Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Conundrum of Writing with Diversity

As a writer, I'm always been told, "write what you know".

Also, I'm expected to develop characters that are genuine and multi-faceted. To write one-dimensional characters who are underdeveloped will kill any story I want to tell.

A few months ago, I saw a writing diversity hashtag trending on Twitter that promoted the idea of writers creating ethnically diverse characters. I loved the idea and I know my writing has not always been diverse. Yes, I've had black characters and Asian characters, but neither serving as an antagonist or protagonist.

So I wrote a horror short story with the main character, Wayne, as a young black man in high school. For the purpose of the story, I had him driving a muscle car and who liked to listen to EBM music while hanging out with his white girlfriend. I ran into a severe problem in the story that made me very conscientious. There is a point where Wayne gives his girlfriend a joint. It is important for the story because I go into some unimaginable imagery and I wanted the reader to ask the question "Is this really happening or are the characters hallucinating?"

I realized that without even trying, I put Wayne into a stereotype regarding drugs. So I asked myself if Wayne was white would it be important to the story and I answered myself yes. Wayne needs to hand his girlfriend the joint in order to create the environment I want the reader to feel.

But let me tell you this. After writing that story and choosing not to define Wayne's race in the text, it got me to thinking a lot about writing diversity. Writer's face a conundrum. We have to write authentic diverse characters who are well developed, but we also have to avoid being offensive. If I wanted to write a story with black characters in urban LA, I need my characters to be genuine. They have to have the freedom to speak with one another just as the people there do in real life. So if one of my black characters says the "N" word to another black character because that is how one character speaks to everyone, I need to be able to do so without being concerned the readers might be offended because I am not black.

So if I need to use modern slang that may include racial slurs against other characters in the story, as a writer, I have to avoid that. I don't want to be offensive to my readers. But I still have a responsibility to tell the story I want to tell to the best of my ability.

Then comes the next question. Why would I just focus on writing about gangs? Why not write about affluent black or Asian people who are not disparaged, but educated and facing a situation? On one hand, that tells me as a writer, in order to be diverse, I must limit my storytelling to only people who have it easier. Not to mention, culture, educated people of ethnic history are not treated well by people of their race. Asians who "act white" are scolded as being a banana (Yellow on the outside, white on the inside) and back in the day, black people who acted white were called, "Uncle Tom". White people are no better. If a white person acts black, there is a derogatory word for that as well that I don't feel comfortable writing.

My point is this. Don't ask me to write diverse characters and then be on the ready to attack me for not accurately portraying them or using words that will offend if I'm true to the character.

Let's write diverse characters and develop them well. But at the same time understand that if a writer is doing their job, they will need to use the language of the character's culture, as well as their time in history, to develop the character and it should not matter what color the writer is. If I have a story I need to tell about slavery as Mark Twain did in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", I don't want to be remembered as a racist because I used the "N" word because it was culturally relevant to the time and subject matter of the story. To write a slave story with oppressive civil war era establishment characters, to not use the "N" word would not be authentic. If anyone has a better idea on how to write and honor diversity in writing, I'm willing to hear it. ~Will

Friday, December 11, 2015

Words are a Form of Conjecture

A word is a word, but the understanding of a word both depends on the speaker, as well as the listener. Both have a responsibility to contribute to the atmosphere of any given conversation.

As a writer, I can take any word and put it into any context to make it either offensive or supportive in nature.

In the past, it was the listener's responsibility to understand the speaker based on the contexture in which a word or phrase was used, given the speaker's implied intent.

Today, we live in a world where the speaker is responsible for interpreting how the listener will interpret the conveyed meaning. The listener has the right to dissect the speakers words out of the spoken context and imply a meaning of their own without having to explain their intentional misunderstanding of what was said in order to change the conversation in the direction from how it was intended to be considered. The listener today has the right to hijack the words of the speaker and intentionally skew them to reflect on the speaker any discernment the listener intends.

This fundamental concept is exactly why you are afraid of who you may offend with what you may say and it is backward and wrong. A listener should be held accountable for their intentional misunderstanding.

Still, that doesn't stop the speaker from being responsible for their implied meaning even if the meaning was intended to be benign in the spirit it was given.

Mark Twain is the perfect example. In his time, his attitude may have reflected the majority opinion of the culture. He may have had racist points of view given the society he lived in.

But NO ONE can deny the fact that his work, "Huckleberry Finn" outlined a disparity in an ethnically divided society and advanced the conversation of equality to a degree. His work was considered inflammatory against the status quo.

And yet today, we allow people of low intelligence, low education and absolutely no critical thinking skill to hijack a valuable part of the dialogue for equal rights by belittling the speaker's contribution simply because of a single word he used in a dialogue that was intended to stun its original audience into seeing their flaws. He wanted the people of his time to wake up and see how obtuse they were.

But those of us with critical thinking skills and have informed opinions are afraid to correct these individuals with no critical thinkings skills because we know we are not only responsible for what we say as a rebuttal, but we are also responsible for how these low thinking, uneducated individuals from ALL corners of our society and global culture can and WILL intentionally misinterpret our rebuttals to tear down the voice of reason through character assassination.


Friday, October 30, 2015

New Short Story in the Pipeline

This week, I commissioned a new editor with 30+ years of experience to evaluate my new manuscript for a horror short story I wrote recently.  This is the first step I'm taking to release a series of horror short stories with the goal of publishing at least one per month.

The story is essentially a John Carpenter styled thriller with a strong H.P. Lovecraft feel.  The subject matter is mature, steamy and gory.

Very excited to see how this turns out!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Does this line work?

I sat down this morning to edit my horror short story and I came across a line I was not satisfied with. I posted a couple of variations on Twitter to see what others think.

Does this sound right?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Onder Librum will go live October 19th

Tabletop Gamers and pulp fiction fans rejoice!

On Monday, October 19, 2015, The Ed Greenwood Group (TEGG) will go LIVE to the public with their new website, Onder Librum!

You can take part in one of the most highly anticipated communities for both avid gamers and fiction.  Mr. Greenwood will be releasing the upcoming product catalog schedule that will introduce 15 NEW game settings from the master world builder, as well as the schedule for over 200 new novels and gaming accessories!  There will also be a new gaming rule system released too.

Readers and fans will have the opportunity to interact with the TEGG Sessorium members, some names you will know and some new faces as well.

So when the site opens, join the rest of The Ed Greenwood Group and me as we create content that all of us can enjoy.  In the upcoming weeks, I will be using the Onder Librum forums to give updates about what I'm working on for TEGG, including more details about the novels I'm working on and their expected release dates!

I'm so excited!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Life of Purpose and Meaning

Consider, if you will, that our choices guide the direction of our lives, and yet when we look at the experiences that shaped us, whether victory or tragedy, it feels like it was meant to happen that way to get us to the point in our lives where we are presently.

I have always taken an interest in exploring these philosophical concepts.  Are our lives one of our own making?  Are we predestined to a fate we cannot avoid?  What is the point of having free will?

