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


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.


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.


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


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)


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.

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.


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.


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.


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?


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

My Gen Con 2016 Schedule


There’s one show I never miss: Gen Con. It’s the largest tabletop gaming convention in the world, and it just gets better every year. I absolutely love the show and the people who run it, from my wonderful pals Peter Adkison and Adrian Swartout all the way down to the newest volunteers. If you enjoy games, there is no better place to be.

I’ve been going since Gen Con XV in 1982, and I haven’t skipped it once. That makes this my 35th Gen Con in a row. Better yet, my birthday is on the show’s opening day, so there’s sure to be plenty of celebrating.

For me, Gen Con has become the show where my career crosses many of its streams, particularly with writing and game design. I always take part in the excellent Writer’s Symposium put on by Marc Tassin, and I’m on the advisory panel that sets up the Industry Insiders Featured Speakers track, which is better this year than ever. Be sure to check them both out.

Here’s my public schedule for the show. You might notice that I’m scheduled to be in roughly three places at once on Friday night. Such is Gen Con. Hilarity is sure to ensue.

If you see me at the show, be sure to say hi. One of the greatest parts of the show is being able to catch up with old friends and to make new ones too.

You might also note that I have light duties during the day on Saturday and Sunday. During much of that time, I’ll be gaming with my kids. I’ve been bringing them all to the show for years now, and they absolutely love it. It’s the highlight of their summer—and mine too.

Hope to see you among the 60,000 gamers there!

August 3

August 4

  • 12–1 PM: Short Fiction: Story vs Vignette. (Westin: Chamber) Explore the difference between a true short story and a simple vignette, and learn why it’s so important to understand the distinction. Plus, get tips that will help you to avoid getting it wrong! With Gail Z. Martin, Michael Underwood, and Richard White, moderated by Kerrie Hughes.
  • 2–3 PM: Worldbuilding for Writers 101(Westin: Capitol 1) Find out everything you need to know about building a world from scratch. Learn about where to start, pitfalls to avoid, and tricks for creating a world that feels real. With Robin Hobb, James Sutter, and Daryl Gregory, moderated by Susan J. Morris.
  • 3–4 PM: Research & Game Writing. (ICC Room 241) How much research is too much? How much is too little, or too sloppy? How can you present the best & most interesting results to gamers without drowning them in detail? With Kenneth Hite.
  • 5–6 PM: Writer’s Round Table: Batman vs Superman. (Westin: Capitol 1) Everyone is talking about Batman vs Superman. Is it a triumph? Or a disaster? Our authors explore the controversy from a writer’s point of view (and geek out a little along the way!) With Robin Hobb and Jim Zub, moderated by Marc Tassin.
  • 9 PM: The Gen Con VIG Mixer

August 5

  • 10–11 AM: Writing Novels: Crafting Chapters. (Westin: Causus) Discover the art of crafting chapters that enhance the reader experience rather than arbitrarily breaking up the story. Learn to leverage chapters as a tool in your story telling toolbox. With Kelley Armstrong, Aaron Rosenberg, and Daryl Gregory, moderated by Karen Bovenmyer.
  • 1–2 PM: Writing Novels: Story Arcs that Drive the Reader(Westin: Causus) Look at ways to make sure that those distinct, exciting moments in your novel are working to deliver a powerful story arc that will carry the reader through your novel. With Jody Lynn Nye, Lawrence M. Schoen, and Aaron Rosenberg, moderated by John Helfers.
  • 3–4 PM: Signing at the Authors Avenue table in the back of the Exhibit Hall. I will have free bookplates for my upcoming book Dungeonologyavailable for the first time ever.
  • 8–10 PM: Concert Against Humanity. A comedy show & concert hosted that you would be a dingus to miss. Tickets include a bag of exclusive branded garbage from Cards Against Humanity and other, better games. (I donated something for the swag bag!)
  • 9 PM–2 AM: The Reactor 88 Afterparty. (Tiki Bob’s) My pals at Reactor 88 Studios always put on a great, late-night party at Gen Con, featuring music by DJ M4RC3L0 and DJ Matt Raven.
  • 10–11:30 PM: Sh*tfaced Game Designers. (Westin: Capitol II) Enjoy an uproarious evening with some of the best game designers around. They start out drunk, and you get them drunker. Support some of the best designers in the world as they quest to regale you with stories from the industry that shouldn’t be told and game design ideas not ready for prime time. Four lucky audience members will have the chance to win a round-on-demand when the panel will be strongly encouraged to take a shot to help homelessness. All proceeds go to The PourHouse, a local charity targeted advocating for and assisting the homeless. With Elisa Teague, Mike Elliott, Paul Peterson, Mike Selinker, Ryan Miller, Luke Peterschmidt and James Ernest, moderated by Brian Lewis. (This is the result of a conversation at last year’s VIG mixer. I’m on some new meds that preclude me from drinking alcohol, though, so I’ll be sober for this.)

August 6

My Comic-Con 2016 Schedule

San_Diego_Comic-Con_International_logo.svgDK is bringing me out to Comic-Con again this year, to sign copies of my Captain America book. I always have a wonderful time at this massive show. For the signings in the DK booth, I understand they’ll have free Captain America posters to hand out, but I’m always happy to sign anything I’ve worked on as well. I’ll also be signing at the Simon & Schuster booth for a half hour on Thursday, so if you want to grab an autographed copy of Halo: New Blood, that would be the right time for it.

Either way, if you make it out to the granddaddy of pop-culture shows, I hope to see you there!

My schedule:

July 21

  •  11:30 AM–12:30 PM: Signing at the Simon & Schuster booth (#1128)
  • 2–3 PM: Signing at the DK booth (#1028)

July 22

  • 3–4 PM: Signing at the DK booth (#1028)
  • 6–7 PM: The Annual International Association of Media and Tie-In Writers Awards Panel: Max Allan Collins (Mike Hammer), co-founder of the IAMTW, hosts this year’s Scribe Awards for excellence in tie-in writing, including honoring this year’s Grandmaster Award “Faust” winner, Timothy Zahn (Star Wars). Panelists Michael A. Black (Executioner), Adam Christopher (Elementary), Matt Forbeck (Halo), Glenn Hauman(Star Trek), Nancy Holder (Crimson Peak), R. L. King (Shadowrun), Jonathan Maberry (Wolfman), Andy Mangels(X-Files), Cavan Scott (Pathfinder), and Marv Wolfman (Batman) engage in a freewheeling look at one of the most popular and yet underappreciated branches of the writing trade.

July 23

  • 2–3 PM: Signing at the DK booth (#1028)

July 24

  • 10–11 AM: Signing at the DK booth (#1028)