Shadow of the Winter King: WINTER IS COMING

To add a few extra words to the classic words of House Stark: (Shadow of the) WINTER (King) IS COMING.

The epic full-metal-fantasy series I’ve been crafting for some years now is finally hitting the stands, available in ebook and print. I don’t yet have links for the exchange of coins, but in the meantime, go learn about the book!

http://erikscottdebie.com/writing/worldofruin/sotwk/

What are you waiting for–barbarians? evil magic? treachery? love? revenge?

This book has it all.

Cheers

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Announcements, World of Ruin, Writing

Norwescon 37 Schedule

Pending updates, this is my schedule for Norwescon 37 next weekend!

My annual late Friday night reading is not to be missed, since I’m reading a passage from Shadow of the Winter King, the debut of my epic fantasy series, The World of Ruin. Also, don’t miss your chance to pick up a physical copy of the book (assuming all goes well and the books arrive on time) at the autograph session on Saturday! And who knows what else I’ll have?

THURSDAY

How I Sold My Novel (Cascade 3&4, 3pm–4pm)

Some debut novelists discuss the path they took in selling their first novel.

Anne Charnock, Erik Scott de Bie, Frog Jones, Patrick Swenson

 

Comics: Self-Publishing, Small Press, or Traditional Publishing? (Cascade 2, 4pm–5pm)

What’s the best way to get your comic noticed: a regular webcomic, digital distribution, local zines, or a publishing company? How should a creator or creative team approach a small press publisher or a large publishing house? Is crowd-sourcing the best way to pay for printing your comic, or are there other less work-intensive (and risky) methods? Creators give their opinions on the ever-changing field of comics publishing.

Erik Scott de Bie (M), Charles “Zan” Christensen, Phil Foglio, Roberta Gregory

 

Managing POV (Cascade 9, 8pm–9pm)

Any story can be told from any point of view: How do you find the best one for yours? What gains and losses come with first person, with limited third person, with multiple third, with multiple first?

Carol Berg (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Cheryl Dyson, Tim McDaniel, Ann Gimpel, Kat Richardson

 

FRIDAY

Tabletop RPG Design: Game Design Workshop (Cascade 7&8, 5pm–6pm)

Are you designing, or thinking about designing a tabletop RPG? Are you stuck? Unclear how to begin? Need feedback? Let our panelists help you through the design process.

Ogre Whiteside (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Sage LaTorra, Ryan Macklin

 

Reading: Erik Scott de Bie (Cascade 1, 11:30pm–Midnight)

Shadow of the Winter King. One last quest for vengeance and redemption in a world on the brink of utter ruin. Rated R

Erik Scott de Bie (M)

 

SATURDAY

Gender and Sexuality in SF & Fantasy (Evergreen 1&2, Noon–1pm)

Many modern science fiction and fantasy authors, including Kameron Hurley, Elizabeth Bear, Trudi Canavan, and Paul Cornell include LGBTQ characters in their work. What does this mean to readers? How does it compare with the limited portrayal of gender and sexuality in many classic genre works? Come join us as we talk about how the changing portrayal of gender and sexuality is changing the face of our genre.

Caren Gussoff (M), Cassandra Clarke, Erik Scott de Bie, Gregory Gadow

 

Autograph Session 1 (Grand 2, 2pm–3pm)

Our Attending Professionals are available to sign autographs. PLEASE NOTE: So that as many fans as possible can participate, we will be enforcing a three-items-at-a-time (or single-sketch) autograph limit.

Jason Andrew (M), Steven Barnes, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Carol Berg, Shubzilla, Kurt Cagle, Cassandra Clarke, Erik Scott de Bie, Cymbric Early-Smith, Elton Elliott, Erin Evans, Steve Gillett, James C. Glass, Jude-Marie Green, Jeff Grubb, Rhiannon Held, Frog Jones, Karen Kincy, Nancy Kress, Pat MacEwen, Edward Martin III, Lish McBride, Angel Leigh McCoy, Darragh Metzger, G. David Nordley, Margaret Organ-Kean, Kevin Radthorne, Jon Rogers, Mike Selinker, Sara Stamey, G. Willow Wilson, Gregory A. Wilson

 

SUNDAY

Tracking Your Fictional Universe (Cascade 7&8, 10am–11am)

Did that character’s blue eyes just turn brown? How do writers keep track of all the little details about characters and worlds so that they aren’t forgetting things or contradicting themselves? We’ll discuss what sorts of information might be tracked, how to organize it, and how to store it.

