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Archive for the 'Geek Week 2013' Category

Making It Up as We Go Along

Geek WeekA long time ago, when I was in graduate school, I joined a writers' group. It was an informal workshop in which we intended to help each other finish and improve works of fiction then in progress. It didn't last long. If I'm perfectly honest, it was a washout. I know writers who swear by such groups, thank theirs in the acknowledgements in their books, and advise new or struggling writers to find one of their own. I've no doubt that a good one, one with the right chemistry, is a fantastic support system and resource.

This one I joined, it was not that.

It wasn't that we didn't have good intentions; there was a lot of loyalty, critical admiration, and genuine fondness in the room, and — because there were human beings there — there was also a lot of insecurity. Every last one of us was eager to get and give help with our writing problems, but none of us really wanted to hear, or speak aloud, anything that might hurt. We quickly gravitated to talking only about one another's best ...

It’s Time to Get Your Game On

Geek WeekOn Monday, gentle bookstore blog readers, I told you I wanted to evangelize you to a new way of life. Hopefully, if you've read this far, you've seen why I love games and why I work so hard trying to get people — especially families — into gaming. When you have little kids, the simple structured play is a tremendously helpful developmental tool for teaching them how to take turns, play fairly, cooperate, and even start telling stories. Later on, they learn strategy, maybe creative wordplay, and, in some cases, even how to craft a narrative or build a whole world.

Tomorrow is International TableTop Day (ITD), the first worldwide celebration of tabletop gaming. It's also a celebration of getting together with friends and family to have fun and interact on a face-to-face level. Yes, I'm a total technology geek, and I am not about to start putting down social networking as not being about "real friendships." But what I do look for, in almost everything I do, is balance. Sure, fragging aliens in online co-op videogame play is fantastic (as ...

Powell’s Q&A: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Geek WeekDescribe your latest book/project/work.
I write the Avengers Assemble and Captain Marvel comic books at Marvel and Ghost at Dark Horse. My first creator-owned book — a gothic western called Pretty Deadly — is coming out from Image Comics later this year.

What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I've done everything from special effects makeup to event clowning to post-operative wound care.

Writers are better liars than other people: true or false? Why or why not?
False. The best writers are adept at telling truths. Sounds pretentious as all hell, but I believe it to my core.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs." – Ernest Hemingway.

How do you relax?
With great effort.

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands, and why did you read it?
Warren Ellis sent me a proof copy of Gun Machine. So now I'm just bragging.

A Quick, Custom Card Game Project

Geek WeekSometimes big board games can be a little overwhelming for younger gamers. That's why card games can be so engaging for kids. But after the thousandth game of War, parents may yearn for something a little more interesting. It also wouldn't hurt if you didn't have to go out and buy every last foil-wrapped packet of the latest combat card game to find that one special card. So, in the same vein as my DIY board game project, let me offer you an idea for making your own card game, which can combine the fun and craftiness of designing it together with the satisfying sense of ownership that comes from doing it yourself.

The idea for this project came from my good friend "Z," senior editor at GeekDad and longtime podcast partner. It's detailed in my second book, The Geek Dad's Guide to Weekend Fun, but I'm happy to outline it here so folks can try it with their families for International TableTop Day.

This is a game for 2-4 players using one customized deck of playing cards. If you want to work ...

Powell’s Q&A: R. A. Salvatore

Geek WeekDescribe your latest works.
I have two Forgotten Realms novels coming out this year, along with a graphic novel about a relevant side story. The first book, The Last Threshold, was just released in March to wind up the four-book Neverwinter Saga. In this series, I explored the issue of my hero, Drizzt, falling in with a group of shady companions, with the main conflict centering around whether he would lift them up or they would bring him down. The new book resolves that — but, of course, it also opens up a ton of new possibilities.

The comic, beginning in April from IDW, will add a bit of flavor on the outside of those conflicts.

The heart of all of this comes out in August with The Companions. The only thing I can say about that book is that, for me, it's the payoff of 25 years with this character I hold so dear.

What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I paid my way through college as a bouncer in a nightclub. Every night was an adventure — ...

Traveling with Board Games

Geek WeekI love my board games, and I'm proud to have the great boxes they come in displayed prominently on my living room shelves. Board game art is a fantastic genre in and of itself (I'm proud to know a couple board game artists, who are awesome folks and talented to boot), and obviously those big, brightly illustrated boxes are meant to make games stand out on game store shelves. But those big boxes also make it challenging to travel with your games if you want to take them with you on vacation. Of course, there are travel editions of many more mainstream games, but they're never quite up to snuff.

This summer, our family had the chance (thanks to my nonagenarian grandma) to take a cruise to Alaska (if you're ever in Juneau, don't miss Alaska Robotics, the geekiest place in town). Cruises are exciting, but there's also a lot of at-sea time that forces you to take it easy and find things to occupy your time. That's why I wanted to bring a number of our more interesting board games. But ...

Powell’s Q&A: Patton Oswalt

In celebration of Geek Week, presents a special Dungeons and Dragons–themed Q&A with Patton Oswalt.

Geek WeekWhat's the most epic character you've ever created?
A half-orc assassin named Ulvaak through which I channeled all of my frustrations about being a fat eighth grader. Apparently I wanted to split everything in half with a sword.

What alignment do you most closely identify with: Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic?
Lawful, but only because of my OCD. There's no good or evil to it.

Describe your longest campaign.
Oh man. Probably this epic, Béla Tarr–style slog through a continent called Gamotia, where the fabric of reality was ripping open and different demons were vying for dominance of the material plane. You know, everyday stuff like that.

Personal question: Did you let anyone touch your lucky d20?
Not only did no one touch it, but I would use an El Marko to color the 10-and-up numbers black, then I'd scrape away the permanent marker ink but leave the indented numbers still filled in with ink. OCD is a hell of a thing.

Eberron, Vanadorn, or a campaign of your own creation?
I'd want to create ...

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