My Associates Part 3

Here's another round up of other interactive fiction titles. There are more at part 1 and part 2.

Maureen McGowan's Twisted Tales are fractured YA fairy tale romances. 3 layers of choices, 8 endings.
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior (Twisted Tales)

Liz Crowe has an erotic romance series called Brewing Passions. She came out with one of them as a choose your own romance.
The Tap Room (Brewing Passion)

 The Adventures of Whatley Tupper: A Choose Your Own...
The Adventures of Whatley Tupper by Pitts and Kerkhoven. Not really romance, with 37 endings it's geared for cyoa fans more than anything else. Authors have another book, not a sequel.

Holliday's High Noon Honeymoon (Happily Ever Afters)  by A. Porter It's got a shit cover and the opening chapter is straight historical western cheese (and nothing wrong with that). Not sure why he had to advertise the Christian.
Holliday's High Noon Honeymoon (Happily Ever Afters)
Scenarios 1:  Truth or Dare (Scenarios for Girls)
Christian teen romance where I'm sure you're punished for every risky decision:
Nicole O'Dell Scenarios

One of my fav authors who writes in the awesome futuristic urban fantasy series Crimson City and for the short-lived Shomi line, Liz Maverick, has a YA-geared title in an intriguing "active fiction for Kindle" imprint. To be a series.

Another title in this same mode is by Heidi Kling.

This one is more suspensey. Kira Snyder.

And Tawna Fensky purports to write the next installment based on reader data of which choices were most popular. Adding a serial to cyoa MYSTERY is going to be crazy hard. It's getting more attention than the other 3.

Travis Sentell seems to go in a more scifi direction.

Here's an indie erotic-romance that isn't character-centric. I'm not sure how this works, but apparently you answer a survey first and then they give you the story that matched your preferences... clearly trying to go toward the Choice Of... crowd, I'm not sure how they'd work this technology in an ebook and I'm going to try it!


Awesome CYOA romance game-books

Morgan Hawke, an erotic romance author, has tried her hand at cyoa blended with art. Think Hyperstudio, only cool again. The engine is called Ren'py and there's lots of romance to explore, especially manga style, on their site.

Hawke calls her work "visual novels" and the visuals are really lovely indeed. All 3, a fairy tale, a vampire, and a yaoi, are rated X and not for minors. I really wish there were an index or a way to bookmark/save a choice because it gets really tedious replaying to discover other endings. Other than that multi-use quibble, they're well done. Their charm is in their cleverness, not the depth of the story. Check them out!


GW2 Dreaming Quizfest

For awhile I’ve been thinking about making a GW2 character quiz. I’m disappointed I couldn’t find a quiz that did both piping and allowed for a large result pool or a split result pool (basically welding 2 quizzes into 1). Vision aside, I liked gotoquiz because it was free (tradeoff—ugly) and it allowed a ranked output showing how close you were to the other choices, which I consider as valuable as the top “answer.” Please share and repost!

My race quiz
My profession quiz
My order quiz

My silly chick version of the profession quiz


So after I finished mine I went out looking for others. I found a few that sucked, a few that rocked, and a few good tries. Here’s my survey of quizzes, in true librarian form.

good! Quizilla shows % of other takers who scored as you did, which is interesting. 3 stars

(races) shows ranges of other choices. Cute! 3 stars *Quizfarm has gone defunct.

Cute! 3 stars

Obvious. Gives percentages, but not in order, nor does it have enough definition between outcomes, consistently landing ties. 2 stars.

Long, some repetition, obvious, but accurate. 2 stars. *Quizfarm has gone defunct.
spelling issues, some heavy-handed q’s, but okay. 2 stars

some spelling stuff, some obvious stuff, but okay. 2 stars

facebook required-grrr. Some spelling issues, some heavy-handed Q’s. 1 star.

