Coming Together

Firefly Avatar

Tons to tell you about today, so I better get started!

gaming-in-the-verseThe preview for the Firefly RPG line, Gaming in the ‘Verse: Gen Con 2013 Exclusive, will no longer be available at the end of this month. You can order print copies from www.margaretweis.com and a digital version from DriveThruRPG.com.

I just had a fantastic meeting with our Systems Lead, Mark Diaz Truman, to wrap up the corebook. We were talking about the overwhelmingly positive response to the Exclusive and how some folk’d be happy just with that. I said that the Exclusive sets expectations by giving them what they need, but the corebook? Gives them what they didn’t even know they needed. Will there be new material? How ’bout over 100,000 words worth?

Today, I’m developing the Episode for the corebook, which was written by Jack Norris. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m incredibly sensitive to sound. Sometimes, I can’t listen to anything with words in it when I need to concentrate because it slows my progress down considerably. Other projects, I go the opposite route and have an audiobook on in the background (I happen to adore the Terry Pratchett’s Discworld performances) or I have a movie on that I’ve seen a 1,000 times so I can tune it out. Music with words, though? Can’t do it. Not sure if the fresh air and open windows have something to do with it. Guess I’m just weird that way.

I try to stick to a theme when I’m listening to instrumental music and, for Firefly, it’s all about the Chinese traditional compositions — which is great because it’s something I’d listen to anyway. Lately, I’ve been putting the theme song for a fun, very relaxing puzzle game called Entanglement on in the background on repeat. I’m putting dueling banjos and old west-inspired fiddles on my list of tunes to research.

Sugar Skull_Liz MieraNot sure if I mentioned this yet or not, but I’m modifying a dress I already own (it’s a pink A-line) for Halloween with this patch and some beadwork. So, Etsy can yield some pretty awesome things and I have to say: Liz Miera Embroidery is phenomenal. The quality is great and the design is spot on. It can be REALLY hard to find sugar skull designs that aren’t…well, awful. Here’s a link to her Etsy store if you want to check out her inventory.

Heading out to my salon and will be asking for recommendations on hair. (They’re used to my crazy-ass requests by now. Hah.) I got a black wedding sash to take care of the girly bow problem. I may design jewelry for the overall costume, too, but if I do it’ll likely be a bracelet of some sort. Already have the rest of it. Now, if I can just get back into painting I’ll be shiny. I have a few I need to work on, but have to finish converting my office into a studio. Let’s just say moving our extraordinarily spoiled frog required some shifting — in a good way.

In domestic news, we watched The Gift last night with Cate Blanchett. What a fantastic film. ‘Course, I get Ryan Gosling confused with Giovanni Ribisi (BAD WRITER) but one of the things that I really loved about this, is the very realistic way certain townsfolk got addicted to Annabelle’s readings. She used what are known as “zener cards” which are cards scientists use to test psychic abilities. (You can follow that link to test yourself.) Anyway, I really dug this one because the psychic aspect, when combined with the small town aspect, added a lot of conflict to an already unique and very memorable cast of characters.

Making a buffalo chicken pizza today. Figured you might be interested in the recipe, because it’s SUPER EASY. And this is where I’ll leave you… With the NOM NOM NOMs…

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

(1) tube refrigerator pizza dough
4-5 Frozen buffalo chicken tenders
1-2 Carrots
1-2 stalks Celery
1/4 to 1/2 cup Bleu Cheese dressing
1 cup cheddar cheese
Fresh cilantro, chives, or parsley for garnish

Cook buffalo chicken tenders according to instructions and set aside. When cool, cut up into smaller pieces. Roll out the pizza dough. Spread bleu cheese dressing across the bottom of it. Add the chicken pieces and scatter cheese across the top. Bake according to the crust’s directions. While the pizza’s in the oven, chop up the celery and use a potato peeler to make ribbons of carrots. When the pizza is done, top with your veggies and garnish.

Voila! A tasty pizza!

    Mood: I am a grasshopper who is focusing.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Hit it really hard yesterday. Tired.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walked!
    In My Ears: Entanglement soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age II
    Book Last Read: Amphigorey
    Movie Last Viewed: The Gift
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Serenity Crew, Wedding Planners Cortex Plus, and Shooting Fish
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels. Added an online writing workshop, too!


Rolling Along

Sleepy Cat... So cute...

I am super-excited today. Well, this week actually… You see, it’s official. Halloween decorations are JUST starting to crawl out of the woodwork and make their way into the public eye. Sure, some folks like Christmas, but Halloween is my favorite holiday. I have always loved the atmospheric nature of Fall as it slides into Winter. The shadows, cobwebs (provided a spider doesn’t jump out at me…), pumpkins, love, love, love…

This year, owls are everywhere as the primary theme. It’s also the twentieth anniversary of Nightmare Before Christmas, too! I wound up picking up this light-up cup at Walgreen’s of all places.

Nightmare Cup

Apple crumble, coffin-shaped cookies, KAH tequila (which comes in a sugar skull-painted bottle), ravens, and jack-o’-lanterns… I love it all. Hee. Finally decided on a costume; I’m going to go with a modernized rockabilly outfit.

Don’t really have anything to whine or complain about. Things are going really well and it’s just a matter of buckling down. Not having a ton of travel has been great, because it’s allowed me to settle into the season and concentrating muchly; I know I also owe a folks a progress report that’ll happen sometime next week.

The big news on the release front right now is that my new comic, Last Man Zombie Standing, will be available in print. The publisher is debuting a limited edition anthology with all the digital comics in the UNFASHIONED CREATURES anthology; there will also be a standard version. Mine will be in both! I’ll post about pre-orders and the like when they’re available in October.

Let’s see… What else? Well, I decided to turn off comments on the blog and am pulling back on how/when/where I’m connected. It’s just gotten to be too much to manage with everything else that I’ve got going on. I’m keeping up with the chatter for anything related to work, sure, but outside of that? Some, but less. The politics, the latest kerfluffle… I just don’t have the bandwidth to keep up on what’s happening minute-to-minute. I mean, that’s part of the reason why I stopped watching television, so I can use my spare time to research and focus on doing the background work for upcoming projects.

Speaking of research… I’m starting some background work on the witch trials. I’ve dived into those details before, but I wanted to refresh my memory because I’m using the material in a different way. All I have to say about that is: horrifying and baffling all wrapped up into one strange emotion.

Anyway, I’m focused on wrapping up the Firefly RPG corebook at the moment and about to put up my Halloween decorations, so I’d better get back to it.

    Mood: So mellow…
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I need all the coffee. Really.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walked around some.
    In My Ears: Alice in Wonderland
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age II
    Book Last Read: Amphigorey
    Movie Last Viewed: Alice in Wonderland
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Serenity Crew, Wedding Planners Cortex Plus, and Shooting Fish
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels. Added an online writing workshop, too!


Celebrating Banned Books Week

Pile of books

This year, Banned Books Week lasts from Sunday, September 22nd through Saturday, September 28th. If you’ve read my blog, you know I support literacy and I do not condone banning, censoring, or burning books of any stripe. The list of banned books may surprise you, for they are oft-lauded tomes ranging from classic stories like Shakepeare’s Romeo and Juliet to genre tales like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

You can find a wealth of resources on the Banned Books Week website and through the American Library Association.

I’ll be reading!

    Mood: Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Want, want, want, want, want!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Does sitting on my bum count? Long work day.
    In My Ears: Traffic, caused by… Traffic.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age II
    Book Last Read: An Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demons. Title is misleading; it’s a scholarly tome about the witch trials that occurred up through the 18th century.
    Movie Last Viewed: Lilo and Stitch
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Serenity Crew, Wedding Planners Cortex Plus, and Shooting Fish
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels. Added an online writing workshop, too!


