Join Me at the Author Slam

This Saturday, February 25th, from 4 to 8 PM, the UW Writers’ Institute is hosting an author slam at Mystery to Me, an excellent independent bookstore at 1863 Monroe Street, Madison, Wisconsin. They’re going to have a baker’s dozen of writers doing short readings, with group signings at the end of each hour. I’m the lead-off author, so don’t be late!

2017: The Year of Catching Up

Wow, you can tell how I’m busy I am by how much time goes between updates here. On a personal level, I’m on a new medication (Humira) for the health issues that have plagued me since 2013, and it seems to be helping a lot. I’m taking sharp advantage of that renewed energy to get to work catching up on various projects.

First off, I finished the first draft of Monster Academy: I Will Not Burn Destroy the Kingdom. That’s the third book in that long-delayed trilogy, and with any luck at all, I’ll have it shipped off to my Kickstarter backers this spring. That’s a huge load off my shoulders, and I cannot wait for my backers and then the rest of the world to be able to read it.

On that note, clever readers might notice I haven’t released the second book in that trilogy to the public yet. Once I have book three out to my backers, I’ll launch Monster Academy: I Will Not Burn Down the School too, and then I Will Not Destroy the Kingdom soon after that. School ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, and I didn’t want readers to have to wait too long for Kingdom. Now they won’t.

Next up, I’ve just started working on a novel for Exalted, a tabletop roleplaying game from my pals at the Onyx Path (and White Wolf before that). I wrote a prequel short story for it that appeared in Exalted: Tales From the Age of Sorrows, which debuted about a year back, and I have an approved outline, so hopefully this one will go fast.

After that, I’m getting back to Loot Drop, a modern-day thriller I sold to Tor/Forge ages ago and have been dying to write. The political landscape has changed a bit since I first came up with the idea for the book, and I think that’s going to be reflected in the final manuscript.

Meanwhile, I’m also working on a number of projects which haven’t been announced yet. I’ll post more details on those when I’m able. They include new tie-in novels, a new video game, and some other fun things.

On top of that, I have the rights back to Amortals, Vegas Knights, and Carpathia. I’m looking into ways to re-release those later this year, with new covers. That might involve a Kickstarter to get hardcover copies into your hands, but I’ve vowed not to run any more of those until I get the last of the Monster Academy books in my backers’ hands.

Still, that might be soon.

If you’re looking to catch up with me in person, you can find me at a number of events this year. I post them on my Appearances page as they come up, but in short, bullet-list form:

Anyhow, back to it!

Tales from the Loop Ends Soon

The folks over at Fria Ligan (Swedish for Free Legion, and publishers of Coriolis and Mutant) have a hit on their hands with Tales from the Loop, a new tabletop roleplaying game based on artist Simon Stålenhag‘s stunning creations in the 2015 art book of the same name. As I write this, the Kickstarter drive for the book has raised over $250,000 and still has five days to go.

The game is set in an alternate Sweden in the 1980s in which an particle accelerator (the Loop) has altered things in strange and wonderful (and sometimes dangerous) ways. You play teenagers who get caught up in the troubles around the Loop and investigate.

The thing that really sells it all, of course, is Simon’s amazing artwork. It features an amazing combination of his naturalistic style tinged with brilliant touches of the fantastic.

The Kickstarter drive is knocking down stretch goals left and right. For their fourth stretch goal, they promised to include a US setting in the base game, “written by a seasoned US game writer.” As it turns out, that writer is me.

My portion of the book is a small fraction of the whole, only about 5,000 words, but it promises to be amazing fun. If Tales from the Loop piques your interest, be sure to check out the Kickstarter. That clock’s ticking.

Join Me in Beloit

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Join me December 3 for the Stateline Author Meet & Greet. This is the author fair at my local, hometown library, right here in beautiful Beloit, Wisconsin. Not only is it a great library, that day it’ll be packed with all sorts of amazing local authors, many of whom will have their books for sale there, just in time for holiday shopping.

I don’t normally bring much with me to sell, since most of my books are released through major publishers, but I’ll have samples of all sorts of my work to show. As always, I’m happy to chat about reading, games, and writing as well as sign anything I worked on. I hope to see you there!