only 7 classes, heavy handed, long, repeated questions, doesn’t show range of other choices, only top choice. 1 star

only 5 of the classes, incomplete, don’t rec. 0 stars

only 7 of the classes, heavy-handed y/n questions, don’t rec. 0 stars

terrible English, don’t rec. 0 stars
7 totally obvious choices for each unfun question. Heavy-handed. No fun output. 0 stars

not even a real quiz, just a popularity chart. 0 stars



Well, my first 2 months foray into self-publishing is coming to a close, and I think I'll be letting this blog lapse, as I've said what I need to say about the project. I've been lucky enough to collect some reviews from readers and bloggers. Here's highlights of what they're saying, with links to the full:

Frida Fantastic "It’s a fast-paced adventure and I was at the edge of my seat the entire time. ...I really liked Becca as a protagonist. She’s an ambitious, capable, and passionate woman, and I was invested in her by the time I was confronted with the first choice. All the available options are valid and there are no obvious answers. There are just risky choices and less risky choices, but some pay off while others kill off."

Kyrias on Lauren: "I had a ton of fun even when I sat there, mouth agape, whining: “But I didn’t intend for that to happen!”"

angel Thoughts "It kept me on my toes and had me wondering just what poor Charlotte had gotten herself into when she decided to take a cruise. ... If you like the anticipation and not knowing what will happen, then this book will make you dance with glee."

Goodreads Sarah on the Trilogy: "For the amount it cost, it was certainly good value and I would definitely get it again. ...I have to say, each of the three books were extremely enjoyable."

All Romance willowlox: "Becca was a fun read. It's just like the old choose your own adventure books, only sexy! I could wind my way thru the scifi picking the plot twists I wanted for Becca."

Amazon Kara: "I just read this whole series, and it was a lot of fun. It's been many, many years since a read a choose your own adventure style book, and it was great reading an adult version. Once I read through to my first ending, I loved going back and exploring all the other possibilities and making sure I'd seen every ending. I appreciated that not each story line ended happily, and sometimes stupid decisions led to ugly consequences."

B&N Geekgoddess on Becca: "It was a quick, fun read full of danger and adventure, and I could never quite guess what was going to happen next. There was one scene in particular I encountered that I found especially hot because I was so totally not expecting it."


How To

as a sort of summary to several ideas I explored here, I wrote an article at Author Rescue that reviews my experiences and offers some suggestions. If you are interested in trying interactive fiction, check it out!


a Take Control Recipe

As part of a blog tour I did in July to help launch the ladies, I created an interactive recipe. I cook for your amusement at Author's Kitchen. 5 Endings to discover!


Choose Your Own Story + GW2

My poison of choice is Guild Wars. I freely acknowledge no writing will get done this Jan-Feb, because that is when GW2 is FINALLY due. (I'll believe it when I see it though.)

As I was cruising demo videos, drooling over the new awesomeness, I got this video and at the 4 min mark, I almost saw sparkles of joy. Here the geek wonder in charge of GW2 basically explains how it is a massive choose your own adventure. There are consequences for behavior, for battle outcomes, AND for the story you build at character creation.

Cue my disco ball and butterfly fireworks. It's like Dragon Age, only for everyone all together. And people are sneering about that. (buh-bye snot-heads! have a good time with your ugly wow world!) The main topic of conversation in our house now is what race and class to choose. My guy is leaning toward Asuran ranger, but I think the thief, with the random steal and shapeshifting, is calling to me. And of course, I do love my Norn world. Although it is a little odd to have a Norn be a thief. It's against what a Norn is, imo. Ah well, it will fit as well as a miniature archer. Can you imagine a longbow on Stitch? Me neither.

The replay-ability (there's a gaming word for this that escapes me at the moment) of such a world, where you can play a good human warrior or a nasty char necro in the same world, and have totally different outcomes, along with different presentations based on winning a battle... it's like cyoa GEEK OUT beauty.


They're Here!

For Sale At Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, ARe, and soon pushing out to Sony, iTunes, Diesel, et al. Three sexy adventures with some bitter, some laughter, some satisfaction, and some perfect endings. Becca the competitor, Lauren the haunted, and Charlotte the dreamer. Each lady sets out to achieve a goal. Your choices sometimes help them achieve it, sometimes take them in a whole new direction, and sometimes get them killed. Take Control!


Announcing my Trading Cards

I'll swap you a Charlotte for the new Magic Slays!

the fronts are the covers. I hope to be listed up on romancetradingcards.com soon.


