WTF Happened to My Writing Style? (And why beta readers are important)

You are a writer. You are a sponge.

Source: WTF Happened to My Writing Style? (And why beta readers are important)

Princes Update!

I haven’t posted in a LONG time. I just realized that I have been negligent in adding our 5e recaps to the blog, i’ve been writing them and sharing them to the group, but not putting them here.  So they’re posted now, sessions 11-14.  That’s probably around 10,000 words to churn through.

Torg Eternity

So I was not familiar with the Torg roleplaying game, apparently it has been out for a long time, but next year it’s getting a makeover from a German developer. The premise sounds like RIFTS, there are extra-dimensional worlds that have opened on Earth and different countries and continents are overtaken by various wild rules of reality that mimic various genres. You play the role of a Storm Knight, a special person who has the ability to shape the reality of these worlds as you enter them and try to drive back the incursion of the vile High Lords.

And really, they have a Cyber Pope in France!  How cool is that???

cyberpope

Here’s Ye Olde Presse Release:

CLASSIC ROLEPLAYING GAME TORG RETURNS AS TORG ETERNITY

Ulisses Spiele Announces Return of Torg in New Updated Edition

CHANDLER, AZ (July 21, 2015) – Ulisses Spiele US, a division of Germany’s premiere game manufacturer and distributor, today announced the return of the influential Torg roleplaying game.

The new game is entitled Torg: Eternity, and is a new and updated take on the original game and its setting. The design team includes many who worked on the original Torg line that debuted from West End Games in 1990.

Torg co-creator Greg Gorden has been involved at a high level and given it his blessing: “I really like this re-imagining of the TORG mythos. The streamlining and modernization of the game mechanics feel spot on. I cannot wait to play this game!”

The game’s rights were sold after the closure of West End Games and were eventually purchased by Torg fan and president of Ulisses Spiele, Markus Plotz. “TORG is a one of a kind RPG. The setting is unique and for over 15 years, I dreamed about releasing a new and updated version. Now, with the help of the amazing Shane Hensley, that dream finally becomes reality!”

Shane Lacy Hensley heads up the United States studio where both Torg: Eternity and The Dark Eye are being created. “Though my plate is pretty full with my own company, Pinnacle Entertainment Group, I couldn’t resist working on the game that gave me my start. I also met a kindred spirit in Markus Plotz who truly loves and appreciates what a turning point Torg marked in RPG development, so I just couldn’t say no.”

Torg: Eternity will debut in 2016 in deluxe, full color hardback format.

About Ulisses Spiele
Ulisses Spiele is the premiere manufacturer of RPGs in Germany. The company’s portfolio includes amongst other games The Dark Eye (the biggest Fantasy RPG in Germany), the German version of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (as a license from US RPG giant Paizo Inc.) and the new German V20 version of Vampire – The Masquerade.

Additionally Ulisses Spiele is known as the German distributor for the critically acclaimed tabletop games Warmachine and Hordes from Privateer Press and Infinity from Corvus Belli.

With TORG: Eternity, Ulisses Spiele publishes its first English RPG.

Selling Your Children’s Book: How to Write and Pitch Novels & Picture Books for Kids — June 29 Boot Camp by the Agents at P.S. Literary (with a Critique for all Attendees) | WritersDigest.com

Selling Your Children’s Book: How to Write and Pitch Novels & Picture Books for Kids — June 29 Boot Camp by the Agents at P.S. Literary (with a Critique for all Attendees) | WritersDigest.com.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared

This is nuts.  It appeals to my childlike nature of entertaining a kid…and then scaring the CRAP out of them all at once.

And super catchy catchy tunes. Apparently this has been viral for a while but i had no clue.

Kung Fury (short film)

Quite possibly one of the best, funniest short films i’ve ever seen.  Rated R though, it is violent and has profanity.

Ravenloft I6 for 5th edition D&D

HPIM6134Last weekend I ran a two day, 12 hour session of adventures for the 1st edition D&D module Ravenloft adapted to 5e. It was probably the best single one shot adventure I’ve run, but VERY costly.  I had all the maps printed out in high resolution and used them to run the game in the Castle itself. The adventure recaps are forthcoming and I will post them here in time, but it was a really great game and one I would love to run again for new players.

Daily Musing – A Rant on Rifts (R)

This is not my rant.  This is a rant from a friend in response to the news that the Palladium game of Rifts is being adapted to the Savage Worlds ruleset, and I simply inquired “What is Rifts?” because although I’d heard of it I was not very versed in the details.    Well, he offered many details, and I am both intrigued and appalled but overall vastly humored by his response.

Rifts_RPG_Ultimate_Edition_2005

For Jason:

Rifts(R) was huge in the 90’s.  I’m surprised you never heard of it.

