And so it begins (NaNoWriMo 2014)…

Tomorrow, writers from all over the internet will embark on our month long journey to reach 50,000 words in thirty days. For some, that means spending a week staring at a blank screen or page, unable to conjure a single word. For others, it’ll mean starting, highlighting, deleting, and starting over again.

For me, it means starting and getting through. For me, NaNo is a partly an exercise in getting over all those little perfectionist quirks we develop over the years, the constant fear that what we’re writing is bad, that no one will ever read it, or the anxiety that our story zigged when it should have zagged 25,000 words ago. It’s means starting and not stopping, no matter what. Who cares if that character I killed on page 35 really needs to be on page 235 for the plot to keep going? Bring her back…you can iron out the details later. No one is going to know but you (I understand, though, that for some people, only you knowing is enough for people to freak the hell out…it used to freak me the hell out, too.)

This year, I’m doing something a little different. I’m going to be what the NaNo community calls being a “NaNo Rebel”, in that I’m not going to be writing a novel, but a screenplay. More accurately, it’ll be a series of screenplays, ultimately intended to find its way onto the web (one day, fingers crossed). It’s still going to be a long work of fiction that shares theme and characters and an overarching story, which the mods of the Nano Rebels forum assure is completely acceptable.

It’s also going to be set in the Blackwood Empire universe, because a web-series was always the ultimate goal. All the stories and fake news articles are, in a way, just world building and backstory for the on-screen endgame. Something I can point at and tell potential investors “Look, I’ve done the groundwork, here. I’ve built this world, developed these characters. I have the script ready. All we need to do is shoot.” It’s not that simple, of course…I’m just simplifying for the sake of brevity. Visual story telling is much more involved than written. When you write, all you need is a pen and paper (or a word processor, or other writing medium), and your imagination. Making something for the screen…that’s a completely different animal, even if the basic purpose, to tell a story, is the same.

So, my fellow writers out there. Are you participating in NaNo this year? If so, tell us what you’re working on, and good luck!

And so it begins (NaNoWriMo 2014)…

Blackwood Gazette #78: Monteddor City Under Siege!

By Chester Seaton

27/10- The ‘family dispute’ between Blackwood magnate Marco Desantana and his heir, Yolanda, is threatening to escalate into a full scale war. Imperial officials report this morning that Yolanda Desantana, in a joint maneuver with Alejandro Julianos, have surrounded the Monteddorian capital and are blocking all traffic in and out of the city.

So far, the siege has not led to any large scale skirmishes with the Monteddorian military, who have been stationed throughout the city. High King Raphael Valiente claims that the situation is completely under control, although Crowndon intelligence points to another situation entirely.

“The force controlled by Alejandro Julianos and Yolanda Desantana isn’t some crowd of riotous thugs,” said one intelligence officer. “They are armies in and of themselves, and combined they outnumber the military presence in Monteddor City four to one. High King Valiente’s only hope is to capitulate to the demands set forth by Julianos and Desantana and give her father up, or hope for the other royal families to intervene, which isn’t likely. They’re waiting for their own opportunities.”

Besides numbers, Julianos has another advantage: air superiority in the form of several squadrons of fighter planes. How he got a hold of these aircraft is still a mystery, and is being called one of the biggest intelligence failures in the history of the Triumvirate.

Blackwood Gazette #78: Monteddor City Under Siege!

Blackwood Gazette #77: Prime Suspect in Waystation Bravo Incident Captured; Immediately Escapes

By Chester Seaton

22/10-As reported by our own Adella Chatelaine last week, Klaus Klaudhopper, one of the only known survivors of the Waystation Bravo incident, was taken into custody by Colonial Marshals. After he was captured, he was taken to a Marshall garrison, where he was held for one day.

The marshals claim to have questioned the man extensively, but say that he remained tight lipped except to spew insults and curses in Rommsbachian. At a loss, the garrison’s Chief began prepping Klaudhopper for transfer to a high security prison in New Crowndon.

The transport was still a day out when what appeared to be two separate forces attacked the garrison. Members of both attacking forces match details in Miss Chatelaine’s account, with one group identified as the bandit gang led by Doctor Argyle Von Grimm. The other group, well armed and well trained, is unidentified, though rumors have begun swirling that they might have been members of the secret society known as the Ephemeral Cartographers. If so, it would be the first confirmed sighting of Cartographers by reputable sources in over one hundred years.

Surviving Marshals also claimed that the battle ended in stalemate, with both sides retreating. When the Chief ordered Klaudhopper checked on, they found no more than an empty cell with a large hole blown in the back wall, likely with dynamite. It is unclear at this time which group ultimately ended up capturing Mr. Klaudhopper, or if the man effected his own escape with the help of an accomplice.



