Busy blog touring and paranormal detective noir book launch

So, as you might expect for someone launching a book, the past few weeks have been pretty hectic. The trailers have been released, the covers finalised, the manuscript typeset.

There’s also been the matter of a blog tour. Mine has been rather haphazard, I must admit, but I’ve still managed to get some interesting articles written and featured on some fantastic blogs, as well as being interviewed by some great people. Each stop on the tour offers something slightly different, so do check them all out. I suppose in a way it’s quite fitting that I tell of my blog tour after it’s (mostly happened), considering it is for a book set in 1920s America.

You can keep up to date with all the latest news as it actually happens by Liking my page on Facebook.

Where I’ve been touring:

Chaosmos – Writing my way to self discovery. And biscuits.

Paddy’s Daddy Publishing Blog – Getting discovered at the perfect time.

It’ll All Work Out (Janet Rundquist) – Questions on reading and writing

Books Are Cool – Interview

Ellen Gregory – Interview about Fantasy/Paranormal writing

Sharon Sant – From hobbyist to professional. A reader’s guide to a writer’s plight.

Nyx Book Reviews – Interview

Paul D. Brazill – Short, sharp interview

Ryan Bracha – Jeremy Bracsman vs Rewan Tremethick

29th May – Ever on Word – Gosh, would you mind? Promoting as a British Author.

30th May – Emerald Barnes – Fallen on Good Times character bios

Fallen on Good Times – out Saturday May 31st

Fallen on Good Times Front Cover 600x375

Watch the trailers below, and then go here to sign up and get the first three chapters for free, in both Kindle and PDF format, so you don’t miss out no matter what device you want to read them on.

 

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All content in this post, including images and audio unless otherwise stated, are copyright Rewan Tremethick 2014. I am not responsible for the content of external sites.

Guest Post by Sonney Stelling: Why I Write

Having read Rewan’s previous blog about why he plays video games, I had decided I would write my own post detailing my reasons for playing. However as the slightly observant of you may have noticed from the title it kind of evolved into something else.

Thinking about why I play games, the main reason I came up with is escapism. Life as a whole is pretty boring. Most days I get up, go to work, work all day, come home, sit around for a few hours before going to bed in preparation for the next day of going to work. This cycle is basically the same for everyone in modern society. But if I spend those few spare hours playing video games, then suddenly instead of simply sitting around waiting for work to start again I am; (just using my last few games I played as examples) either a Spartan warrior trying to get revenge against Olympus or a master thief travelling through time to save his ancestors or a master assassin trying to liberate a country or a soldier saving the universe from an ancient alien race. Obviously these are all things I could never do in real life but in videogame form I can. It is this reason why I never really got the appeal of the Sims series.

I then realized that this escapism also exists when watching movies or reading books, or indeed writing stories. However the interactivity is what makes games and books far more immersive than films. I say books are interactive because when you read I believe you do interact with them, clearly not in the same way that you do with videogames, but when you read, you are using your imagination to bring the words on the page to life. You are using the writer’s words to conjure up a world with your mind, and that is quite an immersive and definitely an interactive experience.

Now writing stories does one other thing for me that reading or playing games cannot do; it is therapeutic. This is a conclusion I came to when I thought about why it is I listen to music (as you can see, this post became quite a long winded thought process). The reason I listen to music itself is mainly because walking in silence is boring, so perhaps a better question is why I listen to the type of music I listen to? I mainly listen to rock music in particular punk.

The reason I started listening to that genre is that in the lyrics I tend to find solace, I relate to the artist as if they are writing songs about my life. This ability to relate to a song is obviously not exclusive to that genre of music, in fact a lot of popular music is highly relatable due to its tendency to lean towards vague lyrics that allow almost anyone to relate to it if they want to. The genre of rock music is something I can relate to a lot, whenever I feel angry or confused about the way the world is being run, I find comfort in the fury of bands such as Rise Against or Funeral for a Friend. Whenever I feel at a low ebb in my life I tend to find hope in the words of Death Cab for Cutie or Brand New or Biffy Clyro. Music is what helps me get through those times; it is a kind of therapy.

