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Enter the Dream World of OpenSim Interactive Fiction

20 Feb

Have you heard of interactive fiction? Years ago it started with those old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels where the authors had written multiple endings and paths to get through the story depending on which choice the reader made at the end of each chapter. It was very cool because you could get a different story each time you read it.

Now, in the Twenty-first Century, we have things like SecondLife and OpenSimulator which allow us to build actual avatars (characters) and wander around a fictional world. A new kind of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure in digital worlds.Tarot 2-3-14

This week, my good friend Nara Malone has introduced one step higher in interactive fiction. She’s asked me and several other authors to write OpenSim stories so readers can come visit, wander through our worlds, and get a story along with the adventure. You can visit Tina Glasneck’s suspense tale Letter to Charlie that takes you through Greyville Writer’s Colony, drop by Shara Lanel’s Good Karma Tarot shop, or trip across worlds (grids) to Nara Malone’s Blue Harbor. And if you like your stories a little more sensual and romantic, follow my Incubus Dream through Cloudburst, Colorado and beyond.Incubus Dream cover

How do you do this? Nara has a gift for teaching others and she’s posted a great article of how to get started. It says it’s for authors, but anyone can use the information therein to visit the Metaverse and Greyville. Greyville is where you start all the stories. Once you log in, just find the park with all the books in it and you’re off. Shara Lanel wrote a blog post on her experience and what you can expect. We’ll all be around at one time or another, time zones permitting, to answer questions or tell you the tricks we’ve learned putting this together.Dragon Temple Book intro

We hope to see you there.

For those already familiar with SecondLife and the Metaverse, you can tromp on over to Nara’s Nook and see for yourself at:

Storytelling: Taking the Next Step

9 Jan

Have any of you read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury? It’s a story about how the future would be, as imagined in 1951, with books being dangerous objects and outlawed so much, Firemen were actually required to come and burn whole libraries. Instead of the printed word, people were supposed to be entertained by talking walls, large screens that took up entire rooms and could have “people” standing around you.

This story is amazingly well written and well told, but it scared the bejeezus outta me. Why? They were burning books, trying to kill imagination. Disguising the world into their own belief of the black and white. The intent was to control the people. Keep them drugged up on the euphoria of visual and audio stimulus. There was no place for thinking or imagining.

Can you imagine?

As an author, it’s a scary prospect. With that view, imagination seems like a fragile thing to be kept sacred and nursed, hidden away. Fortunately, stories are now in an electronic format, easily moved or transported, copies hidden in various places so nothing would be lost. Backups upon backups, so if one falters, another can continue in its place.

Yes, I’m waxing poetic like an onstage poet. But the truth is, storytelling has a rich history. First, it was oral, handed down from one generation to the next so everyone would know either history or legend. Then we found pen and ink, and wrote the tales to paper or hide, coinciding with live plays, acting out the stories. Then came the printing press and books with hard covers and soft pages were born. Currently, the stories are strung out of thought and typed onto a screen, held sacred by little ones and zeroes until resolved into decipherable words. Or shown on the big screen with actors relating the words to you.

What’s the next step? Bradbury had the inklings of it. You get to be your own actor, playing out a tale of your own making. Or even roleplaying a story made by someone else. OpenSimulator, a program meant for online and virtual interaction, offers a unique opportunity for readers. Authors are now writing little pieces of flashfiction, little snippets of storyline to entice you to come see more and find out where the tale goes. In the next few weeks, Nara Malone and I will be working on depositing these little snippets where you can find them if you join the virtual community. Nara and I both write paranormal romance, we like our stories with magic and unusual critters occupying the pages (screens?), but we are joined by other authors, some erotic, some not, and all you have to do is walk through the worlds to receive little snippets of tantalizing tales.

So are you ready to take the next step? Come join us. Stop by Nara’s Tea & Strumpets blog to find out how. 🙂 Hope to see you there.

Author Shot

Sexy in Every Way Possible

17 Oct

I’m so excited to be part of this blog. When Nara Malone invited me to be part of this blog I was so excited. I even had a fangirl moment. 😀

How did I get invited? I met Nara online two years ago and she helped me learn about the virtual world of SecondLife. She was very patient with me, especially with how nervous I was learning about meeting people and creating an avatar to navigate the online world. Thanks to that experience, when she invited me to join her virtual world of Greyville in OpenSim, I was more comfortable creating and building avatars and my own spaces.

It was fun and exciting to create my persona within this world and wander around without fear or concerns on how I looked or whether I could do things (you can actually wander around underwater without worries. Heck, you can even fly). That got me to thinking about self-image. We might see ourselves as sexy or maybe we don’t, but we always have to worry what others will think. Or we’re affected by what they tell us they think.

