Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Only quitters quit

Says the guy who just dropped out of a medical Spanish class....

But don't listen to me, listen to Mike Brotherton.

I think it also helps to have people pushing you if you can't seem to do it to yourself. The same friend that sent me the Ira Glass quote (in my last post) now asks me once a week how New Olympos is coming. I'm trying not to slack as much as I used to, and I am making some headway with it. I haven't written anything yet because I'm still in the process of researching the new-to-me sci fi aspect. Fortunately I have yet another friend at work who is huge into sci fi and I can bounce ideas off him. And now I'm working him into world building.

Creativity: it's a give and take. And I won't say "those that can't do, teach" but I will twist it into "those who are struggling to create fill the time and glean inspiration from helping others create".

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Words of Encouragement

A good friend at work showed me this today. It's simple, yet poignant. Thanks Kimi, and Ira. I hope this helps anyone anywhere find their bootstraps and give them a good tug.

It appears to have come from Shoko over at so 'thank you' to her as well. Her site has lots of great pick-me-ups like this, so if you're ever in the dumps head on over and hopefully feel better.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pics as Promised

Back with big news and photographic evidence!

Big news first: I discovered this awesome new blog a couple weeks ago and lurked for a while, now I'm officially following. Does that upgrade me from "lurker" to official "stalker"? Either way, I'll accept the mantle. Here you go Nils, I'm paying your mention/link back in kind:

And now on to the nerdatorium pics. Brace yourself, there are lots. Sorry for the flashy glare on some, it's what happens when the poster paper is glossy.

This is what one is first confronted with when entering the nerdatorium. This is the Ustalav region of Pathfinder, which you'll see in a sec. I'm thinking of making a sign to hang on the door (yes, like a teenage girl trying to keep anyone and everyone out of her room) that reads "Please Knock: World Building in Progress" or, for the more blasphemous, "Do Not Disturb: It is the 7th Day and the Creator is Resting".

This is the poster of Westcrown behind the door.

This looks like just another poster map, right? Oh how wrong you are....this is THE wall map to end all wall maps! If you've linked to before you'll know what I mean.

Just look at that monster! That's actually 4 posters that combine into one gi-normous map! It's the entire Inner Sea Region of Pathfinder. I took this shot to show the size comparison next to the closet door. This was the perfect use of that otherwise awkward bit of wall space. I couldn't even get the whole thing in the picture, the room is only so wide to back up for the shot.

This is the back wall of the nerdatorium, aka Tolkien Corner. It's some awesome Middle Earth maps I found while in Texas for a bit this past summer, hanging above my drawing table. I still can't believe I finally have a real table, I used to just lay on the floor. You can't tell, but under the stack of books is a built in tracing table - so cool! These next few pics are close ups of Tolkien's ground-breaking, foundation-laying fantasy world. My hat is eternally off to that man!

Numenor, before it was lost beneath the sea.

Middle Earth. Sorry for the bad flash, it was even worse if I tried to get closer, and too dark without it.

The Map of "The Hobbit". Man I love that book! I've read it 3 times now and I'm sure I'll read it again before each of the movies come out. Hallelujah that Peter Jackson is directing those too - they deserve nothing less than consistency with the other LOTR movies (even if Thorin does look a bit like a Klingon). Again, sorry for the flash that blotted out the Misty Mountains and westward.

Beleriand, the northernmost part of Middle Earth. I believe I got this map out of "The Children of Hurin", another fantastic read and one I'm sure I will revisit. Or perhaps this was in "The Silmarillion", either way a great map in a great book.

This here is Compie Corner, where I spent hours upon hours trying to "make the magic happen". Surprise, surprise, my wallpaper is a fantasy map - thank you Aventhar of Cartography Guild. Yes, that chair is very comfortable.

These are 5 of about a dozen town and city maps from Pathfinder. I would love to have all of them up all the time, but I simply don't have the space. So I started with my five favs and I'll rotate through the stack as the notion strikes me. Yes, that's a beer by my pen cup. I usually have a few whilst hammering the keys and clicking the mouse. Sometimes I drink because it helps. Sometimes I drink and it doesn't help at all. Mostly I drink all the time because...well, I'm a drunk.

