Meet Me @AncientCityCon in Jacksonville, Florida on July 18th-20th!

Gamers! Cosplayers! Cinephiles!

Lend me your ears…that’s disgusting; take those back this instant!

AncientCityCon2014After taking a year off to concentrate on my burdening…no, bludgeoning… wait, *burgeoning* writing career, I’m a guest at this year’s Ancient City Con at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront on July 18th-20th, 2014. I’ll be bringing a bunch of books: copies of The Matriarch and The Matriarch: Guardians. If you already have one or both, bring them by to get those dead-tree editions signed at no charge! There will be panels…oh yes, there WILL be panels…including an all-new edition of The Ultimate Occult Showdown with myself and Brett Link as your enforcers…whoops, I meant “hosts!”

C’mon down, get a hotel room right on the waterfront, and party with us for the eighth-annual Ancient City Con this mid-July. Seriously, there’s nothing else to do that weekend in Jacksonville…I promise. Would I lie? I mean, when it’s important?!

See ya there!

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Do you stop or drive on?

Traveling along a lonely West Virginia highway by yourself at night, something steps in front of your vehicle. The impact is jarring, but you manage to stop without further incident. You can make out the mangled body of whatever you just hit in the road ahead as you look out over the hood, but it’s hard to see from inside. Do you drive on and hope for the best, or do you dare get out, check to see what it was, and/or ensure the vehicle has no significant damage just in case? Why or why not?

There’s no grade here, just the rest of your life to live with your decision (however long or short that might be).

Come Out to the 2012 Ancient City Con, July 20-22!

Ancient City Con in Jacksonville, Florida is three days long this year, and I’m a guest! I’ll be on and/or running a few panels, have lots of Spooky Chronicles books for sale (and how you can get some for free), and Grim D. Reaper of MovieCrypt.com will be making a few appearances throughout the weekend (don’t mention his face lift, though; he’s kind of sensitive about getting work done). Come say hello and get your picture taken with Death…!

Call Yourself an Old School Gamer, Do You?

Today’s kids have no idea what led up to the immersive computer game experiences they take for granted these days. If it weren’t for the beta toys of my gen, they’d have none of it. The following is a rough sample of some of the earlier tech I’ve worked with before the current stuff.

Back in the early 1980s, I was big on (and committed serious paper route profits to) coin-op games like Asteroids, Zaxxon, Sinistar, Bosconian, and Galaga. I had access to a Trash-80 and PET2000 in Junior High (both with the leaderless cassette drives) and owned the TI-99/4a minus “the expansion box” (aka “the rest of the computer”). For a while I even got to play around with a Timex Sinclair. At the same time at home, I also had a 2600, store-used 5200, Intellivision, and a Colecovision (with the deluxe four-finger controllers).

While reverse engineering programs like “Eliza,” I played a lot of “SpaceWarp” and “Pyramid.” Oh, the hours spent falling into a hole and dying in the dark because you couldn’t find the vending machine in the middle of the labyrinth, drop coins into, and buy fresh batteries for your flashlight. In high school, the computer lab at school had Apple IIs and IIes (and even one IIc). By college, IBM personal computers were getting into computer labs while the Apple Amiga and amber-screen Compaqs came onto the scene.

Since then, I’ve played other people’s console games but was too busy with computer, writing, and other stuff to play many of them (“Konker’s Bad Fur Day” was one of my favorites). Computer games were more accessible and (until the most recent consoles came out) generally had better and more sophisticated game play (Diablo and Diablo II). While WOW just seems like so much of a do-nothing machine that I can’t justify committing serious time to (and I’ve tried it about four times), I’m anxiously awaiting “Diablo III” and fully intend to put life on hold long enough to get some serious demonslaying done!

(Inspired by “When the MCP Was Just A Chess Program” by Wil Wheaton)

Savage Insider #3 Is Available (Still for Free)

“Root of the Problem,” the third part of my “Crypt of the Crystal Lich” serial, is available now in the new (and free) issue of Savage Insider. Get the free pdf download at RPGNow.com. Enjoy!

If It’s Written Too Quickly, It Can’t Be Good, Right?

To those coming down on people who can turn out the written word very quickly, don’t be too quick to judge or be jealous. Writers on television shows often crank out between six and twenty-four episodes a year (some are even watchable!) from script to screen; why is it so hard to imagine that any writer couldn’t do the same? Here’s where we’re going with this (from my post on a thread over at Dark Media City).

Besides the thirteen-plus years I’ve spent honing a narrative voice writing reviews as a film critic, the series I myself am working on right now was born of a tabletop role-playing game that created the seed of a larger idea. It was far-fetched overall, but having a large yet fuzzy canvas to start with, it was simpler to weed out what made no sense and distill a huge mural into a firm, focused Polaroid of an idea that lent itself to creating plot. With the main character and his world years in the making and an over-arcing story in place, writing the first book felt more freeing than like actual work: the initial draft poured out of me in a week. When I went to work on the second one, it took four days. Keep in mind that these are 7k-10k stories more the length and feel of a television show than a feature-length film.

What I think I’m trying to say is (after that ramble) that the actual writing didn’t take so long as the time it took to prepare to do it. As I continue now writing and tweaking plot outlines to help keep facts straight and ensure a comfortable flow, I can’t wait to write the next one because I LOVE having that feeling. My only other hope is to find an audience for it that appreciates my creation as much as I have creating it, but fulfillment in its realization (after all this time) is already mine.

“Crypt of the Crystal Lich”

Savage Insider asked me to write them a four-part serial, so I did! Savage Insider is a freely available, all-around eZine with loads of Savage Worlds content with adventure seeds in multiple genres and highlights of licensee companies. Their debut issue is scheduled to release in July 2011 and available in PDF via DriveThruRPG.