Update on Summer Scheduling and an Invitation

Yuna Final Fantasy X-2

As a full-time writer, one of the interesting things that happens is due to the nature of how I get work and when it’s due. Longer projects free up my brain space to tightly focus on that one thing, while shorter projects mean I need to be very intense about what I’m working on from day to day. Right now, I have a variety of both that I’m managing closely, because essentially spec work tends to get put off further and further in favor of what I know will pay. This may sound pretty technical, and it is, but this allows me to build a career similar to what my friend Matt Forbeck has done. I cannot physically afford to not be writing or designing, to just put out “a” game or “a” novel a year. That would kill me and kill my ability to work.

If you want to be a freelance game designer/writer, the big secret is that in order to get the work, focus on competency and completion. Online drama is a distraction, and there has been quite a bit of that the past couple of weeks in my spheres which I’m now walking away from.(2) I’ve talked to many writers over the years, and it always amazes me how many people would be satisfied being an internet celebrity–I am not one of them. However, even I have to focus on building awareness of myself and my work to let people know it exists and, most importantly, that it’ll be worth your time. Dreaming about the art of game design or fantasizing about a novel may sound wonderful and idyllic, but dreams have very little to do with actual production. A dream inspires you–and that’s fantastic–but what happens after that is what gets the game/novel/book on the shelf. This, in point of fact, is what I often talk about on panels: the pragmatic nature of producing games consistently. Or, as I often say: “In order to chase the rainbow, put your running shoes on first.” Developers know this all too well, and if you’re wondering what we do, I encourage you to check out my older post about gaming development for the multi-award winning Firefly RPG line(1). That turned out to be a shorter list of what I wound up doing, since I did do quite a bit in addition to that, but it’s a good primer.

Behind the scenes, this means that by the time a release comes out, that release has been in the works for anywhere between three months to two years or longer. When it’s a release completed for other people, it’s easy to see where to pick up and leave off. When it’s “on spec”, meaning I don’t see the immediate returns or they’re not guaranteed, then I set a lower priority to those. Certainly, for my own fiction I took a step back to refocus and see where (I felt) it was falling down before I started pursuing publication again this year.(3)(4) But, that old adage is true: writers are sharks. If we don’t keep swimming, we die. It does suck, though, that NDAs and professional courtesy often prevent me from talking about the specifics on projects(5), but I do have a little more flexibility to do that in person just because I can better respond to questions–similar to the Reddit AMAs I’ve done, like the Reddit AMA for the Firefly RPG, and the Reddit AMA for the Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling anthology.(6)

To that end, my next couple of weeks are packed! There will be two or three announcements coming up shortly (PLUS! Hopefully, something cool for the charity I’m involved with (www.rcrfcharity.org) and quite a few conventions I’m going to this summer, too. I also had a fantastic meeting with my agent, too, and I am super pumped about that! All this means, is that I’m hyper-focused on work right now, so the blinders are going back on for a bit. There are a lot of really amazing things in the pipe, and while I continue to seek out new and even bigger profile opportunities for myself, I want to nail delivery on what I’ve got going on. Thus, if you’re ever curious about me or my work beyond the career bits, I invite you to come to my panels and interact with me at shows. I’ll be at GenCon: Indianapolis this year, but I’ll also be at CONvergence and WorldCon as well. Planning on lots of party games for WorldCon, so there will be some shenanigans, for sure.

(1) In case you didn’t know, the corebook was nominated for the Product of the Year and the Game of the Year in the 2015 ENnie Awards, nominated for Game of the Year in the 2015 Origins Awards, 2nd Runner Up for Game of the Year 2014 in the Golden Geek Awards, and The Escapist nominated it for Game of the Year 2014 as well. Plus, Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics won a Judge’s Spotlight Award in the 2015 ENnie Awards, too!
(2) If it’s the drama llama, I don’t want to hear about it any longer. I got sucked in, and I’m pulling myself out of that nonsense.
(3) I’m of the mind that stagnation equals a terrible, horrible death for creative types, but not everything needs to be published as soon as it’s finished, nor can everything be for various reasons.
(4) Sometimes projects fall apart for completely different reasons. There are, on my hard drive for example, at least a dozen or so other small press games I’ve worked on that have never seen the light of day.
(5) My friends know that I don’t talk about work. That’s not why I’m friends with them, nor do I want them to be friends with me just to talk about work.
(6) I do need to give a warm and friendly shout out to Fox TV, because if it wasn’t for their belief in my work I wouldn’t have been able to work on Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse.


