Questions that Matter with Bob Whitely

Dove Winters, a Young Adult Fantasy author, did a fun interview with me about
The Shadow Reaper, my recently released Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror-blended novel. It’s a fun read—both the interview and the book, and be sure to check out Dove’s own blog as well—it’s a fun little corner of the web!

DOVE WINTERS

The Shadow Reaper: A Blend of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror by [Whitely, Bob]

I asked the questions that matter of Bob Whitely! But first, the book: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Reaper-Science-Fiction-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B07T4XD5LZ

And now some fun!

Bob, come on down! Name the top five things you take with you during a zombie outbreak.

Every time there’s been a zombie outbreak in my neighborhood, I’ve rushed the family over to my buddy’s house, because he’s the one with all the guns! As for what top five things I take along, that’s easy: the biggest knife in my kitchen, the industrial stapler I bought to ship my novels (makes a surprisingly good hammer), my iPhone, a supreme pizza (I’d prefer Papa John’s, but I’m not that picky during an outbreak), and of course my truck! These five things have never failed me in the past!

What neighborhood do you live in?!! You’re in my zombie squad, so long as you bring the pizza! Time for a board game! Which is…

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It’s not always as glamorous as it seems

Hi folks. So, we’ve got a lot going on. In fact, we’ve been really slammed putting out novels, working on a board game, RPG dice designs for an upcoming Kickstarter, and quite a bit more. As a publisher, author, game designer and artist living in an era in which nearly anything is possible and publishing is easier than it’s ever been, it really isn’t nearly as easy, nor as glamorous as some might think. It’s actually pretty exhausting—and creating things is the easy part!

I can write a solid novel much easier than I can do the herculean task of formatting it, getting it on the market, spreading the word, getting reviews and convincing people to actually give my work a chance. I use only pro editors (sometimes 2 of them), plus at least 1 proof reader, pro artists (in addition to doing my own art, and I’m a pro, too.) I think my biggest headache has been eBook creation. It makes me want to pull my hair out. I’ve converted ebooks over 100 times and don’t have much to show for it. It’s not much easier now than when I started. It’s the one area where I don’t use a pro (but hope to one day. After paying for editors, advertising, art, etc. I just don’t feel up to paying for conversion when I “mostly” know how to do it myself. The Shadow Reaper turned out great but it took me months just to get the eBooks right, and that’s just crazy!

It’s nearly enough to drive an indie to do traditional publishing, but even there, you have to do some of your own marketing. Basically, chasing your dreams and becoming successful is very difficult, regardless of talent. There’s just so many things you have to do right to make it all work out.

As I said, The Shadow Reaper turned out great, but yeah, it took me months to take the manuscript and create decent print, EPub and Mobi files, and it cost a large chunk of money to get to that point. So, the next time you turn your nose up at a book that’s a whopping 4.99 or even 8.99, please consider that maybe a lot went into it. (Sadly, that’s not always the case with self-published books, but hopefully more authors will take the time to do it right. Corners are cut because of several factors, but I never cut corners on the quality of the actual text and art. It’s expensive to do it right, and some just don’t know how.)

Most authors these days try to give away some examples of their work. it’s a good idea to read an excerpt or other example of a writer’s work before you invest your time and money in them, and also why you shouldn’t avoid books that cost a little more. A good book is worth more than the author is charging for it.

Speaking of price, for a limited time, my pre-order for The Shadow Reaper is on sale for only $1.99! (Gotta get noticed somehow, but eventually, I need to actually break even, or even make some money, so I can rationalize the huge numbers of hours I spend on the craft.)

I’ll keep it on sale for a little while and then jack the price up to something more reasonable. If you like science fiction and fantasy (and maybe a bit of horror, too), then I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it. Now, if only I can get some reviews! I spent about 2 solid months contacting reviewers, but they were all busy (those guys and gals are being inundated with thousands of authors asking for reviews, and some reviewers won’t even review indies.)

