Tag Archives: writing

Guest Post by Will Hindmarch: Inspiration

Will Hindmarch is a freelance writer, game designer, and narrative designer. He co-founded Gameplaywright Press, assistant directs the Shared Worlds writing camp, and is a producer of Story Club South Side in Chicago.

Here’s the task they before me: Run a casual D&D game over one lunch break per week. A mere 60-70 minutes of play per week with a cast of more than ten player characters rotating in and out? Teach the new edition of the game and a world to explore in that limited time? Make an experience that’s coherent and compelling even for players who might take a few weeks off between sessions?

Sounds like a fun challenge!

The game is set in a fantastical city that was under quarantine for a strange disease. But sometime during its period of isolation … everyone inside the city disappeared. As a result, there are just two humans left in the world: a barbarian and a paladin, both of them PCs.

What makes this one difficult—and I’m a little surprised by this—isn’t crafting a compelling a world for casual and intermittent players; I’ve done that lots. It isn’t managing the dramaturgy for ten PCs; I’ve done that before. It isn’t even conveying the world through brief bits of text to minimize the game’s footprint on the lives of the players; that’s an inspiring challenge. No, it turns out the trick is juggling my own inspirations.

This is something I struggle with sometimes. I pretty carefully control what sort of inputs I take in—what shows I watch and when, what books I read and when, what games I play and when—not only to manage my time, but to influence what influences me. When I was writing my story about the white deer, for PleasureTown, for example, I put together an atmospheric playlist and read some Walt Whitman to get me in the right sort of place. (I also mined a bunch of details from my own childhood.)

When I’m writing about the faux-Elizabethan political intrigue in the City on the Saturnine for my stealth-adventure RPG, called Dark, I try to take in a diverse array of material but I also worry about sparking ideas that I won’t be able to work on for months. If I can’t put space-alien horrors into my fantastical Renaissance, I try not to consume much about space aliens.

Or I tried.

Too many great stories, too many glittering inspirations, move in my peripheral vision, all the time! How can I watch True Detective or Automata when they’ll make me want to work on projects that aren’t scheduled until later in the year? I don’t want good ideas being misspent on the wrong projects!

That right there is where I am a moron. As if creating something good diminishes some other thing that is good. What is that?

For me, at least, the truth is that inspiration and action are all about the collision of ideas in unexpected intersections. Withholding a good idea—”saving” it—is so often folly. Ideas aren’t worth much. Work has value. The writing has value. The application and implementation of an idea—that’s what’s valuable.

If I apply some influential idea to a project and it doesn’t stick, I’ve still got the idea.

If I apply an influential idea to a project and it doesn’t do everything I wanted, but it does something, that’s a kind of progress on the project, and I’ve still got the idea.

If I apply an influential idea to a project and it changes the project, that’s either an enrichment or an option to keep or reject—which is my job as the writer. And I’ve still got the idea.

Ideas aren’t currency. They aren’t electricity. They’re knowledge. They’re like lessons. We don’t spend a lesson to act on it. That’s why lessons are precious.

Ideas get conjured at the crossroads of information, where two notions collide and inspire, throwing light and shadows on the nearby buildings, and in the aftermath … there’s no wreckage. The notions survive and their fusion creates a new idea. That’s the whole point! This is a creative process … not a destructive one.

I’ve always kept notebooks. Lots of notebooks. Each major project gets its own book and certain themes of potential projects—games, novels, scripts—get notebooks, too. That’s where ideas live.

To my surprise, what sparked my realization and reminded me how to manage the influences on my own imagination, was taking an hour off to play some Destiny. The grand, enthusiastic melange of epic fantasy and sci-fi in the Destiny universe  reminded me that my job isn’t to recreate any one genre by following customs and redecorating a well-trod space, but to make the thing I’m making as good as it can be.

Destiny’s little doses of lore—either in the Grimoire or in the text of bounties and quests and items—combine to convey a robust and wonderfully strange world. We’re still early in the life of Destiny’s story, I’m sure, yet those bite-sized doses of fictional data fascinate me. (Destiny depicts a world that I am this close to writing fanfic for—something about the way dust drifts through the city beneath the Traveler, the glint of metal on the lunar surface, the hints of everyday heroism—so write me, Bungie, if you want great fiction set in the Destiny galaxy.)

In my case, my goal is to make each 60-minute D&D session an exciting episode of play. That comes first.  And that means the players and their characters are the priority. I knew all that … but I’d also sort of forgotten it, you know? My desire to impress these players got in the way of how much I love to inspire them.

