Revisions – An Inside Look

I have made it known for a while now I’m working on revising all my books and issuing new editions. Some are wondering what kind of revisions I’m working on. I’ve been asked if I’m changing the stories a few times, so I thought it might be insightful to share a little of what I’m working on.

First and foremost, I want to be clear I’m making no major changes to any of the books. The goal of the revisions is simply to polish things up. So if you already have a copy, there’s no need to get the new edition (unless you want to collect ones with the new covers!).

Right now, I’m working on finishing up The Hunter’s Apprentice for its upcoming release on February 19th. Here’s a look at one paragraph from the book that’s a good example of the changes being made. First, the text from the second edition:

Gareth and Miles both waited for further explanation, which was not forthcoming. Finally, Nikolai realized that they were waiting for him to say more. “The ground beneath the cliffs is rich in salt from the sea. The entire city, actually, sits atop salted soil. The bodies buried by the first settlers here were probably set to rest directly in the soil, and the salt would have preserved their flesh and kept them from rotting away. Some centuries old cemetery, actually, is the ideal place to find subjects for such experimentation.” At this, Nikolai almost sounded excited by the prospect.

And now, the revised text for the upcoming third edition:

Gareth and Miles both waited for further explanation, which was not forthcoming. Finally, Nikolai seemed to realize they were waiting for him to say more. “The ground beneath the cliffs is rich in salt from the sea. In fact, the entire city sits atop salted soil. The bodies buried by the first settlers here were set to rest directly in the soil, which has preserved their flesh and kept them from rotting away. Some centuries-old cemetery is the ideal place to find subjects for such experimentation.” Nikolai seemed excited by the prospect.

This paragraph has more changes than most, but that’s why I chose it as an example. I may go several pages with no changes, or tweak a comma here and there, or run across a paragraph like this that needs some hammering.

As you can see though, there’s no changes in the substance. My focus is polishing things up.

I hope this helps clarify things for anybody who was wondering, and might be insightful even if you weren’t! I’d like to say this is finally the last time I’ll be going through these, but who knows what the future might bring. But I have to say, I’m very pleased with the progress being made right now!

Coming February 19th!

Seahaven is Available Today!

The third edition of Seahaven, book one of The Ravencrest Chronicles, is available today. With a fresh round of editing, new formatting, and all-new cover art and design, this is the ultimate edition of the highly-popular, fan-favorite first outing of Gareth Vann, master thief of Seahaven!

Gareth Vann is an renowned thief in the city of Seahaven. The rugged scoundrel is mostly concerned with coin and drink, but has an altruistic streak he tries to hide. He never intended to be a hero, but when Gareth becomes the target of a pair of vampires, he finds himself trapped in the middle of a conspiracy that reaches all the way to Castle Ravencrest itself. To protect those he cares most about, Gareth must reluctantly hunt the creatures of the night the only way he knows how: From the shadows.

Get it now from your favorite bookseller!

City-Building VPA 1: Seeding the City

Land. Land and opportunity. These have long been the cornerstones of the American Dream. But, what is land when not all have access to it? What is opportunity when it is just out of reach?

— From the journal of Charles Rosencrantz, 2022.


I can’t say why this land hasn’t been developed. A coastal plain with a river running through it. Majestic mountains in the distance. Fertile soil and plenty of resources. There’s even highways and rail lines, both simply passing through the idyllic countryside. Somebody should have scooped this land up and exploited it hundreds of years ago. But here it lies, nigh untouched, just waiting for man to leave his mark. Or perhaps dreading it?

Regardless, here we are. A fresh start. And perhaps, an opportunity to find a better way? Not only a better way to design a city, but a better way of life for her residents? There’s a lot of differing theories on urban planning out there. But, there’s a new wave of thought, and this might be the chance to put that to the test. The resurgence of the “garden city”, the ideals of the “walkable city”, and a strong push towards a more egalitarian society. Many of these ideas were popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, just when urbanization was really steaming ahead (pun intended). But, practicality often led to compromise, and compromise often led to a bastardization of the ideals of a social utopia. Even, dare I say, a socialist utopia.

