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January 5th 2011

Book Review: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Last month I had the chance to attend a book signing at Dragons & Fairy Tales in Eagle Mountain, Utah with authors Dan Wells and Brandon Sanderson. At the signing, I picked up copies of I Am Not a Serial Killer and Mr. Monster by Mr. Wells, and had a chance to chat briefly with him about my own writing. I think it went something like, “Dan Wells! I’m such a huge fan! I listen to your podcast every week!” followed by unintelligible gushing. Okay maybe not, I actually had never read any of his books, but they came highly recommended by a mutual friend, Eric Ehlers. Eric was right once again.

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January 4th 2011

The Attitude of Ingratitude

As the walls and floor of the dark fortress reverberated from the quake of the surrounding Deadlands, Gaius Sunblade shouted across the chasm at the wizard on the far side.

“The sword! Now!”

The robed figure waited momentarily, resolving his faith in his champion, before hurling the blade across. In his mind, the wizard Ustar relived the journey to this point; how he had found Gaius in a small village, matched the signs of prophecy to the circumstances of the young man’s birth. Ustar had guided him toward this final destiny. When Gaius failed to follow Ustar’s words concerning the Five Trials of the Amethyst Court, the wizard had had to go to great expense to aid his friend in teleporting to the Deadlands so that Gaius could finally face the demon Atarez in his lair, fulfilling his destiny. Ustar had lost faith in the prophecies momentarily, keeping the legendary sword hidden, intending to fight the demon instead by himself. Gaius had fought his way through the Deadlands, however, and had managed to get himself across the chasm of bubbling, gaseous lava, to the gates of Drgo Keep itself. The young man had proved that he was the hero of prophecy after all, and was now ready to confront his enemy.

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December 20th 2010

Character as an Extension of Self vs. “Mary Jane”

I love playing games. Every other week I get together with a gaming group, typically playing pen-and-paper games. If you’re not familiar with the concept, the term “Dungeons and Dragons” should be sufficient. Our group is currently working through a campaign set in the Old West (“Coyote Trail” is the rule set). Our previous genre was standard sword and sorcery. Next we’ll be battling through post-apocalyptic cities or space. Each one of these settings has their own set of rules.

Character creation, however, is pretty standard. You’ve got statistics, skills and abilities, equipment. Then you have background, where you tell about why your character prefers to fight by removing his pants and strangling his prey, for example. Some players can spend hours on this step alone. I’ll admit that I don’t typically take that long, but for my western character “Lester Graves”—a Navajo medicine man of European descent—I wrote a 2000 word background telling how he came to be in California working in a gold mine in the 1870’s with his best friend “Robert ‘Rabbit’ Tacoma.” Read more of my thoughts on putting yourself into the makeup of your character after the jump.

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