scarlettina: (Book love)
The Kobold Guide to Combat (edited by yours truly) gets a shout-out in this list of the reasons that 2014 was the best year for tabletop games ever. It's included at #13 in company with Kobold Press's gorgeous volume, Deep Magic, and with the Guide to Magic as well. I'm proud as could be.

I should note the key commentary on the Kobold Guides:

...the Kobold Guides are collections of thought pieces that inspire entirely new designs. I challenge any gamer to read the articles in either of the Kobold Guides to leave the reading without at least four ideas for entirely new games.
scarlettina: (Fantastic!)
Very nice review of the Kobold Guide to Combat at Money shot:

"There is some amazing bits of RPG 'wisdom' hidden in the pages of the Kobold Guide To Combat....a valuable resource and just a really excellent read!"

I'm quite gratified. Congratulations to all the contributors!
scarlettina: (Blood love and rhetoric)
I have so many things I want to write about, but I need to acknowledge a cool thing. Today is the official release day of The Kobold Guide to Combat, edited by yours truly. The book examines combat in role-playing games and, to a lesser extent, in fiction. I'm pretty pleased with this project. It features work by a lot of terrific writers whom I respect and admire and just really dig as people. Every one of these writers is a rock star in their own right in their fields and I'm delighted they're in the book. You can get it directly from Kobold Press at the link above in print and PDF, or from your preferred store (Barnes & Noble | Amazon).

It also turns out that our publisher (and contributor) Wolfgang Baur was interviewed for The Tome Show, talking about the book. You can hear that podcast here. Wolf starts talking about 00:50.

And if you're in the Seattle area tomorrow night (Wednesday, 11/5/14), you should drop by University Bookstore. I'll be joined by six of the contributors for a panel discussion and book signing at at 7 PM.


Here's the complete table of contents:

Entering the Fray by Janna Silverstein

Why We Fight: Combat as Communication by Jeff Grubb
Tactics for Tyrants by Chris Pramas
Military Systems at War by Steve Winter
The Importance of Tension and Raising the Stakes by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Gaming the Novel by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Speed of Combat by Wolfgang Baur
Scratching the Surface: 10 Things Fiction and Film Get Wrong about Violence by Rory Miller

Fighting in a Real Fantasy World by Ed Greenwood
Through the Looking Glass by Colin McComb
Tossing Kegs and Smashing Chairs: How to Stage a Great Barroom Brawl by Steven Robert

A Note on Anatomy by Richard Pett
Combining Magic and Arms in the Field by Aaron Rosenberg
Taking Aim: The Role of Archery in Gaming by Miranda Horner
Siege Engines and War Machines in Fantasy by Wolfgang Baur
Inspiring Words: A Warlord’s Field Guide to Battle Cries by Mario Podeschi

Reconnaissance and Scouting by John A. Pitts and Ken Scholes
Combat from the Shadows by Carlos Ovalle
Healing Heroes: Combat Medicine and Magic by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Monsters: The Pointy End of Fun by Rob Heinsoo
On Being the Target by Wolfgang Baur

The Illusion of Conflict: Spoiler-Alerts & Combo-Moves by Clinton J. Boomer

PS--I can't think of a better use for my "blood, love and rhetoric" icon than with this post. Truly, it applies here more literally than many other icons I could use.

It's a book!

Mon, Sep. 29th, 2014 07:25 am
scarlettina: (Book love)
Well, actually, it's a proof/ARC, but it's in my hands! [ profile] the_monkey_king and I met for coffee this weekend, and he gave me a copy of one of the first two proofs produced of the Kobold Guide to Combat. So, of course, we had to take a new-book selfie. I've had a bad patch lately, feeling like I'm not doing All The Things I should be, feeling like I'm not accomplishing much of anything new or interesting or special. Between the TEC award and the proof of the book, I've got tangible evidence that this is just not true. And--bonus--it's lovely to be able to do a project like this and share it with friends. I am truly blessed.


I should also note that, in related news, the Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding, which I not only edited but in which I also have an essay, will be appearing in Mandarin! Look!


This is just a pic of the cover; we won't have hard copies in hand for a little while yet. This makes the fourth language in which my work has appeared, including English, Hebrew and Greek. I kind of love that with Mandarin, my work has appeared in three languages with completely different alphabets.

This is all feeling pretty good. It's nice to have reasons to celebrate.
scarlettina: (Angel)
It's been a really interesting 36 hours.

