Update on Summer Scheduling and an Invitation

Yuna Final Fantasy X-2

As a full-time writer, one of the interesting things that happens is due to the nature of how I get work and when it’s due. Longer projects free up my brain space to tightly focus on that one thing, while shorter projects mean I need to be very intense about what I’m working on from day to day. Right now, I have a variety of both that I’m managing closely, because essentially spec work tends to get put off further and further in favor of what I know will pay. This may sound pretty technical, and it is, but this allows me to build a career similar to what my friend Matt Forbeck has done. I cannot physically afford to not be writing or designing, to just put out “a” game or “a” novel a year. That would kill me and kill my ability to work.

If you want to be a freelance game designer/writer, the big secret is that in order to get the work, focus on competency and completion. Online drama is a distraction, and there has been quite a bit of that the past couple of weeks in my spheres which I’m now walking away from.(2) I’ve talked to many writers over the years, and it always amazes me how many people would be satisfied being an internet celebrity–I am not one of them. However, even I have to focus on building awareness of myself and my work to let people know it exists and, most importantly, that it’ll be worth your time. Dreaming about the art of game design or fantasizing about a novel may sound wonderful and idyllic, but dreams have very little to do with actual production. A dream inspires you–and that’s fantastic–but what happens after that is what gets the game/novel/book on the shelf. This, in point of fact, is what I often talk about on panels: the pragmatic nature of producing games consistently. Or, as I often say: “In order to chase the rainbow, put your running shoes on first.” Developers know this all too well, and if you’re wondering what we do, I encourage you to check out my older post about gaming development for the multi-award winning Firefly RPG line(1). That turned out to be a shorter list of what I wound up doing, since I did do quite a bit in addition to that, but it’s a good primer.

Behind the scenes, this means that by the time a release comes out, that release has been in the works for anywhere between three months to two years or longer. When it’s a release completed for other people, it’s easy to see where to pick up and leave off. When it’s “on spec”, meaning I don’t see the immediate returns or they’re not guaranteed, then I set a lower priority to those. Certainly, for my own fiction I took a step back to refocus and see where (I felt) it was falling down before I started pursuing publication again this year.(3)(4) But, that old adage is true: writers are sharks. If we don’t keep swimming, we die. It does suck, though, that NDAs and professional courtesy often prevent me from talking about the specifics on projects(5), but I do have a little more flexibility to do that in person just because I can better respond to questions–similar to the Reddit AMAs I’ve done, like the Reddit AMA for the Firefly RPG, and the Reddit AMA for the Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling anthology.(6)

To that end, my next couple of weeks are packed! There will be two or three announcements coming up shortly (PLUS! Hopefully, something cool for the charity I’m involved with (www.rcrfcharity.org) and quite a few conventions I’m going to this summer, too. I also had a fantastic meeting with my agent, too, and I am super pumped about that! All this means, is that I’m hyper-focused on work right now, so the blinders are going back on for a bit. There are a lot of really amazing things in the pipe, and while I continue to seek out new and even bigger profile opportunities for myself, I want to nail delivery on what I’ve got going on. Thus, if you’re ever curious about me or my work beyond the career bits, I invite you to come to my panels and interact with me at shows. I’ll be at GenCon: Indianapolis this year, but I’ll also be at CONvergence and WorldCon as well. Planning on lots of party games for WorldCon, so there will be some shenanigans, for sure.

(1) In case you didn’t know, the corebook was nominated for the Product of the Year and the Game of the Year in the 2015 ENnie Awards, nominated for Game of the Year in the 2015 Origins Awards, 2nd Runner Up for Game of the Year 2014 in the Golden Geek Awards, and The Escapist nominated it for Game of the Year 2014 as well. Plus, Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics won a Judge’s Spotlight Award in the 2015 ENnie Awards, too!
(2) If it’s the drama llama, I don’t want to hear about it any longer. I got sucked in, and I’m pulling myself out of that nonsense.
(3) I’m of the mind that stagnation equals a terrible, horrible death for creative types, but not everything needs to be published as soon as it’s finished, nor can everything be for various reasons.
(4) Sometimes projects fall apart for completely different reasons. There are, on my hard drive for example, at least a dozen or so other small press games I’ve worked on that have never seen the light of day.
(5) My friends know that I don’t talk about work. That’s not why I’m friends with them, nor do I want them to be friends with me just to talk about work.
(6) I do need to give a warm and friendly shout out to Fox TV, because if it wasn’t for their belief in my work I wouldn’t have been able to work on Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse.


