Happy Weekend, Guys and Gals

The next anthology is already starting to shape up. All I can say is that is going to be a doozy.


And For My Next Trick!
("Mom, is the magician drunk?"
"No dear, just don't go near his assistant.")

At some point, when a story is good enough, it exceeds the boundaries of a genre. 

The public has a notion of what fantasy fiction is, and its limitations.  I don't buy it.  But what holds us back are the cliches we use and the expectations we have of our readers.  

For instance, when I wrote my Wizards story I could count on the target audience knowing what a D&D style dwarf is like.  If I'm only working with 5000 words I don't want to spend a hell of a lot of time explaining what the reader already knows; it is sort of mental short hand, but it limits the ultimate effectiveness of the story.

To make a fine fantasy story, we need to take the stories and believe, really believe, that we are seeing the fantastic for the first time.  Does this make sense?  I'll try to explain more, in later postings. 

All right, so watcha gonna do about it, Grims? 

Ask for your stories, of course.

The theme for the next anthology: The Magical Experience.

That's it.  Magic.  It can be your own world, it can be the "real" world.   Set in any time and any place.  The trick is, it has to be real.  Don't assume the reader knows what an elf is.  Halflings?  What the hell is a halfling?

This is an open call, so we'll consider stories from everyone, reject the ones that clearly aren't right, and work with the ones that show promise.  If you have concerns about whether a story is appropriate, feel free to send in a synopsis.

Deadline for 1st Draft: November 1.       
Word Count: A short as you like.  As long as 10,000 words.
Payment: A small advance + shares, again, for first printing rights.  Ew.

Oh yeah...and I promise I won't screw this one up. ;)

Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain

Sorry to let everyone down, but it's going to be a little while before we have the print version in hand.  Some old files got into the content, and I have to go back through and make sure everything is right. 

Just wanted to be up front and let you guys know.  Sorry, again.


Your Technique is Weak, Grasshopper

My web-fu needs sharpening.  This will have to do for now:


Oh Yeah...

And smile for the camera.  You're all published now.  ;)

"It's Tight Now,
Wait Until I Iron Out the Kinks..."

When I was a child I used to have just one recurring nightmare.  It went something like this: I would be standing in a dark room, in the center of a circle of light.  I'd here the twang of a bowstring and an arrow would shoot out of the darkness.  I'd see it coming and step out of the way. 

(C'mon, I was a kid addicted the fantasy fiction, all right? ;)  )

A few seconds would pass, and it would happen again.  And then again.  And again.   Each time they would come a from a different direction, each time they would come a little quicker. 

I never actually got shot, but the "nightmare" part of the dream was when Harley the kid realized that, in the near future, they would come too fast for me to duck or block.  I was able to predict it happening, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Yesterday was almost that day.  Almost.  While getting the GT pdf up I ran into fourteen different hassles, then work imploded, then the board meeting .... then the pdf had more problems ... then ...

You get the idea.  Nothing terrible or dramatic in and of itself - each just a single arrow shot from the darkness - but taken together they were just short of an "eargh!" moment. 

Whew.  Still, yesterday, wasn't that day.  Almost, but not quite.

So, where do we stand?

  • GT is at the printers.  As soon as it is available, you'll be the first to know.
  • Thanks to Noise of MNTS, Poison Clan Press now has its own domain and page ... which is - of course- now outdated.  I'll clean it up today if I get a chance.  Eventually it will have code to buy copies of GT pdf/print, and links to authors/artists along with their bios.
  • We're beginning work on the next anthology, as well as our first d20 product.  We'll be contacting authors in the next few months.
  • Correspondence.  I got a metric ton of email yesterday.  Give me a little bit to get through it all.
  • GT corrections.  I found a handful of really minor, yet really annoying errors in the RPGnow file.  This is my highest priority of the day.  Pronto, pronto, pronto.
  • Related to the above: editing.  I'm not the best, and PCP can't afford to not have quality editing.  So we bit the bullet and took on a "real" editor.  You'll see her editing work in the next antho.


Meanwhile, I can't sleep cause I'm so excited about GT.  Heh.  Still just a litte kid at heart. 

Rock on Chicago.  Rock over London!  Too excited to know when to say when.   



Goblin Tails is now on sale. 

Pdf only so far, paper soon.  You rule.

