Free Three Spartans .STL Files

One of the fun things about promoting a book is finding fun and interesting ways to spread the word. For the last few years, I’ve been pretty involved in 3D printing at work (Richmond Public Library) and so I took those new skills and created some .stl files you can have in advance of the book release.

The Three Spartans is my first middle grade novel, and is a parody of the battle at Thermopylae. This was an epic battle of 300 Spartans against 10 thousand Persians under the rule of Xerxes during the summer of 480 BCE.

In the Three Spartans, we see Art, Lea and George gather up a small resistance to battle Zeke and his Immortals. It’s a story of overcoming incredible odds, and inspiring those around you to do the same.

This is a 3D rendering of a spartan warrior I designed using the beta version of Desktop Hero 3D. I’ve been using version 1 of this program (which is publicly available) to make Dungeons and Dragons characters, and have run library programs teaching teens to write character backgrounds.

So, when I was looking at a cool giveaway, I approached Andrew at Desktop Hero and asked if I could create an .stl for a free download. He agreed, and using V2 I made the above Spartan and a rendering of Art Demus, narrator of the Three Spartans, as seen below.

Andrew was great. He’s redeveloping Desktop Hero 3D into V2, and it’s amazing. I’ve used Hero Forge from time to time to create a character, but this new Desktop Hero 3D (it releases in December) will be my only source for creating figures.

The interface is easy to use and the files (they export in .obj) print nice and clean. I printed mine on a Makerbot Desktop Replicator, with .2 layer height, 100% infill, 2 shells, a raft and supports. (Examples to come in later blog posts.) You can download the files below and give them a try.

Workshops at the surrey public library

This past spring break, I had the opportunity to do six workshops for the Surrey Public Library system. Working with this library as an author is always a huge pleasure, as the librarians and library techs work so hard to make their programs a success. Plus, they are incredibly knowledgeable and interesting to chat with.

My first stop was Ocean Park Library, and a handful of teens all prepared to write showed up to learn how to come up with story ideas by making their own maps.

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I showed them all sorts of maps, including the 3D printed map I use in my Dungeons and Dragons game.

Second, I went to the Semiahmoo branch and met with a handful of teens ready to pen their own tales.

Next, I was at Strawberry Hill where I was met by Orlando Bloom (in a photo) and we each did our thing to encourage teens to read and write.

Him, holding a book so tightly as if to say “You can never have this book,” obviously to make you want it even more since you can’t have it. Me, teaching the one teen who woke at 11am during spring break to come learn how to create stories with maps and cartography.

Before going to the Cloverdale Library, I stopped in at the Rustic Rooster for some food.

And I took a selfie by the dinosaur outside the museum next door!

And then I went to work, talking story writing with the creative writing club. Librarian Carmen, who runs the club, came on her day off to participate in the workshop. Thanks, Carmen!

My penultimate stop was at the City Centre library, where we chatted about how Dungeons and Dragons inspires writing. We also wrote some stories, and drew some maps. One of the teens expressed disappointment that there wasn’t enough time to actually play a game of D&D!

City Centre Library in Surrey has one of my favourite library cafes!

My final stop was at the Guildford branch, where I taught the teens how to create multi-ended stories as a computer game using a program called Inkle. They picked it up fast and wrote some interesting tales!

Big Thanks!

Again, a big thanks goes out to the Surrey Public Library for hosting my workshops. All of you at the library who were so kind to me were absolutely amazing, and you do an incredible service to your community. Keep up the amazing work!

Dungeons and Dragons 3D Printed

Since July 2018, I’ve been running a Dungeons and Dragons game at my library. As a Digital Services tech, I’ve been trying to add digital content to the game wherever possible to make the game run smoother or to feel more immersive.

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A few weeks ago, I decided to 3D print a set of medieval and viking houses to create a village where the players were heading. At the moment, the players had found themselves in an alternate dimension where the world was engulfed with water and there was very few spots of land left. They’d just battled a creature known as the Yuan-ti, which are serpents that were once humans and now believe that they have a right to rule unchallenged.

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My players had mentioned to me that they wanted more of their character’s backstories to play a role in the game. So, as you can see from the grid paper and 3D printed items above, I began to put together a recreation of a town from one of the player’s backstories.

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Such as the medieval cottage and the viking huts. (At the library, we have Makerbot Replicator 2s and print with PLA.) The files for the buildings I found on Thingiverse, and the characters I had 3D printed were from Shapeways and Heroforge.

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This was the map when it was nearly complete. The town of Dellam is a piece of land that is slowly being swallowed by the rising oceans. Varis, an elfin ranger, brought the party here from the mountain where the Yuan-ti battle had happened.

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Of course, as what often happens, the characters decided to chase down a ship the Yuan-ti were using to escape. At this point the players had not seen the 3D printed map just yet.

So, there I was, drawing out an impromptu grid-map of two ships–one manned by the Yuan-ti and the other steered by NPC Varis and the players. They did manage to chase it down, wage a battle, and defeat the enemy. (Eventually their pyro-sorcerer unleashed a series of fireballs that sunk the enemy.)

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And that’s when they sailed into port, to the 3D printed village of Dellam. A mostly swamp terrain that is slowly sinking into the ocean.

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And what now? What comes next? The players enjoyed the ocean battle so much that they are now talking about commandeering their own ship. So, as you can see, I am 3D printing them one.