Rifts(R) is the RPG that all of us wanted when we were 14.  It’s got giant robots, killer wizards, evil psychics, demons, rail guns, mutant dog-people, hover tanks, skanky chicks, ninjas, Cthulhu, etc. etc. etc. etc.  It’s also famous for having some of the worst mechanics in the entire known Megaverse(R).

If you remember anything about Torg, the setting is a little like Torg.  A post-post apocalyptic earth where a nuclear war set of a psychic backlash that caused hundreds of (wait for it) Rifts(R) to open to all sorts of crazy other dimensions.  The Midwest is dominated by The Coalition, a human empire of not-quite Nazis ruled by Emperor Not-quite Hitler that are all about genociding anything that isn’t pure bread human or mutant dog-person (because Emperor Not-quite Hitler loves mutant dog-people).  Mexico is full of vampires.  The southeast is full of dinosaurs.  The four goddam-horsemen of the goddam apocalpyse live in Africa for no good reason.  Atlantis has risen, and it turns out the king of Atlantis is Cthulhu if Cthulhu had an army of evil monkeys that carry laser guns and hot chicks in one-piece bathing suits fighting for him.  Germany is locked in an eternal war with an army of Gargoyles.  Everybody rides around in giant Macross/Battletech/Gundam robot suits and shoots something called “mini-missiles” at each other.  It is the ultimate kitchen sink setting.  Hell, it’s a kitchen bathtub setting.  It’s a kitchen bathtub with a kitchen sink dumped into it.  Plus aliens.

The mechanics are a kludgy D&D ripfoff from the early 1980’s that were never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever revised.  Ever.  There are a bunch of ability scores and a weird alignment system.  Some PC’s have magic points.  Some PC’s have Psychic Points.  The difference between the two is crucial!  Armor is just extra hit points that you strap on yourself.  You can buy a suit of armor that gives you 60 extra hit points.  You can buy a suit of armor that gives you an extra 700 hit points.  Attacks are roll a d20, anything over 5 hits, except the defender has a chance to roll a d20 and dodge or parry unless he doesn’t because of reasons.   There are special rules for fighting with giant robots, shooting missiles, shooting at missiles, shooting mini-missiles, shooting automatic weapons, something called “vibro-blades”, using psychic powers, using stone magic, using time magic, using rune magic, and using regular magic.  There is a percentile-based skill system that can give you a 5% chance to operate a radio correctly.  There’s a special kind of hit point that’s equal to 100 regular hit points, and that’s called mega-damage, and if you don’t have it you might as stop and go play Street Fighter while everybody else plays Rifts(R).  The designer of Rifts(R) actively hates balance, so it is entirely possible for a party of PC’s to include a Baby Dragon, a man in a suit of super-duper Robot Armor with a railgun that has a range measured in actual miles, and a Hobo who knows how to make an awesome stew.  These are all literally options in the core rulebook.  The later books are where it really gets gonzo.

The formatting and editing of the books is terrible.  It is common for entire sections from one book to be copied and pasted (complete with typos!) into other books.  A book might reference a table or a rule that doesn’t exist.  A column of text might be repeated.  A column of text might be repeated.  And sometimes the text just stops without

The guy that owns the game doesn’t know how copyright works, so he always, always adds the (R) symbol to the name of the game and to various game elements.  It’s worse than Games Workshop (TM).  Also, he’s worse than TSR was about sending angry lawyer letters to fans of the game who post about it online.

P.S. I didn’t mention that a later sourcebook — Rifts(R) Underseas(R) — has rules that will let you play a Dolphin, an Orca, a Sperm Whale, or a Humpback Whale.  This is not a metaphor.  You can play a 70 ton psychic whale that swims in the ocean.  And wears power armor.

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Daily Musing – Kanye West : RPG hero

The original picture was posted on Imgur.  I kinda thought he looked more Sith Lord, so I Photoshopped a version of that instead….

He could also go full hobbit with a little forced perspective thrown in.

http://imgur.com/gallery/Q0LDg4k

Q0LDg4kl


sith copy

FotRk

FotR2 copy

Thundarr the Barbarian

In my recent efforts to hash out some ideas for a post-apocalyptic roleplaying game based on Dungeon World, I have been doing some research into one of my favorite shows as a kid – Thundarr the Barbarian.  Part D&D, part science fiction and 100% bizarre, this is an undeniable classic from the early 1980s.

Click on the image to watch the entire first episode – Secret of the Black Pearl.

Best cartoon from 1980

Best cartoon from 1980

Why Post-Apocalyptic for Kids?

Reblogging here….Jessica has some good points, and she covers some similar territory to my own stories: weird fiction for kids.

Jessica Rising

DarkCrows2

I can’t tell you exactly when I first started writing, nor why I continue to this day. Authors tend to repeat the oft-used phrase, “we write because we must” to cover such questions. I tend to agree with this. It isn’t a satisfying answer, but there it is — I write because it is who I am.