My struggles with these concepts began very early in my life.  By the time I was five-years-old, I had already dealt with my parents divorcing when I was two, my father had remarried twice leaving me to feel I had been replaced twice, I had been kidnapped by my father from my mother and I had been sexually assaulted twice.  I suffered from serious abandonment issues and when I went to church, I heard the resounding message that Jesus loved me loud and clear.  It is easy enough to indoctrinate a child with religious tenants, but in my emotionally vulnerable psychological state, my beliefs became my salvation, but also one of my greatest obstacles.

I understood that we were free to accept or reject Jesus as the savior as a religious concept of free will, but I was also indoctrinated to believe that God had given me a purpose and through that purpose I would do God's will.  I also saw example upon example of people saying "it's God's will" when something bad would happen.

Like any other human being, I made mistakes, but always tried to keep myself within the guidelines of my personal beliefs in God.  I firmly believed I would be shown the way and God would open doors of opportunities in my life so I could do his will.  I had a worrisome personality, fretting with every decision I had to make, constantly praying for guidance.

The result was inaction in my life.  As I stood by waiting for solutions and signs, I remained immobile.  Sure, I had dreams and aspirations, but I did not set clear goals for myself well until I reached adulthood.  When I had a crisis of faith, I became truly lost without any sense of direction and a future that overwhelmed me with uncertainty.

Lucky for me, I had always been a bookworm and I enjoyed reading.  I began researching, studying and learning what I could.  I spent a considerable amount of my time trying to understand human behavior and other spiritual concepts.  I searched for answers.  One of my emerging passions was science.

Theoretical scientists who have studied quantum mechanics have proven to collation between Space Time and Causality, which basically says the Universe exists in all points and is all happening at once, so our futures already exist and are happening.  On the surface, this would leave one to falsely believe that their choices and actions have already been predetermined, so it would seem moot to believe you have the power to dictate your own future.  These theorems are only one piece of the puzzle because you also have to consider quantum entanglement and the uncertainty principle

Intrigued by what I learned, I focused on examining myself closely, trying to understand my own behavior and what level of control I had over my life.  My wife and children challenged my way of thinking as I tried to avoid making the same mistakes as my parents.  Keep in mind, I am not bashing spiritual concepts here because I truly believe my childhood faith afforded me a measure of peace and shaped me into the man I am today.  I try to be kind and compassionate, as well as fair and empathic to the suffering of others, but if I had simply been a product of my childhood misfortunes, I don't believe I would be who I am today.

Since I have loved writing since I was 12-years-old and I was also a big fan of fantasy stories, I decided to explore the idea of Fate vs Free Will in my first novel, Heir of the Blood King.  Essentially, I developed a fantasy world filled with mythical creatures and magic, which leaves the imagination open to many possibilities, but then I implemented the idea that everyone who lived in my world was predestined at birth.  I then inserted a character who for some reason or another was left out and was born without a fate.  Pondering the storylines over the eight book outlines that I planned, I began to truly understand how powerful the concept of free will is.

I've always been one to hold myself accountable for my actions, never placing the burden of my failures onto what may have been preordained in my life, however I did not take actions after experiencing a failure usually because I took it as a sign that I was not intended to take that route.  It was not in God's plan or else I would have succeeded.

What I discovered was that our successes and failures shape who we are.  We are a collection of our experiences and if you remove any of those experiences, no matter how insignificant they may seem, you will change in some form or manner.  Let me give you an example.  I am an avid chocoholic.  I love chocolate and I can turn any conversation into a declaration of how much I love it. What if I had been ill the very first time I had chocolate and what if it had made me sick.  It could have created an aversion to chocolate that could have affected me for the rest of my life.  I can honestly say that I would not be the same person if I didn't love chocolate.  That's how much of an influence it has over me.

So the reason all these experiences that make up your path feel so much like they were meant to happen is because it is all of these factors, these stimuli that shaped who you are right now.  A year from now, you will not be the same person you are today.  We are a constantly changing image of ourselves.  In fact, when you look in a mirror, you are not looking at yourself.  You are looking at a version of yourself about one billionth of second in the past because that's how long it takes for your reflection to bounce back to your eye.

When you understand that your fate is in your own hands and your choices matter, you claim the power of your free will to act.  When you exercise this free will, it becomes a purpose.  It is not for me nor anyone else in this world to tell you what that purpose is.  No one can possibly know your mind more than you do because as I have already said, you are a collection of all of your experiences and interactions.  You can know someone's one mind better than anyone else and if you spend a week apart, there are things that could happen within that week that will change the person you knew.  Luckily in most situations, events are rarely that dramatic.  People change over time in much the way the flow of water slowly reshapes rocks.  One simple truth that will always hold true is that everything changes.  This is one of the reasons people move in and out of our lives.

For me, I chose to make my purpose writing because I enjoy it so much.  I feel that the more I write, the better I get at it.  I have an active imagination and writing provides a powerful creative outlet.  You may seek your purpose in something else.  Anything that you choose to do on purpose is the course your life will take.  If you choose to do nothing, do not do like I did and ask why nothing ever seemed to happen.  This is the surest way to lose control of your life because as I said, we are a product of all of our experiences.  The world will move on around you.  Seize your opportunities, take hold of your dreams.

Where there is the will, there is a way.  This is how we give our lives meaning.  Once you find your purpose, you can align your goals towards that purpose and surround yourself with people who can understand and possibly share your vision.  I made my purpose writing.  I give my work meaning by exploring concepts like free will, teamwork, friendship and loyalty.  I explore ideas about the minds of bullies so others can share the knowledge of what I have discovered for myself.  This has brought a level of happiness into my life that I had never before imagined.

So find your purpose and give your life meaning.  If you want to make your purpose playing video games, set goals for yourself. With opportunities today like Twitch, you can make a living and possibly more.  If a charity weighs heavy on your heart, you can find a way to use your purpose to game to bring awareness or even donations to that charity.  You will have true meaning.

If you struggle with your purpose, don't give up.  Keep trying and find different ways to succeed.  Learn, discover, research, change plans.  You will learn more from your failures than you ever will from your successes.  People who truly succeed in life never quit because it is too hard and they never blame fate for their failures.  Get up, brush yourself off and take your destiny into your own hands...



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rest in Peace, Butch

So today, my neighbor informed me that he read a friend of mine had passed away.

I was quite shocked.  Butch and I have not spoken in a long while, but I was thinking of him during the summer. I had emailed his mother, Sharlote, only a week ago because I couldn't shake the need to contact her.  I didn't understand why, until today.

This man was one of the most influential people that I have ever known personally.  He was one of the people involved in my first role playing experience.

Butch was incredibly intelligent, sincere and somehow stubborn at the same time.  He was brilliantly imaginative, an amazing artist and an armchair philosopher.  He made me laugh many times when all I felt like doing was crying.  Butch had a rough life and yet he always left people feeling better after speaking with him for just a few minutes.

