The Curious Tale Home

Birthday Cavalcade

Multiple Major Announcements

Today is the first of the three Saturdays the 27th in the Year of 36. Saturdays the 27th are special days, so I always like to do something special for them in my life.

As you may know, I quit my job a week ago, and have taken this past week to rest and to more definitively plan out my creative goals for the festival year.

This week, I'll reveal those plans, as well as announce some schedule changes, and a few other things.

The Eishiloni Equinox Special

A month ago, I meant to publish a special feature on the Eishiloni, mystical beings of light connected to fate, to celebrate the beginning of my favorite season of the year. Unfortunately, the finished piece had more spoilers than I was comfortable with, and work commitments sapped my time pretty hard, leaving me with little opportunity or energy to make the necessary revisions.

Well, today I am glad to announce that I finally processed those changes and published the feature, backdated to its intended publication date of September 22. You can read it here. You'll also find a Curious Score piece attached to the article, featuring music for the Eishiloni. If you want just the music with no explanation, you can find it here.

That's right! This week is a two-for-one! So if you want pure worldbuilding and lore, go check that article out before you continue reading this one.

October 27, 2018: Learning to Draw

When I turned 30, I wrote a list of three grand ambitions for my 30s:

Learn to Draw
Learn Chinese
Learn to Compose

Chinese is not going to happen.

When it comes to composing, I've made significant advances in my understanding of music theory since then, and my composing has improved. I wasn't able to afford my desired suite of composing equipment this year, and it may be quite a while before that changes, but I consider this one a successful work in progress.

The big one, though, was learning to draw. I've always had a spatial imagination. I visualize everything. I conceive of most of my creative writing cinematically, which isn't necessarily a good thing. And I've always felt hobbled by my lack of ability to draw what I see in my head.

So, a couple of weeks ago I signed up for some drawing courses—thinking that, because of my work commitments, this might have to serve as my main creative goal for the Year of 36.

I still have the drawing materials that Amy gave me as a present all those years ago. Together with the instructional courses and my personal desire, that's everything I need.

My goal is to do one sketch every day, or spend 30 minutes sketching every day (whichever comes first), for the entire remainder of the creative year. In particular I want to learn to draw people, so I'll be focusing heavily on that.

I'll allow myself days off whenever I need them—whenever there's literally no time, or my wrist is sore, etc. But the idea is that I'm going to learn drawing through doing. I don't expect to become a master in just nine months, but I want to move from zero skill to something more than zero, and, if I keep this up, I think I'll be proud of my progress come next July.

I'll be showcasing my progress as I go, posting my presumably comically awful sketches to create a record of my growth to something less comically awful.

Here is my very first one, completed without any training or guidance:

It's Galavar, of course! Couldn't you tell? =]

Except it looks nothing at all like him, beyond the very most basic sense. I'm going into this with no training and no experience. I was going to draw my first sketch with no reference at all, completely freeform, and I realized I had literally no idea what I was doing. "What even is face?!!" So I googled the first picture I could find of someone with their head tilted back, laughing—which is the visual I had in mind.

Also I drew it on the back of one of the 50 million credit card offers they keep sending me, because I didn't have time this week to fish out the art supplies Amy gave me. So, this little piece of paper is enjoying a rich second life!

I spent about 35 minutes on this sketch. I don't think I captured the movement of tilting one's head back and laughing. My shading is miserable (except I think I did okay inside the mouth). And my proportions are not there yet. And all this is with the benefit of a reference image!

A humble beginning!

I don't know if I've ever mentioned that Galavar in the ATH era has long black hair and one of those ninja-master beards. All these years, I've based his look off the Ocarina of Time Ganondorf, but with a darker-skinned complexion, darker and longer hair, and of course a less caricaturized face. Not that you'd see any resemblance whatsoever in this sketch.

So, yeah. I'm gonna learn to draw.

April 27, 2019: Star Trek Ripoff

In filling this slot, I had two choices: I could either work on my videography plans (I have a number of video series I'd like to do), or I could work on my Star Trek Ripoff universe.

I chose the latter.

Aiming for completion by April 27 of next year, I am going to write my first Star Trek Ripoff book.

Other than that silly working title, "Star Trek Ripoff," I've hardly ever discussed the details of this other creative world of mine—the place to put my ideas that don't fit in Relance. I've mentioned that it's a spiritual successor to the things I love about Star Trek, Metroid, and other sci-fi and horror that has left special marks on me. And I know I discussed how the spontaneous most-of-a-novel that I wrote in three weeks in March 2017 was a reflection of my personal struggles. But beyond all that? I don't think I've said more than a few sentences.

So here are some details:

The series has actually had a name for quite a while now. It's called Galaxy Federal, which is a supertitle much as The Curious Tale is. In other words, individual works will be titled along the lines of XYZ: A Galaxy Federal Story. I registered the URL a while back, and have identified multiple story ideas that I'll be able to develop into full works. The name is an homage to the delightfully clunkily-named "Galaxy Federal Police" in the original Metroid, and also pays tribute to the United Federation of Planets in Star Trek.

Galaxy Federal does not have a central storyline the way The Curious Tale has After The Hero. Nor does it have a central cast of characters. Rather, it has a small number of different super-settings and character groups, each of which can provide the venue for a Galaxy Federal story.

The most active of these venues concerns a starship named Sevenge, a destroyer deployed in the War Sectors along the border, under the command of Captain Diwa ng Seresa Ilyapa—or "Cherry," as she tends to be known. She's a brilliant tactician and strategist who acquitted herself well during her time as a patrol boat commander, earning promotion to captain and her first starship command. She also personally contributed to the design and construction of the class of destroyer that she now commands.

Cherry is deeply and personally dedicated to participating in the war effort. Nevertheless, this isn't a "war series," and the adventures of the Sevenge will mostly revolve around the same sense of exploration and philosophical discovery that the original Star Trek (and the first season of TNG) accomplished so well, along with a generous helping of that famous Metroid vibe.

"Now serving D-989."

Cherry picked up her pack from the seat beside her and plodded over to the counter to learn her fate.

The clerk there waved her through to a small meeting room with flimsy, thin-padded chairs and speckled white linoleum floors. The table was plastic; on its other side was a captain, wearing the insignia of Currituck Harbor and the Border Defense Guard. They shook hands, and were seated.

"I'm Jeremy Garland. You are Diwa ng Seresa Ilyapa, am I pronouncing that correctly?"

"Close enough."

"I'd like to get it right if I may."

So she corrected him.

"Commanding officer of PF-991, RFS Sudlow, in command since 2610-2-003."


"Bear with me as I look over your record. In the Academy you studied weapons engineering, starship architecture, combat tactics, military strategy, spazer theory and design, and Boggle culture, and graduated twelfth in your class out of 672. Assigned various junior billets in combat departments aboard several ships over four years. Once you went career, you were posted for a little under one year as combat advisor to the spazer control strategist aboard a battle frigate. Then you spent two years as assistant head of the spazer control group aboard a heavy cruiser. Thereafter head spazer coolant engineer aboard a dreadnought, then senior spazer control engineer aboard that same dreadnought, three years total. Very good. Let's see…next, an impressive half-year stint as a spazer control strategist aboard a battle frigate, where you were a senior assistant to the assistant chief combat officer in charge of spazer operations. Then you went to command school, where you again graduated twelfth in your class, this time out of 114, accepted your cybernetic upgrades for field officer level, and received your first chief combat officer posting, aboard a light cruiser, where you served for just under a year. And now your first command, Sudlow, where you have been simultaneously the chief combat officer and the commanding officer for a year-and-a-half now."

He looked up at her. "An impressive trajectory, and at thirty-four you've made better time than most."

"Thank you."

"So, twelfth in your class both times. What do you think about that?"

"The first time was because I worked hard. The second time was because I had strong competition."

Along with her aboard the Sevenge—her second command, after the Sudlow, in case you're confused, but her first starship command, as Sudlow is not a starship—is a fairly well-defined cast of "senates" (old-style humans), AIs, and "sebes," or "cybernetic beings," who have no material bodies and dwell only in the ship's virtual worlds. For any given episode, any of them—not just Cherry—could be the "main" character. Nor is the "bridge" necessarily the main setting for action. (In that most-of-a-novel I wrote last year, only two scenes were set on the command deck.)

Even though Babylon 5 isn't a significant inspiration for Galaxy Federal, it does offer a good example of what I mean about a series that follows multiple sets of characters across multiple locations. Even the B5 station itself is huge, with many interesting locations that don't have anything to do with the operation of the station. That's what you should anticipate with my starships.

As Galaxy Federal lacks a central master plot, it will be easier for me to write standalone stories that contribute to the persistent development of the world without having to sustain the numerous working parts of an interconnected plotline, as is the case with The Curious Tale. Galaxy Federal is designed and intended to be a lot speedier in development.

The stories will also not necessarily be told in a chronological order, but rather in whatever order it suits me to write them—though I am aware that this very first work will have the heavy duty of introducing quite a lot of lore and nomenclature, and that it also needs to be a stronger story that expends some lore capital rather than a weaker one that holds resources in reserve. So I'll be pulling out a few stops.

This series is also a strong candidate for eventual graphic novel storytelling, though that would necessarily be quite a ways out in the future. I'd also like to do a few video games in this universe.

For now, look for the first Galaxy Federal book—which will be full novel length—to publish in time for April 27, 2019, the second of the three Saturdays the 27th.

July 27, 2019: Chapter 1 of After The Hero

But the big one, the one you're all waiting for, is my full-birthday Saturday the 27th, next July—nine months from today. An Extra Special Day! Saturday full birthdays only happen once every seven years on average. Super, super auspicious.

It deserves something Big.

Everyone has been asking for me to focus on Book I of ATH, and while Book I is too tall an order for me to tackle in nine months, Chapter 1 is definitely plausible. As with the Prelude, significant snippets and fragments of it are already written or at least scoped out. What remains is to tie them together into a tight storyline (which is already created and standing by), and flesh out the rest.

Chapter 1 will be the length of a book, so even though it will only be a part of "Book I," it will nevertheless have its own publication as a standalone work.

Chapter 1 chronicles the Galan conquest of the City of Soda Fountain, the great metropolis of the Sodaplains, and gives much attention to introducing and developing characters both on the Galan side and in Soda. The chapter begins with a Davoranjan scouting party in the Sand Ocean spotting the approach of a fleet of metal sandships, instantly understood to be Galan. Before the sandships can even draw near, the Davoranjans are swiftly overrun by a Galan aerial team.

Chapter 1 has a little of everything: magic, pomp and spectacle, romance (both in the classic sense and the modern one), large-scale combat, one-on-one fights, tense escapes, angels, dwends, politics, underworld shenanigans, the Will of the Gods, a festival, and Silence talking vry srsly about dirt. I think you'll enjoy it.

Look for it next summer, as the capstone to the Year of 36.

Entrepreneurial Efforts

Outside of my core artistic plans, the Year of 36 is also all about earning a living. I have to support myself. You know I've struggled with this in the past. But I've done a lot of mental recovering this year, and I'm at a healthier point now than at any time since I lived on the Mountain. I'm in the best position yet to tackle this challenge and earn enough money to break even. All I want to do is break even, and have enough money not to go hungry. Anything more than that can wait, while I focus on my creative efforts.

My plans include marketing my private freelance business much more actively, expanding into tutoring and SEO marketing services in addition to writing and editing, and applying to traditional content-mill-type freelance jobs to make up the difference.

I'll also be reinvigorating the Patreon fund, and resuming activity on my social media channels, with the goal of earning at least a couple new patrons. But, given everything I'm taking on this year, I'll probably wait to make a larger push on that in Season 6. We'll see.

Schedule Changes

Currently I have two active features, Curious Tale Saturdays and Empire on Ice.

It would feel deeply wrong to cut Curious Tale Saturdays, so that will be continuing, but be prepared for those to receive less effort than I had intended previously. Before committing to quitting my job, my hope was to channel a lot of quality and energy into these weekly articles, and turn out some really spectacular work. Now, I won't be pushing that as hard, and there'll also be more multi-part articles (which are more time-efficient for me)—something I had previously said there would be fewer of this year.

Don't get me wrong: I still hope to make these features interesting to read, and high in quality. Really, when have they ever not been? (Assuming you're interested in the subject matter to begin with.)

Empire on Ice needs to continue too, for different reasons. I've really struggled to find the time and energy for it, but now that I've quit my job I think I can find a place for it that doesn't come at the expense of anything else. This series has turned out to be an important testbed for new ideas and character traits. I find that I have a better grip on the characters in the canonical works by exploring a lighter side of them in Empire.

There's no Empire this week, as I spent all my available creative time on the many other creative things being announced in this article. But it'll return next week.

However, if it comes to it—if it becomes a clear rival to more important projects—I'm willing to put this feature on hiatus again.

Lastly, no other new features will premiere this year. I had been hoping to launch at least a couple, but the new opening in my schedule means I can take on the big fish, which means some of the other projects I had in mind will have to wait.

Biting Off a Lot

You've probably read this article, looked at my track record, and thought to yourself "That's a bit ambitious, Josh."

Yes it is. I've only had one year, ever, the Year of 32, where I aimed so high and actually succeeded. This is a lot to take on.

But I'm getting older. I have a lot of lost ground to make up. There's so much I would like to do. I'm not the Josh of the 2000s, or even the Josh of the Mountain. I've got three years of pent-up energy that I'm only just now able to tackle head-on. I have both the mental and economic stability, for the moment, to make my strongest creative attempt since 2015, and I have to take this opportunity. I want to. I don't want to be perpetually beginning my creative career. And I'm not. This year I'm building on what I've accomplished, both in the Year of 32 and in all the years of my adult life to date, ever since ATH began as an RPG nineteen years ago.

Anyway, there you have it: the full potential of the Year of 36 revealed. I hope you are hype!

Join me next week when I begin a two-part series on the five relationships between Arderesh Valeran, Captain of the Guard of Galavar, and the five original Guards who served beneath him. If you like any of those characters, I think you'll enjoy this one!

Until then, may you have a frightfully wonder-filled Halloween, and lots of candy too. Majestic Autumn is at its height!

I would love your feedback on this article!

Facebook Tumblr E-mail

See More Articles

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!