Friday, December 31, 2021

2021: Year of the Cat

Funny year, both creatively and just, whatever. I started off by moving from Cleveland to Northwest Arkansas, where I worked my old job from home for a while and then, predictably enough, got laid off. I didn't get a lot of writing done after that, because job-hunting is at least as time-consuming and more emotionally draining than having a job. 

I had a fairly productive trip to Devil's Den early in the year, though. That place always revives me.  

I wrote a bunch of material for a couple of serials and then decided, as much fun as it was, I needed to get back to The Nameless Way. I wouldn't say I've abandoned the serials, but they're on hold. Gotta get that book done.

While we're talking about the book, I also found a way to do a map I like. It's already changed a bit from the picture up there, but that's pretty close to what I'm going to publish. In other map-related news, I finally got around to putting my venerable World of Greyhawk maps in poster frames so maybe they'll be a little bit better protected.
I finished Hogz-- errr, TerrorHog, as well. I'm not going back to Peryton Publishing in any other capacity, but that's another project like the serials that I drifted into because I thought it would be quick and easy. You'd think I'd have learned by now that it's never quick and easy. Anyway, I'm proud of the result, and now it's done so I can move on and get back to serious writing.  

So where am I with this book I keep saying I'm focusing on? Bgrargh. I mean, I guess I shouldn't put it that way, because I'm enjoying working on the center brain-stage again. I just now started doing that, though, and a few leftover TerrorHog tasks are still nipping at my ankles now and then. We'll see. Seems like this is taking a lot longer than it should. 

I'm kinda burned out on gaming. Like, even as a player. Partly it's the teleconferencing stuff, but this just happens occasionally. You could probably scroll back on my blog and find several other times I said the same thing. I'm sure I'll be a fanatic again after a little break. I mean, just look at that Greyhawk map. How could you not get ideas? Also, I'll probably run TerrorHog at least once. 

Here's a picture of my friend, Charlie, who died of COVID early in the year. I don't really have anything else to say about that. And then there's some cat pictures. The cats aren't dead or anything. I just like sharing their pictures.

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Thursday, October 28, 2021


Yeah, never mind that other stuff. They're both great projects, but I never should have let myself get sidetracked. I'm working now on the thing I need to be working on. After that I can come back to the serials. 

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Friday, October 01, 2021

Seriously Serialized

Back when Amazon announced Vella, it occurred to me that something like this might be a better way to publish my Blackridge stories. I had originally planned on a series of short novels or novellas. After I started that, I became aware of Radish and decided I could do the Komar book that way.

So... yeah. Now I'm writing two serials. It's been killing my progress on The Nameless Way, which is really frustrating. I kind of dove into this without really thinking about what I was doing. I'm not even sure anybody is reading the darn things. 

I think I'm starting to get a handle on it, though. Earlier this month, I finally settled on a job. Well, a gig anyway. I've been doing one of those phone app food delivery things and I actually really like it. The fact that I'm not job-hunting anymore and that the work I'm doing has a flexible schedule is helping me get serious about writing.

So anyway, let's talk a little bit about the two serial projects. Eventually I guess they should have their own pages here, but I don't much feel like setting that up now. I've talked a lot less about the Komar one, so I'll start with that.

Forgotten Cities of the Komaran Sea --
Waking up in a confused post-dream state, a traveler remembers a dizzying panoply of experiences, but only in jumbled, fading fragments. He finds his way through a misty otherworld to an abandoned underground temple, where he meets a group of ruthless treasure-hunters and learns that he is in a desert in a completely unfamiliar land. Seeing little other chance to survive, he joins the strangers and helps them search for the relics of the lost civilization. This one is actually a sequel to Losing Lanterns, but it stands alone so I've been afraid to mention the connection for fear of scaring people off. That link is just a summary. You need the Radish app to read stories there. The first three episodes and the app itself are free.

An inhuman spirit preys on students in a fictional late-80s college town in the Arkansas River Valley. No one knows where it came from or who to trust. Or maybe some of them do. There's another newcomer to Blackridge, someone with plans to put the demon to use for his own schemes. I used the town where I went to college and some of the people I knew to build the template, but of course I changed a lot. I don't want to be thinking of these characters as my friends when I start tormenting and killing them, after all. As with the other one, the first three episodes are free.

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

9/11 Memories

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar; that much is true. But even then-- Wait a tick! Wrong story. That's a song, isn't it?