As far back as I can remember I’ve seen the world… differently. My dollhouse was never enough; I always created an entire world around it with everything in my bedroom. Where most people saw a leaf on a tree, I saw an air-boat for a tiny elf. Where most people saw an office building, I saw a sideways world where people could fall off the walls into space.

I still see these things on a daily basis.

Long ago, I came to the conclusion that there are two ways to go about life…

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Daily Musing – Gnostic Geopolitics

The Demiurge

The Demiurge

Now this is not the sort of stuff I normally post.  I’m very deeply interested in such esoteric topics, but it’s not the kind of thing I tend to slap on the internet.  But for some reason I felt like doing that today.  So here it goes.

I’d found a book online and was browsing it, and it led to another link, and that is this:

Hyperborean Wisdom of Nimrod de Rosario and Gnostic Geopolitics

Now the information therein is not particularly new, I’m sure you can find it plastered all over the internet and Youtube if you had the inclination to look for it, but for some reason I found this particular article well laid out and informative.  It touches on several issues of which I was already aware and incorporates a few new ones.  And it uses lots and lots of big words that I wasn’t familiar with.  So maybe I’m fooling myself into thinking I’m a little bit smarter when I’m actually not.

Anyway, I digress.

The basic, most easily explainable tenet of ancient Gnosticism is the belief that our material world is ruled by an antagonistic super-deity that tries to pass itself off as our True Creator.  It was called the Demiurge by the Gnostics, and much of that ancient history has been burned, hidden, or misconstrued in the passing eons to keep the knowledge from common man.

But although the Demiurge IS immensely powerful, it is flawed and imperfect. It is not nearly as powerful as the one True God, which is the Unknowable One, which is more of a universal, loving consciousness that is frankly impossible for us mortals to comprehend.

So another far more chilling and depressing tenet of Gnosticism is that this Demiurge is both the God and Devil of the Bible and pretty much EVERY OTHER major religion on the planet.  The Demiurge is a smart sonofabitch, devious is its middle name, and the plan all along was to keep Mankind confused, divided and asleep. Because it NEEDS us.  If feeds on our worship and fear and pain and all of the unpleasantness we see in the world today.

And not just the Demiurge, it has lots and lots and lots of nasty helpers too that also need to be fed, so the 3-dimensional density of our material world becomes a feeding ground for them energetically. But they don’t want most people to know this because that would enable humans to escape the trap in which we’ve long been ensnared.

You know who else in popular culture found out that he was living in an illusion ruled by antagonistic parasites?

Human batteries to feed the Machines

Human batteries to feed the Machines

Neo in the Matrix woke up and found out that reality was much, much darker than he’d been led to believe. Because the best slave is a slave who doesn’t even know he is in imprisoned.

 

1837128

Daily Musing – The Art of a Story

I found this on Imgur today, just a random posting from someone.  I don’t know what it is, or who did it, or what it is even about, but it tells a story, the kind of story I would personally like to RETELL and find out how it got to this point.

SsLmYLn

Daily Musing – Selling Books: Is it about YOU?

An article shared from our Second Wind group:

http://sunsingerstravels.com/2015/03/07/selling-books-is-it-about-you-or-is-it-about-your-reader/

This has a lot of very interesting and very pertinent information, particularly for a new writer like me.  Well, not new in the sense of “just started writing” but new in the vein of “getting published in a noticeable venue.”

Authors as Celebrities

When an author promotes a new book, s/he often says a little about the wonders of the story and follows this up with a lot of “about me” interview answers and blogging posts. Generic blog interviews are partly at fault here when they ask such questions as “when did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?”

If you’re a new author, the reader doesn’t care when you made that decision. Why not: (a) you’re not a celebrity about which everyone wants to know everything from the lame to the sublime; (b) since you’re not fulfilling the prospective reader’s hobby of keeping up with celebrities, there’s nothing in your answer that will resonate with those whom you hope will buy your books.

Point of fact, new writers and other unknown writers cannot promote their work by doing what major bestselling authors do: we can’t spend our promotional time talking about ourselves or by assuming that once the reader sees our name on our book, s/he will buy it.

This brings to mind a personal thing about myself, and maybe some other authors/readers share it and maybe they don’t. I’m not the kind of person who is particularly interested in current trends or events. I don’t follow Facebook posts or Twitter celebrities and I actively try to avoid the Yahoo news feeds that tell me what to believe in current world events, which is not easy because it is very insistent.

So I find myself at a conundrum – following a career path where “celebrity level” sales is the only way to make real money, when I do not follow even remotely follow celebrities myself. I yearn to “become” that which I avoid.  Tough, eh?

Now Second Wind has done an excellent job recently (thank you Pat for all of your hard work, it’s appreciated) of connecting us authors on 2W (140 or so I believe) and trying to unite us under a common social network umbrella. The effectiveness of such a strategy is debatable.  I’m sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that some authors have found tremendous success through social networking and a strong Internet presence, while others with perfectly good stories have tried the same technique and met with utter failure.

So what happened?

