10 Chapters In

various painted gaming miniatures

Hello all,

I’ve finally finished editing the first act of my book. As expected, chapter 6 got the most work, but I honestly think this rough 100 pages is much better now. I’ll need to take a look at the second act and figure out where the problem chapters are so I can pick new writing partners.

However, let’s take a moment to look at the writing partners for the last section, the unusual suspects!

Here is what they looked like before:

assorted miniatures for D&D, Death May Die, and Warhammer

And here is how they turned out:

various painted gaming miniatures
They aren’t too bad, considering they each had their own challenges. Well, every one of them except the wizard.
Death May Die Wizard mini painted.
He was pretty easy to work with.

Working with a variety of minis from different companies at the same time really made certain features stand out.

For example, while this mini is big, I had to create most of the depth myself. It has a ton of flat areas with little texture.

Painted Wizkids demon mini.
He isn’t bad but some of the finer details are rough.

Meanwhile, shading and highlighting even a tiny games workshop mini was a breeze.

Games Workshop goblin. Painted AOS
Imagine, this guy was supposed to be a decoration for another mini!

The dwarf turned out fine, and the less I can say about the halfling, the better. However, overall I’m happy with them. I got a chance to play around with contrast paints, and they were just right for keeping myself busy while I brainstormed.

For the next section, I’m not sure if I should do another set of minis or paint one large one. I enjoy variety, but focusing on one mini does significantly improve the final product. I’ll just have to start working on the next few chapters and see where my muse takes me!

Writing Partner: The Unusual Suspects

assorted miniatures for D&D, Death May Die, and Warhammer

So I’ve finally finished redoing my previous chunk of editing and I’m ready to get back to fresh work. In the next tent-pole chapter, our protagonists will be at a location with all the principle murder suspects. In this edit/re-write, I’ll be focusing on emphasizing these suspects and strengthening red-herrings for the plot. Because of this, I have chosen to represent each character with a unique figure to paint. Introducing: the unusual suspects!

assorted miniatures for D&D, Death May Die, and Warhammer

Look at this lovely police line up! This diverse group of individuals may not all look like my characters, but they do a good job embodying them.

Lets start with this great wizard from the Cthulhu: Death May Die board game:

Wizard miniature from Death May Die

This wizard will represent a colleague of the victim and will provide unique insight into his profession work in alchemy. He will also allow me to talk about the amoral nature of science and discovery through the lens of magic. The figure itself is a great fit for my book, as it’s a fantasy book in an early modern setting. Death May Die has a 1920’s aesthetic which makes it a perfect fit for this kind of project. Not to mention the monsters in it are gorgeous; I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from this set in the future.

Next up is a fellow Goblin:

Goblin miniature from Warhammer Fantasy (AOS).

This is one of the ornamental Goblins from Feast of Bones Warhammer set we covered a while ago. Because it looked plain by itself, I added one of the Ogre daggers to its back as if it was a Goblin sized broadsword. I think it looks pretty cool like that. In the book, this character is an ex-lover of the victim and will give me a natural way to talk about Goblin culture without it seeming like exposition (though it is). I picked this mini specifically because of that accusatory finger point!

The Third suspect is an Elf. My Elves are not Tolkienesque and are instead diminutive fae-folk so I chose a halfling from the Wizkids D&D line:

D&D Halfling Miniature
This one is a little rough…

I find that the Wizkids minis are extremely good for their price, especially the large ones. The smaller minis are sometimes a tad half-baked. This little guy, representing the prime suspect, needs some serious work. I have mold lines and extra resin to trim and it’s lacking detail in a lot of places. What I do like about him, is that dagger and posture. Much like the character I’m writing, he is much more dangerous than he appears.

Our fourth suspect is a Dwarf crime boss:

WizKids Dwarf warrior, D&D miniature.

This miniature is also from the Wizkids line and has some of the same issues ad the Elf. It is probably the least fitting mini of this group but I’m trying to avoid kitbashing it for the sake of time, so I’ll try not to let it bother me. The character it represents is one of the main crime lords in the city and has many reasons to hate the deceased. But did they do it?

I saved the best for last. The final suspect is a Demon:

This Wizkids demon doesn’t look much like the demon in my story, but I think it is a great visual representation of its inner evil. I love the detail of this mini. In D&D, this is called a Nalfeshnee, which is a mid-tier demon. I like its pig face and tiny wings. It is almost a parody of grotesque excess, which is perfect for my character. I’ll need to close up some gaps in the model but otherwise this should be really fun to work on.

There you have it! A new group a minis for a new chunk of my book. Like last time, painting these will likely last longer than the work on this chapter. I’ll probably keep working on this for the next five or so chapters or until I hit another notable section of the book.

