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Fool of Fate Available!

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Jun 30th, 2014
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I’m really happy to announce that my new book, Fool of Fate, is available at Amazon, both for Kindle and print. Fool of Fate is the sequel to Jack of hearts, and continues the story of Jack, Moribrand, Minnow, and Cassandra (and a few new folks).


Until Cassandra awakened the memory of his human emotions, Jack willingly hunted and killed the enemies of the Lady of Twilight, a witch who locked his beating heart away along with all his pain.

Now Jack has won a temporary reprieve from the Lady so that he and his giant friend, Minnow, can find the fabled city of Argent, where Cassandra languishes inside a dark tower.

With time running out, Jack must ally with Moribrand, a charlatan he once stalked. Their desperate search leads them into treacherous mountains where wind spirits control the skies and powerful wizards battle to locate Argent first.

In the quest to prove his heart to Cassandra, Jack may remember how easily it can be broken.”

You can pick it up on Amazon here:

Alternatively, it’s also available at Barnes and Noble:

Character Sketch: The Bridge Keeper

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Aug 9th, 2010
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In my novel, Jack of Hearts, all of the main characters eventually meet a creature in the wilderness named Vasti. Everyone refers to Vasti as a “dwarf”, but if you’re thinking about clever craftsmen who tinker beneath the mountains or “hi-ho-ing” shorties who befriend enchanted princesses–think again.

Here’s an excerpt from when Moribrand first runs into the creature. In this part of the story, Moribrand and his giant slave, Minnow, have come to a deep chasm. A rickety draw-bridge offers the only way across the gap. Unfortunately, the bridge is raised when they first arrive:

Moribrand called out, cupping his hands around his mouth. “Hello there!”

A man popped up on the other side, surprising Moribrand. He had been sitting behind a stand of spare barrels. He waved a long arm in response.

Moribrand frowned; he was the ugliest man he had ever seen, far uglier than Minnow. A nose like a worm-eaten potato clogged the middle of his face, the perimeter of which was shrouded by a wild reddish beard that extended down to his shirtless belly.

“You want to cross?” the ugly man asked. He had a rough grating voice that Moribrand found entirely disagreeable.

After some arguing and negotiating, Moribrand persuades the ugly keeper to lower the bridge, but when he crosses to the other side a surprise awaits him:

Moribrand let out an exasperated breath and began to cross, taking careful but quick steps. The bridge had no railing and some of the timbers were slick from the mist of the river below. He decided not to look down as he crossed, holding the hem of his robe up to keep it from getting damp, but he couldn’t resist one peek at the white line of water far below. The glance made his stomach twist and his knees wobble. Before his legs could fail him, he stumbled across the last few yards, catching himself on the giant.

With a great racket the keeper raised the bridge again. Afterward, he came out onto the trail to greet them. At seeing him emerge, Moribrand recoiled and cursed loudly.

The bridge keeper had no legs. Instead he walked on the palms of his hands. He’d been seated on a barrel the entire time, disguising his actual height. His shoulder muscles were over-developed and his arms hung down like long thick ropes, so that he could easily lay his elbows on the ground while resting on the end of his torso. Overall, the way he moved, his wild hair, and the length of his arms gave him the appearance of a legless ape.

Moribrand fought down another shudder. Legless men were ill luck. He thought he remembered something about that, some old story from when he had studied at Argent, but the specifics of the memory escaped him now. What was it? It buzzed in his brain like a fly, irritating him, warning him, but in the end he swatted the thought away. He had no time to dwell on the academics of this youth. The sooner he was gone from this place the better.

The keeper scowled at Moribrand’s outburst. “What’s with you? Never seen a crippled man before?”

As it turns out, Vasti is anything but crippled. He may not be a craftsman, but he’s handy with a saw, and Moribrand’s slave  has the loveliest  legs Vasti has ever laid his rheumy eyes on. That’s all I’ll say for now. Here’s the sketch of Vasti I did recently:


The First Transport Is Away!

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Jul 1st, 2010
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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.

Writing Level-Up: Character Bios

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May 28th, 2010
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When working fiction for a video game we have to do character bios. It’s a fun job in the early stages of a product’s life cycle–describing a how a character looks, talks, moves and thinks or finding actors or characters in other media who this new character might resemble. Now, for the kinds of games I work on, writing a bio isn’t just important for the game’s designers and writers. The final product has other “customers” that need the information a character bio might contain–the concept artist who’s going to do some sketches, the sound guy who wants to start looking for voice actors, the animator who wants to know if we’re talking about a biped or quadruped, and so on.

But when writing my own fiction the only customer is me.

So far, when dealing with characters in a novel, I’ve found the exercise to be helpful in several ways. First off, even if the final character ends up different, the exercise  serves as a launching pad to work out some of the character’s key traits. I might put down a paragraph about someone and realize that, no, that’s not at all who this is, what they would say, wear, think, etc. Alternatively, I can see the value of figuring this stuff out on the fly as you’re writing, but if you’re stuck wondering what a character would do, it might be because you don’t know who that character is yet.

Next, the exercise of writing the bio often generates material that ends up going directly into the manuscript. It could be a phrase that captures the spirit of the character, or an anecdote about their past. I’ve written a physical description of a character for a bio that I later pasted right into the actual story (probably because I was imagining it from a PoV in the story, instead of some omniscient, dry PoV).

Last, sometimes I find myself coming back to a bio and refining it to match adjustments or decisions I’ve made while writing the actual manuscript. The result of that is that later, at the end, I can distill the longer bio down to a few bullet points and use that as a filter to analyze and edit the manuscript.

So, what do I put into a character bio? I don’t have a strict template, because I don’t really believe in that (or maybe I’m lazy). For me it’s more about “what sticks out about this dude” that ends up in there. Generally though, I tend to include things like physical descriptions, key personal traits, quirks, goals, background info … again, whatever floats to the top.

With that in mind, here’s an excerpt of a bio for one of the main characters from Jack of Hearts that I wrote before starting the novel. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Moribrand:


Moribrand is a weasel.

His mind is never at ease–it’s always scheming, always ruminating over some plan of revenge against an imagined or real slight, always lost in a fantasy of retribution wherein his foes are humiliated (realizing only in their last moments how they underestimated his genius as  they beg for mercy). His unease is manifested outwardly in several nervous physical habits: his slender fingers are always drumming, pleating, smoothing. When he can be, Moribrand is a glutton for fine drink and food, which he consumes greedily to cope with his tension, hence his pudgy corpulence.

Moribrand is self-centered. He is a slave to the tyranny of the judgment of others. Always he’s imagining what others might be thinking of him–that he’s inferior or a fool in some way. Therefore he is ever suspicious and critical. (It would never cross his mind that most people aren’t thinking about him at all!)

Moribrand is in his early 40’s and of  average height, flabby in his middle and slender shouldered. His face is double-chinned and his eyes gleam like black buttons punched into an over-stuffed pillow. Thinning dark curls cover his head, often damp from a nervous sweat. Moribrand’s hands are slender and soft, like one might imagine a skilled pianist would posses, except they move and dart quickly, like spider’s legs.

Moribrand detests nothing more than seeming lowly, therefore he will, when able, dress in the best finery. He will select robes and jewelry befitting his station (as he sees it, anyway).

Sounds like a real winner, right? Moribrand turned out to be a little different in the story. As I wrote (and got feedback) Moribrand’s bio altered in some ways and expanded in others (like, why is Moribrand this way). But this was the snapshot I started with.

What about you? Do you write bio or sketches for your characters?

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.


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