Friday, April 3, 2015

How I Built My Mantic Battlezones for Deadzone

Who wouldn't love fighting through such a 3D nightmare?
     The recent inception of the new Deadzone: Infestation Kickstarter from Mantic has got me all jazzed up about that great game again, and reminded me of this blog entry someone at Mantic asked me to do back in November. Sadly, due to a series of personnel turnovers and a super busy publishing schedule, the blog post got lost in the shuffle. After several recent inquiries from listeners concerning the post, I decided to share my excitement concerning the new Kickstarter by finally posting the blog entry myself for those who might be interested.

     So, without further ado, here’s that entry, in its entirety, with lots of pictures. Enjoy!

     Sadly, I missed out on the <<first>> Deadzone Kickstarter. My first exposure to the game was when my friend and podcasting co-host Russ picked it up at our local store. He fell in love almost immediately. Soon after, we went to Adepticon 2014 where Russ picked up more models and a bunch of the terrain. I did a demo at the convention and really enjoyed it.

     I went home and ordered a copy of Contagion along with an extra set of terrain and some of the other cool components (resin cargo containers are GREAT for blinging out the game, if you can get them). I now had two full sets of terrain, but I was not done. Another local friend, Will, had endangered his marriage by going into the first Deadzone Kickstarter whole hog, resulting in far more terrain than he had time to play around with. He gave me a bunch of other sprues and I was off.

     I almost immediately gave up. The sheer versatility of the Battlezone Terrain was incredibly daunting. I did Google searches for other people’s layouts. I poured over the Mantic website and blogs. But I couldn’t find any concrete directions anywhere. I knew it COULD look great, I had seen examples, but I didn’t know how to get there.

My first Deadzone build. Spot the mistakes? They are many...
     I dove in with Will’s sprues, building a small landing pad connected to a watchtower by a bridge one panel wide and two panels long (Russ had been mocking me about my Teraton not being able to cross the standard ½ width walkways … and I had to show him, right?). In building this I made my first mistake: I painted the tiles first, and then put them together.

     In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking. It was a RIDICULOUS mistake. You’re working with hard plastic, so you paint it over and thereby rob yourself of the best adhesive to use when making models: plastic glue? I had been a fool; a fool with super-glue all over my fingers.

      I made yet another mistake by priming the stuff black, dry-brushing it with a bone color as a pre-shaded base (my usual technique), and then dry-brushing it again with the shade of blue I was looking for (and then, of course, bringing up further layers one or two times for shading). It took a LOT of time to do all that, and I was not super excited about the results.

     My next mistake: I had only played a few short games, so didn’t know how best to maximize what I was building. I used the 45 degree tilted paneling to border the landing pad. I also wanted to have some cover underneath, so I used four solid walls to build a pedestal. Sadly, this then meant that the amazing-looking pillars that come with the landing pad would not touch the ground. I had to cannibalize some other terrain to add little pads for each pillar so it would touch the ground and keep the consistent height of the Battlezone system. It looked cool, but in game play, the 45 degree panels mean that you’ve basically got 9 squares of elevation that are closed off from the rest of the board. You can’t place bridges on them, so you’ve locking out a lot of cool options for elevated cross-board maneuvering. Also, the build was so big it dominated the board, making itself the centerpiece of any setup that included it.

So, lessons from my first attempt: Build FIRST, with plastic glue. Paint AFTER, priming in your main color and then just doing a quick dry-brush to pick out the amazing details already included in the pieces. And most importantly: fight the urge to constantly close off your assembly options for rigid aesthetic value: You want to be able to create all sorts of scenes, territory, and terrain. In most (but not all) instances, flat tops are your friends.
My second attempt (in the center). More modular and uniform
     Next I needed to decide what to do with my two sets of standard terrain (and the various bits and pieces left over from Will’s gift). I decided, rather than make buildings which I REALLY wanted to do, I would design around cubes, for maximum versatility with Deadzone. I built 6 one cube elements, 2 two cube elements, and 2 three cube elements. I also built a platform/bridge 1 cube by 3 cubes, to give me some elevation. This would allow me to put these pieces together, side by side and/or on top of each other, in any number of ways. And with flat tops, I could connect them with the various 1 and 2 cube-length bridges I had made.

