Catching Up with Friends

July 23rd, 2010fiction, news

Thought I’d shed a little light on some of the exciting projects my friends have been cooking up.

Jeff Preston’s 60 Character Portraits
Illustrator-extraordinaire Jeff Preston recently launched a Kickstarter project along with co-conspirator A Terrible Idea called “60 Terrible Character Portraits For Creative Commons Release.” Don’t let the name fool you; the images are anything but terrible. See for yourself below.

If you dig it, kick in a few bucks to help the project here.

Daniel Solis’ Happy Birthday, Robot!
Daniel Solis, along with publisher Evil Hat, just released the print version of Happy Birthday, Robot! I can’t praise this game enough for its concept, goals, and presentation. This game is perfect for getting kids into story creation and using their imagination for the purely fantastic. I can’t sell it nearly as well as the creator does. Check out this video for more information.

If this sounds good to you, pick it up through Evil Hat’s online store.

Monica Valentinelli’s Queen of Crows
Monica Valentinelli released a book trailer for her ebook Queen of Crows, a tie-in to her Violet War setting. She created the video herself, featuring work by illustrator Leanne Buckley and musician James Semple. Check out the trailer below.

If you’re intrigued, you can currently grab the pdf at DriveThruRPG for 25% off its list price (just $3.74).

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GenCon Indy

July 22nd, 2010news

It’s been a busy couple weeks here as one major project wraps up, a minor one finishes, and I start on some really exciting new ones. Operation: Awesome is moving along well. I’m excited for the future and will keep everyone informed on the fruits of the operation as they ripen.

Tabletop gaming’s big show (in the US anyway) is in two weeks! GenCon Indy runs from August 5th-8th and, for the first time since 2006, I will be in attendance. Equally exciting, I’m going as a gamer this year. While you’ll probably be able to find me hanging out with my good friends at the Cubicle 7 (Booth #315) for some of the show, I’ll also have plenty of time to walk the floor and see a lot of folks I’ve missed these past four years.

That’s all for now. Take care, everyone.


Buried Tales Gets an Ennie Nomination

July 9th, 2010fiction, rpg

Last year, my good friend Matt McElroy (of Flames Rising fame) put together a fiction compilation in support of design studio 12 to Midnight‘s excellent Pinebox, Texas game setting (now published by the fine folks at Pinnacle Entertainment Group). The resulting book, dubbed Buried Tales of Pinebox, Texas, attracted some great talent notwithstanding my own contribution, a story of skinshifting and strange dates called “Lovable Creatures.”

The book is so good, in fact, that the folks who head up the tabletop gaming industry’s preeminent awards, the Ennies, saw fit to nominate it for Best Regalia. Yep, I can now say I’ve contributed to some of the finest regalia in gaming. Another dream to check off the list!

Anyway, if you haven’t your own copy of the book, check out some excerpts and author bios over at the official site. You can buy the book in digital or physical form, whichever suits your fancy.

Public voting begins next Friday, July 16th so cross your fingers and toes and make your voice heard! (And while you’re at the site, check out the nominations for other excellent gaming products such as Eclipse Phase and Supernatural!)

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It’s the Mileage

July 8th, 2010operation: awesome

I’m obsessed with age.

I wasn’t always. Throughout my 20s, I rarely felt the pressure of a ticking clock. That’s not to say I didn’t wonder about my future and think about how I was going to be successful and fulfilled creatively but there was certainly some room to move my arms. There’s no airiness now, no space to swivel my hips or turn my head. All I feel is pressure. Late at night, and sometimes during the day, all I feel is failure. There are times I go down bad roads, making a list of folks who became more successful and at younger ages than I am now. Categorized as “better” in the haze of midnight.

Once upon a time, I had a long mental list of those betters. It’s fuzzier now but some names still stick out. Those who sold big novels and achieved critical acclaim young. I’d obsess over folks like Robert E. Howard who created one of the most iconic characters in literature while he was in his 20s. Of course, he killed himself at age 30 so perhaps he’s not the best model to emulate. Then there’s William Gibson, who had written one of the most significant genre novels of all time, as close a thing to Dracula or Frankenstein as the 80s saw. And if he hadn’t already written it by the age I am now, he was certainly working on it.

I see people my own age, here and now, achieving success. Some of them are friends of mine, some are friends of friends, some are simply folks I admire.

Whenever a new name enters my radar, some hot new writer, I can’t help but look them up, see if I’m younger than they are. Sometimes I’m younger. Mostly, I’m not. I look up some of my favorite writers, show creators, musicians, and see how old they were when they broke through. Sometimes I’m younger. Mostly, I’m not.

I have no idea if they, strangers or friends, see themselves as successful. Some are toiling away at media tie-in work and feeling as though they should be writing their own stuff by now. Some have tasted just enough success to see how much they don’t have and are moving the bar ever forward. Some delight in their own success and, hey, why shouldn’t they?

I had my first success at (the tail end of) 24. That was Little Fears, a 3000 print run of a game about kids fighting monsters. It spent some time as the hot new game. It got itself some nominations, caused some controversy, and even managed to sell out. It was a minor hit in a minor field. It was the second book that wore my name, the first being a book of poetry some friends and I published two years prior, but it was the first project that got me out there, got me some recognition and a little bit of status in a creative community.

It did well for me. It changed my life. It opened doors into the other creative worlds which amazes me to this day. It made me a lot of good friends. In fact, pretty much everyone I talk to nowadays was connected to me through the publication of that game. It was the first and only time I felt success.

I know everyone grows differently and for every Christopher Paolini, there’s a Myrrha Stanford-Smith. I also know that I have written, which is the first step, and I’m growing as a writer, which is the second step, and that I’m fortunate enough to have work in my chosen field, which is the third step, working for a company and with a team that I enjoy greatly, which is a miracle. But I struggle with the sense I should have done more. That, at this point in my life, with 34 just over a month away, I should have accomplished more, I should feel more successful.

A big part of Operation: Awesome is navigating through these feelings. If I give myself a list of goals and redirect my behavior, I’ll at least have a plan and hopefully the means to achieve that success. I hope I’m not fooling myself. I hope I’m not a person who will simply kick the ball ten more feet once I get close to it. I don’t know that I can define “success” in any meaningful way or provide definite metrics for achieving it. But I know I have felt it, don’t feel it now, and I know I want to.

A key part of this stems from not being nearly as prolific as I wish I was. This sense of success isn’t just about sales or money, though that’s in there, it’s about wishing I was doing more, writing more. I’m trying to harness this feeling of failure into fuel for success.

(To be clear: I don’t wish to put my own sense of success or failure on anyone. I certainly don’t mean to imply anyone who hasn’t succeeded by 33 is a failure. This is an exploration of my own feelings, nothing more.)


My Transformers Story

July 5th, 2010essays

Last week, publicist, personality, and friend to gaming Matt Staggs put out a call for authors to relay Transformers-related experiences from their childhood. A site he blogs for, publishing giant Random House‘s genre blog Suvudu, was running a week of articles focused on those robots in disguise.

Well, it just so happens I have a Transformers story so I wrote it up and Mr. Staggs was kind enough to include me in the bunch.

You can read my tale of woe and robots (and anecdotes from the other contributors) over at

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