The Sundering – Coming to Rule 42

companionsWhile I am a gamer for over thirty three years (full on D&D geek), I have a bit of a confession. I don’t really read fantasy books any more. At least not epic fantasy or the sword and sorcery style novels. Part of it has to do with the Game of Thrones style of describing the dish each person at a feast is eating. The rest has to do with the feel for urban fantasy and paranormal stories have for me. Which is not to say that I won’t read fantasy. Clearly, as the first entry into Rule 42 over on Wicked Lil Pixie was a fantasy novel by Kelly McCullough.

At the same time, I still host a weekly game night. Every Sunday Dungeons and Dragons is going on at Casa de Zombie. Most of the time, I am the one running the game. This goes a long way to backing up the joke, “I don’t play D&D – haven’t in years!” So I play the game, and am involved in the genre in other ways.

As with the second entry into Rule 42, this is also one meant to be bent. I do read the occasional book my son suggests in the genre. Like Jim Butchers Codex Alera series. One of these handful of authors I read is Erin M Evans.  I was left without a book during a trip and I picked up one of her first titles. It struck me, and I looked up the others. Eventually that led to meeting her at GenCon to get a book signed. Probably the only person there to get her scribble and then said, “huh, I suppose I should get one signed by Ed Greenwood too.”

I say this as she is one of the authors involved in the launch of The Sundering. Yes, another upheaval in the Forgotten Realms. I know. This series also features the first author I saw at a book signing, and I was working at that one. (That would be Bob Salvatore for the non-D&D people.) I also kept some of Paul Kemp’s paperbacks from back in my days of reading only fantasy fiction. Not to mention that my group has also agreed that they want to play in the setting version of the Sundering, beginning with Murder in Baldur’s Gate.

I a stunning display of cluelessness, I had forgotten about the e-galley service I get my review copies from. A tweet about a book featuring ninjas fighting zombies (right?), I picked up the first two of the novels coming up for review. And while these authors aren’t local, D&D still feels local to me. It was originally located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. And in Seattle, there’s even a friend from one of my local campaigns that works for Wizards of the Coast. In short, I am including them in the Rule 42 heading.

Check out the tab above to see the first three of the entries. But keep an eye out for more along those lines. Both from the game and the novels.

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Weekend Wrap-up

As is my way, this weekend was crazy busy. Lots of stuff covering a broad spectrum of subjects. Kind of like my brain on a daily basis. I’ll hit them in talking points style as the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.

Friday Night Curry and Prometheus

The curry was good. Our friends in the next condo over made it and invited us over for dinner and the movie. I had seen Prometheus in the theater, but my wife had not. I had many of the same issues others had with it. While it was touted as the “prequel to Alien” it really didn’t feel like it. Also, even as just a cool alien ‘splodey movie it was lacking for me in the huge leaps of logic I had to make for the story to work. Seriously, we’re talking pissing off Bruce Banner leaps.

The Engineers have human DNA. Of course they are huge and immensely more physically powerful than us. And they can exist in an atmosphere that is like “sucking on a tailpipe?” Plus, do they even have tailpipes in the future?

The bio-engineered weapons of mass-messyouupness can cause mutations that create the birth of an entirely new race? I would have bought space-zombies before this one.

The caveat here is that I am unusual. Even a bad movie I can sit through (especially if it is a pretty movies, which this was). At the very least I can look at the story line, the plot, the characters and get an idea of what not to do. Plus, on a 46″ HDTV everything looks pretty damned sweet.

Casa de Zombie Looks the Part

In picking up for Burgers Beers and Beatdowns 153 (notice the change in number to reflect the UFC fight) we put up our holiday decorations. For those unfamiliar with the Casa de Zombie traditions, “holiday decorations” has nothing to do with generalizing the holidays to be PC. Our Halloween decorations get different treatments and serve as our Christmas decorations as well. I’ll include some photos later.

For the record, if you are a friend and I know the holiday you celebrate, I will change my greeting appropriately. Just like on November 11th I wish a Happy Birthday to every marine I know. Political correctness for me is knowing what your holidays are and greeting you accordingly. Just like if you know what my holidays are if I wish you a happy holiday in my culture, reacting like I just shat on your loafers is obviously not my intent. Unless of course your culture is one where loafer shatting is a sign of respect.