Guest Post by Stephen Toulouse: Sometimes the Words Hide

This is a guest post by Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse. Stepto has worked for HBO, is the former banhammer at Xbox, and knows a thing or two about online communities and computer safety. He is an author, comedian, and leader of The Steptos.

He made a comedy album you can get on Bandcamp (cheapest option), iTunes or Amazon and wrote a book called A Microsoft Life. He blogs at Stepto.com.

Sometimes the words hide.

At first, I didn’t know what I was looking at. In my lower field of vision was dark blue, in the upper third a soft taupe. In the middle, in my near field, a round spot of black surrounded by tan, with a beautiful ring of light brown inside of it. Something pink, and I could hear breathing? Wait. I had just been in a shuttle hadn’t I? Atmo was out along with gravity and I was struggling to orient myself in freefall to get to a control panel. Was that the breathing?What was I looking at?

Those wisps of sleep-thought dissipated instantly, wiped into my brain’s incinerator with one swipe of a dog’s tongue across my face. My dog, Basil Hayden. It was morning, he was at the side of the bed expectantly looking at me. Important dog things needed doing with my supervision, and I dared be slow to wake, and ponderous.

The dream clung at me somewhat, staying with me even as with each waking moment it became more ephemeral and shifty. I was in trouble? Was it in space or an airplane? I could remember feelings even as the details left. I went through my morning routine twisting over it.

There were words there, I kept thinking, there was a story there. Just the thing I needed to break through some fog I had been having around tying up a variety of writing.

We all get writer’s block in some form. Sometimes nothing comes. Sometimes writer’s block can take the form of lots of things get put on paper but none good or satisfying.

Sometimes the words hide.

Every writer has their way of dealing with it. You can play their game and go looking for those words. You can sit on the couch, watch a film and refuse to give into their demands to be found so that they  come crawling back to you. You can bribe them, be stern with them, even attempt a “no strings attached” hang out with them. But they will, in the end, do as they please.

Our terror is that they are gone forever. Like an insomniac who fears they will never sleep again we push that fear back, knowing that adrenaline will only make the problem worse.

My words had been hiding lately, that morning when I got up. I’m more of a “I refuse to play your game” type of writer and am content to wait in panicked patience for them to shuffle back. When they came back I dutifully stopped what I was doing and gathered them around me.

“Don’t hide again!” I said. “I need you!”

“We won’t.” they replied, “until next time.”

Guest Post by Will Hindmarch: Learning to Write

Writer and game designer Will Hindmarch is an occasional contributor to WWdN and constant mooncalf. In a good way.

When the writing is tough, I doubt a lot of my words and think hard about whether I really know what I’m doing or not. Where do I get the nerve to try to be heard or read?

As David Simon once put it, who died and made me Storyteller?

Thinking back to some of the lessons I’ve learned as a writer and narrative designer, I think about all the hours I’ve logged — through doubt and confidence, pain and passion — writing things I thought I might not be able to write. A lot of my knowledge was given to me by teachers and mentors but I think maybe none of it really made sense until I dared to fulfill or defy the lessons given unto me. I could train and train but only while I was writing did the full substance of the lessons make sense to me.

When the student is ready, the blank page shall appear.

It takes many forms. I’ve logged a gazillion hours telling collaborative stories through tabletop RPGs, which are a great way to learn adaptation, improvisation, and quick development of ideas as they happen. It’s a great medium for learning — you can imagine how excited I am by the prospect of a tabletop RPG show from my friend, games master Wil Wheaton. (So do fund the hell out of that, if you please.) We can all glean lessons from that kind of play.

Combine the experience points I’ve earned from RPGs with the  time I spent in the authorial batting cages of Ficlets (where I got to write stories in tandem with Wil) and you get my newest game design, which itself combines narrative gaming with actual writing.

That’s Storium.

Continue reading Guest Post by Will Hindmarch: Learning to Write

First Contact and The Wil Wheaton Project

My new show premieres a month from today, on the network that I like to call “the network formerly-known as Sci-Fi,” but since that makes people who changed its name mad at me, I won’t call it that in this post.*

Seriously I’m bolding this because it’s important: The Wil Wheaton Project premieres at 10pm EDT on Tuesday, May 27th, on Syfy™ Syfy: Imagine Greater, and also watch WWE.**

(All silliness aside, everyone I’ve been working with at Syfy has been super awesome, super supportive, and as excited about this project as I am. I wouldn’t feel okay making jokes at the network’s expense if I didn’t know that they have a good sense of humor. We shot some promos last week where they let me really rip some of their own programming, because we did it in a funny way, and not all networks would let us do something like that.)