Hey look, everyone…it’s a real life Sir Rigel Rinkenbach! (photo courtesy of Kasey Walton @

Kasey Walton as Sir Rigel Rinkenbach
Kasey Walton as Sir Rigel Rinkenbach


Blackwood Gazette #77: Prime Suspect in Waystation Bravo Incident Captured; Immediately Escapes

Blackwood Gazette #76: Journey to Lelina: A Brief Respite

By Adella Chatelaine

20/10- The men who found us were a posse of Colonial Marshals who’d been travelling south and heard the explosions. Mister Mackay threw Klaudhopper at their feet and informed them who he was. They arrested him and sent him, along with three of their number, to the nearest outpost, ten miles to the west. I cursed myself for not getting him to spill the beans about Waystation Bravo, but he wasn’t talking and the Marshal’s took him away too quickly for me to negotiate.

As for the rest of us, the Marshals agreed to escort us to the next town. The trip was without incident, although in my exhaustion I could have sworn I saw movement in the brush, trailing us. I suppose it may have been our attackers, but surely they would have trailed Mister Klaudhopper. In any case, we arrived without incident in the afternoon and were treated to lunch by the Marshals’ Chief after he found out who Doctor Trenum and I were. Apparently he’d been told to expect us.

After eating and getting patched up, the Chief informed us that he would be sending several Marshals with us (a revelation that caused a deep muttering grumble to emanate from Mister Mackay’s throat). He could not cite a specific reason for this, except that the situation in Lelina had changed. Townsfolk have started going missing.

Just one or two at first, the Chief told us. But this past weekend, ten people vanished in one night. I remembered Doctor Rothery’s tale of the Mist Walker. It is foolish, but it caused me to shiver.

We are set to leave in the morning. I am unsure what resources will be available to me in terms of sending out missives, as the area is said to be remote, so I will be sending copies of most of my gathered notes to my editor at the Blackwood Gazette. I know not what we will find in the swamps surrounding the town of Lelina; only know that the horizon ahead is gray, and the air increasingly stifling and humid.

Wish us luck.

Blackwood Gazette #76: Journey to Lelina: A Brief Respite

Blackwood Gazette #75: Journey to Lelina, Riverboat Raid, Part 6

By Adella Chatelaine

17/10-That tiny stick of dynamite changed everyone’s mood, real quick. I’ve never seen so many loud, A-Type personalities struck so completely dumb that fast before, and I’d be lying if I said I did not enjoy it just a little bit.

Klaudhopper informed us all that he’d lined the interior of the ship’s cargo hold with dynamite he’d found in a shipment heading out from the port of Docryville. It was a claim we were all willing to believe, since the town and many of its sisters in the area had heavy mining interests.

He warned our attackers, whom he called “Cartographer Scumsuckles” (whatever that means), to vacate the vessel or else be blown to hell and gone. And since he wasn’t too keen on Mister Mackay and his men pointing their rifles at him, Klaudhopper ordered them off as well. Which of course would have been very bad for our expedition.

The saving grace of all of this (partially, in any case), was Doctor Trenum. With everyone preoccupied with Klaudhopper, and Klaudhopper preoccupied with the small army below him, no one noticed her make her way up to the roof of the bridge and behind the mad Rommsbachian.

She bonked him over the head with a coal shovel, knocking him down but not unconscious. The situation would have been ended there, except that something completely out of any of our hands occurred, as the dynamite he’d held rolled off of the roof and lodged itself in a wall sconce holding a gas light.

The last thing I remember before Mister Mackay grabbing me by the shoulders and throwing me over board was seeing Doctor Trenum pulling Klaudhopper up by his left arm and jumping.

Mister Mackay and I plunged into the water, along with several others. Even beneath the surface, I heard the deep THUMP of the explosion as the bridge disintegrated into flaming splinters. I broke the surface and found Mackay swimming for the shore, and followed him.

After making land, I turned to see Doctor Trenum hauling Klaudhopper out of the water, alternately laughing and cursing in Rommsbachian. That laughter ended quickly when Mister Mackay set upon the man, demanding to know who he was and who the attackers were. Klaudhopper clammed up, and has not spoken since. I saw no further sign of our attackers.

And that is where I find myself now, dear readers, sitting on the river bank, soaking wet and writing these events down while they are fresh on a sheaf of paper that somehow survived my fate deep within a sealed trunk. I can hear the rapid clop of horses galloping in the distance. Hopefully, they can get us squared away and back on the road to Lelina.