Wow. That just got a little dark, didn’t it? 😉

Birthday Party

It was one of our granddaughter’s birthdays this past weekend, so we took the Little Mermaid cake my wife sculpted for her and went to her party. (Remember, I bake. Sculpting and decorating is Mrs. Zombie.) Granted “party” means going to my mother-in-law’s house and having cake and presents with her cousins, aunts and uncles. Still, we had to wait for the late-comers.

Burgers Beers and Beatdowns

The birthday earlier in the day kept me from completing cupcakes. I would have baked them during the undercard fights, but the curry neighbors brought a spiced pumpkin pie with them. That said, mozzarella stuffed meatballs, pasta and other goodies were done in time. I also didn’t mistakenly order the pay-per-view in Spanish this time.

A dozen people, more beer drank this time around and some incredible undercard fights made this event. The Silva/Bonnar fight was a quick one, solid and exciting… but quick. Had the earlier fights not been as riveting as they were, I might have felt bad about spending the money on the PPV.

The Walking Dead

Really, does anything need to be said here? Other than my wife watched it upstairs while I was hosting game night, so didn’t watch it with me? Glad to be back in season.

A New Book – A Local Book

A while back a coworker had suggested a book written by a pair of local authors. Deck Z: The Titanic. Yup, zombies on a boat. I picked it up while at Barnes & Noble in print because they are local authors. That means it isn’t too far-fetched that a physical copy could be signed. I’ll review it later, but will be reading it soon.

A Book I’ve Been Pimping Like It Owes Me Money

Velveteen by Daniel Marks came out as well. It is a Young Adult book that centers around a teen girl who was killed by a serial killer and is now in Purgatory. She is part of a team that investigates disturbances in Purgatory caused by things in the real world. It’s dark, gritty and snarky. Everything I love in a book. You should pick up a copy or twelve. Seriously. Go do it now. I’ll wait.

Cupcakes… Finally

I did manage to make the Ryzkahl cupcakes before the weekend was over. Ancho spiced chocolate cake, cayenne laced ganache filling and white chocolate cream cheese frosting. I needed something for game night and I am bringing one along for Heather Brewer at the start of her Second Chance tour Tuesday the 16th in Oconomowoc. I actually did this twice as I wasn’t happy with the first batch. They were okay, but could have been better. The second batch was better.

I’ll have more on the Second Chance release party in Oconomowoc later.

Banned Book Week Recap

So Banned Book Week came and went. Did you notice? Did you do anything to celebrate? Did you read?

For my part, I had planned to pick up a book on this year’s banned book list and read/re-read it. Although my plan didn’t totally work out, I did have one. An epic one. A damned near historical one.

This past year – after picking up Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead – I had planned on reading the Vampire Academy. So much so was I planning this I picked up the first in the series. Partially this was due to an interest in YA both as research for my grandchildren and as a potential writing style. Partially it was due to the fact that I was going to Romantic Times which afforded me the opportunity to get the book signed. Ironically I didn’t manage to get either of those books signed – even while at the Rock Band Party.

What does this have to do with Banned Book Week? Well Richelle Mead has managed to do something awesome. I am sure you can guess that she was banned somewhere – but there’s a twist. Not only did Stephenville Texas ban the Vampire Academy, but they have also banned future books in the series! You heard me right, she has had books banned that she hasn’t even written yet!

Seriously, I could not comprehend how they could justify banning something they obviously have never seen. I had strange images of the T-1000 coming from the future in a little wormhole to take her out so that she could never write the series. In my mind that seemed easily as plausible as the truth.

So my way of commemorating Banned Book Week is to remember some of the great novels that have made it onto this list, and to bump the Vampire Academy up on my list of To Be Read books. So in addition to making the same list as such great works as To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye, I am going to salute this historic occasion and read the series.

As a small addendum though, I feel obligated to state there are two books that are going into rotation first. They are the anthology Hungry For Your Love (just released by Ravenous Romance) and Four Thousand Miles by Jesi Lea Ryan (releasing in ebook on November 7th). While I stand by supporting banned books, I have to put my locals up first. Both Jesi Lea Ryan and Mercy Loomis are in my local writing group, so I will not only read these (even though only one is in my normal genre) but I will also go so far as to suggest everyone give them a read.

