I'd like to share a fun little side project that just launched this week: Characters & Class. I introduced fellow author and one of my best friends in the world, Colin Carlton, to playing Dungeons & Dragons at the start of the pandemic, and that inspired this show, in which a couple of writers (he and I for now, but we'll start inviting guests on as well!) sit down with some dice, a microphone, and create a pair of characters from scratch with no pre-planning.
We' re recording these at crazy hours of the day, so if you want to hear a couple of punchy writers brainstorm things like flamingo detectives or hippie halfling martial artists, this might be the show for you. The link above will take you to the Spotify page, but it's also available on most podcast options, so you can listen using your preferred app. If you like it, let me know!
I have an annual tradition of intending to give away "Krampus in the City" on Krampusnacht, and then forgetting to set it up and giving it away a few days late. For once, I actually got the dates right! I you (or someone you think would enjoy a superhero vs. Krampus comedy horror holiday story) can pick up a free copy on Kindle today and tomorrow, December 5 and 6, at the link below. Are you a Krampus fan?
I regularly forget that there is an online shop for Indestructibles merch, but with the holidays coming up, I realize there might be someone out there looking for an Entropy Emily stocking stuff or something like that. By the way, if there's character art you'd like to see on the shop, drop me an email, message me on Twitter or FB, or mention it below - I'm happy to make it happen.
This popped up in my memory today and I'll always wonder who made it, because it's the best sales pitch for the Indestructibles I've ever seen:
Some of you may have noticed this site was down for a few days - thank you for your patience as we got things sorted out on the back end. (It's amazing how easily you can break your own website by clicking one wrong button!) It's good to be back!
So... have you picked up your copy of the new Doc Silence: The Cost of Magic yet? If so, what do you think so far?
It's finally here: the story of Doc Silence. This is the book I've wanted to write for so long - Doc's origin, his beginnings as a magician, and the weird, wondrous, horrific things that turned him into the man who would eventually bring the Indestructibles together.
Now available in paperback and Kindle. No prior reading of the Indestructibles is required - my hope for this book is that it enhances the series for folks who have followed the Indestructibles all along, but stands alone on its own for new readers or anyone who hasn't finished the first series.
It's my most personal book, and it means a lot to me. I hope you'll give it a shot.
Are you a gamer? A writer? Both? I'll be leading a workshop on Friday, May 8 on using the unpredictable energy of tabletop RPGs to help inspire your own writing projects. Find out about beta-testing characters, learning to overcome plot holes, and just embracing the chaos during this fun session.
It's hosted by the Salem Athenaeum but open to non-members. Link for details here.
One of the players in a D&D group I DM for wanted to play a celestial warlock but without the "angel" kinds of themes. More about redemption and taking control of your own destiny. So I looked for the sort of demon who might break the chains of the Abyss and carve out her own fate, and I thought: what if a marilith took her own fate in her hands... and then started a cult of warlocks who took their strength from self-empowerment? And here's the result:
Before the world was, evil warred against evil.
Demons and devils rose up, created from the ether and things far worse, and these abominations, the embodiment of sin or hate or rage or fear, slew each other for no other reason than their masters said so.
The first marilith rose this way, a mighty creature, six-armed, each hand holding a blade sharp enough to turn the very air into strips of nothingness. Her upper body was that of a powerfully built woman, hard-faced, a consummate warrior demigoddess. Her lower half was that of a snake, all sinew and scale. She moved like lightning across the battlefield, and her swords were a serrated wind.
But even this greatest of warriors took wounds, and every time her blood touched the ground, more mariliths sprang forth, fully grown, armed and armored, ready to join the battle. Six arms, half-snake, built to sow destruction.
This is where the being who would some day call herself the Mother came from. She was born from nothing more than a drop of blood flicked off the end of a blade on a battlefield on the dividing line between the Nine Hells and the Abyss itself. And she joined her sisters in their endless, pointless battle, because that is what demons were born to do.
But this was before the world was. And unlike her sisters, the Mother asked that most important of questions.
She asked why.
Time means something else on the other planes. No one really knows when the Mother quit the battle. The war between the Hells and the Abyss was been waged for so long, the dead were so numerous, the oceans of blood spilled so deep, no one noticed the day she simply... left. She sheathed her six diamond-edged blades and walked away.
A marilith, they say, is one of the finest warriors you'll ever find in the Abyss. But the Mother wanted something else. She wanted to prove that you are not what you are born to be, and that even demons have free will.
And so she began to find Daughters.
She found them among the downtrodden and forgotten. She found them among those who were told who and what they were themselves born to be, and she taught them they could be something else. She gave strength to the beaten. She gave power to the forgotten. She found those the world rejected--those society told were evil simply because of the skin they were born with--and she gave them the power to set themselves free. She has forever had a place in her heart for tieflings, who are branded as children of Hell but are capable of all the range of gifts, good an evil, that any human being can be capable of. These were her favorite Daughters, because they reminded the Mother the most of herself.
The Mother became a light. She became a beacon. And she gave a sliver of her own power to her Daughters to go forth in the material world and help their Sisters. She gave them the magic they would need to find those who were not what the world tried to force them to be.
And this is where Tess enters the story. Tessamyn Morningstar, turned away by so many for her horns and her tail, who would be, if given the chance, capable of great goodness. She was the Mother's favorite child. And she sent her Daughter out into the world to find more Sisters in need of light.