In the space of that time I have done the following things:

I finished editing and delivered the latest Kobold Guide. Oh, did I mention? Yes, there's another Kobold Guide coming, specifically the Kobold Guide to Combat, scheduled for a Christmas release. Delighted with the line-up. Despite some challenges in the production (about which I plan to post another time; I have a lot of thinking and processing to do about that), I think we've got a great book, a terrific cover (which you can see at the link--perfect for the market and the subject), and am generally really pleased.

I nailed down the details for a panel discussion/reading/book signing at University Bookstore for said book for Wednesday, November 5 at 7 PM. Nervous and excited about that. My first real book signing. As the book's editor, mostly I'll be there to moderate whatever discussion we have. More details on that as we get closer to the event.

I packed my bags and got on a plane. I'm in Valencia, CA at this moment, here to attend my cousin's wedding and what has turned out to be something of a family reunion. Got in midday yesterday. Cousin and his fiance picked me up at Bob Hope Airport (Burbank) and was surprised by the size (tiny!) and intimacy of the place. It was actually far more pleasant than flying into LAX--and much closer to my ultimate destination.

I met my cousin's fiance. Here's what you need to know about why this is kind of remarkable. My cousin is 66 and this is his second go-round on the nuptial carousel. They were actually kind of adorable together and she seems completely lovely. She and my sister-in-law and I are going out this morning to get mani-pedis together. I wanted a little more private time to get to know her, and she jumped at the chance, which pleased me. It bodes well for the future, I think.

I dealt with a migraine. About halfway through my flight from San Francisco to Burbank, I began to get a headache that escalated into a full-blown migraine by the time I was done with lunch. My cousin got me back to the hotel in reasonable time, and I spent the afternoon medicating and resting/sleeping. By dinner time, I was in much better shape, and ready for my dinner engagement.

For dinner, I met a group of friends--Amy, Dan, David and Jeremy--for a late dinner at Lucille's Smokehouse Barbeque. I haven't seen Amy in 16 years, but it was like picking up a conversation we had left off just yesterday. Turned out--and I didn't know this--that David and Jeremy knew each other; was delighted and pleased by that. Dan looked terrific and had book covers to show off. Mostly, we laughed a lot. The ebb and flow of the conversation was just wonderful, and I came away wanting to come back soon to spend more time with these people.

Jeremy and I took some time after dinner to have drinks and catch up a bit. We ended up at a place called The Tilted Kilt which was loud. We sat on the patio in the hopes of avoiding the live music (which really needed avoiding) and ended up instead being treated to the loud and occasionally profane chatter of a bunch of college boys who insisted on standing just the other side of the barrier between the restaurant patio and the street. We mostly ignored them when it was possible to do so (though it was an exercise in self-restraint for me not to ask them to move along; it had the potential, though, to escalate into something that would have ruined the evening), and had a really fine conversation later into the evening.

So with the exception of the unfortunate headache--intense but, thankfully, brief--the trip has started off really well. I've been a little nervous about it; all this goodness has taken the edge off of that anxiety. My brother and sister-in-law arrive today; can't wait to see them. I'm looking forward to another really good day.
scarlettina: (Book love)
I opened my mailbox yesterday for the first time since I returned from the rain forest to discover that I'd received a copy of Eastlick and Other Stories by Shannon Page (our own [ profile] calendula_witch), including an introduction by yours truly, cover art by [ profile] markferrari, and collaborations with said Mr. Ferrari, our own [ profile] jaylake and Chaz Brenchley. It's a terrific collection and I recommend it.

Honestly, I was gobsmacked when Shannon asked me to write the introduction. I'm still a little confused by it; I was (and still am) convinced that there are others who could bring far more to the project than myself. She was determined, however, and so I decided to accept the honor and did the best I could. Her stories are worth my best effort, and I was delighted to do it.

Now you should go read it. Really.
scarlettina: (Editor is God)
It's dreadful to find bad reviews of one's work online. As an editor, I hated it when reviewers didn't like a book by one of my authors; I always felt responsible, as if I was being told I missed something important. And then I'd go for days reminding myself that book reviewing is a subjective art, what works for some doesn't work for others, and one person's opinion is one person's opinion. I always took everything so personally. As for finding reviews of my own writing, well, my short fiction has rarely provoked a review, and it has been published so infrequently (yes, yes, I can do something about that), that I haven't really sought reviews of it (although one [relatively] recent experience bore tasty fruit). Of course, you know, being rational about this sort of thing can be a pointless exercise but one does try.

