‘Tis the Season

December 4, 2018

Contests! Anthologies! Publications, open back up for business!

Tis the season, indeed. I love when I have more markets available to submit stories to, especially all at once. It gives me a nice, warm feeling of accomplishment when I send off a whole bunch of stories to a whole bunch of places.

Sadly, most—if not all—of them come back as rejections. It’s okay, because I know that it probably wasn’t  the right fit. Maybe they don’t like my style. Maybe they checked out this blog and disagreed with me. Maybe I’m just overthinking everything.

Whatever the case, I’m glad to see that business is booming. It also means that a lot of end of year collections, and the latest quarterlies have a new issue available! I love to read small press publications, and delight in reading the short stories and (sometimes) poems that are in them.

Nothing against poetry or poets! I wrote more than my fair share in high school and college, but boy did I ever get burned out on it. Every now and again I’ll come across a poem, however, that blows my mind. I love it, especially in a horror magazine!

Just scrolling through Facebook today, I noticed so many calls for submissions and reminders that things are open. Nothing resets the juicy encouragement factor of a writer than the promise of something you’ve wanted for so long actually, possibly, maybe really happening! My wife and I don’t have plans for tonight (other than washing that disgusting mountain of dishes in our sink, please kill me!), but we might just happen to head to our friendly local coffee shop and enjoy a nice latte while I work on many things at once.

It makes me think that I have too many things going on in my life outside of work and marriage. Star Wars Destiny, Warhammer Underworlds, hitting the gym to attempt to stay fit and healthy, and trying to keep my house from crumbling apart. I prioritize writing, definitely, but sometimes, I can’t manage to get more than a few minutes daily to write or edit (or think about it, or talk about it, or dream about it…).

Good news, though! The latest issue of Broadswords and Blasters, of which yours truly has a story in, will be published next month! We’ve been waiting a while for it, but it’s finally here! Check it out now:

Broadswords and Blasters–New Issue Coming Soon!

Anyway, just wanted to get something down. I’m excited and needed to talk about it! Hopefully all of you little sexies are doing well also!

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The Finest of Details

February 13, 2018

Things I’ve Learned Painting Miniatures

Part I: Details Keep Getting Finer

Way back in 1996 when I started painting, I was 16 and timid. Having very little artistic ability, I couldn’t imagine myself painting miniatures on a regular basis, let alone doing them well. Still, I persisted, and flourished into the mediocre painter I am today. I think I was smart by choosing minis that appeared to be quick, simple paint jobs.

All my friends decided to get into Warhammer 40K. I had always liked the look and feel of it, and was definitely interested in tabletop wargaming. Still, I picked what looked to be the easiest army to paint—the Tyranids. To be honest, I slopped through that army, but yeah, they were much less detailed than all the others.

Throughout the years, as Games Workshop released new editions of 40K, they would redo a lot of the miniatures as well. While older models are always welcome on the battlefield, players are encouraged to give them more and more money keep up with the most recent releases and constantly evolve their battle forces. In addition to a constantly growing price tag, something else changes: the quality of sculpting.

Compare any miniature from 1994 with something that came out last week. You’ll see a major change in the level of quality and detail. Some of the microscopic angles and lines that are included now would cause a massive table flip 20+ years ago, but it’s commonplace now.

I’ve noticed that painting has become a larger hobby on its own. I mean, it always was, but given the growth of the internet, there are tons of “how to paint X” videos, in addition to galleries and bragging posts all over the place. One thing I see is that a lot of people log their hours working on something, and very rarely do you see “badly” painted minis. Let’s be honest, sometimes you see absolute shit on the battlefield and display cases.

This has given rise to commissioned painting, or simply unpainted armies. Two friends at the game store a few weeks ago, for instance, had their 40K armies out, having fun, but were literally basecoated. No detail, no highlighting, nothing. Both admitted they had no time and no talent to do it, but they were in fact on waiting lists for local pro painters to do their figures for them.

As for myself, I’m spending a lot more time on each figure in my Shadespire army. While I want it to look good, I keep noticing little, fine details that can only be done in a certain way. I hate having sloppy miniatures (I’m not 16 anymore, guys!), and I take pride in my work.

