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There's always a lure to up the ante with every successive book. There are pluses and minuses in doing so, however.
On the upside...the magic and powers are way cool to play with in a story narrative. Finding new ways to apply spells (sometimes not as the designers intended... Muaa haa haa) is a blast.
On the downside, if your characters are such badasses, who in Golarion can oppose them. You run into the superman scenario really quickly.
Oh, and I hope you all enjoy the upcoming "Pirate's Curse"... I up the ante as far as villains go by quite a lot...
Muaa haa haa!
Steve Geddes wrote:
How does a novel get commissioned? Do you guys go to James Sutter with a story idea and pitch it to him, does he come to you? Does it generally start as something loose: "We want you to write a pirate novel" or is it more defined: "Here's a completish outline of the story we want written - note the goblin with a lisp in chapter four"?
Pretty much what Liane just said...
My first approach to Paizo was at Gencon, and I pitched myself as a nautical fantasy writer, not with any specific idea for a story in mind. I talked to Sutter directly, and just happened to have something that nobody else was pitching at that point.
It varies from novel to novel a lot for me how much input I get from the editor on story plot. As Liane stated, we pitch an idea, then get approval or approval with changes or suggestions, then hand in a chapter-by-chapter outline. For me this is no problem, since that's how I start anyway. Maybe that's one reason I like working for Paizo so much...we are on the same page on a lot of things.
John Kretzer wrote:
So are the PF Tales authors excited about StarFinder and a chance to write sci-fantasy?
I already am writing some Pathfinder "Swords and Planets" fiction for a third party company, Legendary Games. The Legendary Planets AP isn't Starfinder, a lot more like John Carter of Mars meets Pathfinder, but it is a beautiful product. Seven installments coming, the first two and a primer are already out.
As for writing for Starfinder...That'd be fun, but there's no one even talking about that yet... Gotta get the game out first!
Gordrenn Higgler wrote:
When including spells with expensive components and creation of magic items, do you ignore the material requirements from the game mechanics or do you include something else?
Liane is much more detail oriented there than I. I sometimes get into spell components when it's a major issue, like casting scry, you have to have a silver mirror, so Celeste had to buy one, and that was kind of tricky because she was casting it from a scroll, but the mirror made sense to keep, so it was kept. I certainly don't use spell components as plot points much, but sometimes as a financial burden. In my novels, I've never had anyone in the story create a magical item. I tend to write sorcerers more than wizards. I do keep track of how much magical items cost, however. Not many pirates can dump 10K gold on a trinket!
Have any of you read any particularly good books lately?
Reading the Dennis Lehane "Kenzie/Genarro" novels... Damn fine writing.
One of my biggest problems is that I do not read enough. I can't turn off my internal editor. I'm actually leaning toward audiobooks for this reason. I'm not as critical when I'm listening.
Mark Moreland wrote:
FYI, Forge of Ashes author and Paizo editor Josh Vogt is doing a Reddit AMA today. You can ask him questions about Pathfinder Tales, books in his Cleaners series, or whatever (literally, ask him anything). The AMA can be found here.
Forge of Ashes also just got short listed for a Scribe Award! Woot to Josh!
For those of you fine folk who are full-time (or close to it) authors, how long did it take for your writing to become your primary source of income?
A very long time... I started writing "seriously" about 25 years ago. I quit my day job to do some sailing in 2009 (figuring I could maybe get four years in before having to go back to work) about the time the Scimitar Seas novels were starting. Those did well, I started writing for Paizo, then had a self-published series hit on digital. We have been very lucky and have been paying all of our bills (few though they may be, since we're just sailing around with no mortgage) with our writing proceeds for the past four years or so.
Financial independence as a writer (as your only income) is hard to achieve. The vast majority of "professional writers" have day jobs. The old adage goes "Don't quit the day job unless you've got three years of income in the bank." Good advice.
Not sure if you mean with Paizo, or writing in general, so I'll answer both.I wrote a few novels, and tried submissions directly, which failed. I got an agent, which turned into a disaster (no details there) and I got disgusted. So, I self-published three novels and started marketing at conventions. At conventions I met other writers, and got a recommendation to a small press, who picked me up to write a series. If you are serious about getting into SFF writing, conventions are an excellent place to make connections and get exposure, but they're not cheap, so for those first several years, my day job was paying for my writing career, but it turned out to be a good investment. That series (the Scimitar Seas novels) did well, and since they were nautical fiction, I pitched myself to Paizo (at GenCon) as the guy who could write Pathfinder pirate stories. They had just come out with Skull and Shackles, so there was a market for this, and a niche for a novelist to fill. Sutter liked my samples, and the Stargazer short story, and picked me up for a novel. Serendipitously, just before Pirate's Honor came out, one of my self-published titles, Weapon of Flesh, which has always been one my fans have been bugging me to continue with a sequel, went crazy in digital sales, so that series continued and is doing pretty well.