But, perhaps now is the time to explore these ideas again and try to do better than our forebears. Can a socialist utopia be built within a capitalist society? Can a truly walkable city be designed in a land dominated by the automobile? And can a thriving industrial power coexist alongside the preservation of nature? These questions all carry unique challenges, but the answer to each might just lie at a conflux of ideology and design. And thus was born the dream of Village Park Estates.

That name, lacking anything insofar as historical significance and brimming with all the panache of a second-year marketing student, infuriates me.
— Charles Rosencrantz, from an interview with the Village Tribune, 2025

But before we could even begin to answer any of these questions, we had to take this empty land and turn it into a city—even if a small one at first. We had to seed the land with people to begin our new society before we could harvest any worth from it.

Nature first, then, since that’s what we already had before us. We’d selected a small bit of land cozied up against the river and near the highway; a not-too-inventive decision driven by a pre-existing conflux of desirability and convenience. As my associates began drawing out plans for the city streets, neighborhoods, and building projects, I marked off three areas to be reserved for parkland. One, along the river where one of my less-inventive partners was planning high-rise apartment towers, would be a long, narrow strip of green space fronted by low apartments and rows of townhomes. Another, in the center of the area of development, would provide a garden-like setting amid the inevitable swaths of concrete, steel, and brick. The final one, acting as a buffer between the neighborhood and the highway, would be a nature reserve complete with camping areas.

Even before ground was broken, conceptual art flew across the internet from the maketing firm we contracted. Demand to move into the as-of-yet unbuilt development was incredible. So, we laid out a plan for more townhomes, as many as possible with views of the river. With the land terraced to accommodate this, the riverfront became its own miniature neighborhood. Above this, the center was dominated by two mid-rise apartment buildings, ensuring equitable access to plentiful housing for our new residents.

And in the center of it all, mixed-use development provided convenient access to shopping for pedestrians while the apartment spaces above met the demand for more living space. Still, we were careful not to overdevelop the land. Between all this, we left space for pedestrian paths and ample natural space.

And while it went against every tenant of my vision for a compact community free of domination by the automobile, both the marketing and real-estate professionals advising me pushed for the zoning of several single-family-lot neighborhoods. I resisted the suburban sprawl, but only inasmuch as I restricted its size to a fraction of what they desired to plan for.

And with the suburban neighborhoods came more cars, and with them the inevitable parking lots. We contracted a firm to develop on the promise of a modern “lifestyle center” of innovative commercial designs fit for a twenty-first century city. What we got, instead, was simply another ubiquitous strip mall. And while my vision was quickly coming to life with pedestrians filling the sidewalks of our River Glen neighborhood, compromise was seeping into the city like it always does. But, would this be the last compromise, or the beginning of a series of hammer blows that would chip away at my dream for a new utopia?


Find out in the next chapter, when we establish a center of agriculture, a small industrial area, lay the first public transit lines, and develop a new neighborhood inspired by Soviet-era microdistricts: Arbor Square.

Click here to return to the index for City-Building: Village Park Estates

As always, I’d love to hear what you think of the content. Feel free to leave a comment on the blog, or shout at me on Twitter @B_K_Bass.

City-Building VPE: Technical Information

DLCs, mods, assets, and credit where credit is due. While not a complete list, I hope to share the key elements that are helping to make Village Park Estates come to life.

DLCs Installed

After Dark, Mass Transit, Snowfall, Parklife, Industries, University City Content Creator Pack, Match Day, Pearls from the East (probably won’t use unless I make a “Chinatown” district, but it’s installed so it’s on the list).

The Map

Map: Steeltown – Vanilla Map by MrMiyagi
Theme: Realistic V1.5.5 Temperate by Captain Soap
LUT: Realistic LUT V1.2 by Captain Soap

Modlist

I’ll be listing out a few of the essentials that I feel are game-changing cornerstones of expanding the game, but with fifty-three mods installed, I could write a whole series of articles just describing them all. For a full list, check out the collection link at the bottom of this section.