Here's a close up of ye old computadora. That keyboard is going on 10 years old and still going strong. The new computer came with one of course, but I found I just didn't like the feel of it. OCD much? Yes, yes I am. The coins to the left are because I was jingling them for size and weight feel while mulling over a currency idea for stories.

This here is the handy, dandy bookshelf that replaced the clunky old dresser I was using. The left half is mine - within easy reach of the desk - and consists of: scanner/printer, D&D manuals and other such nerderies, computer games, comic books, and file folders of maps. My wife has claim to the right half (we planned it that way, because she's always right and I'm always the know, the W word) which is much more adult and useful (just like my wife) which has important paperwork, college fundraising binders, cookbooks, and a dictionary.

These are obviously close ups of the most important shelves of world building inspiration, complete with the voluminous computer idiot's guide (because yes, I am a CS4 dummy in training) and my numerous notebooks containing drivel compiled over years. And, as you can see, the Wolverine "Origin" comic simply because it's aaaaawesoooooooome and I read it again last night.

Hang in there - we're coming to the end, I swear.

Forgotten Realms above the bookshelf. Because why in the hell would I have all those D&D manuals without the map to go with them? Thank you Ed Greenwood for crafting this amazing world. If you could tell, on the shelf I had the readers guide to R.A. Salvatore's "Legend of Drizzt" which came with this big map. And The Inner Sea World Guide, which I purchased to flesh out the huge Pathfinder map/world I'm just beginning to discover.

And last, but certainly not least, my faithful companions Domino and Shadow - since they did their damnedest to try to get into each and every shot and dad had to keep shooing them out of the way. I figure they earned a spot in the line up. They're right where they usually are, Shadow crowding my feet under the desk/table and Domino right in the middle of the floor where she's to be found snoring when not honking her hedgehog, and noisily slurping her butt when not doing either of the first two. And that face says "Dad, I can't believe you just put that online about me! Hopefully people got tired of your excruciatingly looooooong post before they got to the part about my butt."

Friday, February 3, 2012

My nerdatorium is complete

Pics to come soon, but my office/studio aka "nerdatorium" is finally all put together at our new house. I just connected the printer/scanner this morning.

I'm surrounded and I love it! I have 13 maps on 4 walls and no, that is not enough. Yes, I still have plenty more maps that didn't make the cut for limited space. It would be great if I had a HUGE room that I could fill with folding screens so I could hang many many more maps and other inspiring references. I have a new desk and bookshelf to organize all the printed stuff and stacks of notebooks, I have a drawing/tracing table (finally a real one), a comfy chair, and soon to get a nice 24" flat screen monitor. I think the very last thing I need to really put the finishing touches on is a plastic floor mat so I can easily zip back and forth from the "work stations".

Now I can finally get back to what I do best.....wasting time in constructed fantasy worlds.

Tolkien actually had a name for it: mythopoeia. It's actually from the Hellenic Greeks, but most probably wouldn't have even known of the word or concept until Tolkien used it in the 1930s. It means - a narrative genre in modern literature and film where a fictional mythology is created by the writer of prose or other fiction.
There are lots of examples of this beyond Tolkien, but he is somewhat the forefather of it all for his in depth creation of Middle Earth.

The plan now is to get back into drawing and then scan everything into Photoshop for inking, coloring, and overall touch-ups. I would love to churn out things like the pros over on Shadowcore [] - especially their most recent postings - but we'll have to see how long it takes to shake the rust of the old scribblers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Vive Coalition!

Back in August I posted a link to Elfwood and made mention of sharing some of my favs. Well I'm finally getting around to it. And I feel I owe it to them.....better late than plug my Coalition chums. They are as follows:

Natalie J Walsh -

She was the first to welcome me to "the woods" and she remains a pal even though we don't jabber stories as much as we used to. I've linked to her wonderful writing before, but it is worth a second mention and then some.

Shelley Hobbs -

She is me down unda chum (aka mate) and a ridiculously talented seamstress. Find her on Facebook too and order some stuff....well take a number and be patient, she's a very busy lady.

Brendon thu Magpie McGahee -

I haven't heard a peep from him in a very long time, but I'd still call him a friend. If you check his guest book you'll see that he's a very likable and gracious fellow, although it appears that the world opened up and swallowed him. Either that or his band became famous and is currently touring the galaxy.