GenCon Industry Insider Featured Presenter

GenCon 2016

Today, I’m happy to share with you that I’ll be returning to GenCon: Indianapolis to speak on panels. I will be a GenCon Industry Insider, participating in a track of panels to share industry insights with attendees, along with several other storied individuals including Emily Care Boss, Eddy Webb, Kenneth Hite, and several others announced via the website. Huzzah!

Congrats to all of the announced speakers. I can’t wait to see you at GenCon 2016! Heck, I may even wear a suit this time around…IF the weather holds up, that is.

Writing 101 Advice from Geek*Kon 2015

Quere Baby Deadpool Pole Dancing Avatar

Geek*Kon 2015 was a mixture of seeing old friends and making new ones. I did have a great time and these fans are doing everything they can to put on a great show. I was thrilled to see folks like Emma Bull, Greg Weisman, Christopher Jones, Will Shetterly, and Alex Bledsoe speak to up-and-coming writers, fans, and all around great people.

Rather than give a recap of every panel and anime-related item I purchased (*coughs* Jiji rocks!), I’d like to highlight some of the wonderful advice given during my Writing 101 panel. The panel consisted of Alex Bledsoe, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull and myself. Here are some of the nuggets of advice given during the panel that I hope inspires you to write your heart out. Please note that I made every attempt to attribute said advice correctly, and some of the comments are sub-attributed to Steven Brust. Rather than rehash many of the tidbits I’ve mentioned here on my blog, today’s spotlight is on the other authors and their words of wisdom.

  • Point-of-view (P.O.V.) solves everything. Brust/Bull
  • Story starts with your P.O.V. character. Shetterly
  • Deal with the precipitating event as the first part of your story. Bledsoe
  • What serves the story is what you don’t tell. Shetterly
  • With respect to critiques and feedback from readers, “Worry about reader problems vs. reader solutions.” Shetterly
  • I write first drafts to create a skeleton. Bledsoe
  • With respect to revisions: “I pace around my house, reading the manuscript aloud.” Bledsoe
  • Figure out what drafts are supposed to do. e.g. They can be systematic or intuitive. Bull
  • Make the story more specific during revisions. Shetterly
  • What really matters, is the story itself. Shetterly
  • It’s better to write a bad first draft, than no draft at all. Shetterly

We also talked about info dumps and the Dread PrologueTM, and how many of the info dumps can be avoided by choosing the right character when selecting which character is telling the story. We also mentioned how it’s okay to suck (you’ve no doubt heard me say that before), and how the senses are crucial to add in layers of worldbuilding. For example, Bledsoe mentioned that a sense of smell can really make a big difference.

I hope today’s wrap-up inspires you to write, write, write! And remember, you’ll never internalize or finish what you start unless you sit down and simply…write. GOOD LUCK!

    Mood: Luxuriating in this damp, windy weather.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Mostly managed!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH.
    In My Ears: Tron Legacy soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Kingdom Rush
    Book Last Read: For research, not pleasure. Ergo…
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Frozen. Because in my house, it’s a horror movie.
    Latest Artistic Project: Sewing project that turned out to be a pescatarian oni. Don’t ask! Am planning Halloween-related crafts, however.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. A new one coming soon! SOON I SAY!


My Geek*Kon Schedule

Geek Kon

I’ll be a guest at Geek*Kon this weekend. Here’s my fabulous schedule! You’ll hear more about my upcoming book, The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse, and other stories in the pipe.

Friday, August 21
7:00 to 7:50 – Spooky Scary Awesome Action
8:00 to 10:00 – Gaming with the Guests

Saturday, August 22
1:00 to 1:50 – The Shiniest Things in the Gorramn ‘Verse
3:00 to 3:50 – Fiction Writing 101 – Mendota
5:00 to 5:50 – Vampires in Fiction – Green Bay/Milwaukee

Sunday, August 23
1:30 to 2:50 – Build-a-World Game Show

Whispers in the Wind

Gromit Reading Avatar

I’ve had a number of people tell me over the past couple of months that I seem different, more relaxed and chill. This is true for a large number of reasons, some of which are diet-related, and others due to the fact that I’ve gotten closure on a number of long, drawn out situations that had been going on for a number of years. You’ll forgive me if I don’t expound on that last, but one of my coping mechanisms to having a public profile is that I need a buffer between me and Ye Olde Internet, so I tend not to post about the overly personal. Also: onions have layers. And, I’m related to Shrek in some fashion. I can pretty much guarantee it.

There are some things on my mind I do want to quickly address and share with you, so let me get right to it. Shanna Germain had mentioned on Twitter and Facebook that we should start proposing panels to cope with online harassment and negativity. I remember, many years ago, someone told me that Neil Gaiman had talked about professional PR training. (Like with many things in the sphere of the big “G”, I can’t confirm that as I don’t know him personally and didn’t find the exact quote, but I felt it was worth posting the original comment anyway, as it’s great advice.) I’ve been on the hunt for PR training ever since that time, and they don’t offer this service in my area. Panels, on the other hand, are a fantastic and welcome substitute for specific issues related to this topic. Having these conversations, I feel, is something that can help both new and established professionals who have a public persona and often find it difficult to cope with the eroding line between fan and creator, troll and victim. Many of my coping mechanisms are related to anchors that I do behind-the-scenes, so if you’re hoping for some things you can do in terms of sanity checks, let me know and I’ll draw up a post about it.

The second thing is that I’ve come to terms with the fact that, as I mentioned a few years ago now, I’m not the person to blog about contemporary topics or online kerfuffles. I’ve since come to terms with the fact that this is decidedly the case, as I do not feel a) qualified or b) able to keep up with the ever-changing nuances of particular issues. In addition to the time investment, I’ve realized that reading about these sorts of things does the one thing that I cannot allow — it impacts my work. When I was attending RWA meetings on a regular basis a while back, I remember Christine Merrill talking about how important it was to Protect The Work. I could see how Life, The Universe, and EverythingTM can get in the way of the work to some degree, but I didn’t grok that what’s happening online is a big part of that as well. For me, words are music. (It’s one of the reasons why I can mimic voices fairly well on the written page.) When I’m online, I hear dissonance. I hear vocal gymnastics and fireworks. I rarely hear the soft lullaby or the chirping of crickets during twilight. It’s always loud on the internet, and I need the exact opposite of that when I’m creating. I need that breathing room to stretch out and be safely free to roam.

There are, however, people that are doing amazing work and I’m going to try to shine the spotlight on them more often. My friend Emily Care Boss is one of those people. She was doing things in game design ten years ago that are just now starting to become more important. You can read more about her perspective on Gaming As Women and in this interview with Emily, here. The second person I want to mention today is Alethea Kontis. (Her name is pronounced Ah-Lee-Thee-Ah.) She’s recently put out a new collection called Tales of Arilland. Check it out!

That’s all I have time for today, since I just got back from CONvergence. I had a fantastic time, and there’s a lot of great things that came out of this show. Additionally, I had two firsts for my Build-a-World game show. (Three, if you count it was the last panel of the show!) First, some of the participants were so inspired that they now want to write in the world they created. Second, one of the participants, Martha Wells, did this fantastic write up about Build-a-World. Thanks to Martha, Catherine, Tex, Carrie, Paul, and John for participating, and to all the audience members who came out. It was a blast, and I’m happy to answer that “Yes!” There’s more on the horizon. Can’t wait to share all the news!

    Mood: This is my Chill Face
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Managed!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Convention recovery.
    In My Ears: Crappy rendition of Nothing Else Matters. Hey, you asked…
    Game Last Played: Ashamed to admit I have a new addiction. Kingdom Rush
    Book Last Read: [Research-Related]
    Movie Last Viewed: Ascension from SyFy
    Latest Artistic Project: Coloring!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. A new one coming soon!


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