WorldCon Dublin 2019

tl;dr – I attended WorldCon and voted in the Hugos; that is frikkin’ awesome!!! 🙂 I met people I haven’t seen in real-life in years, I met people I’ve only ever spoken to on-line, I met people I’ve never met before, and I met ‘famous’ people I’ve been fans of for years. Basically, I had a FABULOUS time!!! 😀

Now the longer version.

As I said up there, I actually managed to attend WorldCon, or more formally the World Science Fiction Convention, is a gathering of fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror, gaming, cosplay, etc who come together to celebrate that in all forms but especially in literature. They are MY people; my tribe.

I never thought that I would manage to get to a WorldCon, due to logistics of distance (as they are normally thousands of miles away) and health (as planning anything in advance around me not getting ill, or travelling and not getting exhausted, is onerous and normally doesn’t happen anyway) but when WorldCon was announced for Dublin I knew it was my chance …so I leapt at it; and promptly got ill a few days before the actual Con started but, throwing caution (and copious amounts of medication) to the wind, I travelled down to the Dublin Convention Centre …leaving my wife and kids mid-vacation up North… and entered a venue with thousands of other people who were like me; no, not falling apart and ill! Geeks. Nerds. Fans!

During the four days that I was there I managed to attend a play called ‘ConEIRE’ written by KATE LATIEY and performed by the Fox Spirit Skulk, which was enormously funny. Many panels on such diverse subjects as ‘Irelands Legends and Lore’; ‘Northern Irish SFF’; Fairies and Irish folklore in YA’; ‘Imagining Disabled Futures’ (about disability and accessibility in speculative fiction); ‘Irish Horror and the Supernatural’; ‘2000AD and the Supernatural’; and more that I am probably forgetting. I got to attend readings by ADRAIN TCHAIKOSVKY, PEADAR O’GUILIN, and the fabulous PETER BEAGLE who was very generous with his time, talking to me about his work, writing habits, and life in general. I bumped into, and briefly chatted, with both JOE HILL (I did ask him about an outstanding interview with his dad, Stephen King 😉 ), DIANE DUANE, and GEORGE RR MARTIN, he of the Games of Thrones. I spent a lot of time in the open area where the stalls, ‘shops’, and information desks were talking to publishers, book-sellers, jewellers, cosplayers, and the guys from the BIG BANG comic shop, as well as the ever lovely DECLAN SHALVEY (still Mackenzie’s favourite artist) and KEIRON GILLON. I bumped into GARETH POWELL, finally, after being ships in the night all convention. I got to watch a wonderful cosplay competition called The Masquerade, one evening, which REALLY highlighted just how talented these people are because most of the costumes/make-up on display wouldn’t have seemed out of place on stage or screen!

And then the Hugos. I voted on work that I thought was most worthy of winning a Hugo for the first time in my life and I felt the pressure of doing so; this wasn’t something that I took lightly. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t sit in the auditorium for the Hugos, even though I was intending to …I went and had dinner with friends instead, who realised that I was very tired and sitting alone for 3-4 hours wouldn’t have been the best thing; they were right.  We watched the ceremony, and results, via social media instead (as I would’ve done at home 🙂 ) and some of the people I wanted to win, did, and some didn’t; that’s the Hugos.  I’m still humbled to have been part of it. I want to take this moment to say 1/ how great it was to meet ALASDAIR STEWART, finally, in real life and 2/ that his work is amazing and he’s a winner in my eyes!

For me though the biggest and best thing about WorldCon was the people! Meeting people and catching up with them after years.  Meeting people in real life for the first time after years of only communicating via social media. Meeting people for the first time ever and connecting immediately. The people made WorldCon for me and, even a week later, I am missing their presence.

So, let’s talk about those people:

First the people that I knew in real life but hadn’t seen in ages.  That was PAT MAHER and ALLEN STROUD, who I used to run around in muddy fields with and hit people with latex …that isn’t as rude as it sounds, but maybe, for some, it is weird, because I am talking about live-roleplaying.; I did say I wore my geek/nerd  credentials proudly, didn’t I? Seeing both of these guys was really nice because, obviously, nostalgia, but both are just genuinely lovely people too; through ALLEN I also got to meet KAREN, and we spent a lot of time discussing things very relevant to my life and my children which I am extremely grateful for …plus, thanks to Karen, somehow, I now find myself a member of The British Science Fiction Association 😀

Secondly, the Otherworld NI crew. This is a grouping of lovely local people involved and invested in the SFF community and scene. JO ZEBEDEE is at the forefront of this and while we see each other occasionally this time we got to spend some quality time together, as well as sit in on her panels, which was great. SAM POOTS is a dynamo who was always everywhere but, thankfully, we got to sit and chat too.  PATRICK was running an awesome D&D game, which seemed to be running non-stop, and the feedback I heard about it was phenomenal (I’ve even told him he needs to run it again for us local folks 😉 ). Then there was the ever-awesome KERRY BUCHANAN who it doesn’t matter how many times I see her she’ll always bring a smile to my face (and a hug, of course); her panel on disability in the future was outstanding!

Next – and apologies if I miss anyone (please remind me if you see this and I’ve been a ditz!) – ALL the people I finally met who I only usually spoke to online: PAUL M. FEENEY is someone that I’ve been speaking to for years now, and I’m so glad that we finally got to meet and hang out; he is an awesome writer, and awesome guy, and I hope he realises how great he is! TRACEY FAHEY is part of the Fox Spirit Skulk, a great writer, an immense intelligence and fountain of knowledge, and just such great company and fun to hang out with; even though we’d never met before this weekend it was honestly like hanging out with an old friend. Speaking of the Fox Spirit Skulk I have to say that I finally got to pledge allegiance to the benevolent dictator herself, ADELE WEARING owner/publisher of one of the best presses around, after many years of only social media communication and signing contracts for her …everyone in the Skulk, MR. FOX 😉 (TOM), MARGERT, KATE LAITY, GUSTAV, and CHLOE AND PAUL YATES were just warm, welcoming, and so much fun! PENNY AND SIMON JONES were people I hadn’t spoken to much in the past (or at all 🙂 ) but meeting them was like talking to old-friends, and the hours spent in their company was fabulous. I also finally got to meet LYNDA RUCKER in real life; she’s so cool and as much a hugger as me! 😊

…and then there was DION. I’ve been speaking to Dion, online, on and off for more than a few years but wasn’t prepared for the force of nature that I met; I think that I probably spent more time in his company than anyone else’s during the four days, and it was worth it.  He is a very funny guy, but also extremely warm and caring at the same time, and it was like spending time with the best friend that you only see every year or so, not someone you’ve just met.

Through the ever-awesome MICHAEL CARROLL (read 2000AD and Judge Dredd folks!) I met MICHAEL SCOTT and COURTNEY DILLON and, as you do at a convention about sci-fi and books, we talked about Buffs (bandana type scarfs), tattoos, and martial arts; I think that I found my other tribe there 😉

I only got to see her a handful of times (her panels were amazing; Irish horror and supernatural was extremely informative , and the 2000AD panel, with Michael and WILL SIMPSON was the BEST panel I attended 🙂 ) but MAURA MCHUGH was as lovely as ever and has to be commended for the work she did in putting this WorldCon together; thanks Maura, personally at least, as I had a blast!!!

Ultimately it was a great experience – though one which physically wrecked me! 🙂 – and took me a few days to come down for the ‘bubble’ I’d been in and recover from the ‘blues’ of not being there afterwards.  Everyone involved in putting it together should take a bow because I’m sure it was like a swan for you guys – a great experience for us and madness underneath keeping it running.  Thank you for doing it!

Coming out of it I’ve been asked to write for an anthology, been told to write/pitch a novella for a shared world thing and am pitching an anthology I’ll edit to a publisher which hopefully will happen. Also, more locally, I’m hoping to write stuff for a couple of magazines too (I’ve been asked so would be rude not to).

To sum up: thoroughly enjoyed myself, a little broken by it, people made this event what it was, and WorldCon – you rocked! 🙂

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer has been renamed.

…and you have to think that this year’s Campbell Award winner Jeannette Ng, and her wonderful speech (which can be read in full here) at Dublin 2019 WorldCon, had more than a little to do with it, where she said:

“John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist. Through his editorial control of Astounding Science Fiction, he is responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists. Yes, I am aware there are exceptions.

But these bones, we have grown wonderful, ramshackle genre, wilder and stranger than his mind could imagine or allow.

And I am so proud to be part of this. To share with you my weird little story, an amalgam of all my weird interests, so much of which has little to do with my superficial identities and labels.”

So Jeannette will now be the last recipient of the John W. Campbell Award as, moving forward, it’s going to be known as the ‘Astounding Award for Best New Writer’ – and that is a MUCH better name! 🙂  

Break Kickstarter With Carbyne Jungle: The New TTRPG

Nor Cal Mythos is an Independent Game Design Studio based out of Salinas, California. The three lead designers have degrees and education in silly things such as Literature, Liberal Studies with Human Communication, Math, Business, and much more importantly approximately 70 years of combined experience in tabletop games including world design, mythology building, and relentless tormenting of parties with endless ravenous hordes of monsters seeking their deaths.

We have experience working in education, technology, editing, and business. Even better, we coach sword fighting to 7th graders, write fantasy novels, and have been building game worlds since we were 12, and one of us may or may not be the star of a majestic internet meme (too much fun was involved to be certain, and it was 15 years ago)… and one’s a cook!

Welcome to the jungle …

Carbyne Jungle is not the first system that we have built, but it is the first we are publishing and by far the best work we have ever done. It is the culmination of decades of experience with various systems, tweaking rulesets, and determining what we believe would be the best gaming experience possible. 

In Carbyne Jungle, we created a game system designed around everything we love in RPGs.

  •  Story: Carbyne Jungle takes place in an expansive universe filled with fantasy and sci-fi elements, a deep backstory, and a rich setting filled with quest seeds to get games going.
  •  Options: Our characters are completely customizable. Choose between hundreds of options of backgrounds for millions of possible combinations of abilities. 
  •  Fun: We designed our game engine with three styles of gameplay for players of all skill levels, all of which can be played simultaneously. Beginners can join right into the game using a simple ruleset and not miss out on any of the fun as they learn the Stock or Strategic rules.
  •  Unique Gameplay: In addition to  traditional roleplaying, we have an autorun game for times when no one wants to GM, and a card system to assist in gameplay and in creating random dungeons. Not only that, but we built an amazing combat system that really gets players into the game.
  •  Game Decks: Our game decks make playing simpler, are used for the Flip N Fight rule set that allows brand new gamers to jump into the RPG, and also for premade games that the entire gaming group can play. Those decks can also then be shuffled in to create random quests for players.
  • Don’t take our word for it. Check out the free Playtest! While stripped down compared to the regular game, it has the full rulesets and several of the species and character types of Carbyne Jungle!

To find out more, and to support their AWESOME Kickstater, go here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/carbynejungle/carbyne-jungle-the-new-ttrpg

Reading at Flash Fiction in the Orchard Armagh Event September 19th.

Image of words Flash Fiction spelled out on post-it notes.
Written poste-haste!

Flash fiction is something that I have become very fond of; part prose, part poetry, and all wonderful narrative, telling a story in as few words as possible can be as rewarding as it is complex. Distilling a novel’s worth of experience into a few pages, or even a few paragraphs, means that you must pay attention to not just every sentence that you write, but every word that you choose. If done properly it should reward the reader too – hopefully – with a concise and concentrated dose of literature where, in a lot of cases, mood and tone maters more than plot because you are starting near the end of the story itself.

And that is what makes it so addictive, as both a writer and reader, to keep on doing.

I’ve been very lucky to have had my shorter work – six-word stories, drabbles (100 word), micro fiction (less than 250 words), and flash fiction – published but, more so over the last year I’ve had the absolute pleasure of being invited to read at Flash Fiction Armagh events in various venues in Northern Ireland. On the 19th September 2019 I’m going to do it again 🙂

This time I’m going to be reading a dark fantasy/speculative fiction piece (with a splash of humour thrown in for good measure), called ‘Playing Both Sides’ which I wrote during Pride month and plays on my love of geekdom and the underdog.

Flash Fiction Armagh this time takes place as part of the award-winning Armagh Food and Cider Festival; the readings take place in a teepee in the grounds of Crannagael House, which should be amazing! It promises to be a lot of fun, with cider tasting, locally sourced food, music, and of course all of the fabulous stories from the amazing writers (and me 🙂 ):

Gaynor Kane At Castleward

Maria Mc Gilly Green and Bitter

Csilla Toldy Wallflower

Jay Faulkner Playing Both Sides

Rachel Toner On The Shelf

Kerry Buchannan The Ages of Nan

Tim Hanna The Birds

Rosemary Tumilty The Homecoming

Ellie Rose Mc Kee The Caller

Brid McGinley Dogs in Space

Gerry Mc Cullough Not Quite Dead

Lorna Flanagan Boots Trudged Across the Yard

Yvonne Boyle The Silver Casino PlayerGary Hunter Rain and Smoke

With thanks, as always, to Byddi Lee and Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, the organisers of Flash Fiction Armagh, for this opportunity!