Okay. So, to business:

I’ve been meeting with my staff of writers, segment producers, researchers, and other creative people a couple of times a week for the last month or so, and we’ve been figuring out what shows we love, what shows we hate, and deciding how we’ll cover those shows as their (and our)season unfolds.

There are scripted shows we love, like Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, and American Horror Story. There are scripted shows that are so awful, it’s almost hard to figure out which joke we’re going to make (see: pretty much everything on the CW). There are some really great things online that I’m not going to describe now because I want to keep them to myself, and then there are the vast numbers of unscripted paranormal “reality” shows that are so insanely horrible, they actually come back around the track and end up being good: Mountain Monsters, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Adventure Ghosts, Monster Ghosts On The Mountain Having An Adventure***.

When we get  together for these meetings, we watch clips that the creative team has found, and then we pitch jokes to each other. It’s a really fun process, where we’re basically watching hilariously bad stuff, and then seeing who can make the room laugh the hardest. It turns out that all the MST3K I watched in college was actually contributing to my education, and I’m using the skills it taught me to this day.

I’m super happy and grateful that I’m working with people who are funnier and smarter than I am, so I have to push myself to keep up with them. I’m already a better comedy writer than I was a month ago, and I’m pretty excited that I’m leveling up those skills.

A couple weeks ago, we were pitching ideas to each other,  and we came up with something we think will be really cool and probably pretty funny. It’s called First Contact.

The idea is for you to tell us a story about a memorable time you met someone famous who you looked up to or admired. Whether it was funny, awesome, awkward, awful, or some combination of them all, we want to hear it.

All of us on the creative team will go through anything you submit, and we’ll pick out a few of our favorites to be animated and recreated on the show. I’ve talked to some of my friends who are voice actors, and I’m super happy and excited that some of the very best actors in the business are going to be part of this.

We had to talk to lawyers and people who wear suits every day to get permission to do this, and they said that it was okay, as long as I said precisely the following:

This is what I need from you:

- We want to see you on camera telling the story.  

- Make sure you are talking directly to camera in a well lit room.

- Go someplace quiet with no noise and absolutely no music playing in the background.

- Your story must be true and authentic in describing the people and events that took place. No fibs, please.

- Please try to keep these stories under 2 minutes.  The shorter the better.

Once you’ve recorded your story, upload it to Youtube and send the link to HEYWWP at gmail dot com

Be sure to include any contact info so we can let you know if we plan on using your story.

Before you record, think about the details. I’m sure you were excited and nervous to meet your favorite celeb in real life.   Did it take courage to go up to him or her?   What was going through your head?  What did you say?  What did they say?  What about them surprised you?  How did it end?  Were your friends jealous?  

 

I’ll add that details about the time, place, and other environmental elements will give our animators stuff to work with. Speaking as a storyteller myself, I encourage you to get to the emotional center of the story as quickly as you can, because that’s how you connect to an audience. If you’d like an example of a first meeting that wasn’t particularly awesome, you can listen to my WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER story from w00tstock.

If you have any questions about this, ask them in comments and I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as I can.

*OMG this hand that feeds me tastes SO GOOD!

**OMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM please don’t cancel me before i even start i’ll be good i promise

***some of these don’t actually exist, but they could, with just a little bit of creative editing.

Now I have something where I didn’t have something before.

My friend Cory Doctorow says that he can write simply by sitting down and opening up a vein. It doesn’t matter where he is, or what’s going on around him. When it’s time to write, it’s just his brain and the place he puts the words.

I admire that, and wish I could do it, but it’s just not possible for me. I need to be in a calm and quiet place, both emotionally and physically, and depending on what stage of a project I’m in (rough draft, last mile, rewriting, outlining), I may need other existential things, particular bits of music, types of coffee or tea, things like that.

I guess it’s different for every writer, but I have these — you know, I sat here for almost a full minute typing and deleting the word “silly”, before deciding that it isn’t silly at all — rituals that let me open the creative vein that Cory can tear open at will.

The important thing, I guess, is that the words get written and the story gets told, and what the specific the steps are from idea to publishing don’t really matter, at long as you take them.

