DICE TALES is out in the world!

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:29 am
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[personal profile] swan_tower

I should have posted this yesterday, but appropriately enough, I was too busy prepping for the game I ran last night. 🙂

Dice Tales: Essays on Roleplaying Games and Storytelling is out now! If you play RPGs and have an interest in them from the narrative side of things — the ways we use them to tell stories, and what GMs and players can do to make them work better in that regard — you may find it of interest. Follow the link to buy it from Book View Cafe, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, or (in a first for me) DriveThruRPG. And if any parts of it wind up working their way into the games you play or run, let me know!

Also, the New Worlds Patreon has headed off into the wilds of rudeness, with two posts on “Gestures of Contempt” and “Insults.” The theme will continue through the end of this month before turning in a new direction for August. Remember that patrons at the $5 level and above can request topics, so if there’s something you’d like to see me discuss, you can make that happen!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Michael F. Haspil at Denver Comic-Con recently, and he had me at the word “Egyptology.” The hero of his debut novel is a mummy and former pharaoh — how could I not be interested in that! But I’ll let Michael tell you about how it took a different character to bring his mummy’s story to, er, life for him.

***

cover art for GRAVEYARD SHIFT by Michael F. HaspilI wrote the original version of GRAVEYARD SHIFT during NaNoWriMo some time ago. However, I still remember when the story really jumped into gear and, regrettably, that wasn’t truly in the first draft, though at the time I thought it was.

As I began revisions and sorted through the aftermath of a NaNo first draft, certain aspects stood out as being decent. The main character, Alex Menkaure, an immortal pharaoh now working in a special supernatural police unit in modern-day Miami, and his partner, Marcus, a vampire born in ancient Rome, needed minor work. The climactic battle at the end against the villains needed a lot of polish. While the action was solid, I wrote the section in a blur and it showed. Also, there was something missing. While Alex and Marcus are formidable, the villains I’d set up for them to go against were more so, and they needed help.

The help came in the form of Rhuna Gallier, a young but vicious shapeshifter with her own agenda. I’d had an idea for her character while brainstorming another novel, but realized with some minor tweaks, Rhuna and “The Pack” could fit into GRAVEYARD SHIFT’s story and world.

When I wrote the next draft, as I seeded Rhuna’s presence throughout the book, she threatened to take over the entire thing and make it hers. This may sound weird to non-writers, but she didn’t seem to understand this was Alex’s story and she was a supporting character. So I promised her besides the climax she would get a cool action scene. I knew in the scene Rhuna needed to be mostly on her own with minimal support so I could showcase her lethality.

In GRAVEYARD SHIFT’s world, a practice goes by the underground name of S&B. It stands for Sangers, a derogatory name for vampires, and Bleeders, humans who willingly let vampires feed on them to experience the pleasurable sensations that come with it. Participants meet in bloodclubs, which are akin to prohibition-era speakeasies. Many unsavory activities such as human trafficking, blood and drug dealing, and murder, happen near the clubs and they are part of Miami’s criminal underbelly.

In the early draft, I had a criminal vampire who liked to prey on young girls, take one of his victims to the club. It was an unhappy chapter and ended with the vampire killing another victim. In the new draft, Rhuna showed up. That’s when the story jumped to life. Rhuna took the place of the victim and suddenly where I had a naïve girl falling prey to an old vampire’s wiles, now I had Rhuna going in as a Trojan horse and the vampire and his companions never knew what hit them.

I rewrote the sequence, several chapters long, in one sitting. Now, I can’t wait to write Rhuna’s novel. It’s going to be great fun.

***

From the cover copy:

Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, born in ancient Rome, are vice cops in a special Miami police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, bootleg blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes.

When poisoned artificial blood drives vampires to murder, the city threatens to tear itself apart. Only an unlikely alliance with former opponents can give Alex and Marcus a fighting chance against an ancient vampire conspiracy.

If they succeed, they’ll be pariahs, hunted by everyone. If they fail, the result will be a race-war bloodier than any the world has ever seen.

Michael F. Haspil is a geeky engineer and nerdy artist. The art of storytelling called to him from a young age and he has plied his craft over many years and through diverse media. He has written original stories for as long as he can remember and has dabbled in many genres. However, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror have whispered directly to his soul. An avid gamer, he serves as a panelist on the popular “The Long War” webcasts and podcasts, which specializes in Warhammer 40,000 strategy, tactics, and stories. Graveyard Shift is his first novel. Find him online at michaelhaspil.com or @michaelhaspil.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Gen Ex Letter 2017

Jul. 10th, 2017 02:04 am
zdenka: A woman touching open books, with loose pages blowing around her (book guardian)
[personal profile] zdenka
My apologies! I've had a very busy week, and I won't be able to finish this letter before assignments go out. I'll try to have it done by the end of Wednesday (or if I don't manage that, as soon as possible).