My Number One Wish For The SF&F Community

The Hobbit Gandalf Avatar

To varying degrees, I feel what’s happening today in the science fiction and fantasy genre is the same thing that has happened before. Veterans, who have been around in the industry in multiple capacities, understand the machinations of both publishing and fandom. New people, whether they have a vested interest in business or not, bring in fresh perspectives and speculate on how the industry can change. Lines are drawn in the sand and both sides hunker down. It’s “You haven’t been around long enough to understand how changes are implemented.” versus “You’ve been around so long you aren’t willing to change.”

That was a gross generality, mind you, presented for my next point. I see a lot of calls to modernize the industry and make it more welcoming to new folk. A few recent topics of discussion have been diversity in science fiction and fantasy, proposed changes to WorldCon, and addressing personal safety issues at cons. Internet discussions are both exacerbating these topics and highlighting their varying aspects for all the world to see — but this industry is not unique. These same discussions are happening (and have been) in comics, games, music, etc. for some time.

I care, very deeply, about the future of the entertainment industry as a whole and how I will be able to fare long-term in my career. These discussions aren’t going to go away, nor should they. Due to the volume of chatter and emotional tension, though, it’s hard from my perspective to sort out what the proposed solutions are. I feel the way forward is to a) recognize there’s a problem b) come up with satisfactory solutions and then c) work towards them.

So, I’d like to start with one of my own. If there was a “single” change I’d like to see happen now, this would be it.

Mentorship Program

There are many flavor of folk in this industry from fans to support staff to full-time writers, editors, etc. Some of us are in this particular industry part-time; others make a living here. Our experiences vary widely and it is my personal belief that we could benefit from each other’s knowledge.

How? By kicking off a mentorship program. I think this can happen in a few different ways by either building off of what’s already out there or through new efforts. For example, here’s three possibilities that come to mind:

One-on-One

Mentorship could occur on a one-on-one basis where a barter system is deployed for an exchange of services. An example of this would be one party teaches the other how to format an e-book; the other individual provides guidance for incorporating more diversity in their particular story. The barter system can work really well provided it takes on some business-related aspects or involve a certain amount of accountability.

If these relationships are too casual, I can see how this won’t be as effective, but that’s also partly due to my own bias. I prefer to build relationships by starting small and finding common ground.

Coordinated Panel Programming

An easy enough “fix” would be for an introductory-level series of panels designed to help individuals go from their current status to the next level. These panels, with their descriptions, instructions, and materials could be hosted on an organization like SFWA’s website, or on an individual writer’s blog, for folk to use and employ across multiple conventions.

Now, to give credit where credit is due this is not a new concept and some of this already exists. Just recently, I moderated a panel John Klima suggested based off of Nick Mamatas‘s idea.

I’m proposing that we take that concept a step further (if it’s not being done already) because it’s extraordinarily useful for new writers to have access to veterans in a format like that. What I’m suggesting here, is that to build more bridges, we leverage existing convention programming through better coordination. For example, there could be materials for anyone ready and willing to use them housed in a particular location, guidance on how to run these panels, etc.

Spotlight on Resources

As I alluded to earlier, there are a lot of resources out there already that were designed address specific grievances or help new-to-industry folk get acclimated. Many are happening on the author level, but there are conventions, organizations, publishers, website, etc. that are also doing good works.

It’s impossible to find those without serious research right now because the links often get lost on social media or in the midst of a rant. (I will spare you my rant about semantic and social search.) It’d be great if we could get a neutral party (e.g. not a particular writer or editor) or industry-facing organization to collate those. That way, it becomes a destination. “Oh, you’re new to the industry? Hey, here’s a website or web page where you can go to find out the basics.”

Propose Your Own

None of what I’ve said here may be “the” solution, but each one is “a” solution based on my perspective. When I first came to the genre, it was because I loved every bit of it, not because I hated its flaws and couldn’t stand them any longer. I am excited about what the future holds and I hope to read, hear, and see more reasons to be incredibly happy about the industry as the years progress.

What about you? What solutions do you propose to help the industry flourish? How will you bring about positive change? What bridges can we build to bring the community back together?

