[Announcement] Your Best Game Ever Will Happen!

Your Best Game Ever Cover Art

Your Best Game Ever is not your typical RPG sourcebook. It’s not a book with adventures, spells, creatures, or magic items. It’s not a book for characters at all, but a book for players! If you play or run roleplaying games, this book is for you. Inside this gorgeous hardcover book, suitable for your coffee table or your gaming table, you will find advice and suggestions for enhancing your RPG experience at the table and away from it. This is an insider’s look at everything that goes into the hobby—finding a group, making a character, running a game, creating adventures, finding all the right ideas, hosting a game…and that’s just for starters.

If You’re an Experienced Gamer

You’ve been gaming for a while now. Maybe even years. You get the concepts, and you understand the rules. No one needs to explain the dice to you. Your Best Game Ever embraces the hobby you love, and provides real tips, immediately usable advice, and hands-on pointers you can use at your game table. You’ll find everything here from enhancing immersion, tips for running games online, creating characters with depth, worldbuilding, designing rules, dealing with personality conflicts that arise at the table, and more!

If You’re Fairly New to Gaming

Your friends play RPGs. You’ve maybe watched some streaming games, or given it a try a few times. You get the general idea, but where do you go from there? How do you really get into this hobby the way so many others have? This book will give you everything you need to learn how to choose the right game, how to fit into your game group or start your own group, and get you going on the fast track to being a great gamer.

I am pleased to announce that I am one of several consultants on this 2019 project. The Your Best Game Ever! Kickstarter has already funded, and we’re on to stretch goals.

Monte Cook is the primary writer on the book. He’s joined by a wealth of talented contributors that includes: Eric Campbell, Matt Colville, Luke Crane, Stacy Dellorfano, Tanya DePass, Ajit George, Jennell Jaquays, Eloy Lasanta, Tom Lommel, Matthew Mercer, Susan J. Morris, Alina Pete, and yours truly.

Win Free eBooks from FlamesRising.com

Celtic Wheel

A short overly-enthusiastic update today, for I am stuck in the wilds of well, the wilds and there’s really nothing to be done except write my way through it. So here goes:

Interested in free eBooks? (I hope, if you’re reading my website, that you are. . .) If you’re answer is “YES, PLEASE!” then visit this link at FlamesRising.com to add your favorite snippet of writing advice and celebrate NaNoWriMo.

There are already a few contestants who’ve proffered their glorious pieces of encouragement, but there’s still time to enter. . . The contest ends on Midnight CST, November 15th — that’s this Thursday!


(Back to it then.)

    Mood: Yessssssss? May I help you?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Ask me later.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Bendy, twisty-related activities.
    In My Ears: You don’t want to know. Seriously.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Origins
    Movie Last Viewed: MirrorMask
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

On The Thing You Won’t Talk About – Part II

You're An Idiot, Starscream

Today’s post is a continuation of On The Thing You Won’t Talk About Part I, from the makers of “things” and “talking.” I promised to talk about what makes me feel uncomfortable, so here it is.

For those closest to me, you know I’ve dealt with survival before in my own life. However, I don’t use this as a fuel for my work, because that’s not what I do to “put myself out there.” Instead, I tap into those tricky questions to tell a story that’s both mine and yours. Then, I tell another one. And another. And another. . .

I’m not going to consciously write about my personal relationships. In some ways, I have a photographer’s viewpoint; the stories I tell are mine and mine alone, sure, but it’s not like anyone else has taken pictures of birds, fruit, architecture, and people before. Rejection hurts, yes, but there’s always something to be learned from it, to apply for “next time” when you’ve missed your mark. I know when I fail before someone else believes it to be so, primarily because I have, with absolute certainty, a deeper understanding of those times when I don’t feel connected to my work. There are many ways to break that connection, and too much acceptance/tolerance is one of them.

Complacency, my friends, the slow trickle of acceptance that this is just the way the world works, this is just how things are and always will be, and there’s nothing you can do to change them – this is death to any writer and this I fear. When you become complacent, slowly, by inches, the wonder gets leeched out of your world and you no longer have a story to tell that you want to write – you pen tales out of obligation.

I am not saying that writing because you have to for income-related purposes is either a morally “bad” thing or something to be feared. That, my dear Readers, is poppycock. Everyone who’s ever written professionally knows that there are economic rules of scribing part-or-full time. What I’m saying, is that I feel that you have to protect and insulate and nourish the part of you that tells stories, either non-fiction (e.g. blogging) or of a fictional sort, so you can weather your ability to write regardless of circumstances beyond your control. And, of course, there are so many of them aren’t there? Besides our base emotions, which can infect our egos and force its way like a thorn into our hearts, there are other real-world concerns that can get in the way: money, opportunity, timing, perceived competition, etc. In other words, the act of writing should be the constant, not what you hope/want to get out of it.

We often lie to ourselves, masking in obscurity the hows and whens and whys we write, to justify our work so we can go through those ups and downs of the proverbial rollercoaster with grace and ease. (Even though, it is possible to fall from grace and stumble without any reassurance, whatsoever.) I’ve certainly participated in these lies. I’ve been privy to them, sadly, to argue with the voices in my head and also to witness them in others.