For more information and tickets (£10) click here.

Announcement: writing for ‘Katanas and Trenchcoats’ #kickstarter

3a3aa628d131397e923055e6ff6ffab9_originalOk, I’ve been given permission from Ryan Macklin, the head honcho behind the project, to talk about the secret contract thing I’d signed earlier in the week …I’m officially writing for an AWESOME role-playing game called ‘Katanas and Trenchcoats’ which is currently being Kickstarted at the moment, but broke its funding goal in less than 24 hours of launch and there’s still another 20 days to go! For a life long gaming nerd like me, who now writes, this is definitely part of living the dream #achievementunlocked 🙂

You can find out more about the project at the link below.

Twice as hard – Rare Disease Day 2016

logo-rare-disease-day“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” John D. Rockefeller

– – – – –

I was really only diagnosed with having a rare disease, the first time, because of a pretty bad hospital experience.

My walking had been getting progressively worse, over a few years, mostly down to foreshortened / ‘tethered’ Achilles tendons. Simply put while the rest of me was growing at one speed my tendons either stopped growing, or became tangled up. Either way I was forced to walk on my toes, getting progressively higher and higher, as time went on.

Physiotherapy was tried, as was corrective shoes and splints, but nothing worked. My tendons were simply too short/tight to be fixed by anything short of surgery. So in late June I went into Musgrave Park Hospital, in Northern Ireland, where a top-class orthopaedic surgeon repaired my tendons … one part lengthening, one part additional material.

I woke up a few days later in ICU so don’t actually recall what happened personally; my mother does, unfortunately. It wasn’t a great experience as I reacted badly – very badly – to the anaesthetic and, due to malignant hyperpyrexia, pretty much died a little. Now, in most works of fiction, that would be enough to put a protagonist through, wouldn’t it?

Well, unfortunately for me, this was my real life and not a story.

I spent a few weeks in heavy plaster, both legs from the toes all the way up to above the knees. After that I had the heavy plaster casts removed and slightly lighter casts put on – again, both legs, up to the knees. Finally I had a fibre glass type cast put on (yes, both legs, up to the knees) but this time they had little plastic/rubber things on the bottom so that I could walk on them.

Only, I couldn’t.

Keep in mind that for about 6-8 weeks I had been in a hospital bed, ankles/legs still recovering from pretty major surgery, and with casts on that were very heavy. I hadn’t been mobile in the slightest so it came as a bit of a shock – for me, my family and the medical staff – to find out that I couldn’t move my legs.

I could feel my legs, though the sensation was muted, but I couldn’t lift them, move them or bear weight on them. Now, obviously, this was a few years ago now (24 ish) so all the details aren’t exactly clear but there doesn’t seem to have been too much of a worry at that point. I’d been in hospital for a couple of months, bed-ridden for the first two weeks, then in a wheel-chair thereafter … I’d even been allowed home for a weekend, at some point – this is very well remembered as I had to have a lot of help doing anything and my mum, bless her, pulled both legs out of bed at the same time and the weight of them propelled the rest of me out of bed, head over heesl, to the floor. I’d love to say that we laughed but, we didn’t; SHE did. For quite a long time as I recall!

Anyway it was only when the plaster casts were finally taken off that the extent of the trouble became obvious. My legs were obviously always going to be weak. They’d been constrained in one position for a long time. The fact that I still couldn’t make them move – the fact that my sensation was still negligible – and, most importantly, the fact that automatic reflexes (to pain and stimulus) didn’t do much at all suddenly brought home the fact that I couldn’t move. I couldn’t walk. My legs simply wouldn’t work at all.

Now this was rather worrying (that may sound like an understatement but bear in mind I’m British, with a military background, and you’ll see that ‘stiff upper lip’ is a well known medical condition too ;) ) and for a longish time I went through a LOT of testing and other medical stuff:

– I was fitted for plastic splints – full and half leg ones – that I would end up wearing for many, many months.
– I had nerve conduction tests, MRIs, x-rays, lumbar punctures and other things that I don’t recall.
– I was put through a really intensive regime of physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and rehabilitation.
– I was taught how to use a wheelchair and integrated into a community of other users – spinal injuries, amputates, etc. I actually have a trophy, somewhere, for winning a wheelchair-bowling tournament. :)

Over time I managed to get some limited movement and control back in my legs and was then transferred to different walking frames – starting with a contraption that I was strapped into from my chest down which basically supported all of me, then a full body walking frame, then a zimmer frame, etc.

Eventually I managed to take a few steps around the ward on my own, just on crutches. This was December 18th and a week later, December 24th a war of words took place between myself, my family and the medical staff and I was discharged – over six months after I had first gone in for a ‘routine’ operation.

Unfortunately, as we found out, nothing is ever routine when a rare disease is involved. My genetic quirks meant that I reacted badly to the anaesthetic and, ultimately, my muscles didn’t recover from it, the reaction itself, or the surgery, the way that they should have.

Six months in hospital, with a period of time wondering if you will ever walk again and getting used to using a wheel chair, is definitely not routine. However, getting OUT of the wheelchair and, eventually, making a full recovery, is also not routine. The majority of people who end up in a chair spend the rest – or the majority – of their lives in it so I realise how lucky I was, and am.

It took about 9 months, or a year, to actually get back to normal after leaving hospital. Obviously I still had to contend with the fact that my legs, and body, were extremely weak – I couldn’t walk far or do too much at all without having a rest. I suffered from appalling cramps and pain for a long time (still do, actually) and because I had spent years toe walking I had to learn how to walk again as no part of my body, posture or balance was used to walking properly.

It was a very difficult time and I was told to expect a long and challenging recovery, with compromises and changes needing to be made. One of these, I was told, was that I wouldn’t be doing anything too strenuous for a while and definitely wouldn’t be doing anything ‘dangerous’ or potentially damaging.

So, of course, I took up martial arts the moment that I had the stamina, and balance, to do so.

Thankfully my instructor – while being an ex army guy, from the Midlands of England, and a bit of a hard man – was also someone who never expected anyone to do anything more than they were capable of doing. That isn’t to say that he never pushed people – or me – to their limits. Oh my God but he did that, time after time, but he also realised that – at the start, at least – that I had physical limits. He worked with me, on those, for many, many, years. I will always complain about the hard times, about the nights I came home from class exhausted, or covered in bruises, or with clumps of hair missing from my head (wrapped around his fingers, normally) but I will always look back and be so – SO – grateful for the lessons he taught me.

Not just about martial arts but – as anyone that has really studied them will understand – about life in general as, to do the former well you have to let it envelop the latter.

I spent every possible moment, for about four years, training, studying and exercising. My whole life, at that time, was kung fu, my academic studies, and my social life – in that order. The fact that the majority of my friends were in the kung fu class wasn’t an accident either. It was, you see, my life.

It was also the thing that taught me the one lesson that is a blessing and a curse; the way that I have to live my life, thanks to the rare disease.

I have to work twice as hard to be half as good as everyone else.

That used to really, really annoy me. Anything that requires anything remotely physical can be challenging for me – not impossible, not beyond achieving, just difficult. I look at other people – now and back then – and see how easy things are for them – things that they take for granted. Things that I have to work at, to push past discomfort to do, that will take something out of me and leave me weak, tired and sore the next day (or hour).

I used to train four or five days a week, every week, in kung fu just so that I could keep up with the people who were training one night (90 minutes) a week. Mentally I was better than them, I was picking things up faster than most of them, but physically I wasn’t half as good as them.

But I sure worked twice as hard.

I had to.

Nowadays that lesson – working twice as hard to be half as good – is still with me in everything that I do. The mental – and physical – dedication required to study martial arts, for example, over an extended period, has helped me with every aspect of my life. I never look at anything that I am required to do and think that I can’t do it – I simply accept that it will be harder.

And do it anyway.

Twice as hard to be half as good is how it started and, to be honest, how it still is sometimes. Rare diseases – limitations – physical differences – however don’t always mean that you aren’t as good as others; sure, you may not be as physical fit, or strong, but that isn’t the same as being as good as.

I started kung fu twenty three years ago, mostly because I was being stubborn and wanted to prove the doctors (and possibly my own fearful mind) wrong. I worked more than twice as hard to stay half as good as my peers for a while and then, guess what, something happened:

I was working twice as hard but becoming better and better – not stronger, or fitter – but better. Twenty three years ago I started kung fu and, now, I still teach classes twice a week and hold four black belts.