Kurt Cagle (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Andrea Howe, Angel Leigh McCoy

 

Subplots (Cascade 3&4, 1pm–2pm)

How do you choose a complementary B plot for your story – and where can you add in a C, D, and E plot? How do you know when subplots will make your story richer, and when they’ll just add clutter and confusion?

Keffy R. M. Kehrli (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Erin Evans, Angel Leigh McCoy, Kevin Radthorne

 

Writing Action (Cascade 3&4, 2pm–3pm)

Penning a thrilling action sequence requires specific writing skills. Learn how to change up the tone of your prose, sequence events properly, and triple your pace without sacrificing clarity.

Craig English (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Erin Evans, Michael Tinker Pearce, Dean Wells

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Announcements, Conventions, Norwescon

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I promised last week that I’d start off the review with this line, so here we go:

Now I’m happily married, straight, blah blah, other miscellaneous male het-cis disclaimers, but I’ve just gotta say:

Chris Evans’s Butt

Damn, man.

(Also, maybe don't google "Chris Evans butt." Unless you're prepared.)

(Also, maybe don’t google “Chris Evans butt.” Unless you’re prepared.)

Seriously. This guy.

There hasn’t been a more effective male role model to make me work out harder since Man of Steel.

And that dude could lift oil platforms.

And Evans’s favored, impossibly physically demanding combat tactic in the movie?

Clocking guys while sprinting like Mario on speed.

Even if they’re George St. Pierre.

Most winningest MMA fighter in history. Also Captain Cut Body.

Most winningest MMA fighter in history, btw. Also Batroc the Leaper, a.k.a. best moustached brawler in Marvel history.

Ok, one more picture of Captain America (in his gray Under Armor shirt, no less), and then we can move on. Promise.

Check out my arms, brah.

Check out my arms, brah.

Why, do you ask, did I go on for so long about Chris Evans and the awesomeness that is his fine physique?

Well, it has to do with the majority of the other, professional reviews . . .

(as in, the other reviews, which happen to be by professionals, unlike me–I’m not a professional reviewer, in case that wasn’t obvious)

. . . That waste so much time reasserting their masculinity by gushing over Scarlett Johansson (another phrase you should probably not google) and how they’re amazed that she’s so pretty, sexy, etc., whatever vaguely creepy and entirely expected term you want to use. And you know what, she is pretty darn amazing, but not only (or even chiefly) for how she looks. So let’s just skate right past that and get to the really cool stuff that less secure male reviewers seem to be missing.

Black Widow: The Winter Soldier

Black Widow, whose movie this pretty much was

Black Widow, whose movie this pretty much was.

The only reason that this movie was called “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was that the majority of it was shot from Steve Rogers’s perspective. It could just as easily have been from Black Widow’s perspective, and knowing the Winter Soldier story from the books, that would have worked out just great.

(And still might. Marvel set up a natural in for a Black Widow movie, one that reveals more about her sordid, KGB past and features the Winter Soldier as a supporting character. Make Mine Marvel!)

One of my favorite characters from my comics-filled youth, the Black Widow is an inspiration to me in writing a certain type of female character–the mysterious femme fatale, for lack of a better term. The Fox-at-Twilight from my Forgotten Realms novels, for instance, or Lady Vengeance from my comic book, JUSTICE/VENGEANCE and a bunch of other prose works. But there’s so much more depth to all of these characters than the concept of the “femme fatale” makes it sound.

Back in the day, the Black Widow originated out of the noir style, where women were either dangerous or helpless or both, and either way they had to be protected and skated around like some sort of cracked patch of ice: one wrong step, and you’d plunge through into a chilling grave. If you ask me, that’s just fear of women talking–fear of intimacy, fear of entrusting yourself to a woman, and generally fear of what a woman might do if you let her too close. Natasha Romanov was that sort of character: treacherous, from a dark and unknown past, whose loyalties could never be known or trusted. And that’s pretty much the role she played in Iron Man 2: the back-stabbing agent sent to spy on Iron Man with the aid, apparently, of her seductive powers. (Though any seduction in that movie was limited to googly eyes and witty rejoinders–perhaps Tony Stark was too chronically inebriated to be taken in.)

This, of course, is just the surface, as demonstrated in both the Avengers and in The Winter Soldier. These scripts have given her much more to work with in terms of both her emotional journey–a little heavy-handed in Avengers, dead-on in Winter Soldier–and her ethical/moral dilemma: does she do the right thing, even if the personal consequences (revealing her dark past) might prove devastating?

