Apr
6

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House Rules

P handbookIf you’re not a tabletop gamer or have no interest in tabletop gaming you should read no further unless you want to be bored or roll your eyes.

Long-time visitors are probably aware that I’ve been gaming off and on since junior high in the ’70s, when I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons by my old friend Sean Connelly. Sometimes a couple of years will pass, but I always seem to come back to gaming, attracted by the allure of group storytelling and the camaraderie of sitting around with friends and family.

While I’ve been curious about the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons and even read through the new system books, I already had Castles & Crusades, and I remain attached to it, possibly because I’m sort of tired of learning new systems but also because it works quite well. Here’s an articulate essay on just what C&C is and how it works, if you’re curious. (I also like that you really don’t need anything more to run C&C than the Player’s Handbook and the Monsters & Treasure book. The C&C version of the DM’s guide, the Castlekeeper’s Guide, has alternate rules and add-ons, but isn’t at all necessary for running the game.)

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Apr
5

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Hard Writing Lessons 6 – Head Games

hulk thinkI’ve been writing fiction since I was in grade school, and I noticed the other day that my first published novel hit the bookstores in 2009, which is a lot further back than I realized. Yet I don’t remotely feel like I’ve “figured it all out.” I’m still re-learning a lot of lessons even as I learn new ones. To be a good writer, I think you have to constantly pay attention to story structure and characters not only in chosen genres but in others as well, not to mention other media… and then there’s studying human nature and history and… well, I could digress, but let me get this back on point.

Yesterday I was revising a scene about 30 thousand words into the next book right after I’ve switched to a new point of view character. He’s not new to the readers, but we’ve never had his PoV and we haven’t seen him yet in THIS particular book. So naturally I started with him alone and in the middle of a sort of self-assessment to get readers up to speed about what he’s doing now and what he’s thinking about. Read More

Apr
1

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Hard Writing Lessons 4 — Word Count

howard in chairI’ve been busy drafting the new novel but not very busy blogging. When things are going smoothly it’s easy to whip up a quick blog post and still get an 2000 words, but when things are a little more challenging — or when there are a bunch of errands to take care of over the course of the day — getting that 2000 words in AND a blog post becomes an either/or, in which case the blog post always comes in last. You understand. The blog is for fun. The writing is supposed to be fun too, but it’s also the job.

I’m often asked how many words I try to get in a day, or how many pages. 5000 words is about 20 typewritten double-spaced pages, and 2k is approximately 8. If I’m really on a roll and know exactly what my characters are doing (and I have NO interruptions) I can get 5k. I have trained myself to be okay with 2k, and even the occasional 1k if it’s a tough day or one with interruptions. Read More

Mar
23

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Link Day

link hogthrob 2I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with pacing and plotting in the new season of Daredevil, and I’ll probably put my thoughts into print for Friday after I finish watching the final two episodes. The amount of stupid that was suddenly injected into the plot can’t be overcome by the deft acting, and my suspension of disbelief has been completely destroyed. Sure, it’s a superhero show, but it goes out of its way to make things gritty and “real” so some of the things it’s asking viewers to believe defy logic.

For now, though, I’m behind schedule today and need to get to work, so here are some interesting links. Read More

Mar
21

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last vikingLast Friday I mentioned that I was reading a Viking series about Harald Hardrada by Poul Anderson, but failed to mention the title. This is The Golden Horn, the first of three books about the hero. I’m still kept at arm’s length, but the tone is growing from me. In talking with my good friend Chris Hocking about it he asked whether there wasn’t a bit of a feel from the sagas in it, and I assented that there was, and I think that the tone grew on me. I’m not sure I’ll immediately jump up and read the next of the books, but I ended up enjoying it.

I still haven’t finished reading my pulp anthology, but as most of my reading has been taking place while I am waiting for my daughter to come out of school or finish some after school activity, I haven’t wanted to bring a fragile old book/pulp along, or drag a laptop to read an e-book (I don’t have a Nook or Kindle, just an emulator on the Macbook). Read More

Writing

How to Get a Book Deal

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In late July of 2009 I got an offer for a historical fantasy novel from St. Martin’s imprint Thomas Dunne featuring my series characters, Dabir and Asim. The…