Tainted Grail! The characters! The minis! The story! Oh, the story! It’s amazing! It’s fantastic! It’s a game that drove me absolutely nuts.
Disclaimer: This isn’t a review. I can’t write a review of Tainted Grail because, after playing some 45 hours of two-handed solo, and restarting four times, I never made it past chapter 4 of the original campaign. Not once.
Sometimes you read a book at exactly the right time to change your world. Algis Budrys’ “Writing to the Point: A Complete Guide to Selling Fiction” was one of those books for me.
Writing to the Point is a short (152 airy pages) yet deep (spanning everything from “Chapter 1: The Basic Basics” to dealing with agents and who to format a manuscript) writing advice book. It took me slightly less than an hour-and-a-half to read, and I haven’t come away from a writing how-to book this turbo-charged in a long, long time. Read More →
I finished Leah Cutter‘s The Beginning Professional Writer in one sitting, even though she explicitly wrote not to.
OK, it’s a short book. It’s got a bowl of letter cereal on the cover. It looks like it’s been designed as a junior student essay.
It’s also the most eminently quotable, fact packed book I’ve read in a long time. And I do mean that as a compliment because it is easy to read, too. And it will tell you everything you need to know as a beginning professional writer. Read More →
I’m a pantser, the type of writer who loves to go off unprepared and discover the story as I write it. Every single work on the technical side of writing I’ve read up to this point has, more or less explicitly, spoken of outlines. Made me feel like an idiot for not being able to use one.
Along comes “Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel without an Outline” and it’s all about pantsing, or writing into the dark as Dean Wesley Smith calls it. Reading it was like being six years old and finding the secret hiding place of the cookie jar. Read More →
Sometimes you get handed a book that you wouldn’t have bought in a million years and it turns out to contain grains of pure gold. Bob Mayer’s “The Novel Writer’s Toolkit” was one of those for me.
Bob Mayer is a rather accomplished writer, both in terms of books published (over 60) and money earned (unknown but from what he says “good”). He knows what he’s talking about and he isn’t shy about using himself as an example.
In The Novel Writer’s Toolkit (TNWT) Mayer presents 9 tools (read themes) dealing with everything a writer needs to know, from personal insights (common traits of successful writers, knowing why you write, etc.) to more commonplace advice on plot, theme, character creation and similar.
In some areas The Novel Writer’s Toolkit shines when compared to regular writer’s books, such as the focus on selling and making a career and the key to defining your kernel idea (writing to a premise sentence), which makes the book stand out from the pack. Read More →
I can’t tell you what you should write. That’s entirely up to you. But if you are the least bit interested in having a career as a fiction writer then I can tell you what to read: Douglas Smith’s “Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction”. From now on this is my go-to book for all things related to starting and maintaining my fiction writing career. Read More →
I’ve been trying to include my children in my hobby (a fancy way of saying “I’m going to addict the little suckers so I have someone to play with when I’m in the retirement home”). They’re three and five years old and I’ve had various successes with introducing them to games. However, I recently found a game that worked perfectly.
That game was Castle Panic, a co-op with strong alpha player tendencies where you defend your castle from hordes of advancing monsters. Once could call it an extremely simple tower defense game, albeit it doesn’t live up to the tower defense requirements (for me). My kids, however, love it.
I’ve tried other games previously: Memory, Tempo Kleine Fishe, Connect Four, a couple of my own design but they always failed my criteria for a good children’s game as my kids either didn’t like them, liked them but couldn’t play them or could play them but got into fights over them. Read More →
I’m a fan of business and self-help books. I like the idea of developing myself, of becoming better at what I do, of working more efficiently, knowing more, being happier.
Trouble is, I don’t have the time to read that I would like to have. I snatch minutes here, minutes there (and no, I don’t watch TV). But recently I stumbled across a great YouTube channel: Fight Mediocrity.
This guy is the animaniacs meets Cliff Notes of business and personal development book reviews. He takes an entire book and reduces it to the core concepts – complete with personal stories and explanations thrown in. So now I can speed-read (ok, watch) the classics in 10 minutes flat.
Yeah, you don’t get all the nifty tales and examples from the books. On the other hand you don’t need to spend hours upon hour reading. And his analyses are pretty spot on. I feel that I do get what the books are about from the short overviews and if I want more I can always get the book in question.
To sum it up: it’s fun, it’s accessible and it’s educational. One of those rare moments when what is good for you is also tasty. Go watch.
Yes, it’s got a beautiful map and nice components to support its theme of building train routes across the USA (I believe that Ticket to Ride calls it collecting tickets for travel) but beneath it’s a great application of the push-your-luck mechanism. Read More →