Join Me at Gamehole Con!

ghc4logoThis weekend, I’m one of the guests of honor at Gamehole Con in Madison, Wisconsin. This is my last scheduled public appearance of the year, before I hunker down in my writing den for the winter.

I was a guest last year too, and I had an absolutely wonderful time at the show. If you’re a gamer and you can make it out to Madison this weekend, be sure that you do. For one, there’s an astounding lineup of guests, including Peter Adkison, Jolly Blackburn, Wolfgang Baur, Chris Clark, Monte Cook, Shanna Germain, Jeremy Crawford, Ed Greenwood, Ernie Gygax, Luke Gygax, Allen Hammack, Andy and Kristin Looney, Mike Mearls, Dave Megarry, Frank Mentzer, Marc Miller, Doug Niles, Erol Otus, Jen Page, Merle Rasmussen, Chris Perkins, Paul Peterson, Stefan Pokorny, Steven Schend, Rob Schwalb, Elisa Teague, Jim Ward, Tom Wham, Rob Wieland, and Tom Lommel (a.k.a. Bill Cavalier, the Dungeon Bastard).

On top of that, my friend Jeff Martin is bringing True Dungeon to the show. This is the first convention this amazing, live-action fantasy roleplaying game been available outside of Gen Con, and getting a chance to play in it is worth the price of admission itself. If it’s not sold out, find a way to wedge yourself into a game. It’s stunningly entertaining.

Like the cherry on top of this gaming sundae, my pal John Kovalic (of Apples to Apples and Munchkin fame) has resurrected Dorkstock, his con inside a con, just for Gamehole Con. He has a full slate of events scheduled, all of which are guaranteed fun.

I’m scheduled to run a pair of Shotguns & Sorcery RPG sessions, each of which is already sold out. I’m also going to be on a panel called “A D20 in One Hand and a Laptop in the Other” at 6 PM on Friday, along with Tim Gerritsen, Jason Blair, and Keith Matejka. On top of that, I’m scheduled to be at the autograph area at 10 AM on Saturday and 11 AM on Sunday. While I’m there, I’ll have a stack of bookplates for my latest book, Dungeonology, which you can grab and slap into your book when it arrives. Or, if you’re one of the lucky few who grabbed one early, I can scribble directly inside your book instead.

Either way, I hope to see you there!

Dungeonology Is Here!

dungeonologyMy latest book, Dungeonologyis here! While it was originally slated to be released on November 8 in both the US and the UK, the American publisher (Candlewick Press) decided to bump up the release date to October 21. That was, um, ten days ago, and apparently I was too busy to notice.

Anyhow, it’s already sold out at Amazon (woot!). They should have more in stock “soon,” but you can still order it today through Barnes & Noble or directly from Candlewick.

Oddly Books-A-Million and IndieBound still list it as shipping on November 8. Guess they didn’t get the memo either.

If you can manage to get a copy of it to me at Gamehole Con, I’d be happy to sign yours this weekend. If not, I’ll have a stack of bookplates you can grab and slap into your book when it arrives.

For those who don’t know, this is the latest in the bestselling -Ologies series, which includes books like Dragonology, Alienology, and Spyology. This is the first book in the series based on a license for an existing setting: Dungeons & Dragons. The folks at Templar Publishing set it all up and hired me to write the book, which is set in the most popular D&D world of all, the Forgotten Realms.

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The amazing pop-out map that comes in the middle of the book.

To get me started, Templar sent me a stack of –Ology books, and Wizards of the Coast sent me a stack of D&D books. My job was to mash both those stacks together into a fun and easy introduction to the original fantasy roleplaying game, which I’d grown up playing. I had a fantastic time with it, and I think it shows in the end.

I need to give a shout-out to several people who helped make this book a reality. At Templar, international sales director (and huge D&D fan) James Tavendale (for whom I wrote More Forbidden Knowledge ages ago) recommended me for the job and pushed the whole thing hard from inside. Creative director Helen Wicks oversaw the entire project and made it happen. Editor Kirsty Walters kept both me and the entire project on track. Every step of the way, they all showed the kind of constant enthusiasm writers dream of working with.

Check out that foil-embossed cover!

Check out that foil-embossed cover!

