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!
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.
Writing tools is a term often applied to the intangibles of our craft; our knowledge, skills, and techniques which are applied in the process of developing outlines, hammering out plots, and spinning prose to amaze our readers. I want to talk today about the more tangible writing tools at our disposal: Pens, notebooks, laptops, and software. Most notably, I want to discuss one particular piece of online software that has revolutionized how I approach an important part of writing science fiction and fantasy: Worldbuilding. Today, I want to talk about World Anvil.
A quick disclaimer: Although my publishing company (Kyanite Publishing, LLC) interacts with World Anvil on occasion, I am in no way being reimbursed by World Anvil, its owners, or its associates in return for writing this article. I am doing so of my own accord in hopes of sharing useful information with the writing community.
What is World Anvil?
World Anvil is a website (www.worldanvil.com) founded in October of 2017 by Janet Forbes and Dimitris Havlidis. It is a place where authors, table-top RPG (role playing game) dungeonmasters, and hobbyists can develop, maintain, and display fictional worlds in a wiki-style system. Work produced on the website remains the sole property and copyright of the author, and it may be publicly displayed or kept private depending upon that author’s preferences. The end-results can vary greatly depending upon how many of the myriad of features each individual chooses to employ, ranging from simple text documents to fully customized and formatted articles with images, links, and interactive maps.
The Kingdom of Brisland, from my own World Anvil project: Istaria.
From the Notebook to the Forge
I started my own journey down the rabbit hole of worldbuilding some time in the early 1990s, in what some may consider through the lens of nostalgia the heyday of Dungeons & Dragons. The second edition AD&D rule set had just been released in 1989, and new settings such as Dragonlance and Dark Sun were inspiring many of us young would-be authors to craft our own unique settings to explore within the game.
Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. The resulting world may be called a constructed world. … Constructed worlds can be created for personal amusement and mental exercise, or for specific creative endeavors such as novels, video games, or role-playing games. — Definitions.net
And thus did the spiral notebooks, three-ring binders, and hand-scrawled maps on graph paper begin to pile up. What began as a hobby became an obsession, and soon there were boxes of notes detailing everything from geopolitical turmoil to the mating habits of certain local waterfowl. As time passed and I adapted to our new digital age, I was certain that there would soon be a better way to accomplish these tasks. Thirty years passed, and despite options such as meticulously organized directories of documents, programs like OneNote, and even Scriviner (and anybody who knows me knows that I swear by Scriviner for writing my manuscripts!); I had yet to find a system that surpassed the utility of the good old spiral notebook and three-ring binder. Then I discovered this website called World Anvil, created by worldbuilders for worldbuilders with one thing in mind: Worldbuilding.
Stoking the Fires of Creativity
I was intrigued, to say the least. I had recently taken the deep dive into serious professional writing of fiction and I had several settings that I was maintaining simultaneously. Moreso than these, I had an epic fantasy project outlined that I knew would require a massive amount of worldbuilding, and I was prepared to fill another cardboard box with notebooks to achieve this goal. That was right about when I discovered World Anvil in October of 2018.
The site was a year old, and it was growing. I found it through a YouTube channel called Tale Foundry that had partnered with them for a writing competition.
The competition was to develop a world and set up the basics behind a story, and then Tale Foundry would write the story and read it on their channel. I was hooked!
“Badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” Yes…yes, we do.
No, I didn’t win. I did get a shiny participation badge though; the first of many. I realized at this point that this site was much more than a tool for worldbuilding: It was a home for it. There was interaction, scheduled events, rewards, and a growing community of like-minded individuals all rallying around the World Anvil website and team. And as I explored other authors’ works on the site, I discovered that they were producing some amazing content! I was inspired to do the same, and I was pushed to do so with more quality than I had ever considered putting into my worldbuilding before.
“That’s all great,” you say, “but what about the website itself? Is it a useful tool?”
It is indeed! In addition to everything mentioned above, the actual layout and system of the World Anvil website is not only a useful way to produce, organize, and display information; but the templates built into it offer built-in prompts that made me think of things about my worlds that I had never considered before!
Would I have thought of this if I was detailing it in a notebook? Probably not, but World Anvil reminded me to do it!
Breathing Life Into Your Setting
“But, B.K.,” you say. “I don’t do a lot of worldbuilding for my books. My stories are all character-driven, so I don’t have to keep extensive notes or detail minutiae that I will later need to reference and use in my writing. This sounds great, but it’s not something every writer can use. Why should I be interested in what World Anvil has to offer if I’m not a worldbuilder?”
What was the name of that gas station Jodie stopped by on the way to the lakeside cabin, where he had that conversation with whatshisname about that party down at whosiswhat’s house?
So, every writer has had that moment where they’ve had to scroll back three chapters in a manuscript to remember the name of some minor character or detail of a location. At the very least, World Anvil can be a place to keep notes like this. Admittedly, there are other options, but it’s worth a look.