Expanding the Options

All Spaces Unlockable by Klyte45; All Tile Start from johnrom; Building Themes by boformer; Find It! 2 and Fine Road Anarchy 2.0.2 by sway; Move It by Quboid; Network Extensions 2 by sniggledigit; Ploppable RICO Revisited 2.3.4 by algernon,; Prop & Tree Anarchy, Quay Anarchy, and Prop Snapping by BloodyPenguin; Prop Line Tool [PLT] (vAlpha) by Alterran; and Procedural Objects by Simon Ryr.

Making it Pretty

Daylight Classic by BloodyPenguin, First Person Camera: Updated by tony56a (Without this, none of my screenshots would be possible. Thank you!), Hide It! by Keallu, Unlock LandScaping by pcfantasy.

Running the Simulation

Advanced Vehicle Options (Sunset Harbor) by Tim, Improved Public Transport 2 by BloodyPenguin, Real Time by dymanoid, andTM:PE V11 STABLE (Traffic Manager: President Edition) by Krzychu1245.

A little cheaty? GrantMeMoney by the weatherman is on my modlist. I try to use this very sparingly, as I want to run a realistic simulation with a balanced budget. Still, we’re going to need some state/federal grants and corporate investors to get things off the ground!

For the full list, find my Core Mods collection on the Steam Workshop.


Assets

Again, I’m not going to list every asset I’m using. As of my last load, there were a little over five-hundred of them! A lot are dependencies for major assets like buildings, and a lot are general go-to items for enhancing options. Here’s a highlight of what I feel are the keystones to making Village Park Estates what it is. At the end of this section is a link to my asset collection specific to Village Park Estates on the Steam Workshop.

Architecture: Fulfilling the Vision

Residential/Commercial: Modular commercial, mixed-use, modular apartments, condos, townhouses, and rowhouses by Smilies; Ocean City Apartments, Highrise, & Commons by KingLeno; Soviet panel blocks by PALiX; Soviet residential by ///Eurasia_HHHR///; The Horizon Residences by MeteorDaddy, various H Residential buildings by Lokon, and HDB residential buildings by Ali Cafe hao YEAH!.

Services/Offices: Doctor’s Office, Fire Station, Police Station, Fire Department, Police Headquarters, University Hospital, University of Science and Technology, Public Library, and offices by Senfkorn.

Education/Industrial: Elementary and high schools by JSF-1; BTB Community College by BachToBaroque, Rocky Vista City College by Badi_Dea; and Modular Prewar Warehouse Pack by donoteat.

Decorations

Various Soviet wall mosaics and posters by IsDanBall. A bunch of various statues, fountains, etc, thanks to dabaofu, Gèze, Kliekie, Mthrax, PeterBar, Don B, UK122, Ahmad Walker, REVO, spinoza73, AmiPolizeiFunk, and Lost Gecko. Quays from Avanya. Leafy Tree Set and Regular Bushes by pdelmo. They are everywhere. I can’t stress how much some great looking trees and bushes just make the city come alive!

Transit & Parking

Polygon’s Train Stations and Central Tram Station by Polygon; CimTaxi Depot, CimTaxi Prop Pack 1, and 2011 Town Car Taxi by ninjanoobslayer; NTE – Falcon Bus Station by spinoza73; N-Link Citadis Tram by Strictoaster; and Alstom Citadis 302 & 402 by LordGruny. Modern Parking Garage and Modern Parking Garage (8-Story) by KingLeno. Parking Lots of various sizes by Crazyglueit.


Most of the primary assets for the project are in my Post-Modern Modernism collection.


Click here to view the first entry in the city-building journal:
City-Building VPA 1: Seeding the City

or

Click here to return to the index for City-Building: Village Park Estates


AS ALWAYS, I’D LOVE TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK OF THE CONTENT. FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT ON THE BLOG, OR SHOUT AT ME ON TWITTER @B_K_BASS.

City-Building VPE: Introduction

Welcome to Village Park Estates, a city-building project combining the urban planning of garden cities and modernist communal living with modernist, modern, and postmodern aesthetics.

