It was a fantastic 2011, so to ring in the new year, I’m giving away both of my books for free! This is only going to last for the weekend, at which point I’ll go back to being a greedy bastard, so get ‘em now.
This is for the electronic editions only:
Thanks for a great year and be safe this weekend!
UPDATE: We just hit the #1 spot in Contemporary Fantasy! Very cool.
UPDATE 2: Even cooler, we made it into the top 100! Currently at #85. It’s true, I did a little dance when it happened.
I promised that I would post this:
This is Cher at her grandmother’s house, wearing her new pink scarf.
Which is inedible, and therefore a terrible Christmas present.
As is our tradition, we spent the Christmas holidays in Louisiana with the parents and extended families. Being there was big fun as always, but I always dread the drive there and back. It’s basically eight hours of monotonous highway driving in a straight line, which is mind-numbingly boring. However, this year we came back via a slightly different route, one that had us cutting across the edge of the Mississippi border, and letting us see Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas all in one drive.
It wasn’t any faster, but we did get to see some really beautiful scenery. There’s something about long asphalt roads cutting through vast stands of pine trees that reminds me how much I love the places where I grew up. The towns are small and every gas station has a tiny food counter full of amazing things like boudain balls and meat pies.
I complain about the drive every year, but only now am I starting to realize how much seeing this part of the country means to me.
Everyone loves presents? THEN I ARE PRESENTS!
Seriously, though. I are totally a presents.
Like a lot of you, I’ll be traveling for the holidays. And part of my routine when preparing to take a trip is to make sure to pack enough books to last me until I get back. Naturally, because I’m cheap, my solution was always to
steal borrow books from my friends right before I left.
This year, in honor of my annual book scrounging tradition, I thought I’d try being the one giving out books instead.
Thanks very much for all your support this last year, it’s meant a lot to me.
Update: Well, that was unexpected. Not only did more copies of Walker go out than I could have ever expected, I reached the #3 spot in Sci-Fi Adventure to boot. Thanks for the holiday gift, everyone! The giveaway is done for now, but expect to see it back again in 2012.
I spent the day playing Descent, specifically another session of our Sea of Blood campaign.
First there was the epic sea battle:
And then the landing on fabulous MONSTER ISLAND!
I love Monster Island, but I have to tell you, the place has really gone to hell since those adventurers moved in. All in all, we had huge fun, even if the heroes did manage to kill most of the Overlord’s precious monsters and steal all of his hard won treasure.
I’m gonna be pretty sad when this campaign is over. All I’ll have to remember it by are these pictures.
And bunch of hero skulls on my mantel.
Similar to my beloved Descent, SDE is all about a noble dungeon owner trying to spread love and peace via monster hugs, and being attacked by treasure-thieving home invaders that call themselves heroes. Luckily, monsters love tasty heroes, so it all works out.
Here’s the BGG summary:
Super Dungeon Explore (SDE) is a dungeon crawler, inspired by old japanese console-RPG’s. The miniatures are done in a cute / chibi / super-deformed style, that means the head is roughly the same size as the rest of the body.
One to five players take the role of classic fantasy heroes like the human paladin, a dwarf fighter or an elf ranger. One player is the “Dark Consul” who controls the monsters of the dungeon.
Every hero/monster has a character card which informs you about the stats for movement, attack, armor, willpower, dexterity, action points and hearts (= life points). Additional information may include special abilities / actions / attacks and potions.
The game is played on modular dungeon boards. In a round of play the game passes back and forth between single heroes and the monsters, but the exact order may change from round to round. The characters use the stats from their character card, special dice (with hearts, potions and stars) are only used for combat and checks. If the heroes wound the opponent they may draw loot cards to improve their stats. There is also the possibility to open treasure chests to find even more powerful things. The monsters have no possibility to “level up” but the Dark Consul has an unlimited number of them.
To win the game the Dark Consul must defeat all heroes in his dungeon. The heroes must defeat all monsters and destroy all spawning points (= entry points for new monsters) to be victorious.
