Friday, September 28, 2012


Check out my awesome new shirt. It's H.P. Charlie LoveBrownCraft and Snoopthulhu (yeah, I am wearing it in the picture).

Like it? Sorry, it was a Teefury shirt and only available for 24 hours about a week ago. But check out their site, they have lots of Lovecraftian shirts off anf on!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

R.I.P. Clementine Limberdark


I lost my first RPG character last weekend. It was my first loss, and also my first RPG character; yes, I went down in my very first campaign. The game was Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which is similar to D&D but weirder and more vulgar (there's a campaign-level monster called The Time Fucker. Seriously.). Our GM chose a campaign called The Grinding Gear for my first foray into tabletop gaming. The Grinding Gear is what is popularly known as a 'fuck you' dungeon.

Thanks, Ed.

Her name was Clementine Limberdark, and she was a halfling. She left her village shortly after two of the other party members (who had played a campaign before with the same characters) unleashed a zombie apocalypse upon the world of Lamentations. She was searching for adventure, and found it when she was napping a tree and fell out of it right on top of the party, who happened to be passing beneath it.

I won't go into the grisly details, but in the course of four sessions poor Clem was volunteered by the others to check out every narrow hole and crevice no one else could fit into. She was terrorized by blood-sucking bats, attacked by a giant face-eating spider, nearly melted by green slime, tossed into a hole filled with headless zombie corpses, bitten by venomous centipedes, and finally, while fleeing something called a gelatinous cube, fell and hit her head, knocking herself out. At this point she had negative HP, which I didn't know was possible, and was unconscious, carried by my husband's demon elf from a hell dimension. While still comatose, we encountered a puzzle that meant the party had to recall some trivia from an earlier encounter. The surviving members (our thief having been taken out by poison gas earlier) couldn't recall the right answer. This resulted in all of us being electrocuted. And since Clem was already weakened...she bought the farm. The two losers who couldn't answer the question survived the entire game (well, since I was trying to help- from beyond my coma whoooooo- and I couldn't remember either, I guess I am also a loser), which was remarkable since the dungeon was basically designed to kill people quickly and brutally.

Rest in peace, little halfling. I'll have to reboot for the next campaign with Clem's cousin, halfling Cornelia Whistlebottom.

This entire episode brought to mind a panel I attended at Gen Con. It was a live taping of the podcast Writing Excuses (co-hosted by writing GoH Brandon Sanderson). They spoke to a writer/editor who complained of people trying to turn their RPG campaigns into novels. I had to snicker because, even though I was only three-quarters of the way through my first game, I knew that idea was ridiculous.

For instance, my friend's character in this game was the brother of his earlier character, who died while bringing about the zombie apocalypse. That guy was Hawk Aeonseeker. In keeping with the bird theme, Hawk's illustrious brother was Cockatiel Aeonseeker. Cock for short.

Cue two hours of cock jokes (the best: we were being attacked by mosquito bats, which suck blood. One landed on Cockatiel Aeonseeker. The thief cried, “Stop sucking on Cock!”). Sadly, my friend is a lunatic when it comes to these games and will press every button, pull every lever, and open every door he finds. So Cock didn't last long in the Fuck You Dungeon. This necessitated a replacement character who happened to wander in through the dungeon door we had left open...and later, another replacement who also wandered in through the same open door. This is highly amusing in an RPG. Not so much in a novel. The readers are going to rebel against such a nonsensical entrance, as they should. And while it's fine to kill off main characters in order to keep your readers on their toes, it's not really okay to go through them like tissues.

Also- and this probably isn't true of every campaign- The Grinding Gear was very, very repetitive. Clem's electrocution came after going through four identical rooms wired to kill, each with a trivia question. There were endless corridors, oubliettes, rooms we had to examine minutely. It's interesting when you're doing it, but reading about it is going to put anyone to sleep.

So don't novelize your campaign, for God's sake. And pray for Clash Nemesis, successor to both Cock Aeonseeker and Purity Grimoire. With Alex controlling him, he's going to need all the help he can get in our next game.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Before Gangnam Style...


For some reason I was thinking of this in the car as I drove back from the grocery. It never fails to make me laugh. This time I was laughing to myself so hard I almost screwed up on the roundabout by our house.

I think my favorite part is when the man gets blown off by the chick on the sidewalk and all his friends run out to comfort him in their sneakers and underpants. And no one on the street even seems to notice.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Literary Pin-up Girls!

I think I am the only person in the world (well, among my friends anyway) who wasn't particularly impressed by Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind. I won't go into why, but I'm not a drooling fan like everyone else I know. Yet today I happened across this post on his blog...and I just e-mailed the husband to tell him we need this calendar.

Literary Pin-Up Calendar

I love books, and I love many of the authors in this year's calendar, and I love pin-ups (they're so playful and cute!- and I like a nice rack as much as the next girl). I can't wait to see the Bradbury girl, the Beagle girl, the Martin girl...well, all the girls.

I do have to say I am glad this calendar doesn't feature the authors dressed as pin-ups though.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stan Lee!

I don't do this very often, but I'm presenting to my followers a chance to help a kid meet his hero.

I became acquainted with David Wilde through the Gen Con forums. He writes an ongoing SF epic on his blog, and also blogs about the daily challenges of being high-functioning autistic and living with a son who has the same diagnosis, plus possible bipolar disorder.

This poor kid has had a rough couple years, and David thinks that meeting his hero will make a world of difference. I honestly don't know much about autism, but I do have a son, and I know if he had a chance to meet his hero I would do whatever I needed to do in order to make it happen.

(Of course, it helps that the kid's hero is Stan Lee, comic god of awesomeness. I can always get behind that).

So if you have a few extra dollars, please consider throwing them David's way so he can make his son's dream come true.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Every once in a while, in writing, you have one of those "Eureka!" moments. It's when something comes together in your head, or you have some awesome revelation that opens up a character. They're uncommon but when they happens it's like God Himself just poked you.

My favorite Eureka moment occurred a few years ago when I was working on my first novel. In the story, my main character is seeking revenge. However, he is completely, utterly unsuited to violent acts of vengeance; his temperment is gentle. Everyone in the novel sees this but him. Still, he thinks he wants revenge.

I knew that wasn't really what he wanted, but I didn't know what he did want. I puzzled and puzzled 'til my puzzler was sore, with no luck.

At the time I worked in a bookstore. One day while straightened kids' pictures books I came across a (then)new title by Patrick McDonnell, cartoonist and animal activist who created the adorable strip Mutts. He had done a couple books before and I thought they were sweet, so I skimmed through the new one, Just Like Heaven.

In the book, the cat Mooch falls asleep under a tree. When he wakes up he is surrounded by fog, and since he is a cat and not really capable of critical thinking, he decides he must be in Heaven. He then takes a tour of 'Heaven', seeing his familiar places with the idea that they must be Heaven. The idea, of course, is that Heaven is a lot like home.

Reading it, I realized what my character secretly wanted. He wanted Heaven. More specifically, he wanted home. 

It was brilliant. I was nicer to customers than I had been in weeks. I couldn't stop smiling. EUREKA!

As much as writing can feel like banging your head against a brick wall, these rare moments of clarity make it all worthwhile.  So keep on truckin', waiting for the next Eureka moment.