This far, and no further

This far, and no further

This was originally posted on Facebook, seeing as it’s a personal thing, but I’m going to post it here as well for the sake of completeness.

There is a speech by Picard from Star Trek: First Contact that’s stayed with me ever since I saw the movie, years ago, in the cinema. It goes like this:

“We’ve made too many compromises already; too many retreats. They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn HERE! This far, no further!”

archery at burnaby

Archery at Burnaby!

I went out to the Burnaby Range with Taylore (a friend and archery instructor) to see if I could get any better at putting holes in poor defenseless targets. I also brought along a camera to record my bumbling foolishness for posterity, and posted the evidence on Youtube.

Enjoy!

Shut-up-and-take-my-money

It’s the Superhero Series I’ve Been Waiting For

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh SHIT, you guys!

I have spent several months bitching about the fact that Daredevil is all about an angsty white guy with brown hair, and Gotham is all about an angsty white guy with brown hair, and Flash is all about an angsty white guy with brown hair, and Arrow is all about an angsty white guy with brown hair – do you get where I’m going with this?

I’ve mentally checked out of the last few superhero movies because I cannot, CANNOT, get excited about white guys with brown hair angsting it up anymore. I have absolutely no interest. My boredom with the parade of white guys with brown hair and tortured pasts knows no bounds. I’ve been hanging on, only because Captain Marvel is going to be a thing at some point.

But then – THEN! – the clouds parted, the veil was lifted, and down from on high was delivered almost everything my poor heart has cried out for.

dungeons and dragons

Better Writing Through Tabletop RPGs

Everyone asks, how can I become a better writer?

The answers are usually something like: read more books in the genre you’re writing, write as much as you can, get feedback from other writers and readers. Yes, you should do all those things, and they will make you a better writer in general. But something that’s often overlooked (perhaps because it’s incredibly nerdy) is tabletop roleplaying.

RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are amazing tools for focusing the mind on the process of storytelling. By running and playing in an RPG, you’ll develop skills and habits that will make your writing better – or at least easier!

Irish Marriage Referendum No Poster

The Power of Stories

In Ireland, we have an expression for when we meet someone: “What’s the story?” I’ve always liked this. It’s as if the Irish have always known that what we’re told by other people about their lives is a story, which may or may not match up with reality.

Reality has always been subjective, after all.

Stories have power. Stories have more power when they’re retold over and over. It doesn’t just apply to fiction, however. Stories that are told to convince others of a particular point of view are called propaganda, and propaganda is insidious stuff. Thankfully, the worst of it falls apart under scrutiny. I bring this up now because of the Irish referendum on marriage that’ll be voted for or against on May 22nd.

Who You Write For

Who You Write For

I watched a video on Youtube today from the PBS Game/Show channel about crowdfunding, and the obligations of creators to the consumers of what they create.

Crowdfunding causes users to be invested in the successful creation of media. The rise of Patreon.com and other crowdfunding venues changes everything, in that it reverses the normal order of how media is made, from: {creator makes media -> consumer pays for media} to {consumer pays for media -> creator makes media}. Being invested ahead of time, before the media is made, inserts the consumers into the act of creation.

Beginning Archery

Yesterday, I went shooting with my own bow for the first time. My bow is a Rakim Wildcat, an 18lb recurve that I can’t help thinking of as being only for complete archery beginners, but it’s a very nice, serviceable weapon to get trained up.

For my pains, I got a giant, red, already-turning-weird-colors bruise on the inside of my forearm. I slapped my arm with the bowstring twice, and the bracer I was wearing just happened to not cover that part of it. So mistakes were made, more or less.

Lying Down with Dogs

It is now 8am in Vancouver, and I think I’ve rewritten chunks of this post at least three times.

Who’s been keeping up with the shenanigans going on in the Hugos? The five second summary is as follows: a couple of straight white dudes took umbrage at the fact that, recently, Hugo awards were being won by stories/books/etc that were not all about straight white dudes, and they took this to mean that Hugos were being handed out based on ideology and diversity rather than merit. So, these white dudes pushed a new slate of stories to be nominated that they felt were more worthy.

These white dudes included a guy who called a respected author a ‘half-savage’, because this author is a woman of color.

Long story short, most of the Hugo nominations this year in various categories are from these slates, either the Sad Puppies list or the Rabid Puppies list. Understandably, everyone else who’s interested in the Hugos is rather upset about the fact that the awards are being gamed by people with an agenda. (The irony inherent in the whole situation is so thick you could cut it with a broadsword.)

Longswords and James Bond

Let’s have another movie swordfight breakdown! One of my faves is from, I kid you not, the Bond movie Die Another Day. Really! Swordfights show up in odd places sometimes. Now, all things considered, Die Another Day was a pretty terrible movie in most other respects – all flashy action shenanigans – but hey, it was a good waste of a few hours and the set pieces were fun to watch. Plus, no one ever said that a Bond movie had to be high thinking entertainment!

I’ll always think fondly of it because of the duel between Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, and Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves.

More about Pay to Play Publishers

More about Pay to Play Publishers

A while back, I wrote about Tate Publishing, a subsidy publisher  that had been in the news as a result of some… rather callous business practices. I think it’s a good time to revisit publishers like these in light of a recent comment on that post.

