Tag Archives: virtual worlds

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: world.narasnook.com:8900

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?

I’m Up for Best Pet

2 Aug

July 2013 Challenge: Ali Gator

by naramalone on Jul 22, 2013 • 7:00 pm 6 Comments

pet_alligator

Well, I’m not personally ahead. Ali Gator, my pet alligator, is.  I made Ali in answer to a challenge to create a 3D pet or pet product. I’m up against a cute earthworm, an incredible flying fish, and a lovely bird cage.

So maybe we’re not as posh and fru-fru as the Westminster Dog Show. I might say we’re more real and down to earth, but these are virtual pets, which are only semi-real. I can say we are more inclusive then the typical pet show. Where else could a romance writer’s pet alligator assume the lead, however briefly? I do expect to be passed up. This is not a plea to vote for me, btw.  It would be really cool if you dropped by Opensim Creations and looked around. I think as more romance writers, like the TeaNStrumpets, discover and use virtual worlds, virtuality will become as popular as romance novels.

You do not have to enter a virtual world to see the pet competition.

Snatch Me and Giveaway

12 Apr

The thing I most love about my current blog tour is seeing how readers and reviewers describe Snatch Me. It’s not an easy story to define, not for me at least. I’m intrigued by the fact that the scene where I break a genre taboo–the Lucky Librarian game– is the scene I get the most positive feedback about.Think a cross between hide-and-go-seek and strip poker.

Sexually Snatch Me is a wild romp. Emotionally it digs beneath the game into a character who is using the game challenge to escape a real life that has hit a bad patch, where things have gone terribly wrong and there just won’t be a quick fix. Jolie wanders into the game from one of those dark nights of the soul and she sees it as a place to explore her darkest desire, a craving for a big tough guy to come along and snatch her away from it all.

Who wouldn’t want to be snatched away from Jolie’s life? She’s grieving her father’s death and trying to keep his computer repair shop from closing in an economy and marketplace that can’t support it. In the game world she is drawn to, intelligence is power. That’s a big part of the fantasy for Jolie. She regains her sense of personal power as she gains skill and prowess in the game.  Even when the guys have all the rules rigged in their favor, they don’t have an easy time catching Jolie. And when they do, she’s carried off in the arms of a sexy avatar to participate in hot sex games. That’s what Madeline Iva calls Having Your Cake and Eating it Too in her recent blog about Snatch Me and why we love capture romance.

When I was first kicking around the idea of writing Snatch Me it was with those old-time romances in mind. A pirate carries you off to an island to be wooed. A handsome barbarian captures you and takes you to his lair. An Arabian prince grabs you and rides off with you to some oasis hideaway. I was trying to come up with the modern equivalent  for a hero-carry-me-away fantasy. Part of what makes a fantasy work is the potential for it to be real, and I couldn’t think of anything that fit that bill. Then I discovered Second Life, and role-play games where those favorite romance fantasies are played out in detailed replicas of the historical settings.

I quickly discovered that in virtual worlds you can get carried away, virtually and emotionally.  I think this is one of the most difficult virtual reality concepts to grasp.  I wrote about the Quarterz world like the player can really feel and experience what is happening. We all know that can’t really happen, right? But here’s the thing, it does. It happens to such a degree that psychologists are experimenting with using virtual worlds to treat conditions like PTSD in soldiers or autism in children.

Virtual environments are so graphically rich that they trick your brain. When the wind blows, when the sun rises and sets, when a door opens at your touch, you start to experience what is happening as if it were real. When you hear the waves lapping at the shore, see light ripple on the water’s surface, see the reflection of clouds moving across the water, your mind fills in the missing senses–scent of water, the cool sensation of water slapping at your ankles. It takes about five minutes inworld for you forget that person at the keyboard and become your avatar.

This is a trick storytellers have been playing on the mind since the days when we gathered around fires dressed in robes made of deer hide to hear their fantastic tales. If you include enough sensory detail, people are transported into the story and experience it with the character. You can fall in love with the story world and the characters in it. You can explore something dangerous and stay safe. Jolie does all that and in the process she discovers things in herself that allow her to finally face and deal with her real life problems. In a world designed to be loveless, she reclaims her ability to love. You can explore the Quarterz virtual world I built for the story via this page at my blog. Don’t worry, you can’t be abducted unless you know how to allow it. 😉

If you want to know more about Snatch Me or virtual reality, drop by my stops on the Goddess Fish tour this month. This week I’m at fellow EC author Francesca Hawley’s blog talking about my adventures while researching Snatch Me. I managed to get carried off and escape and recaptured and…well go have a look.  All commenters on the blog posts during the tour are entered in a drawing for a $10 GC from Ellora’s Cave.  I’ll have a list of scheduled of stops at the bottom of this post.

Snatch Me Blurb:

From the moment Jolie discovers the Quarterz, a virtual post-apocalyptic world for capture role-players, she can’t resist the challenge. She’s chosen a hard game, where sexual submission to a captor is expected, demanded, no quarter given. She uses the challenge to escape real life and feels a sense of kinship to a world like the Quarterz, a society too broken to fix.

 

Mack created the Quarterz and took a gamble when he secretly lured Jolie there. He suspects he and Jolie share sexual interests that neither can admit in person. Now he has to hope that time in the Quarterz can help Jolie cope as she struggles to rebuild her life. He has to stand back and allow her to find her way in a game where he’s not always the captor. But when the game is over, he’s determined to be the one who wins Jolie for real.

Snatch Me Excerpt:

I inched over the side of the tall crate I’d landed on and felt along the wall toward the door
I’d seen up front and to the right. The metal was cold and rough under my hands. My feet
moved over the damp floor. I stepped on something slimy and jerked,
banging a knee-high crate and sending an assortment of objects skittering
across the floor. I froze, looking upward. The door, right in front of me now,
popped open and I had a hand over my mouth and another arm around my waist
before I could scream. In the little bit of light cast through the door I could
see I’d dropped into some kind of torture chamber, complete with chains and
stocks.

“You can make a bunch of noise and I’ll have to share you
right here with the guys from upstairs, or you can stay quiet and I’ll beam us
out of here to someplace more pleasant. Your choice.”

I went still. He dropped his hand. When I stayed quiet, he
took that as assent and we launched into a sickening spin that I thought must
be the way it felt to get sucked through a black hole.

We emerged on a dock. Going from solid to vapor and back
again has the same effect on your brain as a shot of whiskey. I staggered when
he let me go. His hand at my elbow steadied me enough that I could turn to get
my first look at the face behind the powerful arms that had snatched me from
the container. I recognized those steel-blue eyes, that superhero body
instantly. I wondered if he remembered me.

He was between me and the city streets. A boat bobbed on
oily, black water behind me.

“New girl,” he said. He said it like it was a chore.

It wasn’t a question so I didn’t answer.

“You know the rules?”

“You caught me. I’m yours to use, in whatever way you
choose. When you’re done I’m free to go. Like fishing.”

“Fishing?”

“Catch and release.”

“That’s just about right. You missed one thing.”

I waited.

“You can always safe-out. Which means if you don’t want
this, you log out for the rest of the day. No questions asked. No honor lost.
Sort of like you did yesterday. Only it’s considered better manners if you just
say, ‘I’m safing out’ before you disappear.”

So he did remember. “I understand.”

He folded those big arms over his chest. He appeared to be
waiting for something, but I couldn’t imagine what was left to say. Finally he
asked, “Staying put this time?”

My mouth was so dry I couldn’t speak. I nodded.

He took a coil of what looked like black cord from his belt.
He was shirtless, his shoulder-length black hair whipped back from his face by
the wind off the water. He wore tight black pants and black boots. I doubted
the black cord was a fashion accessory. I was right.

“This is a leash.” With a flick of his wrist it uncoiled
like a thin snake. One end molded itself around my neck, the other around his
wrist. The section between us lengthened when I took a step back.

“You don’t have to tie me to you. You won. I won’t run.”

“The leash is as much to prevent other hunters from
snatching you away as to keep you tied to me. As long as you’re leashed no one
can touch you unless I invite them. That doesn’t mean game over,” he said with
a devil’s grin. “If you get an opening and want to try taking it, go ahead. If
you want a little fire in your action, you can fight right up to and through
the fucking. It’s always about what you want, sweetheart. And whenever it’s not
what you want, safe-out. Okay?”

He’d answered my most basic question. His definition of
using me any way he wanted included fucking. Fucking was his definition as far
as I could tell. And, more important, the game wasn’t over until the fucking
was done. I might be down, but I hadn’t lost yet.

“Okay,” I said.

He glanced over his shoulder. Flashlight beams cut through
the darkness. “Then let’s get moving before we have company.” He bowed and
waved me toward the boat. “After you.”

I moved ahead of him and the leash lengthened, but the band
around my throat compressed.

“Easy,” he cautioned. “The leash gets uncomfortable the
farther from me you go.” The compression eased when I stepped closer to him. He
held the boat steady with one hand and offered the other to help me down from
the dock. I stayed on my feet until he joined me, tilting the boat and toppling
me into his lap with a move that suggested it was planned rather than
fortuitous. He produced a jacket from the back of the boat to drape over me like
a blanket. The boat lurched forward when the motor roared to life, sending up a
plume of spray that made me appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the jacket.

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be under
the total control of a sexy man? To be owned? To be a slave to his desire? I
have. I’ve contemplated whether it would be as hot as it sounds.

It was and it wasn’t. My hormones were all over the idea. I
was wet, hot, so ready for him I was shaking. But there was this nagging voice
at the back of my mind that kept insisting I’d lost my mind. I shouldn’t want
him. I suspected the voice was right. I shouldn’t need this, crave it. Problem
was, I did.

The whine of the boat motor dropped an octave, to a steady
chug. The wind and spray eased to misty breeze. “Relax,” he said, his breath
warm, a soft tickle against my ear. “Enjoy the moment. Deal with what’s coming
when it gets here.” I decided to listen to him rather than the voice in my
head.

Snatch Me Trailer:

Snatch Me Tour Schedule:

Snatch Me Buy Link at Ellora’s Cave

Snatch Me Buy Link at Amazon

Building Beautiful Worlds

11 Aug

As authors we create worlds in our imaginations all the time. Creating one that exists outside of the experience of most readers, while fun, is a big challenge. You never know how the image in your own head will take shape in someone’s mind. When I wrote Snatch Me, I was tasked with trying to explain a world much like the one pictured in the video above. I had to pull a literary trick or two to create the sense of traveling to an imaginary world and to get across how it might feel more real and appealing than the real world. If you’d never had the experience of stepping into one of these kinetic paintings and walking through them, it’s hard to comprehend how someone could find it more appealing than their real life.

When I first started exploring virtual worlds I was in awe of the creativity all around me. Everything you see in the video above was created by residents of Second Life. As part of my upcoming contest (grand prize a Nook Color) I want to introduce readers to virtual worlds and exploring the beauty it’s possible to create there. I wanted to make a world that was easier to access than Second Life and I wanted something small-scale that won’t feel overwhelming.

And when I say explore, I mean you have an avatar that walks through a world that responds to the avatar just like the one pictured in the video. You can climb towers. You can fly. You can dance. When jump in deep water, you’ll sink. The tree branches move when the wind blows. The sun rises and birds sing. The sun sets and crickets sing.

My little project has been months in the making and has existed on the web for months as I learned to bring virtual worlds to life. I’ve had the extra hurdle of finding a way to make it accessible to readers without the big learning curve that goes with Second Life. Mine are smaller, self-contained worlds that I have control over. I’m not quite ready to post video of my worlds yet. The video above was made in Second Life and my world is based on the same sort of platform.

September 1 is launch day. I’m excited. Hope you are too. Get ready for adventures. Now I have to get back to work.

Blending Realities, Gamifying Blogs, and Pitch Contests

4 Aug

kitely_boat_002

I was reading Black Jack, an erotic romance by Mari Carr, this week and I really enjoyed the way the story moves back and forth between a fantasy the characters act out and their real lives. I did something similar with Snatch Me (releasing Oct 12 from Ellora’s Cave) where my characters move between a growing attraction in their real world and a capture romance unfolding between their avatars in a virtual world. And since blended realities take creativity and the possibilities for immersive storytelling to new levels, I didn’t want to stop at just taking readers to another world in their imaginations. In the picture above you see me as an avatar in one of the story worlds I set up for readers to experience virtual reality.

I’ve hatched a plot and designed a game around my author blog that will take readers from their real world into virtual story worlds. I’m doing my best to make getting into those worlds as easy as a few mouse clicks, but I’m offering prizes (grand prize is a Nook Color) and incentives to reward readers who take up the challenge. Watch my Thursday blogs here at Passionate Reads for more details. I plan to launch the game September first and I’m crazy busy getting everything ready. Hope to see you there.

In other news, we’re planning another pitch contest with editor Grace Bradley. We’ll be doing that in mid-October so get those pitches ready and I’ll have more details on that in another week or so.

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