Hahahahahahahaha, Welp….

The best laid plans...

All ideas are good ideas at first…

As my tens of readers know, I’m the king of harebrained schemes. My latest involves all those Dragon Magazines I was talking about yesterday. Know how I said I was going to start reviewing them Tomorrow? Well, funny thing about that, I don’t know shit about reviewing product. So, before I get started and make an ass out of myself (or a bigger ass than normal) and make a bunch of crappy posts that don’t really get to the meat of the thing, in this case how awesome and hilariously bad Dragon and the golden age of gaming are/were, we’re going to shelve this for now. I’m going to talk so some friends of mine who are actual journalists and do product reviews for a living, get some pointers, and make it look like I know what I’m doing. Instead, you guys are going to get a rather personal post tomorrow about me and writing and telling things about a writer by what he writes. Exciting, neh?

Tuesday Filler: GTFO

Thanks for all your hard work! By the way, get the hell out…

So, a year ago today, I got laid the fuck off from Palladium Books. With one little phone call on a Monday Morning, I lost everything I’d wanted. I’d lost a job, I’d lost Robotech, and I’d lost my rudder. After a bit of heavy drinking and some beating of breasts and gnashing of teeth, I said “Fuck this” and set about forging a new direction for myself as a freelancer in the contracting and increasingly niche Trad Games industry. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t always been fun. It’s been slower than I’d like. I’ve made some progress, though. Shall we see what the passing of a year has brought us Gentle Readers?

Bulleted list time. Goddamn I love bulleted lists! Let’s you and me have a look at the things I’ve accomplished in the past year, shall we?

  • Fantasy Flight: So far, I’ve worked on every Rogue Trader title so far. For those keeping score, that’s six books and close to 150,000 words. Plus I did some work for a Deathwatch supplement, which was pretty cool. Cultivating a creative professional relationship with FFG was one of the smartest, and luckiest, things I’ve done over the past year.
  • Other Companies: Weeeeeeelll…not as such. This is the part I really wish I’d done better at. Having said that, after a kind of disastrous Origins and a great GenCon, I at least now have some leads and face time that I hope to parley into more work.
  • Other Projects: Uh, yeah. So, well, not so much this either. I had all these harebrained schemes, novels, PDFs, schooling, becoming a media darling, but haven’t had the stones or gumption to bring any of it to fruition yet. This is something I want to work harder at in the coming year.
  • Became a Dad: I believe I mentioned this. Did I mention this? Yeah, I totally became a father in 2010, which is quite possibly the best thing that I’ve ever done. The Kid is one of the few things that’s kept me sane over the past months.
  • Enlarged my Online Presence: So, this here internet weblog thingy, my Twitters, the MCGW Facebook page, an Amazon Partnership…I’ve done all these things in an attempt to grow my brand and make a name for myself via social media. The results are debatable, but I’ve met some great fellow writers and game designers via the intertubes over the past year, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
  • Paid my Shrink a Ton of Money: Worth every goddamned penny, too.
  • Worried a Lot: I don’t think I can describe how stressful and worrying being a freelancer with a mountain of debt and a new baby is. Seriously, there are days it’s hard getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Serious Home Projects: I don’t really talk about this here, but in the past year I’ve refinished all the hardwood floors on our second floor, renovated the bedroom, built the nursery, and framed my basement for a finished room. In all, the house shaped up nicely.
  • Made a Bunch of New Friends and Contacts: Always a good thing, especially when they’re nice enough to give me advice even though they don’t know me from Adam.
  • Other Stuff: Surely there’s some other stuff that I can’t think of right now. Just use your imaginations.

So, yeah. Not a bad year but not a great one either. If I were being graded, I’d probably get a strong C+, which is better than I ever did in school, but not as good as I’d like. I’ve got a ton of work to do. Work to improve my craft, work to improve my career, and work to improve me. There you go, here’s hoping for a better year going forward.

Friday Highlights

x

No witty picture today. After spending a night on the floor in an undisclosed location, I’m not sure I even possess any wit. Anyway, here’s a few nice things about Friday at Gencon:

  • Crowd: Happy, (mostly) healthy nerds in their glory. Costumes are good for the most part. People are nice. Lots of exposed flesh, some of it even worth being exposed! Also, there are a ton of people here.
  • Vendor Hall: I see game companies. They’re everywhere, and they don’t even know they want to hire me! But they will. The vendor hall is rockin’, Fantasy Flight has a huge-ass booth with a large demo area wherein I played Descent and where I’ll go mad today playing Arkham Horror. Sadly, White Wolf seems much reduced, has no product for sale, and their booth is essentially a sad imitation of a New Orleans beer hall. I’ve been in LARPs that were better outfitted than that booth.
  • Panels: I sat one panel with Sam from Fantasy Flight discussing Rogue Trader. I attended another given by Matt Forbeck, Bryan Tillman and his afro, Owen K.C. Stevens, and Jeff Tidball. Very informative and I took copious notes. They were all, to a man, gracious, generous and hilarious.
  • Ennies: I went to the Ennies last night as a guest of Fantasy Flight. Unsurprisingly, Paizo swept everything, earning about a brazillion awards for Pathfinder. Eclipse Phase and Diaspora also won some very well deserved awards, which was nice.