Dear Penthouse, I never thought something like this could happen to me, but-- Shit, no, that's... just a side gig.

I dunno. I totally forgot what I was going to share. Something was supposed to have happened today, right? Was it that thing with the computer that went crazy and turned that dude into a giant space baby?

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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Wight Now

Every year, Alice Cooper looks a little more like Trampier's Wight illustration from the First Edition Monster Manual.

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Thursday, July 08, 2021

The Art Police

I don't usually share stuff here if all I've got is a link, but this is worth spreading around and I don't have anything to add right now. Here's a couple of quotes, anyway:

There’s a rising wave of attacks on art and authors which often involve not just misreadings or bad faith readings, but no readings. Actually reading the work in question—beyond perhaps one out-of-context screenshot—is no requirement, apparently, for attacking the author, demanding work get pulled, and requesting public flagellation.

. . .They view art as a series of moral lessons that must be entirely unambiguous. Reading the tweets during these scandals, you see the same claims over and over again. Stories must be uplifting, characters "likable," messages clear, and all bad or messy or immoral lines/characters/events must be explicitly rebutted in the text. (At times you sense they want the author to write "this is bad!" and "this is good!" in the margins of every page.)


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Friday, July 02, 2021


I love how Ewing handles the difference between what Marvel gamma rays do and what real gamma rays do in Immortal Hulk. Instead of piling on more pseudo-science that someone in the future will just end up reconning, he embraces the mysticism of a world where radiation can make you a super-hero.

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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Maybe Games

Games I've been thinking about running but probably won't:
  • OSE Greyhawk campaign, using the Mage instead of Magic-User, Druids but no Clerics, PCs all human except for race-as-class Half-Elves and Half-Orcs, and a few other alterations.
  • Star Wars using the original d6 game, starting just after the original movie.
  • Darker Trails, the Call of Cthulhu supplement for Wild West type stuff.
  • The UNIT Files, using the Doctor Who RPG UNIT sourcebook with more of an X-Files feel than Doctor Who. I guess that's kind of like what Torchwood pretended to be for a while before it went completely off the rails. And yeah, this could go off the rails too, but that's okay if I'm the engineer.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Scary Magic Forest

I watched the 2016 Blair Witch movie tonight. The first movie was a great prank when you look at all the stuff they did leading up to its release, but what keeps bringing me back to these movies is that, despite the title, they're really about the forest. There's probably another name for the archetype it tapped into, but I call it the Scary Magic Forest. 

The first thing you find out when you wander into the Scary Magic Forest is that it's bigger than it should be, and whatever you're using to find your way is going to fail you. Time is often distorted or just lost. Weird stuff happens. Maybe there are monsters, but maybe not. Often there's a heart of the forest which you probably should not hang out in. If you've ever tromped around in a forest, you know what inspired all this. I love Scary Magic Forest stories. 

This movie. . . I'm glad I watched it. It could have been great. There was a lot of good material, and a lot of stuff that was genuinely scary. It lived up to its Scary Magic Forest promise. Unfortunately, someone on the team decided the movie need a ton of cheap shaky-cam jump scares that, rather than keeping the tension high, eventually made all my sympathy kind of callous over. I'd still recommend giving it a look, I guess.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Dream Trap

Something funny happened in a dream the other night. I was exploring a cave with a fairly large group of people. It was, ostensibly, Clay Cave, a real world cave that I've been in two or three times. We stopped in a little restaurant in the cave called Hazel's Nook.

Hazel's Nook is the name of a real restaurant, but it's nothing like this place. The name was probably in my head because I had been looking at a novelty map of Gulf Shores earlier. The dream version was kind of like an underground sidewalk cafe with strings of colored lights between the stalactites. 

Anyway, I realized it was a dream. Part of my reasoning was that obviously there wasn't a restaurant in Clay Cave and that this restaurant was really in the mall. Only, I was still confused, because, like I said, the Hazel's Nook I had been to was nothing like this, and not in a mall. Also, I have never been to a place that looked like this in the mall. That's not the best part, though.

I went around the table, asking the people with me what they thought the name of the place was because, if we were dreaming, we might have inconsistent perceptions. It didn't occur to me that none of these people were real. My dead brother said something like "rakes" and my dead friend rattled off a bunch of consonants that didn't spell anything (sorry, I can't remember what they were). A woman at our table who I didn't recognize from real life said this place was a trap and we should leave. 