Rule #36 – The Local Author Rule

Any of you that read any of my original postings at the beginning of my column on Geek Like Me should be aware of my adopting of the Found Movie Rule and the Zombie Joe Insomnia Movie Rule. Throw into the mix the rules that were given to us OCD style from Zombieland and we have the most current incarnation of the Zombie Joe Rule System. Today’s entry into the that particular mantra of rules is the Local Author Rule.

Over the past year I made a bet with myself, this led me to taking a more active roll in researching authors and genres. Also, we moved from our 4 bedroom house with 2.5 car garage with an upstairs to a 2 bedroom condo with a den and underground parking/storage. In short, I had to trim down my library. My criteria for keeping a book went in order of; collectible, personalized, autographed, local author, good story behind it. Anything not fitting that criteria was the first to go.

Let me explain something before going any further. I was raised to be driven on community. My father is one of those people who is active in a majority of the aspects of the local community. When I was looking for a local charity to donate to from a fundraiser I was organizing, he was the man I went to. I have directed much of my life around that idea of community (even if I do still get Starbucks when available). When given the choice of saving money on a Dungeons and Dragons book through Amazon and paying a couple extra bucks to get it from the local store that I play cards and such at – I give my money to Misty Mountain Games. How does that account for the Local Author Rule?

Same principle, different application. When I attended the Write by the Lake retreat on the UW Madison campus last summer, I picked up a couple of the books my sections professor wrote. I also found through that retreat and the use of social networking other local authors. In fact one of them – Lori Devoti – is even teaching a section at Write by the Lake this year. If the story takes place in Madison or Milwaukee, that brings me in even more so. Like Amazon Ink by Lori Devoti – which is set on Monroe Street, a street I walk every day.

So upon finishing Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland (review coming soon) on New Years Eve, I set my reading resolution for the year. I am going to shoot for 50 books this year. In addition, I am going to shoot for half of them being Wisconsin-based authors. In the efforts of finding enough to read within those parameters I am including writers such as Marjorie M Liu as a local author. She did undergrad in Wisconsin and Law School and the UW, so she is a cheesehead even if she is not in Wisconsin any longer.

This month I am completing book two of that challenge. Book One was Sword Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe. I have been hanging onto this one for a while now, and after meeting Alex for coffee in Mt. Horeb on New Years Day, it was on my mind when I went home and said, “What new book shall I read now?” I will write something up on it later, but it is a wonderfully unique book with a lot of Wisconsin inspired names in it.

Book Two is another local author; Doomsday Can Wait by Lori Handeland. This is book two in the Phoenix Chronicles series. It is also the series that made a friend say she hated me for getting her hooked because she gave up series because of ones like this. Basically series that were well-written and draw you in – then leave you waiting until the next one releases. I don’t think she was serious about hating me. I think.

To give you an example of why I am hooked on the series, let’s look at the opening of the book. One of the things we worked on in the retreat I mentioned above was opening lines. There were several examples given of wonderful opening lines, and this would have been one of mine.

“A month ago I put a stake through the heart of the only man I’ve ever loved. Luckily, or not, depending on the day and my mood, that wasn’t enough to kill him.”

Tell me that doesn’t want to make you read on. Even had I not already read Any Given Doomsday I would still be interested in reading further in this book. It is no wonder that Lori Handeland was nominated for a Career Achievement Award by Romantic Times.

So my current list of locals to read includes:

  • Alex Beldsoe (Burn Me Deadly, The Girls with Games of Blood)
  • Lori Handeland (Apocalypse Happens)
  • Marshall Cook (Murder Over Easy, Walking Wounded: A Wartime Love Story)
  • Kevin Hughes (Dogging Truth, Casualty Crossing)
  • Lori Devoti (Amazon Queen)
  • Marjorie M Liu (The Iron Hunt, Darkness Calls)

That gives me a dozen books. I am hoping to flesh this out a bit so that I do not have to dip into anthologies complied and edited by Wisconsin people. Although that would put Killer Bunnies and Zombie Raccoons at the top of my list. Do you have any good Wisconsin authors or books to suggest? Drop them in a comment below.

Fair Warning: I read most fantasy, urban fantasy, horror and mystery.