I can honestly say that I would have never become a writer or even a gamer if he had not been a part of my life.  I owe he and his brother, my friend Dentye so much.

Rest in peace, my friend.  I will miss you more than you could have ever known.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Editing Short Stories This Week

Not sure if I've got a case of Writer's Blues or Monday Blues, but I'll be taking a break from writing this week.

Over the summer, I did a lot of research about how other writers make a living wage selling their self-published stories.  I would like to reach that point myself.  One of the suggestions I saw time and again was to publish four or five short stories.

I have about twenty horror short stories, most of them publish worthy, that I intend to release as a short horror series.  Today I will start editing a twenty-eight page story I wrote about the town I grew up in, Lake Village, Arkansas.  The sleepy little town is nestled right on the edge of Lake Chicot.  The area if full of rich history and I feel it will make a compelling story setting.


Saturday, September 26, 2015


No seriously, do something meaningful with your money instead of giving it to me. Become a & eliminate extreme poverty in this lifetime.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Grammar: The Writer's Greatest Misconception

One of the greatest struggles a new writer faces is how self-critical they are of their own work. They get a brilliant idea and passionately pound the keys of their keyboard, working in a frenzy.  Once the initial adrenaline rush of inspiration wears off, they proudly kick back and read their manuscript.

Their hearts become shattered.  They see misspelled words, wrong words used and improper grammar in every other sentence.  The writer begins to have doubts about their abilities and their self-worth.  The writing is crap.

This is a natural part of the cycle of writing.  Ernest Hemmingway once said, "The first draft of anything is crap."  He actually used another word besides "crap", but I'm trying to keep my blog G/PG whenever I can.

A writer doesn't need grammar.  We have many talented editors, educators, students and everyday folk who have amazing literary skills and know how to format a sentence properly.  They also know how to catch bad writing habits and more.

What the literary world needs are innovative ideas and imagination.  We need writers to take us into new worlds and new adventures, opening our eyes and expanding our understanding of our place in the universe.  Ideas do not require good grammar to deliver themselves.  That's what an editor is for.  To see your idea and to know how to shape your idea into a story.

The greatest tool of a writer is their voice.  An author's voice isn't changed by an editor correcting a word if the voice is strong.  Focus on your voice as a writer.  What is your style?  For instance, I like to focus on miniscule detail because I like to think of my voice as a paintbrush painting a picture.  The trick my editor taught me was how I can go into exact detail without damaging the pace of my story.  An editor is the YANG voice to your YIN!

So write.  Then write some more.  You can then start self-editing once your first draft is done and correct what you know is wrong.  Move sentences, rearrange paragraphs and do the best you can.  Get a professional editor and request them to look over your work.  Accept their wisdom and knowledge.  An editor doesn't want to kill your masterpiece.  They want to help you avoid the pitfall mistakes that many published writers have made.

The more you write, the more you self-edit and the more you work with editors, the better you will become at Grammar.  Remember, your ideas are what we need.  Write!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lessons Learned: The Hard Way

Life is really too short.  You can dwell on this or that.  If it makes you happy, then good for you.

One of the most difficult challenges I have faced in life is not always being able to see when I was wrong about something.  I try to be honest with myself, but sometimes that doesn't always work.  So if you are losing sleep, and something is taking away your ability to live your life, then you have a problem.

I have an issue I have struggled with this year and I have finally done what I needed to do.  I've said my peace.  I've accepted my responsibility and I'm moving on.  My children are the top priority in my life and their smiles offer rewards beyond compare.  I have a loving and supporting wife and I stand on my own two feet without depending on the graciousness of my friends or family.  I have doors of opportunity open to me and there are many ways I can explore my horizons.  I realized that I'm capable of turning in any direction that I choose.  There is no course of action that I'm locked into.


Sometimes it is better to just make your point & move on. If you try too hard and if you are wrong, you might overplay your hand.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Am Writing Horror Updates

In case some of my readers are wondering, I've finished the first draft of Adventures of Adam Book Two and I'm letting it rest on the back burner.  I found it best to wait a few weeks or a month before starting the revision process.

In the meantime, I'm been writing horror.  Specifically one of the projects I'm doing for The Ed Greenwood Group in the Hellmaw campaign setting.  So on Twitter, I've been using #amwritinghorror with status updates.

I didn't want my readers to think that I've simply dropped the ball on Adam.  Writing is a long process and for me, it helps to mix up what I'm writing and take the appropriate amount of time and patience to get the story done the right way...


Friday, September 18, 2015

One Thousand Books and Counting

I want to humbly give my readers my deepest appreciation.  Today, I surpassed 1000 PAID DOWNLOADS on Amazon with my debut novel!

Thank you for your support and for telling your friends about my little story!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Writing Tip #1: Do Not Edit As You Go

Before you start setting writing goals or anything else involved with writing, the first and foremost thing to remember is "Do Not Edit As You Go."

When I'm writing in a frenzy trying to get my ideas onto the page, the thing that will break my rhythm faster than anything is if I am a thousand words in for the day and find myself thinking about the red underlined word that I misspelled in my first sentence.  If I go back and correct just that one word, I am done for the day.  I will obsess about every error I just made and that lowers my confidence.

Editing happens later.  All mistakes can be fixed in future drafts.  Don't worry about whether or not that sentence fits.  If you need to add it to a different paragraph, it would actually be better to just write the remainder of the paragraph.  And if it bothers you that much, rewrite the sentence again in the new paragraph.  You can delete the displaced sentence later.

The absolutely most time-consuming issue related to writing is editing.  And for you to get the progress you need to build a long work, you don't need anything to slow you down or discourage you.  Just write it, move on and fix it later.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Old Dog with a New Trick

My daughter, Luci has been writing for awhile now.  She just started her first attempt at a novel and I was blown away by some of her writing techniques.

When I opened her first draft, I was looking over her formatting at a glance and one of the things I noticed off the bat was there was mostly dialogue.  I prepared myself to write some notes to ask about the setting, then I continued to read.

What I discovered was amazing.  She had two characters with different points of view debating details about the scene.  She was able to show the character's personalities, their dynamic of how they related to each other and she described the setting of the scene from each of their perspectives as the two characters tried to decided among themselves which one was right.

She even provided some world building information about how the character's trade system worked and established far off regions and other cities other than then one the characters were currently in.

I have always struggled with convincing dialogue and seeing how she put the scene together inspired me.  So in the future, when I begin a second draft, I will be consulting my 13-year-old for suggestions!


Friday, September 4, 2015

Writing More Short Stories

Just wrapped up the 1st draft of another short story to be submitted to TEGG's Platter of Surprises.  My publisher wants one for each of my projects and those are in the can awaiting revision.  Most likely I will have at least one submission every month.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gaming Improves Critical Thinking

I have people ask me questions about my creative process all the time. The main thing I'm specifically asked about is why I have such a vivid imagination.