But in OpenSim, you can be as sexy as you feel or as you wish to be.  You can even be someone other than yourself. I’ve dressed myself up as I see myself in OpenSim and I’ve included a few photos. You can be stronger than you are in waking life, you can be thinner, fatter, taller, more elegant. Anything. You can even be sexy.

Author Shot Zach Snow2sml

You can change your look as easily as you change your clothes. Male or female, young, old, robust or slender. You can be anything.

Fredrick MacGregor  Ready to talk

All of these images were taken in my Dragon Palace at Greyville in Nara’s Nook. Drop by and pay me a visit. We’ll share stories and coffee. 🙂 Nara says it will be open by the end of October. I hope you stop by.

So if you could be anyone or anything or any way, what would you choose?

Visual Storytelling: Making of a book trailer.

1 Mar

Jolie_wal_photo copy

I had hoped to have my book trailer for Snatch Me done by today. I’m still finishing the last pieces of avatar art, but I thought I’d give you a sneak preview of what’s going into the trailer.


At the start I decided I’d draw on what I learned about visual storytelling from video games and graphic novels. After all, a trailer is meant to get across the conflict of your story in a visual way. A story about a game and a girl who uses that game to escape her real world problems should be easiest to tell using a blend of graphic art and photography, right?


Creating the graphic art began with taking virtual photographs to work from. Getting avatars to hold still to have their picture taken, while getting the moon to just the right place in the sky, not so easy. Getting Jolie in a cell, easy. Figuring how to get her back out…took a little while. We were interrupted by guys interested in doing some capture role-playing, but they were all understanding about us being there to work rather than play. Hmm…does that make us working girls? 😉


But even with the technical difficulties putting us behind schedule, I’m expecting a happy ending. It is a romance, after all. 🙂

In case you don’t want to wait for the trailer to find out what this story is all about, Snatch Me is available now from Ellora’s Cave,, and most e-book retailers.

Thanks to Hard Rust for letting me use Hard Alley in Second Life as a setting for my trailer.

Old York

11 Jan

Heaven in Old York

I took this snapshot on a magical night in 2008 when I looked toward the heavens for the first time and realized there were stars and a moon and magic in the air in a world supposedly only made of bits and bytes.

Housed on a server perhaps thousands of miles form my corporeal self, Old York was the creation of Roland Wampers in Second Life. I wandered its buildings and hidden grotto with a sense of wonder for weeks on end.

When I met the creator himself, he carefully kept his identity hidden from me at first. He wanted to know what I thought of his creation and didn’t want to scare me off from an honest answer. What did I say? Well, I gushed.

I remember saying something about feeling as if I’d stepped inside someone else’s imagination. How they’d managed to paint a 3-D picture of their inner world I could step into and experience while standing next to them. It was like walking through someone else’s dream.

Discovering Old York will forever stand out as a flash point for creativity in my own life. Like so many civilizations, it’s gone now and these snapshots are all that remain, along with many fond memories. I still mourn its loss. It’s the same sense of loss I feel each time I finish writing a novel.

While writing, I create a world and its inhabitants–paint a picture in my mind’s eye. Put it out into the world to share. Then, for me, that experience evaporates, leaving only a memory and a shadow of something wonderful on the page. A novel is like this snapshot–an imprint of my experience in the universe I inhabited for a short while. My only link from my imagination to you.

When we begin to create, it’s for ourselves. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how my characters will play out on the screen of someone else’s experience. While I don’t know for sure, I’m betting Roland didn’t think about it at first either. For my part, it’s too mind boggling and weighty a responsibility to contemplate that what I’ve written might affect someone else as profoundly as Roland’s work in Second Life affected me and my desire to create.

Our experiences form the sum of who we are, and without my days and nights dreaming in Old York during an otherwise turbulent time in my life I’m not certain I would have become the author I am today. I am guessing I passed on a little of Roland’s legacy to Nara Malone who now keeps a residence of her own in Second Life, and who has taken the journey into virtual worlds much deeper than I ever did. I admire her for that, and am a little in awe of her creations.

We never know how we will inspire others. Or when. Or exactly when that spark will pass from us to another, or from them to us. When it does happen, it can be the stuff of dreams. It’s a weighty responsibility, this act of creating, but one that I’m glad so many of us keep venturing to attempt. Each time we do, we share a bit of that spark of what makes us human as we reach to touch the divine.

As I finish the follow-up novel to No Apologies, titled Acting Out, this weekend I’m entering the phase of creation where I snip that golden thread and begin the journey of handing the story over to you. I hope the journey it takes you on will be as joyful and transcendent as it has for me. At times turbulent but never dull, Acting Out is everything I hoped for when I stared up at a night sky in Old York and dreamed of the ability to bring my own worlds to life.

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