The article posted above touches on this rather well.  The “celebrity status” of an author who has somehow through luck or fortune or the grace of the angels already reached a level of notoriety where the public wants to know more about this mere human being who offered them so much deep entertainment. I don’t think there is a particular formula that can be followed, such as plugging in X-Y- and Z and Wah-la!  Out spits a famous author. It might seem like that, particularly when you walk into a Barnes & Nobles and see 10,000 published writers around you with glossy covers and snazzy book blurbs and badass interior art (if you’re a children’s book author like me), but in reality this a VERY small slice of the contributions out there, and it is not indicative of the raw talent and heartfelt stories that many individuals want, or NEED to tell.

And for many writers, they might be so introverted they don’t WANT to be noticed. Sure, they want their stories and fiction to be seen and become the surrogate representation of themselves, and when I seriously started writing about 15 years ago, this was my goal. Really.

“If people don’t like me for ME, they’ll goddamn well like me for my stories.”

But that’s not how it works in the real world.  Not our world of social media and superstars and celebrities and ultimately a shitload of very shallow expectations. Now I’m not dumping on the fans of anything, really.  People like what they like.  I have my own personal opinions about media saturation and how we are blinded to more important issues by completely unimportant issues, but that’s another blog post for another time.

We authors, whether we are successful or not, we all want to be appreciated for what we do well.

Scared of Clowns?

How about now???

Z9N0IA8l

Oh, Pennywise, you never fail to show up at the most inopportune times….

Daily Musing – Oh My Goodness and Golly Darn!

This was forwarded to me and I wanted to share it.

broken-record

By: Richard Lederer (A remarkable local Linguist). 


About a month ago in this space, I illuminated old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. 

These phrases included: don’t touch that dial, carbon copy, you sound like a broken record and hung out to dry. A bevy of readers have asked me to shine light on more faded words and expressions, and I am happy to oblige:

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie. We’d put on our best bib and tucker and straighten up and fly right. Hubba-hubba! We’d cut a rug in some juke joint and then go necking and petting and smooching and spooning and billing and cooing and pitching woo in hot rods and jalopies in some passion pit or lovers’ lane. Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! Holy moley! We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers. Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.

Like Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle and Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, we have become unstuck in time. We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” or “This is a fine kettle of fish!” we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, poof, poof go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind. We blink, and they’re gone, evanesced from the landscape and wordscape of our perception, like Mickey Mouse wristwatches, hula hoops, skate keys, candy cigarettes, little wax bottles of colored sugar water and an organ grinder’s monkey.

Where have all those phrases gone? Long time passing. Where have all those phrases gone? Long time ago: Pshaw. The milkman did it. Think about the starving Armenians. Bigger than a bread box. Banned in Boston. The very idea! It’s your nickel. Don’t forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper. Turn-of-the-century. Iron curtain.
Domino theory. Fail safe. Civil defense. Fiddlesticks! Kiddidlehopper! You look like the wreck of the Hesperus. Cooties. Going like sixty. I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Heavens to Murgatroyd! And awa-a-ay we go!

Oh,my stars and garters! It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter had liver pills. This can be disturbing stuff, this winking out of the words of our youth, these words that lodge in our heart’s deep core. But just as one never steps into the same river twice, one cannot step into the same language twice. Even as one enters, words are swept downstream into the past, forever making a different river.

We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeful times. For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It’s one of the greatest advantages of aging.

We can have archaic and eat it, too!

Badda Bing, Badda Boom!

Daily Musing – It Follows

So there’s a new horror film coming out soon that is supposed to be super scary.  And I don’t mean like Scream-scary, or I Know What You Did Last Summer-scary, but a much more visceral, nerve shattering, spine tingling experience that is hard to forget.  Ya know, if you like that sort of thing.  I do, in small quantities, and only if it’s well done, which it is usually not.   But this is supposed to be a well-layered, nuanced film with likable characters you actually CARE about, and that’s something rarely seen in horror.  I don’t even know if I want to see this one in the theater.  I’m probably too fraidy cat…

Here’s the trailer for the film:

I’ll post a review whenever I get around to seeing it.

Daily Musing – What to Write About When You’re Not Writing (V)

WtWaWNeverwinternights_logo (1)YnW #5.

So back to the gaming side of things, the players in my 5th edition game are wandering far from the tremulous path I’d laid out for them, so I’m going to have to hash out something new.  This is both good and bad.  Good because it means I get to design a new city adventure, but bad because I HAVE to design a new adventure.  I already had something set up that would ease the workload on myself, but now I’m scrambling to create a new scenario.  But I have help!  The 4e sourcebook, The Neverwinter Campaign Setting, popped up and I was able to mine it for ideas.  It’s not perfect, but I think it has enough stuff to jumpstart a new scenario that should interest everyone involved.  I hope so anyway.  I still feel like I got my work cut out and I’m not feeling particularly inspired to do it.  Hopefully that will change.

