StoryHack Action & Adventure Issue 0 Cover Reveal

Bryce Beattie just revealed the cover for Action & Adventure 0 and it looks fantastic. I’m excited to be part of this project and honored to be in the inaugural issue. There is a lot of love and effort being put into this project and from everything I have seen so far it really seems to be paying off. Storyhack0.jpg

For those of you not familiar with this project, StoryHack Action & Adventure is Bryce Beattie’s answer to the Pulp Revolution. Instead of lamenting the fact that the large magazines ignored tales of action and adventure, and looked down on sword & sorcery, he decided to start his own project.

This is the future of SFF publishing, fast, raw, and honest. Written and distributed by writers and editors who love the genre and whose only goal is to entertain. This is 1973, the internet is CBGB, and punk rock is right around the corner. Hop on and hold on tight because this is going to be a crazy ride through a brand new word.

 

Reading, Writing, and Keeping up with the Revolution.

It’s Sunday morning here in Japan. There is a slight spring drizzle outside so I’m sitting here listening to the rain and enjoying my second cup of French Pressed coffee. I was supposed to run a 5k yesterday but it got axed due to rain, so instead, the organizers led an hour-long yoga flow class that kicked my ass. I need to start putting more emphasis on mobility and balance because I don’t want to turn into one of those stiff old guys, walking around with a limp. laptopcoffee

I took a few days off of work this week, some old friends are visiting Tokyo and I’m going to show them around, take them to Kamakura, etc. I’m pretty excited to spend time with them and also avoid work. They lucked out and will be here with the Sakura in full bloom so it should be a great time for sightseeing.

The Webz

It’s an exciting time in the reading, blogging, writing world. The Pulp Revolution seems to growing and growing every day. I can barely keep up with all the blog posts, podcasts, and new indy releases. I have Geek Gab and JimFears podcast standing by. I also took a bunch of notes while reading the first two Leiber collections that will eventually go into an opinion article I plan on writing. So much stuff so little time.

Writing

Last week I finished my latest story. A Musket&Magic piece that was inspired by Howard’s horror writing. I sent it off to WotF for shits and giggles, but I think it will make a great addition to my upcoming collection. I then started putting together ideas for my submission for the 21st Century Pulp anthology. Gotta admit I’m not much for coming up with ideas in the present, but I’m enjoying the challenge. Hopefully, I make the deadline. Unfortunately, my writing got a bit stalled due to binge watching Breaking Bad for the first time.

Reading and Reviews

Awhile back I decided that I will no longer write individual book reviews unless the book blows me away or I want to bring up a certain point for discussion. I’m not a book reviewer and have no intention becoming one.  But the whole point of this blog is reading and writing so I’m going to start doing a monthly review, combining everything I read into one post. I’m going to have the first done sometime tonight.

 

Hugo Crap

Nominations for the 2017 Hugo’s just got released. Every year I tell myself that I should follow the whole awards thing, get an idea of what’s popular, read up on some up and coming stars. Every year I remember that I don’t give a fuck. I don’t even know who won best novel last year.

The nominations look so painfully dull that I can’t even make myself finish the Amazon descriptions. Who reads this shit?  Hugobob

I’m just going to accept the honest truth that modern SFF does not align with my tastes and keep reading what I enjoy and writing what makes me happy.

 

 

Home from Taiwan

20170214_144001

Last night we got back from Taiwan. Reunited with our beast Quinn and passed out. The trip was fantastic. Taipei is an excellent city, filled with so much stuff to see and do. I wish we had more time.

Taipei has to be one of the coolest places I have ever visited. It has this great feel of Japan and China combined, with a dash of Los Angeles. Great public transportation, clean streets, and very friendly people.

20170214_103902

We tried to explore as much as possible in the three full days we had. On our first day, we walked over 20 miles, just wandering through the city, taking in sights, stopping for beers. At night we hit one of the famous night markets where Judy ate the famous stinky tofu.

On day two, we went up to the hills above the city and hiked through tea farms. We ended being escorted around by a stray dog that followed us the whole time, showing us where the trail was.

On day three we went East to the old town of Jiufen. It’s this old village built on the side of the hills overlooking the Ocean. Tea houses, street markets, and food stands, all lining narrow streets. Supposedly it was the inspiration for Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, but he denies it. I see the resemblance. The highlight of this area was drinking tea at a famous teahouse that used to be a hub for artists and writers.

It was a fantastic trip. I ate a bunch, drank booze, smoked cigarettes, listened to some great music, and got to experience a taste of a great country. 20170214_104138

Today I unpacked, ate some Japanese Denny’s, and tidied up the house a bit. Now I’m sitting here catching up on blogs. Tonight I might go out for a few drinks, being that I am still on vacation. 20170214_101757.jpg

Judy used her nice camera and she took a bunch of excellent pictures. Much cooler than my cell phone pics. I’ll share those when she gets them edited.