See for yourself:


Cue the Heist Music

Back when I was more of a peon, I had a job packing and delivering university library books to a warehouse 45 minutes outside of town.  Lousy pay, sweaty conditions and about a million cardboard-induced paper cuts.  Just about what you'd expect for a university job.

I used to concoct schemes while driving to the warehouse, dreaming how I'd steal the van and make a run for the border.  90 minutes round trip, plus another 60 for unloading boxes and another 45 or more before they realized something was up would give me a window of 3 hours or so to get out of the state.  Plenty of time.  I planned on getting a dozen jersey cans and filling them all with gasoline before the university realized I had gone awol with their gas card.  I would steal clean plates the night before the border crossing and vanish into Mexico, selling the van and living off the proceeds ... at least for a week or two.

A van.  I was going to give up life in America for a used Chevy van.

Good thing I got into creative writing and not crime.

So now I work in a small private school, where -for lack of anyone else- I'm the guy whose signature is printed on all the checks.  Even small schools require fairly large operating budgets.  This morning I was given  a check to deposit made out for $202,000 and sure enough, my wee signature was on the bottom.

Running to Mexico didn't even cross my mind.   Sure I'd make off with some serious dough, but I'd be giving up so much more.

This started me thinking: punishment never once entered my mind on either occasion.  Of course I wouldn't get caught ("I'm too smart to get - erm.  Nevermind.")  Losing all that I had invested in my life - that is what made the difference. 

Now, let's take that principle and apply it to the criminal justice system.  There are many, many, many people out there whose lives are far worse off than mine when I was a minimum  wage university worker.  Why shouldn't they turn to crime?  Should punishment be expected to dissuade them, when, unlike myself, they have little or nothing to lose?

I'm not suggesting we shouldn't punish criminals, but - after my drive to the bank this morning- it does seem that anyone serious about "cracking down on crime" should really consider investing instead in the lives of the folks who have nothing to lose. 

I'd bet we'd find it preempts the crime ... which seems worlds better than punishing a crime that has already happened.

Post Script. The sad part is I have a number of friends (my wife included) who would never even daydream of heists because stealing is morally wrong.  Good thing I have these moral compasses in my life.

Eyeball Kicks
"Vivid, telling details that create a kaleidoscopic effect of swarming visual imagery against a baroquely elaborate SF background. One ideal of cyberpunk SF was to create a 'crammed prose' full of 'eyeball kicks.'" — Definition from the Turkey City Lexicon; attributed to Rudy Rucker.

Yeah, I'd like to be down with the eyeball kicks.


The One Dry Well
You know how some authors have only one story to tell? Their whole life they keep going back to the same theme, over and over. (I think this is said of Nabakov, but feel free to correct me.)

I'm sorta the inverse, I have one story I can't seem to write.  It comes from a line in an old Offspring song: "Turn it all around with the suicide move."  Thing is, it's not even all that great of a line, but something hooked my brain all those years ago, and no matter how I try I can't seem to tell the story that captures it.

I tried in "The Devil's Last Dance" but everyone who has read that story (S&T, 98) knows that the "suicide move" ending is about 2,000 words too long.   It showed up in my final GT story, but was fairly muted.   

Now that same perpetually flawed sentiment has worked its way into my Eb. proposal.  Just don't tell the editors. 


The last work of art is in, the last of the typesetting in being done today and tomorrow and then we are off to the printers and binders!  Can't forget that table of contents!
What a wonderful feeling.  What an amazing crew of writers and visual artists.  Thank you guys and gals for all your patience, good humor and hard work.  I hope to have the chance to work with you all again.  I can't tell you what next year's anthology will be yet, but I can tell you that we decided to focus on longer works the next time around - a collection of novellas if you will.
The folks down at the local bookstore express amazement each time I come in and show off your work.  They keep asking how we found the time to put this together.
But really, surrounded by all this talent, how could one not?


Self-Induced Insanity
For those of you applying for the Eb. open call, here is the "Ask Keith Baker" thread from the Wizards Boards.  If you sift through all the white noise, there is probably a fair bit of signal, but for my part I'm going to steer clear. 
GT Update
Just waiting for the last image from Daan.  C'mon, my friend, hook a brother up! 


