Monthly Archives: September 2013

Link Day

Copyright Darian Jones

With all this talk about the excellence of John Hocking’s Conan and the Emerald Lotus, it pleases me to be able to point all of you to a new short story from his Archivist sequence, over at Black Gate. Cool stuff!

Also, my writer friend Harry James Connolly has a really cool sounding series fans of heroic fantasy ought to go check out. The Kickstarter is here, and it’s already funded… but there’s two weeks left if you want to make sure you get a copy!

And speaking of kickstarters, it looks like there will definitely be a Dabir and Asim story in Kaiju Rising, because my secret author status was unlocked! To all you who signed up to help spread the word I offer you my sincere thanks. For those of you who are just hearing about it, sign up for a copy here, and help back the project! Two tiers yet remain to be unlocked — author Peter Swallow and some more art. I hope you’ll swing by and consider it!

Now I must away. I have to finish a Dabir and Asim story!

Sword-and-Sorcery Campaigning

While I was wrestling with insomnia and/or lack of sleep over the last months, one of the things I was doing in my down time was leafing through reams of campaign settings and adventures.

If you’re a fantasy reader but not a gamer, you may not know just how much fun can be had paging through a good role-playing setting. The key word there is good. There aren’t THAT many, but there are now many more than there used to be, even keeping in mind that Sturgeon’s Revelation applies equally to gaming stuff. If part of the kick you get from reading fantasy is seeing fantastic and amazing places and the odd people and creatures that dwell within, then you might get a similar kick from a good campaign setting. For instance, I just reviewed an outstanding RuneQuest supplement, Monster Island, over at Black Gate. I don’t play RuneQuest (I don’t even own any of the game’s rulebooks) but the setting got the creative juices flowing. Similarly, I’ve recently picked up Fire in the Jungle, a short but glorious booklet for the generation of jungle adventure scenarios.

Time to Read

The Lamb, REH, and pulp collections on the north wall.

As I was re-organizing the study this weekend I got to thinking about a conversation I’d had with John Hocking a few months back. The years keep speeding along, and we’re both wondering how much longer we’ve got to truly enjoy the books on our shelves. Hocking started a “bucket list” of books he’s been meaning to read. I should say that he’s not only started the list, but that he’s started reading from it.

I’ve done a little of the same. Neither of us is trying to throw ourselves at classics we’re not interested in, but at books that we have on the shelves and for some reason have never gotten around to checking out. I’m 45, after all, and I don’t feel any guilt about not having read War and Peace or Finnegan’s Wake. Not anymore. If I’m reading for amusement and/or edification, I’m not going to slog through something that feels more like work than pleasure.

Writer’s Desk

Click to embiggen.

Here at Jones central I spent a long weekend putting my study into complete order. It had been converted into my mother’s convalescent room while she was staying with us for about five months, and between that and all the paperwork from her hospital stay AND the usual clutter, it took a couple of days for me to get it working again.

Now, though, I have everything filed, and I’ve culled my bookshelves. The desk itself is clean of all clutter that doesn’t need something done with it, pronto. Chief among that pile of “stuff to be done with” are the reviews for some excellent products I received for review at GenCon. I sent a number of nifty looking books on to John O’Neill, but beside me are four books that I’m particularly fond of and which I’ll be mentioning both here and at Black Gate in more detail in the coming weeks.

Home Repair Man

That’s been me the last week or more. Today I have to drive in and get some new tires for the truck. Still, despite all this I’m getting some good writing work done. A new short story has been green-lighted for Paizo, and it looks more and more like the stretch goals of Kaiju Rising will be unlocked… which means that as long as people keep pledging support, I should be included on the table of contents for the anthology! (Which FURTHER means I really need to finish this new Dabir and Asim story!)

I have a handful of reviews to write and I should finally be taking those live over on the Black Gate site this week.

For now, though, I must away!


Spoiled by Water

*Not actually Howard or the hole he dug.

There’s nothing like going without running water in the house to remind a person how much we modern humans take for granted. Or to remind me, at least. The water line to our house busted over the weekend, so much of the last few days has involved me digging a really big hole (to access the water pipes) and then filling said hole when the job was completed. I was assisted by another neighbor who wandered over with a small back hoe, and a kind city utility guy who advised us about how best to line things up. If not for the digging and the reassurance from the other gentleman so that we continued digging, I would have been at it for far longer. My faith in humanity went up several notches, because neither man was under any obligation to donate so much time.

