21 Mar

Ironheart Artisans Interview for Dropzone Games

Ironheart Artisans LogoI spent an afternoon talking to Alex Landis of Ironheart Artisans, a miniatures wargame accessory manufacturer based in the brainstorming zone hidden deep inside Dropzone Games in Glen Burnie, MD. We talked about what it takes to make it in the miniatures wargaming world, how best to adapt gamers’ needs to the table, and methods of creating and casting all manner of cool things. In the workshop, Ironheart Artisans sets out to create innovative and affordable solutions for miniatures gamers. And they have a laser.

Read the full article about Ironheart Artisans at the Dropzone Games website here.

21 Aug

Off-Topic Tuesday: Silence is Electrum

I frequently discuss the strange dichotomy of my writer’s desire to remain undisturbed and my baser human need for socializing. It’s probably because I feel that tug-of-war all of the time, whether it’s related to writing or not. The recent round of “care and feeding of an introvert/extrovert” blog entries and subsequent Facebook links just went entirely around me. I don’t feel like either, or maybe I feel like both. It’s hard to say, hard enough that I think the label is pretty pointless. (And I’m wary of people who deliberately seek labels for themselves.) I’m usually very social when I need to be social, and pretty antisocial the rest of the time.

Here's Johnny!
“Who feels like being sociable?”

People often seem surprised when they realize I have “the other half” of what they knew me as. People who are accustomed to the grouchy asshole me are shocked to see me laughing and carrying on at a party. And the ones who met me at the party are surprised to hear what I sound like on the phone when they call while I’m working. Most accounts portray me as, well… a grouchy asshole. (I’ve tried to explain that if I was as irritated as I sounded, I wouldn’t have even answered the phone but, apparently, that’s not the point.) Continue reading

12 Jun

Close Encounters: Proximity Alert

You may recall that about a month ago that I went on about my experiences as a 2nd grader who was essentially told to pipe down. You may also recall that not only that the “pipe down” lesson not take, but now some people actually ask me to talk. Such is the case for the upcoming Sci-fi Saturday event at the York Emporium. (Sorry, UK readers, but that’s York, Pennsylvania; it’s got more firearms, but fewer pubs.)

What am I going to be talking about? Well, for starters, I’ll be talking about Dungeons & Dragons and my experiences with the game, both as a player and as a freelancer. There’s a good chance I’ll also carry on about how roleplaying games form a natural bridge to creativity and writing. I’ll also be answering questions based on my limited knowledge and experience or, if those fail me, resorting to tangents and distracting anecdotes until my hour’s up.

The event is this Saturday, June 16th. Here’s the schedule for the day:

10:30   I talk about Dungeons & Dragons until I catch a whiff of the free popcorn…
11:30   Movie Screening: Light Years (free popcorn!)
1:00     Author/Publisher Dr. Lawrence D. Schoen
2:00     Author Alethea Kontis reads from her novel Enchanted
3:00     Science Fiction Jeopardy
4:00     Author Darryl Schweitzer
5:00     Light Saber demonstration with the Capitol City Jedi Knights

A Space Invaders tournament continues throughout the day. Yes, they have a fully operational Death Star coin-op Space Invaders machine in the store. Also, I want to point out that the grand prize for winning science fiction Jeopardy is an autographed copy of Bradbury Speaks. So, umm… you should leave before that starts so I win by default because I’m sure you don’t want to win it.

Also, beyond the science fiction events throughout the day, you owe it to yourself to browse one of the best used bookstores I’ve ever been to. And that’s coming from a guy who sets aside a minimum of one day of any vacation he takes to track down used bookstores. It seems like a little place from the front, but once you step inside you will be shocked at the actual dimensions of the place. (Rumor has it, the place might be a TARDIS.)

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16 May

Close Encounters: Will Talk About Nothing for Food

Guard Tower
Yeah? Well then what did your second grade classroom look like?

In the second grade I was relegated to the corner of the classroom and, not long after, was surrounded by a three-sided screen. While defensively impressive, I think the teacher’s idea was to prevent me from communicating with the rest of the class. Perhaps it was my radical, second-grader agenda of planning a bloodless coup to seize control of the blackboard for use as a drawing area for space battles. More than likely, it was my constant chatter that proved distracting to classmates who didn’t wrap up their times-tables as efficiently.

My line of thinking was that multiplication was boring and rather than write down all of these answers, the teacher should just ask us what she wants to know and we’ll tell her so we can then go back to the important business of thinking. I wanted to share ideas about starships and adventures with my classmates and her constant interruptions were getting old. Besides, if she had that many questions about multiplication should she really be put in charge of teaching other people how to do it?

"I'm not being contrary Mrs. Miller. I'm just saying that this would be a more efficient design."

Needless to say I suffered the fate of so many other dissident voices subjugated by authoritarian regimes. I was promptly placed in the classroom gulag, a walled structure on the outskirts of the room, separate from my classmates but able to see the blackboard. My teacher should have learned something from Jeremy Benthem, however, because despite the fact that I could see her, she could not constantly observe me. And my prison was constructed at the perimeter of the classroom’s library…

The outcome was inevitable.

It should surprise no one that I now spend my days isolated in the corner of the house, surrounded by bookshelves, silently thinking. But there are times when I still want to talk and share my ideas. Years later, I can still run my mouth with the best of them, particularly when it comes to talking about the imaginary worlds of science fiction and fantasy. Give me the chance to talk about dystopian worlds and the marginalization of intellect and creativity by inefficient rulers and then I’ll really get going… I can’t imagine why.

I have been invited to rage against the machine talk about science fiction, fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, and the hungry life of a freelance writer at The York Emporium’s annual Sci-fi Saturday. The owner, Jim Lewin, promised me food so I didn’t even entertain the idea of saying no. And who knows what I’ll actually end up talking about? I get the floor for an hour, and Jim has offered to keep me on track with some interview-style questions. What, me worry?

York Emporium Poster
For the safety of all involved, I will not be issued a light saber.