Another Lesson Learned: when stacked upon one another, my cubes nest nicely, but there is nothing stopping them from sliding off if someone bumps the table (and sometimes it takes only the slightest bump). I need to add something for the cubes to rest upon. I learned to put right angle connectors along the inner walls of the cubes, and then clip off most of the downward facing prongs, so that they could sit into the recesses of cubes beneath them, but would be flush when placed directly upon the mat.
     I decided I liked the blue, but would rather go with a more uniform look for the rest of the table. I primed with standard retail light gray spray primer, and then highlighted with two coats of lighter gray craft paint. I pick out little details with a couple other colors to make the items pop, but I didn’t go crazy, letting the detail of the pieces speak for itself.

     I also decided I wanted things to look old and worn, so I used sea sponge for the first time, going for a rusty look. I used sea sponge to apply a stippled dark brown in patterns that made sense to me from a quick perusal of Google images of rusty industrial machinery. I then went over the brown areas with a great textured orange technical paint from another manufacturer. I finally used a fresh-blood technical paint to add splashes of gore, which I’m not entirely sold on, but they do blend in well with the Deadzone game mat.

      But now I was struggling under something I saw mentioned more and more online, the “Paintball Field” effect of Deadzone terrain. I love building tables that look real: you can see why things are the way they are and you can imagine fighting over realistic locations, real or imaginary. But I was limited in my Deadzone builds by these undamaged cubes, because if I put them back to back to make cool buildings, you wouldn't be able to get your models into them. I was left with some very cool looking terrain, but wanting something more.

More lessons learned: using the X-brace panel more liberally can give you a very cool open-concept industrial feel that breaks up the solid walls enough to mostly dispel the paintball field impression … but mine were all used up to make bridge/platform pieces and watchtowers.
     I had known there were ruin sprues coming, of course, and I knew that with these I could make awesome blown-out buildings that would look real AND allow for models to be placed within them. I could not wait for the release in the US, so I jumped on the Ruined Quadrant pre-order, and I never looked back.

The ruined fortress in two halves
The full fortress
     With the Ruined Quadrant I built a large fortress, four cubes by three. I built it in two halves, and made add-ons with the ruin sprues that I painted to match the fortress. I can field it as a whole fortress or two ruined fortresses separated by any amount of space on the board. With the fortress, I tried something I had always wanted to: I first painted the pieces to match everything else. Then I used masking tape to cover the entire fortress except a stripe running all around the outer wall. I used regular retail spray paint to add a bold brick-red detail stripe around the entire thing, as well as the barricades I had built to match (no matter what I do, I'm still terrified of delving into the use of an airbrush). I gave the stripe a quick dry-brush with lighter reds, removed the tape, and LOVED the result.

The full standard collection
I do love me my platforms!
       Then I went to town on my ruins. Again, I built in single layers so I could stack in a variety of different ways, this time building one 3x3 ruin, three 2x2 ruins, and several 1 cube ruins. I built a large 3x3 platform with two angled corners, another 1x3 bridge/platform, and a 1x2 platform to give myself even more height options (keep in mind, thought, that in Deadzone, this makes those stair and ladder bits even more important). This is where I figured out how to place the 90 degree connectors facing inwards, with the bottom prong mostly snipped off, along the bottoms of my pieces so they would stack more easily and stay put, but would also sit flush on the mat if I wanted to use them as a bottom level.

The ruins, with the platform in the upper right

     I painted these pieces up the same as the non-ruined elements, but dry-brushed blast damage with black, radiating outward from the damage points, and then lightly dry-brushed gun metal over the wrecked pieces (paying extra attention to the rebar) to pick out the awesome detail of the destruction.

Rubble/half wall bits
Rubble w/half wall and non-ruined cube
Makes ruined cube!
Another cool trick I stumbled upon: pair the half-rubble piles, meant to sit flush against walls, together with a single ruined wall piece on only one side. With these I can make non-ruined elements ruins simply by butting them up against any non-ruined wall.

The two platforms used in a standard layout
     I broke my own new rules only twice: I built two ruined landing platform pieces, each two cubes high. I COULD have made the landing pad parts separate, but I really wanted to give them a ruined appearance, and so needed to build them up to provide the support necessary to make them sturdy enough to use in the game.

     In the end, I’ve had a BLAST making, painting, and playing on this great terrain. It goes together like a dream, paints up fast and beautifully, and looks phenomenal on the table or the Deadzone mat. I’ve got more than enough to fill 3 mats to ridiculous density already, and I can’t wait to build more!

The Rebs scout out the new territory
·         Put your pieces together BEFORE you glue.
·         Spray a colored basecoat and then dry-brush for detail.
·         Build in single layers with an eye to combining, stacking, and bridge access.
o   Don’t forget the 90 degree connectors along the bottom to keep the upper levels steady.
·         Include details like hazard stripes, rust, etc. to really make these great kits pop!
·         Don’t let anything go to waste: make scatter terrain with anything you have left over!
·         The stairways that come with the Landing Pad are AWESOME for adding realism and further cover. Beg, borrow, or steal as many as you can get.

Kit List:
·         1 Deadzone: Contagion box
·         1 Scenery Upgrade Pack
·         1 Ruined Quadrant
·         A random bunch of sprues that at my best guess would add up to:
o    1 Landing Pad
o    1 Watch Tower
·         I also got a couple extra sprues from Mantic CS when I pre-ordered my Ruined Quadrant.

Craig is a teacher, author, and co-host of the general gaming podcast The D6 Generation, universally acclaimed as Not-Too-Horrible. His latest novel, Bastion, is available now through Winged Hussar Publishing, as well as online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also follow his exploits on twitter: @d6gcraig.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dwarven Forge Dungeon Tiles Finally Done!

So, without a doubt, the Dwarven Forge Dungeon Tiles Kickstarter was my LARGEST pledge on the crowd-funding website so far. I have always loved Dwarven Forge's stuff, but always from a distance due to the ridiculous cost of any of their sets, and the sheer, daunting number of said sets needed to do a layout of any size. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying those resin, pre-painted, AWESOME looking sets are unfairly priced AT ALL. Just that they were WAY out of my own reach, especially for something whose usefulness would be questionable, at best, with my gaming activity.

And then along came the kickstarter . . . I jumped right in. I went for the unpainted option, so I could get more stuff, and I knew that painting the terrain would be no big challenge for me. Of course, I was thinking skill-wise, not time-wise, but more on that later. I pledged for 5 sets, plus 4 add-on sets, for a total of $400 even. I figured, that would be about what I would pay for 4 sets of the previous Dwarven Forge stuff, but I would be getting basically 9 sets, plus whatever stretch goals were unlocked. I was good with that deal from the beginning, considering how long I had drooled over DF's stuff, so I was content, out of the gate.

Of course, the the kickstarter went crazy. Goal after goal was shattered, and because of the (ingenious) structure of the stretch goal rewards, I ended up with FIVE more sets that contained a ton of other bits and pieces, all of which complimented the basic sets amazingly well, and gave any sets a nice variety. So, for basically the cost of four of the original sets, I was getting FOURTEEN sets! That was awesome, with awesome sauce added, with a little sprinkling effing awesome on top.

Then I forgot about the kickstarter. My experience with these projects has been . . . spotty. Everyone seems to run a month or two behind their announced delivery dates AT LEAST, and I'm still waiting, more than a year later, for some stuff. And then, RIGHT on schedule . . . BAM! Two HUGE boxes showed up on my doorstep. Two huge HEAVY boxes . . .

And that's when I started to doubt the wisdom of going for unpainted . . . because that was a LOT of stuff to paint.

But I buckled down and started to paint as best I could. I had opted for the specially-designed Pokorny paints and brushes, so my stuff would match any future painted pieces I bought, and I spent WEEKS of my vanishingly miniscule free time at night painting the tiles, the Dungeon dressing, etc.

Because, you can't have a dungeon without dressing, right? So, I got one set of the DF stuff, jumped in on another kickstarter for dungeon dressing (sadly, far more commonly, currently 2 months late, with no immediate signs of fulfillment), I bought a ton of scrap dressing from Iron Wind Metals at GenCon, and I found a company, now sadly out of business, that sold GREAT dressing online. They said, when they announced that they would be going out of business, that they would be selling their molds, but I have not found them available again yet.