Going back to writing, I feel the same way about writing that I do about music (possible explanation for why I cannot write without also listening to music). There is a popular theory that all characters are merely a part of the writer, I guess that stems from the ‘write what you know’ ideology. Well I disagree with that slightly, most main characters I create have personality traits that I do not as a starting point. Like they are me but as a negative, I write about what I am not. I am creating the person I want to be in my head or less simplistically, I am creating somebody that either has or has not got the particular trait I dislike in me or wish I had at the time. From there I tend to create the world they live and the story they most go through, all other characters are thought up after the main story and exist as part of that story.

The process of creating a character and taking them on an adventure (usually in my case in a world totally different to ours) is complete escapism and has the same enjoyment as playing a videogame or reading a book. The process of almost remaking myself (or at least a part of myself) is what makes the writing process something else. Something cathartic and soothing, that’s why I see writing as a form of therapy and I would completely encourage people to try it next time they are feeling not at their best.

Getting slightly personal for a bit, those that know me well enough, will know that I can get pretty down sometimes, and that sometimes I suffer from a form of depression and tend to be both angry and sad at the world around me. I have recently been experiencing this feeling again, although I am not saying the two are totally linked, but it coincides with the longest period of me not writing in a while. Even just writing this piece helps me feel better, so that’s why I write, that’s why I feel writing is therapeutic.

Guest post exchange: Write What You Want, by Tirzah Duncan

It’s guest post time again. This post comes from the rather talented Tirzah Duncan. Incidentally, my guest post ‘Learning to write: The Goldilocks Effect’ will soon be gracing her blogspace with some very strange analogies. Check out Tirzah’s blog here, then read this sample of her novel, Ever the Actor, and wait with excitement until this brilliant book gets published (hurry up with that, Tirzah!)

Write What You Know. This is an interesting statement that has annoyed me for a long time. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood it. Perhaps I’ve understood it perfectly and yet disagreed with it. Or perhaps, like any adage, it was meant for certain times and situations (he who hesitates is lost) and has simply been too often misapplied when an opposite adage would have been more appropriate (look before you leap).

Let’s leap into a little dissection of this standard five-word piece of writing instruction.

Here is how some take this little piece of writing wisdom: Write Yourself/Your Situation/Your Emotional Journey.

This is the meaning that seems, to me, to be the obvious one. Now, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with writing characters who are facets of yourself and people you know. Nothing wrong with writing a situation very similar to yours, and nothing wrong with using your writing to chronicle your emotional journey. Quasi-biography is a legitimate device, and there have been perfectly powerful stories written using any and each of these concepts. And I’m sure that for some, using “Write what you know” in this way has been wonderful career-starting advice.

But for the wrong person at the wrong time, this idea is entirely terrible, like crying “He who hesitates is lost!” to someone going cliff-diving from an untested height—or a little more appropriately in this case, like crying “look before you leap!” to someone bracing up for their first ever jump from the high-dive.

One young writer had this to say about writing what you know:

“I think it’s a bad saying. Even if it has a deeper meaning beyond the obvious, the obvious one is what’s going to enter most people’s minds. I don’t like it because it almost stopped me from following my dreams… I came across that saying while looking up writing advice and it pretty much stabbed me in the heart. I was a 16 year old girl who had no world experience, didn’t even go to high school, and I wanted to write these fantastical stories like the ones I loved reading.”

She didn’t manage to recover from that blow until she found this little piece of counter-advice from Kit Whitfield. “It’s not about what you’ve literally experienced yourself: fiction isn’t journalism. It’s about how closely you pay attention to what you do experience.”

I think a good rule of thumb is to Write What Your Characters Know.

One probably needs to be human (or something similar) and have experienced relatable human emotions (or something similar) to write stories that other beings of the same species will read and relate to. But that’s all you need. You don’t need to have traveled the exact emotional journey your character is experiencing. You just need to pay attention to what you do experience, look at what they’re going through, and find the lowest common emotional denominator.