Work is starting to get back to normal so I’m hoping I can start posting more regularly again. I don’t like posting once a week as it really only leaves room for updates. Hopefully, some time soon I can post another Upping Your Game article. I have a good one in mind. We’ll just have to see how the rest of the month goes!

Writing Partner: A Small Friend With a Big Hook!

Zarbag half painted

For the first post for this topic, see Part 1: On The Hook.

After a day of writing, I have edited and, in some ways, reworked the first two chapters of my book. I wasn’t expecting this, but it ended up being a really rewarding process. Not only did it result in 2 more pages to my total length (I’m nearly at the average mystery novel length), I also had a lot of fun! Maybe I’ve turned a corner and editing will be fun now? Doubtful, but one can always hope.

As I promised, I worked on the goblin warband “Zarbag’s Gitz” as a partner project. He isn’t finished yet, but this is where I’m at now.

Missing a few steps but he’s coming along well. Just need to finish the details, add a wash to some areas and do the metal work.

I usually put a mini down when I move on to a new project but I’m going to keep working on this one and the rest of his warband. Why, you might ask? It is because I have a few more chapters to work on before the next big tentpole chapter. When I get to that chapter I’ll put these guys down and grab a new writing partner.

Before I pick a new partner, I’ll post a group shot of all the gobbos together. The other warband members are missing some details and the metal work but they aren’t far behind where Zarbag is.

As I mentioned, I had a surprisingly good time editing today. Maybe this whole writing partner thing is work? We’ll have to wait and see. If this pace keeps up, I might even achieve my goal of finishing this draft before the new year!

Writing Partner: Working on the Hook

Zarbag

I’m finally digging back into my book! I really need a title… But that isn’t what I’m working on this week. This week, I’m working on the hook.

What is “the hook”, you might ask. It is the piece of the story, ideally as close to the beginning as possible, that is meant to pull (hook) in the reader. Think about how I used a nice picture to pull you into what is ostensibly a diary entry.

Speaking of nice pictures, I need to pick a writing partner. I will be painting the Zarbag from the Zarbag’s Gits Warhammer Underworlds warband. If this part of my editing takes longer than expected, I will expand to the rest of Zarbag’s warband.

Zarbag's Gits

The unruly mob of gobos shown above is lead by the eponymous Zarbag. He is a lovely lil’ wizard and I think you would agree he would make an excellent little friend.

Zarbag
He also has a literal hook on his staff… so there is also that.

The first chapter of my book deals with a goblin who becomes an important character in the plot of my book. He may even be the most important character, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

The character I will be basing this off is an old goblin. With this in mind, I plan on using a lot of yellow to highlight his green skin. For the cloak, I plan on using a dark, almost black purple. This play with the yellows and purples will be subtle but should draw the eye to his face.

The other gobos will follow the same basic color scheme. As for the squigs (those mean dog-things), I’ll be paining them with blues and pinks. I want the whole warband to pop in an almost unnatural way.

Both Zarbag and the hook should be a small project. Bite sized as it were. The first chapter of my book has received more attention than any other and Zarbag is, well, small. Even if I include batch painting his warband this is probably doable in a single day of work.

Tune in next time when we will talk about the process of sharpening hooks and painting little friends!

Writing Partner: A Mythic Update

AGE OF SIGMAR FEAST OF BONES

The month has ended and so has my recent project. I’m happy with the results, even if they didn’t quite match my initial goals.

Just to recap: I was aiming to complete and submit three pieces to a horror journal, and to accompany that I was going to build the Feast of Bones box as my side project. For reference this is the Feast of Bones box:

Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Ogor Mawtribes
A small army of bloodthirsty ogres (Ogors if you’re GDubs).
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Ossiarch Bonereaver Army
And a band of rather fancy skeletons.

These would accompany the creation of one poem, one short story, and one piece of flash fiction.

As usual, life got in the way a bit. This time it was a project at work which launched a bit rougher than expected. It happens (a lot actually). However, it didn’t really effect my writing, it hit the miniatures hardest. I had to really focus on my short story to make up for lost time and subsequently there was a long gap between minis. The writing is, however, the main point so I can live with that.

I completed the poem quickly and over the course of about a week I developed a short story I’m actually kind of proud of. Sadly, the flash fiction piece I was working on never really came together. I tried to restructure it multiple times and even tried to rework it as another poem. It just didn’t work. I might be able to salvage the idea for something else, but for now it will sit in the idea bucket and stew.

As for my writing partners, I managed the heroes and basic infantry for both armies.

warhammer age of sigmar Feast of bones partially built
I know I said I was going to build the banner bearer with the goblin lookout… but I forgot.

I also have the Leadbelchers (the cannon bois) partially completed. Really all I’m missing are the complex set-piece miniatures. I’m not sure if I’m going to power through them or save them for a future project.