Similar models are available Armorcast. And of course, I'm a big fan of Armorcast, always have been. And of course of course, they were, briefly, an advertiser on the show before they decided, with no hard feelings, that their advertising dollars were better spent elsewhere. Like I said, no hard feelings . . . but if you go over there to check it out and end up buying something, be sure to let them know you heard of them from us. :)

Anyway, so I finally finished painting (everything but the stuff that hasn't arrived yet, sadly), and as Russ says: Pics or it didn't happen. So I put together a layout, using slightly less than 2/3 of the tiles I now own, and took a few pics.

And so now, without further ado . . . my first Dwarven Forge Dungeon Tiles layout!

Here is the full layout, on my coffee table. I tried to get some of the variety allowed by the stretch goal sets in there, as well as some of the add-on sets additional pieces. So, you'll see a couple of the 'big' floor tiles, 4x6 inches. Following the example of the GenCon layouts, I opted to do the center 2x4 sections as a mosaic, but actually spent the extra time to paint a pattern within the existing mosaic structure of the models.

The lower right hand corner shows the pool from the special Chamber add-on, as well as some of the braziers currently unavailable.

I did run into some trouble trying to tie the two parallel structures at the bottom together, which led me to think that I might have to take some of my MANY MANY 2x2 floor tile pieces and cut them into 1x2 pieces to fix such an issue.

Here we have a vault, or treasure room, featuring the piles of gold from the stretch goal sets, the barrels from same, a table, a couple of boxes, and then some more treasure, some from Iron Wind Metals, and one piece from the Dungeon Dressing set from the Reaper Vampire kickstarter . . . sadly, the only pieces I have painted of that voluminous haul.

In the corner outside is a fountain from the Reaper set, and in the background can just be seen a skull detail, again from Iron Wind Metals, that gives the room a creepy feeling.

Down the hall from the vault is this crypt, built into a jink in the hall rather than within its own chamber. All the bits here are from the Reaper Vampire kit. I primed all my Vampire pieces with acrylic black paint, then used the Porkorny paints so they would blend with the rest of the dungeon.

The candelabra were painted gold and inked brown. I decided to provide what continuity I could by using my diminishing Dark Angels Green paint for most of the details, including these candles and the gems in the stands. In the corner is a 'treasure token', exactly an inch square, from Iron Wind Metals.

These pieces here were from what I think of as my Throne Room collection. The barbarian throne and the braziers are all from the now-defunct company. Too bad, too, because they had some AWESOME stuff.

Here again you can see that I continued to use the Dark Angels Green to provide some continuity, both on the stretch goal pillars, the details on the throne, and the floor mosaic.

The demon-head door at the bottom of the picture is an example of GW's new oxidized bronze technical paint. Watered down a little, it worked GREAT.
And here we have a whole bunch of my dressing from what I'm calling my 'Wizard's Room' collection, including the desk, bookshelves, a mirror, globe, even a coat rack with wizard's hat and robe. Again, you can see the same green.

You can also see another of the treasure tokens, and one of several floor tiles with built in details, in this instance, scrolls and books. In the forefront you can see one of the alternative doors that were available in the stretch goal sets.

And that's just a little bit of what I was able to do with my pledge for 5 sets of this awesome terrain, and not even using 2/3 of it! I intend to try to use this with our Iron Kingdoms Role Playing campaign if it ever gets up and running again, as well as, with a little tweaking, hopefully some Malifaux, and maybe even some futuristic minis games, with different dressing packs that I've got from Antenoceti's Workshop.

And of course, I might just be forced to come up with my own RPG opportunities to use this stuff, because it's just TOO DAMN COOL not to use! And as @TylerTinsley said on twitter . . . "until you game with it, it's just a creepy dollhouse." Which, to be honest, I think I'd be ok with . . .

Until I write again, thanks for checking in!


Friday, November 8, 2013

No Good Deed . . .

Goes unpunished!