Not to mention that she kicks just as much ass as Cap, suffers just as much crippling pain as Cap (SMALL SPOILER: just watch her widow sting herself–gah! END SPOILER), and is just as effective at taking on the Winter Soldier as he is. The movie shows her being clever, ruthless, resourceful, and driven. And when it comes to the movie’s emotional side, she really shines.

But before I get to that, a word about Anthony Mackie.

The Falcon. Kick ass.

I do what he does, only--y'know--slower.

I do what he does, only–y’know–slower.

You know, when I first saw trailers and heard that the Falcon was going to be in the movie, I was a little uneasy about it. Marvel doesn’t exactly have the best track record when writing non-white heroes (that’s a fascinating blog you should really check out). But it turns out that I needn’t have worried.

The MCU Sam Wilson in the Winter Soldier is not only a badass, capable of astounding feats of aerial acrobatics (which made me kinda wonder how his buddy could get taken down by a RPG), but he’s funny, smart, emotionally connected, and a complete equal with both Cap and Black Widow. For a man who’s just being introduced in this movie to go up against two leads that have had at least two movies to develop themselves, Mackie does an amazing job holding his own.

And that last fight against the bad guy’s main muscle? Amazing.

This Anthony Mackie guy is a keeper, Marvel. Use him as much as possible.

The Mood and Tone of Winter Soldier

The emotional depth of this movie is great. I’m not saying it’s an art-house movie or that it will hit you in the feels (it might), but the character development doesn’t take a back seat to fighting and explosions as in many summer blockbusters.

Emotional tension, with only a slight hint of chemistry that will never turn into romance. Perfect.

Emotional tension, with only a slight hint of chemistry that will never turn into romance. Perfect.

You see Captain America’s journey as well as Black Widow’s journey, and when they meet up and start walking the same road, it achieves this great synergistic story that’s really a treasure to watch. They help each other so much throughout the movie: his sunny earnestness vs. her dark experience, each drawing the other . . . and by the end, you can really understand how these two seemingly fundamentally different characters can be so close and work so well together.

Cap and the Falcon: buddies 4eva

Cap and the Falcon: buddies 4eva

A major theme of The Winter Soldier is dealing with PTSD, and it manifests differently in all the various characters, from the obvious (Cap frozen from a different time, Falcon’s buddy dying in the war, The Winter Soldier OMG GO SEE THE MOVIE) to the less obvious (Black Widow’s deadly past, Nick Fury’s inability to trust anyone, etc). Trauma shapes these characters, and we see the emotional toll that their struggles take on them. The sheer strength of character it takes just for them to keep going is amazing, and far exceeds any super soldier serum.

And they can rely on each other. Cap and Black Widow work so well together, but so too do Cap and the Falcon, and even Fury and Black Widow are clearly made to help each other through this.

A line that jumped out at me from the first Captain America was the amazing Tommy Lee Jones telling Cap that “You’re a science experiment. Everything special about you came in a bottle.” Genius zinger, absolutely not true. And this movie really shows us the power and majesty of Captain America as a character: that one man simply doing the right thing can accomplish wonders, even when everyone and everything is against him.

(Though it’s great to have a little help from his friends.)

The Message: Choose Freedom, Not Fear

This isn't freedom. It's fear.

This isn’t freedom. It’s fear.

While watching the Winter Soldier, I was struck by how timely it all was.

We’re coming on the heels of the Supreme Court essentially declaring America owned by the super-rich, striking down key voter protections, and making corporations people (Arnim Zola, anyone?). This after decades of gutting our education system and convincing us that it doesn’t matter who we vote for, because they’re all the same. The mantle of control is growing heavier and heavier on the American people, and our lovingly tended political apathy is reaching dangerous levels.

The Winter Soldier offers us a clear message about the hazard of surrendering freedom for surveillance–about how those in power can quietly take control of us without us even noticing, with potentially catastrophic results.

And that the message comes through a disparate trio of heroes like the earnest Captain America, the pragmatic Black Widow, and the honorable Falcon makes it ring all the louder.

That is something that really good fiction can do: it doesn’t so much tell us about our own world, but make us really FEEL it, deep in the core of our being. Kudos to Marvel for taking on such an ambitious subject, and extra kudos for making it work so spectacularly.

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Comics, Movies, Reviews

Alive after ECCC

Hi all,

I haven’t posted in a while, but I will soon. Busy weekend and all that.

I have identified the two winners of Crossing the Streams! They should be getting communications soon!

Thanks for playing, everyone!

