Halo: Fractures, a new anthology of stories set in the universe of the best-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.
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.
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!
- 9 PM: The Diana Jones Award ceremony and party. This is a pre-show, private event, at which the Diana Jones Award committee gives out its 16th annual award for excellence in gaming. If you’re a creative professional at the show, ping me for an invitation. This year, the shortlist includes:
- 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
- 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 Dungeonology, available 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.)
DK 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!
- 11:30 AM–12:30 PM: Signing at the Simon & Schuster booth (#1128)
- 2–3 PM: Signing at the DK booth (#1028)
- 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.
- 2–3 PM: Signing at the DK booth (#1028)
- 10–11 AM: Signing at the DK booth (#1028)
This weekend, I’ll be a special guest at Nexus Game Fair at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In many ways this is a return to my old stomping grounds, since that’s the same hotel I stayed at for many years back in the days when Gen Con was in Milwaukee.
This makes four weekends in a row that I’ve been out of town on business. After Nexus, I’m going to give it a rest for a while and shackle myself to my desk so I can get more work done instead. I’m not planning to make any more appearances until Comic-Con in July and then Gen Con in August.
At Nexus, I’m running two preview sessions of the Shotguns & Sorcery RPG at the show. The one on Sunday has already sold out, but there are a few seats left for the Friday night game. I’m also taking part in two panels: “Behind the Scenes: Publishing” at 3 PM on Saturday and “Elements of a Successful Kickstarter” at 4 PM on Saturday.
Beyond all that, I’ll be wandering around the show with my kids and joining in as many games as we can manage. I hope you can join in the fun!
This Saturday, at 1 PM, I’ll be signing my new book, Marvel’s Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger, at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis.
We should have plenty of Captain America posters and bookplates for those who attend, and I’ll be happy to sign anything I’ve worked on.
If you’re in the area, come on out and say hi. It’s supposed to be a gorgeous day in the Twin Cities, a perfect day to shop for a new book!
This week is the official launch of my mini-tour to launch my latest book, Marvel’s Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger. Come out and see me in the Milwaukee area on Wednesday and Thursday evening, and in the Chicago area — well, Naperville, actually — on Saturday.
Shorewood, WI. May 4, 6:30 PM.
This is the launch of my mini-book tour for my Captain America book. According to the Shorewood Library website:
Meet Matt Forbeck, the author of CAPTAIN AMERICA: ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE FIRST AVENGER. Test your Captain America expertise with a super-heroic trivia contest. Wear a costume if you’d like.
Boswell Books will be there too, selling copies of the book.
Milwaukee, WI. May 5, 4:30 PM.
The next day, I’m off to the Bay View branch of the Milwaukee Public Library that evening to sign more books. Boswell Books will be there again, selling copies of the book.
Naperville, IL. May 7. 2 PM.
On Free Comic Book Day, I’ll be at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois, signing copies of my Captain America book and anything else I’ve worked on.
If you live a bit farther north, I’ll be in Minneapolis in two weeks too.
Minneapolis, MN. May 21, 1 PM.
As part of Children’s Book Week, I’ll be signing my Captain America book at Wild Rumpus. According to their website:
Calling all superheros and superhero fans! Come to Wild Rumpus on Saturday, May 21st at 1PM to celebrate the first ever Superhero Day! We’ll have activities, giveaways, prizes and more. Marvel expert Matt Forbeck, author of the new book Marvel’s Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger, will be on the scene to quiz you on your superhero trivia knowledge.
Anyone who comes in a superhero costume will get a prize! It’s going to be a SUPER day.
My friend Allen Varney runs a website called the Bundle of Holding, which I helped him launch a few years back. It’s similar to things like the Humble Bundle and StoryBundle, in that it gathers together a bunch of electronic entertainment and sells it to you at a huge discount. It started out as a place to sell novels written by tabletop RPG writers, but it soon morphed into a site that sold massive bundles of RPG books instead.
Today, the Bundle of Holding launched a deal that features the PDFs of my 1999 roleplaying game, Brave New World. This includes all of the products currently available for the line: nine full books. The only thing that’s missing is the long out-of-print guide’s screen, known as the Power Shield, as that’s never been released as a PDF.
After the American dream died in 1963 — when superpowered terrorists assassinated Jacqueline Kennedy — and the Bicentennial Battle destroyed Chicago in 1976, the USA has become a battleground where superpowered people known as deltas fight a US government under never-ending martial law.
The central theme of the game is this: How much freedom are you willing to give up to feel safe?
Brave New World was inspired by many comics I loved, including Watchmen, Kingdom Come, Marshal Law, and American Flagg! Marvel’s Civil War came out many years later, but the themes of that epic storyline make for an uncanny match with my game.