Last year, I edited a collection of essays on worldbuilding for Kobold Press. I looked for reviews briefly, but stopped when I found one review that singled out my own essay in the volume as not belonging there. Whether or not that reviewer was correct (I and my publisher both disagreed, obviously, as we'd included it), it stopped me from trying to discover what other people thought of the volume. Whether or not it was right, that one review made me feel like a failure.

But last week, after a conversation with [ profile] the_monkey_king about the possibility of putting together another book on a different subject, I decided to suck it up and try to discover what people thought of the book (forgetting entirely that the book did win two ENnie Awards). I was pleased with what I found--and I breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“Class is in session . . . The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding SHOULD be considered a textbook on intelligent setting creation.”--Dave Hinojosa, The Gaming Gang

"A fantastic resource"--Skyland Games

“While the book is aimed at the RPG crowd, a huge percentage of the material would be just as valuable to an author writing a novel set in an original world. . . . For anyone who’s ever had the drive to create a fictional place . . . The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding will spark some new ideas and help you add the proper doses of verisimilitude and outlandishness.”--Ed Grabianowski, i09

So . . . maybe it is time for another collection, and maybe I shouldn't be so timid about reviews. They are what they are. When they're bad, they're awful. But when they're good? Ah, the sweet smell of success!

New story coming

Mon, May. 6th, 2013 06:51 am
scarlettina: (Writing: Plot builds character)
In what has become something of a rare event for me, I have new story coming out at the end of the month. [ profile] gryphonrose and RG invited me to contribute to the second volume of their shared world series, ReDeus: Beyond Borders, coming out at the end of May. The premise of the setting is that the ancient gods have returned--all of them, all at once. The stories in the first collection, ReDeus: Divine Tales, set the stage. The second collection deals with the phenomenon internationally, many of them set a number of years after the Return. My story is set in Egypt and it's a pretty intimate one.

The editors asked me if I would contribute a piece to their blog talking about my story. While we wait for the book to come out, here's a glimpse into my thinking about the story and about the gods who appear in it.

My LJ writing to-do list. Workin' my way through.
--Weight and invisibility
--My first Seattle International Film Festival event of the year
--My experience with EMDR treatment for PTSD
--My general weight loss situation at the moment
--My upcoming publication and the essay related to the story in question
scarlettina: (Book love) has reviewed The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding. The review includes a legitimate criticism on the lack of women in the table of contents. As [ profile] the_monkey_king says, "Only one female author, though we did try to get more women to discuss their take on worldbuilding." It is otherwise an excellent review. Delighted to see it get the coverage.

Via Twitter, we have learned that Night Shade Books is on the verge of selling its assets "to a larger publisher." Since the announcement, I have learned one more detail from Jeremy Lassen himself, but it is not my news to share so I won't. In fact, I have a lot of thoughts about this news that I'm not going to share. This is me being discreet. Over on Facebook, Jeff VanderMeer has lots more to say about it if you're interested and you're friends with him over there. All I will say is that I wish Jeremy and the team well.

We also learn this morning that author Ian M Banks has terminal cancer and that film critic Roger Ebert's cancer has returned. Fuck cancer. Fuck it.

Pulpy Frivolity

Mon, Feb. 4th, 2013 08:57 pm
scarlettina: (Angel)
Everyone's doing it; so am I. The hottest new app on the web in our crowd seems to be the Pulp-o-mizer, which helps you create your own pulp magazine covers. I created this one for my story "After This Life" which appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show lo these many years ago. I am tickled.


I don't really think I've got anything else I can do this with; so much of my other published work is horror or fantasy that this treatment probably wouldn't work--except maybe for "The Misanthrope." Maybe I'll give that a spin, too. Watch this space.

ETA: And here's the cover for "The Misanthrope," which is no longer online, but still deserves a little love:


(A girl's got to find some way to distract herself when she's without her car and recuperating from an accident, after all.)
scarlettina: (Book love)
The last freelance project I delivered in 2012 is now available: The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding from Kobold Press, a collection of essays on the subject by some of the top RPG game designers in the business, on the subject of worldbuilding for game play. As it happens, a lot of the thought and insight they offer applies to fiction writing as well. I think we put together a pretty great collection and I'm really quite proud of it. [ profile] the_monkey_king gave us a gorgeous cover, and I got to work with a terrific designer to get the look of the inside just right. Yesterday, on the Kobold Blog, I talked a little bit about the project.

