Bookburners Debut

Ahhhhhhhhh you guys I am so, so, SO excited. It's LAUNCH DAY! Late last summer I holed up for the weekend with some of my very favorite writers to help plan Season 2 of Bookburners. And today, the first of my two episodes this season is LIVE and you can BUY IT and READ IT! OMG OMG OMG it's really happening.

...Wait, wait, hold on. Probably that needs a little translating before you can be as excited about it as I am. So BAM, let's FAQ this thing up!

Andrea. Andrea. What the heck is Bookburners?

Bookburners is a serial fiction narrative written by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Slattery, Mur Laffery, and ME! Plus the amazing Amal El-Mohtar also has a guest episode this season, so you're in for a real treat.

It's urban fantasy about a team of operatives working out of the Vatican to find and confiscate magic books before terrible, terrible things happen. Or let's be honest: usually slightly after terrible things have already begun to happen, because that's way less boring to read about.

How does this serial work?

One episode comes out every week on Wednesday in ebook and audiobook formats. This season started last week (you're already behind!) and goes for sixteen weeks. 

Serial Box is bringing the HBO model to ebooks -- teams of writers working together to produce high-quality story each week, far faster and better than any one of those writers would be able to do all alone. I'm thrilled to be a part of it, and I'm hoping you'll be thrilled to read it, too! And I've got another Serial Box project in the works, too: ReMade. I can't say much about it yet, buuuuuut I'm pretty excited about that one too. More on that front in September!

OK but here's the important question: how do I buy it?

If you never want to miss an episode, you can buy a season pass for everything in ebook and audiobook format, and have an array of choices for where to read it. You can also buy single episodes (like mine!) on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, basically anywhere ebooks are sold. (For Nook, too, but it looks like it's not up there quite yet...)

Since this is the second season, you may also be interested in the Season 1 Omnibus -- or if you're in a rush, there's a convenient Season One Recap so you can get up to speed right away.

I AM SO EXCITED. ARE YOU EXCITED TO? AHHHHH! If you're feeling excited too, plus you have a couple spare bucks and an hour to read, pick up my episode and let me know what you think!

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Fast News Day

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that I had a bunch of unannounced work in the pipeline? Well, announcement season has begun! Yesterday two pieces of news dropped about what I'm doing in 2016, and both of them are basically fantastic in every way.

First: Bookburners! 

I'm a big fan of the idea of short-form serial ebooks; in fact that's exactly what Lucy Smokeheart was. But at Phoenix Comicon I met Julian Yap, who is co-founder of a company called Serial Box along with Molly Barton, formerly Penguin's global digital director. And their vision one-ups mine with an important improvement: working with teams.

I am beyond tickled to say I've joined on to help write the second season of Bookburners, their flagship serial, along with a bunch of writers I'd been dying to work with already: Max Gladstone, Mur Lafferty, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Slattery, and now Amal El-Mohtar is also joining us!

And just wait until you see what the story is about. OMG.

Magic is real, and hungry—trapped in ancient texts and artifacts, only a few who discover it survive to fight back. Detective Sal Brooks is a survivor. Freshly awake to just what dangers are lurking, she joins a Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad: Team Three of the Societas Librorum Occultorum. Together they stand between humanity and magical apocalypse. Some call them the Bookburners. They don’t like the label.

I can't wait until May to share Season 2 with you. But there's no reason you have to wait -- Season 1 is complete now, so feel free to go pick it up on Amazon or in the Serial Box app. Or if you hold your horses just a little while more, an omnibus edition for Season 1 should be available real soon. (I think?)

Strange Horizons

But if you want to do a little reading right now, have I got news for you! A piece on fitness games and New Year's resolutions went up on Strange Horizons yesterday -- and better yet, it's just the first in a column called Metagames that will be a critical look at the intersections between video games, culture, and genre fiction. 

This is an idea that followed from my piece about desire demons in Dragon Age a while back, and when they asked if I'd like to write about games more often, I jumped at the chance. This is going to be so great, you guys. So great!

So 2016 is still looking pretty sunny from a professional perspective. No complaints on the front! Now if only I could get my domestic sphere under control, too...

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Diesel Reboot

I've been pretty quiet about what I've been up to so far this year, aside from a few oblique references on Twitter to 'scripts' (still keeping that a secret) and 'fashion clients.' But the time has come for me to talk a little more about some of that fashion work!

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of helping Moving Image & Content to create the Diesel Reboot project. It's a deceptively simple thing: the Diesel Reboot Tumblr assigns missions; an audience submits entries; eventually, a few are selected for special treatment — for example, printed in The New York Times.