I'd like to say genetics or my personality as the answer, but that would be dishonest.  In truth, the thing I attribute most influential to my imagination, my creativity and my critical thinking skills is gaming.

And I'm not talking about video games, although I think they have helped me too.  I'm talking about role-playing games, specifically tabletop role-playing.

It's more than just pretending to be a character.  The real trick is to think in terms of how your characters think.  And if you are dealing with a fantasy world, it is important to imagine in your mind what the character you are role playing sees.  The more you role-play, the more characters you play in different settings, the more your mind can process highly detailed images in the imagination.  And this is considered as real as it gets "out of the box" thinking.  A tabletop gamer can put together pieces of a situation that normally wouldn't fit into the real world.

Role playing also has the benefit of teaching very important skills, including leadership skills.  Given a specific problem, a group of players may have various ideas about how to resolve that problem.  In my experience, a leader tends to rise up among the players and uses critical thinking skills to deduce the problems.

So one of the ways that I encourage my children's creativity is to get them involved in role playing.  I'm sure there is a scientific study out there somewhere that will probably say the same thing.  I'm just saying that I've seen it first hand with countless table-top gamers because they are some of the most creative and intelligent people I've ever met.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Future of Adventures of Adam

Some may be wondering what I plan to do about my self-published fantasy series, Adventures of Adam, now that I have joined The Ed Greenwood Group (TEGG) publishing.

Everything is still the same.  I may release sequels a little slower than I expected because I will have more on my plate.

The great thing about TEGG is that it isn't a traditional publisher.  It is something new that hasn't been seen before.  It goes beyond media or multimedia.  It is a transmedia company.  I am still considered an Indie author because the group is an Indie Publisher.

There are two big differences from being all by myself as a self-publisher and how I will work with my relationship with TEGG.  First, I will have the opportunity to publish short original works in TEGG's upcoming monthly publication, Platter of Surprises.  Secondly, anything that I intend to release by myself, I must run it by the TEGG group.  The second may sound bad, but it actually isn't.  What TEGG wants to do is see if there is a way for them to incorporate any new non-TEGG material I release into publicity the group can use to promote me!  It's a win-win situation!

So my plan for now is to simply work on the second novel, "The Cult of Draenar" to be released in 2016.  I need to follow up with my editor and see what her schedule looks like for the beginning of the year before I announce a date.  My ambition for a Fall 2015 release was simply not reasonable for the amount of work that I have put into the story.  Many, many errors need to be corrected before I even pass it off to my editor.

And I will be releasing some original short story works and some stories for upcoming projects related to the TEGG publications.  All in all, this arrangement means everyone will have to opportunity to see more new works coming from me!

Because of all the reasons in this very long explaination, I've decided that almost all the work I do will in some way touch TEGG.  I don't think Adventures of Adam would fit into the TEGG's productions plans, but I would honestly consider an invitation by TEGG to incorporate it into their works.  That's how much I trust Mr. Greenwood, even with my baby...


Monday, August 31, 2015

Announcement: The Ed Greenwood Group

I am very excited to announce I'm an official member of  The Ed Greenwood Group (TEGG) as a part of his Sessorium of Creatives!

There is absolutely no way I can express my gratitude at this amazing opportunity.  Ed Greenwood is the creator of the AD&D Forgotten Realms campaign setting and the author of almost 300 novels. As I am both an avid tabletop gamer and fantasy aficionado, he has indirectly influenced my writing and creativity for more than twenty-five years.

TEGG is a venture by Mr. Greenwood to create a publishing group where the members work together creating content for new stories, games and merchandise based on 15 new settings designed by this renowned world builder. The publication schedule covers the next ten years with 250 new novels set to be released.  This upcoming October 2015, Mr. Greenwood is set to kick off the publication schedule with his novel, "Your World Is Doomed" set in one of his amazing new horror campaign settings, Hellmaw.

Among the many new projects, I will be working on three novels, the first of which will be published in 2017 which will be set in the Hellmaw campaign setting as well.  As Mr. Greenwood launches his new website to the public this coming October, I will be able to provide more information about what I'm working on for my readers.

I am very excited about the work the Sessorium of Creatives is working on and I am truly grateful to apprentice under Mr. Greenwood who has inspired me for so long.  My TEGG profile is available to the public if you want to check it out!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Food for Thought

Creatives who dwell on criticism are searching for validation of their self-worthiness, but the ones who create for the pleasure of doing so measure their successes through the gratification of completing their projects to their own satisfaction.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Updates to come

I've been feeling a little under the weather this past month, so I haven't been updating. That doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything, though.

Next week, I will update what I've been working on.  There are some things in the works my readers will be excited to hear about.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Presentation, Attitude and Losing Self-Control

Even Batman has had a fanboy or fangirl squee moment...

This is what I needed to remind myself when the overwhelming urge of awe and inspiration strikes me.  Nothing feels so exhilarating and self-deprecating than a momentary loss of composure due to the unexpected excitement of engaging an influence, an inspiration.

It's only natural and it is only human. We strive to be the best of ourselves and sometimes we super-impose all of those notions onto others. Oftentimes, we call them heroes, mentors and idols.

Get it out of your system, even if you haven't had your coffee yet, like I did this morning. In some cases, your behavior can be expected.

Focus on the moment, let it inspire you.  Never feel ashamed. Use that as a motivation, an opportunity. Your presentation will be improved by your disposition, your attitude about how you process the experience.

My daughters struggle to keep their poise and face palm themselves after the fact. I told them to never deny their happiness no matter how silly it may feel.  Those are the moments of life where memories that will outlast time are made.  Legendary, the stuffs of immortality, snapshots in time that should be savored.

Now, I need coffee and reflection.  This is a great day!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Save Your Pennies and Your Dollars Will Take Care of Themselves

Advice for kids: Save Your Pennies!
Over the last few weeks, I've been speaking with my children about saving money and planning for the future.

When I was around 10-years-old, I remember my Uncle George telling me about an elderly woman who was in the same store as he who was buying a ring.  She was dressed nicely and wore expensive jewelry, so she was well to do according to my uncle's assessment.

The price tag on her jewelry purchase was $399.99.  When the clerk entered the amount into the cash register as $400 even, she stopped him because the price was wrong.

Uncle George was confused as to why she would object to rounding up to the next penny. He felt embarrassed not only for the cashier but also the woman who was squabbling over a single penny.  My uncle reached into his pocket and offered the lady some change, attempting to make peace about the situation.

"You don't understand, sir," the elderly lady explain. "I have the money, more than enough change of my own to cover the price.  This isn't about principle or feelings. This is about business. I didn't come in here all willy nilly to buy a ring on impulse. I have been eyeing this ring for more than six months. I knew the price and I planned accordingly."

"Yes ma'am, I can understand that," my uncle replied. "I didn't mean to offend you. I just wanted to hand you some change in case you are short."