----------

Dear Artist or Author,

Thank you so much for making art or writing for me! I'm happy that we share a love for these fandoms and characters. I mean the prompts as suggestions only, in case it's helpful to have a starting point (and it’s fine to make art from my fic prompts or fic from my art prompts). If they don't work for you or if you have an idea you like better, then feel free to go with what inspires you. I don’t want this to be stressful, and I’m sure I will love what you make.

General Things

Read more... )

Crossover Fandom [fanart, fanfic]

Aliera e'Kieron (Dragaera) & Csethiro Ceredin (The Goblin Emperor)
Arien (Silmarillion) & the Balrog of Moria (LotR book)
Csethiro Ceredin (The Goblin Emperor) & Tazendra (Dragaera)
Faramir (LotR book) & Hector (Iliad)
Finduilas of Dol Amroth (LOTR) & Uinen (Silmarillion)
Goldberry (LotR) & Indis (Silmarillion)
Goldberry (LOTR) & Melian (Silmarillion)

Read more... )

Dragaera - Steven Brust [fanart, fanfic]

Aerich & Khaavren & Pel & Tazendra

Read more... )

The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien [fanfic]

Dís & Thorin Oakenshield

Read more... )

The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien [fanfic]

Boromir & Denethor & Faramir
Boromir & Faramir
Elrond & Faramir
Éomer & Éowyn
Éomer & Éowyn & Théodred
Éomund & Éowyn
Éowyn & Ioreth
Éowyn & Théodred
Éowyn & Théodwyn
Galadriel & Goldberry
Hild & Helm's daughter
Nazgûl & Sauron

Read more... )

The Silmarillion and other histories of Middle-Earth - J. R. R. Tolkien [fanart, fanfic]

Aredhel & Maeglin
Celebrían & Celebrimbor
Celebrimbor & Narvi
Celebrimbor & Finduilas Faelivrin
Celebrimbor & Maglor
Celebrimbor & Orodreth
Curufin & Finrod
Elendil & Elrond
Elendil's wife & Tar-Míriel
Emeldir & Morwen Eledhwen
Finrod & Edrahil
Finrod & Haleth
Haleth & Guardswomen
Morwen & Rían

Read more... )


Vorkosigan Saga - Lois McMaster Bujold [fanfic]

Aral Vorkosigan & Piotr Vorkosigan
Miles Vorkosigan & Piotr Vorkosigan
Simon Illyan & Aral Vorkosigan

Some things I wrote

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:19 pm
zdenka: Miriam with a tambourine, text "I will sing." (Default)
[personal profile] zdenka
Here are the things I've written since the last time I shared stuff here, mostly drabbles and ficlets. It's all Tolkien, for The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings.

Read more... )

Drabbles, drabbles everywhere

Jul. 16th, 2017 09:13 pm
zdenka: A woman touching open books, with loose pages blowing around her (book guardian)
[personal profile] zdenka
The Multifandom Drabble Exchange 2017 has just been revealed. (This is the same drabble exchange that was run on Imzy last year, but since Imzy is no more, it has now moved to AO3.)

Oh my GOSH you guys. I have ten gifts (or maybe eleven, since something on my gift page is currently stuck in a weird AO3 limbo). I feel like someone just handed me a big basket of puppies and kittens. I'm still in the middle of reading my way through them, and then there's the rest of the collection(s) to look forward to.

I was hoping to go on a treat-writing spree myself, but I was so busy/tired/distracted with Chess that I only managed a set of three drabbles for my recipient. Maybe next time!

The main collection (with one drabble for each person): here
The treat collection (with all the rest): here


Edit: It turns out the extra one was a glitch, but I'm so not complaining. I've read my gifts now and they are all just great.

south california trip log

Jul. 15th, 2017 02:22 pm
[personal profile] dr4b
I wanted to post about our socal trip but I just can't think of that much to say. Basically, Chris and I went down to LA and SD for the long 4th of July weekend.

Friday we drove down. Traffic was actually not bad at all and we hit Malibu at about 4pm (but due to PCH traffic didn't make it to our hotel until like 5pm, seriously). Went to Ari and Thuy's pre-wedding picnic on the Malibu Bluffs... but we really didn't know anyone so mostly we walked around the park and talked to a few people and ate food and whatever. Afterwards we went back to our hotel and watched an episode of OITNB on Chris's iPad.

