“That’s Mr. Writers of the Future Finalist to you…”

leglampawardSo…I just got some good news. The story I workshopped at FenCon last year is now a FINALIST in the Writers of the Future contest! That means it beat out thousands of other stories from around the world and is now in the top 8 to be voted on for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. I’m very excited! I can’t say what story it was because the judges may see my post and be influenced, but this is very cool!

I had had a story make Honorable Mention in the contest a few years ago–which is an honor. But this…this is pretty sweet. I’ll keep you posted!


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The Horizon and the Darkness

So 2017 is done and what a long strange trip its been. Looking back, it has been a curious year.

Writing wise, it has not been my most productive. I have mostly been concentrating on my role-playing game output. Still being creative, but not in a traditional “writer” sense. I did, however, attend a really nice writer’s workshop at FenCon that really inspired me and I dusted off a story that wasn’t working and I think made it better. It’s currently being shopped around. I also got to meet Cat Rambo–a great editor/writer (and, it turns out, RPG-er). So that was pretty cool. I tried to do NaNoWriMo–for about a week. Oh well…

Reading-wise–this year was a bust. I haven’t read anything. Which is bad. I definitely need to fix that. Too much time on social media, not enough time absorbing words.

Real-life wise–I have been much more politically active. I have contacted my representatives on a variety of issues and have contributed to a number of causes. I live in a state that is traditionally contrary to my beliefs, so I don’t know how much good my calls into the darkness have done, but I try.

I also feel like this year I’ve gotten a real handle on my depression. I’m no longer in therapy and I feel like I can control my down times much more. I still have them, to be sure, but they don’t control me as much as before. Which is good.

Hobby-wise, this has been a boon year. I have gamemastered so many games and have even done a charity event and plan on doing more conventions in the next year.

2018 looks to be a good year. I look forward to more gaming. I hope to write more, but we’ll see. I’m not going to force it. I definitely look forward to reading more. No matter what, I’m looking forward, not back. I’m seizing the future, not dwelling on the past. It’s all about the horizon, not the darkness behind me.


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Girding My Loins for NaNoWriMo

YoucandothisSo, for the first time in about 5 years, I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve been neglecting my writing for too long and I’m hoping this will get me back on that horse.

I’ve selected a genre and a title: I’ll be

Crimson Duchess Cover

working on a steampunk novel currently titled “The Last Voyage of the Crimson Duchess.” Now I just have to figure out what that means…

So, if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, look me up. I’m “pencilneckgeek.” I’m always happy to be a writing buddy.

Wish me luck!

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The Weirdest Writer in the West

34621320Last week I took an online writing class hosted by incomparable Cat Rambo on writing steampunk and weird western fiction. The class was a 2-hour Google hangout where the participants not only got a great brief history of the genres, but an interesting discussion of the tropes/traditions/trappings of the genres and great ways to use them and yet ensure that you are doing something fresh, new, and (most importantly) page-turningly exciting with them.

It was a great experience and I fully intend to take advantage of some of the other online courses that Cat offers.

For more info on the classes Cat is offering, go to http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/upcoming-online-classes/.


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Review: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry

GhostwalkersGhostwalkers (Deadlands #1) by Jonathan Maberry (2015) : Tor Books (9780765375261)

Full-disclosure: My wife and I are currently playing a Deadlands campaign together. It’s great game with an interesting poker card-based mechanic and a setting bubbling over with the possibility of great stories. So when I saw that Jonathan Maberry (Dead of Night, Rot & Ruin, King of Plagues) had written a novel based in that world, I was there faster than a silver bullet.

Grey Torrance is a gunman who is constantly running from the literal ghosts of his past. Putting his nose where it doesn’t belong embroils him in the machinations of a robber baron with dreams of conquest who is sucking the town of Paradise Falls dry of resources and people. With the guidance of Thomas Looks Away, a Sioux scientist, and the drive of the beautiful and fiery rancher Jenny Pearl, Grey seeks redemption in the impossible defense of the town.

Ghostwalkers is the first in a trio of tie-in novels set in the Deadlands universe. And it is a great opener. Maberry does an excellent job of painting the setting and creates a whiz-bang plot for the characters to play in. There are strange ghost-rock powered gizmos, plenty of zombies, Harrowed gunslingers, mad scientists, fell creatures from deep beneath the earth, and even undead dinosaurs thrown into the mix. This is a tale of high adventure and Maberry delivers.

The writing is punchy and the dialog is fun. Each chapter ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, throwing you into the next step along the way. It’s just good, pulpy writing and keeps you interested, even during the expository bits. The characters are a bit one-dimensional, but still engaging. There is just so much going on that there isn’t much time for deep character development–and, really, this plot-driven pulp. Deep character study isn’t really necessary. The Sioux character of Looks Away is slightly problematic. While Maberry doesn’t dip into Native American cliche’s with the character, the scientist’s British mannerisms are a bit forced–especially as it is established that he didn’t go to England until he was 20 years old.

Ghostwalkers is a ripping yarn, a wild roller-coaster ride of a novel, and a great introduction to the weird western world of Deadlands.

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