One caveat, the miniatures are super detailed and high quality, but require assembly. That’s not really my strong suit, but luckily for me, I happen to have a friend who can be bribed to assemble and paint these bad boys for me. [THANKS, JASON!] It doesn’t hurt that he’s a genius at this stuff, and can do it in a fraction of the time and with way better results than a mere mortal. That said, even if you don’t have access to a miniature-painting demigod, you can glue and assemble the pieces without too much trouble.
Here’s a review from Tom Vasel at The Dice Tower (Hint: he loves it!)
Being privileged to work hard for long hours at something you think is worth doing is the best kind of play. - Robert Heinlein
If writing were an old school martial arts movie, the secret technique handed down by the grizzled old master just before the big fight would be called Buttocks Grip Chair. That’s because the single hardest part about being a writer is the actual work of sitting down and wrestling the keyboard for hours on end. It’s the best part, too, don’t get me wrong, but the discipline required to get it done day after day is hard to come by. Like a muscle, your willpower will get stronger the more you use it, but in the meantime, here are some things you can do to keep your head down and fingers moving.
Don’t Wait for Inspiration
If you want to get serious about writing, you can’t wait to be in the mood or hold off until that moment when inspiration strikes. The mood is whatever you feel when it’s time to write, and the inspiration is ‘my story isn’t finished yet’. You can write without the perfect conditions, and you’ll be surprised how similar your output is. Just start working.
Defend Your Time
It’s hard to put the effort into starting a writing session if you know that you’re going to be interrupted anyway. It takes a good twenty minutes for me to get into the flow, and each interruption starts that timer over again. It’s a lot easier to start writing at a time when you know you can be productive.
Have a Quota
So you started. Good job. And then you wrote for a few minutes until you got stuck, and figured you’d pick it up tomorrow because, hey, you did your session for today. That’s not good enough. Give yourself a quota and stick to it. I use 2000 words, but pick anything that seems like a good day to you. If you get stuck, feel free to walk around and talk to yourself, just be aware that you have to come back and finish before the session is over.
Have a Deadline
Even better than a quota is a deadline. Make one up if you have to, and tell people about it. You’re a lot more likely to put the work in if you know how much time you have left.
I like hot mugs of something tasty to drink. So, now I have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate whenever I sit down to write. Any small pleasure will do, but I find that making it part of starting a session works better for me than having a reward afterwards. Try it a few times and you’ll find that it makes getting started a lot easier.
Care About the Work
It sounds silly. I mean of course you care, right? But admitting that you care about what you do, openly and without reservation, can be difficult. It makes you vulnerable to criticism and exposes the limits of your competence. You can no longer say that a piece is just something you’re fooling around with, or that it’s something you just dashed off. You have to make the commitment that everything you put your name on is the best you can do, and openly admit it.
This is the single most important factor in getting in front of the keyboard day after day. If this piece, this novel, this short story, really matters, then it won’t be about finding the time to sit down and put your hands on it, it’ll be about finding the time to take care of the other things in your life.
Besides the obvious benefit of spending more time writing, the payoff for investing yourself in your work, regardless of whether you write, build furniture, or make sushi, is that you will experience a deep and abiding satisfaction that can be found in few other ways.
Writing is hard work. My response to that? Big deal. So is everything else worth doing.
So do it already.
A modern Gothic thriller
After parapsychologist Anna Galloway is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she has a recurring dream in which she sees her own ghost. The setting of her dream is the historic Korban Manor, and she’s compelled to face the secrets of her soul.
Sculptor Mason Jackson has come to the manor to make a final, all-or-nothing attempt at success before giving up his dreams. When he becomes obsessed with carving Ephram Korban’s form out of wood, even Anna can’t divert his bizarre passion.
The manor itself has secrets, with fires that blaze constantly in the hearths, portraits of Korban in every room, and deceptive mirrors on the walls. With an October blue moon looming, both the living and the dead learn the true power of their dreams.
You probably know Scott as the bestselling author of Ashes and The Red Church, but underneath the tophat and monocle of a successful author is a genuinely nice guy who took time out of his crazy writing schedule to help a newbie edit his first book.
If you haven’t read him yet, start now. The man knows his craft, and puts out the most gripping stuff on the market today.
Just be prepared to buy the rest of his books if you pick this up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
You can find out more about Scott and his books here.