"No sir, you didn't offend me," the elderly lady smiled in reply. "I'm trying to help you.  Here you are offering to give away your loose change to help a stranger out who doesn't need it.  I have what I have because I know the secret to wealth."

"There's a secret?" my uncle inquired.

"If you save your pennies, your dollars will take care of themselves," the elderly lady answered with a grin.

After the cashier corrected the price and the lady left the store with her purchase, Uncle George reflected on what she meant. The answer seems simple on the surface, every one hundred pennies saved is a dollar, so if you save every penny you can at every opportunity, it will add up to more over time.

As I explained this to my kids, I took it a step further. When your mind is set to thrifty mode because you are watching your pennies, it allows you to save even more money that you can invest into products of quality that will not simply break after having them for a month. Replacing stuff that wears out quickly will cost you more in the long run always.

Also, if you are watching your pennies, it will help eliminate impulse buying and thus buyers remorse. Buyers remorse will cause depression and people tend to spend money when they feel unhappy.  After a while, they can become addicted to impulse buying and the cycle of having to spend more wasteful money leading to more buyers remorse.

I wish I would have had the opportunity to have sat down with this woman. Her simple five-minute exchange with my uncle not only changed his life but those he shared the wisdom she imparted to him, like myself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Greatest Challenge I Face as a Writer

Since I've self-published my action adventure fantasy novel, "Heir of the Blood King", I have discovered a new threat to my writing:  Time.

Before I published, my challenge was insecurity and self-doubt. Whether my book is decent or horrible, it no longer matters.  I wrote one.  It's online for the world to see and there's a certain level of satisfaction that comes from it. 

At times, I grow impatient because I'm not reaching enough readers, so when I sit down to write, I find myself asking questions about what readers expect from me. Then I start thinking about my social media and how I need to do more blog posts, tweets and interact more with my readers.

My writing gets lost in the shuffle of time management. I can write a short story fairly easily, but I hit a snag when I can't sit at my PC uninterrupted for six to eight hours to work on my next novel. Fortunately, Adventures of Adam: Book 2 is nearly done in the first draft stage. 

The plan for moving forward for me is to place writing first on my list of daily priorities and to not stop until I've written at least 1,000 words. From there, I can do my social media, then explore my options for promotion.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Path of Exile - The Awakening

My Rating:  4/5 Stars

Whenever I feel stressed, I write to alleviate it, but when I get stressed out about something writing related, I game.

To be honest, I have to call myself a casual gamer these days. Working a full-time job, homeschooling our children and also being a full-time writer, there are not enough hours in the week to play games as much as I would like.

This past week, during the book blitz, my stress levels were off the charts. I really wanted to write and I really wanted to engage my social media, but I was so overwhelmed, I was starting to shut down. I needed a break from reality. This was a good time for me to play the new expansion for Path of Exile, The Awakening.

Usually, I like to play cyclone marauders, but when I logged into the standard league and reassigned my skill points with my level 88 marauder, I was very upset because I lost almost 6k DPS. Even with the skill tree changes, I was able to allocate my skill points pretty much the same as I had before the expansion. What really upset me is that I wasn't able to run my three heralds and Anger at the same time for my auras because of the mana reservation changes.

So, after I tested my build out, I started a new marauder on the Warbands League.  My wife decided to play a witch summoner. The changes that were made to the original game content, such as moving the waypoints around and consolidating zones in Act 2, as well as removal of filler zones was nice. I felt the gameplay at early levels was much easier, and yet challenging. As we moved through the quests and completed zones, I was happy to see our character levels were staying within a level of the zone levels.

Finally when we reached Act 4 in Normal, I was excited to see the new content.  The zones were well designed and I liked the new mobs we encountered. I really enjoyed the Dried Lake area because of the large open space.  I was still using molten strike as my primary melee attack at that time, but I could imagine slicing and dicing my way through with cyclone.

Once I reached Abomination Piety in Belly of the Beast Level 2, I was not happy. I think my fps for my laptop is too low, but the fight wasn't easy.  My wife and I ended up zerging her.  We continued on into The Harvest and killed the three bosses to complete the organ quest.  We turned in and then when we tried to enter the Black Heart, we were both kicked.  So we reloaded and had to kill the three bosses again.

Up to this point, I was still ok with all the Act 4 content even if I had to redo three boss fights I didn't particularly enjoy.  Keep in mind, I'm not a uber gamer.  I like to farm and find stuff.  That's why I like to play. We did find a low-level unique we had not found before. I can't remember what it was at the moment, but it was a new league drop.

We didn't do any prep work and learn about Act 4 beforehand. I wanted to experience the content myself through the first encounter, so when it came to the final fight, I had no idea what was going on.  I usually play with my sound off so that my wife can keep her sound on. I get confused hearing two sounds and I don't like wearing headphones when I play.

The fight with Malachai was ridiculous!  I didn't understand that he kept bonding to Piety and we had to attack her. We pretty much zerged that fight too.  And then we went into the heart and I must have died 30 times. My FPS was so bad, I would zone and die without even making a single attack.  The video lag was ridiculous! I know it was my laptop, but still, Dominus has never been that bad.

This was the point that I said enough. I logged into Standard and did Act 4 with my level 88 cyclone marauder and basically, had the same result, zerged from Abomination Piety to Malachai.  I knew it was time to hang up my marauder and try something else.

So my wife and I decided to try a couple of new builds and we both decided to play Dual Flame Totem Witches. I've never played a build like this before, so for me, it turned out to be a lot of fun.

Once we made it to Act 4, I felt comfortable with the character and had prepared a plan for the boss fights. I think I died twice on Piety and four times on Malachai.  The experience was actually enjoyable.  I've now made it to Act 3 Merciless and I'm getting ready to go after Dominius and to finish Act 4 Merciless.

Overall, I am very pleased with the Act 4 content even if my system's FPS is next to nothing in the final battles.  The new quests are fun and I love the changes to the skill tree for jewels. The Warbands League is a blast, I love killing the Warbands.  We hunt 4 stars.

I don't like the way my cyclone character was nerfed, however.  I've never been Atziri viable so I don't think it was an OP issue that needed to be adusted for game balance, but then again, I'm not a hardcore gamer anymore, so it might be that I'm just failing.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

2005: You Remind Me of the Babe

When my oldest daughter, Luci, was 4-years-old, one of our favorite pastimes was to sit down and watch Jim Henson's Labyrinth while her mom looked after our newborn, Lilly. I'm not kidding you, we all must have watched the movie more than fifty times.

In the Fall of 2005, we were living in Smyrna, TN. Late one night, we were heading to the grocery story when we drove nearby the bowling alley just off Sam Ridley.  We saw a carnival had setup and Luci became excited.

We stopped and purchased some tickets to let her get on the kiddie rides. Lilly was resting peacefully in her stroller and my wife was able to unwind while I focused primarily on keeping up with Luci.

