22 Jul

Off-Topic Tuesday: Embrace the Grind

Sometimes, I feel like having such varied interests works against me when it comes to making a brand out of myself. Also working against me? Not liking the idea of making a brand out of myself. The common wisdom, available in photoshopped images of lightning on mountains and tweets ending in #truth, says that I should just “be myself.” I try to run with that idea, but I think it sometimes leads to confusion.

Bruce Buffer - It's Time
“It’s TIIIME… to discuss preconceived notions about acceptable interests in geek culture.”

During a discussion of interests, someone I had only recently met through gaming circles said, “Oh, so you’re a bro.” I didn’t really know what that meant. After some thorough research –apparently, I must be a pretty nerdy “bro”– I was happy to learn that I was grossly misclassified. The source of the confusion? My disinterest in several popular science fiction and fantasy series combined with my interest in mixed martial arts. MMA is, apparently, “bro” territory.

Instead of launching into the “well your interests are dumb, too” death spiral that powers the internet, I’d rather explain one of the reasons why MMA speaks to the writer in me. Continue reading

27 Jun

5 Fantasy Barkeeps is Released!

5 Fantasy Barkeeps, Volume 1My fantasy RPG supplement 5 Fantasy Barkeeps, Volume 1 is now available for download over at DrivethruRPG.com.

To celebrate, it’s time for Happy Hour. I’ve added my favorite coconut mojito recipe to the pages of the Demonom-nom-nomicon here on Broken Binding and I invite you to drink deep and read up on my system neutral supplement that puts five developed NPCs with ready-made hooks right at your fingertips.

Mojitos + gaming = Happy Hour.

Continue reading

31 Jan

Andrew G. Schneider, 5 Questions for the Author

Undercaffeinated and Overexposed

I had the pleasure of making Andrew G. Schneider’s acquaintance after two of our articles for Dungeons & Dragons Insider contained some overlapping material. (Both adventures were set in the Chaos Scar, but Andrew’s “Scarred for Life” connected nicely with my adventure “Reflections of Ruin” thanks to an exceptional ogre and the Deck of Many Things.) We continued to correspond and commiserate about the joys of freelance and have even managed to get a game or two in on occasion.

Recently, Andrew published not one but two novels so I took a few minutes to lob some questions his way, chat about YA fiction, and see what he has planned now that Nothing Left to Wish For and Undercaffeinated and Overexposed: The Tale of a Coffee Shop Princess are off his desk. Continue reading

17 Sep

The Plural of Hiatus

D&D Insider Logo

My constant internal conflict with writing is that time spent promoting isn’t time spent writing. But you need both of them to be successful. I’ve had a successful run over the past few years writing Dungeons & Dragons material for D&D Insider. Any given morning during that time, when faced with the choice of writing an article for D&D Insider or writing a blog post, the decision was not a difficult one. Continue reading

12 Feb

Using Kanban to Write

Staying focused is a key piece of writing for me. My thoughts and ideas tend to be scattered, both physically and mentally, and it is easy to work on multiple things at once. Multitasking yields unsteady progress, though. I wanted to be able to maintain a clearer focus on what projects I was working on and know roughly how far they were from completion. More importantly, I wanted more of them to reach that completed stage faster. So I turned to my background in manufacturing for an answer: kanban.

How Not to Do Kanban
Just. No.

Kanban is a means of tracking workflow with a simple visual chart. The system can take a variety of forms: a whiteboard, Post-It notes, or a digital application. The goal is the same, though: present all work that needs to be done, that is currently being worked on, and is completed, in a single glance. Kanban might seem like an odd choice for a writer, but in a career that relies so heavily on self-motivation and self-assessment, kanban (combined another technique we’ll discuss later) is a great tool to keep you honest with yourself. Continue reading

18 Dec

The Next Big Thing

Mayan's Next Big Thing
All this assumes that the Next Big Thing isn’t just the end of all the things.

Everyone prefaces these sorts of things with “I don’t do chain letters BUT . . .” So consider mine prefaced as well. Jeff LaSala was kind enough to tag me in this chain that I think was begun by Elaine Cunningham. (Chain letters always make me think of the telephone game that starts at one end of the classroom as “I’m finished with our big stone calendar” and ends on the other end as “The calendar has predicted the date humanity is finished!”)

The idea behind the Next Big Thing is to answer 10 questions about a work in progress, and then tag 5 more writers who do the same thing the following week. I like the idea of promoting some good people. And a little self-promotion never hurt anybody, I suppose. My lead project for 2013 is a novel. –gasp– I’m always working on multiple things, but this is receiving the lion’s share of my efforts. Continue reading

6 Oct

David Blaine’s Greatest Trick

David Blaine
David Blaine

David Blaine finally has the opportunity to impress me.

Andrew W.K. to Play One Million-Volt Keyboard Solo Through David Blaine’s Body

So I just opened a brand new pack of cards and drew one at random. If David Blaine is killed during this stunt, the following day I will go to my mailbox and find a package, postmarked the day before I was born. Inside the package: a shovel. And an invitation to dig his grave anywhere in the world. Continue reading

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

4 Aug

Saturday Morning Serial: Subdomain, Chapter 7

Subdomain

<< back to Chapter 6

VII.

I found a lady. I dropped credit. She found three more. Good times rolled, and a fresh set of bursts went out, “Coop’s here and he’s treating the world.” Partiers who just got home were turning around at their front doors to head back to Rubberneck. My four ladies turned into a crowd so big, I had to leave my own party and start a new one on a deck over the dance floor. But I brought my first lady. She ditched her friends and followed the credit balance. All those anarchist ideals fluttered away with someone else’s open and endless tab. She learned in one night what it took me years to develop: find the winning horse and get behind him, even if it means you’ll be shoveling some shit. Continue reading

3 Aug

Kickstart the Weekend: Monte Cook’s A+

Monte Cook A+A few weeks ago, Monte Cook proposed an interesting effort for the month of August. Check it out. Because you might have noticed some negativity on the internet over, I don’t know, the past ALL TIME FOREVER. It’s part of the reason I never spent any time in forums, didn’t bother with the discussion threads that accompany most articles on the internet, and absolutely refused to ever look at another comment made on a YouTube video. Admittedly, I have a pretty grim view of humanity anyway but… come on, people. This is what we’re made of? Continue reading