A Bucket o’ Fun Announcements

Good morning my fellow writers, game designers, and readers! I’m back from a wonderful writer’s retreat and am deep in the trenches. I’ve got a few announcements to make, so bear with me today.

  • Firefly RPG Wins 2nd Runner Up: In the Golden Geek Awards, the Firefly RPG won 2nd Runner Up behind Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition and Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition. Congrats to everyone who worked on this game, both past and present, and to the fans for voting! If you’re interested in trying out the RPG, the corebook is available in digital through DriveThruRPG.com and in print through www.margaretweis.com and wherever games are sold.
  • Reddit AMA in /r/Fantasy: Thanks to the support and prompting by Steve Drew, I’ll be on Reddit doing an AMA on Monday, March 2nd. Celebrating my 10th year in the gaming industry, so drop by and ask questions about the Firefly RPG or my earlier work. I’m keen on answering questions about the shiny new Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim.
  • Watch for me at GTS: I will be attending the Gama Trade Show in Las Vegas and will be presenting as a game designer/developer. Very excited about this! It’ll give me a chance to connect with other industry folks and retailers, and talk about some of my experiences that I’ve had over the past decade.
  • New Reward Tiers on the Dark Eras Kickstarter: A lot of fans are really interested in expanding the existing chapters in the Dark Eras supplement, and there’ll be new reward tiers announced later today. Drop by later and check ’em out! We’re in the final throes of this wild ride!
  • Build-a-World at Mo*Con: I’m happy to announce that I’ve confirmed I’ll be running my Build-a-World Game Show at Mo*Con X! Yay! There will be shenanigans! I am hoping to find a sponsor to pick up the tab for the charity donation. Last year, Steven Saus donated $50 on behalf of his publishing company at ConText, and the winning team got to choose which charity to put that money towards.

That’s all I have time for today. To the deadlines! They won’t wait!

Back from WisCon, Tuesday Blah

Spent the weekend at WisCon and hung out with a number of people and talked on panels. Much of my time was spent talking to new authors and readers, but I did get the chance to hang out with Matt Forbeck, Monte Cook and a few local authors. The show takes on a professional tone; it’s well-organized and gives participants the chance to honor authors like the guest of honor, Nisi Shawl. Finally got the chance to listen to Cat Valente speak (the woman is electricity in a jar!) and ran into Kelley McCullough, who read from the debut book in his new series due out in November, and Brad Beaulieu, who’s celebrating his new book. More to come on that.

Many of the conversations I had involved some element of concern for the state of the publishing industry. There is a lot of uncertainty, but one of the common pieces of advice I continue to hear is to focus on having a volume of published works (regardless of whether or not you’re self-publishing) to ensure a better chance of success.

This advice is no different than what I’ve heard five years ago or even ten. Technology may have changed, but the mantra focus on the work is a solid one. Worrying about the state of the state doesn’t get a short story submitted or sign the next contract. Jobs may come and go — jobs not related to what I want to do — but I remain. I’m an author and an artist, and no matter what I’m doing, that’ll always be there.

And I’m okay with that.

If you’re visiting my site today, you may have noticed I changed the way the categories show up on the home page. I did that, because I’ve been getting back into blogging instead of penning stuffy articles here. I’ve got several places where I’ll be writing on a monthly basis that I’ll be sharing with you, but this’ll be shifting away from the center-left parts of me toward the light. I mean right. Er. Whatever.

Since the con was pretty intense, I needed to decompress. *coughs* Beer! Well, and shooting stormtroopers in the head. Combine and mix vigorously! W00t!

‘Course, margaritas are better. Good margaritas, that is. I loves me some tequila.

Yeah, that was pretty anticlimactic, but decompression is necessary and blargh. I don’t mind conversations taking on a more serious tone, or even going to those types of conventions, but post-con suxx0rs.

The fix? Engage sushi therapy, fifteen minutes of sunlight, obligatory hugs/torments from sleepy cats and, of course, my next story.

Gencon 2011: DriveThruRPG Booth and Yours Truly

Hi everyone,

I have just confirmed I will be attending GenCon: Indy 2011. This year, I have been drafted volunteered to work the DriveThruRPG.com booth.

