Ricardo Logo

Writing Level-Up?: Music

post details top
Jul 21st, 2010
post details top

Whenever I work on a novel, and sometimes short stories, I like to have some inspirational theme songs. It helps me to block out the world around me and sink into the story. For my most recent short story set in a desert, I had a nice, deserty-sounding tune I grabbed from the score of an old video game. For my novel, Jack of Hearts, I built an entire playlist of songs that captured the mood of the story, or touched on similar themes, or just resonated with the work at some raw intuitive level.

Some of my writerly friends warn against this–that the emotional tides of the music might just make you think your text has more awesome-sauce than it actually does. Maybe so. I have to admit, at least when I’m editing, it’s hard for me to listen to music. I need silence so I can concentrate on breaking sentences down. Editing, for me, is more analytical than the flow of generating new content. So I switch back and forth. Writing: music. Editing: silence.

So, what do you think? Does music help you to write better, or does it just trick you into thinking your writing is better than it really is?

Just so everyone can make fun of me, here’s the soundtrack I built for Jack of Hearts (in random shuffle order):

1. The Lady of Shalott, Loreena McKennitt
2. The Host of Seraphim (Remastered), Dead Can Dance
3. Sleep Forever, The Big Sleep
4. Just Like You Imagined, Nine Inch Nails
5. The Day the World Went Away, Nine Inch Nails
6. Summer Overture, Clint Mansell
7. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Marilyn Manson
8. La Serenissima, Loreena McKennitt
9. Fever, The Violet Burning
10. Cymbeline, Loreena McKennitt
11. Zero, The Smashing Pumpkins
12. The Nobodies, Marilyn Manson
13. My Debt To You, The Pineapple Thief
14. The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning, Smashing Pumpkins
15. Prologue, Loreena McKennitt
16. Tarantula, The Smashing Pumpkins
17. Mayonaise,  The Smashing Pumpkins
18. Eye, The Smashing Pumpkins
19. Tango to Evora, Loreena McKennitt
20. Chant of the Paladin (Remastered), Dead Can Dance
21. So Long, The Big Sleep
22. Tonight, Tonight, The Smashing Pumpkins
23. Today, The Smashing Pumpkins
24. Skellig, Loreena McKennitt
25. Bullet With Butterfly Wings, The Smashing Pumpkins
26. Little Sister, The Big Sleep
27. My Bleeding Hand, The Pineapple Thief
28. Disarm, The Smashing Pumpkins
29. The Sorry State, The Pineapple Thief
30. Ava Adore, The Smashing Pumpkins
31. Night Ride Across The Caucasus, Loreena McKennitt
32. Christmas Steps, Mogwai

Weird, I’m Published

post details top
Jul 10th, 2010
post details top

I’m excited to report that Issue #2 of Shock Totem is now available! Included in the magazine is my story, The Rat Burner. You can buy it from their website or Amazon. You can read an excerpt of my story here.

Shock Totem is a magazine of strange and horror type fiction. The first issue had a cool cover and good stories. My favorite was Thirty-Two Scenes From a Dead Hooker’s Mouth by Kurt Newton. I’m really looking forward to reading what’s in this next issue.

When I first started writing, the last thing I envisioned was being someone who wrote “horror” or “strange” fiction stories. I grew up reading Tolkien, Howard, Moorecock and other varieties of fantasy and sword&sorcery authors. That’s what originally inspired me, anyway. So, I was pretty surprised at what came out when I sat down to write The Rat Burner. It isn’t a scary story (at least, I don’t think so). I’m not really a big “gore” or “scare” fiction reader.  But it’s definitely weird.

This publication has caused me to reflect a lot on what I’ve learned over the last few years as a writer–places where I’ve improved, places where I still need to improve. My strengths, weaknesses. What I enjoy writing about. Weirdness is something that has bubbled to the surface.

My novel, Jack of Hearts, is a fantasy, but it’s got a vein of weird to it too, I think. Looking back at some of the early beta-reader feedback (thanks Adam, for that term), a lot of their favorite parts tended to be the weird or unusual bits. One friend described it as reminiscent of an old world fairy tale. The ones that had bite. It’s got a giant that eats horses, leg-stealing dwarves, and magic based on enslaving children. Fun stuff.

Many of these stories I’ve written since then (which will hopefully find homes soon), have that same tinge.

So, if you’re inclined, please pick up the magazine and let me know what you think of the tale.

Character Sketch: The Salt Baron

post details top
Jul 6th, 2010
post details top

Aside from doing character bios, sometimes I like to do character or creature sketches. Yesterday I was reading the first book in the Monster Blood Tatoo series, and the book includes artwork of the creatures, characters and some of the clever devices in the world. I love it when books do that. So, it inspired me to whip out my Wacom tablet.

I ended up with a sketch of a character named Jacosta, a ruthless Salt Baron in the Desert of Night Walking from my novel, Jack of Hearts. Here’s the scene in the story where he’s first introduced. Jacosta and a charlatan named Moribrand are taking a meal when Jack is dragged into the room in chains:

Jacosta sat across the table from him, his opposite in every way, a face of hard edges and sharp angles. A trim beard followed the line of his jaw like an impassable black border. He kept his back straight and stiff, never hunching or reclining as if the cushions presented an extravagant temptation to which he refused to succumb.

The Salt Baron listened to Moribrand without interrupting, his lips fixed into an obligatory smile. A white eye patch cupped his right eye like an eggshell, held in place by straps that resembled thin scars etched into his skin. Jacosta’s other eye stared flatly, its glare suggesting a reservoir of venom. Jack thought Jacosta looked like a hawk watching a piglet eat, waiting for the right moment to dive down from the heights and crush it.

Jacosta the Salt Baron

I’m not 100% sure I’m happy with the style. Probably could do a better job with the line work and the values in places, but eventually I get lazy and just want to be done.

The First Transport Is Away!

post details top
Jul 1st, 2010
post details top

At the end 2008 I was working on one of my dream game development projects. And then Midway Games, my employer, went bankrupt. They shut down their external studios (including the one I worked at in Austin) and laid off their development teams. I wasn’t officially employed by anyone for about the first five months of 2009. So I wrote a novel.

The novel is called Jack of Hearts. You can read about it here.

Toward the end of 2009 and the first half of 2010 I revised, revised, revised. I sent drafts of the book to groups of early beta readers, and received tremendously valuable feedback. To everyone who read the book and shared your thoughts: thank you. Jack, Moribrand, Cassandra and Minnow would not be the same without you.

This year I set July as my deadline for when I would start sending out query letters to agents. Today is July 1st.  Tonight, I launched my first batch of query letters. Wish me luck.

About Me

Ricardo Bare
Austin, Tx

Ricardo Bare is a writer and game designer living near Austin, Texas. Currently he works as a game designer for Arkane Studios, which in 2012 released Dishonored. Ricardo started his career in the games industry working on the Deus Ex series, winner of the BAFTA and numerous other Game of the Year awards.

Ricardo is the author of Jack of Hearts and Fool of Fate, the first two books in a young adult fantasy series.


Amazon [paperback & kindle]
Barnes & Noble [paperback & nook]
iBooks [ebook]


Amazon [paperback & kindle]
Barnes & Noble [paperback & nook]


Sign up to receive NEWS & UPDATES about my book(s).
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!


Subscribe via RSS