Another Collaborative CYOA

Found another way people are collaborating and sharing new cyoa's. iStory uses Google App ability to share a doc, but also has elements of popularity and quality control. From ridiculous to mundane there's all different kinds of stories here. It's not a very active site in terms of new content, but the coolest feature is that their software, Story Forge, creates an iphone version. It's also graphically friendly.

Here's another downloadable cyoa game back from the day: Romance in the Caribbean!

See also January's Infinite Story and March's cyoa Wiki.


Choice Envy

I thought I was being pretty cool in Becca by giving four layers of choices (16 endings). When I wanted to go all daring with an opening triple choice with Lauren, I lowered it to three layers (12 endings). Then in Charlotte I got wonky and abandoned symmetrical choice patterns for whatever I could stuff in, but it still ended up no deeper than four layers (11 endings).

I'm a total lightweight! Take a gander at this analysis. You need to go there because it's interactive. First of all, it is so cool a fan mapped this out, even if it was for English class. (There's also a matching essay.) Second of all, this is what it takes to go from 11 rather character-driven endings to 40 plot-driven ones. I really, really, really want to write something this insane. Just to see if I can.

The last cool thing about Mr. Lord's work is a categorization of the choices. I wrote about my own choice categories back in January. My list of choice types is mostly the same.



If you've read any nonfiction ebooks, you've likely seen a hyperlinked Table of Contents. For my books, I created an Index, because a reader compellingly argued that a Table of  Contents would be too spoilerish. She wasn't happy with the Index either, and wanted the choices to be listed numerically. She didn't want any hints of the action happening elsewhere. In the end, that was too unwieldy so I created a rather opaque index. In Charlotte, it worked out that each choice came in a unique setting, so the Index isn't revealing at all.

The other books have more tantalizing links like "In the Water With Luke." Another reader told me she liked the Index, because it spurred her to read on past a scenario that had lost her interest. You need to keep in mind that when you hover over any hyperlink, the bookmark's name appears in a popup. So if you're being as mindful as I'm trying to be about spoilers, you have to name the bookmarks carefully. I suspect there's something to help me with the tic box "hidden bookmarks" but when I mark the box, the popups still appear so I don't get that functionality yet.

Also, hyperlink every "The End" to the index header. I haven't found the need to bookmark the actual endings, but if you wanted to review them quickly, that's what you'd need to do. I certainly don't want to add the endings to the index itself, allowing readers to just jump straight there out of curiousity. By linking the endings to the index as a whole, you're allowing the reader to quickly go back and try other choices, rather than forcing them to scan or reread.

Someone has pointed out to me that anyone who tries to print my book will be lost, unable to jump from choice to chapter without page numbers. I'm thinking about it, but really, if I'm creating a work meant for ereading, I'm not sure I need to hold myself to print consumers. Thoughts?


How to Create a Link in MS Word

So let's say you'd like to play in this genre. You've got Word. You've got your plotted outline with tricksy and varied endings.

First, you can go old skool and just type If you want to go to the beach, turn to page X. Make a list of which pages you've got your choices on. I recommend highlighting the choices or leaving comment stickies on them to find them easier on a scan of the ms, as well. Be sure to use "Insert Page Break" after each choice. After you finish writing out all the chapters/endings, cut and paste to mix them up. Fill in the final page numbers when you're done.

Second, you'd be crazy to do it the first way because technology is your Friend. Using the new Word, go to the Insert tab. In the center there's a box that says "Links." Your new best buddies are "Hyperlink" and "Bookmark."

A bookmark is an anchor on a specific spot in the ms. Put your cursor where you want it, name it, and click "Add." From now on you'll have a "Go To" button in the bookmark pop up. This takes the place of a page list of highlighted choices that you are searching for by hand! You need to create uniquely named bookmarks for the beginning of every chapter and at every choice. Jot these names on your outline as you create them. I usually bookmark a paragraph before the choice so that when readers jump there, they have some context.

A hyperlink in word is the same as on the net. It's underlined text the reader can click, jumping them to another bookmark. You have the ability to embed internet links in a word doc, and current ebook apps are playing with this. I think the potential for historicals in particular is huge. Hyperlink something like cloche and send the interested reader to a visual glossary.