The terrifying truth my friends, is this: any writer can stop writing at any time. It is so, so, so real and it can (and does) happen, for a variety of reasons, in the blink of an eye. I’ve seen it over and over and over again – even with some who’ve completely given up, and who’ll never write again. You’ve seen it, too. While there are those that can and do imagine their lives would never be complete without writing, I feel that not writing is the eventuality that happens when complacency sets in, which leads to acceptance, or depression, or whatever. . . It’s a happenstance, a direct result, of not caring about oneself (e.g. one’s Muse or scribe).

So then, knowing that is one inevitability, one foregone conclusion, that perhaps it is easier to not write than it is to get the words out, and at the bottom of this justification lies the fact that this is “hard work” – especially if you haven’t gotten the movie/six figure book deal/etc. – what does that offer me? Comfort?

No. Discomfort. This is what makes me uncomfortable, that the easiest thing, more than anything in the world, is to simply give up Poe’s ghost – this is what fuels my work, because I do not want to quit. I have not quit. I will not quit. I will NEVER quit.

I don’t know what makes you squirm, but I hope you find that one thing you can’t talk about, and I hope you pin it to the wall and experience that emotion for all its worth, to keep w-r-i-t-i-n-g if that, truly and deeply, is really what you want to do. Because for me, not writing, this is the thing I fear the most.

    Mood: Anxious
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: That moment of perfect caffeinated bliss.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Yesssss?!?!?! Are you guilt-tripping me, again?
    In My Ears: Muwahahahaha!
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Origins
    Movie Last Viewed: MirrorMask
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

On The Thing You Won’t Talk About – Part I

Soundwave Avatar

Where do you get your creativity from? When you’re writing a scene (action or otherwise) what do you use for fuel? I implore you to consider the one thing you won’t talk about. That is, to explore your discomfort in order to write. Seriously. What is it that makes you uncomfortable? Perhaps tapping into that, on a deeper level, will fuel your storytelling better than a personal experience ever would.

The thing is, deeply scarring memories will fade and you, too, shall pass through your current stage of drama. Perhaps you shall get a divorce. Perhaps you shall move cross-country to escape the uncomfortable heat. Perhaps you’ll get a part-time job so you have money to put food on the table, and then you’ll have more time to write.

Whatever the situation, if you’re always taking inspiration from your issues, what happens when those situations are resolved? Look around you. There is a literal wealth of stories in every corner of the internet, let alone the universe. What makes you uncomfortable? Apathy? Obesity? Murder or the justification thereof? Racism? An attack on intellectuals? Religious folk?

These are deeper social ills, true, but the secret to tapping into these particular veins is that they’ll never go away. There will never be a time when someone isn’t beating up someone else for land, power, money, sex, whatever. There will never be a moment when fierce forms of tribalism don’t exist, either, for this is part of what it means to be mortal.

These sample elements will always exist in some form or another, either quantifiable or not, and what you think about these things – perhaps what you don’t talk about openly, or what you don’t admit to yourself – it is these basic building blocks that you can tap into time and time again, eternally and ever more, to tell not just the one story – but 1000s of them. Not just the one story of the heroine who must resolve the differences with her teenage self to grow into a woman by facing her mother. Not just the singular tale of an unlikely hero who, time and time again, comes from the worst part of town to rise up and undo a terrifying foe. After all, if you tell just the one and only, what then? Will you get bored? Tired? Will you stop enjoying what you do because you know how the journey ends time and time again?

What makes me uncomfortable? More on that tomorrow in Part II.

    Mood: Creepy, crawly, slimy, slithering.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: NOT ENOUGH ZOMG.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Outside time. Necessary.
    In My Ears: The soothing sounds of the dishwasher.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Origins
    Movie Last Viewed: MirrorMask
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

Day 4 of 100: Crowdsourcing Versus Experts

Found myself needing advice today, and mentally ran through my cyber-deck of experts to see who I could e-mail about a few things.

In the time that I spent explaining what I wanted in an e-mail, I could have ran to Twitter and said: “Hey, anyone know of…” or “Anyone have a link for…” Instead, I e-mailed people I knew and asked for their advice.

There’s a huge difference between tapping into “the hive mind” where you may get a bevy of responses you can judge quickly, as opposed to getting one response from a trusted source. When you get a variety of responses from multiple people, you can ascertain if the value of the advice is similar and pick the best option. By singling out an individual, you’re viewing them as someone who will give you that best option.

The other benefit to asking an individual for advice, is that you are making a personal connection through a one-to-one exchange. You’re saying: “Hey, I trust that you’re going to give me the right information.” With crowd-sourcing, that dynamic changes because now the onus isn’t on you for the connection. You’re throwing something against the wall publicly, almost like posting a flyer, and the other people who see that will either chime in or not.

What’s also interesting about the crowdsourcing on social media to me, is that sometimes it feels like a trivia game. The volume of people using Twitter or similar tools to ask questions is pretty staggering. When people respond, often I feel like it’s because they’re trying to establish themselves as an expert for that particular category.

One thing I have noticed, is that when I’ve asked questions in the past not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I wanted to strike up conversations, some people treat me as if: “Well, duh! How come you don’t know this?” In other words, some people view questions as an indication that the person lacks knowledge or intelligence on that topic. To me, that’s fascinating because that may highlight how little we know people we talk to on social media. If we’re there for the conversation, then are we fulfilled simply by the interaction? If the other person on the end of the line wasn’t a human being, but a robot — could we tell the difference?

About 100 Days: From April 4th to July 13th I’m turning the lights off on Facebook, Twitter and IMs for personal use. Read 100 Days: Turning off the Lights on Social Media for more information. You can also read the 100 Days post archive.

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