    Mood: Passportitis
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Successfully managed. I’ve impressed myself.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: The house. It cleans itself!
    In My Ears: Lose Yourself To Dance Random Access Memories
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age II
    Book Last Read: Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines.
    Movie Last Viewed: Trance
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Serenity Crew, Wedding Planners Cortex Plus, and Shooting Fish
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.


On the Firefly, Unfashioned Creatures Launches, and Beyond

darkwing duck avatar

Phew! I know I haven’t posted a while and for that I apologize. This’ll be a longish blog post, but I’ve got a lot to share with you!

Browncoats Assemble

Serenity Crew CoverThe Firefly RPG launch has gone really well and feedback has been very positive. Fans have shared with us that this cinematic-style game feels like they were characters on the show. Since this was one of our major design goals, I’m happy to hear they’re having this experience at their gaming table. I’m always on the hunt to hear more actual play experiences, so if you’re diving into a session, don’t be afraid to reach out and let me know how it goes.

Our release plans began when we launched the Wedding Planners Classic Set for fans of that system. Then, we published the Gaming in the ‘Verse: Gen Con 2013 Exclusive and ran over twenty full-length demos at Gen Con.

Just this past week, we launched Echoes of War by publishing the stand-alone editions of Serenity Crew, Wedding Planners Cortex Plus, and Shooting Fish.

We have been clear about our launch plans all along. By releasing the combined and standalone versions of these Episodes, we’ve provided folks with options that work for them. If you picked up the Exclusive (which is not available through regular channels of distribution) you don’t need to get the three latest additions to the line. These releases are to launch the digital Echoes of War line, which is separate but compatible with the corebook and upcoming supplements.

In development, we’ve got several new Echoes of War adventures in varying states. We’re also knee-deep in the corebook as well. As of this morning, I’ve got over 100,000 words already in various states and there’s more coming. Now that the Exclusive is out, we’ve gotten a few questions and we’ll be answering those for clarity in the structure. For example, equipment and other details in the game is in line with the television show. They are there to serve the story through the characters you play. For this system, a bad ass gun or ship is only as useful as the characters who wield or fly ’em. A chair in Jayne’s hands is a much different weapon than if that same chair were in Kaylee’s.

We’ll be offering more examples in the corebook; there’s a few that we’re picking out for that reason.

It’s A-LIVE!

LastZombieStandingThe digital launch for UNFASHIONED CREATURES has gone better than I expected it to as well. My story, Last Man Zombie Standing, is one of several in this Frankenstein-themed anthology. I’ve also got my first comic review! Huzzah!

Here’s a little bit more about my first comic. You can catch a comic preview on DriveThruComics.com or on Red Stylo Media‘s website.

Hey, you got Zombies in my Frankenstein! In the midst of an undead apocalypse, one scientist tries to sustain the human race by cloning himself (again.) Unfortunately, things don’t work out exactly as planned. But then, do they ever?

Writer Monica Valentinelli and artist Josie Pi Grant bring a modern twist on the first, great literary zombie. The digital download includes a BONUS page from “Monsters and the Monsters Who Make Them,” a mini-series written by James McGee and illustrated by Alex Cormack.Last Man Zombie Standing


Through the Forests of Fear and Beyond…

Ah, creepy dark forests. How I love thee. So, this Friday is the 13th. FRIGHTENING I KNOW.

But ain’t Zakar cute? 🙂

Zen Zakar

That’s really all I wanted to say about that. Hee. I’m deliriously happy with the way everything’s going right now, but my back end administration and general houseliness needs some serious attention. That combined with deadlines, new art projects, pending trips, and the impending Halloween season of doooooooooom, I’m a little behind right now. Working on it, though! And that begins with disconnecting in 3… 2… 1…

    Mood: Moody Monday
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Attempting a limit of two. Feeling groggy with a side of bleh.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: The house. It cleans itself!
    In My Ears: Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age II
    Book Last Read: Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines.
    Movie Last Viewed: The Score
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Serenity Crew, Wedding Planners Cortex Plus, and Shooting Fish
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.





Monica Valentinelli > 2013 > September

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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