Three Non-Fiction Releases about Gaming

Hi everyone,

I am pleased to announce that I’ve got three, non-fiction releases related to hobby gaming available for you to check out.

Family Games: the 100 BestFirst, if you haven’t had the chance to check out FAMILY GAMES: the 100 BEST, I’d recommend that you consider getting your copy signed if you’re heading to GenCon in Indianapolis. Several of the essayists, including yours truly, will be at the convention. Also, you might want to head over to the Green Ronin booth and track down James Lowder for his signature. Not only did he edit the book, he’s also an outstanding author in his own right.

This year, you can find me at the GenCon Writer’s Symposium which is managed by author Jean Rabe. I’ll be writing a post about what panels I’ll be on later.

My second release is a very “heady” essay about dice and divination for THE BONES, which was edited by Will Hindmarch and published through Gameplaywright. What is this book about?

The Bones gathers writing about fandom and family—about gamers, camaraderie, and memories— and ties them together where they meet: our dice. These are essays and anecdotes about the ways dice make us crazy, about the stakes we play for and the thrill we get from not knowing what the next roll will bring. –SOURCE: THE BONES at Gameplaywright.net.

My contribution to THE BONES took on a more intellectual, esoteric approach. I talked about how the act of rolling dice draws upon a form of divination that employs the use of dice; I also mentioned how players like us often take on the role of the divine, because we typically determine what happens to our characters through a simple roll of the die.

After reading through our limited edition copy, I have to say that I feel Will did an absolutely outstanding job as editor. He provided a healthy potpourri of entertaining anecdotes and intellectual discourse that offers something for everyone to read. If you like to game, you can order a copy now or buy one in the dealer’s room at GenCon this upcoming August. Similar to FAMILY GAMES: the 100 BEST, several of the essayists and contributors will be floating around to sign your copy of THE BONES.

Last, but not least, I also wrote an essay about how powerful convention demos can be to attract new players for this year’s release of the RPGirl Zine. RPGirl is a project led by Emily Care Boss that highlights women in the gaming industry. In addition to this essay and my bio, Emily was kind enough to promote THE QUEEN OF CROWS e-book. I’m not one-hundred percent sure if she’ll have her own booth presence this year or not, but I do know that the RPGirl Zine will be available, along with THE BONES, at the Indie Press Revolution booth.

You Don’t Have to “Do” Anything…Other Than Write

One of the things that I find so frustrating with advice for writers, is the sheer volume of task lists, buzzwords, and blog posts that infiltrate every corner of the space telling writers what they “should” be doing. You need to have a writer’s platform. You need to offer your work for free. You need to learn online marketing. You need to become an internet celebrity. You need to listen to other internet celebrities because what they say is “gospel” truth. You need to be careful what you say or who you say it to. You need to write in this genre because that’s what will sell.

For every piece of writing advice out there, including the bits that you’ll find on my blog, there are other articles that will say the exact opposite. Occasionally, you’ll even read other posts that will offer you data to support why one idea is better than another. These articles, including the ones that I write, are designed to be topical and timely and have a budding writer’s best interests at heart. Regardless of the content, advice is either based on a specific set of experiences or one person’s world view. The reality of this advice, is that it isn’t always good for what you need to do because it’s not tailored to you or your goals.

I can definitely understand how the sheer volume of writing and career advice may be very confusing for “new” authors. Back in college, there was a lot less noise for me because the writing programs I attended were a lot more heavily focused on the craft of writing as opposed to the business of writing. While the perfect course structure may include both, if you want to be a writer you can’t get away from…writing.

All the marketing, writing, publishing advice that’s out there won’t help you if you aren’t not sitting down in front of a computer or notebook and working out not only what you want to write, but how. That “what you want to write” may take the form of an autobiography or a short story, but that’s for you to figure out. No one else can tell you how to be a writer; while advice can help the only thing you absolutely must do if you want to be a writer is write, write, write and then write some more. Like anything in life, the more you write, the better you’ll get at it. Though even then, you will make mistakes. Everyone does.

The message I’m trying to express here, is that you really don’t have to “do” anything when it comes to developing your writing career, because you can’t have a career unless you know how to write in the first place. Once you learn that, then (and only then, in my humble opinion) you can sculpt, mold and formulate what type of a career that you want to have.

In other words, get back to writing!

My New Guest Series at Apex: Creating an Alien Language

Blogging for Apex Book Company has been a lot of fun, in part because I get to talk about things that interest me and loosely relate to things that I’m working on as well. I decided to write a series of posts about creating your own alien language, in part because I have to do the same thing for a project I’m working on. The first post is entitled Creating an Alien Language: Your Language, Your Rules and discusses the key points I consider when I think of language.

Here’s a peek:

What is a language? Break the concept down to its barest components, and all a language really is, is a meaningful sequence or pattern based on understanding a unique key. Once you determine what that key is, you can create any language that you want. That “key” can be based on text, numbers, sound, color, shapes, non-verbal cues like movements of the body, etc. It can be exceptionally complex or incredibly simple, too. –SOURCE: Creating an Alien Language: Your Language, Your Rules

I hope you find the time to follow along and chime in with your thoughts. This will be an ongoing series for a few months, be sure to tune in for next time.

🙂

E-Books Are Not Liquid Gold

In a fit of…well…angst, last week I had made a retort to “yet another” discussion about e-books about how they weren’t liquid gold. Well, you know the part about how sarcasm doesn’t translate well online? Yeah, the end result of a snarky comment is this rant. Which, no doubt, may either cause you to weep, shout “Amen!” or have you shaking your heads in disagreement. Fortunately, I am not the one to blame for said rant. To find out the mystery culprit, you’ll have to read to the bottom of the post.

