Dice Tales: In Medias Res

Roman twenty-sided die(This is the twenty-ninth installment of Dice Tales, an ongoing series of posts about RPGs as storytelling.)


Following on a suggestion from last week’s comments, let’s talk about situations where you’re bringing a new character into a game that’s been going on for a while.

This isn’t something most game systems really address, at least in my experience. (The world of RPGs being as broad as it is, I’m sure there are games out there that do talk about it, and give you tools for dealing with it.) New characters pose both narrative and mechanical problems: how do you work them into the story? And how do you make sure they can keep up?

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Rambling Writer on an Alternate Thunderstorm Hike

HBend2016RiverBearThe strange weather patterns continue this year in our far corner of the Pacific Northwest, with oddly cool mornings and sunny afternoons, and those darned clouds piled up against the mountains where we want to hike. (For those sweltering in the blazing heat waves of other regions, forgive me.) Thor, Bear dog, and I finally just HAD to head for the high meadows the other day, accompanied by some magical thinking that persuaded us the forecast for thunderstorms wasn’t serious.

Parking at the trailhead for a favorite hike to Yellow Aster Butte, figuring we’d just go as high as we could get before we hit the lingering snow level, we set out. Instantly, the clouds closed in and rain gathered momentum. Growing up here, I pride myself on hiking through the rain, so I urged Thor to give it a shot. “Don’t be a wuss.” Continue reading

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Alma’s Bookshelf: River (and other anthologies)

I’ve put together a bunch of collections of my shorter fiction over the years, into entities I called the “Triads” – three thematically connected stories per book. Several of them still lurk on Amazon these days. I combined a bunch of them into a more substantial collection which I called – after one of the stories – “Weight of Worlds”. But those were all my own tales, culled from previous publications or never-before-published, showcase collections of my shorter works.


But then, a couple of years ago I put on a professional anthologist/ editor’s hat and pulled together an anthology entitled simply “River”… a collection of other people’s stories.

Final Cover River_lg


The high-concept conceit of this book was that it wouldn’t have a table of contents. It would have a “map of contents”, with individual stories taking place at different stages on that river, from source to sea.

Continue reading

Posted in Book Design, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Soledad Mission and the Esselen

Soledad MissionWe took a quick trip down to the central coast of California this week to visit family. Since the fast drive down is not very exciting, we decided to stop at the Soledad Mission to get off the beaten path for a little while.

The full name of the mission is La Misión de María Santísima, Nuestra Señora Dolorosísima de la Soledad. It was founded in 1791, the thirteenth of the twenty-one missions the Spanish explorers established in California. Continue reading

Posted in Travel | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Trouble with SHIELD

Steven Harper PiziksWhen the TV show SHIELD started airing, I watched most of the first season, then lost interest and faded out.  I voiced my disappointment to several friends, who reassured me that the show “got way better.”  Meh.  I don’t watch shows on the hope they’ll get better.  They need to be at least decent to start, and SHIELD wasn’t.  I dropped it.

Now SHIELD has become available for streaming on Netflix, and I added it to my streaming queue to watch while I’m cooking or folding laundry.

I still have problems with it.

(Yes, I post spoilers. The show has long since aired.) Continue reading

Posted in Media, television | Leave a comment

New car

So this week I bought a car from a dealer for the second time in my life. Since I am way past the years of discretion this is pretty remarkable, and I approached the project with more timidity than my friends would credit.

I decided from the git-go I wanted a Subaru, because my husband bought himself a used Forester a couple of years ago. This was my first encounter with a car built after the millennium. (My car, up until last week, was a ’96 Rav4 that I bought when she was just a year old.) I fell in love with the Forester’s heated seats, because Chicago. Not unimportant also were power seat, moon roof, comfy ride, and the way the thing hits eighty mph without whining. It’s a solid beast of a car. Makes me feel I could survive a collision or rolling into a ditch.

That’s sadly pertinent, Continue reading

Posted in Memory, technology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

BVC Announces The Rational Writer: A to Z by Mindy Klasky

KlaskyRational WriterAtoZ133x200The Rational Writer: A to Z
Rational Writer Series, Book 2
by Mindy Klasky

The Rational Writer: A to Z is equally suited to up-and-coming independent authors who self-publish their own books and traditional authors with hopes of landing a publishing contract with a large or small press. USA Today bestselling author and attorney Mindy Klasky shares more than 20 years of publishing experience to help writers plan their careers.

Continue reading

Posted in New Releases | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the Files: I Was Raised in a Barn: Bats

Note: Life got the better of me this week, and I didn’t finish my post for today. Instead, I’m reposting a piece from my series about my, um, colorful childhood.

The barn after construction was begin (my Mom in the window)Last week I went east for my father’s memorial party, and got to see what had become of the house I grew up in.  Which is not a house, but a barn.  The new owners have done simply fabulous things, but I remember it when it looked like, well, a barn.  Growing up in a barn gives you anecdotes, so I’m going to occasionally share one here.  The photo left is the barn when renovation had just begun; in later years the place was much more House Beautiful, and yet it still retained its essential barn-ness.

Case in point: we had bats.  Many of the rooms (including mine) did not have actual walls for some years–just two-by-four studding.  And when your ceilings are 45 feet high and not insulated, bats think this is a cozy place to hang, and they do.  Even by the time we gained interior walls (once we’d moved up to Massachusetts full time, when I was 13) we still had indoor livestock, because it is almost impossible to seal off a barn the way you do a standard house.  So: bats, and their discontent. Continue reading

Posted in Animals, Humor | 6 Comments

The Big Book of Earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin, photo by Marian Wood KolischThe Big Book of Earthsea

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Saga has officially announced that they’ll publish all Earthsea in one volume in 2018 — a grand present for a Wizard’s fiftieth birthday.

When Joe Monti first proposed this edition to me, I was happy to think of the six books of Earthsea, Ged and Tenar’s whole story, all truly together at last — but I worried about how much it would weigh.

I read lying down. I know what a Giant Tome can do to your arms and shoulders. Not to mention your solar plexus.

But I’ve been working on my abs and my brachioradiales. I can handle it. Bring it on, Joe!

Seriously, what is most exciting to me about this edition is THE PICTURES. Charles Vess is painting a wraparound cover and a full-color frontispiece for each of the six books (and, says he, “the title page will be in color, if I have anything to say about it.” To which I say Amen!) Then he’ll be drawing some fifty black-and-white vignettes for chapter heads, ten or a dozen full-page illustrations, and a bunch of smaller pictures throughout the book.

This is the first completely illustrated Earthsea ever. And I do mean completely. Continue reading

Posted in Books and Reading, fantasy | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments


I learned to knit about a year and a half ago. I wanted to figure out how to make socks, to be honest. And fingerless mitts. So I devoted myself to learning and picked it up surprising quickly. (When I was young, I learned to crochet and used to strangle the hook. Then twenty years later I took it up again and all of a sudden I was good at it. So I wasn’t new to yarnwork).

Anyhow, after I fell down in May, I stopped knitting. My wrists aren’t quite back to being able to knit for any length of time. At the time I fell, I had the second of a pair of fingerless mitts on the needles (circulars). These are for my dad who has enormous hands and he wears they at night to keep his arms and hands warmer so his arthritis doesn’t bother him as much. I am making really long arm shanks so that they will cover more and those are ribbed so that they won’t fall down or fall off. Continue reading

Posted in Crafts, creativity, Lifestyle, personal | Tagged , , | 10 Comments