 

Writing and Chinatown

cat

So after a long burst of non-stop work, I am finally on vacation. Tomorrow Judy and I will go on our first vacation since moving to Japan.  We will be flying to Taiwan, where we will be doing a bunch of exploring, a bunch of drinking, and lots and lots of eating.

Besides being excited about our upcoming trip. I’m feeling good because these last few days I managed to actually sit down and write a lot. I finished and edited a great Pulp Fiction story that I’m really proud of. It has jungles, muskets, powdered wigs, shapeshifters, and sorceresses. I also started the outline for my next story. I’m really aiming for a lot of writing this year.

We also managed to get to our local Chinatown for a few drinks, a bit of the Lunar Festival, and some exploring. Check out that crazy cat building. I don’t want to know what horrors go on inside.

Robert E. Howard

“Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.”

Grimdark Alliance

robert-howard“All fled—all done, so lift me on the pyre—

The Feast is over, and the lamps expire.”  – Howard

Today, January 22, marks Robert Howards 111th birthday. Make sure to take a long swig of your favorite beverage in honor of the father of Conan. Sword and Sorcery is the punk rock of the fantasy world and Howard was its Joe Strummer.

View original post

A Weekend of Game: Sekigahara and Lords of Waterdeep

Another fantastic three day weekend is shortly coming to a close. The past three days have been a blast. We continued exploring around our neighborhood, trying new restaurants, and going on our now weekly hikes. You can check out all the great sights from this weekends adventure through Kamakura at Judy’s blog Adventurous Abroad. She takes some really great pictures.alexwaterfall

But my favorite part of the weekend was our newly rekindled gaming. Judy and I used to play a lot of boardgames. We even have a modest little collection. Our friends in Southern California used to get together every weekend, drink beer, and roll dice.
Unfortunately, life got in the way. We moved further and further away. Schedules became harder to manage and work drained our available leisure time. Boardgaming kind of fell to the wayside.
quinnlordsofwaterdeep
Recently I have been getting the itch to game. An itch that just cannot be satisfied by my PS4. So I ordered Sekigahara. I thought it was appropriate thematically due to us living in Japan. Also, our favorite game is Twilight Struggle, made by the same company so I wanted to continue that experience.
Making everything cooler, Judy the genius that she is, pointed out the fact that we can actually ask other humans to play with us. So, we got ourselves invited to our friends, Kelsey and Johns, house for beer and board gaming.

Sekigahara

On Saturday Judy and I battled for Japan in GMT’s two player Sekigahara: The Unification of Japansekigahara2

The battle of Sekigahara fought in 1600 unified Japan under the Tokugawa family bringing peace and prosperity for over two hundred years. In the game, each player takes a side in the 7-week battle, one representing Ishida Mitsunari and the other Tokugawa Ieyasu.
The game is fantastic. Nail-bitingly tense, and beyond exciting. It uses blocks for units that hide your strength from your opponent creating a fantastic fog-of-war effect. Units attack using loyalty cards, a mechanic used to simulate warfare based on ever-shifting alliances. You can have situations where a small but loyal army smashes a larger force due to shifting loyalties and betrayal.
sekigaharagame gameboard
The mechanics lead to a tension-filled game where you constantly have to adjust and overcome in order to succeed.
We played two games and had a blast going 1 – 1 for wins. Judy won the first game, smashing me in Kyoto in an epic battle. The second game I got lucky, winning by capturing Tokugawa alone when she unwisely separated him from a siege.
Sekigahara Game Pic 1
Overall great game, and a fantastic return to gaming for us.
lordsofwaterdeepcover
Sunday we did our first board game night, with John and Kelsey. Judy and I both had a blast and we both look forward to doing it again.
For the game of choice, we decided on bringing Lords of Waterdeep. LoW is actually the first Eurostyle game we ever played. It’s a great introduction to worker placement games and more complex Eurogames in general. It super easy to teach and super easy to play. Most of all it has a great theme and really high-quality art and design. I am also partial to the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms theme.
So the four of us spent the night as shadowy masked manipulators pulling the strings in the shadows of The City of Splendors. We sent wizards, warriors, clerics, and rogues on dangerous missions. Judy embraced her role as a fantasy slum lord, the Donald Trump of fantasy real estate, by developing many buildings throughout the city.
lordsofwaterdeep
The game was a blast and we ended up playing twice back to back. The first game was a tie between me and Judy(I’m sure there is a tiebreaker mechanic) and the second went to John.
Lords of Waterdeep is a great introductory game. It was a blast to play again after so many years. It’s really simple that you can drink a few beers playing it yet has enough depth of choice and action to keep you occupied the whole time.
Another great weekend spent exploring a fantastic country with my amazing wife and great friends. Life is wonderful.

The First Week

It’s Sunday here in Japan and the first week of the new year is coming to a close. I went back to work, caught up with my massive pile of tasks, and got assigned a few new projects.fuji-clear

On the physical fitness front, I kicked ass. I made sure to make time for plenty of lifting and running. I even went on a great morning hike with my wife yesterday. Unfortunately, my writing did not start off with the same level of enthusiastic success.