(For the uninformed – a subsidy publisher is basically ‘pay to play’. You pay them some amount of money, usually in the thousands of dollars, and they will do the production work to publish your book, meaning they will typeset the print version, format the ebook, create the cover, and put it up on various sites like Amazon etc. This may sound like a good deal, but it’s not.)

English Longbow

Strength Versus Dexterity in Roleplaying Games

So, roleplaying games. The typical RPG has statistics for each player character – in the case of D&D, my system of choice, those stats are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Stats are used to determine a base level for a character, and they usually affect various skills and abilities a character acquires over the course of the game, particularly in how that character handles weaponry in the case of fantasy RPGs. One thing that comes up very often, that just happens to be wrong, is in the use of Strength for melee weapons, and Dexterity for ranged weapons.

Think about Lord of the Rings, for example, as being the progenitor of this idea. Aragorn uses strength to wield a longsword, and Legolas (being an elf) is dexterous and uses a bow. In D&D, Strength is not applied to ranged weapons, and Dexterity is not applied to melee weapons. Elves are very good with bows, humans are good with swords, etc. Surprise surprise, this doesn’t really hold true for actual real life.

Being a New Mother

Being a New Mother

Whew.

Well, that was an extended leave of absence. My apologies to all, but I was somewhat preoccupied with being very, very pregnant, and then being quite sick, and then actually having a baby. Blogging on top of that might be asking a bit much. But still! I’m back, more or less, and now I have a newborn daughter to write stories for as well. She’s happy, healthy in spite of various shenanigans involved in birthing her, and the joy of my heart.

Normally I’d stick to blogging about writing, publishing, and various sword-related things, but if you’ll allow me a short interlude into mommy-blogger territory, I’d like to discuss a few things – specifically, over the last nine months I’ve been told all kinds of things about what to expect from motherhood, and somehow the following stuff was completely missed.

mako mori

Write Like a Girl

Everyone’s talking about the Strong Female Character(TM).

The actual pushback isn’t a mystery, you know? Lots of women said the same thing long before it was even A Thing – that maybe, just maybe, the way anyone with a uterus tended to be written as a sex-dispensing object/convenient plot device was problematic. And there were articles a-plenty on How To Write Strong Female Characters who were maybe something more than that.

Now people are wondering if we’ve traded one rotten stereotype for another. In asking for Strong Female Characters, the Powers that Be have decided to be literal about their response, and we’ve been given the equivalent of Bruce Willis, Action Hero with a vagina, boobs, and a sexy body. We have the Strong Female Character(TM) or SFC, who isn’t so much a character as a different type of sex-dispensing object/convenient plot device.

Grim Fandango Remastered

The Writing of Grim Fandango

So, I do loves me some video games. And video games occasionally deliver some truly stellar story-telling – none more so than the best adventure games.

Little history here: point-and-click adventures were a crazy popular genre, back when I was a kid. They were all about the story – you played a character, who could walk around and talk to other characters and whose entire mission was to solve some puzzle, advance the plot, and experience the story. The best of these games are legends in their own right, beloved by gamers everywhere and thought of fondly even now, years later.

Some of the absolute best were created by Tim Schafer when he was working at LucasArts, and his best was Grim Fandango.

Living in the Past

Some time ago, I decided that I wanted to keep up with the press releases of the various New York publishing houses. Mostly I wanted to know what they thought was important enough to issue press releases about, and I thought it would be enough to simply subscribe to their RSS feeds or something.

Except I can’t. What I found was that most of them don’t have RSS feeds for their press releases. They don’t have a method of subscribing to their press releases for people who may be interested. I mean… good grief. What century are you living in? I only have a WordPress blog and I have two feeds available at least.

Anyway – that’s not really want I wanted to talk about. What I’m really interested in is the way that the big publishing houses seem to be flailing about on the Internet like drunken soccer hooligans when it comes to social media.

Fire Eyes, Shadowblade

Fire Eyes, Shadowblade

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not really very good at titles. I’m good at writing long things. Short things, eh, not so much.

That said – I’ve procrastinated long enough. Time to put my money where my mouth is, or something. I’m announcing the title of my first book – my first real story. The first of a trilogy. This has been too long coming, but I have to commit at some point. So here it is, along with a short blurb that I will inevitably change later.

fifty-shades-of-grey

It’s Valentine’s Day and I Can’t Even

Yep. I just Can’t Even. Today’s the day that Fifty Shades of Grey is released in the cinema. Predictably enough, it’s set to break every box office record from here to Jupiter.

Perhaps I shouldn’t take it personally, you know? And yet I do, because I’m a writer. Because stories matter, in a way that nothing else does. I have a theory – and admittedly, it’s probably something that someone has come up with before – on storytelling.

Rift swords

Take Sword, Add Protrusions

There must be some kind of law about fantasy swords in video games. There’s a recipe to them, if you know what I mean. It’s not enough for a sword to be a long piece of sharp metal. It’s got to have… extra stuff, extra colors, extra everything! Presumably this is because normal swords are boring, or something.

I can’t quite fathom why various different blades designed purely to kill people real good might be considered boring, but there you have it.