Friday, January 30, 2015

Shoreline in Winter

Sally took this shot, and I like it quite a lot.

5 Things on a Friday: Dokken & #Deflategate

We made it through the snowstorm, and now the weekend is almost here.  There’s even some news that’s worth talking about.
Noted physician Jenny McCarthy
leads the anti-vaxxer movement.
The parents who are against vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella and other childhood diseases no longer are just putting their own kids at risk. By taking their unvaccinated children to the happiest place on Earth and touching off a measles outbreak at Disneyland, the anti-vaxxers put hundreds of other children in jeopardy, too.
Measles on this level hasn’t been seen in the United States since the 1970s. So far, the disease has spread to 11 states and Mexico, infecting about 70 people in less than a month. Also making a comeback: whooping cough and diphtheria…
The anti-vaxxer movement is being fueled by parents who refuse to trust government, big pharma, family physicians and decades of sound science.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Person Next Door

This is Hannah's first short story.  I was planning to have her post it under her own author account on the blog, but I didn't get it set up over the weekend, and now it's too late.

Her assignment was to write a story using the Monomyth structure, which she and her class have been studying all year via the Percy Jackson novels.  I was really pleased with how this came out.  She did a great job with it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

D&D: Campaign and Story Structure via the Lost Mine of Phandelver

After last week's article on the Infernal Captain's Pact, I thought briefly about doing some more work on the Hellknight concept.  It would be fun to play against type.  We could build the Hellknight as an infernal oath for Paladins and perhaps also design that melee Warlock build we discussed last week, either as a Pact of the Glaive or, more likely, as a new entity pact, perhaps the Angelic Pact.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pics from the Blizzard

I'm sure I'll have more of these as time goes on, but here are a couple I took on the walk to the hotel.

Blizzard Warning

Weekend Round-Up

I know, I know.  I said Mondays were supposed to triathlon posts.

It wasn't much of training week, though.  I ran three times, including on Sunday with Sally, but none of it was particularly outstanding.  It snowed Saturday morning, and I still managed to get out and run Saturday afternoon, so I guess that's something.  It was fun, but it wasn't any kind of record or anything.  I ran, I bopped around to my tunes... That's what I do.

Friday, January 23, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: YES and Secret Wars

Happy Friday!
Does it feel like  it’s been a long week?  I only had to work four days, but I feel like it’s been a slog.
Regardless, there’s a lot to get to today.  Ready?  Here we go.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sketch in My Notebook: Heroes

I got the idea for this story from a review of "The Mystery of Malvern Manor" over on Merric's Musings.  I don't want to explain it before the story, but after you finish, you can head over there and see what you think.  Certainly, Merric's review has been good for me.  In general, I like his site quite a bit, and more specifically, it's always nice when somebody says something nice about your writing.

This story takes place about a decade into the future from anything I've written previously about Sneax and her friends.  Sneax is a teenager in the The Priest of Loki and The Crown of Pluto.  In this story, she's in her late 20s or early 30s.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

D&D 5e: Adapting the Infernal Captain's Pact

Last week, I wrote a bit about the forthcoming Princes of the Apocalypse storyline, including some mention of the “Infernal Captain’s Pact” from Dragon Magazine #369 (November 2008).  Since then, I’ve been thinking about ways to adapt the Pact to D&D’s 5th edition.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tri Training Log: Jan. 12 to 18, 2015 (Week 2)

One of my goals for this year was to get into the gym and stay there.  So far, that's been tough.  This week was not a bad week of training, but I need to find the time and energy to add some weight-lifting to my routine, but so far, that has not been easy.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Notes: Stuff I Saw on #Twitter

Here's some stuff that caught my eye.  I started collecting it yesterday, but that may make it more random than usual rather than less.  Guess we'll see.

Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: the Energy & Amabassadors Edition

It’s a lot of energy and energy policy this week and a little bit of Twitter, much of which may only interest me.  If you came here looking for D&D stuff or triathlon advice, I don’t know what to tell you.  I’ve known for some time that this would be a much more successful blog if it was about exactly one topic, even if I only posted on that topic once a week.  However, I prefer doing it this way because this is who I am.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sally just got home...

...from the gym.

She looks good. I'm a lucky guy.  She is a professional fitness instructor who teaches more than a dozen classes per week. 


Y'know, the second rewrite is the worst. The first rewrite, you're reading through, trying to see if your story works, if it makes any sense. It's not too bad. You find where scenes are missing, or--more likely--where they're over-written. 

The third rewrite is the easiest.  You're just going through, copy-editing, trying to make sure that you don't embarrass yourself when you let somebody read your work.  Maybe you make a few last-minute changes, but really, this is where you have to decide on a final form and then let yourself walk away. 

The second rewrite, though...  That one's tough. That's where you have to think about every scene.  What is this scene trying to accomplish?  Is the structure working?  Is this a Scene or a Sequel, and how does that affect the way the thing ought to be structured.  

It's exhausting. 