Cheers

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Uncategorized

Open Call: Pinups of Justice/Vengeance

To support my Justice/Vengeance comic book (coming soon to Kickstarter), I’m holding an open call for interested artists to create pin-ups of my characters.

Post your pin-up on DeviantArt, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, wherever you want. Just make sure it links back to this post (http://erikscottdebie.com/2014/02/21/jv-open-call) and mentions the project it supports (“Justice/Vengeance”). Then either tag me (@erikscottdebie on Twitter, erik.s.debie on Facebook, erikscottdebie on Deviantart) or email me (erikscottdebie AT yahoo DOT com) so I can make sure to acknowledge your participation. I *must* hear from you in one of these four ways in order to enter your name in the Open Call contest.

Note: By entering this contest, you are agreeing to allow me to link to your pic and/or post it here on my site or on social media. I won’t do anything more than that, though, unless I buy it from you (see below).

"In retrospect, I could have been nicer about it." (Cover of "Injustice" by Mat Major and Robot Panda)

“In retrospect, I could have been nicer about it.” (Cover of “Injustice”
by Mat Major and Robot Panda)

“What’s in it for me,” you ask?

The pinups I like best, I will reward the artist with a digital subscription to “Libations for the Dead,” the first five issues of Justice/Vengeance. (Assuming the Kickstarter is successful and I can fund its creation.)

If I find a pinup particularly intriguing, compelling, and true to my vision, I might well want to purchase it and incorporate it either into the Kickstarter or actually into the book. (Terms and conditions will be on an ad-hoc basis you and I negotiate.)

Also, after the Kickstarter, I will send participating artists a digital copy of the debut Issue #1 of Justice/Vengeance, “Libations for the Dead.”

And there’s obviously the exposure and getting in on the ground floor of something awesome. Though as I’ve made clear, that’s not the only reward here. :)

“Why is he doing it this way,” you query?

Well, there are simply too many wonderful artists out there for me to email individually. Instead, I offer this standing invitation. Show me what you’ve got, and let’s talk.

“What am I drawing,” you further inquire?

I’m looking for pinups of my characters–principally Orestes, A-Girl, and Lady Vengeance. Info about them can be found here (link), and each has a deeper dive about them linked from that page (and below).

Be careful to capture their ethnic background: Orestes is African-American, A-Girl is Latina, and Lady V is part Middle Eastern.

A pin-up of any of the supporting characters (particularly The Raven III, Athena, or one of the other heroic types) will also be considered. If you nail one of them, actually, it makes it more likely I’ll buy your piece.

Be creative. Make your work vibrant and unique. Catch the eye. :)

“What are some Artistic Themes for the Characters?”

Here’s some art from the actual first issue and some thoughts on what to portray in your pin-up(s):

"Wait, I know that face!" (Orestes by Tangra and Robot Panda)

“Wait, I know that face!” (Orestes by Tangra and Robot Panda)

Orestes is about discovering his identity. He doesn’t know his birth parents or where he comes from. He’s learning about powers he hardly understands. His evolving powers (lightning projection, prescience) are a great thing to portray as well–they mostly manifest as blue lightning, particularly around his left eye. He sees things before they happen and always knows the right thing to do in any situation.

 

"This will look great on the cover of Newsweek!" (A-Girl by Tangra and Robot Panda)

“This will look great on the cover of Newsweek!” (A-Girl by Tangra and Robot Panda)

A-Girl is about duality and isolation. On the one hand, she’s a nationally popular superhero, adored by millions, but on the other, she’s a lonely young woman crushed by the pressure. She has to maintain the perfect facade while she longs for a chance to really connect with someone. She is a bruiser type of hero: flight, speed, strength, durability, energy projection. Her power manifestation is as a pink energy trail.

 

"But fear makes me strong. And now *I'm* the one to fear." (Lady Vengeance by Tangra and Robot Panda)

“But fear makes me strong. And now *I’m* the one to fear.” (Lady Vengeance by Tangra and Robot Panda)

Lady Vengeance is all about struggling with her demons, both literal and figurative. She has a very dark past and has done some unsavory things. She’s been taken over by paranormal entities before, and her alcoholism stems from trying to control her powers. Her powers are empathy based: she absorbs and manipulates people’s fear into quasi real objects, can paralyze people in mortal terror, and can shapeshift into their worst fear.

"Fear powers, kid. Deal with it." (Art by Tangra and Robot Panda)

“Fear powers, kid. Deal with it.”
(Orestes and Lady V by Tangra and Robot Panda)

“Can I enter multiple pin-ups?”

Why yes you can. However many you want!