On with the rant.

Before I get into why e-books are not liquid gold, let me say that it is nigh impossible to cover all of the myths surrounding e-books as a product in this post. I have heard (and read) everything from how e-books are cheaper to produce and/or sell than traditional print editions, how authors are greedy and should take less money so the price goes down, how they should be free to distribute because they don’t cost anything to make, etc. and so forth.

Do you know what are you paying for when you purchase an e-book? You are paying for your desired content through a specific means of delivery – in this case, digital. Books are priced differently because all books do not cost the same to produce, sell or create. Of course, you might know that all authors are not paid the same, but did you know that e-books don’t cost the same to produce either? Same goes for e-books and audiobooks. Audiobooks are priced differently because you’re paying for the story and the performance of it in an audio format. E-books are priced differently because you’re paying for obtaining the story in a digital format that is compatible with your intended device. Every retailer that offers you the ability to purchase or download an e-book also gets their cut, and that’s part of the price as well.

What pisses me off the most about e-books is that all of a sudden people think that they’re new and will somehow instantaneously change the entire publishing industry. They are, most certainly, not “new.” As soon as people could, e-books were produced via word processing software like Microsoft Word. Then, when PDFs first came out, people were using those to produce e-books that you could read on your laptop or your computer. The company OneBookShelf has been around for years, providing people with games, stories and comics in a digital format through DriveThruComics, DriveThruRPG, DriveThruHorror and other sites. OneBookShelf is interesting, because in many ways, the hobby games industry is way ahead of the curve for digital publishing, because they’ve gone through their fair share of changes before the rest of the industry has had a chance to. Keep in mind, that hobby games can be more expensive to produce than a novel, because of the time and resources involved. Advances in digital publishing have helped facilitate the access and availability of digital hobby games for gamers so OneBookShelf been able to thrive. Why? Because the demand was there and the readers were also receptive to it. The same, truly, can be said of e-books now. Regardless of what the publishers are doing, the popularity of e-books will only exist as long as the demand is there. Even so, it will take a long time before e-books replace print books because the market is not this giant, single-celled organism that moves at one pace. That “market” is comprised of individuals and their unique buying habits; not every person that’s out there will automatically “only” buy e-books without picking up a print copy. We’re not there yet.

Why then, are people freaking out about e-books by saying that they’re easy money or that they threaten to topple the industry? Well, again, for the first time we are not only seeing a change happen, we are able to discuss those changes as they happen. Right now, that short-term mentality is reigning supreme through topical articles and through a bit of a rebellious attitude toward the publishing industry, which is often viewed as this impenetrable monolith. Personally? I don’t care about the short-term. I care about the long-term. Conventional wisdom tells me that it is way too early to ascertain how e-books will affect the industry, because the market — not the publishers or people’s personal opinions — will decide how and when and where things will shake out. I’ve weighed in on e-books before and have also shown you how to calculate the cost of an e-book based on my experiences as well. However, to calm your fears, I’d like to point out another little piece of technology and how it revolutionized the way that books were produced and distributed. It’s called “the printing press.” Do you honestly think that when the printing press was invented that the effect was instantaneously? If you mean by twenty or thirty years, then yes.

The reason why e-books are not liquid gold, is because readers are not performing a bait-and-switch with their formats and many expect the e-books to be free. “Free” is not truly “free,” especially when it comes to books that take a long time to write, edit and produce in their final form. It’s so easy to point to a digital file and say “Hey, that’s easy and cost-effective to produce. Just throw it up on a site and charge ninety-nine cents and watch the profits roll right in. No physical materials required means they should be next to nothing, right?” Only, very few conversations about e-books I’ve read discuss the value of that product: the story.

If you were willing to pay in upwards of twenty-five for a hardcover edition of your favorite novel, what would you pay for that same story in a digital format? What would you pay to read a new story by an author you’ve never read before? If your answer is “zero,” perhaps you might want to consider why that might be and what would cause you to pay money for an e-book. After all, you are an important part of the market that will decide the shape of things to come.

Anyway, the culprit of said rant is none other than author Tobias Buckell who’s written books like “Halo: The Cole Protocol” and “Crystal Rain.” Good books, so go read them. Or, if you’re looking for a different e-book experience, check out “The Queen of Crows” which was written by yours truly.

Now that the shameless promotions are over with, I want to hear what you think. What do you have to say on the subject? Any coherent thoughts out there?

New Guest Post at SFWA: Social Media and Your (Lack of) Privacy

This month, I decided to discuss the issue of privacy from my perspective at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America blog. This is a very in-depth article that addresses the issue from a few, different perspectives. I felt that this particular topic was pretty timely, given the fact that Facebook has been publicly bashed for its recent privacy updates.

Here’s a sample of the article:

No doubt, many — if not all — of the social media business models that are out there include the collection of your data or content. Anonymous data allows a website to personalize your experience and make every attempt to provide you with relevant choices. It also allows web designers to understand how you interact with a particular page so that they can improve their design efforts as well. In fact, if you’ve ever used Google Analytics you’ve probably benefited from the collection of anonymous data by viewing how different people interact with your website. “Public” data, as defined by data that is attached to your name or persona, is another story entirely. — SOURCE: Social media and Your (Lack of) Privacy

Regardless of what side of the privacy fence you’re on, I do hope that you read about the issue from multiple perspectives and come to your own conclusions.

To read the full article, visit Social Media and Your (Lack Of) Privacy.




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