Daily Musing – Return to Jupiter Ascending

jupiterI wrote about this a short while back before I’d actually seen the film, thoroughly blasting it as being a bad film.  And it’s still NOT a good film now that I’ve seen it, but it’s also not as bad as I thought it would be.

This isn’t really a review but more just a musing of my thoughts and feelings after having seen it.  So first – the PROS

The special effects and action scenes and score are all fabulously well done.  So I supposed it is worth seeing just for those things.  I actually purchased the MP3 soundtrack I liked it so much, and I can use it for games or just casual listening.

Another very interesting aspect of the film I did not expect was the heavy occult undertones that are likely to go over the heads of 95% of viewers.  Like The Matrix before it, the Wachowskis have seeded their film with spiritual insights into the nature of Man and the Universe, and the parallels between the two have some strong similarities, although Jupiter will never attain the critical acclaim of the Matrix because it has far more weak elements, namely the lame script and dialog.

When I say “spiritual insights” I’m talking about major, MAJOR modern day conspiracy theory concerning Transhumanism, Ancient Astronauts, Annuaki, Greys, Reptilians, and human DNA seeding from other advanced civilizations hundreds of thousands of years ago that was the real source of human life on Earth, not our evolution from primordial soup or monkeys.  This is all stuff that circulates around the Internet and the Wachowskis have worked it into their movie, sometimes subtly and sometimes in-your-face blatantly.

Even names of characters have secret, secondary meanings.  The throwaway elephant-faced pilot named “Nesh,” is a reference to the Indian god Ganesh. He’s not important, he’s hardly seen at all, yet they still make a subtle esoteric reference.

ganesh

I’m not going to delve into all the ways the film uses esoteric symbolism, there are other websites and blogs that can do that far better than I can, but I felt like it was worth mentioning.

As for the CONS –

Well, the screenplay and dialog is weak.  Some dumb lines. The main characters, namely Kunis and Chatum just don’t seem to fit in very well, and Tatum’s elf ears (sorry, WOLF ears) just look silly.  But even that is another sly reference to the widespread genetic DNA tampering that advanced civilizations love to meddle with. Even our own civilization if you follow any of the secret underground facility rumors that have had scientists tampering with what is possible.

And the main villain speaks in a constant WHISPER and I could not stand hearing it, it was so, so, so annoying.  Just an awful decision on the part of the filmmakers, unless of course, and this is possible, there’s some esoteric clue hidden in that as well.  So ultimately this is a movie about Secrets Revealed and the’re putting it right in front of the public masqueraded as high end science fiction popcorn entertainment.

Take from that what you will or just chalk them off as crazy.

Daily Musing – What to Write About When You’re Not Writing (IV)

The winter bear of apathy.

The winter bear of apathy.

WTWAWYNT (Whattawhynot) – “What?  Why not?”  That’s what it looks like to me. So yeah, I’ve been in a major writing slump recently.  I realize, painfully so, that if I was actually working on stories during all the time I spend watching movies or puppies playing on Youtube then I would literally have a bookcase of my own novels completed.  Ok, maybe not literally, but figuratively and remotely possibly hopefully.  Anyway, it’s a shift of productivity from practically Nil to Full.  It’s like the gas tank in my brain is empty and I don’t know if it takes unleaded or premium.  Hell, I can’t even find the gas station so it’s a moot point, I’m trapped out in the wasteland somewhere.  Maybe a bear will eat me.  Maybe a bear will read one of my books first, give me a healthy compliment and pat on the back and THEN eat me.

And maybe it’s partly to do with winter drudgery, I just hate these blasts of cold weather.  Ice and snow and wind.  Ugh.  It would be kind of nice if I could curl up in a cave and hibernate until Spring just like bears do.  Wake up and it will be 60 degrees and flowers blooming and birds chirping and leaves on the trees.  That’s what I would like.

I also think I need to move to Florida in the cold months.  I know I’m being a big baby, we don’t really have it that bad weather-wise in North Carolina Piedmont area, but I know what I like and I know what I DON’T like and I DON’T like being cold. At all. Ever. Not even a little bit.  I really should move to Florida from December – March.  Three months out of the year, basically all winter long, I’ll be someplace where there’s no frost on the windshield, no snow in the trees, just balmy air and warm sun, and no hurricanes either that time of year.

Yeah, I could used to that.  And being a successful writer I can just take my work with me and get stuff done from anywhere.  I just need a computer and an internet connection.  Anyway, that’s my goal.  This blog entry will officially stand in for my Dream Board, ya know, that thing you create with your dreams and visions and desires and you pour energy into it so it manifests eventually in physical reality?  Yeah, it sounds hokey.  I’ve tried it before with very limited success.  Either A) it just doesn’t work, or B) I’m not very good at manifesting desires.    Then again, I realize my pervasive overarching “feeling” is one of doubt and negativity, so that probably nips any manifestation that might have evolved.

Damn.