“What if I have questions?”

If you have any further questions about the characters or how the contest works, feel free to email me at erikscottdebie AT yahoo DOT com. Include the words “J/V Open Call” in the subject heading.

Cheers, and thanks!

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A-Girl, Announcements, Characters, Comics, Justice/Vengeance, Kickstarter, Lady Vengeance, Orestes, Superheroes, Uncategorized

Crossing the Streams 2014

Cheers and well met, all,

Welcome to “Crossing the Streams 2014,” which is–to quote Ari Marmell, our founder–”a flippin’ huge, multi-author book giveaway!”

You may recall this from a few years back, or you may be brand new to the contest. Either way, you’re in for an awesome quest with a fantastic treasure. :)

I write books, short stories, comic books, etc., and I’d like to get them into your hands. To that end, I have joined an epic company of nearly two dozen other speculative fiction writers–mostly novelists, but some short story and comic writers as well–to quest for just such an achievement. But after the fashion of bold heroes, mostly we combine our magic and power and see what happens.

Hence, Crossing the Streams. :)

Copyright (c) Niconoff 2012-2014

Copyright (c) Niconoff 2012-2014

Here’s how it works:

Each individual author involved is running a contest on his or her own site. The specific details vary from author to author; the contest I run on my site might be very different than the one on Ari’s site, Richard’s site, or Marcy’s site.

However, each contest has a few details in common. Specifically, each of us will select two winners from the contest on our own site. Each of those winners will receive one signed book, free, from the author whose contest they won. So, for instance, if you win here, you’ll win one of my books. If you win on Paul’s site, you’ll win one of his, etc.

But… that’s not the big prize. Once the contests have ended, all the authors involved will get together and choose one single “super-winner” from all the entries on all our sites combined. This one lucky individual will receive a signed book, free, from each and every one of the authors involved.

Yep. Somebody out there’s going to win around twenty free books.

You can only enter each author’s contest once, but you may enter multiple contests. So you could enter here, on Matt’s site, on Jason’s site, etc. Heck, you can enter on everyone’s site, if you want. (And even if you aren’t selected as the “super winner,” you might win more than one of the individual contests. You never know.)

You can find a complete list of the authors involved, as well as links to their sites, below. But first…

How to Enter Erik’s Contest

Again, these are just the rules for my contest. The rules for entry on other authors’ sites might be very different.

The best promotion is word of mouth, and the most powerful champions of the written word are you, the readers.

To enter my contest, all you have to do is post somewhere on Social Media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that you’re entering my contest, and link back to this post.

Either tag me in the post so that I see it (facebook.com/erik.s.debie or @erikscottdebie on twitter) or email me a link (erikscottdebie@yahoo.com) so I can check out your post and register you in the contest. You should be getting a confirmation from me (either through facebook or on twitter or an email if you emailed me directly) that you are in the contest.

What is your post about? Anything you want, really, so long as it:

1) mentions the contest
2) contains the words “Crossing the Streams”
3) links back to this post
(here’s a shortlink: http://erikscottdebie.com/?p=1141)
4) tags me (or you can email me directly) so I can put your name down

It could be a one-sentence review of my work, naming your favorite character in my book or another book, a kind word about my fellow authors, or a cute cat in a wizard hat.

However, there is an extra prize for making your post something creative and cool: I will be selecting TWO winners for my contest. One winner will be chosen completely at random (so any entrant has an equal chance) and one will be chosen as my favorite of all the entry posts.

And of course, everyone who enters is also in the running for the random “super-winner” selection.

Entries must be received between February 19 and March 19, 2014.

Copyright (c) Blizzard

Copyright (c) Blizzard

Prizes:

I’m coming out with several books this year. If you pick one that hasn’t been published yet, your prize will be delayed until I can obtain a copy, but you WILL get a copy. (Later this spring–probably May.)

My two winners, and the super-winner, may choose any one of the following prizes.

Shadow of the Winter King (trade paperback, May 2014)

Priority: Hyperion (paperback, estimated May 2014)

Scourge of the Realm (paperback, May 2014)

When the Hero Comes Home (anthology, trade paperback, available now)

Depths of Madness (rare, out of print mass-market paperback, available now, while supplies last)

“Libations for the Dead,” Justice/Vengeance issue 1 (comic book, estimated May 2014)

If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to ask on my Facebook author page or email me directly (erikscottdebie AT yahoo DOT com).

The Rest of the Gang

As I said, there’s nearly two dozen of us involved in this. You can find names, and links, here.