Overall, I think this is pretty good for two weeks of work. Even if that flash fiction piece is really stuck in my craw. I wonder if I still have time to get something else written and submitted tonight?

I’m not sure what I’ll be working on in August but I can assure you, as soon as I know I will post a blog about it! Talk to you again soon.

Writing Partner: Mythic Goals Sometimes Require An Army

AGE OF SIGMAR FEAST OF BONES

A new weekend has come, bringing with it new opportunities to spend long hours on a new project. For the next couple of weeks I will be working on entries for a horror publication doing a special issue on the theme of mythology. for this I plan to write one short story (somewhere between 2500 and 3000 words) one flash fiction story (roughly 500 words max) and a poem (likely a Shakespearean sonnet as that’s my preferred format). None of these are daunting tasks but getting them all done before the end of the month will take some discipline.

For this task I knew it would be hard to pick a writing partner. I’m going to be writing multiple pieces with only the genre of horror and the theme of myth connecting them. No one miniature would do. Some tasks need an army. This one needed two.

AGE OF SIGMAR FEAST OF BONES

I’ve had this box on my shelf since it came out. It is the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Feast of Bones set which contains a small army for both the Ogors Mawtribes and Ossiarch Bonereapers. It is a big set with a ton of really fun minis in it. As my side project I hope to have this box constructed and primed before the end of the month.

As I have mentioned before I don’t play a lot of Warhammer and tend to use the minis more for RPGs. So for this project we’re aiming for variety, both in writing and in miniatures. I’m not a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Ossiarch Bonereaver Army

The skellington army has a lot of variety that requires very little effort on my part to bring out. This is true for both construction and how I would use them in games. For example: the main leader unit would make a very nice lich in any game. He is the one in the front carrying around his crumbling tomb.

The Mortarchs (the flying bois) work as either strange gods or undead angels. They come with two different weapon options, two single hand weapons or the large glaives. I can make one of each option without it costing me any extra time or effort.

The three Necropolis Stalkers (those weird skeletal constructs) can work as advanced bone golems or a variety of other constructs with a bit of imagination. They come in three very distinct configurations and plan to build one of each. In games I can see them guarding ancient treasure, being the discovered life’s work of a mad mage, or as the main event in some twisted black market auction. Great stuff.

Last but not least there are ten basic Mortek Guard. These guys are a bit fancy to be basic skeletons but I’m a big fan of skeletal champions and more advanced undead. I imagine them guarding a really powerful necromancer or a lich. There is a lot of variety in this kit; spears, sword and board, banner bearers etc. I plan to build at least one of each variable over the ten minis.

The straightforwardness of these kits really matches my ideas for the poem and flash fiction. Variety out of the box, easy to create, should be no problem. It gets more complicated with the short story and our second army.

Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Ogor Mawtribes

The ogors are tricky. With fewer minis and lots of options I need to either make some hard choices are do some time consuming kit-bashing. For the uninitiated, kit-bashing is when you take pieces from different minis and use them to construct something new. I usually do it to make interesting leaders and heroes out of basic infantry units.

The leader, the Ogor Tyrant, is a great miniature. I’m uncertain as to how he fights with both a spear and a hammer, but I’d love to write about it. I imagine I would use him as the final boss for a short mid level campaigns. He’s unsophisticated but deadly in close combat and commands loyalty through fear in his forces. He also requires no extra work which is nice.

The basic infantry kits (if creatures that big could be called that) can be constructed as either Ogor Gluttons (melee units) or Leadbelchers (ranged units). These minis can be used in a variety of story scenarios. They fit in anywhere where you need a stronger than average leader or as a group of heavies supporting a bigger bad. There are 8 of them and the units break down in units of 6 for the Gluttons and units of 2 for the Leadbelchers. So the math is easy right? Not entirely. Looking through each kit I found the Leadbelcher had four unique guns, all of which are pretty cool. So then I thought, “ok, I’ll just make 4 leadbenchers and kitbash them with some extra hand weapons on their backs or something.” That way if I ever do play them in Warhammer I can use them for either unit. Then I noticed how many different Gluttons were possible. They have all kinds of really neat weapons too. I could magnetize them… but that would take too long. So when I go to assemble they ogors I have some hard choices to make.

The choice for the large siege weapon is easy, the Ironblaster shown in the image above is way cooler then the alternate Gnoblar Scarplauncher (a goblin catapult). In my experience siege weapons don’t come up often in RPGs but I’m sure I’ll find a way to use it for a set piece some day. At least that’s one easy choice, right? Not really. looking over the kit I’m now wondering if there are enough bits to build the catapult as a separate mini with some creative kit-bashing. With these kinds of things I just can’t help myself. There is a phrase my friend came up with years ago while reviewing one of my scripts. He liked the ending as a concept but didn’t know how I could pull it off. He said I had to “circle square it.” This has become a common turn of phrase now in my inner circle and it essentially means making a round peg fit into a square hole. It’s possible, but extremely challenging. I like challenge, in-spite of what this will inevitably do to my time table.