Anyhoo, when you open the hyperlink window, there is a left sidebar of "link to" choices. Click on "Place in this Document." Now you will see the bookmarks you've made in the center pane. Having highlighted the text you want to read as the link, you choose the right bookmark. My personal preference is not to hyperlink an entire sentence, just a phrase or even a key word. When I get to a choice, I first bookmark it, then jump to a new place in the manuscript, create a fresh page break, type out even a place holder first line for the new chapter, and bookmark it immediately. Using Go To I jump back to the bookmark of the choice and hyperlink it right away. This saves a lot of bouncing back and forth later.

The last step is to create an index, which will be tomorrow's post.

I have had issues with my bookmarks disappearing, and I don't know what I do wrong. I always end up testing every single link before I send it to a beta reader. I also am not sure why sometimes Going To a bookmark justifies the exact mark to the top of the page, and sometimes puts it about an inch down, not quite centering it.

Thoughts on improving my linking process are welcome!


Do They Really Not Understand Life's Fake-Out Choices?

In my research, I found this article. I wondered if my love of CYOA prepared me to be a better friend. Meh. I think I had that in me. Reading comprehension probably helped, as did my scientific ability to understand cause/effect. I've worked with kids who can't "read" an angry face and deduce their behavior has made a friend mad. I've worked with kids who need "social stories" to comprehend classroom behavior. I've even had friends who are addicted to Drama. So I guess I shouldn't feel patronizing toward the poor slobs in this psych trial... but I do! If you cut down your fellow students, you're probably heading for the dark side, and if you scream at your sweetie, he won't want to be your sweetie.


Glutton for Punishment

One of my main girls asked me why I'm so into writing these interactive romances, especially after I've been rejected. She said I basically had to write 12 short stories, braid them all, and sell them as one. I nodded. Yup. I dunno why I like them. Plotting them is a blast, and writing them is easy because there's not nearly as much organic discovery. I've banged out all of them in a month (of actual writing time), edited in a few weeks, beta read them favorably.

Since I'm having so much fun, I'll keep trotting this Old Gray Mare until she keels over. I've got an editor, a cover artist, and a formatter. I'll sink a little $ into this trio, and see what self publishing to Kindle and Nook is like. If it's Not Good, I foresee a large plot bunny family for the free reads on my website!

But there are some days I'm thinking I'm obsessed by these stories. I'm investing my own author mad-money back into something the professionals have told me isn't right for the industry, and I'm neglecting other projects for which I have confirmed readers. Am I lost in the woods or just following a harmless folly?


Happily Ever After

I shared in an earlier post about the rejections I've had on Becca and Lauren. One of the reasons was the unhappy endings. I have skewed all my books to be just slightly-more-than-half happy. One beta reader told me that reading too many unhappy endings in a row makes the book feel like a Perils of Pauline, which if you're not familiar with that term, refers to a damsel continuously in distress. So I also make sure that most of the story stems lead to a mix.

But in my books, there is only ONE (1) Fairy Tale Happy Ending. That's it. My books have 16, 12, and 11 endings respectively. I'm not egotistic enough to think that every reader is going to have a spiral bound notebook and track their choices to be a Completist. I'm toying with putting the existence of a single Fairy Tale Ending into my Author's Intro at the start of each book, because I want readers to know, after they've tried 3-4 endings, that it's out there. I'm not sure. Do you think romance-people need the promise? Or should I just let it be a pleasant surprise for those who stumble upon it?

Another issue is that some of my beta readers who scored the fairy tale early in their reading felt dissatisfaction with reading the other stories, because they'd already "won." Me? I'd keep reading to discover all the endings, which while they might not be as  happy should at least be entertaining. Would you read on after finding a happy ending early?



Hmmm. Do I sell my stuff as a puzzle/game or a book? Do I sell it as an adventure or a romance? Do I sell it as a worthy story or as a light throwaway experience?

How about... yes.

This is the current disclaimer I've crafted:
Warning: You are NOT buying a traditional erotic romance. This book features eleven adventures, ranging from romantic to sexy to deadly. The fun of this book is in changing your mind.