We saw an airplane ride and there was no line.  Luci wanted to ride in the airplane, but there were no other children there.  My wife and I were both very hesitant to let her go up by herself.  Yes, we were still in that very over-protective phase. Finally, reluctantly we agreed when the ride operator assured us that he would stop the ride immediately if anything went amiss.

Luci was daring, no fear in her little eyes and she was ready "for the rush". She climbed into one of the planes, was fastened securely and off she went.  About one minute later, just as the airplanes jetted from the ground, high above our heads, we heard what my wife and I thought was screaming.  I knew for certain Luci was freaking out at being so high from the ground.  My wife asked the operator to stop the ride.

Just as the ride started to slow down a bit, we were finally able to see and hear Luci.  She was leaning forward with her hands outstretched into the air and she was singing "Magic Dance" from the Labyrinth movie.  The part where she would belt out "left my baby blue" was what we heard that sounded like screaming.

Knowing she was happy and safe, we asked the operator to continue the ride.  People from all around began to gather to watch Luci and to take pictures (and of course, I didn't have my camera with me).  She was such a ham.  When the ride stopped, all of the airplanes were filled to capacity and the ride operator let Luci get a second go-round on the house.

Some days, I was I could shrink this teenage version of her back down to that wide-eyed little girl once more.  This is one of my favorite memories of my daughter growing up.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Thank you to Lola Blog Tours

So this week, Lola's Blog Tours hosted a book blitz for "Heir of the Blood King".  We received some very positive responses and several wonderful reviews.  The book blitz was a success!

To see all the tour stops simply stop by the tour page.

And even though the free promotion of the book is over, you can still download it for .99 cents or if you have Kindle Unlimited or are a Prime subscriber, you can borrow the book for free.

And it still isn't too late to join the $50 Amazon gift card Rafflecopter giveaway.  There is one day left to enter to win one of two gift cards.  Winners will be announced early next week upon verification and prizes will be emailed within the next two weeks.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Special Preview: Adventures of Adam Book Two Preface

When I released "Heir of the Blood King", I wanted it to serve as an introduction to the characters of the series with a very narrow focus on the choices they made.

We get to see the world Adam lives in through his eyes as he attempts to make sense of what is happening around him.  His world is controlled by a force greater than himself and the people are assigned a destiny that they are required to fulfill. He has his perceptions of how his world operates and why things are happening, but he doesn't have all of the facts.  He is left with a choice to either adapt to surive or perish when he finds himself a victim of circumstance. He has lost his home and the only family he had left in the middle of the night.  He has some basic skills, but  remains untested in the real world.  This is a very scary prospect for a 14-year-old boy who didn't know his life was about to change so drastically.  He tends to be driven by insecurity and fear of the unknown.

Two other characters also find themselves in the same predictiment, Talia and Donadeir.  Talia was made for such a task.  She was prepared to be a survivalist and a warrior for years by her father. She knows how to handle herself well and she is an analytical thinker, refusing to give into emotions that change her perceptions.  Talia is the most likely of the three characters to survive.  And then there is Donadeir who has never had any real responsibilities and doesn't seem to be in touch with reality.  He is unskilled and when faced with a great challenge, he's thinking about food.

When the three very different characters come together, we discovered that each are an asset to one another allowing the group to become stronger than each of them are individually.  This bond becomes so strong that it literally breaks the chains of destiny upon their lives, giving them Free Will (well, for the moment at least).

The choices these characters make and how they come together are the key to the series.  Now that we know their world based on their unique perspectives, it is now time to open that lens all the way so you can truly see the world they live in.  I want to share the Preface of the story with my readers. Welcome to Adventures of Adam Book Two:

The Cult of Draenar

As the city of Cindermoor below began to light up lanterns and torches for the night, Strahl’s eyes glowed beneath his lowered cowl. His hawkish features twisted with the shadows as they danced across his face and his skin appeared to be drawn taut over his elongated chin and thin pointed nose. He clutched the wrought iron railing of his balcony perch with long, skinny fingers. His tall, slender form, shrouded in black robes, gave the impression he was a bird of prey seeking a late meal. A sneer formed across his jagged expression as the door opened behind him.
“Master,” a timid voice said warily, “the king has summoned the Conclave.”
“I’ll be there shortly,” Strahl replied with a whisper which echoed across the tower’s vast upper chamber.
“Yes, Master Strahl,” the voice answered just before the door closed with a soft click.
Strahl looked to the sky to see the Blood Moon rising from the east. It trailed its path across the sky, midway to its apex. He felt the air around him come alive with anticipation as the deep-red glow of the moon’s light reflected in his piercing blue eyes, giving them an unearthly glow. Tonight, decades of planning were to come to fruition.
It was he who had chosen the location so Draenar, the Blood King, could perform his dark ritual to recharge the phylactery which extended the necromancer’s king unnatural life. The king would not suspect his plan, for Strahl had done nothing different from the last five times before. Every eleven years, the king needed to perform the ritual by the massacre of blood of the kingdom’s citizens and after sixty-six years of service, Strahl had become impatient as he waited for Draenar to share his dark secrets of longevity. The Blood King was not a lich, or any other undead thing, and Strahl wanted the living gift for himself.
Tonight, the Blood King would be at his weakest with his attention fully focused on the task at hand, Strahl thought to himself. A decade ago, he had begun his search for the heir. Five years ago strange anomalies began to surface in the kingdom, causing Draenar to lock himself away within the central laboratory deep beneath the keep’s surface to explore his magic. The king was blind to what was transpiring around him.
As he looked to the northern horizon, Strahl knew the Blood Guard was preparing their attack against the unaware village of Riverside. He suspected he had located the heir somewhere near to the village. The former adventurer, Stolice, resided there with his family. He was the only one who had not responded to Strahl’s requisition regarding the orphans of the village, heightening Strahl’s suspicions. If the heir was there in that black hole of nothing they call their home, he was confident his plan to usurp the king would be realized soon. Strahl, Master Inquisitor of the Conclave of Knowledge, second only to the Blood King himself, would become king.
The Order of the Fates Divined would be thrown into chaos, he reflected. The Order believes all peoples have a destiny, but Strahl knew only the most powerful, such as himself, were deemed worthy enough to be handed a fated path.
Strahl had spent countless hours over the last five years investigating the possibilities brought on by the anomalies and forming a plan of action. He didn’t need to find the heir at this time. He just needed to thin the herd to make the heir easier to discover. Strahl planned to locate the heir and take the power of his blood. The Conclave of Knowledge, or as the commoners refer to them, the Cult of Draenar, would be no more. The other ten members will fall into line behind him or be vanquished.
The door opened once again.
“I’m coming,” Strahl answered sternly as he walked away from his perch on the balcony toward the inner chamber door.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rafflecopter Giveaway - Only 3 Days Left on FREE Download!

You can download my ebook "Heir of the Blood King" for Free to get additional entries in the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Only 4 more days to register to win one of TWO $50 Amazon Gift Cards!  Stay tuned for more details!