All of these authors/artists are awesome creatives and well worth a few minutes of your time. Check out their websites. Look at the art on offer. Don’t just look at the contest page–you’ll be missing out on a lot of other greatness. If you like my stuff, you’re sure to like at least some of theirs.

So take a few minutes. Poke around. See if any of their work intrigues you. Maybe even buy a couple of books. I know they’d all appreciate it, as I certainly would.

Thanks, and good luck.

The rest of the Crossing-the-Streams crew! (With links)

  • Scott Lynch: (link forthcoming)
Copyright (c) Ubisoft

Copyright (c) Ubisoft

 

My Vacation

Even hardworking writers publishing multiple books and holding down a full-time job have to take a break sometimes, and mine is scheduled from February 23 through March 3. If you enter the contest and I don’t get back to you in that time, don’t worry, it just means I’m relaxing on a beach somewhere. (And working on the sequel to Winter King, probably.) I’ll get back to you when I can! :)

Cheers,

Erik

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Announcements, Writing

40 Years of D&D, 20 Years of Writing

Forty years ago, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created a beautiful monster that would change the face of literature and birth an entire gaming industry.

Twenty years ago, inspired in no small part by their example, I started gaming and writing, which has set my life on a fantastic course.

Dragons Hidden in the Dungeon

When I was in fifth grade, I discovered a dusty old blue box in my back room. My parents thought they must have played it all of one time back in college, so it was basically in mint condition. There was a dragon on the cover and a couple adventuresome types in the foreground, looking rather about to be roasted.

 dnd_BasicRule_s

And stacked underneath this box was a red one with a sorceress, another dragon, and some dodgy looking magic on the front.

D&D basic box

 

I remember being slightly confused initially when I opened up the boxes. It was obviously some kind of game, with a bunch of strangely shaped, multicolored dice. The white one was particularly odd, as were the instructions to roll a d6 in addition to the d20, to determine if the number I rolled was above 10 or not. 

oldschool diceI did not at first recognize the power of what I had before me, but I did soon enough. Since I was the one with the rules, I became the Dungeon Master, and that meant engaging in something I’d never before done: storytelling. Sculpting a story for my friends, wherein I could not only control all the elements but also press and explore what I thought was really interesting, as well as read my gamers to determine what they might want. Kinds of treasure, sorts of monsters, and particularly the interaction between NPCs . . . It was all fascinating to me. I liked being able to bend the rules and magic let me do that.

I was hooked. Storytelling was what I was going to do.

And I got right to it.

A Fledgling Writer

Excepting an 8-page scifi epic I wrote and illustrated myself in 3rd grade (I’m pretty sure the aliens shared a common stick figure ancestor), my first piece of narrative fiction was a backstory for one of my D&D characters (named Malchor, a character from an explanatory example in the blue D&D book) at age 10 or so.

From there, I kept writing about my characters, stories, and ideas, until I set out to write a 10-page backstory for a certain elf thief character (none of this “rogue” business) that ended up being 50 pages. Oh, and it was terrible, as you might expect a 12-year-old’s first novella to be. Very violent, lots of nudity, etc.

Discovering TSR’s novels helped immensely. Some of my characters were based on Salvatore characters (no, not Drizzt–Entreri, actually), and many of my ideas came from slight alterations to his stories, i.e., “What if?” scenarios. Endings that I would have done differently (and why) were a primary source of inspiration.

I wrote my first novel at age 15, due to being particularly bored with my Honors Chemistry homework (sorry, Mr. Johnson!). You wouldn’t think that would entail more typing on the computer, but sure enough, there was a kind of a catharsis that came from writing my own story, under my own control, where the world worked the way I wanted (and the laws of science be damned). The book wasn’t great, but I resolved to make myself a lot better. You know, over the course of writing a novel or more a year every year since.

All the while, I played D&D. I was the DM about half the time, and a player the other half. I ran everything from Dragonlance to Ravenloft to D20 Modern, but my heart was in the Forgotten Realms. Which worked out pretty well when I got to college.

Ghostwalker and Becoming a Published Author

I had a near-death experience my first year of college, and it refocused what for me had been a simple hobby (writing) into a potential career path. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but in a kind of “whatever” sense–like it’ll happen eventually, so no need to worry about it. Coming face to face with my own mortality drove home pretty clear the message that if I really wanted to do this, I had to go out and make it so. And thus I did.

I submitted a sample of writing to WotC to audition for writing in the Forgotten Realms. They didn’t take it, but they were very nice in their rejection and told me to submit again.

