Monday, March 20, 2017

A-to-Z Challenge Theme Reveal 2017...

So, after skipping 2016, I'm back to give the A to Z Blog Challenge another go for this year. For those not up to speed, the A-to-Z is a blog hop through which bloggers attempt to post every day during the Month of April (minus a few Sundays) on a different topic based on the letter of the alphabet. You can get more info at their website here.

In previous years there was a handy Linkytool-list-thing that gave you a list of all the participating blogs in one convenient location. It made it easy to find other blogs and even sorted them by genre so you could find those that might interest you. This year you have to go to the A-to-Z website post each day to share your current day's post, which is another way to do it, I guess. I don't make these decisions.

Bloggers are encouraged to chose a theme to keep themselves focussed and to help readers find blogs that may interest them. I participated in the blog hop in 2014 and 2015. My topics are below:

2014: Stuff I'm Afraid Of

2015: Characters You've Never Heard Of (Because they're in books I haven't published. This was a stupid idea)

This year, I've got a (hopefully) more interesting topic, one that's topical and appropriate to the times.


Okay, here goes...

Photo credit:
Weird Canadian Facts and History

Your first bit of trivia? This year, 2017, is the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in 1867, when the the British colonies of Canada were granted dominion as a semi-independent federal state. (Full independence didn't actually come until 1931, which is your free bonus fact of the day). Celebrations are taking place across the country all year long, and I'm going to have my own little party by sharing some of the bat-sh*t weird stories I've run into over the years about America's polite neighbour to the North.

Some of these stories may be relatively well-known among Canadians, but I'm hoping they're obscure enough that my readers from other countries won't have heard of them. I will admit up front that I'm not a historian so I probably won't always cite properly and I've been known to exaggerate for comedic effect, but this is supposed to be about fun stories, not a history lesson. And I do promise that they are all true.

So join me back here come April 1 when I will (hopefully) have a story for every day you drop by!

Monday, March 13, 2017

My First Time (#MyFirstPostRevisited)

#MyFirstPostRevisited was created by Sarah Brentyn at Lemon Shark, and I was tagged to participate (after some prompting) by Loni Townsend. It's an excuse to share your very first (hopefully terrible) blog post.

I wrote my first blog post six years ago. It wasn't at this blog, it was at a gaming blog called "Rule of the Dice" that I still write for occasionally. An acquaintance of mine was bumping up his game-related content and recruited a bunch of gamers to write for his site.

The post is not as embarrassing as you're probably hoping. I actually did write some REALLY embarrassing and obnoxious posts over there, but I'm not sharing those today. This was just an intro to me and my first time playing Dungeons & Dragons. Appropriately, this year is the 25th anniversary of me getting into role-playing games. This is amazing for two reasons:

1. I have wasted SO many hours playing those games over the years.
2. I am getting really f*cking old.

January 25, 2011

It was the summer of 1992. Super Nintendo was still all the rage, and Final Fantasy II was my favourite game (still is, actually). A bunch of artists from Marvel comics started their own upstart comic company, Image, which featured lousy stories but very pretty pictures. Batman Returns was in the theatres, though it was actually Basic Instinct that my 12-year old self wanted to see. Of course, being 12-years old, I couldn't get in.1 I was about to go into Junior High, an awkward, pimply, unpopular kid with ugly glasses (why parents let their children wear ugly glasses, I will never know), and spent my afternoons hanging out on my friend's patio.

One day, one of my friends (I can't remember if it was Carl or Chris) pulled out these green-lined character sheets covered with arcane runes like "THAC0," "Bend bars/lift gates," "Constitution" and "Save versus Death." The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons logo was featured at the top. I had heard of D&D but really had no idea what it was. "It's like Final Fantasy, but you can make whatever kind of character you want," they explained to me. "Then you make up stories and adventures and stuff for them to go on."


My 12-year old mind was blown. I immediately made a character, which I remember vividly (I think his name was Arik). He had 20 Strength, 20 Constitution, 20 Dexterity, 5 Intelligence, 5 Wisdom and 15 Charisma. He had 600 hit points (we all started with 600 hit points) and had a Sword of Elements, which could attack with whatever type of damage was appropriate at the time.

We obviously had no idea what we were doing. We had no rule book, no dice, very little idea of how the game worked besides a few hours one of the other guys had played with some older kids. All he had were those ugly green character record sheets. And we loved it.

Pictured: Gateway drug.

Most of our games looked like this:

DM: You meet an ogre.

Player: I hit it with my katana of destiny.

DM: How much damage do you do?

Player: Um, 500?

DM: It's dead. You find a potion, but it's not labeled.

Player: I taste it, does anything happen?

DM: It was poison. You die.

We played that for awhile, and then tried Marvel Superheroes, which was even more fun. You could make your own superhero? With whatever ridiculous powers you wanted? And I can beat-up Spider-Man??? Once again, we neglected to read the rule book, so that made it even better. It wasn't until Christmas that year when I got the D&D Basic Boxed set, and I sat down and realized that role-playing games actually had RULES. So many things suddenly made sense now, like: "Oh, so Turn Undead doesn't actually mean you transform into a zombie!" The box also came with a set of ugly polyhedral dice. I still have them, and though they really suck (I usually don't believe in luck affecting the probability of dice, but that stupid twenty-sider can't roll a 20 to save its goddam life), they hold a special place in my heart.

I'm now approaching 19 years playing table-top RPGs. Have I learned anything interesting or useful enough that people will want to read what I have to say? Probably not, but I still hope I can sufficiently minimize the suck so you'll stop by from time to time to read my ramblings. While you're here, leave a comment while you're at it. Tell us all about your first time.2

Join me next week when I'll tell you about the greatest RPG ever.



1 Which was probably for the best - even when I saw that movie years later, it still made no sense to me.

2 Yes, I mean first time-time playing D&D. But if you want to tell me about other firsts, that's okay, too.


Some things of note: I love foot notes, and used to use them extensively in my writing, but they really don't work very well digitally. No one wants to scroll down to the bottom in a blog post, and setting them up in an ebook is even worse. So sadly I don't use them much anymore.

I wrote lots more about roleplaying games on Rule of the Dice until I ran out of old stories, and had kids so I didn't have much time to create new ones. Then I started releasing my fiction and writing this blog, which I don't really have time for either but at least I can do it by myself, without having to schedule game days with other people.

If anyone wants to participate in the hop, the rules are below:

The Rules:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.)
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).
  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.
Here are the folks I'm tagging to participate, if you're feeling up to it:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Interview with Author Alex Schuler

I'm starting a new feature on the blog where I'll be interviewing a mix of writers, at least once a month, from a variety of genres and backgrounds. They're not necessarily promoting a new work or have even officially published anything, but they all share something in common - the love of writing and creativity.

My first guest is Alex Schuler. Alex lives in Colorado in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She loves learning new things and meeting new people. These days she spends most of her time working on her writing and visual art, and spends the rest dreaming about and planning her big trip bicycling around the world. You can find her blabbering about her writing and visual art at, travel (as Rebecca Jones) at, or follow her artist or travel Twitter accounts.

All the photos on today's post are courtesy of, and copyright to, Alex Schuler. They're the kind of great stuff you will find on her art and travel blogs.


Do you write full-time or part-time?  
10157134_695315003866111_6580955486805516944_n.jpgI write part-time, although I have been trying to spend 30+ hours a week doing productive things, which includes a lot of writing, as well as housework, art, and studying.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? 
I write longhand and do my first edit as I type it up.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? 
I have a lot of days where I have a lot of trouble focusing, which leads to a sort of writer’s block where I either forget what I was about to write or I get distracted by something else. Writing longhand helps me, as does starting each writing session by jotting some quick notes, or a sort of mini outline, on the page I’m working on about what I’m writing that session.

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you?  
I haven’t had much luck with Facebook as far as expanding my market, but it’s good for letting my friends know what’s going on. I’ve had some bites on twitter, but I’ve been bad about using it regularly, so nothing that’s stuck yet.

Where do you see publishing going in the future?  
I’m very excited about the possibilities in self publishing. I think a lot of people will be moving towards that, as well as online and digital formats in general. I hope that as a result of this we see more people experimenting with different formats, particularly more interactive ones, but I suppose it depends on what people want to write.

Fun fact: Most of the pictures Alex sent me were of iguanas and lizards. She really loves iguanas.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Ides of March (#IWSG March 2017)

It's IWSG time again. Remember last month when I said there was some life-upheaval stuff going on? I think we've got it sorted out, but it did have a major hit on my writing productivity for the month. Which is really too bad, because I had just started a new project that I was really excited about, and then I only wrote a couple thousand words for the entire month.

Anyway, thank you for the IWSG discussion questions, because at least it give me something to talk about!

(As for the image, in case anyone is wondering the Battlestar Galactica app game is what has been eating up the rest of my free time the last couple of weeks. It's terrible and I can't stop playing it.)


March IWSG Question: 
Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Actually, yeah I have, and I plan to keep doing it.

Long time readers know about The Closet (from the title of my blog). This is both a literal and metaphorical place that I pull my stories from. Metaphorically it represents the place in my head where I get my ideas from. It's literal because I've been writing for a long time, and I have a bunch of old manuscripts stuffed in boxes in the closet under the stairs in my basement.

My first published work, Ten Thousand Days, sat in the Closet for about 7 years before I pulled it out and released it into the wild.  It was one of my favourite stories, and despite maybe needing a bit more work, it was a good test to get my footing in the self-publishing world.

(Side note: After 7 years, it still wasn't ready, and there maaaaay be another, very heavily modified version of that one coming out. Very soon.)

You can check this book out on Amazon, but if I were you I would probably wait a couple of weeks. Just in case...

I still have at least seven more full novels (not to mention dozens of short stories) tucked away in there that I've been thinking about digging out and working with. Six of those books would need major revisions as they were just first drafts, but one of them was fairly polished. I submitted it to a number of publishers about ten years ago but received no interest. I'm thinking about going back and doing something with it, but I'm afraid that it's probably not very good. There was a reason those publishers rejected it, after all.


The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group here.
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