Today, I had the barest hint of an idea, and I wanted to know what it would turn into, if I worked on it. Imagine seeing something far away, though clouds and haze. It could be a mountain, it could be a thunderhead, it could be a tumor pressing against your optic nerve. The thing is, you don’t know what it is until you get close enough to see it clearly. You have to take the steps.

So I put on my running shoes, and I went out for a jog, letting my mind wander around, until that hint of an idea began to coalesce into something more tangible. After about forty minutes, I had enough to write down some broad strokes, knowing that once I started writing the actual thing, I’ll know how to fill in the gaps that were left today.

I took literal steps to get my brain going, and to start the process of turning a few scattered “what if…” ideas into something that may turn into an actual story. I don’t know what will come of it, and I don’t know when it will be finished, but I took the steps, and now I have something where I didn’t have something before.

anyone interested in a short fiction collection?

I have a question for everyone who reads my blog: if I put some short stories I'd written together into a little collection and sold it at Lulu, would you be interested?

I ask this because I collected a few short stories into a limited edition chapbook for last year's PAX Prime, and it's been sitting here, in my computer, just sort of staring at me accusingly and asking why I didn't release it to anyone in the world who wanted it.

It's just four short stories – well, two short stories and two stories that are slightly-longer than flash – that haven't been collected in any other place.

It will be available worldwide (anywhere Lulu ships). I'll keep the price down, and offer it in print and digital editions (probably around $7 and $5 each, if I've calculated the economics on Lulu correctly) … but here's the catch: it will only be available for one week. (I don't have a good reason for that, I just think it's cool to make something that's a limited edition. Wait, that's a perfectly good reason; a cromulent reason, even.)

Here's the introduction to the PAX edition:

The Day After and Other Stories

Every year, before the summer convention season gets underway, I pull a few excerpts from whatever I plan to release in the fall, take them to my local print shop, and make a deliberately lo-fi, limited edition chapbook to take with me on the obligatory summer convention circuit.

I’ve done previews of Dancing BarefootThe Happiest Days of Our LivesMemories of the Future, and in 2008, I pulled together a sampler that eventually became Sunken Treasure

While Memories of the Future is 2009’s “big” fall release, it didn’t make sense to me to release a Memories-based chapbook this summer, because one already exists. 

It looked like there wasn’t going to be a 2009 entry in the traditional Wil Wheaton Zine-like Chapbook Extravaganza, until I realized that I have several pieces of unpublished fiction sitting in my office, just waiting to be published. 

“Hey,” I said to myself, “people keep asking me to write and release fiction, and I’ve been waiting until I have an actual novel to give them. But these things totally don’t suck, and I bet readers would enjoy them.”

“That is an excellent idea, me,” I said. “And have I mentioned how smart and pretty you are?”

“Oh, stop it. You’re embarrassing me,” I said.

Together, myself and I collected some of my (mostly unpublished) fiction and put it into this chapbook, for safe keeping.

Even though this is limited to just 200 copies, it represents a significant step for me in my life as a writer, because it’s the first time I’ve collected and published stories that I made up. (You know, like a writer does.) I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for your support!

Wil Wheaton

Pasadena 

2009

So, knowing all of this, are you interested?

…and the livin’ is easy.

Hey, remember when I posted stuff in my blog every day and we all had a good time while learning? It's a distant memory, but if you squint, you may be able to pick it up.

Anyway. It's summer, I've been working on awesome projects that I can't talk about, finishing up awesome projects that I've talked about a lot already (Memories of the Future, special edition of Happiest Days, etc.), and since Ryan came home from school and I have my whole family together under one roof again, I'm not especially motivated to stay at my computer after I'm done working, you know?

To close some tabs, though, please enjoy these things that are all related:

Indie Kindle Author lands book deal

Author Boyd Morrison sold two books, the first one called The Ark, to Simon & Schuster. Boyd uploaded and sold the books himself and raised awareness for his novels by being a member of Kindle Boards and generally self-promoting.

He will be published in hardcover in 2010 and is working on his next book featuring swashbuckling adventurer Tyler Locke.

Kick ass, Boyd Morrison! I hope your experience in traditional publishing is better than mine was, and I hope you'll keep your fellow authors informed about your experience.

Author Michael Stackpole: "I don't worry about pirates."

Bestselling novelist Michael Stackpole says he's making great money
selling fiction directly off his site; he doesn't worry about pirates,
"People downloading my stories from the big torrent sites were never
going to buy them anyway. It's no money out of my pocket."

I have a similar philosophy, and I consider myself tremendously lucky to have the kind of relationship with my customers that I do.