What is This?

This blog series is a worldbuilding and city-building project within the city-building game Cities Skylines, developed by Colossal Order Games and published by Paradox interactive. As a huge fan of the game, I’ve spent nearly three hundred hours building cities on the PC and uncounted hours on the Xbox One port by Tantalus Games.

The main body of this blog will be an in-world/in-character journal of the city’s founder, Charles Rosencrantz, and his descendants. My goal is to not only share my city design, but also tell a story with it.

What is Cities Skylines?

In short, Cities Skylines is a city-building simulation that adopts the legacy of the Sim City series from Maxis Games and propels it into the modern era of gaming. To say CS is a SC clone would be an injustice though. The developers have taken what the predecessor did well and has made it better, and taken what it did poorly and fixed that. It is constantly evolving through new official content, even five years after release. Most importantly, I think, is that the community—with an arguably unprecedented level of support from the developer and publisher—has gone on to expand the game even further by creating tens of thousands of assets and hundreds of mods ranging from adding custom trees to completely overhauling the traffic and population simulations.

The Inspiration

I’ve found myself spending hours watching YouTube videos from other city-builders like Sam Bur, Biffa, BonBonB, City Planner Plays City Builders, and more. Over time, inspired by many of these great creators, I’ve progressed from playing the game to designing cities, going as far as to studying real-life urban planning philosophies, mass transit systems, and architecture. I’d say I’m far from an expert in any of these fields, but feel I know a bit more now than the average cim walking down the street.

For the uninitiated: “Cim” is the community term used for the citizens in the game. As far as I can tell, this is both a nod to Colossal Order’s prior outing, Cities in Motion, and a bit of legacy from calling the people in Sim City “sims”.

So, as I found myself spending hours planting bushes and tweaking pedestrian paths that nobody will ever see, I thought I should make this more worthwhile by sharing my creation. But, making videos isn’t really my thing—I have neither the skills nor hardware to produce quality content in that arena. But, I realized there was one strength I could call on…

A Conflux of Sorts

As an author, it stands to reason the best way for me to share my city-building creation is to write something. I’m also an avid worldbuilder, and while many might think that starts with fantasy worlds and ends in the void with sci-fi, there’s plenty of middle-ground to create interesting contemporary settings.

So, as mentioned above, this blog will be written in the style of journal entries from the fictional founder of the city—and as time goes along, his descendants. While there may be a few out-of-character asides, clearly indicated as such, I plan to endeavor to keep the majority of the content to an in-world perspective. My hopes is that as the city grows, readers will not only get to enjoy the eye-candy of screenshots, but also be transported into a city come to life through the accompanying fiction.

Welcome to Village Park Estates

With all that out of the way, it’s time to dive in! If you’re a Cities Skylines player and want to find out about my modlist and what assets I’m using for the city, or if you’re not a player and just curious, more on this can be found in City-Building VPA: Technical Information.

Otherwise, if you’re ready to see what Charles has to say about founding a city, his journal begins in City-Building VPA 1: Seeding the City.


Click here to return to the index for City-Building: Village Park Estates

As always, I’d love to hear what you think of the content. Feel free to leave a comment on the blog, or shout at me on Twitter @B_K_Bass.

A New Path

With my recent separation from my publisher, there may be a lot of people wondering what’s next for B.K. Bass. In particular, I want to share the plans for my books.

In short: I’m going indie. I’ll be re-releasing all of my existing titles as new editions, and naturally will be continuing to work on new projects.

The old listings for my books are already starting to come down. This is a bit of a process however, mostly in the hands of the retailers, so a bit of patience is called for at this point in time. While I’d love to get everything relisted immediately, that’s just not going to be possible. One thing I’ve learned about the publishing industry is that it’s a slow-moving machine. Patience is not only a virtue in this game—it’s a mandatory asset.