Perhaps your character is going through a vicious divorce. Perhaps you’ve never been in a serious romantic relationship. But have you ever felt the pain of betrayal, even in a tiny way? Have you ever felt angry? Have you ever felt aggravated by someone’s very presence? Take these seeds of greater emotion, pay them close attention, and imagine the rest.

Set yourself fully in your character’s shoes, immerse yourself in their consciousness, and seek to understand them more fully than you understand yourself. (That shouldn’t be too hard; selves are tricky things, and far stranger than fiction.) Once you’ve seen through your character’s eyes, felt their pains and joys and trials and limitations and strengths, then you will be able to write their journey as if it were your own. (No, better; one’s own journey is a tricky thing, and far stranger than fiction.)

Of course, you’ll be setting yourself up for a mild brand of schizophrenia, but that’s just one of the risks of a writer’s life.

But perhaps this isn’t the saying’s intended meaning. Perhaps it meant Write What You’ve Researched.

Are you writing a historical fiction? Even if it’s alternate, fantastic, or a sci-fi time-travel tale, don’t mention that the bride wearing a white wedding dress and walking down an aisle, unless you know for a fact that brides did that in Frederick the Great’s time in Prussia, or 15th century Ireland, or whatever and whenever you’re writing. The point is, get it right.

You may have it a little easier in a modern or urban setting, but you had still better know the difference between a gun’s hammer and slide, whether or not you’re likely to find a warehouse in downtown Denver, and the logistics of circumventing a museum’s security systems, even with the use of limited telekinesis. Or, you know, whatever is actually relevant to your story. The point is, get it right.

If you’re writing a fantasy, you may be supposing that you’re off the hook for research—you’re not. You have a different sort of research to do, a research that involves reaching into your own head and writing the encyclopedia yourself, but it is research all the same. And unless you’re writing a translation of a higher thing comparable to a story that you discovered in a dimension utterly unlike ours, there are going to be comparable elements. You need to know how long it would take the average horse to make it from Keirn Vale to the outpost at Jerrig-Nuin, if you want to figure out how fast your elven forces would have to move to beat the human message-runner there.

And even besides the comparable elements, you must decide what the rules of your world are, and why. We sci-fi and fantasy folk call it worldbuilding, but it’s really an internal and ethereal version of research, and it’s just as exhausting—and just as vital to the suspension of disbelief. The point is, even if the only thing you have to do is not contradict yourself, get it right.

If “Write what you know” means “Write it only if you’ve come to know the facts”, then I agree with it entirely. If you don’t know the  facts of the matter, find out those facts before you throw it out there for the readers. You’re bound to get some things wrong anyway, but you owe it to those readers to at least try not to break their suspension of disbelief. Whether it’s Spain’s relationship with England at the time of Robert the Bruce, or the landscape around a small fictional town set in actual southwestern Missouri, or the essentials of the world constructed in your own head—get it right.

But I think the most important rule to keep in mind is Write What You Want.

Writing rules exist for a reason, and it’s a very good reason. As Kyle Aistech once said, “The rules are there for you to understand how readers read. Once you know that, they’re silly putty.”

If “Write what you know” means “Write yourself/your experiences/your emotional journey”, then it is not a rule at all, but an optional prompt that some writers can choose to follow, like “write a story including the words ‘mountain goat’ and ‘no white paint'”, or “write a story inspired by this picture of a stick”. I have done both, and both gave me lovely little short stories, but neither of them is anything like a rule.

If “Write what you know” means “Write what your characters know” or “Write what you’ve researched”, then it is a rule– a rule designed to teach you that readers read to be convinced. They want to be able to believe in your character’s feelings, in their setting and actions. And they don’t appreciate it when your writing doesn’t let them.