Everything that came before led to everything that I do, and am, now. Just because I have a rare disease or two doesn’t mean that every part of my life is predicated by, or affected by, it. Just because I have to work twice as hard doesn’t mean that it is difficult, or not enjoyable, all of the time.

I could be dead; I could be in a wheelchair; I could be so much worse than I actually am but I am none of those things.

I am simply me; and that is because that is what I have fought to be.

I won’t ever stop doing that.

– – – – –

http://www.rarediseaseday.org/

@rarediseaseday #raredisease #rduk

Spotlight: Conversations With Mother Goddess by Natalie Kawai

Natalie Kawai is a Spiritual Teacher and Guide. Born on the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, she now lives in Hawaii. Clairaudient from birth, she has always been haunted by the mysteries of life, why we are here, and our role in the universe.

Moved by her intense desire always to go deeper in understanding the whys of the whys, she found the voice of the Great Mother of Creation twelve years ago. Since then, she has studied relentlessly with the Supreme Being in a constant and intense dialogue. This practice led her to understand why a gulf still exists between our divinity and our humanity. Under the Great Mother of Creation’s guidance, she founded LST™—Light Speed Transmutation—a radical system to restore our lost consciousness and drive out the last part of our ego.

http://www.conversationswithmothergoddess.com/

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/HolisticHealingIntensive

Google+ https://plus.google.com/+NatalieKawai808/posts

Twitter.com https://twitter.com/nataliekawai

Buried in our soul forever, there is a piece of us that has not as yet been activated. That piece is the lost consciousness, the missing link guiding us to wholeness. As human beings, we have sought wholeness and connection with each other in the best way we know how by mimicking and emulating Source as we understand it.

Unfortunately, we cannot find wholeness because we have been missing part of who we are. As a New Era dawns for humanity, we now have to complete the process by gaining the consciousness we lost when we first incarnated at the beginning of time.

Natalie Kawai has found the key to completing that process. In Conversations With Mother Goddess, she shares what she has learned through her dialogues with the Great Mother of Creation. Part explanation of humanity’s origins, and part conversation about how humanity can move into a new and complete future, this book will bend your mind in new and surprising ways, preparing it for the next step in your soul’s evolution.

Discover the part of you that you have always been yearning for, but never knew how to find. Join others in this exciting journey to restore harmony, creativity, and peace in all of us. Then prepare yourself to help bring about Heaven on Earth! It will happen if we all make the effort….

Grab your copy of the book today!

www.ConversationsWithMotherGoddess.com

http://www.amazon.com/Conversations-With-Mother-Goddess-Everlasting-ebook/dp/B0116M5LQ8

Author Top 10
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 La Reina del Sur
Shaw-shank redemption
Thelma & Louise
Legends of the Fall
Spy Game

 

 

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https://www.facebook.com/events/402336426634124/

And enjoy all these great posts

 

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“Writing with Conscious Respect” by Jay Wilburn

deadsongOne of my favorite things to do with fiction is to do an effective job of writing characters that are different from me. I am a person of faith, but I enjoy writing characters that think differently from me on that. For fiction to reflect the full range of humanity, especially a dystopian story that throws together survivors of different backgrounds, it serves story to include characters from different races, different origins, genders, sexual orientations, etc. There is an added responsibility when writing characters from these varying backgrounds to write them well.

Writing a character well means writing a character with realistic flaws. There is a danger of falling into stereotypical characteristics when trying to do this. Our minds tend to take the path of least resistance and trying to be realistic often can go to choosing the path that is easy and may weaken an otherwise good character.

Writing characters requires writing people. Each individual is complex and two characters that share a common characteristic such as race, orientation, or any other aspect of identity, can be as different from each other as any other characters. It is good to not define a character by one key or token characteristic. It also serves not to ignore that aspect of their identity. If all characters are written the same as they would be otherwise, then why do the distinguishing characteristics matter at all?

There is a balance to be struck, but that is true even if we try to be safe and don’t venture into drawing characters from all aspects of life. It is not a matter of completing a checklist to be sure all permutations are represented, but there is great potential for enriching a story by varying the cast. Writers should be aware of the responsibility to respect and realism that goes with penning characters that are different from us in thought, beliefs, or characteristics.soundsuffer

Check out the latest book and music from a new series by Jay Wilburn:

The Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals –  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00YDZKXCI/jaywil0d-20

The Sound May Suffer – Songs from the Dead Song Legend Book 1: January –  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/amazing-circle-of-suffering/id996569862?i=996569871&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

wilburn

 

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com

How Powerful is the Poker Industry Today?