Now I'm a full-fledged, and full-time, hybrid author, writing for a few different publishers and myself.
How do you folks outline your novels? Bullet points? Mindmapping? Sticky-notes with push pins and string and low-res pictures on a cork board a la conspiracy theorist?
I outline all my novels because I've got a crappy memory. Also, as far as the PFT stories go, we have to submit an outline before we get the green light to write it, so...
I hate sticky notes (but my wife loves them). I always create a "timeline" document to keep a quick reference of what is happening in which chapter.
Hmmmm...one quick question...do Nagas have mage's hand as a at will spell-like ability or do they use telekinesis as per the spell? I've always wondered how Celeste is manipulating objects without arms or hands.
They have mage hand, prestidigitation, and open/close as 0-level spells that they can use at will... Just one of the benefits of having no hands!
Is anyone working on any new tales that feature any of the new occult classes ? Would be interesting to read reactions of people seeing a ghost following the main character everywhere they go :-)
I'm thinking about it... I love the new classes in Occult, and I think a good spooky story would go well... Haunted ghostly pirate ship, maybe??? Muaaa haa haaa!
[Legendary Games] The Hypercorps 2099 Kickstarter has launched - 5 Free PDFs, Phone App demo, and Cyberpunk Superheroes in your Pathfinder game!
However, all the accents and voices in the Harry Potter audiobooks (which ARE excellent) are all UK accents. I would imagine that it is difficult to find a person who can rapidly switch between drastically different cultural accents.
Listen to the R.C.Bray audio of "The Martian". The guy does about a dozen accents, and really good voices. I had an audio trilogy done by a good actor, Jeff Breslauer, who did all the voices beautifully. Hard to find a good one, maybe, but they are out there.
That said, I really am looking forward to the audio of Pirate's Prophesy. Can't imagine Torius Vin with a British accent...we'll see.
John Kretzer wrote:
Had a fantastic time at GenCon, especially hanging out with Howard... We only see each other once a year, so sipping a beer with him and catching up is great. Josh and Gary (the young guns) are both great and fun to talk to, not to mention talented and professional... I wish I'd gotten my start that early.
Also got to chat with the Tor editor handling the distribution deal with Paizo. Very good feeling about this. It's a win for everyone, really, and they are not intending on meddling with the line.
I also showed a *few* people the new cover of Pirate's Prophecy...though it has not been officially released yet. I love the artwork...it's very different from my previous covers, and instead of a map in the inside, we did a cross sectional diagram of the Stargazer, which I like very much as well. It just went to the printer... You should see it soon, and the release is scheduled for early next year.
So, yeah...a good GenCon. You were missed, Dave!
I just want to say, as a closing note, thanks to everyone for a great discussion. I love hearing everyone's views. It's great to see that I evoked so much emotion with the story.
Here are some points for thought:
Torius has real issues that he keeps buried deep. He does hate pesh, though it's not as "visible" as his loathing of people who sell sex. I think living with a mother drug-addict/prostitute damaged him deeply. He does refuse to carry pesh as cargo in the first book, but that's as far as I went. Probably should have gone farther. His loathing of addiction was the main focus in that regard. He certainly has an addictive personality.
Zarina: She totally went a little crazy when she found out what Vreva had done to her. There is a horrible violation, in her eyes, of the betrayal Vreva perpetrated upon her. She seduced her, and even loved her, and it was all a lie. Killing Saffron (whom she did not know was a familiar) was lashing out. Also, he did attack her... What she did to Vreva was sheer revenge for her own pain, justified by her profession, and she undoubtedly regretted it the moment it was over. She's a very complicated character...
So, I'm happy everyone enjoyed it, and can't wait for February. I have seen the preliminary cover art, and you are all in for a treat...and quite a surprise where I take the characters.
Ha! I'm always hungry...love food, and good food was definitely part of Vreva's elegance. To put on anything less than a beautiful spread would have raised suspicion. She does like her luxuries... I can't wait for you all to see where she goes!!! Muaa haa haa!
Just want to say that this is a really good analysis of characterization, xeose4. I'll hold off until the discussion is finished to put my two cents in, but you open up a lot of things I didn't really think of, and some that I did, and I'm happy about.
Keep one thing in mind: Vreva was a spy in Pirate's Honor, too. Spies only show you the person they want you to see...
You were very clever to pick that up, and you were actually right. Vreva has a few levels of "poisoner" as a rogue. This helps her with drugging slavers, and a little stealth... Well done!
Loving the commentary, by the way... This brings so much to light that I had never thought of...