If you’re not a worldbuilder or considering writing epic fantasy or hard science fiction, and you’re still reading this: Thank you for hanging in there! Don’t worry, this next part is for you!
Okay, so you don’t write science fiction or fantasy. Or, maybe you do, but you don’t develop sweeping and expansive settings for your books. Honestly, I’ve written several pieces that have bare-bones worldbuilding and focus more on character and plot, so I totally admit there’s some projects that simply do not need something like this. But, just because you don’t create entire civilizations down to what color is socially acceptable to wear after the annual harvest festival doesn’t mean that you won’t potentially get some use out of this.
And this is where I’m going to veer off the superhighway of worldbuilding and get down to what any fiction writer can relate to regardless of genre: Characters.
It has been said time and time again that there are three main facets of any story: setting, plot, and character. And, it is well known that character is the most important part of this equation. One need only do a cursory search online for writing tools (the tangible sort), and they will find a plethora of character sketch worksheets, questionnaires, and guides for developing rich and believable characters.
I argue that World Anvil has built into its framework everything you need.
The character template on the website has spaces for the usual questions, from physical characteristics to personal history. But it delves deeper and has fields that beg to be filled in; asking about personal taboos, mental quirks, physical mannerisms, life goals, and pretty much everything else you will find on the best character sketch worksheet, and then some.
In addition to this, World Anvil just launched a new aspect of the website called “Heroes“. I’ve played around with the new features briefly, but I’ve found so far that this is the most involved character creation utility I’ve ever seen. Moreso than this, it’s also a social network for characters! While you need not interact with others, or even make what you develop visible to the public, the potential of being put on the spot by other author’s characters talking to your own might make you dive deeper into the mind of that oh so important aspect of your story.
Brego, protagonist of Blood of the Desert, now has his own social media profile? And he’s emo?
The number of fields to fill in on the advanced profile in Heroes outweighs even those in the character template in the main World Anvil structure. It’s definitely geared more towards short-form profiles rather than long biographies, but for many that’s as far as we ever get anyway. In addition, you can post thoughts from your character’s point of view, out of character posts such as the quote from Blood of the Desert shown above, and even journal entries. Want to have your character keep a journal of everything that happens while writing the book — either for later release, promotional purposes, or just to keep track? Here you go…thank me later.
World Anvil membership is free, and one can access the majority of the features offered without any monetary commitment. There are also several levels of “Guild Membership” that unlock different tiers of features, such as removing ads from the site or enabling a larger number of worlds that you can develop. I have been a guild member since November of 2018, and I plan to continue to be a member indefinitely. I am nothing but overjoyed by the services offered, the community, and the staff of World Anvil. Speaking of community, I should not neglect to mention that there is a very active Discord server with thousands of active users, weekly Twitch streams, a YouTube channel, monthly contests, and two large annual events all hosted by World Anvil. I digress to my point above: More than being a writing tool, World Anvil is a community.
I hope you have found this interesting, enlightening, and perhaps even a bit entertaining. I invite you to check out World Anvil and Light Up the Forge!
As always, there’s a lot of exciting things going on in the B.K. Laboratory. I wanted to share a little of what is planned for the rest of the year and beyond, and some news about a change in direction for me as an author.
Before we get into what’s coming next, I think it would be best to take a quick look at what has come before. Last year I was plugging away at what should be a fairly long science fiction novel. I decided one weekend to take a break to avoid burnout, and wrote a dark fantasy novella.
Then I wrote another, and another, and an anthology, and a cyberpunk novella, and a heroic fantasy novella…. In the meantime, I had also started up a company and began a career as a publisher, not to mention launching my own literary magazine with the help of my business partners.
So, that weekend off turned into a year of crazy levels of productivity, but alas my novel was still simmering on the back-burner. I think this was the best thing for it, since I’ve learned lot about writing and editing over the course of the last year.
Which bring us to now. After receiving reviews of my various novellas, there’s been one common trend:
My biggest critique? I wanted more.
I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for part 2.
I wish the next book was out already.
I look forward to Book 2 of the trilogy!
My only complaint is born merely of anticipation. I want more!
As much as I love being able to tell all these different stories, it is important to me that my readers be happy too! In the interest of that, I’ve rearranged my commitment to the publishing company to free up more writing time, and will be shifting my focus away from novellas and to full-length novels.
This first brings us back to the science fiction novel on the back burner: What Once Was Home. I’ll be committing most of April to finishing this manuscript and hope to have the revised draft to my editor by mid-May.
The other big change coming from this is that the project I was currently focused on – Parting the Veil – is going to be delayed. It was coming out this summer, but it will now have a release in the fall. This is not only because of the time being spent on What Once Was Home, but also because I’ll be making Parting the Veil a novel instead of a novella! The outline for the story already has a lot going on, and as a novella it was going to have to be a very streamlined plot that didn’t delve too deeply into certain things. The potential for a novel-length story is definitely there, so I’m going to make that happen.
