Author: Marie

Goals for the Gloomhaven Novel

Goals for the Gloomhaven Novel

November 4, 2020 Edit: Basically none of this is applicable anymore, since the novel is no longer a Gloomhaven novel, but a world of my own creation. But I’d still totally be down for writing a Gloomhaven story one of these days! The new iteration of this story is called Flightless.

I’m making good progress on the Gloomhaven novel. Plus I’m getting really nice compliments from my weekly writing critique group on the submissions.

That means I’m even more excited about where the story’s going.

Gloomhaven means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to other players, too. That’s why I want to honor the experience of the game as much as possible.

To that end, here are my goals:

No spoilers allowed

If you’ve never played Gloomhaven, trust me, it’s no Monopoly. The world is persistent, meaning you permanently alter it as you play. The choices you make impact which scenarios, characters, events, and items you unlock.

In Gloomhaven communities, there’s often a strict “no spoilers” rule. It’s best to let players uncover the world on their own terms.

The novel is following the “no spoilers” rule.

That means the only main characters you’ll see will be from the starting classes (those you can play from the instant you open the box). Settings will either be early-game, or original. I’m not going to be revealing any boss fights from the board game, either.

That way, whether you’ve played one session or a hundred, there are no spoilers, while still keeping the story fresh.

No experience necessary

Speaking of, even if you’ve never played a game of Gloomhaven — or never even heard of it — I want you to be able to enjoy the novel just as much as someone has.

I don’t want anyone to feel like they must have the context of the game experience to understand what’s going on in the story.

Gloomhaven is cost-prohibitive and time-prohibitive for many who would otherwise enjoy it. I don’t want that to keep people from being able to explore the world.

I’m also leveraging a fairly standard 3-act plot structure, which many readers are familiar with, even if they don’t realize it. That way, the book feels approachable to everyone.

It should feel like Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven has a feel to it. There’s a rhythm.

I want to echo that in the game, but subtly, so it doesn’t feel like I’m just parroting game mechanics. (No, “With Initiative 4, he moves forward three hexes and attacks for three.” Yawn.)

So those familiar with the game will experience city and road events, item shopping, and scenario, card, and initiative selection within the novel. I’m even creating my own scenarios and running them to make sure the characters or enemies aren’t overpowered, and that everything is well-balanced.

But my hope is readers never feel hit over the head by all of this. I want the story to feel like a seamless and subtle tribute.

It should sound like Gloomhaven

I co-own a messaging strategy and content marketing firm, and our signature service is helping businesses capture and codify their brand’s voice.

I’ve applied that tried-and-true method to this story.

See, Gloomhaven has a certain sound. Isaac uses a particular writing style in the scenario book that gives the game’s voice a true brand of its own.

So I’ve gone through much of the scenario book to capture those words, phrases, and literary devices. I’ve built out a Brand Voice Guide for Gloomhaven, and I’m using that to inspire my writing.

I want this novel to feel like an extension of the scenario book, so it’s a new story that feels familiar to Gloomhaven fans. The way it sounds is a big part of that.

No exhausting set-up and tear-down

If there’s one complaint I hear over and over about Gloomhaven it’s, “THIS GAME TAKES FOREVER TO SET UP AND TEAR DOWN.”

It’s true. (Although once I got the Broken Token wooden organizer, life got MUCH easier.)

So I’m hoping to keep all of the tedious parts of the game outta here. I tend to have a hard-driving, plot-moving writing style as it is, so I’m not going to spend much time in Council-of-Elrond or Tom-Bombadil-like scenes. (I mean, I’m a Tom Bombadil fan, but it’s no Ents-Flooding-Eisengard moment amirite?)

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Gloomhaven Novel/FanFic

Gloomhaven Novel/FanFic

November 4, 2020 Edit: Basically none of this is applicable anymore, since the novel is no longer a Gloomhaven novel, but a world of my own creation. But I’d still totally be down for writing a Gloomhaven story one of these days! The new iteration of this story is called Flightless.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new writing project.

Yes, I’m still revising Unrelenting, the first Grigori book in The Deathless Gods series with my co-writer, Jessi. (Subscribe for updates and learn more here.)

But I needed a creative outlet for my own time, too.

Where it all began

The seeds for this project were planted a couple of years ago when I started playing a little game called Gloomhaven.

If you aren’t a giant nerd like me, you might not have heard of it, but Gloomhaven is a mega-huge board game. (Literally; the box with all components weighs 22 pounds.) It’s for 1-4 players, and it’s cooperative (meaning the whole party wins, or the whole party loses).

At the time of post publication, it had an 8.9 out of 10 on Board Game Geek, and it’s the #1 best game of all time in each of its board game categories (Adventure, Exploration, Fantasy, Fighting, and Miniatures). So it’s not horrible.

To get an idea of what it’s like, imagine a role playing game like D&D finding itself in a highly-satisfying dungeon crawler in a unique dark fantasy setting. You play as a mercenary who is from one of 9 original species developed by the game’s creator, Isaac Childres.

I play semi-regularly with my husband, Josh, and with a group of friends. It’s been ridiculous levels of fun. To the point where I finish a 3-hour session and am ready for another scenario.

Reading up on the game, I kept coming across people wishing for Gloomhaven novels and fan fiction. It’s a compelling world, so it’s not hard to see why.

I thought, maybe I should write a Gloomhaven story.

But if I was going to tackle that, I needed to know more about the world. A LOT more. Because if I was going to write a Gloomhaven novel, I wanted to do it right and honor Isaac’s massive creative endeavor.

So I booted up Scrivener, my writing software, and started researching by reading the scenario book, pouring over the events, and studying the map.