Plus, you can download "Heir of the Blood King" for FREE for the next 3 days!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Reviews for Heir of the Blood King

This week during my book blitz with a tour wide giveaway, two of my tour hosts also did reviews of "Heir of the Blood King."  I wanted to share these on my blog because both reviewers are book bloggers who received the original copy release of the story before it was professionally edited:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dear Mr. Neil Degrasse Tyson


I don't think I need to tell you that it is hot outside.  It is very, very, very hot.  As a writer, I understand that using the word "very" is a lazy way of writing, however my brain is so fried from this heat, so this is the only word besides "hot" that comes to mind.

You have proven your argument. My children and I watched Cosmos last year (kids rewatched it again this month) and you have thoroughly convinced us of the science surrounding Global Climate Change. You've made your point, so turn heat down, please.  It's just too hot.

Yes, I understand, weather and climate are two different things and so daily weather conditions can fluctuate, whereas climate change is the pattern of weather over the course of time.  The pattern here lately is hot.  So hot my goldfish are panicking and they live in a bowl inside my comfy air conditioned house.

My wife is threatening to leave me because I won't do the yard work.  My dogs hate me because I won't take them for a walk. My kids are starting to hate on me because I promised to take them rock hounding this summer and I haven't.  Why?  Because it is very, very, very hot.

You said climate change is everyone's problem and we each need to do our part.  I've replaced every light in the house with an LED light, reduced the excess mileage I put on my car and we plan to move into a more energy efficient home with energy efficient appliances.  I would even like to have a solar panel array to produce my own power.

My family and I are big fans, so we know and believe in your mission.  You made us believers even if the science doesn't require us to believe for it to be true.

So I've done my part, Mr. Tyson. I now place this into your good hands.  You are a very smart and charismatic guy, so I know you got this.  I believe in you, man.  I know you can fix the problem.  It's just too hot!


Monday, July 20, 2015

My thoughts so far on Batman v Superman

When we were living in Oregon, my daughters took me to see Man of Steel for Father's Day. My expectations were reserved because I didn't know what to expect. I was not disappointed.

So later on, when it was announced that a Batman v Superman movie was in the works, I was very excited. Two of my favorite heroes on the same screen with a storyline that had been in the comics for quite some time.  My mind soared with casting choices and sequences they might choose to bring to the big screen.

My excitement diminished when I heard Ben Affleck was playing Batman.  It's not that I don't like him, to the contrary, I've been a fan since I saw him in Chasing Amy.  I even loved his performance in Daredevil.  I could not see him as Batman because I kept imagining the Ben Affleck portraying the caricature of himself in Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back.  I couldn't take the casting seriously.  My wife was excited for this movie as well up until Affleck was announced.

I reserved judgment.  I know he can be one hell of an actor and he might surprise us.  Plus he had the right build.

When I started to worry was when I saw all of the other casting parts for JLA members.  It's not that I didn't like the actors involved, it was the number of actors involved.  I wanted to see Batman v Superman, not a JLA movie right now.  Do JLA later, ok.  I get it though, the movie is subtitled Dawn of Justice, so a head nod would be necessary at the least.

After seeing the teaser trailer, I still wasn't on board fully with the project, still reserving judgment, still not getting my hopes up.  Then came the 2015 Comic Con trailer.  Man, I was blown away.

When I watched Ben playing Bruce kneeling on the streets of Metropolis protecting that little girl as he watched Zod and Sups duke it out shattering skyscrapers, that's when I knew Ben was born for this part.  The look on his face, as he portrayed the real Dark Knight, angry and needing to come out of retirement to save the world from this new threat, was AMAZING!  Affleck didn't need to say anything.  His face told the whole story.

And then the fight sequences.  When Sups walks up to the Batmobile and rips the shell from it, I felt the chills run down my spine when Batman slowly stood up.  Oh, it's on!

So, needless to say, I'm no longer holding out and playing it safe.  I'm ready for this movie even with all the additional characters that I don't think are needed.  WW looks beautiful and powerful. Aquaman is spectacular and Lex, oh wow, is gonna be wonderful.

"Do you bleed?"

"Yes, my heart is bleeding because I want to see this movie, RIGHT NOW!"


Download Heir of the Blood King for Free

As part of the book blitz running this week, I will giving away my book for free through July 24th. Also, don't forget to register to win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards!

Download this exciting action-packed fantasy adventure today!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Update for Heir of the Blood King

I would like to thank Ashley, my editor, for an excellent job refining and polishing "Heir of the Blood King".  The professionally edited version in now LIVE on Amazon, so please check it out.

When I originally published my book back in April, I made a lot of amateur mistakes. Ashley helped me to make some crucial changes to the story.

Originally, the story shifted points of view rapidly (known as head hopping) which leaves readers feeling disconnected from the characters.  We streamlined the story to stick with a single point of view longer and replaced inner dialogue with normal dialogue. It helped to flesh out the characters and enhance the story.

We also added some minor world building information about The Order, the Blood King and some historical events. Overall, I would definitely say that I'm satisfied with the final product.

So this week, I am running a Rafflecopter giveaway for two $50 Amazon gift cards during my promotional book blitz.  You can download "Heir of the Blood King for FREE from July 20th through July 24th during the tour! Let me know what you guys think about the enhanced story.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Enter to Win Rafflecopter $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

The Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of TWO $50 Amazon Gift Cards is now LIVE! Plus, you can download "Heir of the Blood King" for FREE from July 20 through July 24th!

Signing up for Rafflecopter is fast, easy and secure.  You can sign in using your Facebook account.  You can register to win by completing as many of the steps below as you chose.  The givaway will run until Saturday, July 25th and my tour organizer will select two names at random.  Your digital gift card will be sent to the email you sign in with and can be used on any purchase you make from Amazon!

Feel free to share this post with your friends and family!

Good Luck!

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Jeffrey Collyer"s Author Spotlight: W.O. Cassity

I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with fantasy author @JeffreyCollyer to talk about my book, "Heir of the Blood King".

He asked me some pretty tough questions about my writing and the characters.  Please check it out!

Author Spotlight: W.O. Cassity

Friday, July 17, 2015

1987: My First Role-Playing Experience

In the Fall of 1987, I was sent to the Lakeside Middle School auditorium during an entertainment basketball game because I didn't have the .50 cent admission fee.

I was pretty upset about not participating, not that I enjoyed basketball, but because all of my friends were at the game.  As I was sitting there, quietly to myself, a face I sort of recognized came down and he sat a few rows ahead of me.  He opened his book bag and took out a large book and started reading.

Needless to say, I was pretty bored. After all, I was an avid reader and although I didn't know this guy too well, my thought was we were in the same boat and there wasn't any rule about talking.  I got up and sat closer to him and introduced myself.  He told me his name was Dentye. We instantly connected as friends.