The total retail value of the titles in this offer is $120. If you pay just $11.95, you get all four titles in the Starter Collection (retail value: $57) as DRM-free PDFs:
- Brave New World corebook (retail price $18): The 209-page rulebook.
- Ravaged Planet (retail $15): The player’s guide to the world of this alternate-history 1999.
- Delta Prime and Defiants (retail $12 each): The sourcebooks for government deltas and the rebels who fight them.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price — which is set at $19.95 to start — also get the entire Bonus Collection with five more titles (retail value $63):
- Bargainers and Covenant (retail $12 each): Character sourcebooks for two opposing forces: the deltas who broker deals with demonic forces, and the super-agents of the Catholic Church.
- Crescent City (retail $12): From the ruins of Chicago rose this amazing high-tech city, home to more deltas than anywhere else.
- Evil Unlimited (retail $12): If you want to use your super-powers to make a fortune, go to these guys.
- Glory Days (retail $15): The World War II-era sourcebook for Brave New World — a time before it all went bad.
Note that 10% of the proceeds from your purchase go to benefit Human Rights Watch. Seems perfect, right?
Just found out today that Halo: New Blood was nominated for a Scribe Award by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers! This is the fifth time one of my books has been nominated for a Scribe Award. My novelization of the Mutant Chronicles movie actually won an award back in 2009.
Here’s hoping Halo: New Blood has a chance this year. It’s up against some stiff competition in the Original Novel — Speculative category though, including a Deadlands novel by my friend Jonathan Maberry and another Halo novel by my longtime pal Troy Denning.
See below for the full list of categories and nominees. I’m thrilled to see so many talented friends have their work recognized by the IAMTW.
Congrats to all the authors, and huge thanks to the judging committee which does a ton of wonderful work to make this all happen!
The Tenth Annual Scribe Awards
The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is pleased to announce the Scribe Award Nominees for 2016.
Acknowledging excellence in this very competitive field, the IAMTW’s Scribe Awards honor licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories that have appeared in other formats and that cross all genres. Tie-in works run the gamut from westerns to mysteries to procedurals, from science fiction to fantasy to horror, from action and adventure to superheroes. HALO, Elementary, 24, Star Trek, Mike Hammer, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Doctor Who: these represent just a few.
The Scribe Award winners will be announced at ComicCon San Diego in July. The exact day, time and location of the Scribes Panel including the award ceremony will be announced shortly.
IAMTW thanks everyone who sent entries, all wonderful, for consideration. Congratulations to the following nominees:
BEST ORIGINAL NOVEL – GENERAL
- Elementary:The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher
- Kill Me, Darling by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
- Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan: Desert Falcons by Michael A. Black
- 24: Rogue by David Mack
BEST ORIGINAL NOVEL – SPECULATIVE
- Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry
- HALO: Last Light by Troy Denning
- HALO: New Blood by Matt Forbeck
- Pathfinder: Forge of Ashes by Josh Vogt
- Shadowrun: Borrowed Time by R. L. King
- Star Trek The Next Generation: Armageddon’s Arrow by Dayton Ward
- Star Trek Seekers 3: Long Shot by David Mack
ADAPTED NOVEL – GENERAL AND SPECULATIVE
- Backcountry by D. E. McDonald
- Batman: Arkham Knight by Marv Wolfman
- Crimson Peak by Nancy Holder
- MANOS – The Hands of Fate by Stephen D. Sullivan
- Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
- Mike Hammer The Strand “Fallout” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
- Shadowrun: World of Shadows “Swamp of Spirits” by Jason M. Hardy
- The X-Files: Trust No One “Back in El Paso My Life Will Be Worthless” by Keith R. A. DeCandido
- The X-Files: Trust No One “Dusk” by Paul Crilley
- The X-Files: Trust No One “Non Gratum Anus Rodentum” by Brian Keene
- The X-Files: Trust No One “Statues” by Kevin J. Anderson
- Dark Shadows “Bloodlust” by Alan Flanagan, Will Howells and Joseph Lidster
- Dark Shadows “In the Twinkling of an Eye” Penelope Faith
- Doctor Who “The Red Lady” by John Dorney
- Doctor Who “Damaged Goods” by Jonathan Morris
- Pathfinder Legends: “Mummy’s Mask: Empty Graves” by Cavan Scott
This Thursday, April 14, starting at 6 PM, I’ll be at the Beloit Public Library to talk about my work and to sign my latest book, Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger. This marks the public debut of the book for me, and the first opportunity anyone will have to get a signed copy.
Library staff will have copies on hand for sale, and I hear we may have a trivia contest with exclusive Marvel bookmarks for prizes.
You’re not obliged to buy anything, of course. Feel free to just show up and chat with about Marvel comics, my Halo novel, or anything else I’ve worked on. Hope to see you there!