Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Deena Marchiano

My NaNoWriMo was a bust. The why is that unfortunately, on 11/5/17, my mother-in-law, Geraldine "Deena" Marchiano passed away, at home, surrounded by family. Mother-in-law jokes aside, Deena was a woman of unique character, who was loved by many, and will be missed dearly.

Deena was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1949. She was raised by her mother and grandmother in a poor, Italian neighborhood on Cleveland's West Side. She grew up at the West Side Market, where her grandmother owned a vegetable stand, one of the only stands owned and run by women at the time. Nine year-old Deena would be there every morning unloading vegetables off the truck alongside grown men,

As she grew up, Deena stayed rooted in the values of old Italy and Catholicism, but, being an Aquarius, she interpreted the world through her own rather liberal, rose colored glasses.

Deena had two children from two short-lived marriages. Her daughters, Toni and Tina would become the most important things in Deena's life, a feeling reciprocated by the girls until the day Deena died. In the 1990s Deena's mother got sick and eventually needed constant care. Rather than place her in a facility, Deena sacrificed a great deal to keep her mother at home and provide that care. Later, when Deena got sick, her daughters were able to do the same for their mom.

Deena was all about family and fun. I married her daughter, Toni in 2001. In 2004 we moved from Ohio to North Carolina. A few months later, Deena and Tina moved out too, getting a home within a quarter mile from our own. A few years later, we all moved out to California, again living within a few miles of each other.

Deena loved Disney, Rocky, and seemed to know every film made before 1970 and every musical by heart. She loved her daughters more than anything. She had a love/hate relationship with Johnny Depp.

Every Halloween, EVERY, Halloween, and on other days at random, she was the Green M&M.

Deena, we'll all miss you. But your legacy was a life of fun, optimism and optimism and we will endeavor to honor it as best as we can.

And now back to  writing...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Miralee - New Paperback Reformatted for a Lower Price

I recently reformatted the paperback version of Miralee: A Shadow Knights Tale, a Young Adult Fantasy novel. The result was I was able to lower the page count without making changes to the content, and therefore I was able to lower the list price from $15 to $9.99 for the trade paperback. Amazon has not yet reflected the price change, but you can get in on the price change early by going to the CreateSpace store. Here is the link.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Dexter of Pozzelby is in Paperback

I published DEXTER OF POZZELBY a few years ago as an e-book, the first story I wrote in the land of Ereth. Now it is revised and available on Amazon for just $9.99. There is also a revised version of the e-book on Kindle/KDP Select available for only $2.99. Links to both are above.

Other news from the writing front--

I am re-formatting the paperback of MIRALEE: A SHADOW KNIGHTS TALE to reduce the page count and lower the price to the $10 range as well. That should be happening in the next week or so.

I have finished a lot of material all at once. I have been querying my Middle Grade Novel, THE SEA CROWS. I have three short stories, URINE RAINBOWS, PREYING FOR THE HOMELESS, and THE BABY BOILER, that have all been submitted to magazines or anthologies. And I recently completed the rough draft of a picture book! All the while working on the first edit of a YA Fantasy Novel that I finished the rough draft of a month or two ago. It was a busy summer.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Early Campaigns: Early World Building

It is no coincidence that so many people working in Hollywood today are coming out as long time players of Dungeons and Dragons: The game embodies acting, story telling, and the creation of fabulous characters and worlds.

For me, gaming and writing have always gone hand in hand. Elements of gaming have always gone into my writing and vice versa.

In Dungeons and Dragons, the person most responsible for the creation of the campaign world is the Dungeon Master. For those who may not know, players of the game create characters with a specific class, like fighter or magic-user, and race, like human or dwarf, but that is only the beginning. Player characters can be as simple or detailed as the player wants. Most people who play the game go for detailed, with elaborate backgrounds and personalities. But it is the Dungeon Master who creates the worlds and adventures the characters engage with, and is the arbiter of all interactions with that world.

Creating worlds takes time and tons of work. Therefore, my first effort was to take The World of Greyhawk Campaign Setting created by the game's creator, E. Gary Gygax and to make it my own. This sort of hybrid is a great option for new DMs. One can easily take an existing framework and make it their own. I played a long running campaign in such a setting.

Once you've gotten comfortable with this it is time to create your own world from the ground up. Next time we'll look at a few strategies on getting your game world started.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My E-Books on KDP Select Through Christmas

As of 09/28/17, I removed all of my e-books published on Smashwords and listed everything on Amazon's KDP Select. I will also be running promotions on some of my books in the months to follow. The first begins tomorrow! From Friday 09/29/17 to Tuesday 10/03/17 the e-book version of Miralee: A Shadow Knights Tale will be available for FREE. Please take advantage of this. When you are done with the book, I'd be grateful if you would take a few moments to write a review on Amazon.

Thanks and enjoy!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Role Playing Games: How I Began

I remember camping with a friend and his family in Findlay, Ohio. I was nine or ten years old, call it 1980. My friend had an older brother who asked us if we wanted to play something called Dungeons and Dragons. Right away, the name spoke to me. I was a voracious reader in elementary school, and my favorites were all fantasy authors like Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis.

We never actually played the game that trip, but I heard enough about it to be hooked. A few weeks later, I convinced my grandfather to take me to a hobby shop in Berea to get this game that would allow me to journey to Middle-Earth or Prydain and go on epic quests like the heroes of the books I loved. I had no idea there was such a selection of material already: the Basic Rules, Expert Rules, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and the many adventures that were in print at the time. I was not sure what I needed to play. I opted for the Red Box Basic Set. My grandfather splurged on a box of lead miniatures from Ral Partha as well.

I got back to my grandparents' house and tore open the box set, which included dice (complete with crayon because, hey, we colored our dice back then), the basic rulebook, and the Keep on the Borderlands adventure. I could not wait to get to school Monday and get my friends playing this game! I did. And 35 plus years later, still have never stopped.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Busy July, Productive August

I'm based in San Diego, California. July in San Diego is always a busy time of the year. Our Pride Festival and Parade is in July. I live in the Hillcrest neighborhood where all of the Pride events occur. For the last four or five years, I've volunteered with the parade staging. The week after Pride is San Diego Comic-Con, which I always make a point of attending. This was a little disappointing. My experience was that the convention was less well organized than in years past. Staff seemed poorly informed, they did a poorer job with crowd control than they have in the past few years. Other people I spoke to had similar experiences. Hopefully, it was just an aberration.

After my busy few weeks I actually got some work done. I finished the rough draft of a new YA Fantasy novel, currently titled, Home is Where the Art Is. I put the finishing touches on a Middle Grade novel, called The Sea Crows. I was on the fence with regard to shopping it around with publishers and/or agents, or publishing it under my own In A Bind Books. The plan is to submit to a few publishers, large and small, as an unrepresented work to test the water. In the meantime, I completed a piece of flash fiction, Urine Rainbows, that I submitted to a local anthology.

I'll end here; I have to write a synopsis and cover letter for one of my submission packets.

Till next time.