I asked him if he had forgotten his money too and he told me he did not. In fact, he said to me that he didn't care for sports and preferred the opportunity to read.  I inquired to what he was reading and he showed me something I had never seen before, a 1st Edition Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master guide.

Growing up in the 1980's I was familiar with the Dungeons and Dragons Saturday morning cartoon, but I had no idea there were books about it.  I asked him about the story and he explained to me that it was a game, not a fantasy novel.  To me, this sounded very confusing, so I asked him if we could play the game.  He explained that it took time to prepare and also I needed to create a character. He and his brother had a game planned for that very night along with a friend of theirs who was a grade older than us.

After school, Dentye decided to introduce me to this friend of the family to see if he was cool if I joined the game.  He asked me to think about what kind of character I wanted to play and so I did.  We went to Main Street in Lake Village, Arkansas to meet his friend who was busy stocking shelves.  The friend asked me, "I'm cool with you playing, but what do you want to play?"

I had no idea how to answer, so I said, "An elf!"

The guy just looked at me and started to laugh.  He knew that Dentye had not explained much to me about the mechanics of the game. So, he clarified by asking, "Yes, I can see you are eager to play an elf, but what CLASS do you want to play?  Do you want to be a fighter, a thief, or a magic user?"

Once again, I had no real answer since my only real experience with "this game based on a book" was from a Saturday morning cartoon.  I said, "I dunno, but I certainly want to be an elf."  To this day, I have absolutely no idea why I was obsessed with being an elf.

So the guy told Dentye to bring me along and he would talk to Dentye's brother and come up with something for me.

Later, Dentye and I went to his house after I explained to my mom that I was going to be out for awhile. Luckily, he lived close by and his step-dad was a police officer, so my mom said it was ok for me to stay out later than usual since it was a Friday night.

When we arrived at Dentye's house, his mom was very kind and friendly and she offered to feed us. Dentye was rushed and wanted to head to his brother's room where his brother and friend were waiting to play.  I walked in and saw Dentye's older brother, Butch sitting behind a large cardboard screen, but that was not the oddest thing I discovered in this first introduction.

Butch was sitting there with long, blond hair and large brown eyes wearing a straw hat, a heavy metal t-shirt (I don't remember the band, sorry) and bright orange sweatpants complete with a big pair of cowboy boots.  My first thought was that this guy was completely off his rocker, but then I learned that he liked art and was a good artist.  Later, I discovered it was his intention to appear as freakish as possible just to make a memorable impression.  It was absolutely most memorable!

Dentye and I sat down and his friend handed me a character sheet.  He explained to me that Dentye was playing a duel class magic user/thief and he was playing a new class from a book they had recently acquired called a Cavalier.

Since I was wet behind the ears new to the game, Butch and his friend decided to roll up a fighter character for me, but something that would be simple.  They rolled up my character, a human barbarian.

Needless to say, I was disappointed but understood their logic. Butch explained to me that even a basic elven race character had some understanding of magic and that he preferred to not have new players dealing with the game mechanics of magic.  This was his way of easing the learning curve.

They handed me a set of dice for the game.  I was only familiar with a six-sided dice at that time, like the ones used to play board games.  The little pyramid, four-sided die looked odd, but not nearly as odd as the diamond shaped eight-sided die or the ten-sided die.  It blew my mind when they handed me the twenty-sided die. Admittedly, I was completely overwhelmed and Butch could see it.  He decided that I would just hang on to the d20 as he called it and he would roll the rest of my dice for me.

The only thing that I had to do was come up with a name, so I chose the name "Barad".  It sounded to me like something you would hear on the other Saturday morning cartoon that I enjoyed, Thundarr the Barbarian.  That was the extent of what I knew about barbarians at the time, except for the Conan comics my uncle owned that I wasn't allowed to read because they were mature.

The game went quite well.  Butch unfurled this amazing story full of adventure and intrigue.  We worked our ways through several traps and a few monster encounters.  Dentye and their friend were searching corpses and finding gold, healing potions and other treasures. When Butch told me I had taken damage, he told me to mark off my hit points.  They were getting pretty low.

Finally, our characters walked into an old laboratory.  There were empty potion vials and tubes everywhere.  I started to get an idea of how this game was played, so I told Butch I wanted to search one of the tables he described.  There was a potion bottle resting there with no stopper on it and the ooze inside was green and putrid.  He cracked a little smile at me.  He knew I needed a healing potion and I jumped to the conclusion that he was taunting me, testing me with that sarcastic smile under his silly little straw hat and unlit corncob pipe.

I needed the healing.  Dentye and his friend had been scooping up all the treasure.  It was time for me to get into this game.  I declared that I wanted to drink the potion.  Dentye and his friend protested.  I knew I had made the right decision.  They wanted the potion for themselves.  Surely, it wasn't gonna kill me.  This was my first time playing and Butch seemed like a nice guy.  Plus he gave me that curt smile trying to send me some kind of signal.  Bottoms up, my character inhaled the vial.

Butch looked at me and said, "You seem like a nice guy and a smart kid, so I'm going to show you a bit of mercy.  The taste of the liquid is vile and you feel like you want to puke it from your mouth before you swallow."

This was some ploy, these guys were fooling with me and I knew it.  I said, "Nope, I want to swallow it."  I mean, why would this guy kill off my character?  My hit points were low and I would most likely not make it through the next encounter anyways, so what could I possibly have to lose.  Dentye and his friend smacked themselves in the face with what is referred today as a facepalm.

Butch explained to me that the poison was creating damage to me at one hit point per round for the next twenty rounds. I had six hit points, which would mean that in six minutes, I would be at zero hit points and be rendered unconscious.  And just because he felt sorry for me, he would allow me to go to negative ten hit points before I could not be healed or resurrected.

Dentye and his friend scrambled.  They knew we had almost completed the dungeon.  The Cavalier dragged my character's unconscious body in front of the room of the final encounter of the adventure, where the big bad boss was waiting.  He explained to Dentye that there was no time to detect and remove traps and so he threw my limp, unconscious body through the doorway where I took enough damage to reach negative ten hit points and died permanently.

Yes, that is correct.  My very first role-playing experience lasted for just a little over two hours before my character's death because I was not only new to the game, but I was also a complete idiot.

Dentye and his friend slew the master in the chamber and looked around to see if there was anything to rescue me.  They believed Butch put something there because he gave me extra time.  In fact, Butch just wanted them to get creative and use me to complete their mission anyway.  His friend did just that when he used my character's broken body to disable the traps.

Dentye and his friend paid an homage to my character and his stupidity.  They removed a finger in case they could find a priest who could resurrect me from it.

At the end of the night, Butch walked over to one of his bookshelves and handed me a novel entitled "The Crystal Shard" by R.A. Salvatore.  He explained to me that although my character died in my first game, I shouldn't give up playing and I should do some research.  He said that once I read this book, he would consider letting me play another barbarian because Barad was dead, buried and gone.

That was my first role-playing experience and how I discovered my favorite writer who inspired my writing.