That’s not to say I’m resting on my laurels, though. While we wait for the necessary transitions to occur, I’ve been working on getting the books ready for new editions. Rather than just taking what was already there and slapping it under a new imprint, I’m working to refine everything. From further editing to fresh formatting and all-new cover designs, each book will be re-releasing with improvements deserving of being labeled as a new edition. This is something I’ve been wanting do do for a while, especially with improving the formatting of some of my older titles, so I’m relishing the opportunity to finally give them the focus and attention I humbly feel they deserve.

What’s the timeline for all this? I don’t have exact dates in mind for everything, but I’ll be working through the catalog from older to newer titles. That means that the first wave of Ravencrest Chronicles books will be re-releasing first. I’ll be releasing them one at a time so they each have a moment in the spotlight, and from there I’ll roll into the other titles. When this process will start is as-of-yet unclear, but I’m anticipating mid to late November for the re-release of Seahaven to get us started.

In the meanwhile, I’m still working on writing! Night Shadow is almost done, and Flashpoint: Cygnus is coming along slowly but surely. Because working on the new editions of the existing titles is the priority right now though, the new titles are going to take some time. Once things are rolling though, I’ll have a lot more time to write and you should see more releases coming from me at a steady pace!

I’m also thrilled to be working with other publishers on anthology projects, including the upcoming Dark Magic Drabbles from Eerie River Publishing, and Tales from the Year Beyond Volume 2 from Skullgate Media. I’m hoping to branch out with more short fiction as well, so with luck you’ll be seeing stories from me popping up all over the place.

In the meanwhile, thank you to everybody who has supported me so far on this amazing journey. I’m excited to be stepping out on a new path, once again, and can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

PC Game Review-A Total War Saga: Troy

I’ve been playing A Total War Saga: Troy for a little over a week now. As a long-time fan of the Total War series (since the first installment, Shogun: Total War, twenty years ago), a lover of Greek mythology, and a history buff, there’s a lot for this game to measure up to. Does it live up to those lofty expectations, or are they as impenetrable as the walls of the fabled city of Troy itself?

Find out by reading the full review here.

Flashpoint: Cygnus

When Captain Fletcher Perry and the crew of the Terran Confederation frigate Falcata are sent to a backwater, independent colony in the Cygnus cluster, they expected to be overseeing a routine land rights dispute.

When they arrive, they find Marchovia embroiled in an all-out civil war.

As the frozen world becomes the focus of three stellar empires, Captain Perry and his crew find the only thing icier than the Marchovian landscape is the cold war at the heart of which they find themselves.

Flashpoint: Cygnus is a new novel coming in August of 2021 by B.K. Bass, presented by Kyanite Publishing. The book, and the planned series, seeks to draw together the best traditions of multiple genres: The gritty realism and action-packed adrenaline of military science fiction. The human drama and pseudo-nautical themes of space opera. All this tied together by the overarching tensions of a political thriller spanning the stars!

“The XO has the conn,” Fletcher said as he undogged the hatch and stepped off the bridge. As he walked towards the wardroom, only two thoughts ran through his mind. How badly had the pirates shaken apart the Falcata, and how many people’s lives had he just snuffed out? He ran a hand over his eyes as he stepped through the door to the wardroom. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to hear the answer to either question.

Learn more about the universe of Astra Nautica!

Two years in development, the universe of Astra Nautica is designed to be grounded in reality while reaching for the stars. Dozens of hours of research into fusion technology, wormholes, star maps, Einstein’s theories of Relativity, and more have lead to a foundation ready to support action-packed adventures that feel gritty, real, and entirely plausible. And, there are no aliens in Astra Nautica — mankind’s own worse enemy remains himself.

The helm officer keyed in the commands on his panel, and suddenly Fletcher was pressed into his seat with the equivalent force of Earth’s gravity. Metal clanged as loose panels clattered to the deck. “All right,” he said as he leaned forward, “get me within swatting range of this gnat.”

“They’re darting,” Lieutenant Kim called out. Her voice was still shaky, but she seemed less panicked now that they were under way.

“Helm, you have the stick. Don’t lose them,” Fletcher ordered as he strapped his chair’s safety restraints across his chest and fastened them.