Over at Wizards of the Coast, licensing manager Hilary Ross made sure I had everything I needed from start to finish. D&D writer Adam Lee ensured the things I wrote accurately resonated with the Forgotten Realms. Both of them proved invaluable resources for all sorts of wild questions I had about the Forgotten Realms and were fantastic about not just pointing out my mistakes but providing solutions that made the book that much better every time.

I also have to give special thanks to Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Forgotten Realms. Not only did Ed not mind me writing a book in the voice of one of the characters he created (Volothamp Geddarm, narrator of many D&D guides), but he also agreed to write a foreword to the book in the voice of his most famous creation, the wizard Elminster. This appears as a letter tucked into an envelope pasted into the inside of the book’s front cover, and it’s absolutely, spot-on hilarious.

Anyway, no matter how and when you manage it, I hope you grab a copy of the book soon. It’s been getting wonderful reviews, and I think you’ll discover it makes the perfect gift for the D&D-curious pal in your life.

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An interior spread about some of the most dangerous monsters in the Forgotten Realms.

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An interior spread about clerics and the various organizations in the Forgotten Realms.

 

 

Blood Bowl Novels Back in Gorgeous Boxed Set

blprocessed-blood-bowl-collection-1Yesterday, Games Workshop’s books division—the Black Library—announced that it’s bringing my Blood Bowl novels back into print in an exclusive, limited-edition boxed set.

For those who don’t know, Blood Bowl is GW’s game of fantasy football, which is slated for the release of a brand-new edition soon. In this case, the “fantasy” comes from playing the game not with pro athletes but dwarves, elves, vampires, skeletons, trolls, and the like. It’s ludicrously violent, but it’s also funny/punny in a silly way. The players and fans drink Bloodweiser and Killer Genuine Draft, for instance, and the team featured in the books is the Bad Bay Hackers.

The boxed includes all four of my Blood Bowl novels, all of which came out between 2005 and 2007. They include:

These are all available as ebooks now, of course, and you can grab the entire digital collection at once too.

Now, for the first time ever, each book comes in a beautiful hardcover edition, and they look gorgeous, with a fantastic, spot-varnished painting that crosses all four spines. The box itself is even better, with wonderful details embossed into the exterior.

The set is limited to 500 copies, plus the one sitting on my bookshelf right now. (I might need a trophy case for this one! Honestly, it seems like a pity to put it on a shelf where you can’t see the sides.)

They ship out on November 28, so they should arrive in plenty of time to make a great holiday gift for your favorite Blood Bowl fan—which is maybe you!

Going to Mount Horeb!

14502764_10154627312948179_1152786672257357212_nThis coming Monday, October 10, starting at 6:30 PM, I’m going to be visiting the Mount Horeb Public Library in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. I’ll be talking about my Captain America book, but I’ll also have a preview copy of my upcoming Dungeonology with me to show around as well.

The event is listed “for teens, ages 12 and up.” (But really, aren’t all teens 12 and up? 🙂 ) My friend Alex Bledsoe lives there and has been teaching teen writing classes, and he set the whole thing in motion.

If you’re in the area—or know a teen who is—please come out and join us. Hope to see you there!

Halo: Fractures Is Here!

Halo: Fractures, a new anthology of stories set in the universe of the 81txcs4kz7lbest-selling video game franchise, debuts today. I have the lead story in it, a little tale called “Lessons Learned.” It features a couple of Spartan-IIIs named Tom and Lucy—who have been part of a number of other stories in the past—and it starts out spinning off from one of the crazier events in my Halo novel New Blood.

The book also features stories from a number of amazing authors, including my pals Troy Denning and Tobias Buckell, plus Kelly Gay, Christie Golden, Kevin Grace, Morgan Lockhart,  John Jackson Miller, Frank O’Connor, Brian Reed, Joseph Staten, and James Swallow. If you like Halo stories—or just action-packed science-fiction military adventure tales—be sure to pick this up.

It’s available in paperback and ebook and even as an audiobook read by Scott Brick.