In a last-ditch attempt not to embarass myself with Extra Life 2013, I have caved in, and I'm offering another prize. This isn't as cool as the old prizes . . . but given the lack of timely fulfillment on the last one of those, at least THIS one will happen sooner! :)

I will be putting the name of each person who pledges on My Extra Life Page into a pool. Each person's name will go in once for each $10 donated. The lucky winner will be featured in my next novel, just long enough to die in some horrible way. So, this is your chance! Literary fans through the ages have donated HUNDREDS of dollars for just such an opportunity!

So, PLEASE think about tossing $10 or more into my total? ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the money donated goes DIRECTLY to Boston's Children's Hospital, almost IMMEDIATELY, without a single cent lost to bureaucracy or administration.

Hope to see you on my donor list, and thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

HonorCon Day 3 and Beyond

Well, returning to 'real' life . . . ugh. It's a very tough part of the year, full of herding teenagers into painting, wall-papering, stretching fabric flats over wooden frames, carving cliffs, making stone walls out of foam, etc etc etc . . . lots of work.

Anyway, Day 3 . . . I left the lovely La Quinta, tried to find a Dunkin Donuts and abandoned the search as I had a loosely-scheduled meet-up with Gena Robinson, David Weber's PA and Co-Chair of the Convention Council. I missed Gena, unfortunately, as I had horded one last copy of Honor Among Outlaws, hoping to give it to David as a token of thanks for years of entertainment, inspiration, and for making himself so available to us so often.

Missing Gena, I hurried to my next panel, Writing -- Baen Speaks: Writing from a Publishers Point of View. Again, the panelists were Toni Weisskopf, grand-pooba of Baen, Tony Daniel, publisher and author, and Laura Haywood-Cory. Eric Flint sat in again, as he now publishes his own magazine in addition to being a big-wig author. It was another GREAT panel. Seriously, these Baen folks know there stuff, but they also present engagingly with humor and warmth. If you ever have a chance to attend something like the Baen Traveling Roadshow or some other panel, jump at it!
Chuck Gannon, Eric Flint (in motion), and Tony Daniel

My next panel was Writing -- Advancing Plot. Eric Flint, Tony Daniel, and author Chuck Gannon, speaking about things like outlining, flow charts, foreshadowing, etc. Chuck Gannon had a great term that I particularly liked: Pantsing, for writing by the seat of your pants, rather than using an outline. Turns out the professionals, whether they like to or not. have a similar opinion about outlines to mine, ie: they use them.

And that was the end of my panels. I needed to make my flight, return my rental car, etc. So I was unable to stay for the last panel I REALLY wanted to attend: The Trial of David Weber, where a panel of super-fans forced him to account for the many beloved characters he has killed throughout the Honor Harrington series. Now that I know a lot of these folks, I'm sure that was a blast. Maybe not as fun as "Airdropping Several Thousand Angry Treecats on Mesa" . . . but still fun . . .

I did finally track down Gena and David. He seemed genuinely touched when I gave him the copy of my book, and he wrote something VERY kind in my new copy of the Empire from the Ashes, the omnibus containing Mutineer's Moon, the first David Weber book I ever bought, more than 20 years ago . . . That book is currently now one of my prize possessions, and I do not lie . . .

I tracked down Chris, Fred, and several of the other friends I had made over the course of the weekend. I was even asked if I wanted to come back next year as a full-fledged guest writer . . . um . . . hell's yeah! :)

And so, rushed back to the Greenville-Spartanburg 'International' Airport . . . which is where I started the last post . . . so I think that was it!

All in all, this was a great, extremely well-organized convention. Not huge, but then, I would never have wanted something like this to be huge. Each panel audience was about 20 or 30, except for the big events. I was able to sit close to the front each time, and felt like I was really talking with the guests. It was awesome. The venue, the Hyatt-Regency, Greenville, was beautiful and very futuristic, which was a fantastic backdrop to all the uniforms parading around all weekend. And speaking of uniforms, how about a picture of The Royal Manticoran Navy's Bureau of Supply, as a sample?

Anyway, that's about all I have to say about that . . . time to get back to work with my final revision (thanks to a timely delay at the other end) of Abundant Riches, the final book in the Jesse James Archive trilogy.