The amount of up front money I shell out to publish is scary, because there’s no guarantees any of it will come back. I believe in what I’m doing and in the quality, but it’s still a lot of money up front. Kickstarter isn’t any easier. It’s actually a tremendous amount of work, which is why some game companies that have done Kickstarter in the past have opted to skip it for future games. Now, I’ll probably do a Kickstarter for my upcoming board game, Freeze Or Burn, but my budget is very tight and I’ll have to shell out a ton of money before even launching, so I’m not going to rush it out the door, but spend a good chunk of time playtesting (once I’m to that point.)

I’ve heard from numerous authors who balk at spending money on their novels, preferring to do their own covers, even though they aren’t pro artists. Many of them skip pro editors and it shows. QT Games LLC stands apart from many companies in that we only use pros. It means we may not make a profit and will eventually fold if people don’t take a chance on our product lines, but we believe in what we’re doing and don’t feel that quality is a good place to start cutting corners.

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t regret the fast-paced lifestyle, investing the money and time, but for those who have been considering publishing a book or running a Kickstarter, I suggest thinking long and hard about it. I’m not being negative, I’ve just been there more than once and continue to be surprised just how hard it all is and hope you are ready for it when and if you do it. Be sure to do your homework!

Speaking of Kickstarter, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m behind in celebrating our 40th Anniversary of our 2 universes: The Cosmoverse for much of our fiction, and Toonaria, for most of our games and some fiction, so we’re running a Kickstarter soon! We’ll be sharing RPG dice, art and fiction. Here’s some examples of what’s coming . . .

We have designed several Cosmoverse and Toonaria-themed dice and are considering various color combinations and other options, and will showcase them in the Kickstarter. (Because I like you, I’m showing you a sneak peek!)

In our last Kickstarter, we showcased four gorgeous, glossy, 2-sided Cosmoverse Campaign Cards. This time we’ll be showcasing our first Toonaria Campaign Card painted by yours truly.

What’s next? Sea of Worms and Arcane Synthesis have been long done, but still need formatting and then they’ll be on Amazon and around the world just like The Shadow Reaper will be 7/31/19. I have several other projects in the works, but this has gotten long, so I’ll end the update here.

If you would like a taste of my writing, you can get a free eBook just for joining our quarterly newsletter (and that way you’ll also get even more sneak peeks, and stay up to date.) I’m all ears, friends. let me hear from you! Thanks and I hope you have a terrific weekend!

—Bob

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Out of the Shadows

The Shadow Reaper just went live on Amazon for pre-orders (Publication date is 7/31/2019). For a limited time, we’re offering it at a reduced price.

Check out the blurb (or better yet, just head over to Amazon using the link above):

The Shadow Reaper is a star-spanning tale of survival, doubt, and self-discovery in the 31st Century.

A starship caught inside the mysterious GodStorm falls through a dimensional rift. Shortly after regaining control of the ship in orbit around an ancient ringworld, the crew faces a creature they struggle to even prove exists. Soon, that terrifying battle for survival engulfs the primitive inhabitants of the ringworld below, where a small town stands in the shadow of a dragon, and a reluctant knight must make the biggest decision of his life.

The Shadow Reaper is a smooth blend of science fiction, fantasy and horror set in the Cosmoverse, a universe where one seemingly insignificant person can change everything—not merely in one city or on one world, but perhaps even across the dimensions.

Illustrations and maps are included, as well as an overview of the vast Cosmoverse (the dying universe that most of our fiction is based in), and an excerpt from Voices, a novella by Bob Whitely. Published by Cosmoverse Publishing, an imprint of QT Games LLC.

What else is going on around QT Games? Plenty! We’ve still got our book giveaway going on over at Goodreads. We’ve got 2 more books popping up on Amazon later this year, both have been long-since finished, except for final formatting. And, we’re putting together a special Kickstarter to help celebrate our 40th Anniversary. We’ve also got the Freeze Or Burn Board Game in the works and couldn’t be more excited about its progress. It is a complete revamp of one of our earliest tabletop games. More on all that very soon!

I’d love to hear what you all think of our two universes. The Cosmoverse and Toonaria have been around almost as long as the roleplaying game hobby (I know – we’ve been terribly slow to publish our stories and games, but we’re trying to rectify that now!)

Have a great week, friends, and hope to see you online at our QT Games Fan Page.