But once you understand that rule–“Readers want to be convinced”– then you can write what you want. The rule is silly putty. Bend it to your will, stretch your reader’s mind. Lemony Snicket created a world in which children can make working bungee cords out of rubber bands, and sharp-toothed infants can bite their way up elevator shafts. I doubt that would pan out in any Mythbusters episode. But Snicket wrote what he wanted to write, and his readers, expertly played by a master of the craft, stretched their belief like silly-putty.

So in the end, whatever the rules and adages and prompts say, write what you want

Ping me – thehyperteller@gmail.com

Tweet me – @RewanTremethick


The content of this post (including images) and the word Hyperteller are copyright © Rewan Tremethick 2013

“Fantasy vs. Casserole Romance” – Blogger profile and Guest Post with Danielle Shipley

Image

There’s so many great peeps in the blogging world. I thought I’d do my bit to help you find some of the talented folk who are writing out there. Danielle Shipley is for some reason my arch nemesis (I’m not entirely sure why).

Real Name (optional, y’know, in case you’re a super villain or something): Danielle E. Shipley

Alias: Deshipley

Blog name/URL: Ever On Word (everonword.wordpress.com)

What’s your main topic?

Most often, my posts will have more to do with writing than not. Creative processes, character development, and playing with words are what I know best and love most, so that’s what I’ll usually end up talking about. I’ve also been known to put my pen where my mouth is and share pieces of original fiction and poetry. Beyond that, I just talk about whatever interests me, and try to be entertaining about it.

Describe yourself in 100 words?

A used-to-be homeschooled, ever-will-be Christian, overemotional, obsessive-compulsive fantasizer. White and nerdy beneath lovely brown skin, looking perhaps to mature, but never to grow up. While an artist in general, a writer first and foremost. A willing vessel for beloved figments of imagination. I also tend to wax free-form poetic when asked to offer a brief biography; I guess I feel essentials are best expressed thus. My philosophy is that life ought to be a musical. Optional: A fairytale musical, animated by Disney.

How long have you been blogging, and why did you start?

My first post went up on September 1, 2011, and I’ve kept up a largely steady stream of content in the year-and-a-bit since. The blog’s primary purpose is to garner positive attention from potential fans of my novels (which I have yet to publish, but I’m working on it). They – y’know, the all-knowing “They” – say an author needs a blog, a website, a Twitter… I don’t buy all of that; I believe all an author really needs is to have written a book, preferably a good one. But an online presence where people can see what you’re all about is a nice thing to have; hence, Ever On Word.

Best blogging experience?

Surprisingly, given my lone-wolfish tendencies, I’d say it would have to do with the communal aspect of blogging. There’s fun to be had in the preparation of the blog pieces, true, but much of that fun comes from anticipating how readers will enjoy what I’ve put together for them. I’m always excited when people respond to what I’ve put out there; “like”s are nice, comments are gratifying, new followers put me over the moon, and it’s a treat to virtually hangout with fellow blogger friends and give them some love and laughs and whatever other L things I’ve got to give.

One instance that stands out in particular is when I posted the eulogy for my late Shetland sheepdog, this past summer; the empathetic response from all quarters was a sweet comfort in a tearful time. On a brighter note, it tickled me to see all the banter in the comments following an interview with one of my characters, Will Scarlet; it might be to my benefit to make that Merry Man my marketing director, since he’s got charming gift of gab to spare. And any time I’m offered the chance to write a guest post for another blog is a day-maker; when it comes to blogging, I’d call invitation among the sincerest forms of flattery.

Title of the post you are most proud of, and reason why?

After much lengthy thought, I’m going to choose (hastily, before I can wimp out and go back to scour the archives again) “Reviews” or “How to Make Me Love Your Book Like My Own Flesh and Blood”. Writing book reviews is a challenge for me, but for this blog post, I forced myself to write two, in the name of supporting a couple of worthy authors with worthy books (thanks, in massive part, to worthy characters). I’m pleased with a) the result and b) that I was able to make a small contribution to the authors’/books’/characters’ publicity.

One thing you wish you could do/did more of (regarding blogging)?