Now, there were quotes up there from readers anticipating the next book in a series or trilogy. Not to worry! Between these other projects, and contiguous with them, I’ll still be working on my novellas. The focus will be on delivering highly anticipated sequels, and I will not be starting any new series until these are out there. Among these projects are Companions of the Stone Road, the sequel to Warriors of Understone; and Night Life, the sequel to Night Shift.
All of these projects and more should be completed before the end of this year, and I’m looking forward to many more exciting things in 2020!
Warriors of Understone has received another review!
M.E. II has rated it 5 stars on Goodreads.
Warriors of Understone is an excellent new novella crafted by the skilled hand of B.K. Bass. I was immediately immersed into the detailed society and caught up within the caste structure and setting completely. Each character spoke with their own unique voice and pursued a grounded agenda. Their interactions wove seamlessly into a rich tapestry of visceral reality.
Everything had a real and immediate feel to it. The story carried me along at a breathless pace, building up to a satisfying finale that I wouldn’t dare spoil for you. I devoured the entire work in one sitting, unable to put it down until I was finished. That, more than anything will tell you how deeply I was caught up in the tale. I was impressed by the detail of character and the depth of setting that Mr. Bass put into so few pages. It’s rare for me to encounter a novella that has such a solidly epic feel. I had the same, deep satisfaction at the end as if it had been written as a multi-book series.
B.K. Bass is a master world crafter and this work shows his skills at their best.
My latest interview with J.D. Kellner of The Wet Ink Project is online!
Find out more about the creative process and inspiration behind The Ravencrest Chronicles, Warriors of Understone, and some deep philosophical questions such as “Who would win in a fight between Legolas and Gimli?”
Today is a landmark moment for myself, as the very first works I published as an independent author are being re-released. Each of The Ravencrest Chronicles books are being presented by Kyanite Publishing in an all-new revised edition in eBook format and collected in an omnibus available as eBook, paperback, or premium hardcover special edition.
This is truly a revised edition, as the books underwent more than a simple proofreader’s edit before being re-released. I reworked significant portions of the prose – especially in Seahaven – to apply advances in my own writing skills with the purpose of bringing the city of Seahaven even more to life. The books also went through an intensive copy-editing process by the editors at Kyanite Publishing. The end result is a version of these books that is more polished and that more clearly represents the original vision of The Ravencrest Chronicles.
Without further ado, I proudly present The Ravencrest Chronicles, Wave One!
In the city of Seahaven, dark threats loom around every corner. In such a desperate place, it falls upon the shoulders of thieves, pirates, scoundrels, and even orphans to fight to protect the people from things lurking in the shadows.
The Ravencrest Chronicles Omnibus One includes the first four books of the series: Seahaven, The Hunter’s Apprentice, The Giant and the Fishes, and Tales From the Lusty Mermaid.
Within these three novellas and a collection of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, the world of The Ravencrest Chronicles comes to life with a level of gritty realism seldom seen in print.
Premium Hardcover edition available with alternate cover art, character profiles, world-building notes, an expanded introduction by the author, and a piece of original and exclusive short fiction!
Gareth Vann is an accomplished thief in the city of Seahaven. He is mostly concerned with coin and drink, but does have an altruistic streak. He never intended to be a hero, though, until an encounter with vampires, dreaded undead creatures of the night. Now, he finds himself trapped in the middle of a conspiracy that reaches all the way to the highest levels of nobility and must reluctantly hunt the creatures of the night the only way he knows how: from the shadows.
Miles is a young orphan growing up in Seahaven. The coastal city has always been his home, and the streets have always been where he laid his head. Now, he is learning the shadow craft from his mentor, Gareth. Life seems to be looking up for Miles until he hears news of grave danger in the city. Together, Miles and Gareth must uncover the secrets behind a most sinister plot. Miles discovers that there are deadlier things awaiting in the shadows than he could have imagined, and with Gareth’s help he must learn to hunt them down.
Fergus always dreamed of setting sail out on the sea, free of the confines of the city of Seahaven. He never thought he would actually get the chance until tragedy befalls his family. Suddenly, he is thrust into a world of violence, adventure, and coin! Fergus lives the life he always wanted as a pirate, but he is haunted by his past. As the shadows behind him grow ever darker, the challenges ahead muster like a furious storm on the sea. Will he be consumed by his own mind, or will he finally find the atonement for which he strives?
Pull up a seat and grab a full flagon of ale, because tonight is bound to be a night full of action, adventure, and romance! At The Lusty Mermaid, tall tales of all sorts are told every night. You’re in luck, because tonight is no exception. From a castle gala to a giant octopus, the city of Seahaven has all sorts of strange tales to tell.