This could have gone so, so wrong. It could have felt like any other user-generated content project, asking an audience to do spec design work for a questionable payoff.  It could have felt exploitative. I am bursting with pride when I say it is carefully designed to not be that ugly thing. Here are a few reasons why:

1. No promises. This isn't that predatory "make some ads for us" garbage because… when the missions started, nobody knew they'd ever go anywhere but Tumblr. It was very important to me that the community form around the pure idea of sharing creativity, rather than gambling or competing for a specific reward. 

2. The focus is on connection, not on content. The quality of submissions is absolutely blow-your-head-off incredible. Light years beyond what I ever expected. But the focus the whole time has been on forging links between members of a community — and Diesel artistic director Nicola Formichetti is himself a member of the community. If we've done our job right (and it looks like yes), many of those new connections will persist forever.

3. The brand shares the spotlight. Diesel is a part of the community, and acting as a curator — but the Reboot isn't fundamentally about Diesel. Another team, another day, another project would have tried to make the brand the main focus, which would have led participants to feel like they were being used. Diesel is shining light on creators, and not inserting itself into the conversation where it doesn't belong — none of the missions require Diesel clothing or a Diesel logo, for example.

It's a pure and beautiful thing. A community whose seed is simply: let's make art together. I really couldn't be more proud.

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Deadly Affairs: Some Final Thoughts

Now that the Deadly Affairs experience is over, I have a little housekeeping to do!

First up: Though I'm being widely credited as the writer for the project, this is only a partial truth. I did break the story and write most of the pre-scripted stuff, but I also had a family vacation scheduled smack in the middle of the run. There was no way it could be a solo effort.

And so let us all give mad props and credit to Dee Cook, who not only saved my bacon by handling the vast majority of the responsive writing, but made the character of Julie come to life with pieces of a romance novel so bad they could only be written by a creative genius. I am awed and humbled. I mean, look at this:

A storm was brewing in her viscera, the kind of storm that knocks the power out and leaves car windshields all coated with pollen and leaves from the trees. She covered her face with her elegant, slender fingers and wept tears that were more bitter than the pith from inside the rind of a really old lime. Afterwards, she felt cleansed, renewed, almost like a bird caught in an oil spill who had been painstakingly wiped off by a loving environmentalist. But the fact remained: she still needed to win back the affection of her one true love.

Talk about going above and beyond. Dee, if you were to write such a book and send it to Kindle, I would flog the hide off that thing. You would make so much money. All of the money!

Beyond that: The structure of this story was really interesting to develop. I've been considering it high-level plotjitsu. That's because our mission was to integrate with the Deadly Affairs promo, which shows you whodunit right out of the gate. That put certain limitations on how to create and prolong narrative tension... and so we pulled a proper Roger Ackroyd, as I've been calling it.

If you're not familiar, that's a reference to an Agatha Christie novel in which you learn at the end that the first-person narrator has been the murderer the whole time. And for Deadly Affairs, we led you down a garden path thinking the character of Gabs is the wife -- but she's been the mistress the whole time. Switcheroo!

That narrative complexity was balanced, though, by making the actual story itself fairly accessible and easy to navigate. Light on challenges, moderately heavy on available character interaction (especially compared to the standard for a project out of a TV network or film studio). It did the things we wanted it to do very well, and the community it was aimed at -- the ID Addicts who make the network go -- were asking us to do another game like this one even before the end. A good feeling, that.

And of course I am delighted that I finally got to do a soap opera like I've always wanted... though I didn't get to throw a wedding at the end. One day. One day.

Last but not least: I owe a huge thank you to TC Conway in specific, and also to Investigation Discovery as a whole, for making the project possible. It was a lot of fun, and I'd love to do something like it again.

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2012 Demographic and Salary Survey

Remember that one time in 2010 when I put together a demographic and salary survey for the IGDA's ARG SIG? Good times, good times.

I've been wondering how things have changed lo these last couple of years. Itt strikes me that the community could still use some fresh demographics and salary information, for the sake of comparison. So! I'd like to introduce the as-scientific-as-I-can-make-it 2012 ARG/Transmedia Demographic and Salary Survey!

It's meant for both audience members and for working professionals -- players, it helps us to sell in a pitch if we have some basic demo information, and pros, it helps us all to know what rates we're all charging so nobody is undercutting themselves too badly.

Take a look! Spread the link around! In a couple of weeks (or the end of the month or, basically, when I have a chance to do it) I'll collect the responses into a neat package like the last time. It'll be awesome. Let's roll!

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