Chronicles of Craddock 2018Image Not Found.
Welcome to the 2018 edition of Chronicles of Craddock, a yearly blog in which I look back at my writing year that was, and offer a glimpse into what I'll be working on in the new year.
If you want to compare my progress on 2017's various projects to the hopes and dreams I had for them as I wrote the 2016 edition of this column, click here to read other Chronicles of Craddock posts. Otherwise fix yourself a drink, sit back, and get to reading. CoC blogs are as much a writing exercise for me as they are a detailed report for you, my readers. I hope you enjoy!
2018: Year in Review
I seem to start this section by saying last year was my busiest year ever. That holds true, but exponentially more so. I wrote three books from the ground up, a Herculean effort that, to be honest, left me exhausted. Let’s recap.
I set a goal of writing three Shacknews Long Reads (formerly known as Selects) in 2018. That was downsized to two after the first, Beneath a Starless Sky, became my most comprehensive yet. In other freelance writing news, I branched out by writing exclusives for USgamer and Venture Beat.
As a general note, you can keep tabs on (most of) my published articles by visiting my journos portfolio, a sort of digital portfolio where I link to some of my favorite pieces.
Beneath a Starless Sky: Pillars of the Eternity and the Infinity Engine Era of RPGs
I consider this the pinnacle of my work at Shacknews. Frankly, I’m a bit nervous at the idea of ever topping it. At nearly 500 pages and written based on research and interviews with more than 30 developers from Obsidian Entertainment, Interplay, and BioWare, Starless is as thorough as any of my nonfiction books. Only Stay Awhile and Listen: Book II compares.
But that’s the wrong attitude to have: worrying about topping a work, or comparing a work to others. I’m proud of Starless because of the work that went into it, and because of how the writing evinces the improvements I’ve made to my voice, mechanics, and work ethics. It’s the culmination of eight months of work that included filming a documentary-style video and “round” (long) table discussion with Obsidian developers, two feats I’d never attempted but was proud to add to Shacknews’ long list of exclusive features.
I’m extremely proud of Starless, and hope you’ve had (or will have) a chance to read it. Asif Khan, Shack’s CEO and editor-in-chief, has said it’s the best work I’ve ever done for the site. I agree, but that won’t diminish what comes next. It, like Starless, will stand on its own merit.
Ascendant: The Fall of Tomb Raider and the Rise of Lara Croft
Ascendant holds the dubious honor of undergoing even more name changes than 2017’s Stairway to Badass. I finally ended up with one that captures Lara’s narrative arc over the course of the trilogy of games made by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal.
Ascendant is also a full-circle long read: It combines the Tomb Raider “Select” I wrote in 2016—my first long-form feature for Shacknews—with new material written in 2018 pertaining to Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the final game in the trilogy. It turned out really well. I got great material from my interviewees, including powerful statements from Lara Croft actress Camilla Luddington.
Kat Bailey is one of my favorite writers in the games industry, and writing for USG is a privilege I enjoy every time she extends it to me. This year she and her staff compiled their list of the best roleplaying games, and she asked me to write entries for NetHack and Diablo 2 based on her enjoyment of my Dungeon Hacks and Stay Awhile and Listen books. I was also obviously in the right mindset to write about Diablo 2, considering I’d recently launched a successful Kickstarter for Stay Awhile Book 2.
How Diablo 2's fast pace and character customization revolutionized action games
This feature marked my writing debut at Retronauts, the retro games-focused site helmed by former 1UP and USGamer editor-in-chief Jeremy Parish. Jeremy is another of my favorite writers in the games space. He’s covered my work at Retronauts, but this was the first time I got to write something for him from scratch. The feature was used as promotion for Stay Awhile 2’s Kickstarter and turned out quite well.
Branching out: How limiting skill choices made Diablo 2 more fun
Another premiere, I wrote this VentureBeat-published feature as a promotion for Stay Awhile 2. VentureBeat is one of my favorite gaming and tech sites. It’s got great writers, led by veteran games journalist Dean Takahashi, and is widely read.