Kobold Guide To Worldbuilding CoverIt's kind of a gift to be able to do a project like this with friends who also happen to be some of the top people in their field--so many people who have worked in role-playing games since almost the beginning, or who came in later to work on some of the most popular and bestselling stuff around. As a friend you get a glimpse into their professional side, and as a professional you're given a front-seat view toward why they are so respected. It's a joy.

So go check it out. My friends--these writers and designers--are brilliant, every one of them, and they offer some great advice on the business of creating worlds.
scarlettina: (I've been reading)
Had to share the absolutely awesome cover of my next project from Kobold Press: The KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding. It's targeted mainly at roleplaying game GMs and designers, but there's some great stuff in it that applies to fiction writing across the board. Look!

Kobold Guide To Worldbuilding Cover

It's got essays from some absolutely awesome authors (including some stellar stuff written by the estimable [ profile] the_monkey_king and--good God--an essay from me!*), a wonderful introduction from our own [ profile] kenscholes, and it's available for pre-order now!

*My piece is about writing in licensed universes (having edited a number of such projects), including interview material from conversations with [ profile] kradical and another well-traveled game designer in the field. When I read it against the other essays in the book, it's kind of an outlier, a little hard-nosed maybe, and as much about the mechanics of getting such a gig as well as actually executing on it. But my publisher supported the idea of including it, and I was delighted to do it. I'm pretty pleased with the piece. But then, I'm pretty pleased with the whole book.
scarlettina: (Five)
1) I have discovered blackberry vines at the end of my street and on one street over. I've been living here something like 13 years and I never knew! I'm going to have free, fresh fruit for the rest of the summer. HAPPY!

2) I need to write about my weight-loss progress or, rather, my weight-maintenance progress. I really want to, but it'll take more time than I have this AM.

3) I've started to wear a pedometer. Rather than just counting my steps, I'm finding myself motivated to up the number of steps I take and to look for opportunities to walk. It's an interesting phenomenon.

4) The ENnie win for the Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design is awesome--but now I feel pressure to ensure that the next project I'm working on for Open Design is better and even more awesome. Is that how awards are supposed to work? (Of course, my writers have it worse; I'm cracking the whip a bit....)

5) As of today, I'm a month away from departure for my European trip and I'm very excited. At the same time, everyone else is getting ready to go to WorldCon and I have The Sad. And then I think: PARIS!

BONUS ITEM: 6) I've just had a story ("After This Life") accepted for Greek reprint publication--my second in that language, in the same magazine (Universe Pathways). YAY!

Not a Bad Monday

Mon, Apr. 25th, 2011 01:17 pm
scarlettina: (Writing: More fun)
Rise Reviews has reviewed the April issue of 10Flash Quarterly. They had some nice things to say about my story "The Misanthrope." Money shot:

Calling this one cute would be like calling a Rembrandt nice. Mildly funny but delightfully entertaining.... Recommended

scarlettina: (GWTW: Pleased as punch)
I'm delighted to announce publication today of my flash piece, The Misanthrope, a study in getting what you wish for, at 10Flash Quarterly. I'm happy to be appearing in this issue with [ profile] jaylake and [ profile] kehrli. Always good to be between the covers with friends. :-)
scarlettina: (Book love)
Earlier this month, I mentioned the publication of a volume I'm pretty proud of, The Kobold Guide to Game Design, Volume 3: Tools and Techniques, which I edited for Open Design and Kobold Quarterly. It's a collection of twelve essays about role-playing game design. When I first took the project, I was excited about it and at the same time a little trepidatious, the former because it meant I got to work on a project with [ profile] the_monkey_king and the latter because, in my entire life, I've completed only two RPG campaigns and I've never done any design at all. But editin' ain't writin' and, ultimately, I suspect that my somewhat outsider perspective* helped me ask questions that maybe clarified some points and drove the content toward stronger organization and so on. I think it made it a better book.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that reviews of the book are surfacing pretty quickly and they all are very good indeed. I'm gratified. If I'm seeing one complaint consistently, it's that a book about game design doesn't offer much for GMs (game masters, for those who don't play). Of course, the book was intended for aspiring designers, so I was pretty ruthless about what did and didn't go in. Honestly, I don't see the lack of GM material in this volume as a weakness. I think that Wolfgang and the other authors produced some pretty fine material. I should note that Wolf commissioned the articles (a number of which I rejected as too outside the focus of the project), so I cannot take full credit for selecting the content by any means. But I think the tight focus of the book provides a pretty strong reference guide for designers wanting to up their game.