The actual repair took our plumber just a little over an hour, but if he’d had to dig that hole the cost would have been over a thousand dollars… and the job would have been delayed, because he didn’t have time in his schedule to dig such a hole, but had time to swing in and replace pipe.

Out here in the country we aren’t in easy walking distance of other water sources (except, of course, for the Sea of Monsters, and there’s always the danger of getting dragged in by a tentacle if you get too close). Our nearest neighbor was away, but fortunately some old friends live only a ten minute drive off. We took over a couple of big coolers (and they loaned us another) and the buckets our horses drink out of, and filled ’em all up. We ate out rather than cooking and getting more dishes dirty. We washed from basins that we filled via recycled two liter bottles filled from those coolers.

To the Rescue

We’ve been dealing with some pretty depressing family health news around here over the last year. As I was driving away from one of our visits to see my mom in the hospital my teenaged son decided to lift my spirits with a music track so ludicrous I was soon crying with laughter.

I now bequeath this track to you, to lift your spirits when YOU are feeling low.

Here, then, is the theme to the Wonder Woman TV show. Ah, how many ways do I love thee, Wonder Woman show theme?

1. You begin with an explosion, and grow less subtle going forward.

2. You have a splendidly catchy, driving bass line.

3. How about your blaring brass section that knows just when to over-emphasize something dramatic?

a. And how about the great tuba part between the second and third verse?

b. Then there’s the melodic motif that adorns every verse. Fabulous.

Link Day

(Link Man copyright Darian Jones.)

It’s Link Day again here at Jones central, as I’m hard at work battling mountains of prose.

First, a fascinating but grisly look at some skeletons dripping with jewels found in catacombs and churches in Europe. Seriously, if you’re creeped out by skeletons and tombs, don’t follow the link. As an added bonus, the captions are perhaps among the worst ever written, but not quite so bad as to be actually amusing. They just repeat, word-for-word, what is said in the accompanying text.

Second, some ruined cities, as revealed at I09. Some are more mysterious than others, but it is worth a read.

Third, and completely unrelated to the theme I have going with Indiana Jones-like stuff, a great post from author Chuck Wendig on 25 ways to revise your work.

My work here is done. Link Man, away!

Writer’s Festival

If any of you are in the Southern Indiana region, I’ll be part of a nifty little Writer’s Festival held at the Knox County Public Library on Saturday, November 2nd. Margaret McMullan, National Author Winner of the 2011 Glick Indiana Authors Award, is giving the keynote address and leading a workshop on “Writing What you Think You Know But Should Know Better” from 9-11.

She’s followed by James Alexander Thom, National Author Winner of the 2009 Glick Indiana Authors Award, who will be making a round table presentation on “The Art & Craft of Writing Historical Fiction” from 11-12.

Sarah Alderfer, Professor of English at Vincennes University, leads another panel from 1-2 on “Your Dreams of Becoming a Writer: Making it a Reality.”

And then I wrap things up with a presentation on “Becoming a Published Author” from 1-2.

The schedule’s a little tentative now — there may be gatherings for coffee, and there will be opportunities for book signing — but registration will open soon. It’s $30.00 for the day, and details will go live soon at the Knox County Public Library site.


A Good Rest

I haven’t felt this good in years. I feel so healthy that I want to leap in the air and kick my heels. Heck, I’m so well rested I can even do it. And there’s the key phrase: well-rested.

I’ve been suffering from sleep apnea. I don’t believe I’ve ever talked about it on the blog before because as medical conditions go, it beats the heck out of most of them. Who am I to complain when some of my friends and relatives have diabetes, or are struggling with Alzheimer’s… or are dying of cancer? Annoying as it is to be hooked up to a machine each night, at least I have something manageable that isn’t killing me. As long as it’s treated, sleep apnea isn’t dangerous.

Except that for a good long while it hasn’t been as treatable as it should have been. Around the month I got my book contract for The Desert of Souls I remember being thankful not just for the contract but for the timing of the moment, because I didn’t think I had the energy to write in my spare time any more. Over the last years if I’d had to write in my spare time, I wouldn’t have had the strength. I was convinced that my waning reserve in the evenings was a result of me simply getting older, and that the sleep apena regimen had improved my life as much as it could.