Steven E. Schend Blog

Author, Editor, Publisher
November 1, 2013

Four Things

Author: Steven Schend - Categories: Cross-Promotion, Miscellaneous, Personal, Publishing, Website Stuff, Writing - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m a bit confused, scared, flustered,and intimidated here.  Bear with me, all right?

For over the past few months (and in the next few as well), I’ve been planning major reworks on my blogs/websites and I’m stuck as to the best starting point.

Part of the problem is my broad spread of intertwined metafiction. I’ve an urban fantasy series (the PARADIGMAGIC(TM) stories) that holds within it a publishing company (Bulwark Publications) that’s been producing fictions since the penny dreadful era. Within that fictional history, there are scores if not hundreds of storylines, worlds, characters, etc.

I’ve also been planning a nonfiction book/series about world building from the angle of what you need for role-playing games and for other storytelling (be it short stories, novels, screenplays, or some other long-form narrative or fiction).


And I don’t know what’s my best springboard from which to jump first.

Strangest thing is that ideas and plans tend to clump in groups of four, without even planning it that way.

  • I could talk about the four core elements in world building, using examples from across all of my metafiction. I could discuss ways in which my writing over the past 20 years spans fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and pulp genres/styles. I could even provide four worlds (or more) for each of those genres and possibly a few sub-genres.
  • I could address the four layers of my metafictional world(s)—the ParadigMagic urban fantasy and its secret societies keeping magic alive, the magical books of power in that world, the Bulwark Publishing House in its background, and its published fictions (or nonfiction). I could discuss the four most famous fictional characters built by Bulwark Publications and the “actual” figures (within the ParadigMagic world) from whose exploits those characters grew.
  • I could discuss the four largest intellectual properties (IPs) of Bulwark Publishing—the Kharndam fantasy world, the Citiestoried pulp universes, the Bulwark Comics megaverse, or the multimedia sprawl of Wishland.
  • We could talk about the four phases for comics within Bulwark Publishing—its Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Ages—from either the workplace details of publishers, editors, writers, and artists or from the characters and stories published.
  • I could introduce you to the four most important (or at least prominent and storied) characters in each world, magazine, or in each medium Bulwark published since 1853.
  • I could lay out the first four Citiestoried locales, provide their bibliographies, and discuss why they succeeded (or failed, as two of the first four did, which is why the seven most famous and continued locales survived after others fell by the wayside).
  • We could discuss just the four continents of Kharndam or the four longest ruling power groups ever to hold sway over her people or the four major extinct races of Kharndam. Or we could delve deeper into the four most malefic artifacts ever to darken any Kharndamite’s soul.
  • Would you prefer sci-fi and the primary interstellar vehicles or modes of travel for the Corps Cosmica, the Knights of the Atomichasm, the Comet Corps, or the Novaesir of Heigardanus the Bridgeworld? How about the four most prominent alien races for each comics era, the pulps, the radio dramas, or the movies?
  • Perhaps you’re more of a noir or detective fiction fan and want to know more about the cursed city of Fairgeth and its four most notorious criminal family heads? Or the worst arcane menaces ever thwarted by Ace Barrigan or Solomon Lazarus or Reed Brand or Doc Enigma?


Starting to get the idea?


Here’s my decision, then. I’ll tackle things in fours but only within a focused plan.

  1.  Any and all worlds will have between one and four key characters to act as narrators from whom information flows (though they may, in turn, bring in guest narrators for specialized subjects).
  2.  The initial four posts are always an intro to a narrator, an overview of his/her standard setting/home, an overview of group(s) from which the character’s expertise and knowledge stems, and finally a broad overview of the narrator’s core study or knowledge base and hints of topics and details to come.
  3.  This four-step process allows any reader an easy way to enter a new world, take in details and knowledge in small steps, and then delve through other parts of the websites or posts to find more. It also should leave small leading steps toward other new avenues of exploration.
  4.  After each four-part intro, I’ll have at least one or two “four-point” blogs/posts on topics within their specialty to broaden more info on a world before starting the next narrator’s intro-quartet. Expect them to start from the broadest (and largest) topics and narrow down to smaller, if only to provide some sense of scope. (Though I do know that some of the narrators work the opposite way, starting from one subject and widening their lens beyond that focus.)
  5.  Each of the posts, regardless of site, carries the narrator’s name within the title for ease of info tracking. All posts have tags and categories as well, allowing you to scan through the archives looking for connections not noted by one narrator or another.


As soon as I can, I’ll establish some ways to vote on potential topics, but don’t expect comments to stay open on this site; the primary slow-down and problem area online (for me) has been keeping spam commentary and robot traffic out. By shutting down direct comments, I’m saving all of us some headaches from site problems.


If anyone has a point to make or ask of me, please contact me via the Contact tab on this site or via Google+, Facebook, or Tumblr. I also plan to (hopefully) open up forums for discussions, should there be enough interest, on this site or my publishing site at


As always, more later (and hopefully with some regularity).






September 12, 2013

Grand Con 2013 Schedule

Author: Steven Schend - Categories: Cross-Promotion, Games, Miscellaneous, Personal - Tags: , , , ,

I know I’ve talked about this on various social media sites, but with a week to go, I’ve yet to post my schedule for the first GRAND CON comics/game convention here in Grand Rapids, Michigan!


For those confused by the above statement, here’s the site with all the info on the convention. Be sure to pre-register if only to save $5 on your badge costs for the day or the full convention.  The convention runs FRIDAY Sept. 20th – SUNDAY Sept. 22nd.


I’m very excited about this show for two simple reasons: I get to spend some time with two of my best friends, colleagues, and mentors: Ed Greenwood & Jeff Grubb! All three of us former and current Realms authors and game designers will be at the convention along with luminaries like Tracy & Laura Hickman, Mark Nelson, William Stout, & others! Thankfully, my Sunday schedule is light enough I hope to get down there early to see Tracy’s Killer Breakfast (co-DMed by Ed & Jeff as well).


If you’re interested in catching me (or Ed or Jeff), here’s my full convention schedule below.

World Building Seminar Basic Concepts Pt. 1

You want to build a world for a campaign or a story. Where do you start? Hear how the masters of the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and myriad other settings create their worlds and swap stories from the dawn of gaming.

Friday 10am – 12pm

Panelists: Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, Tracy Hickman, & Steven Schend


World Building Seminar Advanced Concepts Pt. 2

World Building Seminar Advanced Concepts Pt. 2 – OK, you have your basic fantasy (or not-so-fantasy) universe. What now? The Elder Gods of the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and other great fantasy universes talk about what happens next and how worlds and campaign settings evolve.

Saturday 1pm – 3pm

Panelists: Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, & Steven Schend


Charity Game:  Lords of Waterdeep

Come play the Wizards of the Coast LORDS OF WATERDEEP board game with some of the designers and authors who’ve brought Waterdeep to life in games, comics, and novels!

Friday 3pm – 5pm (Ed Greenwood & Steven Schend)

Friday 6pm  –8pm (Ed Greenwood & Jeff Grubb)

Saturday 10am – 12pm (Ed Greenwood & Steven Schend)

Saturday 3pm – 5pm (Ed Greenwood & Steven Schend)

Saturday 6pm – 8pm (Ed Greenwood & Jeff Grubb)

Sunday 10am – 12pm (Ed Greenwood & Steven Schend)

Hope to see a few folks from SW Michigan at the show!

February 22, 2013

Bulwark 9: Flying Over the Edge

Author: Steven Schend - Categories: Bulwark Publishing, Nonfiction Works, ParadigMagic, Vanguard - Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chuck Meade’s Journal

07222008 301pm

In the air and heading for Cleveland…horrible traffic almost made me late for the flight, so I’m doing what I’d hoped to do while waiting to board now…


Think I have everything I need for my discussions with A.J. and the letters are in my sport coat stowed above my head. More than a few on this plane heading for the convention, as I counted at least five teens or adults dressed in costumes waiting to board this flight. The person next to me, thankfully, isn’t a costumer, but he’s wearing an old comic-license tie from the 1980’s that proclaims him a member of Corps Cosmica—one of the few books I don’t know well because A.J. and Monty had nothing to do with that comic.


In my final prep and packing, I ran across some old memos from C.K. Gill to A.J. (& others) and must remember to ask him about Gill and their working relationship.  This is the potential next book for me—examining Bulwark in the 1930’s and 40’s and mapping/analyzing through its big expansion in book (not periodical) publishing (& the republishing of all the fiction and comics) in the 1960’s and 70’s. If there’s too much material, it can be multiple books to encompass the full history of Bulwark and look at the current spate of repub projects (which, if rumors are true, will even bring back the dime novel materials for the first time in 100+ years).


What do I absolutely need to find out from A.J. this weekend?

  • He and Gill were the only two creators from BC’s Golden Age comics to be allowed to do some initial work on the Silver Age when many IPs were rebooted and changed. Was this an internal decision, office politics, or simply a case of who had the time and interest?
  • I’m curious as to how much input they had into people altering or tinkering with their older works and character IPs.
  • Did they fight to keep control over characters to prevent massive alterations (I.E. Almost no changes with Brass Bradley and other A.J. creations)? Or was it Gill working in-house that protected them from too much altering?
  • Might refocus this discussion/project even more tightly only on the comics of the 1940’s and the Soltare/Gill input, then look at all the iterations of two more successive generations of those same characters/IPs…especially if I can get AJ to give me more of an insider’s view than I can already glean from internal company memos et al.


IMPORTANT—Don’t forget that this man is among the last of those with direct knowledge of what Bulwark was like in its formative years, so don’t waste a second on minor or inconsequential discussions!!!


So, what’s—



“Excuse me, sir.”


I keep my “Damn!” to myself as I look up at the male flight attendant who’s moving past my seat. Oh yeah, first warning.


“We’ll need all electronic devices turned off before we head in for our landing, sir. Ten more minutes, okay?”


“Fine,” I say, turning my attention back to the screen. No use. Lost the train of thought anyway.


I queue up my checklist, then realize I need a connection to check on my room reservation and all that. Guess it’ll have to wait until later. I close the laptop and stow it in my briefcase beneath the seat in front of me.


When I sit back up, I feel the tension from my fingers all the way down my back. I stretch my fingers to loosen up forearm tendons at least, while I sit. Could really use a massage, if there’s time this weekend and if the hotel has a massage therapist.


The flight’s on time, thank the gods, but I have to hustle if I’m going to get to the hotel in time to meet up with A.J. and his aide for dinner. At least we’re meeting at the hotel, not another restaurant, so there’s that. I hope that doesn’t mean we’ll get interrupted a lot by convention-goers. Assuming he’s okay with discussing them in front of this Sam Herneson, I’d love to go over the letters tonight.


And what’s the deal with this guy, anyways? He’s obviously someone who A.J. and Mr. Kharm trust, but what’s his actual role and job within Bulwark? Anyone who’s actually worked with him say he’s open about not having much publishing pedigree, but he’s running a high-profile (at least internally) project of republishing the dime novels. Most of the Repub team seems relieved to have him in charge, thought it’s probably more relief about not reporting to David Brandt, whose ego is only surpassed by his love of semicolons.


Therese in Archives thinks Sam’s secretly either a son or nephew of Oscar’s, given his levels of access at all Bulwark offices despite a lack of experience, history, or degrees. She did say he’s almost always working directly for Mr. Kharm. While she said she knew more, she kept getting sidetracked telling me her fantasies about the guy. That tells me he’s a long-haired with tattoos and a bad-boy vibe—Therese’s overt weakness—and knowing she’d readily throw herself onto a table for the guy is something I wish I could un-hear. Almost as disturbing as having my drunken boss hitting on my girlfriend at my first Bulwark Christmas party four years ago, but not quite.


Conrad Post is the most buttoned-up cliché of an editor I’ve ever met, and his insistence on professionalism is how said drunk boss got canned before New Year’s (and Conrad liked my background enough to promote me into his job). Conrad fumes if anyone under his watch doesn’t have the requisite training or degrees he thinks they should have. Seemed strange to me that he’s only got glowing comments about Sam Herneson despite his total lack of background or degrees.


Stranger still, he stepped out of his office when I was leaving and whispered, “Give my regards to A.J. and Sam both, but warn them they still owe me eight Januscripts between the pair of them. They’ll know what I mean, hm?” With a rare smile and rather enigmatic chuckle, Conrad waved me off…and I’ve never known Conrad to be amused by anything outside of P.G. Wodehouse.


Well, guess I’ll learn about him soon enough. About two hours before dinner, assuming I get to the hotel in time. I stand up briefly to let my window-side companion out and decide to get my sport coat on. I take it out of the overhead bin, shrug it on, and pat my chest pocket…where A.J.’s letters should be but aren’t.


The fasten-seatbelt chime sounds just as my stomach falls through the floor of the cabin.


October 14, 2012

Bulwark 8: Omens and Portents

Author: Steven Schend - Categories: Bulwark Publishing, Citiestoried, Fairgeth, Fort Corax, New Jericho, Nonfiction Works, ParadigMagic, Publishing, Svetlantzek

TO: Charles Meade

FR:Conrad Post

DA: July 21, 2008

RE: Corporate event at GrealKon/Schedule Conflicts?

Chuck, here’s an internal PR flack memo (built  from the internal bibles on our IPs & products) just to give you an idea of at least one of the headaches you’ll have to endure while in Cleveland this weekend. Expect to schedule your meeting(s) with AJ around his interviews with various and sundry about this game, its touchstones with his work, etc.  I’ve already informed those from GMG running the show down there that you are NOT to be wasting your work time playing this sort of thing–leave that time for the children.


Online Thrills I & II

This MMORPG was created and launched by Earthorizons & GMG in October 2000 as a pulp-driven interactive world in which players could become 1920s and 1930s pulp characters working alongside many Bulwark pulp characters. The game’s core setting is the cursed city of Fairgeth, the standard location for stories of Ace Barrigan and other characters (though the game adds many characters from a variety of 1930s Bulwark pulps and comic books).

Since its initial worldwide launch in October 1999, Online Thrills has built and maintained a modest average audience of subscribers in the millions. Its two releases (in 2000 and 2003) were City Under Fire (an expanded Fairgeth moved up to the 1930’s filled with gangsters, Nazis, and demons) and Haunted Highways (expanding the territories and adding 4 smaller towns and the environs among them and the Fairgeth metropolis). Since that third release, the game has relied on fans to build their own sub-games using online generators and the tacit approval of the game developers to use some open-sourced elements of their original platform.

Plans are in the works for a major and far more immersive game experience to be released in late 2008. All information on the game has been tightly controlled, and all that has publicly been revealed is a release schedule:

  • Online Thrills II: Fairgeth to New Jericho (September 2008)
  • Online Thrills II: New Jericho to Fort Corax (February 2010)
  • Online Thrills II: Ravens to Svetlantzek (June 2011)
  • Online Thrills II: The Crossroads (August 2013)

Fans have been chewing on these scant details for more than a year and have built anticipation on seeing the other Citiestoried locations (and their characters). However, even more excitement comes from the Crossroads, since it has always been exclusively a Bulwark Comics notion and fans want to see even more modern and more powerful characters in their games.

As of June 18, 2008, the online discussion forums for Bulwark Publications have exploded with theories and commentary with the announcement that there would be a major preview and chance to play the beta version of the game at GrealKon in Cleveland on Saturday and Sunday only. Lotteries among ticket/badge holders for the convention would take place on Thursday and Friday nights with the lucky 150 players chosen at random among those at the convention and announced at 11:58pm on Friday night with demos starting when the main hall opens that Saturday morning.

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