Jason's winter abode in the Florida Keys

Jason’s winter abode in the Florida Keys

Daily Musing – Well, at least I don’t live up North

Snowtuber

Jason in the winter. 

But I still can’t stand this cold weather.  North Carolina is not historically a brutally cold state, but to me brutally cold is anything where water freezes, that’s more than I can stand.  I guess I like to be outside a lot in the sun, I’m an outdoor person, and the cold just causes me physical pain clear down to my bones.  I’m glad we don’t get much snow and ice, but as I’m writing this we have a forecast of some sleet tonight into tomorrow. Yay.  Just in time to ruin the few plans I had to do something interesting during the week.

I used to like snow, but that is a) nostalgia from being a kid and missing school, or b) nostalgia from a young adult and missing work.  Neither of those applies anymore so it’s zero-zero win for me.  But then I look at the blizzard conditions around Boston and New Hampshire and I know that we really have it easy comparatively.  No ten foot snow drifts, no collapsing roofs, no weeks of lost power or huddling over a firepit in your living room and cooking beanie weenies on a coat hangar.

I swear to God I want to move to Florida for 3 months out of the year and just get away from this.  60 degrees every day?  Yeah, I could live with that.

Daily Musing – How To Find an Agent (?)

Jupiter-Ascending copyThis is not really a “How-to” guide to find an agent.  I literally mean “How the heck do you find an agent?”  There’s a lot of agents and literary agencies out there, both in the USA an abroad, but they’re outnumbered 1000 to 1 by writers all clamoring to get their attention. “LOOK AT MY BOOK!  DAMN YOU!  IT’S THE NEXT BIG THING SO WHY CAN’T YOU SEE MY GENIUS YOU PEOPLE, IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!”

I say that jokingly but it’s kind of true.  Any writer who has played the game of looking for an agent can probably sympathize. I think that a lot of it comes down to luck and talent.  I’m not sure which one is more important.  Plenty of bad books (and scripts!) get made all the time by people being in the right place at the right time or knowing the right people, while FAR superior works are glossed over and ignored.  Not always of course, but it does happen.

So how DOES one find an agent?  Well, by my personal research, it means sending out a whole bunch of queries.  Emailing seems to be the preferred method now, and I’m glad for that, the whole postal system of yesteryear was never fun and this is much faster now getting a rejection email.  Or no email at all which is usually the case, because, like I said, the agencies are inundated with 10,000 queries a month and they can’t adequately screen them all.  Well, I take that back, that’s a blanket statement, I have no idea how much scrutiny any given agency gives a book.  I imagine that they have a system in place that is very individual for each one, and the first time they hit a “flag” in a submission they will drop it and move on to the next.

And that doesn’t mean that the given text was poor or inadequate or faulty or “wrong,” it just hit the wrong note with the agent. Look at it like this:
Ok, so here’s an idea, let’s take a contemporary example in theaters now: JUPITER ASCENDING.  Now for the most part this Wachowski film is getting really poor reviews.  Almost laughable reviews, and part of that is probably because Tatum looks like an elf.  Anyway, Hollywood of course works differently from the literary world, but there’s certainly some overlap.  It all comes down to money in the end, what is marketable and what is not.   The Wachowski’s made a splash with the Matrix movie and it became an instant classic and everything they’ve done since then has slid downhill.  You could say they were a one-hit-film-wonder.  It certainly happens a lot, The Sixth Sense Shyamalan guy did the same thing.

So, let us pretend that all of those HORRIBLE REVIEWS for Jupiter Ascending were actually potential agents looking at the script of a novel called Jupiter Ascending.  As of this time, the movie has a 23% positive rating, meaning that 77% of reviewers hated / rejected it.  (I have no opinion yet because I haven’t seen it but I thought the trailer looked stupid).

My point is that even though this massively expensive film got greenlit and made, most people didn’t even like it.  BUT IT STILL GOT MADE.  So that means that behind the scenes there is either pure luck or friendship or secret treaties or something happening.  If this had been a book script that got fielded out to agents, even thought MOST agents would reject, someone would still have liked it enough to publish it.

So it seems like it comes down to a numbers game.  If the Jupiter Ascending “book” had been sent to 100 agents, 77 would have dismissed it as drivel, 23 might have been interested.

And all it takes is 1 to publish it.  So stick in there.  There’s a lot of agents left in the world to pester with our burgeoning genius.

Daily Musing – What to Write About When You’re Not Writing (III)

Horror-on-the-Orient-ExpressI’ll try to tag to the previous WtWAWYNW entries  for consistency and easier reference.  My “Whatawowinew”.  Or however you want to pronounce that weird acronym. So I put it on my other blog but I want to mentioned it here too – I’ve been looking over the 7th edition Call of Cthulhu rules and I’m really liking them.  Now gaming can be escapism or a creative outlet or a waste of time or a fun social gathering, sometimes all at once.  It really depends on how much time you invest in it.  And what it ultimately means to your emotional well being.  That said, the nature of Call of Cthulhu is by default one of ghastly horror, grisly doom, and confronting indescribable entities from other dimensions that want to feast on your soul.  So fun stuff. Regardless, it is an immensely cool world to play in, one that I have delved into many times over the years, swam around in its yuckiness and eventually climbed back out and showered (metaphorically). The new 7th edition of the game promises more of the same, and it looks really fun to play, and now in full horrific color to boot.