What’s that you say? But you thought DriveThru only offered e-books?

DriveThruRPGcom LogoThis year, DriveThruRPG is debuting the fruits of its print program at GenCon, working in tandem with White Wolf Publishing, who will have their own presence at the show. I’m not a hundred percent sure what the layout will look like; geometry was never my strong suit. I do know that yes, White Wolf will be there and yes, they’ll be selling books. Rumor has it there will be a print edition of the Vampire Translation Guide and an exclusive hardcover convention edition of the Exalted graphic novel. No word yet on the print edition of Paths of Storytelling, but I am crossing my fingers on that one.

In addition to DriveThru’s partnership with White Wolf, you can also buy/support games from a handful of awesome publishers. They are: Malhavoc Press, Necromancer Games, Nocturnal and Eden Studios.

Now, I know you may think I’m a little crazy, but it’s also my understanding that Ghosts of Albion and The Fear-Maker’s Promise for Changeling will be available IN PRINT at the DriveThru booth as well.

If you like to get your books signed, the one (the only) Monte Cook will be floating around along with several other freelancers, game designers, developers and persons extraordinaire.

Am I chained to the booth? Hah, hah. Is that even possible? Wait. Don’t answer that! I will be available for appointments and signings, but primarily I’ll be on the floor talking about why you should buy these publishers’ games. In all honesty, DriveThru is the reason why I’m able to come back to GenCon this year, so I’m going to do my best to work hard and have fun. If you want to get together with me at GenCon, feel free to either a) drop by the booth b) e-mail me ahead of time to set up an appointment or c) watch my blog for a space-y announcement.

That is all, game-lings.

Oh, before I go… If you have any questions about DriveThruRPG.com, their booth, White Wolf or anything I revealed in my post, please contact these companies directly. I’m merely trying to relay my role at GenCon this year. Once it gets a little closer to GenCon, I’m sure I’ll be able to reveal if there’s truth to the gossip.

Thank you!

WisCon 2011 Panels

Hi everyone,

Wanted to drop in and provide you my panels for WisCon 2011. This year the guest of honor is Nisi Shawl, a fine author who often gives workshops on writing the other. She also likes to smile. A lot. What’s not to like?

Attendance is capped at 1,000 people, so if you’re thinking about going, I’d register now.

Monica’s Panels at WisCon


Living In The Long Tail: Forging A Path To Your Audience Through The Internet Friday
Time: 4:00–5:15 p.m. Location: Conference 5
Moderator: Heather Whipple.
Panelists: Heather Whipple, Lori Devoti, Jennifer K. Stevenson, Monica Valentinelli

    “The Long Tail” refers to the retailing strategy of selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities. Much of Amazon’s success relies on exploting this strategy. What are the possibilities of authors and artists marketing their own works directly to audiences through the Internet? Does the Internet represent a medium of exchange that can bring creators together with audiences who are hungry for works that represent and speak to them? How can we find each other?

Group Reading: 11 Up – Cycles of Life. Salacious, sacrificial, silly, sentimental and severe.
Time: Saturday 2:30–3:45 pm Location: Michelangelo’s Coffee Shop
Liz Argall, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Margaret Ronald, Monica Valentinelli

Self-Publishing: Should You? Could You?
Time: Sunday 10:00–11:15 am Location: Senate B
Moderator: Susan Ramirez.
Panelists: Susan Ramirez, Anna Black, Alexandra Erin, Neesha Meminger, Monica Valentinelli

    A variety of websites and services make publishing your own e-books and paper books simpler and less expensive than ever. What are some of the best? What are some to avoid? What are the benefits and drawbacks of becoming an indie writer? What tips do you have to help other indie writers self-publish successfully?

Cooperative Promotion
Sunday: 1:00–2:15 pm Location: Room 634
Moderator: Jacqueline Houtman.
Panelists: Jacqueline Houtman, Lori Devoti, Howard Andrew Jones, Alexandra Erin, Monica Valentinelli

    Authors need to do more and more of their own promotion. This panel will focus on ways that authors can work together to help promote their books, whether formally (via 2K Classes, Tenners and Elevensies, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and other organizations) or informally, such as social networking. What about group websites or blogs? Group giveaways? Group presentations, signings, and other events? We will present some ideas and work together to come up with more.
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