When I get home from work, I have dinner, then I try to sit down and write for at least one hour. This whole week I pushed myself to write. I was mentally exhausted from work but  I wrote and wrote, and managed to complete a 5,000-word short story.  But, upon reading the thing I realized it was a complete turd. I was actually bored of it by the third paragraph. The first scene was basically three people riding horses through a forest and an exposition dump. No action, no drama, nothing. Right into the recycle bin!

hiketemple.jpgSo yesterday I decided to clear my head and go on a hike. My wife motivated me like she always does to get up out of bed. I swear if I didn’t have her I would be a 500 pound Baron Harkonnen living in my own filth. We hiked our favorite local trail and due to the crisp weather got gifted with a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji in the distance.

Spending time with my wife and being surrounded by such awesome beauty makes it hard even for a morose bastard like me to stay negative. So here I am back to writing. Smacking away at the damn keyboard. I reviewed the story I wrote and realized I completely ignored every piece of advice from Swain. So, time to go back and rewrite the damn thing.

In other news, I have been following a lot of great discussion on the pulp revival and the state of SFF in general. One of my favorite bloggers of late is Rawle Nyanzi, his latest post Modern Action’s Fundamental Problem, is spot on and a good example of his style of commentary.

Reading wise I’m entering a non-fiction phase. I’m currently enjoying Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It. Next up is a big ass kicker of a work on the French and Indian War. I am feeling a Musket and Magic story in the near future for sure.

 

Happy Year of the Rooster!

smokingcock2016 was a great year for me and my small family. After some initial setbacks, we all made it to Japan where we spent the whole year exploring and adventuring. We experienced everything from Cherry Blossom, Apples in Nagano, and even knocked out the huge accomplishment of climbing Mt. Fuji. Living in Japan has been a fantastic experience for us and we look forward to another year of excitement and new experiences.

AlexFujiQuinn.jpgTonight we will be going out on the town, eating dinner, grabbing some drinks, and hopefully end up at a nearby shrine for the midnight ceremonies. Earlier today we went on a quick hike by our house and were gifted by the nature gods with a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji. If you look really close at the picture of me holding Quinn you can see him in the background. I will take the view as a sign of prosperity for the new year.

I look forward to all the new challenges and new adventures next year. I look forward to sharing them with my beautiful wife and with my great friends.

I hope all of you have a great new year filled with adventure and happiness.

Toky to San Diego and back again.

jal

I’m sitting here listening do Dark Folk music, sipping black coffee, and enjoying a crisp cool afternoon in Yokosuka. The jet lag from my trip to California seems to have resolved itself.

Last week I took one of my necessary work trips to San Diego. I always luck out and get to fly on JAL, hands down my favorite airline with great attentive service. I always find traveling exciting. I love airports. Love the fact that I can walk around Tokyo Narita and listen to people speaking dozens of different languages. I like to wonder where everybody is going. Is the guy with the briefcase coming home to his family or is he going to hit the local bar and spend the night drinking by himself. Airports have so many possibilities.

I also enjoy the flight itself. 11 hours of relaxing and reading. I managed to finish 3 novels between napping on my flights. I don’t often have 11 hours of uninterrupted reading time anymore.

Between work responsibilities, I got to visit old haunts in San Diego, catch up with my brothers, and have dinner with my mother.  I really tried to eat all the food that is hard or lackluster in Japan. Mexican food, Pizza, and of course In-N-Out. Going to California without eating at In-N-Out at least once is a capital offense.

innout1

 On my way back home I looked out the window and marveled at how massive the Pacific Ocean truly is and how far we travel. Tokyo to San Diego is about 5,557m(8,979km) and takes 11 hours on a plane. This year I crossed the Pacific 5 times covering 27,785m(44,895km). For perspective, the circumference of the Earth at the Equator is 24,901m. This year I flew enough miles to circle the Earth and some. I’m not even a frequent traveler. A lot of people fly almost weekly for work and pleasure.

The fact that I can leave Tokyo on a sunny afternoon and find myself eating a fresh burrito in San Diego in less than 12 hours is amazing. In the 19th century the fastest sailing ships, the China Opium Clippers would race across the Pacific attaining world records of 33 days from Hong Kong to San Francisco. In 1521 it took Magellan about 99 days to travel from the straights to the Philippines.

chinaclipper In future centuries we might be able to travel instantaneously across the planet using wormhole technology like the Farcasters in Hyperion or Nigels tunneling wormholes in Hamiltons Commonwealth. Or our energy grids and ability to depend on fossil fuels might collapse forcing us back into a new age of sail. A new age of wind power on Oceans with new unpredictable currents and weather fueled by climate change.

All in all, I’m glad to be back home. I’m ready to celebrate Christmas and New Years with my wife. I have plenty of story ideas to write down and lots of blog posts planned for the years end.

🙂