I submitted to the Maiden of Pain open call in 2002-2003, which I totally lost. But I lost *well enough* that they kept me in mind for a closed call to submit for a Fighters novel (based on one of 20 prestige classes) or a Wizards novel (based on one of 20 signature spells). Ghostwalker was the obvious choice, because like hell was I going to have my first novel be called “Purple Dragon.” :)

Ghostwalker

(Fun fact: many of us submitted Ghostwalker proposals, including James P. Davis, whose submission was so good WotC asked him to turn it into what became the novel Bloodwalk.)

I won. Unimaginably awesome. My third submission ever, and it was a success. Though technically my first published piece (my story in Realms of the Dragons II) came out when I was a senior in college in May 2005, Ghostwalker came out December 2005, seven months after I graduated college. I was 22.

Gaming and Writing Today

I’ve kept up my game and my writing, because the two operate in a harmonious symbiotic relationship, each feeding the other. I get inspired by things in games–especially situations where I would have handled it differently–and I play out scenarios I thought up for novels at the table. I have promoted some of my favorite PCs/NPCs to novel characters, and I have run NPCs and even PCs based on my novel characters. Mostly it’s the creative energy at a game that fuels me, and if I go too long without gaming, my writing falls apart.

Downshadow by Erik Scott de Bie

I’ve released four other Forgotten Realms novels since Ghostwalker, particularly my Shadowbane series, and my writing career is now headed away from the Realms. I’m publishing not one, not two, but THREE novels this year: SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING, PRIORITY: HYPERION, and SCOURGE OF THE REALM. All unconnected, all exploring different directions. Not to mention the scores of short stories I’ve published and continue to write on a regular basis. Or all the game design. Or my comic book, Justice/Vengeance.

"Injustice" Art by Mat Major and Robot Panda

“Injustice”
Art by Mat Major and Robot Panda

 (Let me state, for the record, that me not writing another Realms novel is entirely WotC’s choice. I love the Realms, my story, my characters. I would be overjoyed to write more of their tale, and it doesn’t have to do with the money. If they wanted me to do it for free, I’d probably do it. But WotC has been focused on the Sundering to the exclusion of their other authors, they’ve worked actively to alienate and push away all their writers who aren’t Bob Salvatore or Ed Greenwood, and they’ve pretty steadily demolished their book department over the last few years. Who knows what the future will hold? As I said, I’d be more than pleased to write for them again–the ball is very much in their court.)

But I digress.

Thank you, D&D

I don’t know what I would have done without you. You have been a source of spiraling inspiration, of endless fun, of wondrous storytelling potential. You made me not only a writer in the first place but also the writer I am. Without you, I don’t know what I would have done.

Well, maybe started writing World of Darkness-style fiction. :)

Happy 40th Birthday, D&D! And may there be many more.

Cheers

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Downshadow, Eye of Justice, Forgotten Realms, Gaming, Ghostwalker, Interviews, Personal, Scourge of the Realm, Shadowbane, Uncategorized, World of Ruin, Writing

Updated Cast of Justice/Vengeance

Go check out my updated cast of the Heroes and Villains of Justice/Vengeance!

Lost Heroes: Supergroup Left to right: Lady Vengeance, The Raven, Justice, Athena, Kid Aphid Art by Tangra and Robot Panda

Lost Heroes: Supergroup
Left to right: Lady Vengeance, The Raven, Justice, Athena, Kid Aphid
Art by Tangra and Robot Panda

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Characters, Comics, Justice/Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, Superheroes, Writing

Health = Good, Body-Shaming = Bad

It saddens me deeply to see anyone body-shamed, be it fat-shaming, fit-shaming, gym-shaming, whatever.

I’ve spent the last year working out pretty darn hard and fixing my diet, and having gained 20+ pounds of lean body mass (i.e. muscle), I’m certainly much happier with my body than I was before. Not bad for an endomorph like myself. My STR score has probably gone up from a 10 to a 12, my CON increased a point or two, and I’m very pleased.

I recognize also that I’m not where I want to be yet, and that’s OK.

That’s my choice–my drive to increase my own strength and health. That doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else: it’s my life to live. I have my body, and I will do what I want with it.

That’s what I want for you, and you, and everybody else. Figure out what you want and need with your body, and do it. And if that is to accept where you are, well OK. If you want to change your body–shed some pounds, add some muscle, bench-press your romantic partner–well OK.