Egads. Four of my books were published this year (one of which, Starless Sky, is covered above in the “Freelance Writing” section), split unevenly between self-publishing and traditional publishers. I also wrote 3 books from the ground up; we’ll talk more about those later.
In no particular order, here are my books that were published during the 2018 calendar year. If a book I promised or hoped would be released this year doesn't show up in this section, I'll likely address it in the next and final section, which looks at what I'll be working on, or what will be published, in 2019.
Point of Fate
Chapter excerpt and cover reveal on Fantasy Book Critic)
As proud as I am of other books I published this year, Point of Fate is my baby. It’s my second novel, rewritten from the ground up, and in my opinion the most intricately detailed and complex story I’ve attempted so far.(And my opinion counts a little since, you know, I wrote the book!). It’s the follow-up to Heritage, which, if you haven’t read, is only 99 cents on Kindle as of this Jan. 1, 2019.
Shovel Knight (Boss Fight Books)
This book is one of my best works thus far, and the culmination of several months of interviews with four of Yacht Club’s co-founders. There’s not much more to say about it that I haven’t already said in the book breakdown, linked above, so check that out as well as several sample chapters if you haven’t read the book yet.
GameDev Stories: Interviews about Game Development and Culture
GameDev Stories collects interviews I conducted over several years into one tidy book. It premiered as an exclusive in a StoryBundle in 2017 before I published it in Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon. You can read a short excerpt using the Amazon link above.
2019: Looking Ahead
As I write this, I’m partaking in a perennial tradition that began last January. I take a sabbatical from freelance writing over the first month of the year to concentrate all of my energy on my writing projects: books, short stories, and anything else I want to work on. I’ll offer what information I can on those projects, but many of them must remain secret for now.
Stay Awhile and Listen: Book II – Heaven, Hell, and Secret Cow Levels
This is the big one for 2019, and fortunately, it’s almost finished. I ran a successful Kickstarter for Stay Awhile 2 last June, launching on the 29th, the day Diablo 2 celebrated its 18th birthday. My hope is for Stay Awhile 2 to be published on June 29 this year. I should be on track for that, but there’s still lots of work to do, most of which concerns logistics.
Here’s a quick look at what’s on my plate in regard to Stay Awhile 2:
- Finish semi-final revision, a complete read-through
- Send semi-final revision to editor(s)
- Get revision back w/ editing notes and complete final revision
- Submit book to printer
- Package and distribute books to Kickstarter backers.
Once all that is finished, the book will go on sale in paperback and Kindle formats. You’ll be able to find it on Amazon for sure, as well as most bookstores. I’ll write more about Stay Awhile 2 in the coming months as it (finally) moves toward publication.
War of the Elementalists: Book 2
I had hoped to published Book 2 in War last year. I didn’t, and that’s okay. One of the reasons I self-publish the War series is the flexibility self-publishing offers. Each book should be short, fewer than 100 pages. If and when I have breathing room to write one, I’ll write one. If more pressing deadlines loom, I’ll set it aside. 2018 was far too busy for a passion project that hasn’t brought in much money, so I set War aside.
I hate how that sounds, but I make my living as a writer, so I have to prioritize projects that keep the lights on. More to come later this year, I hope.
Top Secret projects
As usual, I don’t go into detail on projects because I don’t like prematurely sharing information online. Every writer approaches this differently. My approach is to keep things under wraps because that’s what I’m comfortable doing.
As a general overview, here’s what’s on the fire: one YA novel, in a contemporary setting, being read by beta readers now, and I hope to shop it to agents early this year; a new YA fantasy series, and hope to write draft 1 of the first book this month; at least two nonfiction books about games that are unrelated to Stay Awhile and Listen; and two short stories in the works.
I hope you'll enjoy those end results as much as I'm enjoying the peaks and valleys of writing them. That's writing: ups and downs. That's life, too.
Thanks for reading, and happy new year,