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And will sign off this post with a carton from the 80s:

Workshops at Surrey Public Library

Spring break is just around the corner, and if you’re a teen looking for something to do the Surrey Public Library will be hosting my workshops!

Registration begins February 25!

You can find the list of workshops here.

Story-mapping

Ocean Park, Mar. 22, 1-2:15

Semiahmoo, Mar. 22, 3:15-4:30

Cloverdale, Mar. 23, 2:30-3:45pm

Strawberry Hill, Mar. 23, time TBD

Do you sometimes get stuck while writing a story? This workshop will unleash your creativity so you can say goodbye to Writer’s Block through the design of maps–whether you write fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, or romance.

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City Centre

Storytelling with Dungeons & Dragons, 12-1:15pm, Fri. Mar. 29th

Many of the best-known authors these days got their storytelling start through a game called Dungeons and Dragons. Learn how this storytelling game can unleash your creativity through character design, plot elements, map-making, and collaboration.

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Guildford

Writing with Inky, Fri. Mar. 29th, 2:15-3:30

Do you enjoy those books that have multiple endings? Would you like to know how to create one of those stories into a text-based video game? This workshop will show you a different style of writing that will have you writing your very own games for you and friends to play!

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Author Event at the Richmond Public Library

For you local folks, I’ll be doing an author event at the Richmond Public Library on October 3, from 4-5:00PM. Topic: Writing Dungeons and Dragons-style.
If you have the time, it would be great to see you there. Please consider registering!

You’ll have a chance to try out some of the techniques I use for crafting a story. And here are a few of the things I’ll be discussing:

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SD 43’s Annual MACC Writers Conference

When Cheryl A. of SD 43 asks you to participate in the annual MACC Writer’s conference for grades 6/7, the only response is to say yes and then figure out how to free your schedule. This year’s all-day event had around 300 students, and 11 authors teaching them the craft.

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From left to right: (top) Lee Edward Fodi, Sean O’Reilly, Richard Dal Monte, CC Humphreys, kc dyer, and Rob Taylor. (bottom) Pia Guerra, Denise Jaden, Me, Tiffany Stone, and Tanya Lloyd Kai.

I talked about one of my favourite subjects–Dungeons and Dragons. As a collaborative storytelling game, it really is the perfect training ground for young writers.

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But not all was school and writing and conference. I also stopped into a cafe along the way called, Coffee+Vanilla. If you’re in the Coquitlam/Maillardville area, this is a pretty sweet spot with very good coffee!

 

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Dungeons and Dragons and Creative Writing

Over the next few months, I’ll be running workshops that connect Dungeons and Dragons to writing creatively.

Writing Your Story Dungeons and Dragons-style

Whether you write contemporary tales or fantasy epics, the popular game of Dungeons and Dragons can make you a better writer. See how modern writers have been influenced through creating characters, maps, and collaborative storytelling to work through tough plot points!

At the end of this workshop, you’ll have the tools to say goodbye to writer’s block forever and get that novel written and polished.

What does that mean, exactly?

When I was 14 years old, I ran a weekly D&D game with my friends and had to come up with stories–sometimes on the fly. The purpose of D&D is that you have a storyteller, known as the Dungeon Master, who narrates the story to the players. This includes the setting, plot, and non-essential characters. The players are the ones who tell the Dungeon Master what the essential characters do–and as any writer knows, your characters can often screw up your intentions for the plot.

So now, many years later, I have been playing D&D 5th edition as a player and messing up the well-thought out plot my Dungeon Master has created. For the last month, I have been running my own game at the library as storyteller for a group of teens who continuously challenge me as a writer. There has not been a game where the teens haven’t forced me to rewrite the story and to accept the path the characters (whom they play) want to take.

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The teen D&D game uses apps.

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We also use 3D printed characters!

How does this translate into writing?

To create a story as a Dungeon Master, I had to write and create the following things:

(1) A map of the world where the story takes place.
(2) Maps of all the towns the characters may visit.
(3) Histories of the world and of the towns. Plus, of the spaces the characters may travel between towns.
(4) A plot that would get the characters (acted out by the players) to want to go from Point A to Point Z.
(5) Sub-plots that those characters would experience along the way. (Points B to Y.)
(6) Non-essential characters (played out by me) that would challenge the players. Some are friends, some are foes. Some who are friends, turn out to be foes. Some who are thought to be foes, turn out to be friends (the players had quite a bad turn here when they thought they were rescuing a farmer’s daughter from cultists, only to discover they were freeing an evil werewolf’s daughter from a group of warriors and wizards who could have saved her. Notice the past tense there…)
(7) Constant writing and rewriting of the plot week-to-week, and sometimes during the game, when other ideas surface either through the players or through my own ideas.

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The adults also play D&D at my library!

Those seven steps are essentially what it takes to write a book. And I’ve used this technique to write several books of urban fantasy, apocalypse, and contemporary tales.

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Last of these covers for Rancour and One-Eyed King!

I’ve taught workshops before where we played D&D to inspire our stories. I even created my own “Apocalypse Survival” role-playing game for classrooms, which I did for a few years while the apocalypse still seemed like a far-fetched idea.

How about you? Do you use Dungeons and Dragons (or other role-playing games) to inspire your writing? If so, I’d love to hear about it!