How do you feel when your story is... how should i say this... invalidated (or alter so much that it's not the same story) by an existing spell?
In working with such a deep and powerful magic system, it's difficult sometimes to make sure you've figured out all the eventualities of magic to solve problems. It may seem like a cop out to say this, but I often think that if I can't think of using a certain magical "solution" for a problem facing my characters, well by golly neither could they! I strive to keep the magic in the novels relatively low level, and when a big spell is needed to solve a problem, there has to be a major investment to gain that spell. Sometimes the availability of high level magic in the game (as a GM) kind of makes my teeth ache. I limit the players access to high level magical items, spells, armor, weapons, etc simply because if these things were so readily available, everyone with enough money would have them, and that doesn't build a workable world (IMHO). That's how I write my fantasy. Yes, my characters employ raise dead right off the bat in the short prequel story, Stargazer, but Torius had to spend himself into the poor house to do it.
Hope that answers the question.
Which of the published APs is your favorite? (Liane or anyone.)
I have not played nearly enough of them, but I had a great time with Rise of the Rune Lords, and I'm currently GMing Shackles. As always, I include the elements I like, and skirt around the ones I don't while GMing. The only problem I have ever found with any of the AP's is when two different authors give the adventure a very different flavor. Hard from an editorial standpoint to keep that transition smooth.
Ross Byers wrote:
A question for the broader table - What is your philosophy when describing the process of using magic? Especially when it is the POV character who is using it?
In Pathfinder Tales I don't delve too deeply into what is happening in the character's head when casting spells, but in Pirate's Promise -
Vreva is captured and her magical ability is incapacitated by a slave collar that inhibits spellcasting. That scene describes what is happening inside her head as if an inner warmth she had always known was suddenly quenched. She is a sorcerer, so her magic is quite a part of her.
In my own world, it depends greatly on the type of spellcaster we're talking about. Some feel magic as part of the environment around them that they can manipulate using material components and written spells, much like Pathfinder wizards do, while others feel a more innate connection to the world and manipulate certain elements as part of their genetic heritage. Still other mages only manipulate magic through runes.
I like to approach magic like science: there are different disciplines of science and each scientist might solve a problem by approaching it through their own specialty. A geneticist might design a bacterium to eat pollutants, whereas a chemist will use a chemical process, and a physicist might use another approach...
Steve Geddes wrote:
Other than potions and scrolls that I can't imagine any self respecting adventurer being without, I tend to shy away from powerful items. Arms and armor, yes, and my characters don't shy when spending their booty when the need arises. In Pirate's Promise I play a bit with weaponry improvements for ballistae that greatly increase effectiveness and versatility. My characters aren't super rich, either, and toys cost money, right. I always try to keep their spending in line with how much they have taken in.
If you could write any one story in Pathfinder/Golarion of your choosing, no restraints, no inhibitions, no limitations except those of the setting itself, what would it be?
Can't really answer that one, because it's in the works... A place where no other tale has been based before! Muaa haa haaa!
I use them too much. Just ask my editor... Semicolons are like em-dashes... Once you use one, you're addicted.
Steve Geddes wrote:
Easy answer: Yes.
I find series constraining in a similar way, but consider this: Primary characters may survive, but maybe not in the exact way you think. There are lots of ways to "survive" in Golarion... Are you the same character if you are reincarnated as a halfling, or a cantaur, or a goblin?
Steve Geddes wrote:
I've read *almost* all of the PFT novels in one form or another. Occasionally, I get a copy from another author for a beta read prior to publication... Doing that now (what a treat!)
I'm a delver when it comes to campaign setting books. I get all the ones that pertain directly to settings of my books, which is a lot, considering how much Torius and his crew get around, but I tend to simply read the Inner Sea Guide for fun and ideas. The authors are spreading out a lot, and it's always fun looking for the next locale.
I will be happy to answer questions of all kinds!
I first played Pathfinder the year it was released. My gaming group was throwing fits about an impending fourth edition of the game we were playing at the time, and all agreed to give the new kid on the block a try. Loved it from the get-go, and we started playing regularly.
I went to GenCon for the first time in 2011 and pitched myself to James Sutter as a nautical fantasy writer, having just finished a successful series of novels for a Canadian small press. Paizo had just started releasing the Skull and Shackles AP, and nobody was writing pirate stories, so I thought it would be a good fit. The fact that my wife and I are full-time sailors might have convinced him that I knew my way around boats.
I sent in a writing sample, and James tagged me and asked if I'd be interested in doing some web fiction. Of course, I was thrilled, and sent him some pitches (six I think) for web fic stories. He picked one, and I handed him the Stargazer web fic about two weeks later (I was really psyched about the project, and had the advantage of not having a day job at the time, so could devote my energy.) I must have han00ded in just the right thing at the right time, because the next email I got from James had the subject line "Paizo Novel?"