As always, thanks for reading, and goodnight!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

HonorCon Days 2

So, here I sit, in the lovely Greenville-Spartanburg 'International' Airport . . . the nice TSA lady told me there was food on the other side of security, so I moved on through . . . only to discover yet again the wildly divergent definitions many folks can have for 'food' . . . there's a snackbar with a microwave and a toaster oven . . .

Anyway, to the Con!

Saturday was another great day. This Con was very well-organized, with only minor glitches, quickly and seamlessly addressed, occasionally rearing their ugly heads.

I started my day at the seminar by Evergreen Productions on 'Writing for the Transmedia Honorverse' Another well-put together presentation on the concept of creating an entire franchise, ala Star Wars or Star Trek, from the ground up, intentionally. Comics, video games, novel tie-ins, and of course, the movie. I'm very intrigued by the whole idea, and wish them a lot of luck . . . you can tell they know a lot about not only their own fields, but the Honorverse as well, and are passionate about their project.

I then spent a great deal of time in the vendor hall, hanging out with Pat Doyle, a gamer and member of David Weber's BuNine. He was running a Star Trek Attack Wing campaign using the Fleet Captain game as the map and engine. It was ingenious, and reminded me a lot of Russ.

I kept going over to the Ad Astra Games area, looking at the Saganami Tactical Simulator . . . but there is just SO much math involved with that! I couldn't do it, and my brain kept hurting. My fault, not the fault of the game . . . which always had a bunch of people playing it.

I then attended the Baen Traveling Road Show, David Weber addition. This was a fantastic presentation by the publishing team from Baen, led by Toni Weisskopf. She's the head honcho, there, and obviously does not suffer fools gladly, but gives a great presentation, was very funny and personable, and engaging the entire time. The core of the presentation was a slide show of covers, both of David's books through the ages and other authors. It was very cool watching the evolution of the artists and the covers.

After the Road Show, I attended the seminar on World Building, featuring David and other authors. It was one of the best, and easy to relate to as it was constantly tied into the Honor Harrington Franchise. I rounded the day out with Tactics 101 (wow, these guys take their fiction seriously!), and Building a Fictional Navy. This was particularly interesting, because it was being run by naval personnel former and current, and a former professor at the Naval War College. It was really interesting stuff.

I then attended another writing panel, this time on Taking Your Reader for a Ride. This was the first panel I attended with Eric Flint . . . who was AWESOME. Very down to earth and blunt, but also a giant in the field. A lot of practical help for new writers, as well as fun banter, insight, and a couple of behind the curtain stories.

After the last panel of the day was the awards ceremony, where most of the organizers were given plaques (often a surprise, even to the folks organizing the awards), and David was given an admiral's beret in lieu of the full Royal Manticoran Navy  uniform they have commissioned for him. You could tell he was very moved by the gesture. Also receiving awards were the winners of the costume contest, the story telling contest, and the best over-all fan. A story I have to tell later, because it was really cool . . . in a really weird way . . .

After the ceremony I went out to dinner with Listener and Friend of the Show Fred Kiesche and Convention Toastmaster Chris Weuve at the hotel's Roost restaurant . . . delicious. And Fred was gracious enough to treat, and would not take no for an answer.

We ate and chatted late into the night, and I called it a night, returning to my lovely suite at La Quinta, the official hotel of the D6 Generation. :)
And now my flight is boarding, and I have to run!

The last day as soon as I can get to it.

As usual, thanks again for reading!


Friday, November 1, 2013

HonorCon, Day 1

So, as I relax in my awesome suite at the Greenville, SC La Quinta (Thanks, Angelo!), I reflect back upon the first day of my first Sci-Fi con . . . and I find that it is good.