I wish I had more time to go randomly searching out other people’s blogs. For one thing, it’s just good business to drop “like”s and comments everywhere, because more people are likely to trail back to me and my blog, that way; Writer/Blogger Me likes this. For another, there is some really entertaining material to be found, out there in BlogLand, and Reader Me would like to be able to read it. That’s why I started my semi-regular “HYSRT!” (“Hey, You Should Read This!”) feature on my blog – to give a little additional exposure to blog posts that I feel are worth the read. If I had a nice battalion of Danielle clones (with cloned laptops and internet access, of course), that’s the kind of thing I would do more often.

What do you think makes your blog worth a read?

Come for the voice, stay for what it’s jabbering on about. I like to blend humor with depth, intelligence with frivolity, usefulness with just plain fun. Ever On Word is me in the way I can only be seen through my written words, and it’s probably the truest me you can get. Why should you read my blog? Because you can’t read my novels yet. Say “no” to Deshipley deprivation!

Now what would a profile of a blogger be without a demonstration of their skills? So, specially for The Hyperteller, is Fantasy Vs. Casserole Romance.

By Deshipley, Danielle E. Shipley, whatever you want to call me

Why do I write fantasy? Because it’s a piping hot market, y’all!

Actually, that couldn’t have much less to do with it. If all I were concerned about was selling my work, I’d write a series of steamy romances that include recipes for low-calorie, cancer-fighting casseroles and advice on how to meditate your way to the inner peace that only a billion dollars made through the power of positive thinking can bring. But lucrative as that would be, I can’t see myself working up any enthusiasm over trying to produce a book like that. (So feel free to steal the idea, someone; just make mention of me on the acknowledgments page, that’s all I ask.)

Fantasy, on the other hand, though less of a surefire goldmine, is nonetheless a delight to write. I mean, think about it:

You Get to Make Up the Names! Officially, you could do this for chick lit and whatever, too, but your characters might have a difficult time explaining themselves.

Jenna gasped. There he was again – that cute guy from the coffee shop! And he was coming right for her, his dreamy smile punctuated by an adorable dimple, blond hair rakishly ruffled in the summer breeze.

“Hey,” he said. This close, he smelled like cinnamon. Jenna could breathe him in all day. “I don’t think we’ve properly met. I’m Shâzgar the Aerlior-blessed. And you are?”

“Jen— Wait, you’re supposed to be who, now?”

“Shâzgar the Aerlior-blessed.”

Jenna blinked at him. “What kind of name is that?”

Shâzgar looked offended. “It means ‘favored child of the elf-moon prophecy’. It’s been in my family for generations, don’t hate!”

“Not hating,” said Jenna, turning on her heel. “Just walking away.” The last thing she needed was pressure from her mother-in-law to name her future babies after moon elves, or heaven knew what.

The great thing about writing in a genre where names like “Shâzgar the Aerlior-blessed” are par for the course is that you’ve upped the odds significantly that your characters will never share a name. How many Aragorns did you know in school, hmm? Run into many Tinker Bell’s at the office, do you? Exactly. Awesome made-up fantasy name = instant individuality points. Now all you’ve got to do is come up with a stellar character to back it up.

You’re at the Edge of the Map Where There Be Dragons! Or mermaids or minotaurs or moon elves or whatever you want – all those creatures that it would make life so much cooler and/or more dangerous to have hanging around in our world.

Jenna gasped. There he was again – that cute guy from the coffee shop! And he was coming right for her, his dreamy smile punctuated by an adorable dimple, blond hair rakishly ruffled in the summer breeze.

“Hey,” he said. This close, he smelled like cinnamon. Jenna could breathe him in all day. “I don’t think we’ve properly met. I’m Shâzgar the— LOOK OUT!”

Shâzgar slammed Jenna to the ground, glittering hooves galloping through the air where her head had been a split second before. A dread whinny of doom rang out through the sky.

“What is that thing?!” Jenna cried.

Shâzgar looked grim. “It’s a winged unicorn-demon from the Shadow Realms. They were banished from these lands ages ago by the Senate of Aerlior. I don’t know how this one got past the veil…”

“Not listening,” said Jenna, jumping to her feet. “Just running away.” The last thing she needed was to get embroiled in the broken politics of opposing foreign governments, or heaven knew what.