Featuring an exclusive novelette: The Sparrow’s War. Master thief Gareth Vann has trained an army of orphan children to act as his spies in Seahaven. When they learn of a foul plot targeting their own, they take up arms and fight the darkness from the shadows!
The wonderful folks over at World Anvil hosted a new competition in the month of January titled “A Family Affair.” The goal of this challenge was to write an article focusing on an important family for our worldbuilding projects.
World Anvil is a worldbuilding tool for Authors, Storytellers and worldbuilding lovers.
My entry into the contest was “The House of Leopold“, detailing the ruling family of the Kingdom of Brisland. This is part of the world of Istaria, which I am developing for a future epic fantasy series tentatively called The Eternity War. I’m proud to announce that this article was chosen as the winner of the Premier League of the competition!
(All past competition winners during the year compete in a separate league so that more writers have an opportunity to win.)
There were a lot of wonderful entries, and in reviewing the other competitors during the month I honestly did not think I was going to win this one. I’d like to give everybody who entered the contest a hearty congratulations for all of the fine work that was done. I read about many amazing families throughout the month and was amazed at the quality of the articles produced.
So as to not hog the spotlight, I’d also like to help spread the word about all of the other awards and accolades announced for A Family Affair.
Again, congratulations to everyone who won one of the above awards, made the short-lists for consideration, and to the writers of every entry for putting the work into creating something new and amazing to share with the world. As far as I’m concerned, you are all winners too because you’ve made progress on your projects.
Today was the official awards ceremony from World Anvil for their annual World Ember event (see my article on this here.) My own work in the challenge was in the short-lists for seven different categories, and I placed in four of them! I’d like to share the results here, along with links to the articles so you can head over and take a look.
(You do not have to be a member of World Anvil to view the content, but membership is free if you think you’d be interested in using the service! Affordable Guild Memberships provide additional benefits, as well! I’m a proud Guild Member!)
The settlement template on World Anvil is used for creating anything from a small village to a bustling city, or even a planetary colony!
My article about the city of Northampton won first place in the Settlement category! This is part of my Istaria setting – being developed for an upcoming epic fantasy series called The Faewylde War.
The city of Northampton is the capitol of the Duchy of Northampton and one of four major cities in the Kingdom of Brisland. Of the four, Northampton is the youngest. At the time of the Unification, it was actually the smallest as well. Currently, the city stands with a population of around 15,000 – made up mostly of peasant craftsmen – above average for a city of its stature.
My article describing the Kingdom of Brisland was awarded second place in the Organization category. This is also part of Istaria, and a key part of The Faewylde War.
Brisland is a mostly agrarian kingdom that lies on the southern coast in the east of Istaria. It is bordered by Remaria to the West, Teugoras to the East, and Argastilan to the North. Protected to the north and west by mountain ranges and thick forests, Brisland enjoys a geographic isolation despite sharing its borders with three other nations.
My K.O.B.O.L.D. article took second place in the Vehicle category. This is part of a DieselPunk project that I am co-authoring with Enkelli Arn Robertson, and will soon be presented in an anthology of short stories and novelettes called Tales From the Breach.
The Ko.B.O.L.D. (Korvonium-powered Battle Ordinance Load Distribution) series of Powered Armour was developed at the Peren City Institute of technology in response to the creation of the Operator Guided Robotic Engine (O.G.R.E.) by the Tannenholtz Empire. The KOBOLD armor consists of a core exoskeleton powered by a Sky Crystal-enhanced diesel engine.
This article detailing sleeper ships – or interstellar ships where the crew and passengers are put into hibernation during a long journey – took second place in the Technology category.
To avoid the problems of having a crew spending fifteen years or more on a ship – which include psychological repercussions, needs for habitation space, and systems for renewable supplies of food and water – systems of chemically induced hibernation were developed. With these methods, the crew might pass the years as if one were passing an afternoon with a short nap. Naturally, the process and physical results were much more dramatic than this entails; but the passage of felt as instantaneous as this analogy implies.
My article about the Bravani placed third in the Ethnicity category. This is another part of the Istaria project, to be featured in The Faewylde War series.
The Bravani are a nomadic people who live deep in the forests of Remaria. Their history is older than the Principality itself, and they lay claim to being the original inhabitants of the region. They live a simple life, travelling the forests and occassionally trading with those who live in the Remarian coastal plains.
Again, I would like to thank the team over at World Anvil for creating an amazing platform for the community to develop and share their worldbuilding. There is also a thriving Discord community, a YouTube channel, and weekly Twitch streams in addition to the website itself. World Anvil really is an amazing community on top of being an amazing creative platform. I highly recommend it to any worldbuilder, and even those who are just organizing thoughts for an upcoming RPG campaign or writing project. You may be surprised how much your imagination is sparked just by dipping your foot into the waters.