Humanity’s dominion of the stars is divided into five major factions, along with independent colonies, powerful corporations, and criminal organizations all vying for a piece of the pie. Major hubs have grown around naturally occurring stable wormholes that opened the stars to mankind. Other colonies grew once we mastered fusion technology and developed the Singularity Drive, a technology used to open a wormhole at any point in space, albeit a highly unstable one. With restrictions on using these drives within a star’s gravity well, travel between colonies can still take days, weeks, or longer.

Shudders ran through the bulkheads as sparks flew from loose conduits floating in the passageway like writhing serpents. Captain Fletcher Perry grabbed a handrail to arrest his momentum, flipped himself over, and pulled on the first rung of a ladder to accelerate through the hatch to the engineering deck. “Chief Powell,” he called out as he floated down from the overhead into the main engineering compartment. “When am I going to have my drives online?”

A chaotic mass of conduits and cables wriggled in response, then a dark-skinned face popped out from between them as Chief Petty Officer Chloe Powell emerged. Her dreadlocks floated above her like Medusa’s own crown of snakes as she shook her head. “I’m working on it, Captain. Maybe if I didn’t have to stop what I was doing to—”

She was cut off by a sudden hiss as a cloud of blue vapor seeped out from the mass of loose conduits, punctuated by a man screaming.

In the universe of Astra Nautica, every day can turn into a life and death struggle in an instant. And in the darkness of space, you have only your own crew to call out to for help.

The Ravencrest Chronicles Timeline

With the new release of The Pirate King Duology, some may be wondering where the best place to start with The Ravencrest Chronicles is? Where does each book fit in with the other, and what order should they be read in?

While most of the books are written to stand on their own, there are some little gems that hint at what’s to come or call back to what’s come before. With that in mind, I would like to make some suggestions.

I propose that one read the “first wave” (as I call it) in the order they were published: Seahaven, The Hunter’s Apprentice, The Giant and the Fishes, and then Tales from the Lusty Mermaid. All four of these can be found in that order in The Ravencrest Chronicles: Omnibus One.

Now, The Pirate King Duology gets into a longer story. When it comes to these two books, definitely read them in order! Curse of the Pirate King and Shadow of the Pirate King may each have their own tones and themes, but they carry a single story across the two volumes.

However, you can read these two books before or after the first wave. They’re prequels, so they serve as a great entry point to the series. At the same time, they feature some secondary characters from the first wave who get more time in the spotlight.


Still curious how they all fit into a timeline? How long before the events of Seahaven does The Pirate King Duology occur? Here’s each book with the date(s) each occurred on the local calendar. All dates are reckoned as part of the Fallen Age, counting in years after the fall of the last great empire, the Dragonspire Concordant.

Curse of the Pirate King — 1607
Shadow of the Pirate King — 1607 – 1608
The Giant and the Fishes — 1610 – 1615
Seahaven — 1625
The Hunter’s Apprentice — 1627
Tales from the Lusty Mermaid — 1628 / Varies*

*Tales from the Lusty Mermaid contains an assortment of locals myths and legends, tall tales, and fish stories. The most recent and reliable story in the book — The Sparrow’s War — occurred in 1628.


I hope both current and future fans of The Ravencrest Chronicles find this information helpful, or at least interesting. I’m looking forward to diving back into the series soon, where I’ll be moving the timeline forward a few years with The Shadow Cult Trilogy!

Don’t forget to stop by the BOOKS page
to find out where to find these and all my other books.

Setting the Mood – Article

It was a dark and stormy night…

Paul Clifford (1830) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

This line is quite arguably one of the most famous clichés in all of literature. It’s become so cliché, in fact, that I would venture that most people can quote it and that few people know of its origins. Of course, when Bulwer-Lytton first wrote it, it wasn’t a cliché. The opening to Paul Clifford — a tale about a highway robbery set during the French Revolution — has an obvious purpose: to set the mood for the book.

Join me here as I disassemble this phrase and the sentence it’s a part of, and learn more about how to write an effective opener for your own story.