And yes, I would like to see the start of a more open, honest conversation about health and fitness in America, one that doesn’t degenerate into name-calling and body-shaming. Obesity is a serious problem, and not just for overweight people who either suffer now or will suffer from related health problems. It’s a needless drain on our already extremely crappy healthcare system. We as a nation are weakening ourselves, and we need to be building ourselves and each other up.

If you want to seize 2014 as an opportunity to re-evaluate your health situation, here are some ideas:

- Have a serious talk with your doctor. It is indeed possible that your body is a certain way because of medical conditions, but you might be able to work around those constraints. Get some recommendations.

- Take a good look at what you eat. Diet is 90% of health. Reduce or cut out processed foods, HFCS/hydrogenated oils, sugar, and sodium. Eat vegetables with every meal–at least 33% of your plate should be vegetables, preferably 66%. I lost 20 pounds in the space of two months mostly by becoming a vegetarian.

- Get some exercise. Jog with your dog or a friend. Get in the habit of doing some squats and pushups each day. See about a gym membership, and maybe a personal trainer if you have some extra cash.

- Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself (and to others). Feed your body what it needs, and not what is harming it.

Happy (Healthy) Holidays, everyone!

 

Further reading:

http://ideas.time.com/2013/12/03/fit-women-are-real-women-too/

http://smithwellette.kinja.com/the-violent-side-of-fat-shaming-denying-body-acceptan-1475304758

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Personal, Social Justice

Gal Gadot can play Wonder Woman. Deal with it.

It has come to my attention that a lot of people think Gal Gadot is too small/skinny/inexperienced/wrong/whatever to be Wonder Woman.

Gal Gadot. For serious.

Gal Gadot. For serious.

Allow me to put your mind at ease:

1) Body building is a thing. Six months of a personal trainer every day, tripling her caloric intake and lifting heavy for the first five months, then cutting for the last month, and she could be pretty darn impressive. That’s what happened with Cavill. And Bale. And Maguire. And any other superhero actor you care to mention.

I mean sheesh, the director (Zach Snyder) did 300. Do you have any idea how hard he worked his actors for those roles? Just the thought of Gerard Butler’s chiseled abs makes my stomach hurt. But I digress.

Art (c) Jeffach on Deviantart You think I was born with these guns?

Art (c) Jeffach on Deviantart
“You think I was born with these guns?”

2) Gadot is former military–from the Israeli army, no less. Not only is he probably very accustomed to workout regimens, but she definitely has the discipline. And the skills.

3) Stop body shaming. It’s just dumb.

Gadot is the shape she is because *that’s what Hollywood demands* of actresses. It doesn’t tolerate softness. It doesn’t find muscle beautiful. All it wants is skinny waifs. And that’s incredibly stupid.

I hope Gadot puts on 30 pounds of muscle and keeps it. Or not, as she wants. But regardless, it should be her choice, and we should respect that.

Also, she's the same height as Lynda Carter, the definitive Wonder Woman of the silver screen. So let's not go down that road.

Also, she’s the same height as Lynda Carter, the definitive Wonder Woman of the silver screen. So let’s keep that in perspective.

4) Remember what we said about Heath Ledger as the Joker, or about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman? Remember how those turned out? Give the woman a chance.

And even if all else fails, it can’t possibly be as bad as the 2011 WW TV show, right? :)

5) Instead of focusing on something as trivial and superficial as “ooh, these pictures make her look way too skinny for the role!” why don’t we talk about the actual challenges Wonder Woman faces on the screen?

- A DC Comics administration that can’t handle female characters

- A director who thought Sucker Punch was “empowering”

- A trip to Hollywood which is notorious for its inability to portray women in action roles effectively

- A movie that makes her play third fiddle to SUPERMAN and BATMAN–not only is the script already against her, but she has to deal with those two iconic white guys

- A schizophrenic media that focuses on how an actress looks rather than how she acts.

(You know, for instance.)

Instead of participating in the “setting her up for failure” ploy, let’s try and exercise some common sense and positivity. After all, we’re seeing Wonder Woman on the screen! Let’s try and celebrate that, rather than tear it down.

(c) DC Comics "I crush body shamers like you on my way to real challenges."

Wonder Woman (c) DC Comics

To summarize, in the words of the Wonder herself, to anybody trying to put down any woman as too skinny, too fat, too weak, or too anything:

“I crush body shamers like you on my way to real problems.”

(* Not an actual Wonder Woman quote, but it damn well should be.)

Further Reading:

“Is Gal Gadot ‘Wonder’ Enough for Wonder Woman”

“Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman: Why the Actress will be Great in Batman vs. Superman”

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Comics, Feminism, Movies, Superheroes