Blackwood Gazette #75: Journey to Lelina, Riverboat Raid, Part 6

Blackwood Gazette #74: Journey to Lelina, Riverboat Raid, Part 5

By Adella Chatelaine

15/10- I came to find out that it was Meriam who suggest that Mr. Klaudhopper come with us after they escaped the library, and that Mr. Klaudhopper had given them an alias (understandable, given the circumstances). Still, I suggested that he stay away from Mr. Mackay, who no doubt would have recognized him on the spot.

Word around the boat that night was that the Von Grimm gang had left the town around sun down, without causing too much damage. They had apparently shot a man’s horse and burned down a hotel…unsubstantiated claims, but I’m loath to believe it. At any rate, the night passed without incident.

We left port at noon the next day, with Doctor Trenum and Mister Mackay finding their way back just minutes before departure and sporting several bags of winning from some casino or another, not to mention severe hangovers. Klaudhopper vanished shortly before, probably hiding away in his cabin.

Our troubles did not start until well after dark. Most of us were on the boat’s amusement deck when we received word of a fire below decks. Shortly after that, the boat’s paddle wheel stopped turning, and gun fire from the riverbanks began. The gun fire from the banks was a distraction, as several armed assailants, both men and women, scaled the side of the boat from canoes. My first thought was that Von Grimm had caught on to Klaus’ ruse and pursued the boat, but I could tell immediately upon seeing our attackers that this was not the case.

They were a well-trained offensive force, not interested in wanton destruction. Though they were well armed (most of them sported revolvers, which would indicate that they were also well funded), they mainly used their arms for intimidation and crowd control. It was only until Mister Mackay and his security force broke out their own weapons that things threatened to turn truly violent.

But even then, our mysterious attackers practiced restraint. They had Mackay and his team surrounded on the main deck, locked in a standoff. It was then that they informed us of what exactly they were looking for, and of course, that something was Mister Klaudhopper.

Mackay told them that Klaudhopper was not on board to the best of his knowledge. That was when the boat’s upper most portside cabin at the aft of the boat erupted into a cloud of flame and splinters. Both sides of the skirmish looked up at the wreckage in disbelief before hurling accusations at one another.

A voice interrupted the proceedings, from the roof of the bridge. It was Klaudhopper. All guns pointed toward him, but he did not duck or scurry away. Instead he issued an ultimatum…everyone drop their weapons, or he would blow the entire ship.

That’s when he held up a stick of dynamite.

Blackwood Gazette #74: Journey to Lelina, Riverboat Raid, Part 5

Blackwood Gazette #73: Journey to Lelina, Riverboat Raid, Part 4

By Adella Chatelaine

13/10- I found getting back to the boat a bit slow going. My head was still reeling from the events, mainly from coming face to face with the man behind so much horror here in the colonies, and from finding out I had helped a wanted fugitive.

The fact that Von Grimm had called the Rommsbachian ‘Mister Klaudhopper’ didn’t fully dawn on me until I was half way back to the docks, and it was only after seeing a poster for Klaus Klaudhopper that I fully put the picture together. I told myself that it was better that the only person who may be able to answer questions about what happened on Waystation Bravo should get away from Dr. Argyle Von Grimm, even if it meant he was still at large. However, I deigned to alert the proper authorities that Klaudhopper was in the area.

Once returning to the docks, I located a Marshall’s office and told the singular man working the desk what had occurred. he informed me that they were well aware of Von Grimm’s presence. They had not heard of Klaudhopper, however, nor did they seem particularly interested. Understandable, I suppose, given the more immediate threat of a bunch of mechanized hoodlums tearing the town apart. Since Von Grimm and Klaudhopper were both involved, I felt it likely that dealing with one may mean dealing with the other, so I did not push the matter.

It was only after returning to the boat that I realized that would not happen, for who did I find, standing on the deck, looking out over the river? Klaus Klaudhopper.

I must have gasped in surprised, or made some sort of noise, because he turned to me. Recognition came over his face and he smiled. He thanked me for helping him escape. It took me off guard.

While he struck me as a dangerous man, I did not think him necessarily an evil one, certainly not someone who would maliciously cause the destruction of a Waystation. I told him I knew who he was, and let him know who I was.

“Ah,” he said. “That’s very good. We can strike deal then, ja? You keep mouth shut, I give you exclusive on what happened at the station, once I feel safe.”

I agreed to his terms. Little did I know that we would not get the opportunity.