Of course, our world has dangers enough as it is. Salmonella poisoning, worn tires on icy bridges, violently inclement weather… do we really need the impending return of unicorn-demons on top of all? I’d say no, but even so, it’d be a shame not to read about such things happening to someone else. Invasions from the Shadow Realms are best enjoyed from the comfort of one’s own laptop, I find.You Don’t Have to Research a Darn Thing! Except for the bits that are meant to accurately mirror reality. But how much of that does your story really need, anyway?

Jenna gasped. There he was again – that cute guy from the coffee shop! And he was coming right for her, his dreamy smile punctuated by an adorable dimple, blond hair rakishly ruffled in the summer breeze.

“Hey,” he said. This close, he smelled like cinnamon. Jenna could breathe him in all day. “I don’t believe we’ve properly met. I’m Shâzgar the Aerlior-blessed.”

Jenna’s jaw dropped. “The Shâzgar the Aerlior-blessed? The world-renowned brain surgeon?!”

Again, the dimpled smile. “Either me or one of my great-uncles. Outside of my family, Shâzgar the Aerlior-blessed is a rather unique name.”

“Wow, this is an honor! Tell me, Doctor, what exactly goes on in the complicated world of medicine, these days?”

“Magic, mostly,” Shâzgar informed her. “We wave our wands carved from the Trees of Kyoor and speak the hallowed incantations, and boom, no more blood clots in your cerebellum. …Or you’ve been turned into a mushroom. Human error, you know how it goes.”

“Not really,” said Jenna, with a careless shrug. “Just as well, though, I guess, since I’m not planning to ever go into brain surgery.” The last thing she needed was to have one of the Aerlior-blessed learn that she was planning to take her craftily accumulated knowledge of the legendary Kyoor wands to rend the veil separating these lands from her masters in the Shadow Realms, their armies of demons comprised of far worse than winged unicorns, the looming Second Age of Perdition, and heaven knew what else.

This isn’t to say that we authors shouldn’t have a clue about what’s going on in our stories. We want brain surgery and mushroom transformations to be performed by magic wands? Fair enough, so long as our next generation of MDs doesn’t mistake our novels for their textbooks. Your stories, your rules. So…know your rules. Figure out your essential whys and wherefores before the letters from readers pour in, questioning what substance you were abusing when you had what you’d declared impossible in Chapter 2 happening in Chapter 7 with no explanation at all.

And for pity’s sake, have fun with it! It should be fun. And it is fun! (Trust me: I’m not such a purist that I’d write anything but billion-dollar casserole romances if it weren’t.)

Danielle can be found at www.everonword.wordpress.com, talking about…all kinds of crazy things. Check it out, and give her a follow.

I’m always interested in hearing from other bloggers, so if you’d like to be my featured blogger in the future, send me an email at thehyperteller@gmail.com.

Guest Post: Digital D&D Do-It-Yourselfing

Occurrence of the week:


It’s guest post time! That’s all the occurrence this week needs. Take it away Angela…

About the author:


Angela is a writer, guest blogger, loving wife, and mother of two beautiful twin girls and a standard poodle named Morty. She graduated with her Master of Arts Degree in English from the University of North Carolina. During her time at UNC, she wrote a number of children’s short stories.

D&D


Digitizing your game can make things a whole lot smoother, but if you’re not looking for a D&D Insider-style commitment, it’ll take some preparation to get your jury-rigged online D&D system together. Fortunately, we’ve done some leg-work, and found a few tools that get the job done.

SnagIt

D&D rulebooks notoriously scatter important information across chapters and even books, so it’s nice to be able to grab from hither and yon, and compile your own quick-access info sheets without having to transcribe it all manually. This program lets you easily scan and screen-capture individual powers, magic items, rules, and maps from your books, so you can compile things for your own benefit, or share what you need to with your players without giving away secrets. If you’ve got more players than rulebooks (or if you just don’t like having to flip back and forth between stuff you look at all the time), this program is a great tool. Works even better if you already have electronic copies.