The Gloomhaven fan community is also passionate about staying spoiler-free, so I wanted to honor that in my work. That meant only relying on the six starting classes of characters and locations that show up early in the book… or original ones created in the spirit of Gloomhaven.

The other priority I had was making it truly feel like the game. So that meant I needed to keep my party of protagonists to 1-4, applying item and scenario effects, and keeping the fights punishingly hard.

I wanted to mimic the rhythm of city and road events, characters leveling up, fight initiative, and other game mechanics that make Gloomhaven so much fun.

And if you have ZERO clue what I’m talking about, but enjoy adventure and fantasy stories, I wanted to make it fun for you, too. I didn’t want a reader to have to know the first thing about Gloomhaven before reading the book.

Now the writing begins

I have writing goals to plow through the writing. I’m not a fast writer, but that’s because I tend to produce fairly polished first drafts.

Good goal: 500 words a day
Better goal: 1,000 words a day
Best goal: 1,500 words a day

As far as what I’m going to do with it, my dream would be to have it be an officially licensed Gloomhaven novel. But even if that doesn’t happen, I can release it as fan fiction. Either would be a ton of fun!

If you’re interested in getting updates about the book as it progresses (and maybe get some sneak peeks), subscribe using the form below.

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My 2019 Recap

My 2019 Recap

So long, 2019. It’s been a frenetic, crazy year. It’s also been good to me, but I’m so happy to put in the rear view mirror.

For years now, I’ve had a ritual of settling on a Word of the Year. My 2019 word was ACTUALIZATION. Knowing me, I picked it to avoid the woo-woo concept of “manifesting.” Equal parts woo-curious and woo-skeptic right here, y’all. 🙋

Basically, I wanted to actualize all the learning, growth, and self-discovery I’d started in 2018.

That meant creating a few things:

  • Epic growth in my business
  • More financial freedom in my household
  • Improvement in my mental and physical health
  • A completely edited manuscript for my co-written novel

Here’s how everything shook out.

Epic growth in my business

My business partner and I hit this one out of the park. We grew our team from 6 to 10, upleveled our clients, and invested in networking events that were a great fit for us. (Yes, this introvert networked. Hold the applause, please.) As a result, our 9th year in business was our best yet, and we made more than 2.5x the revenue of our next highest year.

In 2020, we’re focused on stability and optimization at this new level.

More financial freedom in my household

My husband and I moved to New Mexico three years ago and bought a house right at the tippy top of our price range. The result was a beautiful home on 3 wooded acres… with a mortgage that stressed us out like nobody’s business. We decided in 2018 to downsize our square footage and mortgage. It only took 6 months to sell our house 😓 but sell it we did.

The new home ticks all the right boxes. It’s smaller with a better layout for us, costs less, and is closer to amenities. The downside? It needs major renovations. Demolition kicked off before we moved in during March 2019, but it’s January 2020 now, and we’re still renovating.

I can’t even express to you the amount of frustration, angst, hours on hold, and dust storms this has created in our lives. We’re slowly unpacking, but we’ve been more or less living out of boxes since October 2018. Frus. tra. ting. (In a first world problem kind of way.) But we’re getting there, slowly but surely. And the lower mortgage is definitely easier on the pocketbook.

Our goal for 2020 is to wrap up renovations and make this house feel like a home.

Improvement in my mental and physical health

Until I was about 28, I was the picture of self-confidence and poise.

And then I started to feel like crap. I was filled with self-doubt and self-loathing. I didn’t trust myself, and I didn’t believe in myself.

Most of it stemmed back to unprecedented challenges I was facing. I no longer had a steady paycheck and was self-employed at poverty levels. I was traveling full-time in an RV, without a steady community or friend group at my fingertips (holla RV friends, I love you, but I couldn’t see you all the time… the internet only does so much). I discovered I was a conflict-averse people-pleaser, which meant I wasn’t as strong as I’d thought. By the time I was 31, I was desperate for help.

So I sought it out. I was, not shockingly, diagnosed with depression. Finally, I felt empowered, because I had a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Last year marked my 3rd year of counseling. Plus I added to my mental health treatment weekly personal training at the gym. The difference has been amazing. Even though I still have super-rough days, I’m feeling better all the time.

The key for me has been accountability. My therapist and my personal trainer are expecting me to show up… so I DO show up, and I do the work.

In 2020, my plan is more of the same — to continue caring for my mental and physical health. No compromising. This is the most essential thing for my well-being. (And yours, btw.)

A completely edited manuscript for my co-written novel

I flubbed this one, but not for a lack of trying.

My business partner and I have co-written an urban fantasy novel titled Unrelenting. We’re super proud of it. And a teensy bit perfectionistic.

In February, 2019, we got an offer from a New Mexico publisher to put the book on paper and get it into stores. Hello, dream come true!

We were in the midst of post-beta-reader edits at the time (which is a no-no… you’re supposed to submit a fully edited as-good-as-you-can-make-it manuscript to publishers, but fortunately he is SUPER gracious).

We’re now on a final pass of revisions. But between moving, living in a construction zone, business insanity, and life in general, that process has turned into a 12+ month slog. That super-gracious publisher friend also understands that we want to find an agent, so that’s next on our list.

In 2019, we did also attend a fantastic 9-day conference for fiction writers led by some of the most incredible humans, authors, and agents on Planet Earth. We loved it so much, we’re attending again this year.

In 2020, I’ll finally actualize my 2019 goal of a fully edited manuscript, querying it to agents, and starting on the next project! Can’t keep this girl down.

2020 is for boundaries.

In order to achieve what I want in 2020, I need to get serious about boundaries around my time, energy, and choices. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

Happy belated New Year, everyone! May it be a productive, prosperous year for us all!