So I'm pleased. The experience overall was a great one for me. I'm glad to have worked on the project.

* I say "somewhat" since I've spent so much time in close quarters with game designers both personally and professionally that I've been plenty exposed to gaming and design brains. They're some of my favorite brains indeed.
scarlettina: (Writing)
The spring issue of Kobold Quarterly is finally available in print and PDF featuring, among other things, two book reviews by yours truly. I review [ profile] bravado111's first novel Black Blade Blues (favorably, I might add), and the Nebula Award-nominated Finch by Jeff VanderMeer. I'm very excited to be a part of KQ, as I feel like it's the first time, after more than a decade of association, that I'm finally one of gaming's cool kids--or, at least, I'm now worthy to hang out with them. ::grin::

I also want to mention that the magazine's editor, our own [ profile] the_monkey_king, wrote a fine editorial for the issue that ends up being the set-up for a rather impressive pun. Feel free to poke him when next you see him; he deserves it for treating his readers that way.
scarlettina: (Book love)
John Ottinger III at Grasping for the Wind has reviewed "The Trouble with Heroes" story by story. Of mine, he says:

“A Long Night in Jabbok (Or, Who, Exactly, Is In Charge Here?)” by Janna Silverstein is another Bible based story that explores the idea that great men only become great because they have great wives. Very feminist in tone, the story sees Rachel, not Jacob, as the hero of the great wrestling match that gave birth to the Israelite nation. Though a little sacrilegious (to me) I still found the story to be a creative reinterpretation of an old tale.

I'll take it.

(Thanks for the tip, [ profile] bravado111.)
scarlettina: (Book love)
I'm not talking about any ole book (though I'd never discourage that). I'm talking about one book in particular, just out from DAW Books:

This anthology features my story "A Long Night In Jabbok," in case you were wondering what really happened the night Jacob wrestled an angel. The anthology also includes stories by our own [ profile] bravado111 (J.A. Pitts) and [ profile] kenscholes, among others. I'm delighted to be between the covers with these and other wonderful friends.

Go! Buy! See what we've perpetrated! (awesome indie Powell's | regrettably convenient Amazon)
scarlettina: (Book love)
Mostly what I was feeling today was wiped out. Still feeling low energy, but no actual sickness has manifested. Perhaps I haven't been taking my vitamins. Perhaps I haven't been sleeping well. I'll go to bed earlier tonight than I did last night. If I feel better in the morning, then I'm not going to cancel tomorrow's plans as I did today's.

Received LiveJournal: The First Ten Years in the mail today and read it cover to cover. There's some wonderful stuff in it, and I know I'll be trolling some of the journals and communities included. (Recommended: [ profile] punk_knitters, [ profile] t_shirt_surgery, [ profile] bento, [ profile] food_porn, [ profile] the_polaroids--too many to name!) I'm delighted to be included among them. It's an excellent dip-of-the-toe into LJ.

Criticisms? Sure:
1) While the design is very nice, there are places where it's clear the designer had no idea what kind of result he or she would get. Some pages, the contrast between the text and background color is so low it's barely readable. On some pages, the design is so busy it's hard to focus. And on some pages, the text layout is just..backwards, so you end up starting to read in the middle of a piece. But most of the pages are attractive and full of energy. Still...I have to wonder who thought that gray text on a black page was a good idea...or vice versa. Not every page is like that, but there's more than one. One can't help but notice.
2) No title page. Introduction comes before the table of contents. How...odd.
3) No back matter at all--no notes on who the editors were or what LiveJournal itself is--nothing. The book just...ends with no closure, no historical context. It's weird. It's possible that the book is left feeling unfinished because LJ goes on, but it makes for a curious reading experience.
4) It seems as though there were some major omissions, though I suspect everyone will feel a little differently about that. For example, something from [ profile] ginmar's journal, or [ profile] opportunitygrrl. They have historic value and yet they're not even mentioned. I'm guessing no one suggested them in the anniversary community, which is a shame.

I still recommend picking up a copy. If LJ's been a part of your life, it's a a nice hard copy souvenir of this online experience.


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