There’s a new adventure out for it as well, Horror on the Orient Express, no less than a 9 lb. boxed set that could club someone to death it’s so heavy.  If I WERE to run Cthulhu again, this is the adventure I would pick up.  It looks to be chock full of handouts, clues, a timeline, and more convoluted red herrings than you could possibly imagine.  And red herrings in Call of Cthulhu are fun. Instead of THIS thing driving your character insane, it might THIS completely unrelated thing instead. Which brings me back to the point I brought up earlier – what does gaming mean to me?  Is it pure escapism, a way to waste time instead of doing something more productive, or is it a built-in creative outlet or is it a dedicated social mechanism for getting together with friends?   I guess for me it’s all of the above.   It’s definitely a form of storytelling, cooperate storytelling, but from experience, it can ultimately be a waste of time pumping that much creative juice into a project that only about 5 other people on the world will care about.

That kind of creative devotion can write entire novels and crap like that, which ya know, can be a career and make you money, both of which are really neato things. So ultimately, like anything else, moderation is the key.  Finding a balance between how much time you invest in a hobby like this is important.  Too little and the game suffers from lack of preparation; too much and you’re investing all your time into something that not many people will care about;  just right is just right, the Sweet Spot.  That horrible, horrible, terrifying and madness-inducing sweet spot of Sanity-draining terror that the game is famous for. I love it.

Daily Musing – What To Write About When You’re Not Writing (II)

Quotation-Samuel-Taylor-Coleridge-style-language-poetry-expression-order-best-Meetville-Quotes-203709This could become a series of blog posts.  This topic. What to write about when you’re not writing, just so I can BE writing and have something to write about.  Self fulfilling prophecy or something like that.  Anyway, I’m still poking along with a number of different stories and projects.  Poking is an apt word because it denotes “slowness” and “lack of forward progression.”  I wish my word choice there included “light speed” or “raging”  or “spectacularly” but I’m going to stick with poking for right now.  Next week maybe I’ll have another update and I can insert a more interesting word.

I’m always curious about where writing inspiration comes from.  You see many successful authors churn out ludicrous amounts of material every year, year after year after year.  Don’t they ever get writer’s block for months at time like all of us others?   Maybe not.

I’m reminded of an article called “BLOCKED” from The New Yorker that I read one time about the famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge when he was going through a period of horrible writer’s block:

Yesterday was my Birth Day,” Coleridge wrote in his notebook in 1804, when he was thirty-two. “So completely has a whole year passed, with scarcely the fruits of a month.—O Sorrow and Shame. . . . I have done nothing!” It was true. Most of the poems for which he is remembered were written when he was in his mid-twenties. After that, any ambitious writing project inspired in him what he called “an indefinite indescribable Terror,” and he wasted much of the rest of his life on opium addiction. How could he have done this? Why didn’t he pull himself together? A friend asked him the same question. “You bid me rouse myself,” he replied. “Go, bid a man paralytic in both arms rub them briskly together, and that will cure him. Alas! (he would reply) that I cannot move my arms is my complaint.”

Now, that’s some depressing crap right there.

In fact, the first time I read that article I think I was about the exact same age as Coleridge – 32.   Anyway, the whole Article, “Blocked”, is an excellent essay on the phenomenon of writer’s block.  But my point here is not necessarily “block” as “writer’s slump” where you have to push through invisible walls that slow or impede your output rather than being solid, impenetrable obstacles.  Would Coleridge have fared better if he had internet access and a blog? I don’t know.  Maybe.

And seriously, I’ve wondered at times if I’m a reincarnation of Coleridge, if one believes in such things.  Obviously I do, but I’m not trying to convince or change anyone’s mind about anything. Choose to believe whatever you want, but to quote a super wise man, the Buddah:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

But a quick internet search turns this up as well (click on the picture):

new_banner_3

YEAH, on second thought, Samuel Taylor Coleridge would have had a f****** blast with the Internet.

Daily Musing – My Poor Cat

poorcatAs in, My Poor Cat, I Made Him Fat.   So after a long, long hiatus, I’m going back and editing this storypoerm again and finding that – ta da! – it is full of errors, poor rhymes, inconsistencies and just plain too many words for a children’s book. So once again I have to dive into the text and start shaping it like I’m polishing a diamond.  I find that this happens occasionally, well, maybe more often than not.  I’ll have a draft done and THINK it’s done, only to step away for a while and come back, particularly if someone else helps me look with a fresh pair of eyes (as happened in this case) and point out the things that don’t work.