Posted in author, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, crowdfunding, eBook, fantasy, Fiction, Game Design, Giveaway, Horror, Kickstarter, novel, publishing, QT Games, Role-playing, Sci-fi, science fiction, superheroes, Toonaria | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win a Free paperback of The Shadow Reaper! + more big news!

Hi, all! We just launched our Goodreads Giveaway. Enter to win one of 10 autographed copies of my latest novel: The Shadow Reaper!

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The Giveaway runs from 6/6/19- 7/1/19. Check it out using the link above!

Oh, I mentioned “Big News” in my title, didn’t I? Yes, the giveaway is big news, but I have more big news.

We’ve been rather quiet on this blog for awhile now. Why? It’s difficult to get noticed in a sea of blogs, but the biggest reason is because we’ve been very busy working on a number of cool projects. So busy, in fact, that I totally forgot about the 40th Anniversary of our two campaign settings!

The Cosmoverse, a dying universe I created for most of my fiction and roleplaying game, Cosmothea, and Toonaria, an epic, “way over the rainbow”, seemingly light-hearted universe I made for my board and card games (and for my WIP Epic Destinies rules-lite roleplaying game, and occasional fiction) are 40 years old.

Actually, I’ve been so busy at QT Games that we’ll be hitting our 41st Anniversary in July. Yeah, but about the “more big news” bit? Right. Um, we are launching two new imprints: Cosmoverse Publishing and Toonaria Publishing to support our upcoming fiction and games. We are also kicking around ideas for a Kickstarter to help celebrate. We’ve done it before for our Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology, and it may be time to run another. More on that soon.

We are also working on our Freeze Or Burn board game, and couldn’t be more excited about that project. Not sure if I mentioned it, but we launched a new website not that long ago. Check out other posts for a bit more on the board game and our universes. Join our mailing list for a free eBook and insider info and more. Our newsletters only come out a few times per year so you are never inundated. Join the conversation below, and over on our Facebook page! Good stuff ahead . . .

That’s all for today. Join in the celebration and be sure to enter our giveaway. Have a great rest of the week, all! As ever, I’m open to questions and comments. I’d love to hear what you all think of this blog, our fiction, the Cosmoverse and Toonaria. Embrace the blend!

Posted in author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, fantasy, Fiction, free, Game Design, Giveaway, novel, publishing, QT Games, Sci-fi, science fiction, Toonaria | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only 3 hours left until our contest!

[Edit: Actually, 2 1/2 hours left as of finishing this post.] Hi all! Just wanted to let you know about a special promotion QT Games is running today starting at Noon, PST! It’s an easy contest to enter (just join our Fiction and Tabletop Games newsletter), but will be over fast—only the first 3 people to respond with an post to our QT Games Facebook page will win a special prize (though everyone who signs up for the newsletter also gets a FREE eBook!)

2019 QT Games Promotion Follow up.jpg

As for this here blog, if you want to see more exciting content from QT Games about our vast Cosmoverse or epic Toonaria universe, please leave feedback (either here, on our Facebook page or at info [@] qtgames.com). As people show interest, we’ll blog more often. Have an amazing weekend, all!

 

Posted in Contest, Cosmoverse, eBook, fantasy, Fiction, free, games, publishing, science fiction, Toonaria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sea of Worms

Sea of Worms map sample.jpg
These are exciting times! My latest project, Sea of Worms, is nearly ready for the editor. The image above is a sneak peek from the upcoming book.

Where’s my Toonaria blog post?
I’m interrupting my regular Toonaria spotlight because I’ve decided to take a break from blogging in order to get Sea of Worms out the door. Sea of Worms is a bridge between the Cosmoverse and Toonaria—they are sister universes, after all, but it’s my latest project. It’s also much more than a bridge. Sea of Worms introduces a major turning point in both universes, and delves into the lives of some important characters and events. Those that have been following my regular fiction and game design posts: don’t worry, I’m hard at work and will be back—I’m working on some really cool projects for both universes!)