So, yeah. There you go. I’ve already had a good time, met some great people, and ended up with my business card case more full of other people’s cards than my own, which is pretty good I’d say. I’ll be driving tomorrow, so I can’t promise anything in the way of an update. Y’all have a good weekend.

Thursday Filler: En Francais!

So, check this out. A couple weeks ago a nice young Frenchman from Guide du Roliste Galactique, a Francophone RPG blog/site/thingy, contacted me out of the blue. Seems that he discovered me in the credits of a Rifts book I worked on, and wanted me to knock together a profile for him to post in his RPG Pros section. I’m big in Japan France, apparently. Here it is, all in French of course, none of which I can read because my high-school French teacher wasn’t so much concerned with teaching us French as she was with teaching us all 874 verses of the Champs Elysees song.

One From the Vaults

It was a mercy killing…

Dicking around in the depths of my harddrives, I found this little gem. I wrote this in 1998, while I was finishing up my culinary externship in Ann Arbor, MI. It was, in fact, three o’clock in the morning. It was foggy. Early spring. I lived in a big-arsed house with a bunch of other dudes across the street from the copshop, and was just learning how to operate as an adult (and failing miserably). God only knows what I was writing, probably some Star Wars fanfic or something that was only a thinly veiled copy of something by William Gibson. Anyway, here it is, unmolested, in all its over-written new writer glory. Enjoy.

Distraction creeps up to my window like a thief and knocks with quiet insistence. I try not to look up, knowing that if my eyes break contact with the unblinking eye of my monitor I will surely be lost. the knocking is louder now, with a sense of urgency that I simply cannot resist. My will is broken. Like a fool I look up and out of the window. He has me now. He gestures like a circus hawker at the wonders of the world revealed to me behind panes of glass. A car! There is a lovely car parked at the curb. Lights! Street lights float like tiny suns in the early morning mist. A tree! The tree in my front yard spreads its crooked, spidery fingers and reaches out to the orange-gray sky. Distraction rubs his thin, dry hands together and cackles a sound like rustling paper. I try vainly to return to the job at hand, then a car passes and I am gone again. Where could they be going at three am? Is someone hurt? Lonely? Hungry? I have but one recourse now. I must draw the blinds, turn off the lights, and be quit with this day…..but first…just one more look.

Saturday Filler: An Important Announcement!

Gamers, friends, and Gentle Readers. I’ve just been hipped to a bit of research being done into the social benefits of face-to-face tabletop RPG/wargames playing. There’s a survey to be done, and I’d like you all to take a moment to visit and fill the survey out. Let’s help spread the news that gaming is, in fact, good for you. You can find the survey here.

Monday Filler – Lydia Strange

Girl Mechanic image courtesy of David Cousens and Cool Surface. 

Okay, kids. So, I’ve got a heap of shit to do and not enough hours in the day to do it. Since I’ve been lagging on my makeposts here, I figured I needed to get something up but didn’t have the time to wax philosophic about, say, class/level systems. That’s for later in the week. Right now though? Oh, yes. Yes Gentle Readers, it’s time to meet another cast member. This time it’s Lydia Strange, a tall, red-haired drink of water with a tendency toward both fast machines and fire magic. Here she is with everyone’s sidekick Bela, awaiting the arrival of some friends from out of town.