I keep finding all these parallels to writing with this. “Rules” and “standards” in literature are always growing and changing. You look at a published novel from 100 years ago, and you’ll see a sloppier, totally different style of writing as compared to something that just came out. While a lot of today’s novels still tell instead of showing, use lots of passive voice, and use highly unrealistic dialog, it’s a completely different way of writing than it used to be.

Fine detail might not be everyone’s forte, but the quality not only of writing and storytelling has grown, so has the control over this quality (editing, beta readers, etc.). Yes, I know there are a lot of books with major plot holes and unrealistic plot points, but the point is, it’s a lot different.

Not to say that writing from 100 years ago (or 50 years, 20 years, even 10 years ago…) is bad or sloppy. They had their place, and did what they set out to achieve. As Citadel and Games Workshop tighten their storylines and universes, moving from a tongue-in-cheek semi-RPG to a grimdark, uber-serious galaxy of constant war, the figures they create reflect that. Naturally, other companies follow suit and up the ante on the caliber of sculpt with their miniatures.

I’ll keep focusing on the fine details and do no less than by best. With painting my figures, and writing my stories.

 

If you’ve been following this blog with any sort of alacrity, you’ll know that around December of 2016 I dove headfirst into a new collectible card and dice game called Star Wars Destiny. It’s a lot of fun. Expensive (and I’m still suffering…), but fun. Infuriating, but fun.

Anyway, since I’m spending a bit of time at game stores now, I’ve reimmersed myself back into the gaming world. Ever since I was 13, I was big into gaming, and as a result, became a huge nerd because of it. Well, not just that, but it had a big hand in it. Back then, and for a long time, gaming stores were not in abundance, and gaming was not cool. Nowadays, board games and pretty much any type of game are massively popular. Barnes & Noble has a bunch, toy stores and toy departments are getting more than your typical Milton Bradley/Pressman kiddie/family/party games, and Kickstarter is flooded with new games all the time.

It’s also rekindling my interest in a lot of games I’ve fought long and hard to be out of.

Mainly, Warhammer. Games Workshop is a fantastic company, don’t get me wrong. They produce some of the best miniatures and paints known to man. Citadel Miniatures and Paints are expensive as hell, but so impressive in sculpt, scope, popularity, and awesomeness, I can’t complain.

Back in 1996, a bunch of friends and I got into Warhammer 40,000 big time. 40K is still one of the most popular games on the planet, and has become so much more visible than 22 years ago when we were delving into it. Regardless of all that, it got me and a bunch of pals into painting minis like it was nobody’s business.

Back then, we tried our best to make them look good, but we weren’t experts. Getting them painted and ready for the battlefield was our main priority, and if you go back and look at those figures, it shows. All of mine are gone, however, victims of one of my many phases of The Purge, a daunting task at getting rid of most, if not all, of my collectibles and random junk I had laying around.

Still, painting minis was a big hobby for me. Over the years, I’d buy and paint miniatures just for fun. Not just Citadel, but other brands like Reaper and Ral Partha as well. When I started working full-time back in 2009 (yes, I had somehow managed to survive until I was 29 years old at 25 hours a week. My debts and lack of a savings account now show for that, let me tell you!), I quit. Not that I wanted to, per se, but not having any time to paint in addition to working, spending time with your significant other, and making sure that life doesn’t run you over with a truck are not all things that can be juggled easily.

A few months ago, I was struggling with writing and many other things. My wife suggested I start painting again, just to kind of give myself a break. Not that I’m taking a break from writing, but it’s always good to give yourself some space when you’re getting too close.

So I pulled out the paints and got moving. It’s been fun. Back in October, Games Workshop put out a new skirmish game, Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire. My friend Tony is into it so he’s told me a bit about it. It looked interesting and after reading the rules, I figured I’d give it a try. In December, I bought myself a warband (group of miniatures ranging from 3-6) of Orruks (formerly known as Orcs), and let them sit for a few weeks.

Recently, I’ve painted two of the four. I have a lot of thoughts about painting, especially after being out of the game for so long. This will be a long series of blogs, so stay tuned if you’re interested. There’s a lot of neat stuff here, not all involving painting or gaming. Life lessons of all varieties are abundant, and I’ll show you why in future installments.

And don’t worry, I’ll still talk about writing. In fact, I’ve got a story I’m in the middle of right now, and if things go right, it’ll be finished within a few hours…