After I stopped screaming with delight (told you I was psyched about the project) I read that James had a hole in his novel schedule for the following year, and I could fill it if I gave him a 100K manuscript in five months. I jumped on it and handed him Pirate's Promise a couple of weeks early.
Aside from novels, I also got to contribute the introduction section of the Ships of the Inner Sea supplement.
Liane Merciel wrote:
I really thought I would take some heat for that, Liane. There are *rules* that you don't break, right... I'm glad it worked for you. Now, I'm looking for more rules to break!
John Kretzer wrote:
Whose else call is it? So we can start to beg them. ;)
The editor has a big voice as to what get's the okay to be included. I get along wonderfully with Sutter, and I've broached the subject. We'll probably have a beer and discuss it at PaizoCon...
Suffice to say, there are many irons in the fire...
Jackson! You know my thoughts on the matter, more Zarina pleeeeeeeaaasssseeeeee!
Not 100% my call, but let's just say you have all stimulated my imagination. Considering it...
I really like the idea of a "Vreva alone" novel. You should all be salivating buckets for the upcoming Pirate's Prophesy...you will see a new side of Vreva Jhafae.
This is the second time I've gotten the suggestion that maybe Zarina survived... Hmmm... and you give good reasons and compelling ideas about why her survival is a good idea. Hmmm... all good!
Only thing I would say is I wasn't thinking Zarina's fighting was suicidal or cowardly, but a moment of redemption. She did not have unlimited teleport (dimensional hop, actually) and used that up quickly in combat, so she couldn't teleport to Stargazer. Could she have escaped? She was surrounded by slavers... Don't know.
So, you said you had a dozen ways she could have survived or could come back. I can only think of a few, and I don't know about bringing her back as undead... that's kinda icky...
I'm very excited about this deal, primarily because it will increase distribution. The Kindle availability is huge. The format change allows more detailed artwork on the cover, and perhaps some larger format maps and/or schematics inside.
Frankly, I'm shocked at the discount for subscribers and even non-subscribers who buy from the Paizo site. That shows you all how much Paizo loves you. Really.
Can't wait for December... cough *more pirates...* cough...
Justin Franklin wrote:
I can vouch for the introduction as far as nautical authenticity goes. Thirty five years on the ocean. Can't say how honored I was to be included on this project, lowly novelist that I am... ;-)
Kairos Dawnfury wrote:
I would suggest King of Chaos for you as well, and there is a lot of fantasy out there, so look for reviews. If you want to read a great series in that vein, I might suggest Elizabeth Moon's Deed of Paksenarion. I fell in love with it 25 years ago, and still have my copies.
I like this very much, and with all due respect to the above comments, how can you look upon a disabled character in the opening scene of a story, and not knowing anything about how or why they became disabled, decide that they are not, were not, or won't be heroes?
Frankly, I've had quite enough stories of "perfect" heroes. I enjoyed many such stories in years past, but I want something more complex now. I like to see someone who might not be a typical "hero" evolve into one throughout the story. I'm guessing that's what we'll see here.
Also completely agree with James: Heroism is actions, not shiny armor.
I liked the hotel, the staff were great and the pool area was very cool. The free WiFi was a huge plus for me. The restaurant was a little pricy, but that just made me eat less... We actually requested a fridge for our room, so we had some food there which saved cost. From the point of view of someone flying in for the con, this venue could not have been more convenient. A free short ride from the airport, a short walk to the light rail into town.
The seminars were very good, though one room that was scheduled for seminars, readings, etc was taken over by gamers... That turned out to be a non-issue, as we simply redirected the attendees to a new venue.
It was a huge treat for me to meet the Paizo staff, and I want to thank everyone for their hospitality, friendship, and camaraderie. Thanks also to the people who bought out all the copies of Pirate's Honor from the store...you made my day!
Extra special thanks to Kyle for an awesome Meet and Eat, although that was not a "con event", it really started things out right.
Well done, Paizo!
Jim in OK wrote:
Glad you liked the story, Jim!
FYI, you can get all of my work in e-pub format from either Kobo or Barnes and Nobel. They both sell e-pubs. Alternatively, you can get the e-pub versions of the Scimitar Seas novels directly from the publisher, Dragon Moon press.
Fair winds indeed...I'll take all I can get!
I'm almost finished, but I just have to say that given the super high quality of this piece of pure awesome, I expect to see the further adventures of the crew of Stargazer in print within the next year or there is something seriously not right with the world!
What a wonderful thing to say! Thank you, Flash! I guess I better get to work making the world "right".