Great.  But, on the positive side, the story is definitely stronger for it.  Plus, I got a brand new ending today that I like far better than the one I had, so it was worth it.

Here’s the revised intro:

My poor cat! 
I made him FAT !

It’s all my fault, I’m so ashamed,
but I’m really the only one to blame.

He had some bad habits that got out of control.
Now he’s huge.  A cat-monster! A kitty cat troll!

It all began after the night of the storm,
the wind howling harder than the norm.

Nothing bad happened, me and Mom were okay,
and the next morning I went out to survey

 

any surprises the storm had brought,
downed trees and limbs, whatever it had wrought.

I pulled on my red raincoat and green galoshes,
perfect for these sloppy, summertime sloshes.

It was still drizzling and pools of brown water puddled,
and I watched the earthworms, all squirming, befuddled.

when the strangest sound reached my ear, 
not the twitter of birds or thrashing deer…

…but a sad mewling—something distressed—
and it sounded like a kitten, I guess.

And then I saw it just lying on the lawn,
a sodden little wad barely five inches long.

He was the CUTEST, SWEETEST, FUZZIEST thing!
I picked him up gently, already thinking of a name.

Daily Musing – Dang it, I Lost Project Pi!

So, in my attempts to collate all of my old, old roleplaying sessions into one place, which is actually a HUGE task because most of them are not currently in PDF form, and I’m not linking every single picture to a url (again) like I had in the past, so I have to recreate the documents from the original Word file.  That’s fine, it’s kinda fun in a weird “get in the zone” kinda way, but for the life of me I can’t find the original story when I started doing session recaps.  It was called Project Pi, or maybe The Icarus Project, and it was from a German magazine called Worlds of Cthulhu, Issue #2, and I had converted six or seven characters to d20 Call of Cthulhu and I ran the players through a 3-part, 12-hour modern day scenario with marines on a boat trying to solve a mystery in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  It was fun as hell and I wrote it up and did all the art and made a handful of detailed d20 characters NOW I CAN’T FIND IT.  Granted, it’s probably been 8 years, but still, I usually keep crap like this backed up on multiple hard drives and disk.  I’ll keep searching I guess, but it still bugs me.

I hate losing stuff.😦

EDIT: Found it!!!!  Buried in our gaming blog from 8 years ago.  Had to put it back together as a pdf.

the Team

Roger Revelle

Humor – With Kids vs. Without Kids

I’m currently in the No-kids camp, but this was shared with me by people in the Kid-camp. Click on the image to expand to full size.

“Without Kids – 8:30am: An angel comes down and gently kisses your forehead.  Sleep well, sweet prince.” 

nokids

Humor – Crappy Children’s Artwork

Crappy Children's ArtworkThis is a website we found a long, long time ago that has given us many hours of enduring chuckles.  I’ll let you pick which ones resonate most for you.  It’s a site for grownups, or at the very least PG-13.  The author has no qualms about using harsh language to insult the artistic skills of children, but therein lies the humor- it’s so unfairly biased that it’s just ridiculous.

CRAPPY CHILDREN’S ARTWORK

Daily Musing – Holy Wordcount, Batman!

So I’m in the process of transplanting my old roleplaying sessions from the past 8 or 9 years from our  private gaming site to my personal blog.  I counted ’em up and there’s about 135 short stories, each one detailing a single session of gameplay, usually a 2-4 hour session that got turned into a short story afterward.  By my estimate, give or take, that’s 390,000 words.  I was curious as to how many words that actually is, so I looked up Game of Thrones for comparison:

A Song of Ice And Fire – George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones: 298,000
A Clash of kings: 326,000
A Storm of Swords: 424,000
A Feast for Crows: 300,000
A Dance with Dragons: 422,000

A Song of Ice & Fire

Now, I’m not saying that my roleplaying short stories are ANYTHING near the mastery of Martin, I’m just saying:  I wrote a helluva lot of words over the years and didn’t realize it was a big giant fat huge novel worth of words. AND PICTURES.  Can’t forget the pictures.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pictures.

Something Wild — Concept Art

My plan all along for Something Wild This Way Comes was to have it artistically replicate Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  We tried to get the artists to replicate that style, and while a lot of it DOES do it, we’ve had some, um…artist problems and the same people that started are not the same people who are finishing.  So this has created the problem of contrasting art styles.  I have no idea how this will influence the final product. I’m afraid that it’s going to look like a mishmash of styles that don’t cohere very well, because that’s exactly what it is.  A miss-mash.  On the other hand, maybe the styles will blend and be better for it. I just don’t know and it’s far too early to tell, the kickstarter hasn’t even launched yet.

Still, I’m pleased with how some of the early concept art turned out.  I really hope we can utilize it for the finished product.  It’s a fun story and we think it would make a really fun movie.

Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are

Something Wild This Way Comes

Something Wild This Way Comes

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