The day did not start so well . . . I did not deign to pack the night before, and did not calculate that into my wake-up time, and so was running about 20 minutes late as I tore out the door. I engaged my stopwatch, thinking that I had over-estimated the travel time to the airport, and that would make me feel better . . . except that I was spot on, so no help there. So I walked briskly to the terminal from long-term parking . . . and got there in time to realize that I had forgotten my phone in the car. I RAN back to the parking lot, and then hobbled pathetically back to the terminal (I probably would have been better off walking both ways).  So, panting and sweating like a pig . . . I made it through security only to be stopped at the X-ray machine, where my copy of Firefly The Board Game caused an argument between two TSA agents. One said it was 'only a game', the other said they needed to check. When they saw the box, the woman said "Oh, I know him! He's on Castle! I love Castle!" So they waved me on my way. :)

Because I flew Southwest, I was then last to check in, and thus last on the airplane . . . without checked bags, so a carry on suitcase, for the first time in years . . . tight fit, but I made it.

I arrived in plenty of time at the Greenville/Spartanburg aiprort, and drove swiftly to the Hyatt Regency. The great folks at HonorCon allowed me to have a full 150 person conference room with full technical support for a Q&A on the podcast and Honor Among Outlaws. Sadly, there was no time to do any publicity for it, other than my twitter account . . . and this very kind announcement at registration:
Sadly, I just hung out in the room by myself, and then moved on to the next adventure . . . 

I was then invited to take part in a book signing session . . . except that we were unable to get any of my books to the convention. But the very nice folks from Fiction Addiction offered to sell the two copies that I DID bring , which resulted in this unbelievable moment in my life:

And then inveterate listener and unwitting companion (thanks for the Guinness, Fred!), Fred Kiesche actually BOUGHT one! (And that's Jill, owner of Fiction Addiction and purveyor of very fine books!).
The panel was primarily me and a bunch of very nice folks from BuNine, David Weber's fan-based support committee and the group responsible for the House of Steel Honorverse Companion. They were also the organizers of the Con, and were GREAT to me. Of particularly kind disposition were Bryan Haven and Greg Whitaker. Bryan is the managing partner of  Atlantis Games and Comics. Both guys were WWX backers, and Greg bought my second (and last) book . . . so I sold out, again! :)

Oh, and I adopted one of the last four treecats ever available from the Royal Manticoran Navy Bureau of Supply, and he displayed the novel for me at the signing:
And of course, for the first time I realized that the title of my book might seem a bit strange and misleading in the current venue . . .

After the signing, Fred offered to buy me a Guinness, and my Irish blood would not allow me to say no. So we went to the hotel bar . . . which is AMAZING, and shared a drink and some stories about Raef's randomness and the size of Russ' head.

Then it was off to the Ice Cream Social, where a LOT of RMN costumes were beautifully in evidence, and one uniform from the Manticoran Army.

Then came the Opening Ceremonies, where I actually had a seat reserved for myself . . . and again, my yet-to-be-named treecat posed for a picture.
I nervously anticipated having to introduce myself to the entire hall. I made it, though, and actually got to say "I've been a published author for 11 days", and everyone cheered! It was an amazing feeling.

Each of the people on the opening panel spoke, and David Weber ended the ceremony with a nice speech.
Chris Weuve, former professor at the Naval War College and Toastmaster of the convention, is at the podium, with David Weber to his left.

After the Opening Ceremonies, the big score of the day: Behind the Scenes of the Honor Harrington Franchise . . . where the big plans for the future of the franchise were revealed by David Weber and the folks from Evergreen Studios, including CEO Mike Devlin, Chief Creative Officer Scott Kroopf, Vice President of Gaming and Interactive Richard Browne, Alison Haskovec, VP of Marketing, and Julie Karickhoff, Director of Marketing. I took a ton of pics of the concept work, including the early concept work of the various ships INCLUDING HMS Fearless and PNS Saladin aka Thunder of God, as well as concept art of gravitic wedges, worm holes, and of course treecats . . . and then they told us we couldn't post any pics of the images we saw . . . so you'll have to track me down and ask to see them in person. They even opened a Twitter account JUST for HonorCon . . . which I am not allowed to reveal . . . although if I find out anything cool from it, I'll probably mention it somewhere at some point . . .

We saw the cover of the first graphic novel . . . and I KNOW I'm going to get it as soon as it comes out.

We saw actual game play of the first mobile game, coming out, FREE, in early 2014, and I KNOW I'm going to get that, too. CRAZY cool looking!

And we saw concept artwork of Honor, various settings, and even the Stilties of Basilisk. Some TRULY amazing visuals.