Saturday the weather was totally overcast, so Jenny joined us and we went to Santa Monica for the afternoon. We got brunch at Blue Daisy and walked around the pier and other things in the area and did a Pokemon raid with a bazillion people and such. Then we went to Jenny's airbnb to get ready for the wedding with her and some of her bridge friends.

The wedding was at Ari's parents' house and unlike our wedding, they got the Final Fantasy music right (Ari's brother plays the harp so he played it, and Ari's sister played the cello). They also did responsive vows like we did :) The people at the wedding were a combination of bridge friends and tech friends and stuff, and we were seated at the Facebook table (with Jenny and with Mike and Michelle and others I didn't know). Food was kinda wacky -- they had people serving ramen in cardboard containers and salad in heart-shaped bowls, but everything else was small foods passed around by people carrying trays (but that wasn't clear until we asked some of the staff).

Chris and I left around 10pm because we were driving to San Diego (which was a largely uneventful drive); we got in around 12:30am.

Sunday we went to the Padres-Dodgers game with my friend Dani (since I wouldn't see her in MA for the Japan-US college tournament, we both decided to skip it this year). Petco Park is huge and nice, but enough Dodgers fans drive down that you seriously can't tell who the home team is most of the time. Kenta Maeda was starting for the Dodgers too, which was kinda lucky, but he pitched poorly and got taken out in like 3 innings. After the game Chris and I went to a fancy restaurant he'd booked a reservation at, Juniper & Ivy, and they gave us seats at the chef's counter so we got to watch them preparing food, which is always fun.

Monday we went to the San Diego Zoo with Chris's dad, who drove down to see us. The zoo is huge and has lots of animals, but it was hot outside and I was really sluggish after a few hours of that. In the evening we got dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant called Bice.

Tuesday we came home, stopping off in LA to have lunch with Chris's grandparents on the way. Oddly, traffic wasn't so bad on our way home either, aside from one incident where a car was ON FIRE and blocking traffic just as we were getting on I-5 past the Grapevine.

The Battle for the Net

Jul. 12th, 2017 01:06 pm
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[personal profile] swan_tower

I posted a little while ago about today, July 12th, being the “Battle for the Net.” The short version is that the FCC is trying to roll back the “net neutrality” protections we currently enjoy, which would have the effect of letting corporations control how you interact with the internet. Think of your cable company: you know how they charge you more money for “premium channels”? You might find yourself paying your internet provider extra fees to access “premium sites.” (Not paying the sites; paying Comcast. Or whoever provides your internet connection.) Sites they don’t have a financial stake in might load more slowly. Streaming sites could be throttled to the point where you can’t watch a video or listen to music or play an online game without constant hiccups.

All of those things are bad. But here’s what’s worse.

Think about the flood of online political activity we’ve had in the last year. All those petitions, all those videos, all those political blogs. Right now, the only thing controlling your access to them is your level of interest and will to engage. But if we let the FCC empower internet providers to become the internet’s gatekeepers, then it may get a hell of a lot harder for us to make our voices heard. A lot of the groups speaking out right now are precisely the ones being disadvantaged by the current administration’s policies; they’re the ones who can’t afford to pay prioritization fees to keep their sites from being buried. This would be another way to screw them over, to make sure the voices we hear first, last, and loudest are the ones with money behind them: a negative feedback loop that ensures that power stays in the hands of those who already have it.

We can’t let this happen. Call your senators. Call your representative. Write a letter to the FCC. Speak up now, while you still can. As tools for speech go, the internet is up there with the printing press and the invention of writing itself — and our democracy depends on freedom of speech. We have to protect it.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Bounty Offered: Book for Cartoon

Jul. 11th, 2017 09:18 am
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[personal profile] swan_tower

This started out as a joke yesterday, but then I figured — why not?

SO! I am offering a signed book from my stash of author copies for someone who can provide me with a quick cartoon-style/chibi/super-deformed sketch of this man:

standing on a pressure plate and looking extremely grumpy, while this woman:

armed and armored like a D&D rogue, skips around sticking pink companion cube hearts on him:

. . . because yeah, last game session my PC left the Blackjack standing on a pressure plate in a hallway to disarm a trap while she went inside to plant a magical surveillance device. Which led to jokes that he was her companion cube, a la Portal. And then my sister said she would totally draw this cartoon if she could draw, except she can’t, and neither can I, but maybe one of you can! There’s a signed book in it for you if you do. 😀

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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