Sunken Treasure has gotten some incredible reviews at Lulu:

I hadn't read any of Wil's books, and "Sunken Treasure" seemed like a
good place to sample his writing. My favorite chapters were those about
his childhood – the bad Star Wars trade, the arcade games, auditions.
There's something about the way he captures the true sense of those
times and weaves in pop cultural references so naturally. In those
chapters, I forgot I was reading and was totally drawn into the
storytelling. It felt like being there. I also liked the chapter which
was an on-set diary about a recent acting job – a very open and
engaging account of how it happens and what it's like.

Wil's writing is very honest, clever, vulnerable, raw, and
unprocessed. He's not afraid to show his doubts or fears, and he's not
embarrassed to share his highs. It makes him very real and very
likeable. After reading this sampler, I wanted to know more about him.

Finally, I simply appreciate the fact that this is an independently
published work. I think a lot of people shy away from self-published
books because they're concerned about unchecked quality. The writing
here is terrific and there is a feel of integrity and control in
presenting it.

So…yeah, that's pretty awesome. I love it that so many readers enjoy
Sunken Treasure, and the biggest complaint is that it leaves people
wanting to read more (kind of the idea, but don't tell anyone I said
that, okay?)

This morning, Twitter user @KenMcConnell said: "Wil (@wilw) Wheaton's Sunken Treasure used on Scribd page for ad copy. Cool for him! http://bit.ly/19Y18W" I grabbed a screenshot, because it's one of those things I kind of want to remember when I'm in the adult diapers stage of my life. If I haven't kicked the everlivingshit out of this dead horse, allow me to take a few more whacks (slow, then fast): publishing with Lulu has been a fantastic experience for me. It's easy, the quality of the final product is fantastic, and it frees me up to do the creative stuff I couldn't do when I was fulfilling orders in my living room with the occasional help from my friends and family. If you're considering publishing, I suggest you give Lulu serious consideration.

When I was in Portland, working on Leverage, I spent all of my non-acting time writing stories. When I wasn't writing, I hung out with John Rogers and talked about writing stories. I'm not sure if I grew a level, but definitely gained a whole lot of XP: I wrote a short story that I love (to be released in the near future after I give it a second draft and Andrew applies the Red Pen of Doom) and began work on another that shows at least some promise.

Ryan just wandered out of his room and sat down next to me on the couch with his laptop.

"Dude, you have to see this!" He said, pointing to something on the screen.

"Who is this is?" I said, glancing up from my own laptop.

"Check it out!" He clicked the mouse and flipped the screen toward me. This is what he showed me.

"Dude…" I shook my head.

He giggled. "I totally got you."

"You totally did."

It's really great to have him home.

time to write

Working on Leverage inspired and stirred up all those weird things in my brain that make me an artist. In an effort to maintain the creative momentum I experienced while working on the show, I went directly from wrapping my episode to working on this series of short stories I’ve wanted to write for a long time, but for one reason or another never developed past the beat sheet.

I have a routine that goes something like this: I get up between 8 and 9, grab some coffee, and read some news. About 40 minutes later, I eat breakfast, and then I start writing for anywhere between 4 and 5 hours, usually until hunger drives me away from my desk.

The thing is, it’s not non-stop writing for all that time. There’s a lot of thinking, a lot of wandering around (mentally and physically) and more than a little bit of goofing off online while I try to stay out of my brain’s way long enough for it to cough up the ideas. It’s easy to feel like I’m not really working, and I’m sure it would appear that way to the average observer.

In today’s Los Angeles Times, writer J. Robert Lennon wrote an amusing and very truthful column about exactly what it is we do when we’re writing.

Ask a writer what she values most in her creative life, and she is likely to respond, “Time to write.” Not many of us have the luxury of writing full- time; we have spouses, families, day jobs. To the people closest to the writer, “writing time” may seem like so much self-indulgence: Why should we get to sit around thinking all day? Normal people don’t require hour after continuous hour of solitude and silence. Normal people can be flexible.

And yet, we writers tell our friends and children, there is nothing more sacrosanct, more vital to our intellectual and emotional well-being, than writing time. But we writers have a secret.

We don’t spend much time writing.

There. It’s out. Writers, by and large, do not do a great deal of writing. We may devote a large number of hours per day to writing, yes, but very little of that time is spent typing the words of a poem, essay or story into a computer or scribbling them onto a piece of paper.