Speaking of time table ruining, look at all those decorative gnoblars (goblins). You can see one of them on lookout in the awesome banner bearer shown in the full army picture above as well as a ton more in the picture below. There are a ton of them… and I’d hate to just use them as intended. So I’ve textured up another ten bases and I’m going to see how many of them I can reuse as new goblin miniatures. They are too unique to pass up, full of character and interesting gear. I can imagine them leading or supporting more standard goblins in battle. However, this means another circle to square and a whole new force to construct… with a potential centerpiece of their own if I can figure out the stupid catapult.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 99120213020_GutbustersScraplauncher01.jpg
Oh no… there is a little goblin on the front shooting a sling shot. I can’t just leave him behind.

Three forces for three projects and only two weeks to work on it. What could go wrong. Well, some of you might point out that it probably wasn’t wise to spend this much time talking out how to construct this box of plastic armymen when I should be writing. Well… maybe. But in the time it took to write this I have written outlines for all three writing projects, I textured all the bases and organized all of the kits into piles by unit and in the order I plan to tackle them. It’s only procrastination if it doesn’t help you focus. There is a method to my madness.

Wish me luck!

Making a writing partner.

I’m a big fan of tabletop gaming and, about three years ago, I passed that final nerd hurdle and began painting miniatures. At first I thought I would play wargames like Warhammer, but since I have played a full game twice in that time period, I have settled into the reality that I mostly just paint them. Now…I’m not very good. I think I have mastered what they call “tabletop standard.” That means my work is good enough to game with but won’t be winning any beauty competitions. I use them for RPGs and simply the joy of the hobby.

I have, however, found another use for them. I have found they make really great writing partners. No, don’t worry, I’m not crazy. I’m not saying they talk to me or anything… at least not yet.

What I find is that having one on the side of my desk to work on has really helped my productivity. I use them like fidget toys or desk curios. When I need to think over an idea I’m working on I paint. It is much better then other forms of abnegation or distraction like surfing the web. By the time I need to put the mini down to dry I have usually figured out what I’m going to write next. It’s a win-win. They help me write and by the time I’m done a project I usually have a fully painted mini.

The featured image today is a great example. I was commissioned to write the intro and outro scripts for a ghost hunting show (I’ll probably link to it at a later date) and I needed to get into the right mindset. So when I sat down to write the scripts I grabbed that mini. It’s from the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar line, in case you were wondering. As I wrote and rewrote those scripts again and again, trying to get the right balance of spookiness and daytime TV bounce, I slowly picked at the mini. It allowed me to keep my mind clear and working without getting distracted. By the end I had a script the producer was pleased with and a mini I love. Again, it’s a win-win.

This might not work for everyone. I get pretty zen when I paint and I don’t worry about perfection. It’s my side art. I know I’m not perfect so I don’t even strive for perfection. But if you’re a very talented painter or more of a perfectionist your mileage may vary.

For those who are interested, I’ll break down my selection process. I mentioned Warhammer but that isn’t the start and end of my painting. In fact, for this particular purpose, they often fall short. They don’t always fit for two reasons. One: big regiments of the similar minis; and two: they aren’t always generic enough.

Let me explain both issues:

The first is simple, I tend to paint one mini over the course of a project, a few if it is a long one. I try to match minis with my projects for the added thematic focus. I also work on a wide variety of subjects. This means I like variety more than repetition. This isn’t just a Warhammer issue, most war games have the same problem.

The second issue relates to my theme choices. Games Workshop (the makers of Warhammer, who I will refer to as GDubs from now on) make beautiful products but they are also heavily themed. This is usually a good thing – they have a rich lore they pull from with unique fantasy quirks. For example, if I were to write about dragons, one would think I could grab a GDubs dragon and go to town. Not necessarily. All of their dragons have riders. They have armor with custom heraldry on it. They have morphology that isn’t necessarily generic fantasy. The list could go on. Sometimes this is ok, or I can modify the mini to suite my purposes, but often it’s hard not to see a Warhammer dragon when I paint it. I want to see it as my own if it’s going to sit there, subtly influencing my own story.

How to I make my choices than? Well the short answer is: I buy too many minis. A better answer would be to say I (usually) buy individual minis, mainly heroes and monsters, and I (usually) buy figures that are not too heavily themed to what ever their game setting is. I break both of these rules all the time, but that just results in purchases that don’t end up becoming writing partners. I also purchase minis from a variety of sources, including the second hand market where I can sometimes find some real gems.

That is probably enough navel gazing about my miniature painting choices. I hope that wasn’t to long winded. I promise that the next time I bring this is up it will be to show you another fun mini connected to another fun project.