Sulkathon #sk11 in honor of Romantic Times #rt11

Thanks to Stacia Kane for starting the sulkathon. RT was my first conference as an author and it left a heck of an experience for all other conferences to live up to. No one parties like RT, and I can only imagine the glam LA romance readers are capable of. So here's my own little addition. Leave a comment here or @runemima on twitter about your favorite scifi trope. I'm going to totally pilfer the list and compare it to the offerings I've blended into Becca, Reporting for Duty. I mean, 18 endings... and I was committed to making them all unique. Let's see which lucky commenter wins their choice of my backlist. If I was playing, I'd have to say my favorite scifi tropes are aliens, exploding spaceships, or the light saber.


Authorial Jealousy

There's a group of authors with a progressive story with the best title ever. Nine Naughty Novelists decorated their blog with terrific spoof.

I bet a lot of people have heard of the Harlequin Title Generator that builds similar fun for you. This blog has given me a terrible, terrible plot bunny. I'm totally jonesing to create a interactive romcom/homage along these lines. Talk about taking an already narrow audience and limiting it further. I'm going to be writing in a micro-genre before long. The Mayan Merchant's Feminist Virgin is the latest title the generator handed me, but I really really want to use the Nine Naughty Novelists' title. Fanfiction is worthy of a free read, isn't it?


Adult Wiki Swim

I found another community of CYOA stories online. The twist, unlike with Infinite-Story, is that it's a wiki! Take the complexity of a CYOA and times it by a progressive authorship. Holey Peep-Toed Pumps that's weird. The Adult page features a whole array of fanfiction and genres. I'm less fond of this model. I guess I am too bossy to share my stories with the world and watch them get stranged by others.

Instead of unique programming like at Infinite, these texts use basic internet hyperlinking to present the choices, with each chapter its own wiki page. Ah, the good old days of Hyperstudio call to me!


The Cache

Demian Katz, you are so cool. For more than a decade, this guy has been keeping track of all CYOA stuff. So if you go to his search box on gamebooks.org and type "romance" as a keyword he has a whole list of goodies. (And also some necromantic goodies because the search is string based, not unit based, but I quibble with my librarian mind.) Take a gander at this British series from the early '80s!
I'm actually quite speechless. Here's another series, Follow Your Heart Romance, same era, for teens.
And for some reason, one Silhouette was converted into a gamebook when it was translated into Italian!
"Libro Game!" Where's Ms. Menozzi when I need her? Perhaps the translator decided to get creative? Did someone think Italian women wouldn't read a romance if they weren't in control somehow? *dying laughing*

And then there's this book which somehow got labeled "Romance" through the wonders of translation when it went to Brazil. Those wacky Brazilians, always sexing up the strangest things.

This treasure trove is awesome. I now have a little geek dream. Maybe someday my series will be listed on this site for posterity! Seriously, I'd love that.


Gods Bless Engineers Part Trio

So for anyone who didn't spend time, as I did, actually reading all of the CYOA analysis webpage (it doesn't even have a proper name) I've been talking about, I need to point out a freaking brilliant thing the mystery man noted at the end.


I don't know if you've ever had the experience of picking up a book or a toy, maybe at a garage sale, that you played with as a child but had completely forgotten about and getting this electric sensation of recognition in a rush of memory. Sometimes I even get whiffs of scent. When I saw his images from the bottom of that article, I could smell the poor acidic pages, feel the gritty-soft paper between my fingertips.

Back to my epiphany. The sick puppies who wrote one particular CYOA included an easter egg. There was an ending that did NOT link to any story stem. Obsessive, notebook-toting child that I was, this so riled and confused me I took it downstairs to rant at my mother. "They forgot to put in a story!" I can remember shouting, "They have an ending with no match!" I completely missed the metaphorical point that mystery engineer man makes, that to find the planet you had to go outside all parameters, even those of the book. Freaking brilliant.

So. I'm now fascinated by the option of doing this myself. He argues that the format of the book allowed for browsing. In the act of flipping back and forth, the illustrations stood out, so there was more of a likelihood of this type of thing being found.

