Cast Party
My first real job as a young man was working as an actor at a Renaissance festival in Colorado. I played the part of the goat boy. My goats and I would make the rounds, stopping for little kids and aging bikers. Imagine a mobile petting zoo that also tells jokes*.

The best part of every season was the cast party at the end of the summer. It was a motley mix of costumes and "real clothes," old performers, kids (like myself), dirt and wood chips, left over turkey legs and alcohol, and sexual tension of every persuasion, all stewed together in a sprawling fantasy village after dark.

At the time, I resented my parents for never letting me stay the night. Now I know better.

I'll probably never have the chance to work as a street performer again, but that same giddy feeling of excitement can be found almost anywhere groups work together for a common goal.

Tomorrow, our private elementary school opens. Tomorrow our faculty will be dignified and correct as they welcome their students back for another year. But today, the classrooms are in shambles, teachers are in cut-offs and t-shirts, and heavy machinery toil in our playground.

The air is electrified. Like children waiting for Christmas, we're counting down the moments until our kids get back. And I'm realizing that we're performers, too.

Tomorrow the curtain goes up and we do what they pay us for. But right now I'm riding the anticipation.

*And for the record: my schtick was entirely thanks to the comic genius of my little brother.


Disconnection Man
Chasing the writing dream, hanging out with the Pcp folks, it is easy to forget just how different our lives are from most folks. To compound the situation, we're fighting tooth and claw for a place in a genre that most folks consider to be hack work. You earn one brand of derision sitting in the coffee shop working on the great American novel; working on the great American Fantasy novel inspires another level of disgust.

To work as an undiscovered writer is to attempt to disconnect yourself from nearly every expectation placed on you by our culture. Chances are you're not going to make money, and even if you do sell a story it can be tough to explain to the inlaws just what that story is about.

But what are our options, really? Would I be a better person if I settled in to the rest of my life, kept the same job for the next thirty years, bought an RV and moved to Florida? Is this success?

It seems to me that some of us have been given an choice: to either succeed at living ordinary lives, or to fail at living extraordinary lives. Success --if it ever comes, and however we define it-- isn't something we can control. If we can accept that, and go on writing regardless, despite all the derision and rejection letters, then maybe, maybe, we'll be selling novels some day.

It would be a lie to say that selling stories doesn't make me the happiest man on the planet. But if I base my happiness and self-esteem on getting stories or novels accepted, then I'm setting up a long hard road. I don't know how you work it out, but for my own sanity, I've found a medium between the two extremes, and it has required ignoring nearly everything my culture would have me strive for.

Every time I put another SASE in the mail it is a blind shot at the moon, but the corollary of that is this: one day I might come home with the moon over my shoulder.


No Man (or Woman) is an Island,
But Lots of Us are Icebergs

What is it, like 75% of the mojo takes place beneath the surface? Kam's blog is great because he always makes the effort to put up something of substance. I promise a meaningful post in the next couple days.


Let's Be Clear ....
My writing stinks most the time. It's hard and I'm not any good at it.

But those nights when you get that one sentence right ... That's worth working for.

I got one last night, the first in a while. How's your writing been?


Alone, Seldom Lonely
So H has safely arrived in colorful Colorado. Sometimes it seems that so long as she is safe, all will be right with the world. Rationally I know that isn't the case, but cut a newlywed a little slack, eh? ;)

H is an early to bed sort of gal. In her absence I've reverted to my natural, caffeine-fueled nocturnal state. Most nights I write until dark and then go skate. It's funny to realize it, but I "talk" to you guys more than just about anyone else.

I promise that I'm not as unhealthy as that sounds.

But what about GT, damnit?!
I confess I've been hesitant to post because I'm still waiting to hear back from the printers. Chances are it will be a 3-4 week turn around. I've committed 1 international felony and broken a dozen promises getting this thing to print, so I'm loathe to give a concrete date. Let me just say that we'll have it hand before the end of September, and leave it at that.

Trust me, no one is more anxious to have this in hand than I am.

And the next antho?
Things are coming together better than I could have dreamed. We have a celebrity contributer* that has submitted a story and will be penning the foreword. Taken together (and if my story is any good) this means that we will have 4 WotC writers included in the table of contents. That's a lot of clout for one little indie antho. Plus, Ed the Great and I both managed to slip plugs for PCPress into our bios for Realms of the Dragons, II. Heh. That Athans (editor for RotD, I & II) is a godsend, let me tell you. If you see him, give him a hug for me.

So, alone? Yeah. Lonely? Nope. Body aching from typing all day then falling down on concrete? Wouldn't have it any other way.

*Before anyone asks: "Who's the Celeb!?", let me say that we need to keep it under wraps until the project is a bit more finalized. I'm sure you'll be pleased though.


Rock on Chicago!
Well, Mrs. Stroh was sent off proper, with a homemade fireworks demonstration. The rocket wouldn't ignite, so I placed a soup can of gas beneath it instead and added a match.

Nothing says "I love you," more than fire and explosions.

On the same note of danger and love, it sounds like Alrunic and TSG survived the hurricane. Their town was hit the hardest, but our favorite couple made it out unscathed. I'm getting together a little care package, and am taking requests....