Our table and a few other people from the larger group, but not all of them, left the cave and went exploring the hills, finding rocky trails to overlooks and oriental ruins and other cool stuff.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Devil's Den

Well, I didn't get as far as I'd hoped but, considering that I really wanted to get some hiking in, finishing the whole draft was a little unrealistic. I'm not unhappy with the progress I did make, and the time alone in one of my favorite places was reinvigorating. 

So anyway, here's a clip from last week's work. There's a bunch more pictures after the jump break. You'll probably have to click a link if you're reading this through some kind of feed manager thing.

Ezren woke up in the dark. After some fumbling and tracing of runes with his fingers, he found one of the charms he had made at Ash's house. A few whispered names and the little wooden token lit up. Blood, viscera, and stunted limbs were all around him. Iczifractas was sitting nearby, cleaning herself.

It wasn't the same corridor he had been in when he was knocked out. This one was sloped and unfinished, with a deep thrum pulsing through the stone. On the lower, rougher, side, someone had been liberating a metallic apparatus from solid rock. Stiff brushes and small, precise chisels testified to the care they had been taking. The thing stretched from wall to wall and probably beyond. A crude metal staircase wound through a hole in the ceiling on the other side. 

Iczifractas picked up something in her teeth and trotted to Ezren. With a proud "mmrow," she dropped a huge opalescent eyeball at Ezren's feet. 

Ezren looked around at all the dero parts scattered about and scratched the cat on the cheek. "Somebody's been a very good girl," he said. Iczifractas rubbed against him and purred. Ezren wondered how long Iczifractas had been able to murder a room full of people on her own.

More pictures & stuff below:

Monday, February 22, 2021

Short Fuse

Bought this because it was local and I like to try different hot sauces and WOW. Old Zeke does not mess around! It's a good sweet habanero sauce. Also super hot.

Here's the web page:

Friday, February 12, 2021

Corona Time

 Apparently coronavirus is a time now. 

"When are you gonna be around?"

"Probably not until tomorrow or coronavirus."

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Go For It

I haven't really had much to say lately. I did manage to get a fragmentary trilobite article out yesterday, but I wrote most of that closer to New Year's. Since then I've been focusing mostly on moving out and settling in, with a little bit of real writing thrown in here and there, but not much. 

And that's the thing. I've been writing this one book since... what? 2015? People are starting to snicker when they say, "Oh, that's right, you're working on a novel." At least, snickering is what I hear. Sure, I'm making steady progress, but it's slowwww progress. I need to try something different if I'm going to finish this before I'm seventy.

Well, here's something I've never done: the writing retreat thing. It's expensive, and the idea seems to have made some of the humans close to me and one of the cats think I don't love them, but we can sort all that when I get back. Truth is, they enjoy being outraged. I just need to lock up all my stuff so nobody pees on it.

I'm gonna spend a whole week alone in a cabin in my favorite park (although it won't be all green like in the picture). That area is what the wilderness in the first half of the book was based on so, y'know, bonus.  

The goal is to finish the draft. It won't mean the end of the job, but it'll get me to a point where my constant prodding and patching will be a good thing. I have no idea how this is going to go. I might come shuffling back with nothing but a few trail pictures and an embarrassed shrug, but at least I gave it a shot.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Echo of a Trilobite

This is one of my most prized possessions. It's not the most expensive, but that's different.

I bought this when I was desperately poor. (Again, I guess, qualifiers. I knew I was going to be able to eat. I knew that, if I couldn't support myself, I had a place to go. I'm well aware that other people have endured hardship that makes my "desperation" look like living in my own private mansion. The point, though, is that I was scared.) 

I had just gotten my tax return and, because the business in which I was a partner was constantly hemorrhaging dollars, it was pretty generous. Like a lot of people low on cash, I wanted to enjoy some of this before I squirrelled away the rest. 

This was my indulgence. This thing speaks to me. These creatures used to be everywhere. I mean, I don't even know which species this is, and the trilobites were an entire order. (If you never had to memorize the steps in that classification system, google it. The answer is readily available.) 

. . . I started this the day before the move from Cleveland kicked into rush mode. It's been a few weeks and I've kinda lost the train of thought, so I guess I'm just gonna post what I have and move on.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Office / Nerd Sanctuary

Okay, the new Robin's Nest (still not sure about that name) is done!

More pictures below: