums at Empty Room Studios:

Hey folks,

I did a map for a little contest over at Go vote for me!!!!

you can vote here:

you can see my map Here:


I think his maps are pretty nifty, so I did, in fact, go vote for them. In order to figure out which maps were done by which artists, hovering the mouse over them pops up the information.

Thanks in advance to everyone who goes to check it out!
alanajoli: (Default)
Steampunk Musha RPG came out in pdf at the end of September, and I believe it should be available in game stores in print any time now. My new favorite reviewer over at RPGblog (who gave me the very shiny review of Into the Reach) wrote up a nice piece about Steampunk Musha as well. Check it out here.

In other Musha related news, a new crew of authors is hard at work on an assortment of projects for the world, which I'll post about more here as they release. Creator Rick Hershey also just launched a new Web site, sensibly called It's definitely worth browsing through, as it features a lot of Rick's art work (which is fantastic).
alanajoli: (Default)
Last week, I spent most of my time fighting off a wretched flu and migraine like bug; being online, where things blink pretty colors and the light shifts on the screen was not high on my priority list of things to do. Despite that, I've been working on an assortment of small projects as I get started on novel number three (which now has a new title: Regaining Home). Departure is out with my editor, and we'll be doing a quick turn around on the edited version so that the book can publish the day after Thanksgiving. The speed of the print on demand process astonishes me.

In the mean time, I've finally had some time to work on Baeg Tobar, Living Kalamar, and assorted other projects. Baeg Tobar has launched a new Web comic over the past few weeks and launches another this coming Monday. It's a really exciting time for the site, so if you haven't checked it out, please pop over to Baeg Tobar and see what we're up to. It's a fantasy world with developing technology, magic that flows like a current through the world, and an empire just about ready to tumble. The stories are well worth reading.

And to that end, here's our latest press release!



October 2, 2006 (Blue Springs, MO) – Baeg Tobar (, a premiere online, shared world community of creators of fiction and art, is pleased to announce the launch of their newest Web comic. Unlike most Web comics, “The Broken Mantle” features not only regularly updated panels, but sections of prose accompanied by a splash page of art. This hybrid of prose and comic is a new format for the Baeg Tobar site. The story, developed by writer Daniel Tyler Gooden, tells of a mechanical man’s search for an ancient city and a veteran explorer’s hope to find his way home from the lost continent on which he finds himself trapped. Illustrator Rick Hershey, founder of Empty Room Studios and creator of Steampunk Musha RPG, and colorist Ramiro Diaz Legaspe provide the illustrations. “The Broken Mantle” updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, beginning on October 9th, 2006.

“My favorite storyline has always been of the fallen empire,” said Gooden. “This type of story has too many incredible possibilities not to get excited about writing it. I'm glad to be given the chance by Baeg Tobar.”

Hershey also expressed his enthusiasm for working on the project. “After reading Daniel's script and having the chance to get Ramiro to color my lines, I was hooked. So far, I’m enjoying every minute of it.”

“The Broken Mantle” joins Web comics “The Fall of Pileaus” and “Stoneteller” on the Baeg Tobar Web site. These are the newest projects for the Baeg Tobar site, which currently hosts six serial novels that are updated with new chapters once a month.

Please direct any questions to

Baeg Tobar is a world brought to life by a dedicated and diverse community of artists and writers. It is a free Web site ( that brings innovative fantasy literature to online readers searching for high quality material set in a unique new world. Baeg Tobar is affiliated with Empty Room Studios, provider of high quality illustration and writing services for the creative needs of both large and small publishing companies.
- # -
alanajoli: (Default)
Wow, news about a different project! While I was at GenCon, Rick Hershey started working on the comic for Steampunk Musha, which means I really need to write the last handful of pages! In the mean time, the Web site has been launched, and the RPG will soon be out from Politically Incorrect Games. Keep an eye out for it!


Empty Room Studios is proud to bring you the official launch of the Steampunk Musha Website.
Feel free to check out the artwork in the gallery, read the short fiction, or download cool bonuses for the upcoming rpg. And make sure you let us know about it in the forum!
Imagine an island where tradition wars against technology. The last of the samurai have nowhere to turn, and yakuza thugs and street fighters now hold the respect of the streets. Shangti Cowboys have showed the island the power of firearms, and Mechanists have proven the triumph of machine over superstition. But the old ways linger. Kabukika, warriors of the theater and users of magic, hold onto their traditions, as do the Nikobo, who find that as the land travels farther from its traditions, its spirits grow restless...

Both humans and their gaijin cousins toil to rebuild from the last war, and the Clockwork Ronin, remnants of that era, struggle to find a home. Juunishi-po, a people born to resemble the forms of the zodiac, and keshou, distant relatives of goblins once kept as slaves, have learned to embrace the new technology and bring glory to their people. The Jinteki-Oni, half-me and half-demon, have come down from their mountain homes to learn the ways of men. Change has come quickly to the island, and these changes bring chaos, on which the demons of old still thrive.

This is the world of Rosuto-Shima, a setting for Iron Gauntlets. Introducing four new races, a host of new vocations, several new skills and styles, and four kits that combine background and vocation as a single unit, Steampunk Musha combines Asian flavor fantasy with Victorian technology to create a world of tradition, technology, and chaos. High fantasy and science fiction clash and combine in a conflict of old and new, father and son, clockwork and spiritual. The world is changing. How will you change it?


Currently reading: In the Claws of the Tiger. I learned yesterday that I was using theosophical incorrectly, as it has Rosicrucian undertones. I basically mean playing with faith through fiction. I'll try to find a word that actually means that.
alanajoli: (Default)
News from Rick Hershey, creator of and one of the main artists for the Steampunk Musha RPG. He's just put up two of his original pieces from the book for sale from the Empty Room Studios Web site. If you're interested in purchasing original art or are just interested in a preview of the book's artwork, please check it out!

Rick Hershey Original Art


alanajoli: (Default)
Alana Joli Abbott

March 2019

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