My Yearly Vacation

Book 6’s first draft is 75% done!

As I write this, I’m on chapter 34 with 2-3 weeks left of writing left. At this pace, I’ll finish the series by the end of 2023. Gen Con cost me more time than I expected in terms of preparation, but the nine pages of notes I took in the writing seminars more than made up for it.

I had misgivings about attending another writer’s symposium. Books by authors from previous years left me unimpressed, making me wonder if there was anything left to learn.

After four days of panels, a discussion of character arcs crystalized the importance of emotional changes. I knew about character arcs, but I didn’t fully appreciate their importance for every book—even in a series.

I cannot overstate how articulate these panelists were. The far left author, Erin M. Evans, gave good and bad examples that left me particularly impressed. It’s not enough to have a great story, you absolutely need to “land the ending” as Karen Menzel says. Karen roots for authors while she’s enjoying a book, sometimes praying that it has a satisfying finale. They gave great examples of great character arcs, including My Pretty Pony: Friendship is Magic. I can’t believe I’m adding it to my watch list.

Their advice sent me scribbling in my notebook ideas to make each volume of The Book of Dungeons a more satisfying read. What they said made sense, and it took only a few revisions to drive the character arcs home in every book. I was 90% there anyway, but they convinced me the importance of delivering. I tweaked the setups and endings of all of my previous books, so it took another week before I could dive into the second half of book 6.

I was so grateful that I emailed them a word of thanks for participating in something that improved my endings so much. I’ve never done that before.

Board Game Changes

The 15th version of my board game features two big changes. The first is a new system of wounds, which are consequences of losing an attack. Deck-builders typically penalize players with slugs, making decks less effective in the long run. But it’s so passive it doesn’t deter players from making poor decisions. Another change separates resources for dungeon actions and card purchases. Splitting them forces players to invest in their deck instead of using their resources to race to the boss fight.

Princes Familiar

I settled on the names Ozzy and Angus after Black Sabbath and AC/DC rockers because they sleep all day and party all night long. They’re 12 weeks old and nonstop fun, but they do not help me sleep.

The four cat trees I recently bought match my extensive wall furniture. I wrapped a cardboard roll from a carpet store and back-lit it with a color LED light strip. It’s my livingroom’s own kitty-stripper pole, which Ozzy (left) and Angus (right) use liberally.