Dropbox

This free program makes it way easier to share character sheets, digital maps, and rule information between computers. Dropbox has intuitive, customizable folder sharing—just drag and drop any file you want your players to see into their individual shared folder (or a party folder), and they’ll have instantaneous access to it from their own laptops.

D&D Random Encounters 4

This Android app empowers a complete D&D experience for your party, armed with nothing but your smartphone. It randomly generates encounters, including maps, monsters, and treasure, and customizes the experience based on your party’s size, level, location, and how much trouble you feel like giving them. This makes it easy to hand out XP to players who missed a session, or keep the game rolling if your players make an unexpected turn and force you off the book. Fresh, random encounters at your immediate disposal let your players know they can go off the rails once in a while, and can be an imaginative exercise as you and your players tell your story together (“what’s a mind-flayer doing in this Lawful Good monastery?” etc.)

A Decent DIY Grid Map:

Unfortunately, your digital options here tend to be clunky, expensive, or both; a store-bought grid is one (generally overpriced) option, but a decent dry erase or glass whiteboard, a ruler, and a box cutter are all you need to make your own. Customize your grid size and gently etch a grid into the board yourself, tracing with pen or pencil. This will naturally produce textured, even lines that help you draw straighter and cleaner. Be careful, though; cut too deep and you’ll wind up with sharp edges that will tear up your markers. (Check here for more in-depth DIY terrain tips.)

D&D 4 Android

If your players have trouble staying on top of character sheets, hit points, effects, surges, etc., convince them to get this app for their phones and make everyone’s life easier. This little app holds multiple complete character sheets, complete with detailed power information (a good alternative to those frustratingly-tiny boxes on the paper character sheet), and automatically dims the daily and encounter powers that you’ve already used.

DiceShaker D&D

Sometimes you forget your dice, and a random number generator just doesn’t have the flair of the real thing. This fun little app creates virtual dice with realistic physics for your Android phone or tablet. Shake or tip the device to roll all dice on the screen, or drag a finger across them to roll individually. The DiceShaker even sums your rolls to keep things moving. A little silly, but sometimes you need to actually see dice clatter across a (virtual) board.


Want to do a guest post of your own on The Hyperteller? Email thehypertellerATgmailDOTcom

Guest Post: The modern storyteller – by Sonney Stelling

Occurrence of the week:


This week’s occurrence of the week is quite an obvious one – the occurrence being that this week’s post is another guest post by my very good friend and aspiring writer, Sonney Stelling. Take it away, dude.

A new home for stories?


People read books less. There, I said it. For an aspiring writer, that is the painful truth we must deal with. We are looking for success in a supposedly dying market. So perhaps it’s time to open our minds a little and look at a market that shows no signs of slowing: the videogame market. Most videogames try to tell a story (and in a lot of cases always have done), in most cases these stories are merely a way to bridge gaps between interactive set pieces, but in some cases, the story is the most important factor.

Mass Effect 3


Next month sees the release of Mass Effect 3, a game that will bring to a conclusion one of the most in depth and epic stories ever told via any medium. The tale of Commander Shepard’s seemingly impossible battle against ultra-powerful Reaper’s, intent on destroying the universe, is a space opera of the highest standard. The entire universe, from every planet to alien race, has a vast and intelligently written backstory.

Over the many hours you are alongside the games characters in the first two games you grow to genuinely care about their well being, especially if like me, you were aware that depending on your actions, not everybody’s survival was guaranteed. The game’s developer, Bioware, also created the Dragon Age series, which is another strong example of modern videogame story telling.

Final Fantasy XIII-2


Also recently released is Final Fantasy XIII-2. Final Fantasy represents one of best series of games in regards to story. Admittedly it doesn’t have a perfect track record, with XII they managed to create an entire cast of characters that as a player I couldn’t care less about and now even struggle to recall. Which bearing in mind I can name every character from every other game in the series that I have played, says a lot, I think.