It took a while for the poker industry to gain mainstream notoriety in the United States, and it hasn’t been without its testing times since. Regardless of adversity, the poker industry has turned into a global phenomenon.

We can all remember seeing poker in early Hollywood films like The Cincinnati Kid starring the enigmatic Steve McQueen or even the James Bond movies. In the many James Bond films, it wouldn’t be long before you’d see the English secret agent sat at a poker or blackjack table surrounded by women. And ultimately, it was the aforementioned films that gave, what is now classed as a sport, the springboard for poker to rake in millions daily.

Poker first made its bow on national television in the United States back in the 1970s but it was only really the start of its journey to mainstream success. During this time the sport wasn’t commanding large television audiences and it was only the die-hard fans that were tuning in to watch.

But something was on the horizon that would change the face of poker forever. The innovative “hole cam” made its debut on live television in 1997 and brought a new dynamic to tournament poker. It was designed by World Series of Poker bracelet winner Henry Orenstein and first made an appearance during the Late Night Poker television series. If anything, the “hole cam” helped the crowd become more involved in the proceedings and gave them an insight into what cards the poker players were dealt and were playing with.

HoldemThe “hole cam” really hit a mainstream audience in 2002 when the first $1 million tournament was set to take place. The tournament, which was aired on live television was entitled ‘The Poker Million Tournament’ and finally brought poker to a wider audience. Following on from this, it enabled the World Series of Poker events to secure prime time slots on the Discovery Networks in the United States.

With the sport now commanding regular television slots, it also saw the uprising of many online poker rooms and the industry began to grow exponentially. Sponsorship deals were struck between online and major tournaments to help stabilize the infrastructure of the annual tournament schedule and prize money increase dramatically. A prime example of this was the deal that online poker giants Betfair struck with the European tour in 2007 where they were the presenting sponsor for all the events.

As the television slots started to increase in volume, so did the star appeal of some of the most successful stars of the sport. Johnny Chan became a legend in the sport for his uncompromising play and ability to bluff without showing a sign of emotion. Chris Moneymaker was the first Internet qualifier to ever go on to win a bracelet at the WSOP, which in turn cemented his legacy in poker’s greatest all time winners.

Las Vegas currently rakes in a reported $6.4 billion a year from gaming revenues according to LVCVA, however the figures for online gaming are staggering regardless of the implications from the Black Friday cull. Even though there are still bans in the United States and Japan, globally online gaming revenues have quadrupled over the last 10 years. In a report by The Globe and Mail they state the online poker business is now worth an unbelievable $36.9 billion a year.

Is all this success down to the “hole cam” raking in a wider audience? It was definitely a contributing factor as it new dynamic allowed the viewer to see the player’s moves and action from a different perspective.

The future of poker looks bright at the minute, with a new slew of “modern day poker players” learning their stripes on the circuit. And although most states in the United States still prohibit online play, it is expected that the majority of states will allow online gaming again soon because of how it can help the economy.

What do you think about online poker being prohibited in your state? Let us know below your thoughts.

#WIP – The Red Path

I’m not sure, to be honest, what this is or where it is going.  I’m pretty sure that it is about an assassin, of sorts, and is probably in a low to medium fantasy setting (magic, fantastical creatures, etc) and there are rumblings in my mind about just who this character is and why he may be ‘fated’ to do something.  All I know is what he has said so far, which is:

Everyone dies.

As soon as you’re born, out of the darkness and into the light, bloody and screaming, you are dying. In my line of work you normally go out the same way. If you’re lucky then the blood may be someone else’s as well, mingling with your own as you take the screaming bastard that did you in with you, out of the light and into the darkness, quick and fast. If you’re unlucky then you get to add lingering pain to the blood and screams, insides spilling out as you lie festering in your own guts and shit. If you’re very lucky, of course, then the pain, the blood, and the screams are someone else’s and their death comes at the end of your blade; and you get enough coin to last a week in one of the better whorehouses before picking up the blade and walking the red path once more.

If you’re very lucky you get to live.

Because everyone dies, you see, but not everyone lives. Not truly.

This is how I did both.