Category Archives: Writer Stuff

New book news!

See that toothy grin? That’s the look an author gets when a new contract has been offered and signed. Crwth Press will be publishing my fifth novel…more details to come as they are made available.

What I can say for now, is that this will be my first middle grade novel–and my first adventure/comedy.

A hint of what the book is about is in the two photos above.

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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James in His Jeep Getting Java–Balfour, BC

Last June, I took a road trip from Vancouver, BC to Kokanee Creek, BC and camped along the way. While in the city of Nelson, I met a couple people while dining in a recommended restaurant who told me to take the “longest, most scenic free ferry in the world” that was in Balfour. Just twenty minutes away.

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At the ferry dock, there were a few shops and eateries. The one I tried was a bakery that had the most amazing scones and coffee. The day was bright, sunny and warm, so I enjoyed my food at a table outdoors while waiting for the ferry to arrive.

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The ferry ride was worth the wait. Kootenay Lake was beatiful and the mountains were incredible. It was an inspiring trip to say the least. Plus, it was free!

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Once on the island, I drove a short distance to Crawford Bay. This little town is big on artisans, and worth the trip itself. There was a blacksmith, a Norse artist selling Viking crafts (including shields!), and a great cafe where I enjoyed a delicious sandwich while writing.

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The Viking (a real Viking!) who owns and creates the wares for Norse Arts is worth going to meet and chat with. But be aware–he is a bit eccentric and gruff. While a passionate artist (he told me four times not to take photos even though I wasn’t), he’ll tell you his history of his people while requesting to know your background as well. (He was glad that I was Irish, and felt a kinship to me for having similar backgrounds.)

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This was probably my favourite stop. One day I hope to return to buy one his amazing shields to hang in my home.

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This photo makes Black Salt Cafe look empty, but it was actually full and I had to wait a few minutes for a table. This is a well-loved spot by the community, and local friends recommended it as the place to go while visiting.

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Once I had finished my meal and looking around, I considered going on a hike to the local lighthouse but then (10 minutes into the hike) chose to turn back since I was actually ill-prepared to be on a hike with no cell service. I instead returned to the ferry dock for some coffee while waiting for the ferry.

I went inside the Ladybug Cafe, but then saw they only took cash. I had no more cash on me, so was about to turn back when the owner said, “Have a coffee on me.” I tried to decline the generous offer, but she insisted and I gratefully accepted. What amazing people!

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If ever you’re in the area, I recommend Crawford as a place to visit. The ferry, the shops, the cafes, and the island itself, are all a mixture of wonderment and joy. You’ll be refreshed by nature and leave feeling a connection to those who call this island home.