"I wish I had more time to write..."
(No Empathy Required)

H's father got sick 3 months ago, and the doctors didn't give him long, just 3 to 6 months. Just before this happened, H and I had been making plans to move to Colorado where she would take a 1st grade teaching position.

Her father's cancer changed a lot of that. Instead of moving we got married down the barrel of a shotgun, and have made it a priority to spend a lot of time with her father. He is doing okay now, but the cancer is a terminal one.

So how does one proceed? After talking it over the last two months, H and I decided that she should go to Colorado to start her new job, returning once a month or so to see her father. I'll hold down the fort here in NH, just an hour away from her family.

This makes it possible for me to be around to support H and her family when things degrade. Additionally, if she needs to leave her job during the school year, I'll still have a real income and health insurance for the both of us. But it comes at a cost of putting H's family above H, something I don't do very well.

Emotionally it is very murky, but that is to be expected. This is life and life gets murky. My relationship with H has a solid foundation, so if ever we were to need to spend 6-9 months apart, now is the time.

Still, it is tricky.

The toughest part for me is making sure that the the stress and anxiety don't poison the little time we have left.

H leaves this Friday. She and her father will be driving out together. Until then we'll be spending most of our free time in the shop making wooden blocks, play stands and toys for her classroom.

"I wish I had more time to write." Note to self: learn to be more careful when wishing. ;)

Notes from the Mainstream
So you probably are aware of this already, but if not, check it out:

Sherman Alexie's "How D&D Saved My Life" (Gen Con, 2004)
Sherman Alexie is a novelist, poet, screenwriter (Smokesignals), and author of numerous short stories. He's also a D&D player. Come hear in this funny, touching presentation how he learned to play D&D while growing up on a reservation outside Spokane and how the game sparked his imagination and that of those around him.

This sort of thing lights up my day. Repected folks recognizing that fantasy gaming made a difference in their lives --- that's a big issue for me.


If I ran Gen Con...
I'd be sure there was a demolition derby on the schedule.

My web-fu remains weak. Rather than clogging your browser with pics from this weekend, I posted them to a
demo pics page.

One of the neat things about derbies, is that there is a lot of technique involved. Not only does it require good driving in muddy, chaotic conditions, a lot of it is done in reverse. The goal is to smash up everybody else with your back end (trunk and empty space), while protecting your front end (engine).

My favorite part of the contest is when I'm watching a driver and see the mental switch go off. He decides, "Enough of this baloney," and starts smashing people with EVERY end of his car, and damn the consequences! I appreciate that emotional tipping point. The "suicide move," if you will, that I'm so drawn to.

Another interesting facet is that while the overt goal is "Destroy All Autos!", in practice there are certain rules which must be followed:

  • You have to begin with working brakes.
  • NO hitting on the driver side door.
  • You must hit another running car in every minute of "play"

I'm sure there are other rules, but they're lost on me. I bet Marce might know of some more.


I Call First Watch!
I show up at work early and stay late. Of course, I also screw around posting blog/pcpress stuff, so I don't have much room to brag.

Anyhow, suffice it to say I'm the last to leave the building. Tonight I left after the builders. Rather I tried leaving after the builders.

Or rather, I tried leaving after the builders accidentally cut through the fire alarm.

The alarm and sprinklers will still work inside the school, but it won't notify anyone outside of impending destruction. The builders (destroyers?) are long gone and the fire chief has insisted that someone watch the building all night long. Fair enough.

Trouble is, I can't find anyone to take second watch. H is down in Mass., spending time with her father, my boss is on vacation, and my other boss hasn't answered my phone call. I'm on my own here.

Now what will likely happen is someone will get my phone messages and take second watch. But wouldn't it be fun if I was here all night and took the opportunity to post a story by scenes, written over a 12 hour period?

And of course, my story would be brilliant. ;)

Now if I can just find a coffee place that delivers ...

Weekend Warriors
So H and I went to a demolition derby on Sunday afternoon, came home and made veggie sushi and then watched (read) the sub-titled version of City of God. The movie managed to avoid sentimentality and performed some storytelling pops and twists that would be interesting to try to duplicate in fiction.

But I know what you're really interested in. I'll post pictures from the derby tomorrow.

Note that H managed to call the winner in every heat. My picks all ended up in the scrap heap, or didn't manage to start at all. ("Stick with me, kid," she tells me.)


Hmm. Pcpress.com seems to be broken. I'm taking the link down until I figure out what's going on ...


E.C.'s blog is open for business! I can already hear the clicking of the "favorites" icon.

Now if I could just think of something to write ... ;)

A Big, Deathy Welcome to the One and Only Elaine Cunningham!
Not only is she a great author, but she is also a kind and considerate person. Stop by her
site and check it out. She's a hard working writer, mother, wife and creator of fabric dragons (!). Whenever I think I don't have time to write, I remember Elaine and chastise myself for being lazy.

Tag, you're it!
I deposited my first check from Wizards yesterday. Such a simple thing, but I had a dumb smile for the rest of the day. This isn't about the money, but the occasional affirmation that our writing is worth something is pretty nice.

And now? It's your turn. Eberron is calling for novels, and you know there will be anthologies. Let's nail this thing to the floor. (Note to self: don't forget the legal agreement!)