Blackwood Gazette #73: Journey to Lelina, Riverboat Raid, Part 4

Blackwood Gazette #72-Journey to Lelina: Riverboat Raid, Part 3

By Adella Chatellaine

10/10- In the hall outside, I heard voices and the sound of rapid footsteps. I knew I had to act fast. I ran to one of the tables, picked up a chair without stopping, and slammed it into the window that the Rommsbachian had shot. The glass shattered and fell, most of it outside. A piece hit my right arm and scratched my wrist. All better to sell the illusion, really.

I fell to the floor and held my wrist, trying to staunch the flow. A couple seconds later, several armed brigands ran into the library, flintlocks drawn and charged. They saw the open window and ran over, cursing. Then they saw me.

One of them picked me up by the arm, shoved his weapon in my face and demanded to know where the Rommsbachian had gone. My eyes cut toward the window. It should have been obvious. I told him the man had smashed the window and escaped into the alley beyond. That was not a satisfactory answer apparently, and the man made to strike me with the grip of his gun, but was stopped by another, a tall man with a curling mustache and a monocle, leaning on a cane in the center of the room. I recognized him immediately as Doctor Argyle Von Grimm.

He chastised his man for his rude manners, and apologized on his behalf. I scanned the faces of the others. They were stern and scarred men, all of them missing arms and legs and hands, all replaced with mechanical facsimiles.

Von Grimm asked me my name and I told him who I was. Once I told him, a look of recognition came over his face.

“You’re that reporter for the Blackwood Gazette,” he said, and I nodded. “Fine publication, that. That article about my exploits a few months back did wonders for my reputation. I never really had problems fighting with townspeople before, but now they just roll over and let us right in. Ha ha! As good an advertisement as a man could ask. I feel I should pay the Gazette for their service.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out three gold coins, which he placed in my hand. He then excused himself and told his men to follow ‘Mister Klaudhopper’. The men climbed through the window. Von Grimm left the way he came.

When they were gone, I let go a deep sigh of relief. It’s not every day you find you have a fan in a complete psychopath. I looked at the gold coins in my hand. I did not keep them, but placed them in the empty donations jar the librarian had set up on the front desk. I waited a moment before heading outside. There was a trough for watering horses by the front door, along with a water pump. I felt the need to wash my hands, and the wound. I did so, and headed toward the water front, back to the steam boat. I’d had my fill of Docryville.

Blackwood Gazette #72-Journey to Lelina: Riverboat Raid, Part 3

Blackwood Gazette #71- Journey to Lelina: Riverboat Raid Part 2

By Adella Chatelaine

6/10- After the strange Rommsbachian man’s warning, I looked to my compatriots. Meriam seemed frightened, and Professor Babin seemed unsure. Nico, who just stirred from his nap, sat up and asked what was going on.

I told them we were getting out of there. I approached the front desk and told the librarian that we needed to leave, and asked if there was a back door. She told us that there was, and proceeded to detail the long bureaucratic process we would have to follow in order to get the door open. Halfway through her monologue, a drawling voice interrupted from the halls outside.

“BOOOOY!” said the voice. “Why are you running? We just want to discuss the terms of your contract. You were, after all, the one who suggested we open negotiations. So come on out, boy. Let’s negotiate and try to reconcile your failure with my profit, shall we?”

The Rommsbachian cursed under his breath and hefted the revolver, and reiterated to us the necessity of vacating the premises five minutes prior. He was obviously scared, but resolute. I asked him who was coming.

“Von Grimm,” was all he said. Professor Babin and Meriam both gasped. I felt every muscle in my body tighten. Doctor Argyle Von Grimm? What was he doing so far east?

I turned back to the librarian to insist that she open the back door, but she was gone. A door at the back of her office hung open, letting in the last of the day’s light. I told the others to follow me as I went around the desk. The Professor, Meriam, and Nico followed, but the Rommsbachian planted his feet, squaring for a fight. I paused and asked him what he thought he was doing.

“Making stand,” he said, and drew a second revolver. “Von Grimm will not stop until debt is paid, or is dead, or I am dead. Better to end it now. If I run, he will burn town looking for me.”

So I told him, get out of town. And he asked me how. I told him to get to the riverboat and lay low.

“And how will Von Grimm know I have left?”

I took a deep breath, and made a choice, a choice that was probably incredibly foolish, looking back on it now.

I told him that I would give Von Grimm a witness. The Rommsbachian nodded and turned to leave. Before he did, I asked him to fire two shots at a window at the back of the library. Without hesitation, he lifted the revolver. It coughed thunder through the stacks, and the bullets hit the window, cracking it. I told him that would suffice and he ran, leaving me alone in the library with a mad man.

Blackwood Gazette #71- Journey to Lelina: Riverboat Raid Part 2