“That’s…odd…” Said Bela.
She and Lydia stood on the cracked plain, considering the thing in front of them. A thin metal pole near thirty feet tall crowned with a round platform ringed by a small rail. On the platform was bright, rotating light shaped like a barrel with a lens at each end, one clear white, the other bottle green. Two small arms stuck out from beneath the platform, one topped with a little airspeed meter, the other with a limp, orange air-sock. The light had come to life at dusk, squeaking about on its ancient bearings and casting it’s searching light for miles into the ruddy Texas twilight. It was the only thing in a hundred miles, this strange beacon. The sun had recently retired and the sky was a deep orange fading through purple to black. Scudding clouds filled the sky like fish scales, black at the bottom. Here and there a star glared down at them.
“What is it?” She asked.
“It’s an airfield beacon.” Lydia said, and watched the lights probe the growing dark.
“What the hell’s it doing way out here?” asked Bela, looking around at the dusty stones and lizards that made up the local scenery.
“Wait.” Said Lydia, and gave Bela a smile.
“For what?” Asked Bela, and immediately wished she hadn’t. Slowly she became aware of a heaviness in the air and a taste like tin in her mouth. Her ears rang and she shook her head as if to shake the sound out.
“Oh no,” she moaned. Lydia nodded. Atop the pole the little airspeed meter spun wildly to life and the wind sock snapped taut in a nonexistent wind, pointing due south. The beacon started to glow. Little arcs of blue-white energy appeared around them and skittered across the ground like nervous spiders. Bela yelped and shied away from Lydia like a stung horse. The little energy arcs were snaking around Lydia’s feet and up her legs. Every bit of metal on her, from the buckles on her boots and gun belt to the chromed hoops in her ears and eyebrow shone blue and crackled with static. Bela looked down to see the same thing happening to her, and she frantically beat at her clothes in an effort to brush the energy away. Her head was pounding and she caught herself whimpering under her breath. Her hackles were raised and all the hair on her body was standing up and sparking with static. She saw the crackling magic dancing over invisible shapes all around them, defining slab-sided bunkers and the great arced walls of hangars. Tiny points of light suddenly flared to life in the ground to the east of the beacon, indicating runways and landing strips.
“Lydia!” Bela whined. “We need to go! Now!” The last word came out in a bark.
“Don’t worry, Bela.” Lydia hooked her thumbs idly into her belt and rocked back on her heels. She turned to Bela, magic energy sparking from her eyelashes and stray strands of red hair swimming around her face. “I’ve got some friends coming I want you to meet.”
Suddenly there was a sound, more a suggestion, like a far off song. It came up through their boot soles, twanged across their nerves, and settled behind their hearts. It grew louder, like a choir in full roar, and filled the space around them. The energy arcs converged on the beacon and crawled up the pole. They sparked and flared into the sky from the top of the beacon like lightning. The choir reached its screaming crescendo, then there was a noise like a sail tearing in a storm and the sky opened above the beacon like a great blue eye. Bela yelped again and reflexively drew her pistol. Lydia put her hand on Bela’s shoulder, pointed into the swirling blue hole above the beacon and said,
“Wait. Check that out.”
As they watched a huge aircraft punched through trailing leyline energy behind it from its wingtips. It was a massive, ancient, straight winged bomber painted in desert camouflage. Its glass nose winked in the last of the dying sunlight, and the glow of the magic showed a young woman painted beneath the cockpit windows along with a name, “Yellow Rose.” The remains of the magic danced over the aircraft and showed the gun barrels bristling from its flanks and the four great propellers on the wings churning up the air. Powerful landing lights flared from the base of the wings, and the running lights winked on at the wingtips and the top of the sail-like tail. The bomber’s engines spun up and it slowly and gracefully climbed away from the beacon and the rift seething above it.
Hot on the bomber’s tail a half dozen mean looking fighters screamed through the rift. They were painted like the bomber, and each had a lurid shark’s mouth painted behind the propeller to accentuate the air intake there. The fighters broke into pairs and climbed into the sky where they set to orbiting the landing site like a swarm of angry hornets. Lydia laughed and waved at the aircraft as they sped overhead.
The pitch of the bomber’s engines dropped an octave and it dipped its starboard wing to come slowly around in line with the ghostly landing strip. The fighters held their patterns as the bomber leveled out and approached the beacon. Landing gear dropped from beneath the bomber’s broad wings and it skimmed over the plain. Lydia and Bela ducked as it passed over them, stealing their breath and snapping their clothes around them in its passing. It touched down, bounced once, twice, then was bowling along scattering sagebrush and lizards and kicking up huge clouds of red dust. The bomber’s speed fell and soon enough its tail wheel hit the ground and it heaved to a halt at the far end of the landing strip. It wheeled around to face Lydia and Bela, squatting there in a roiling cloud of dust, its landing lights stabbing out into the night. The pilot killed the engines and feathered the props and they slowly spun to a stop.
Once their charge was safe on the ground, the fighters wheeled around and dove for the landing strip. They came in hot, at full throttle, and so close to the ground that Bela could see the pilots’ faces lit by their instruments and count the stubby gun barrels poking out from the leading edges of their wings. Lydia and Bela both hit the ground as the fighters passed over to keep from being struck by landing gear and propeller tips. Despite herself, Bela was laughing and marveling at the strangeness the of antique aircraft here in the Texas desert. The fighters came to rest gathered around the bomber like chicks seeking shelter under the wings of a hen.
Above them the crackling rift collapsed with a flash and a clap like thunder. The landing lights and spectral airfield faded, leaving only the lights of the aircraft and the slowly spinning beacon to light the plain. Lydia and Bela stood up and, still laughing, dusted themselves off. There was a commotion as engines sputtered to a stop and men dismounted their aircraft. Bela gaped disbelieving first at the aircraft and then at Lydia.
“Come on,” Lydia said. “Let me introduce you to the Republic of Texas Air National Guard.”

Friday Bonus Post: Marines! We Are Leaving!

Oh, Marines. Look at how awesome and over-the-top you are…

Guess what, Gentle Readers! You know who has two thumbs and just landed an assignment writing for Fantasy Flight’s Deathwatch line? *points to self* This guy! How awesome is that? Pretty awesome, I’d say. So, if you’re keeping score at home, this is now three projects I have running with Fantasy Flight right now. Have I mentioned that I like working with these guys? ‘Cause, you know, I do. So, yeah. Space Marines. I’m stoked. Plus, you know, at least there’ll finally be a book out there about marines in space with my name on it. As usual, I’ll keep you abreast of the situation.