Wait, what is Sea of Worms?
Sea of Worms
is a journal-styled book about a young apprentice and his planet-hopping adventures with a ruthless arcane duelist. It includes plenty of art and lots of yummy Cosmoverse lore. (for those who are new to all this, both the Cosmoverse and Toonaria are thickly blended genre campaign settings—universes‚ and have been around for my entire adult life and back into my youth.)  It has all been a lifelong, wonderful experience, and I have no plans to set either universe aside as long as I draw breath! I’m even cooking up a webcomic that takes place in Toonaria to explore them in yet another way, but more on that later. Back to Sea of Worms . . .

This latest book also spotlights exotic creatures and my unusual magic system, and should be ready to roll later in 1st Quarter 2018. If you would like to see even more creative content on Toonaria besides my previous blog posts or more on the Cosmoverse for that matter, I’d love to share more, but need to know that you’re there. Let’s get a conversation going here, on my QT Games facebook page, GoodReads, my forums, wherever!

There are so many cool things to explore between my two epic universes: Toonaria and Cosmoverse. If you’ve missed my earlier blog posts, you’ve really been missing out, so be sure to check them out. Also, if you’ve missed our Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology or our FREE BOOK, you’ll want to check those out, too, if you like fantasy and science fiction! You can the free book I mentioned just for joining the QT Games newsletter, but this post is just to let you know I didn’t disappear.

I couldn’t be more excited about Toonaria, Epic Destinies, the Cosmoverse and other projects I’ve been working on at QT Games, but this blog just isn’t producing enough comments despite the exciting posts, so for now, it’s taking a back seat while I finish Sea of Worms and evaluate this blog as a means of interfacing with my friends and fans.

The Power is Yours!
Cheesy, but true: YOU decide how much content I publish. If you want to see more, let’s chat. If you have something specific you’d like me to explore in Toonaria or the Cosmoverse, or would just like to provide feedback good or bad about my fiction and upcoming games, I’m all ears!

Want to read more awesome blog posts? It’s up to you! You are important to me. Neither I, nor QT Games exists in a vacuum. We rely on your feedback and your spreading the word to keep putting out top quality, creative products.

Let’s see more Toonaria and Cosmoverse goodness get out the door. Thanks, my friends, and hope to talk with you soon!

—Bob Whitely
QTGames.com

Posted in author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, eBook, fantasy, Fiction, free, Game Design, novel, publishing, QT Games, Role-playing, Roleplaying, RPG, Sci-fi, science fiction, Toonaria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toonaria: The Apocalypse Pit

The Apocalypse pit

Evil, pain and suffering are hardly new concepts. They were part of Toonaria long before people started building first villages and then an entire city around a great pit on the Collossea floating island chain. Magic flowed from the pit and power shards were found in great number in the caves dotting its walls. The region was wealthy and many came to see the mysterious stone heads found there, and the great pit itself. But in recent times, the pit has become an ever present reminder that not all hold life dear on Toonaria.

Back then, the great stone heads overlooking the pit caused many to cast their own gaze upon the depths and speculate whether some powerful good or evil might one day rise up. When the truth was revealed, it changed life on the sky ark forever. Great champions have fought in the pit, and at one point the tech savvy traaku moved in and lit the place up with pyrotechnics to kick off and broadcast epic battles between terrifying titans of power. As the pit is not shallow, the traaku projected the battles high above the conflict using holographic projection. Magic powered Arcane Pictoriums (APs) received moving imagery of the battles in homes all over the sky ark. The traaku did not do all of this merely for financial gain, though no doubt that was a factor. Great mechs and bio-engineered beasts clashed in the pit for good cause, but perhaps I should back up a bit.

Traaku scientists have been monitoring the island chains—stability, gravitic factors, atmospheric conditions and such—everything they can to understand how Toonaria and the magnificent sky arks function. They also wanted to know more about the pit itself, and sent teams of scientists down into the pit to explore its depths, record the exotic creatures living in the caves and analyze the magic flowing like a vertical river through it. They discovered currents in which a person could float upwards or downwards from the surface to the distant bottom. And then they discovered it—the great obelisk buried below the pit in a hidden chamber. A great vault lie there as well, and held many secrets. It had been a great struggle to open the vault, and when they did, they found something so terrible that they quickly sealed it back up again.