With their latest game, XIII-2, Sqaure-Enix (the developer) tell a story involving time travel and deals with paradoxes and altered histories using a strong ensemble cast supporting three solid lead characters. This use of time travel also makes this game one of the few that deals successfully with the problem of side quests and plot urgency.

The problem with side-quests


Allow me to explain what I mean using Skyrim as an example. In a lot of games (especially open-world RPG’s) there is a main story, heavily padded out or given depth (depending on both the game and your play style) by side-quests, meaning that the casual gamer can finish a game relatively quickly, learning only the bare-essentials about the game world, whereas the more ‘hardcore’ gamer can immerse themselves in the game world’s lore and universe, taking on countless non-essential quests. The difference in length of game between the two can be huge, for example Skyrim’s main story can be completed in less than ten hours, to complete everything, however, takes nearer two hundred.

The problem with side quests in regards to storytelling is this; you may find a side quest that says someone is in immediate need of help, you then accept this mission but then go off exploring/dragon killing/smithing etc instead. Many, many hours later you eventually save said person, whom is still in immediate danger, but with no real sign that your delay has had a detrimental effect on the mission success. I use Skyrim as an example as in this game that sort of thing happens a lot.

Of course that’s not always the case, in Mass Effect 2 for example, once passed a certain point in the game any side mission undertaken will have a negative impact on the final outcome of the game. With XIII-2’s time travelling device (called the Historia Crux) every side mission in the game can be done at precisely the moment it needs to be, even the in-game clock has ticked off tens hours between starting and finishing mission.

Caring about characters


The Final Fantasy series also holds a personal pinnacle in story-driven games. Final Fantasy VII will always hold a special place in my heart as the first time I truly cared for my characters and the first time I was truly upset when one of them met their demise (in the story, as opposed to just in a boss battle!). The story of Cloud and co’s battle against both evil and their own personal demons remains one the best tales I can remember, although I admit it is possibly more in biased nostalgia that I recall it now. I can honestly say I care for Cloud and Aerith almost as much as I do for Pullman’s Lyra and Will. Almost.

Metal Gear Solid


Over the years, as games systems become ever more powerful, the possible methods to deliver stories have opened up massively. In the days of old, the only real way to deliver these epic stories was via long sections of reading exposition on the screen. Metal Gear Solid changed that. Hideo Kojima’s PS1 classic was the first game to use lengthy, voice acted and movie style FMV sequences as a medium for telling the story. Some would argue that perhaps the later Metal Gear games take this too far, and border on ridiculous in length (and story, anyone recall the White House having a conscience plot twist in MGS2?).

Deus Ex; Human Revolution


Modern games that tell stories well lie somewhere in between these two extremes. The Bioshock games for example use next to no FMV sequences, preferring to use video diaries you pick up as you play and can choose to listen to or not. The two games both tell fantastic stories with depth and twists that rival some of the best in dystopian literature. Deus Ex; Human Revolution tells a story with a huge scope and moral ambiguity, in a future where humans can augment themselves with robotic advancements. The question of where does the human end and robot begin is pretty much the crux upon which the game’s plot hinges. The story is told through (for the most part) voice-acted characters and a catalogue of logs and data, which the player can read through at their leisure, if you’re so inclined. This is a similar method that Mass Effect (the best example of gaming story-telling in my opinion) employs. Where the gamer gets as much depth as they want from a game.

Would your story work?


Obviously the major flaw in game stories is the story has to be action-orientated. But aren’t the best stories the ones where, you know, stuff actually happens? Nobody would play a game written by Ian McEwan for example; which is far from a bad thing. So if you’re an aspiring writer and like to write action-based tales, maybe the option of turning your novel idea into a videogame wouldn’t require that many tweaks to the story. Never know, it may be an easier path to greatness than the standard publisher route.

Finally if you’re not an aspiring writer, but a gamer of any sort, next time you play a game maybe take a minute or two to appreciate the work the writer put in.