And last, but by far not the least

Matthew Makin -

I found him through Brendon and the guy's talent seriously makes me sick with jealousy. If I didn't like him I'd hate him because I'm not him. His gallery is amazing. Some of the pieces look like they might move at any second.

For thems that wonder, I call them my Coalition chums because for the briefest of moments (before I gave up on translating my stories to HTML to post to Elfwood) I suggested that we start the Coalition of the Woods as a kind of idea exchange. At the time Natalie and I were in the throes of emailing each other daily and swapping stories, Shelley and I were still getting to know each other - time very well spent ;) - and Brendon and Matthew and I were bantering via their guest books. I've always felt bad about bailing on everyone after they were so willing to be in my suggested group, but I felt like I was leeching off their combined genius while not contributing much of my own.

I still have those qualms about the blogs I follow. If I commented as much as I'd like to I wouldn't ever get anything else done and they'd probably get sick of me. By that token I can hardly blame people for not commenting on my stuff. You get what you give. My blog karma really sucks.

Next up, I'll post more Elfwood favorites (I know, I know, I've said that before) a few at a time to make up for the lack of.......well.......a whole lot of nothing lately.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lazzaretti vs. Disney

I realize that my last post was a bit lacking since I didn't have any kind of visual reference to illustrate how astounding Rob Lazzaretti's maps are. This is what I'm talking about:

Start at the bottom of the page and go up to get to the goodies.

I love how simple and colorful the maps are without making things appear too cartoony. I want my adventures to take place in medieval/fantasy towns and villages, not the Disney theme park version of a medieval/fantasy town or village. I like the ambiance of dwarves and halflings wandering about with brigands and sell swords, not Snow White and Mickey glad handing 5 year olds.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A good week to be a geek

Can you believe it? Another post within a week of the last one? I'm a little surprised my own self. Guess I got a bit used to splashing something only every other month or so. Anyway, just thought I'd share another of my faves and brag about the new awesomes I got (yes, the awesomes mentioned in my last post).

A week ago I spent a doosie of a hangover at the local "game and geek", it's a brick and mortar hobby shop known by the name of Hastur Games and Comics. Except for the occasional rattle of dice from one of their many tables and a raucous burst of laughter from geeks enjoying their sanctuary, it was rather quiet and pleasant. I was even surprised and impressed to see females in the store - I guess geekdom knows no gender bias. And why should it, really? Anywho, I grabbed a pile of 5 or 6 Pathfinder and D&D books to flip through at a corner table and stumbled across some Pathfinder Map Folios on the book rack. I consider myself a bit of a wordsmith, but I honestly cannot convey how spectacular these maps are!

I was gaping at the artwork/cartography of Rob Lazaretti just on the plastic wrapped covers. I swore to myself that I would return Friday when I got paid. Being a huge map geek I didn't even wait until I got off work Friday evening - I went over on my lunch and nabbed them! It's a good thing too, the nice cashier (another female) said they'd just got them in the previous Friday and she was amazed they'd lasted as long on the shelf as they had. I of course opened them at work and showed them off to another writer/geek friend of mine. I think I got a few concerned glances when I oohed and aahed at what must have appeared to be a multi-panel centerfold to folks who couldn't see anything other than the glossy back of a poster. I think they were especially surprised when my bud Megan came down and agreed at their amazingness and laughed stating she'd never seen me so happy and excited.

I looked on Amazon and Google to see what else might be out there along the same lines and I'm very excited to find several other map folios by the same artist(s) in the same unlabeled style so I have much more freedom with them for my own uses. In fact, I ordered another one today.

Anyway, blah blah mappity blah - that turned out to be much longer than I intended, but I seriously cannot shut up about these new funzies!

And to finish things off, here's another fav link:

This Red Dragon Inn site is great for just about everything! I love that people take the time to post/keep up resources like this! Many thanks to all y'all.

I mostly use the Armoury's name generators and Sal's Outfitters. I just love how the names sound, especially the dwarf names, and the fact that you can use "Realistic" or "Fantasy" for both given and surnames. The elf names sound elfish without being too touch-twistingly Tolkien. Sal's Outfitters is great for having an established base for gear, tack, weapons, etc. Having a dice roller is great too - especially for those days that you might need to generate a random roll, or several, without wanting the thunderous racket exacerbating your hangover :) To drop a Matrim Cauthon reference on you, sometimes I hate those bloody dice rattling in my head.