Monthly Archives: August 2018

Karate Form

I’ve realized a curious fact about the way I learn katas taught at my karate school.

If you’re not in the know, katas, or forms, are the somewhat dance-like patterns that martial arts students perform to master various techniques. The longer you’ve been practicing, the more katas you learn. Continued rehearsal of the katas improves not just your ability to perform them, but provides physical benefits. Once you stretch every day and run some katas, you’ve definitely performed a workout. But the benefits are greater than this. After a while you notice the stances and practice of balance intercalate themselves into your daily habits. Your reflexes improve profoundly.

For instance if I’m surprised — say a kid’s running past me at a pool — I do a quick sidestep without thinking about it. After learning an upper-level kata with multiple crane stances, which were extremely challenging at first, my own balance improved overall. If I’m bumped, I immediately ground myself into a more sturdy stance. And don’t be the person who grabs me from behind in jest, for you may find me spinning to face you with hands ready to strike. I alarmed a friend (and myself, a little) when she was just giving me a surprise shoulder squeeze.¬†

The Magician’s Skull will Return

The mighty Skull has made an official announcement. Yes, there will be more issues of the sword-and-sorcery magazine!

No, the Skull is not yet open to submissions. The stars are not yet right. Also, I wouldn’t have time to read them. But mostly the stars.

You can read the announcement here!

I haven’t seen any reviews yet of Issue 2, which leads me to think maybe going quarterly would be too frequent. I mean, if people haven’t found time to read the second issue yet in the last few months, how would they find time to have read TWO issues in the last few months?

As the time for the new Kickstarter nears, I hope you’ll help spread the word. I want to reach even more readers this time.

Existing issues can be purchased here. Note that the PDF of 2 is not yet available. Soon, though.

Link Day

Copyright Darian Jones

It’s me, Link Man! I’ve returned to assist Howard while he toils away on numerous important and mysterious projects, none of which probably involve mucking the stables!

First, Deuce Richardson’s authored an interesting article over at DMR books you really ought to look at, especially if you’re a fan of sword-and-sorcery, H.P. Lovecraft, and/or the origins of modern fantasy.

Second, the redoubtable S.E. Lindberg has interviewed the talented Richard Lee Byers, and you really ought to check it out.

Third, Inwell Ideas has released two new encounter decks. I’m a big fan of these — they’re adventure outlines on cards, with a location map on one side and an adventure outline on the other. It’s great stuff if you’re an experienced game master. Each outline comes with the situation, possible hooks, possible complications, and conclusions. If you’ve got the books with rules and monsters, but you need a quick plot, these things are awesome, and highly recommended by yours truly.

Link Man away!

GenCon 2018 Part 3

Leonardo da Vinci, apparently caught in a stasis field at my Indianapolis hotel.

Last week I mentioned that I was, in a way, wearing four kinds of hats when I attended GenCon 2018, and spent most of a post talking about looking around at nifty game treasures and working at the Goodman Games booth.

Wearing the ‘ol writer’s hat, I approached various friends and friendly acquaintances and asked if they’d be interested in considering my upcoming novel for a blurb. As I mentioned early last week, it’s much, much simpler to approach people if you already know them, which is why it’s good to begin attending conventions sooner rather than later, although I wasn’t that mercenary or clever. I first started attending conventions to meet the writers and editors of the stories I loved and to try to find a way into the industry. Doors I didn’t even realize¬† opened for me when I made friends and contacts with like-minded folks.

GenCon 2018 Part 2

One way to think about my GenCon presence this year was as a wearer of 4 hats. Hat 1 was as a writer, meeting other writers, editors, and fans. Hat 2 was as a magazine editor and employee of Goodman Games. Hat 3 was as an editor for Perilous Worlds. And hat 4 was as a big fan of role-playing games, boardgames, and books.

I didn’t get as much of a chance to wear hat 4 this year, in part because I was so busy (and gratefully so) wearing the other hats. But I was also constrained in part because of an endless basement remodel. With a lot of our budget still tied up in turning our cinder block storage area into a nice living space I just didn’t feel right buying all the nifty things that interested me, which is why I made only two game purchases. One was a book of magic items for the Arcanis roleplaying game, which I mentioned yesterday, and the other was a nifty looking Viking solitaire game from Decision Games. Online here it’s showing up as $14.00 but I’m almost positive I only spent $12.00 on it at the convention. Anyway, it looks like it’s going to be fun.

GenCon 2018 Part 1

I had so much fun at GenCon this year it’s hard to know where to begin, but as I’m running late already today I’m just going to show you a few of the treasures I picked up.

First, while I was walking to the Modiphius booth with my friend Sarah Newton (talented writer and game designer) I glimpsed a nifty looking role-playing book with what looked like a Roman Legionnaire on the cover. I’ll share some more info about the treasures at the Modiphius booth in the coming days, after I’ve had more of a chance to absorb their glories.

I was so taken with what turned out to be the Arcanis booth that I dropped back by, looked through the books, and met Henry Lopez, the campaign setting’s author. He turned out to be a fan of my work, and after leafing through one book he generously gave me and another I bought I’m now a fan of his. Any of you regular visitors know what a sucker I am for the ancient Mediterranean as a setting. Lopez created a secondary world highly flavored by ancient Rome and other nations, dosed with some Robert E. Howardisms (like serpentmen) and then creatively applied new twists on some old tropes. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the system and its future releases. This is cooool stuff.


GenCon 2018

I’m back from GenCon with some amazing memories, some fine stories, and some gaming treasure, and I’ll probably be talking about some of it in the coming days. For now, let me just say that it was certainly the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had at a convention.

Maybe you’ve met someone you’ve really admired, or reconnected with an old friend, or made a new one, or grown closer with a friendly acquaintance through shared experience. Maybe you’ve heard an inspiring lecture, or gotten some great career advice, or seen some amazing products you’d like to own, or played a great game session, or made important business contacts. If you’ve experienced any of these things, it might be the highlight of the day, or week, or month, or year. At a convention, those things can all happen over the course of a few days. What would normally be the best moment of an entire month or maybe even year can happen the next hour after another similarly memorable event.

That’s what happened to me this year.

New Developments

I’m heading off to GenCon in just a few hours for a whirlwind of activity, but before I go I wanted to thank Troy and Dale and Mick for alerting me to the pre-order cancellation issue with my new book. Because you told me so swiftly, my publisher was able to get to the problem in a timely manner. For the Killing of Kings should be available for pre-order again by the end of the week.

I also had some exciting news to share. I’m now the Executive Editor of the Perilous Worlds imprint for Cabinet Entertainment. There’s an article here discussing the imprint itself. I’m very impressed with the team and their plans and thrilled to be a part of what they’re building. When I return from GenCon, one of my first duties will be to begin editing John Chris Hocking’s second Conan novel, Conan and the Living Plague. Any of you regular visitors know that I’ve been championing this book for years, and I am pleased and honored to be involved in seeing it finally reach the audience it deserves.