As for the obelisk itself, others had been discovered over the centuries. Their purpose became clear in time. They maintained island stability—it was the obelisks keeping the islands from falling out of the sky. The one at the bottom of the pit was a Master Obelisk, responsible for controlling all the others on the island chain. Should a Master Obelisk come to harm, the entire, vast island chain would collapse, destroying millions.

Shortly after their discovery, Malistar, the Dark Illuminarii revealed himself. He rose from the pit and confronted the traaku. The god-like being cursed the pit. From that point forward, the island chain of Colossea would remain afloat only if there were regular, public battles within the pit. Should the conflict stop for more than a week, Colossea would fall—a short distance if the absence of combat was short, farther, if the absence was greater.

No one had heard of Malistar and almost no one took the curse seriously until the island began to sink in the sky. And so the battles began. Robots were sent in to fight, but to no avail. The island continued to sink, revealing that Malistar’s curse required at least the potential for loss of life. The citizens of Colossea were desperate to find a way to break the curse, but none was found, and so the battles continued.

Eventually, a colosseum was built around the pit. With such colossal creatures battling, from time to time both the colosseum and city around it were damaged, only to be rebuilt. It was an exciting, terrifying time. In time, fewer and fewer came to such events, forgetting part of the curse that such battles must be public, witnessed, for Malistar wanted no one to forget the pain and suffering.

Sometimes only family members and close friends came out to watch, and those who were drawn in by the shocking, violent action. When the floating island chain continued to sink, the details of the curse were remembered and people came out in droves to watch, despite the safety concerns of flying shrapnel, cave-ins, and other side effects of colossal, megaton creatures going to battle.

In those early days, great beasts, monsters, war criminals and regular prisoners were forced to fight in the arena until public outcry deemed the act unethical. After that, only captured evil beasts were forced to fight, but capturing such creatures came with its own hazards, and the complaints continued. Prisoners were given a choice to reduce their sentences in exchange for volunteering to fight in the arena, but everyone knew that wouldn’t be a long-term solution. Regular citizens also volunteered to battle in the pit to ensure there were no prolongued gaps in the conflict. In some cases, citizens nobly sacrificed their lives in order to keep the island chain afloat. Even Toonarian superheroes from other realms have come to help save the island chain from destruction.

While individuals continued to battle in the arena from time to time, ultimately, the titanic mechs were brought in to fight in the Apocalypse Pit on a regular basis, most designed by traaku scientists. Each team piloted a mech and operated its weapons, sometimes representing a nation or corporation, and attempted to do battle without the loss of life. Lethal injuries still happened, however, but it was safer than previous methods. The public no longer comes out in any serious numbers to view the battles as the events were broadcast magically via Arcane Pictoriums (APs). This met the criteria of the curse without putting the audience in harm’s way.

One day during an AP broadcasted event, Malistar released Red Syndrome over Colossea and the battle in the pit turned bloody. Since that time it has been difficult to keep the casualties down, as tainted combatants sometimes lose control, take things personal and fight for real. Such has been the situation at the Apocalypse Pit for a long time now.

These days, combatants train their minds, not just their bodies to be able to withstand the Red Syndrome, with some success, even as scientists continue to seek ways of minimizing or even curing Red Syndrome, and ending the curse forever. And of course the threat of whatever’s in the vault remains an ever present threat as well. Additionally, there has been some concern that the battle in the pit might disturb the Master Obelisk itself. As such, a reinforced platform was built at the bottom of the pit, and the walls and floor have been reinforced as well, to minimize seismic disturbances.

To this day, the curse remains in effect and the battle continues. Such is life on Colossea, a realm far removed from the pleasant tea parties and afternoon naps of the gubblings and other tiny races living on the higher island chains.

Well, that’s all for this week, friends. The above, like the other posts in this series are overviews of material slated for further exploration and polish in setting books down the road, depending on fan interest. That said, let me know if you’ve been enjoying this series and if you’d like to see more. Thanks, and Happy New Year!

[The Apocalypse Pit is part of the Toonaria Campaign Setting ©2017 QT Games LLC. All rights reserve.]

Posted in author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Epic Destinies, fantasy, Fiction, Game Design, publishing, QT Games, Role-playing, Roleplaying, RPG, Sci-fi, science fiction, superheroes, Toonaria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment