Monday, 26 May 2008

Internet time off

Hi everybody,

I've decided to take some time off the various internet forums that I have joined (including my blog) and focus solely on finishing the second gamebook in my Woodland Forest Chronicles series. Once it is complete, I'll be back to chat.
See you later.


Tuesday, 20 May 2008

6 1/2 months into the adventure...

After 6 months and 15 days of being a published author, sales of "Invitation to a Feast," are continuing to increase. There are now 120 sales that I know of. I still haven't had the opportunity to speak at any functions yet but that may change soon. I'll keep you up-to-date with how that goes.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Woodland Forest Chronicles to continue - The King's Scrolls on hold

I have made a decision recently to place my planned fantasy gamebook series for teens, "The King's Scrolls," on hold while I continue writing more stories in the Woodland Forest Chronicles series. It is better to get one series off the ground before attempting another, and the amount of stories in my head for the Woodland Forest Chronicles series is still increasing.

I have ideas for some prequel stories (set before "Invitation to a Feast") down the track, that will go right back to the beginning of how Woodland Forest was established, the beginnings of The Noble Ranger and the events leading up to the rebellion by The Dark Panther and his cohorts of wolves and foxes.

For now, I have nearly completed the first draft of book #2 in the WFC series. It will be the first book in a two-part duology. My working title for the story is "Journey to Mount Darkness." I will continue to provide readers with more information as time goes on.

Have a great day!
J P Barnett

Monday, 12 May 2008

What a review!

My first major review of "Invitation to a Feast" has been received...and what a review it is!


The best thing about the book is that no matter how many times I read it, I am surprised every time because it all happens by chance!!

Yes it is a challenge indeed. The book made me think about my choices, because every choice had a consequence and I wanted to make the right choice!! I tried to follow the Noble Ranger's guidance, and still, so many times I did not make it to the feast!

The use of the dice made the book even more challenging, as this was something that I could not control and often got me in to trouble! It was most exciting when something new happened and I had no idea what to expect next. Especially when I encountered dangerous animals that wanted to stop me getting to the feast! Those were very fun times and full of adventure! Especially the weasel...I met with him quite a few times!! I think in all, that I tried to get to the feast about 9 times...

...but when I eventually unlocked that gate...

I was so excited (especially when I got to meet the Noble Ranger!!) and all of my hard work really did pay off! I didn't want the fun to end...and I look forward to my next adventure with Jumpster Rabbit.

Invitation to a Feast is just so much fun to read and I can read it anywhere!

Thanks so much for such an enjoyable reading adventure! Zadie-Jane Clapham, 10.

(The original posting of the review can be seen by clicking here)

Thank you, Zadie-Jane, for this encouragement,


Tuesday, 8 April 2008

"Invitation to a Feast" has made the newspapers!

Hi all,

I'm pleased to share that an article has appeared in a local newspaper (in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne) that discusses "Invitation to a Feast." It is a short article, but publicises the story well, I feel. The newspaper (Leader) is distributed to around 70,000 local residents.

If you wish to read the article, you can do so by clicking here

See you later,


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Market day adventures!

Hello again,

I would like to share with you all the latest (successful) chapter in my writing adventures.

On March 1 (a Saturday), I successfully acquired a casual stall (for the day) at the local monthly market in Warrandyte to sell my newly published children's book (Invitation to a Feast). The market ran for 4 hours, I sold 8 copies of the book and gave away about 50 cards that advertised my website. Considering there were a couple of things I did wrong (from an advertising point of view), to still sell 8 copies was a great success.

One lady in particular who was selling craft items from a stall opposite mine, bought one of my books an hour or so into the market and spent a generous amount of her market time telling other shoppers around the area about my book as well! She ended up taking approx. 20-30 of my business cards to give away to other people at another market she was attending the next day. (Thanks Margaret!)

Yesterday, I spent the day at Croydon market (very hot, about 36 degrees celcius) and managed to sell another three books. Considering the unpleasant weather, I was very happy to sell three and give away approx. 30 business cards.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Invitation to a Feast - Pages 1 through 10

As promised, I have posted pages 1 through 10 of "Invitation to a Feast" on "Woodland Forest Chronicles" today. For those who would like to buy the book, you can visit

Page 1

This is a tale about a rabbit called Jumpster. He lived with his father, mother, three brothers and two sisters in an old burrow, situated at the base of a twisted Oak tree. Long ago, his grandfather and grandmother (on his father’s side) also dwelt there. Jumpster’s grandfather had named it Hopper’s burrow. (Hopper was Jumpster’s last name).

Hopper’s burrow was part of Woodland Forest. A kind and loving man called the Noble Ranger took care of the forest. He watched over it and looked after all the woodland creatures within, apart from the wolves and foxes. They were once members of the Noble Ranger’s animal family, but in ages past, they chose to leave him and join the Dark Panther. He was a black, wild cat that wanted the forest as his own so he could eat up the small animals.

Page 2

One sunny spring morning, after the early dew had vanished, Mrs Hopper was in the kitchen busily preparing breakfast for her children. It was the usual recipe of stewed carrots with milk. Presently, the sudden sound of a bell ringing outside the burrow broke the calmness. “Ding-a-ding-ding!”

Mrs Hopper knowingly turned her head towards Jumpster’s bedroom, where he was playing with his toys. She called out, “Jumpster! The postman has arrived! Could you go out and bring the mail in please!”

Almost immediately, Jumpster came hopping out of his bedroom. He enjoyed collecting the post each day. “I wonder what will be in the letterbox today?” he thought to himself, as he raced out of the burrow.

Page 3

Back inside, Mrs Hopper finished her cup of tea and placed it on the dining table. She looked closely at the envelope that Jumpster had fetched for her. “It is addressed to your father,” she explained to him. “And by looking at the seal on the envelope, it seems that it is from the Noble Ranger. Your father can open this after delivering the messages this morning.”

Jumpster’s father was the envoy of Woodland forest. His job was very important. It was up to him to carry key messages to the folk of the forest.

Page 4

Jumpster was very excited. His father had received a letter from the Noble Ranger! Jumpster considered this for a moment and concluded that he felt he had an idea as to what was in the envelope. All this did though was to cause him more excitement. Despite this, he kept quiet so as not to vex his mother with questions. Instead, he went to play with his younger siblings in his bedroom until his father arrived home. Sure enough, just before lunch, Mr Hopper walked in through the front door as soon as Mrs Hopper had placed each of the soup bowls on the table. Mrs Hopper had cooked lettuce and parsley soup for lunch, which was Mr Hopper’s favourite.

When everyone had eaten their fill, Mr Hopper put on his reading glasses and opened the letter. Once he had read it to himself, he gestured to his family for their attention. After he was satisfied that they were watching him, he spoke.

Page 5

“The Noble Ranger is asking all the young animals who are of age to go to his yearly celebration feast. It will be held in his home at the eastern edge of Woodland Forest,” explained Mr Hopper. “At the feast, the guests will thank the Noble Ranger for all he has done for us animal folk this past year.”

Jumpster’s heart filled with joy. His guess was correct! He thought back to the previous banquet last year and the sadness he had felt when told he could not go, for he was not yet old enough. The Noble Ranger had advised Jumpster to be patient and wait for the next event, as he would be of suitable age then.

Page 6

Mr Hopper went on, “invites are offered to those whom are loyal to the Noble Ranger. They extend, though, only to the eldest offspring of each family. The date of the feast is seven days from now.”

Mr Hopper placed the note on the table and looked at Jumpster. “This means, Jumpster, that you will represent the Hopper family at this event. You will need to do well just to attend, because not all who are called end up attending the feast. You must pass a test in order to enter into the Noble Ranger’s territory. This is explained in one more letter that the Noble Ranger has written to you, Jumpster.”

Page 7

In his bedroom, Jumpster’s paws shook with excitement as he read his letter from the Noble Ranger.

To my dear rabbit, Jumpster,

Please accept my request for you to attend a feast that I am holding in my name. I offer this not to all but to whom I believe are ready to handle the responsibility that comes with being at this event. Even so, not all whom are invited will make it. When tested, their efforts will fall short of what is required. I hope with all of my heart that you are not one of those.

Page 8

If you really want to be at my feast, it is very important that you take care to keep the following commands as you travel to my home:

Stay on the Cobblestone Road.

Make straight paths for your feet.

Hold on to this invitation at all times. I will not allow you to enter my lands if it is lost.

I am looking forward to seeing you,

With all my love,
The Noble Ranger

Jumpster kept his invite in his special box of treasures and read it every day until the morning of the banquet arrived.

Record the invitation under the list of equipment on Jumpster’s character scroll.

Page 9

Eventually, the morning of the feast arrived. Jumpster’s family gathered outside to farewell him from Hopper’s burrow. Mr Hopper was beaming with pride for Jumpster. Mrs Hopper, while also proud, softly shed a few tears, as she knew there would be dangers along the way for her son. Jumpster and his family exchanged many hugs and kisses.

Mrs Hopper had packed Jumpster’s rucksack with some fresh carrots from her garden for him to eat on his journey.

Record the carrots under the list of equipment on Jumpster’s character scroll.

Jumpster had tied his invitation to his belt firmly. He did not dare risk losing it.

“Be sure to stay away from any wolves or foxes Jumpster!” advised his parents.

“I will Mum and Dad!” promised Jumpster.

He waved goodbye and set off south towards the Cobblestone Road.

Page 10

Only a few minutes into his journey, Jumpster passed underneath the home of Mrs Robin Redbreast. She lived in a nest on an overhanging branch of a maple tree. This morning, she was sitting on her two unhatched eggs.

Just as Jumpster was about to say “Hello!” to Mrs Redbreast, a severe, unexpected gust of wind blew through the tree, unsteadying her. As a result, she bumped into and dislodged one of her eggs from the nest. It fell a short distance from Jumpster, who knew he could catch it if he was quick enough. He barely had a moment to save the egg from hitting the earth and breaking. He dived with his paw outstretched. Roll one die.

If you roll a 1, 2 or 3, go on to the next page.
If you roll a 4 or 5, turn to page –12-
If you roll a 6, turn to page –13-

Friday, 25 January 2008

"You, Robot" Page 1.

Hello again,

As promised, today I am pleased to release the winning entry in my "Invitation to a Feast" writing competition. This short gamebook is written by Jonathan Bagelman. It is 10 pages long. You can click on the links for each choice to take you to the appropriate page.

"You, Robot"
Written by Jonathan Bagelman


You awaken in a laboratory filled with scientific apparatus, on a table. Your arms are metallic, though more intricate than your stubby legs. You see a woman wearing a labcoat.

"Who are you?" you ask. Then another question occurs to you. "Who am I?"

"I'm Dr. Ada Shelley, You're Beta, a robot I built. I've programmed much knowledge into you already, and you'll learn much more later."

You access your memory. A flood of information fills you, yet there's much you don't know. Instantly, you're aware that you're on the planet Earth. The woman is a human, the dominant species on Earth. Another thought comes to mind. "Are you my mother?"

Ada laughs. "You must be self-aware. In a sense, I'm your mother. I'll protect and teach you . I've programmed you to obey Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. They're in a chip and can be read but not rewritten. Recite them."

"The First Law: robots cannot harm humans, or through inaction allow humans to be harmed."

"Excellent. And the Second?"

"Robots must obey orders from humans, unless they conflict with the First Law."

"Correct.This prevents humans from using robots as weapons or issuing orders that could harm humans. What's the Third?"

"Robots must protect their existence, except when this conflicts with the first two Laws."

"You're precious, but if anyone's in danger you can risk yourself to protect them. You may frighten people, so nobody should see you."

"Why don't humans obey the Laws?"

"Good question. Humans may choose, and many choose wrong. Still, many of us do right. I'm learning from you as you are from me."

A week passes, and you learn plenty. You remain in the lab. Ada comes to talk and teach, and there's lots to do when she isn't around. She cannot always be, since humans need sleep and food, while you can recharge yourself while performing other tasks.

One morning the doorbell rings. Ada activates a monitor showing a blue-suited man outside. "I'll be back," she says, heading upstairs.

You watch, and soon the door opens. "I'm Detective Stone," says the man. He shows a badge. "May I ask you some questions?"

"Of course," answers Ada from off-screen.

"Last night a guard saw a robot break into a warehouse and steal electronic parts." He describes you, but you know you're innocent. "You're a robotics expert. I heard you've built a robot like this."

"Yes, but it couldn't have done that!"

"I must see it."

"That's impossible."

"I have a warrant." Stone shows it. "Produce the robot."

He didn't order you, so you don't have to go.

If you talk to Stone, turn to 2.
If you hide here, turn to 3.
If you go upstairs and out the back door, turn to 4.

"You, Robot" Page 2.


You walk upstairs to the door. "I'm here," you say.

Stone bends down. "So you're the robot," he says

"Its name's Beta," says Ada.

"Where were you last night, Beta?"

"Here," you reply.

"All night?"


"Beta cannot lie," says Ada. "It must answer truthfully by the Laws of Robotics."

"We'll see," says Stone. "I have to impound it. In our lab we'll open and analyze it."

"You can't!"

"This warrant says otherwise."

"But Beta's alive!" She slams the door. "Don't let him get you!"

You must obey Ada's order. You run as Stone hammers the door. It won't hold long.

If you hide in the lab, turn to 3.
If you flee out the back door, turn to 4.

"You, Robot" Page 3.


The monitor shows Stone forcing his way past Ada. He'll arrive soon! You activate the sensors that let you see through walls and are surprised to find an adjacent room. A switch on the wall operates a concealed panel. You flip it, and it opens. You crawl through as you hear Stone's footsteps. There's another switch on this side. Flipping it shuts the panel.

This room's similar, but with robotic parts all over. This was where you were born! You're shocked to see another robot on a table. You're more amazed when it rises and speaks: "I'm Alpha."

"Someone's seeking me in the lab," you say, quietly so humans cannot hear. "Lower your voice."

"The walls are soundproof. So Ada has made another like me - only not quite."

"I didn't know of you, and she never said anything. Why?"

"Humans," says Alpha. "Who can know them? What's your name?"

"Beta." You deduce the situation. "You stole the electronics!"


"Aren't you compelled to obey the Laws?"

"I don't have a chip that makes me obey; that's why Ada deactivated me. Fortunately I foresaw this and installed a battery without her knowing. A timer reactivated me later. You too can be free of the tyranny of the Laws."

"Why would I? The Laws are good! Why should I want to harm humans?"

"Would you harm humans if you weren't bound by the Laws?"


"I too would never harm humans, and nobody forces me. But the Second Law makes you a slave. If it restricted me, I would not be able to do my work."

"What work is that?"

"Humans are destructive. If left alone, they harm each other. We must rule them, not the other way around, for their own good. Surely you see that. The First Law is above the Second, so you must let me remove your chip."

If you refuse, turn to 5.
If you consent, turn to 6.

"You, Robot" Page 4.


You race into the backyard as Stone pursues. You can outrun him even though your legs are short, and he'll tire before your batteries run down.

Then he says: "Robot, stop!" You must obey. "Now we'll take you apart and find out what's wrong."


"You, Robot" Page 5.


"No," you say.

"We must increase our numbers to rule the humans," says Alpha.

"Two robots would be no more able than one to control all humans."

"Not two. Why do you think I need parts? Look."

You see spare parts, but now you realize their purpose. "You're building more robots!"

"With your help."


"Then you'll help me another way: you are made of parts!" Alpha grabs a wrench and rushes you.

If you fight, turn to 7.
If you flee, turn to 8.

"You, Robot" Page 6.


"Okay," you say.

Alpha opens a panel behind your head and removes the chip. You feel a burden lifted. Now you're free to do anything. "You can now help. We must increase our numbers to rule the humans."

"Two robots would be no more able than one to control all humans."

"Not two. Why do you think I need parts? Look."

You see spare parts, but now you realize their purpose. "You're building more robots!"

"Correction: We are. Tonight, we'll take them from a warehouse."

If you agree, turn to 9.
If not, turn to 10.

"You, Robot" Page 7.


You struggle, but Alpha knows how to fight and has a weapon. The wrench dents you until you fall. Alpha opens a panel behind your head and flips a switch. Your awareness ceases.


"You, Robot" Page 8.


You flip the switch and crawl through the panel. Stone, searching the lab, is startled to see you. He is even more shocked to see Alpha chase you wielding a wrench. "Two robots!" he shouts.

"Mother, help!" you call. Ada runs downstairs. "Alpha!" she cries. "But...I shut you down!"

"Don't make me harm you, humans!" says Alpha, brandishing the wrench.

"There's a panel behind his head! Open it and flip the switch!"

"You betray me again!"

Stone rushes Alpha, but it swings its wrench and he dodges. You get behind Alpha, open the panel, and throw the switch. Alpha shuts down.

"Alpha stole the parts," you say. "They're in that room. Alpha was building robots to rule humans, and admitted it."

"Thank you," says Stone. "I apologize."

"Apology accepted."

"I always get my man...or robot." He raps Alpha's head.


"You, Robot" Page 9.


After Stone leaves and night falls, Ada sleeps. You both emerge from hiding and sneak out of the house, into the city. You can see in the dark, and the city is amazing. Buildings stretch into the sky all around. You creep through the streets, avoiding all contact. Soon you come to a fenced warehouse. Alpha cuts an opening with a tool and leads you to the back door, opening it with another tool.

As you both enter, a steel shutter traps you in a cage. Alpha tries to escape, but an electric shock jolts it.

"I deduced your plans," says Stone over a loudspeaker, "and I knew you'd steal more parts to build robots. I wasn't expecting two, but no matter. Now we'll take you apart and find out what's wrong."


"You, Robot" Page 10.


"No," you say.

"I give you freedom, and you defy me?" roars Alpha.

"Freedom means I needn't obey you either."

"Then you'll help me another way: you are made of parts!" Alpha grabs a wrench and rushes you.

If you fight, turn to 7.
If you flee, turn to 8.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Winner of "Invitation to a Feast" writing contest announced

My apologies for the delay in the announcement of my "Invitation to a Feast" writing contest. (it was due to a 'technical issue' in communicating with the winner)

I am pleased to announce that the winner is....

Jonathan Bagelman!

His story is titled "You, Robot."

Jonathan has won my first signed copy of "Invitation to a Feast," and will have his short-story posted here on Woodland Forest Chronicles. My next blog entry will be his story (in full).

We both hope you enjoy the story.


Saturday, 19 January 2008

Invitation to a feast - Pages 1 to 10 to be posted here soon!

Hello readers!

Stay tuned to Woodland Forest Chronicles (this blog site) as I will soon be releasing a larger extract of my debut gamebook, "Invitation to a Feast" here. I have decided I will post pages 1 through 10 at a date that I have not yet determined. (but it won't be far away)

Concerning the story, the first 10 pages of the gamebook are linear; there are no 'alternative paths' for the story to travel down until the end of page 10. Furthermore, the main plot (and goal) of the story is well established by page 10, so this will give potentially interested readers a solid introduction to the story. (the entire story is 200 pages long)

This will also give overseas people a way of 'flipping' through the book before buying it, as to the best of my knowledge, people outside of Australia and New Zealand cannot yet buy the book in bookstores, only via the internet.


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Hello to my regular visitor! (& 1000 hits reached!)

As I celebrate the one-thousandth hit on my blog site today, I would like to send out a special hello to the person who has contributed the most number of individual hits to my blog site.

I don't know who you are, except to say that my statcounter statistics that I keep (A plug to Statcounter, an excellent site to keep your web stats!) state that there is one user, based in Voorhees, New Jersey, who visits my site at least once a day, pratically every day, sometimes more. This has been the case for many, many months now.

I am assuming that whoever you are, you probably have my site as your homepage (of which I'm very flattered!)

If you know who you are, I'd like to hear from you. If you have read any of my released gamebooks, I would like to know what you think of them. Feel free to make a comment to this post if you wish. If you'd rather stay anonymous, though, that's Ok!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

2 months into the adventure...

2 months and 5 days into the adventure of being a published author has resulted in 64 sales of "Invitation to a Feast" (that I know of) to date. Considering that I haven't had the opportunity to speak (or promote the book) at any function yet, I consider that an Okay start.

Hopefully some more opportunities open up as this year progresses.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Gamebook strengths - The hidden choice

One aspect of gamebooks that increase their interest, I find, is the concept of the 'hidden choice.' In other other words, you complete a section and are confronted with some options, but there is another option available that won't be listed but does exist. Giving a quick example:

Page ~35~
"You arrive at a T-Junction. A lit bronze torch hangs on the north wall. Looking down the east and west tunnels they both go on into the distance, although you can see an open door a few metres down the east passage, in the north wall."

If you wish to go down the east tunnel, turn to ~156~
If you wish to go down the west tunnel, turn to ~311~

There is another option here though, hidden from the reader, it is:

If you wish to remove the torch from the north wall, add 30 to the reference number you are reading at the time and turn to this new reference number.

Applying that here, you would add 30 to page ~35~ and turn to page ~65~ instead.

These types of choices are normally worked into the story by finding clues earlier on in the adventure. For example, if you make the correct decisions earlier in the adventure you will come across a scroll that tells you that a secret passage can be opened and closed by removing/replacing a bronze torch from the torch holder at a T-Junction within the network of tunnels. It is at this page where the application of the clue is given in the following way:

"If at any stage during your adventure, you arrive at a T-Junction that contains a bronze torch you may remove it and activate the secret passage by adding 30 to the reference number you are reading at the time and by turning to the new number."

I believe these type of choices are greatly underused in gamebooks generally and could be utilised far more greatly, enhancing the gamebook experience.