Bugger That Noise!
So in the comments below, Ed paid me a compliment.  My immediate response was to write one back, insisting that HE would be the one to get the Eberron gig. 
But here's the thing:  We're all good enough.  Seriously.  Flip through some of the stories collected in "Best of the Realms."  They aren't bad, but the writing collected therein isn't beyond our skills.
That's really the trick of the open call.  It doesn't necessarily go to the "best writer," it goes to the Right Writer, the one with the idea most suited for the job at hand.  (Although often Best and Right go hand in hand, eh, Kam? ;)  ) 
But that's the great thing about anthologies - room for the rest of us to squeeze in our ideas.  And you know Eberron will be having them. 
Enough of my rant.  I've got a weekend to enjoy.  See ya!


We're back in the money ... which, of course, means there is no time to post.

Doesn't mean I don't love ya!

In lieu of a meaningful post, here is a list of hidden/not so hidden tributes to look for in my Realms of the Dragons, II story.

-Gentry's favorite pastime.
-My favorite fantasy character.
-A tribute to an old friend, who is currently in prison.
-And, of course, the obligatory "this was my favorite PC back when my brother ran a dino/D&D game for me." (That was a pretty cool game actually. 1/2 orc vs. t-rex.)

Answer all four with any degree of precision and I'll - erm, I don't know - do something cool.

Gotta go!


Progress on GT has slowed to a frustrating standstill. We're like a ship locked in ice, waiting for spring. One more piece of art, and the cover, that damned cover.

Everyone has done their part so well that it is a crime to sit on the stories any longer. They deserve to be read, and sooner than later.

The weary, frostbitten crew looks to their captain. How far to open sea? With the shifting floes, it is hard to judge. They would wait for the thaw, if they had to, but their hearts long for home, for the voyage to be complete, and for the next one to begin.

The hushed whispers fall away into silence as the captain hauls a wooden trunk topside. He kicks it over, spilling gleaming hachets and axes onto the deck.

"We start cutting."


There Goes the Neighborhood
A big Deathy welcome to Jamie! She just turned 21, is a certified Evil Genius, and is terminally attracted to the wrong sorts of guys (you know who you are).

Sounds like she'll fit right in.

Welcome to the Family
When I was a kid I spent all my time buried in books and submitting stories to DRAGON. My father, who had never heard of role-playing until his nine year-old son tried to run a Caves of Chaos game for his parents, was understandably concerned about his son's obsession with worlds that didn't exist.

At the high point of the public fervor over DUNGEONS & DRAGONS I recall my father worrying that I might be using drugs. I remember him coming to me one night, as I sat up making the nth level of a dungeon and saying:

"Harley, if you are ever addicted to cocaine, I will drive you to Canada, lock you in a cabin and live with you until it passes."

This was a testament of the love my father gave me, and the conviction he possessed. At any point in time, without any notice, he was willing to throw down his life plans and do whatever it took to get the job done.

My brother and I inherited a lot of that rocket-fueled "It has to be done? Then do it NOW!" attitude. It gets us into trouble sometimes, but just as often it gives us the drive to handle situations that might not otherwise be dealt with.

Okay, so enough back story.

I've just been married into a new family. I have a cousin-in-law, a woman my age, maybe you've seen her in the photos. She's the slim one with shoulder-length. But slim connotes health, and my cousin isn't healthy. She passed over from "slender" to "fashion model/culture-condoned anorexic" years ago, and since moved on to the "no longer gets her period/is unable to control body functions" stage.

My cousin is starving herself to death; she is very literally in trouble, and her immediate family seems unwilling to take the socially unpleasant steps required to get her help. No one wants to be the bad guy, and their fear of being rude outweighs their anticipation of the guilt they will carry when my cousin is dead.

Is it my place to step in? I am the new kid after all, and family relations are nothing if not complex. If I were polite I would respect my elders and defer to the folks that have run family for decades now.

But then, again, what would my father do?


Ah, Sweet Entropy
All right, dear Goblinaires, I'm back, rings are on all the appropriate fingers, and we are ready to rock and roll. Thank you for all your love and patience.

In my absence, work has fallen to the forces of entropy; where there was once a school house there are now mostly inert gases. I'm stealing 5 precious minutes away to gives a heads up and then it is back into the morass.

GT faired much better than the "real job"; we had to cut one story due to quality issues (don't worry, the author already knows who he/she is, so it likely isn't you) but the written content is all where it needs to be. 2 more works of art, 1 color cover and we'll be ready to print this dog.

Which reminds me: everyone who hasn't sent in a bio, send one. Got it? Good. ;)

The morass is calling and someone's got to answer.