And they talked at length about the various elements of the Honor Harrington full court press, including the abandonment of the On Basilisk Station plot line for the first movie, which will now focus entirely upon the novel Honor of the Queen. On Basilisk Station will provide the bulk of the material for the first series of comics.

Seriously . . . it was an amazing day. And this post took over an hour and a half to write . . . and an 'early night' is now a 'damn, not gonna get much sleep' early morning . . .

So, I'm off. I'll try to post again tomorrow . . . but maybe not quite so long . . .

Hope you enjoyed it, guys!

That's about all I have to say about that, so . . . G'night!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Time has almost caught us, my friend!

Wow. What a crazy couple of days this has been, tacked onto a crazy month or two into the bargain! Sorry for the delay in posting here again, guys, but I sorely underestimated what a stone-cold beyatch returning to school AND writing the final book in the current Jesse James arc was going to be. Between writing, teaching, play rehearsal, not to mention Karen, Rhys, the podcast, etc etc etc . . . it's been . . . interesting. Ancient Chinese curse-type interesting, but interesting none-the-less.

So . . . where was I? Ah yes . . . I'M A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!!! How the HELL did THAT happen? On Tuesday I got my Author's Copies (and I thought getting a single 'Contributor's Copy' of gaming books was cool!), and that was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I remember seeing countless scenes in movies and tv shows of authors opening up their box of author's copies, and I've always fantasized about what that would be like . . . and it SO lived up to my expectations!

So, the book released yesterday (Tuesday, October 22, 2013), and it was CRAZY fun watching the supply at Amazon dwindle and disappear, resulting in a sold out initial supply in less than 24 hours! I mean, it wasn't a HUGE amount they started with, a test shipment, really . . . but it SOLD OUT! :) And of course, going from 30,020th on Amazon to 9000th in the same timeframe was pretty damned cool as well. I haven't spoken much about it at school, but word got out, and the principal, my friend Brad, sent out an email to the whole district, and now everyone has been congratulating me and wanting to know all the details.

So I guess it REALLY better not suck . . .

And of course, that's where my head is right now. I REALLY hope this book doesn't suck . . .

And of course, Vincent at Winged Hussar Publishing, the hardest working man in the industry, has been bending over backwards getting this book everywhere he can. We went up on Amazon for pre-orders about a month ago, and now, this week, we signed a deal which should see the hardcopies and digital versions available from Barnes and Noble's website, and hopefully, we'll be in their stores with the new year!

And lest I forget, I received the FIRST copy of the Wild West Exodus Rulebook ever to arrive in America! It's even signed and numbered! :) It looks gorgeous, and it is FULL of stories about all the great characters in this wacky new universe that is evolving even as I type! So, having that in my hands was pretty amazing also.

Many folks have been asking about Honor Among Outlaws and Audiobooks, and negotiations are in the works to try to see that done for the new year as well. In the realm of translation, we are in talks with companies in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Poland, as well as setting up a distribution partnership with companies in England and Australia . . . although technically Amazon DOES ship that far . . . but this will save folks lots of money, if they want to go in that direction.

As for Abundant Riches, I finished it a couple weeks ago, and am only awaiting the edited notes back from Zmok/Winged Hussar to incorporate those (I make an alarming number of grammatical errors, I have discovered, for an English teacher . . . ), and address all the little notes in my 'Continuity Notebook', and it'll be done-done! As in my last post, I'm still amazed at how many times I have to 'finish' a book before it's really done! They JUST WON'T DIE!!!!!!!

As the exciting news continues to roll in (hmmm . . . not having any books to sell seems to have hurt my standing at Amazon . . . I've fell down to 10,299 . . . oh well), it looks like my next endeavor will be a two-book story arc, again set in the world of Wild West Exodus. I won't say more for now, as we're still in development phase, but I'm excited (once the damned play is over, anyway), to keep this rollercoaster alive!

I think that's about it for now. I'll try to be better about updates here, especially if any more exciting information comes to light. And of course, against my better judgement, I've been Tweeting quite a bit at @d6gcraig

Until then, everyone be well, and thanks for sharing this crazy ride with me!