Still, I've gotta admit that it's necessary.  Failing in the second rewrite will leave you with fiction that's barely readable, even if your story and plot structure are both working reasonably well. 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

D&D: Speculating about Elemental Evil

Sasquatch Studios Will Produce ADVENTURER's HANDBOOK and PRINCES OF THE APOCALYPSE for D&D 5E in 2015! (EN World)
"After Tyranny of Dragons, Sasquatch Studios has been hired to produce Adventurer's Handbook and Princes of the Apocalypse. Sasquatch [is] made up of veteran game designers Richard Baker, Stephen Schubert, and David Noonan..."

Going forward, Wizards is going to produce two storylines per year, releasing additional Player options related to the current storyline as appropriate.  With the conclusion of Tyranny of Dragons, we're getting a story about the Temple of Elemental Evil, and it's got it's own Player's support book, too.

What kind of Player support do you release alongside the Temple of Elemental Evil?

I confess to knowing little about Stephen Schubert and David Noonan.  However, fans of D&D's 4th edition can't help but be familiar with Richard Baker.  Baker wrote a trio of my favorite 4e novels, the books in the Swordmage trilogy, which was set in the Forgotten Realms.  He also wrote the Last Mythal trilogy from the final days of 3.5, and he's got the lead credit on the 4e published adventure King of the Trollhaunt Warrens.  I think he was also involved in the Abyssal Plague trilogy set in the Nentir Vale, but if those books are still in print, WotC has done an excellent job hiding the evidence.  Regardless, we've seen Baker's work before, and while I've personally enjoyed a lot of it, it's not necessarily a good guide to what we're going to see with Adventurer's Handbook.  It's been all over the place.  Maybe we could argue that the overriding theme is a penchant for planar travel, but with a storyline that's dedicated to Elemental Evil, that was already a given.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tri Training Log: 1/5 to 1/11 (Week 2)

Last week was great.  This week... not so much.  With all the snow, I only made it out on my bike for my commute once, I cancelled my Friday run, and I didn't even make it to swimming Tuesday night.


This is not how successful triathlon seasons are built.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Call to Adventure!

Heh.  Looks like I've got something to work on this weekend.

Friday, January 9, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: +1!

Yeah, yeah.  I know what you're thinking, and it's true.  I haven't got five things this week.  I've got six.  Unfortunately, "Six Things on a Friday" doesn't have the same kind of alliteration.

In 1794 when the commerce of the United States was threatened by “the depradations” of the Barbary pirates, Congress created a Navy. And it sent the Marines to fight our country’s battles on “the Shores of Tripoli.” Today U.S. commerce is threatened by digital Barbary pirates.
The most sophisticated companies with every incentive to protect their crown jewels—intellectual property, confidential business information or customer records—are being ransacked and held hostage by cyberterrorists, state-sponsored hackers and highly effective organized cybercriminals. No corporation today is immune or can realistically believe itself adequately protected.
The government’s response, hobbled by a misguided view as to who is responsible for protecting U.S. commercial interests and how, is not up to 1794 standards.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Sally and I attended our first Coastal Connecticut Arts Guild meeting as a couple last night. I don't much think of myself as an "artist", but Sally considers my writing to be art, and I enjoyed the meeting. We spent some time talking about guild business, discussing ways to get our various works out there as well as potential community projects that the guild is considering, and I thought most of that was great. Then one of the new guild members started showing some of his sculpture, and things really got interesting.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Mystery of Malvern Manor

This is a short adventure I wrote for my kids and a few of their friends last weekend.  We wound up with a party of seven 1st level characters, including Hannah playing Sneakatara Boatman as a warlock of Loki, Emma playing a drow paladin of Hades named Victoria, and my wife Sally playing Maleeka, a mute half-orc barbarian.

We had a total of five kids under age 12, and they all had a good time.

This adventure is set in Breakwater Bay, a small fishing village on the Isle de Mont Deserette along the northen frontier in the Wanderhaven setting.  That said, you shouldn't have any trouble transporting it into a different setting if that better suits your game.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tri Training Log: New Year's Week (Week 1)

Last week was New Year's, and now the holidays are over.  It's getting towards time to get back in the saddle.  Triathlon season is almost here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: The SEC gets whupped and other stories

It’s a new year, and that promises new struggles and new opportunities.  As I write this, I’m sitting on an empty train on my way into the City, feeling like the only commuter in the entire Northeast.  I still haven’t written out my goals for the new year, so with less than 48 hours under our belts in 2015, I’m already behind.  On the other hand, we had an awesome day yesterday, so who’s complaining?
Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Notes

Sally and I still haven't sat down to hash out our goals for 2015.

It's maybe worth noting, however, that she took issue with my characterization of 2014 as a basically unsuccessful year.  Sally herself got raises at several of the places where she teaches fitness classes, she thought that Hannah's turn in the play was a really big deal that deserved more celebration, and we took a ten-day vacation to Maine that was totally awesome.  My work and support of our family made all of that stuff possible.

Sally also noted that even if the year wasn't particularly goal-tastic or glorious, it was still good.  We were happy.  In real terms, that is at least as important as anything else.