 

About Forward/Story (a.k.a. How I Spent My Costa Rica Vacation)

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I’ve had one hell of a great summer. I just spent four weeks on the road, including Comic-Con, a week at our family cabin, Gen Con (my favorite professional event of the year) and Forbeck-O-Rama (a family reunion, my favorite personal event of the year). Soon the kids will be back in school, and we’ll all settle back into that post-summer groove, but before that happens, I want to glance back at an event that launched off the entire season for me back in May in a spectacular way: Forward/Story.

As it says on their website: “Forward/Story is an invite-only residential lab taking place in Costa Rica. It is a special lab for writers and designers who work in uncharted territories to share their journey, techniques, socialize, collaborate, and solve problems. Five core challenges that storytellers face will be explored in a collaborative environment. On-site expenses are covered for those who attend.”

I didn’t know any of this year’s attendees, nor any of the people who ran the event, but my pal Richard Dansky was one of the attendees the inaugural year, back in 2014. In fact, it was Rich who brought Forward/Story to my attention when he posted on Facebook about the upcoming deadline for applying to attend this year. Upon his recommendation, I decided to throw my hat in the ring, and I was absolutely thrilled when I got the email from hosts Lance Weiler and Christy Dena that they’d accepted me for this year.

To be honest, I was thrilled to be able to spend a long weekend in Costa Rica more than anything else, but I was game for whatever Forward/Story involved. I booked my flight and dreamed of heading south right up until the big day of departure came. When I got there, though, I realized I was in for much more than just a fun trip to a gorgeous part of the world.

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The event took place in (and around) Nosara, Costa Rica, a sleepy surfers’ paradise on the Pacific coast. Several years back, my wife and I had actually spent a week Tambor, Costa Rica, about a hundred miles to the southeast on the Nicoya Peninsula, and we’d loved every moment of it. I was eager to get back.

We stayed at the Sunset Shack Hotel in Nosara, with two or three of us to a room, but we didn’t spend much time in our quarters. Instead, every morning we boarded a bus that took up into the mountains to a stunning private villa with amazing views of the ocean and—best of all—a large pool to which we escaped a number of times each day. There was a curious family of howler monkeys that lived right next to the pool, and they came out to peer down at us from the trees every day.

During the workshop’s three days, we spent a lot of time getting to know each other. There were nineteen of us, plus a returning alumni from the previous year (Trevor Haldenby, who took most of the pictures in this post), as well as a Columbia University fellow (Louise Rosen), and our two excellent hosts: Lance Weiler and Christy Dena. That’s a lot of introductions, and wow, every one of them was worthwhile.

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We also ran through some intriguing exercises that showed us a lot more about each other and how we might work with each other (or others) in the future, but that’s part of Forward/Story’s special sauce. I don’t want to post any spoilers, so if you want to find out all about it, you’re going to need to go check it out yourself.

The evenings, it turned out, were just as good for bonding as the days. We spent most of the time in the hotel’s bar (Al Chile), staying up way past the point at which the friendly staff had all gone home to bed. Besides enjoying their amazing drinks and a steady supply of the local beer (Imperial), I taught some of my fellow attendees how to play Secret Hitler, and I learned a few new games too, like Ninja. This photo pretty much sums up the nights there.

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In the end, I had a fantastic time meeting, working, and playing with a phenomenal group of people. We included college professors, game developers (both for video and tabletop), VR creators, playwrights, reporters, photographers, artists, cosplayers, novelists, and just damn amazing creators. People who didn’t care so much about the media that we worked in as how we could take whatever tools at hand—no matter how old or new—and use them to fashion amazing things. By which I mean things designed to amaze. 

In just a few short days, we created some incredible memories and friendships that will last lifetimes. I don’t know if or when I’ll ever get to see any of my Forward/Story pals again, but I know I’d love to have the opportunity, either personally or professionally. They one and all rocked.

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In the end, that’s what Forward/Story was all about. Creating opportunities.

Not just for us to meet each other and do cool things together. Sure that’s a clear chance now for all of us to maybe manage.

But it also opened our eyes to the possibility that we could do the kinds of things a well-fed, utterly relaxed, and incredibly intrigued and intriguing group of people could concoct with each other on the spot. If we could accomplish that much in just three days, imagine what we could pull off once we were loosed back into the world?

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So, if you get the chance to go to Forward/Story, do it! You won’t regret an instant of it.