28 Days of Night Vale Later

March 6th, 2014

So, I got involved in one of those secret penpal things on Tumblr. A couple of them actually. One in particular was through a Welcome to Night Vale blog which paired up users with secret penpals. We were to write to them throughout February and reveal our secret identities on the 28th. It wasn’t an ideal thing, since my penpal never contacted me, the organizer got huffy when I had asked indirectly about it (because there had been previously posted instructions), and the person I was the secret penpal for never acknowledged receipt of anything I sent her.

But I had a stupid amount of fun writing these. So after the first couple days I started sending them to Dawn as well. And then I thought, “I should just post these all on my blog!”

I hope you enjoy one of my brief forays into, “This is sorta like fanfic, isn’t it?” Besides Night Vale, the only things I knew my secret penpal was into were Avengers and Supernatural. So if you’re wondering why there are superheroes and an Impala in Night Vale, that’s why.
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RustyCon 2014 After Action Report

February 27th, 2014

A few weeks back, I attended the 31st annual RustyCon, one of our local general fan conventions. It boasts a population of 500-700 attendees and prides itself on being a very family-friendly convention. For this con, I was attending more as a panelist than anything else.

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More Thoughts on “Being a Writer”

February 20th, 2014

A while back I wrote a bit on the notion of whether or not someone is a writer, prompted by a mean response from Brian Michael Bendis. Even after posting it, I’ve mulled it around a bit. It sometimes takes me a while to process something, and the processing never really ends.

The thing that I keep thinking about is this: Harper Lee.

In 1960, she published To Kill a Mockingbird. It was a bestseller and won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. She published a couple essays after that, but that’s it. According to Wikipedia, she started writing a couple other books, one of them in the 1980s, neither of which she finished.

In 2011, a friend of hers shared the reason she gave for not writing again. “Two reasons: one, I wouldn’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money. Second, I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again.”

But she did start writing other stuff at one point. I wonder at what point she went from working on other projects to not writing anymore. Did she have writer’s block?

If Harper Lee had said she had writer’s block for 20+ years, would you say, “Maybe you’re not a writer?”

Not every writer is Harper Lee. Heck, some writers aren’t even Dan Brown. But if you hit a slump of any sort, at what point do you lose your ability to call yourself a “writer”? There’s no answer beyond the one you decide to believe in. The only real thing you can say that if you aren’t writing something, nothing is getting written.

Live from Night Vale, it’s Thursday Night!

February 6th, 2014

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to see a live performance of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. A friend had envied my ability to attend and asked to hear about what it was like. So this is my attempt to convey that for her. I will avoid spoilers, as this is a touring show and don’t want to ruin any surprises for possible future audience members.

We arrived probably an hour before the doors opened and found that the line of people waiting to get in for the first show already stretched a block and a half out. In line were many people who were dressed in costumes. There were a couple Glow Clouds, at least one Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your House, several hooded figures, some Eternal Scouts, at least a couple interpretations of Cecil and Carlos (though not my favorite), and a librarian.

Meg Bashwiner, whose voice is usually heard at the end of each podcast, MC’ed the show. I’ve heard her voice so many times now, that it was immediately recognizable without introduction. (But she did introduce herself.)

The show opened with musician Jason Webley performing several of his songs while playing either a guitar or an accordion. With some songs he was accompanied by violinist L. Alex Guy. I’d seen Webley open for a reading of Neil Gaiman’s, but that performance hadn’t stood out the same way this one did. He had a small platform he stood on while he played, stomping occasionally in time to the music. The sound resonated through the theater far better than I would have expected, pounding a rhythm through the air. It lent a primal feel to the songs he performed. But I’m hardly a music expert, so it could be I’m just easily impressed.

After Webley’s act, Cecil Baldwin took the stage and did his “broadcast.” When I’d first heard the broadcast, the image I had in my head was that of someone who looked like the prototypical WASPy 1950s news broadcaster type, a bit like J.R. “Bob” Dobbs. Various fan interpretations have shifted that view some. I’ve never really thought of his character looking like the actual actor. Despite having seen several pictures of Baldwin, he’s never fit in my head as his fictional podcast persona.