In a hyperlinked story, there's no such browsing, no such flipping, and of course, no shinyhappy planet leaping out at you. But. What if I did include an illustration? And what if it was the start of a new hidden story? Like a minor character's little mini-adventure? And this story would not be indexed. Just stuck in the middle for a reader to find at random. Too far outside the parameters of an ebook readers are unlikely to scroll through?



Thanks to RazzleDazzleDesigns for my trio of lovely ladies! Coming this summer to a bookstore online!


Gods Bless Engineers Part Deuce

So this guy, who never takes credit for his work that I can see, has this elegant website analyzing CYOA. I was spending more time on it and I discovered the header is a tiny menu. He has movies of readers finding all the endings of a CYOA that's, like, a work of geek art. But you have to click the tiny PLAY in the upper left. He also has a playable Zork!
I have existed for years hearing detailed adventures of Zork from my guy. It's the mother of all RPG's and he helps me understand it by saying it's a text-based Myst. Every single object in the world is listed. You can pick it up, break it, all these odd commands. I was never interested in Zork, but Myst had a lovely romance subtext and I was enthralled with that game for months. I'd forgotten all about it!


Gods Bless Engineers

I found this dude. He's taken analysis of CYOA to a whooooole new level.
I enjoyed his article even though there were parts I didn't get. But basically he's proven that the earlier stories had more choices and more endings. So my dreadful experience with the mutant ants wasn't a fluke. I need to get hold of one of the earlier titles!

His tree graphs of the choices look just like my first attempt at a non-spoiler numerical index. And he also confirmed my belief and practice of making happy endings rarer than mediocre/unhappy finishes. Interestingly, he is able to somehow calculate how common a choice was, and confirmed that the most likely of choices lead mostly to crappy endings, and the happiest endings are actually harder to find because they are uncommon choices. That is an aspect I never considered when I created my choices, because I wanted to make my choices (significantly fewer than in an old cyoa) ALL be reasonable.



Series Tagline:
Take control and brave the fates, for true love is hard to find.

This catchphrase is trying to get at a couple of points.
1. Take control: The reader is going to be in charge
2. brave the fates: There's going to be "danger"
3. true love is hard to find: It ain't gonna be all happy, but romance is here. This also hints at my belief in the deserved rarity of a Fairy Tale Ending.

I'm not really sure if self-published books need taglines. But I've got mine ready.


Associates Part 2

I found more modern riff's on cyoa's. Some aren't romantic or sexual, but I thought it would be nice to feature them, not that I hold a candle to Demian, who I'll blog about later. For my first collection of some modern cyoa's go here and for part 3 go here.

This is a YA social adventure with a sequel as well. The series is called "Do-Over" which I think is perfect.

This series is called a Date With Destiny and obviously wants to be considered a cyoa with hilarious covers. This one is a romcom.

Here's one that might have some romance in it. It too has a sequel, and a NY pedigree that should guarantee some quality. The series is Miss Adventure. *cute*

This series calls itself Just Make A Choice, and heads into comedy territory. His endorsement quotes are from names in the entertainment industry.

What a horrible subtitle: An Adventure Where You Decide The Outcome. Seriously? Why don't you just subtitle it: On Page 12 You'll Get To Choose What the Main Character Does And The Story Will Change.

I suspect only FUBAR stories will come from a series called Choose Your Own Mindfuck.

Now here's a GENIUS series title: ChooseOMatic. The very positive reviews this landed on Amazon should be taken with a grain of salt. Zombie fans are rabid. (pun intended.)

There are 2 in this series, this one was ranked higher. I don't know how I feel about putting the series title so prominently. It's almost like the story doesn't matter, he's selling the experience. True, that's what will make it different, but the story should still be strong.

Now for something completely different. This promises a mashup of several Austen novels, but the reviews indicate mixed success. Points for the fanfic idea though! How about they make it a series and do Dickens next?

"Pick Any Path" gets the prize for most choice insanity. 3,856 story possibilities!!! This is both a graphic novel and a cyoa. It's being marketed to tweens and I think they missed the boat. It belongs to YA manga fans with the sophistication to handle both the design and content. Highly recommended!