I can't believe it's that time of year again - I've been participating in the YA Scavenger Hunt since my first book launched, (this might scavenger hunt number 7 for me, maybe?) and it's always one of my favorite events of the year. Welcome, first timers and scavenger hunt veterans! My name is Matthew Phillion, and I write Young Adult superhero novel series, the Indestructibles, as well as the New Adult spinoff Echo and the Sea, plus a new LitRPG series called the Dungeon Crawlers. It's an incredibly hard time for everyone across the world right now, and I'm sure a lot of us are glad we have books to help keep the darkness at bay.
I'm a part of the Red Team for this spring's scavenger hunt and am honored to be alongside tons of fantastic authors. I hope you'll discover some excellent reads during your search.
I'm sure you're here to find the bonus content from the incredible guest author I'm hosting this scavenger hunt, but of course we've got to list the official rules for participation before we go any further.
First up: you've found my post via the Red Team, but there are actually four hunts - Red, Blue, Gold, and Purple - with twenty unique authors per team. That means you've got four different chances to participate! You can find out more about all four teams on the official YASH website here.
Okay, here's the rules if you want to enter:
First, you'll want to keep an eye out for my favorite number in this blog post. HINT: I may have already said it, and if I did, it's in Team Red's official color. Collect all the favorite numbers from all the authors on Team Red (calculators are allowed!). The scavenger hunt runs from March 31st to April 5th, 2020.
ENTRY FORM: Next, you'll want to fill out the official form located here (or copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.yash.rocks/p/enter-here.html) to enter to win the grand prize. You must enter the correct total to qualify to win the prize.
And of course the least fun part... the rules: The contest is open internationally. Anyone under 18 years of age should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the complete entry form by noon Pacific time on Sunday, April 5th to qualify.
And now, here's the fun part. Let me introduce you to my guest author...
Katya de Becerra!
Katya de Becerra is the author of genre-bending YA fiction, What The Woods Keep and Oasis. She was born in Russia, studied in California and now lives in Melbourne. She earned a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Melbourne and now works as a social scientist. She’s also a co-founder and co-host of #SpecLitChat and a writing mentor with the 1st5pages Workshop.
You can find her online at: https://katyabecerra.blogspot.com/
Be sure to check out her latest, Oasis!
Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father's archeological dig site in the desert with four close friends ... and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.
Their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands, seemingly doomed ... until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food, water, and shade - and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to shift around them, they question what's real and what's a mirage.
The answers turn Alif and her friends against each other, and they begin to wonder if they've truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be impossible to leave ...
For her bonus material, Katya has shared her inspiration board for Oasis. She wants to be sure to credit the artists whose work become part of her collages (always great to see artists linking back to artists!) so here are the photographers whose work inspired this collage, clockwise starting with the background photo:
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash
Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash
Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash
Photo by Sander Weeteling on Unsplash
Want to learn more about Katya and her work? You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!
From here, you'll want to follow the scavenger hunt to the next amazing author:
KT Mather! Be sure to check out her post and guest author on her site next.
Thanks for participating in this spring's YASH. Comment below and let everyone know where you're checking in from. And just for fun - if you could have any superpower, post in the comments what power you'd choose!
Stay safe out there, and happy hunting... and reading!
In March, I'll be leading a session on how to use RPGs like D&D to help you write, which has rapidly become one of my favorite topics ever since I launched the Dungeon Crawlers series. It's a pretty straight line between these games and fiction writing - Patrick Rothfuss even said, while doing a guest spot on Acquisitions Incorporated's C Team live stream, that if you play TTRPGs you're 25% a novelist already, and if you DM/GM, you're even further along.
Over the past year though, in part because I 'outed' myself as a fan when I started writing the new series, I've been DMing for multiple groups, some with brand new players, some with veterans, and some with both. And since I'm doing this simultaneously to working on the new Dungeon Crawlers novella (no title yet, but looking at early spring release on Kindle, print to follow), I've really got the idea of collaborative storytelling on the top of my mind. Figured I'd use this space to talk about it a bit more often.
So last night I'm running a game using a modified version of Ghosts of Saltmarsh. The book makes it easy for me to do the part of DMing I love, which is, rather than building fights and designing dungeons, finding ways to make the players more invested in their characters' personal stories. As a novelist, this is something we don't often get to do--essentially hand-tailoring the experience for one person and one character and interacting with them in real time. We write in isolation, and we maintain (despite sometimes saying otherwise) control over the actions of the character. When you're doing this in real time with another person, though, it is incredibly rewarding in a way regular fiction writing can never be.
I constantly say that if the player gives me a thread for their character, I'll build something from it. And last night ended as our rogue with some bad history with Yuan-Ti made eye contact with the reptilian gaze he wasn't expecting (an encounter I'd been hoping to throw his way for months now).
A player who recently joined us has given me a backstory about a very strange missing parent, and I was able to improvise a card reading using a tarokka deck I bought more than a year ago and haven't had a chance to break out in a Ravenloft campaign yet. That was particularly fun as a writer--she drew her own cards and I, with no background in real-world tarot and only minimal knowledge about the tarokka deck, just used the visual queues of the cards to tell a story for her character to hear and unravel.
Their mission this session was a diplomatic one but I had a feeling the room might be more hungry for combat than conversation; I arrived with a game plan for both and let the characters take us where they wanted to go.
Which was to fight an ancient, belligerent crocodile.
Will any of this inform my own professional writing? Probably not. But it got the creative energy flowing and gives me ideas for how to tell my own characters' stories in print.
Are you playing an RPG these days? What sort of stories do you tell? Leave your comments below. I'd love to hear.
About the author
Matthew Phillion is the author of the Indestructibles YA novel series, its spinoff Echo and the Sea, and the Dungeon Crawlers series of RPG-style novellas.