The immediate thing that struck me as he began the show was that his voice was warmer than it is on the podcast. Normally his voice sounds really deadpan to me. But live his voice seemed much friendlier and intimate. A difference of audio production? Perhaps the result of multiple recording takes versus an unfiltered presentation? I don’t know. I suspect that the surfer-dude tone that his voice takes on in some parts of the podcast is closer to his real way of speaking. But I don’t actually know, as he never spoke out of character.

There was also his physical presentation, which I would not have anticipated from just seeing still images of him. Though the whole thing was mostly treated as though it was a strictly audio presentation, he would gesture and flourish as he read on the stage. He reminded me of a strange mix of the dean from Community (Jim Rash) and Jack Skellington. It was at once both flamboyant and inhuman, especially in how he used his hands. From pictures I’ve since seen of him with Wil Wheaton, I think he might also be a giant. Either way, it helped his voice fit with his face in my head. Because how I imagine things is very important.

He was occasionally joined at different points by Webley and Meg, who each took on roles in the audio drama. When they did “the weather,” it was also Jason Webley who played with a new song created for the tour.

All told, it was a relatively short show. Somewhere between 60-90 minutes? And we were hurried out quickly so that the second performance could happen. But despite the relative brevity, I had a lot of fun. The fans of Night Vale bring a really wonderful energy to the thing. I don’t often understand fan culture, but this time I felt at home with this flavor of weird. And there was an audience participation part of the show that was amazing, unannounced, and almost seemed to happen spontaneously.

How to Be a Real Writer

December 24th, 2013

So this thing happened on Tumblr, and everyone lost their shit. Which is the way of Tumblr, I guess. But it started with someone asking Brian Michael Bendis, “what advice do you have for someone that has had writers block for the past 6 or 7 years?”

this will sound harsh but you’re probably not a writer.

writers write every day. it’s ok, not everyone is.

but if you consider yourself one, get off your ass and get back to work!! write about why you haven’t been writing . anything. just write.

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NaNoWriMo 2013: Day 2

November 2nd, 2013

Crossed the 6K mark today. Since I’m going to lose writing days for AmberCon Northwest next week, I’ve been hoping to get 3K a day until we leave so that I’ll offset the time I’ll spend not writing. So far, so good. Here’s a taste from the work in progress.

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But what do you actually do?

October 18th, 2013

Many years ago, I tried writing roleplaying games. I ended up quitting. But now I have a couple projects I’m poking around. So here’s some rambly thoughts on that.

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Monsterhearts Three Ways

September 10th, 2013

For some people, the three-day Labor Day weekend is a last hoorah for summer. Maybe a camping trip. Maybe a day of meat. Some other horrible thing involving sunshine and the outdoors.

I spent three days shunning the evil Daystar and running Monsterhearts one-shots, collaboratively spinning yards of angsty teenage monsters and their messy lives. All in an effort to feel a bit more comfortable with the rules before I run a one-shot at Ambercon Northwest.

Yeah. I’m a huge dork.

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A Friendly Warning About Yahoo! Content

August 22nd, 2013

Today I got a slap in the face for not being more scrupulous about third-party services and Terms of Service Agreements. I don’t have any recourse, so all I can do at this point is share my experience and hope others learn from my lesson.

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Marketing Like a Douche

August 21st, 2013

Shilling is a crappy part of being a writer. Or publisher even, since I technically qualify as that too. I really hate doing it, and when I do shill I try to do it in respectful, non-spammy ways.

I also make no money as a writer and even less as a publisher. So there are obviously some flaws to how I market.

Still, nothing turns me off more than strangers randomly trying to mass network with me. I wouldn’t even think I was worth shmoozing, but it does happen once in a blue moon. (A friend and I were approached after we were on a panel at a tiny convention by someone who wanted to press their business card on us. I had no idea what to do.) Even my tiny little zine, Mad Scientist Journal, gets a bit of spamming from people who don’t know me but want to team up or something.

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