Maybe it’s a little too “inside baseball,” to be as funny to normal people as it is to me, but I totally relate to everything he says. In fact, I need extra time to write, so I’m taking June and July off from my columns to write fiction, and get Memories of the Future and the Subterranean Press edition of Happiest Days out the door (Happiest has been held up by me; I had a technology problem that seriously cockblocked me on my edit, and then I couldn’t find some important stuff to go in the book, but finally found it about two weeks ago. Those of you who pre-ordered and are tired of waiting shouldn’t direct your hate-lasers at Subterranean, and should instead focus them on me.)

Lennon eventually says:

The truth, of course, is that writers are always working. When you ask a writer a direct question, and he smiles and nods and then says “Well!” and turns and walks away without saying goodbye, he is actually working.

If a writer is giving you a ride to the bus station and pulls up in front of the supermarket and turns to you and says, “Enjoy your trip!,” she is actually working.

I have to apologize to Anne all the time, because while we may be in the same location, physically, my mind is frequently off in some other place, its hands filled with soft mental clay that it hopes to shape into something recognizable. There’s a line in Stand By Me where Gordie’s son tells his friend that his dad gets weird when he’s writing. I’ve heard my own kids say that, and if I can confess something real quick … it always makes me happy to hear that.

While I worked on Leverage, I had a beer with John Rogers almost every night after wrap. We talked about all kinds of stuff, from D&D to comics to our wives to working in the entertainment industry. At least once a night, John would point out how lucky we are to have jobs where we get paid to make stuff up and entertain people. I couldn’t agree with him more.

LEVERAGE: day four

Woke up early yesterday and wrote for about an hour. Met Rogers and walked to a fantastic place for breakfast (forget the name of the place, but President Clinton ate there once and they have something named after him on the menu.) Had a delicious tofu scramble thing, and the most sensational French press coffee I've had since I got here.

Took Rogers to Powell's, because, he said, if we didn't go right then, he probably wouldn't make it there on his own. I couldn't let that happen, for obvious reasons. While we were there, I got a couple of the Fighting Fantasy books I loved so much when I was a kid: The Citadel of Chaos and Seas of Blood. Citadel of Chaos even has little kid writing on the character sheet inside.

"This could have been me," I said to John.

"I would have copied it onto an index card and written all the stats there, to keep the book pristine," he said. I remembered that I'd done exactly that with one of my Lone Wolf books, so I could keep the character more portable.

While we were talking, I had a little bit of a realization:

"I just realized why these books and these games are so important to me," I said, pointing to all the D&D books that surrounded us.

"During a childhood that was completely abnormal, filled with things that I didn't choose for myself, these games were something I chose to read and play. These games were part of my normal."

"Oh, so you were like everyone else who played D&D when they were a kid," John said.

I smiled. "I guess so, yeah."

We bought some books, looked like creeps when I wanted to walk into the kids' section to see if they had any classic Choose Your Own Adventure books (John, a little too-loudly: Why do you always want to go into the kids' section? You're a 36 year-old man! Me, much too-loudly: Because it's a great place to meet new people!) Sadly, they did not.

We walked back through Portland, and got to our hotel about fifteen minutes before a massive rainstorm showed up. I wrote for the next few hours (it always amazes me how much writing I get done when I'm on my own, away from home. I don't think about it too much, though, because I don't want to mess with whatever makes it work) before I met up with my sister, who I haven't seen since she moved here a year ago.

We spent the afternoon together dodging the rain (I sent this to Twitter: "Me: Okay, looks like the rain's let up. Guess I can go outside. The Rain: He's outside again! Resume downpour! AHAHAHAHA!!!!") and catching up. It was awesome, and totally the best part of an already-fantastic day.

I took her to the set to meet some of the cast and crew, and then I went on a local television show called The Square, which was a lot of fun. If you visit their site, you can watch me do my thing and see for yourself.

Then I went back to the hotel, finished reading SHATNERQUAKE (review forthcoming), enjoyed a lot of awesome Star Trek puns from followers on Twitter (UHURACANE, SULUNAMI, SPOCKALYPSE, TSUNIMOY, and DEFORESTFIRE among them search "@wilw" from last night if you want to see them all), and went to sleep happy; I really love being here.

LA Daily: A Gamer’s Arcade Memories

This Week's LA Daily was knocked out of my brain by 8 bits of sound this weekend:

My son is home from college, visiting briefly before he goes back
for his summer session, so I've been making a concerted effort to cram
as much writing as I can into limited working hours each day, so my
evenings are free to spend with him and the rest of our family. This
weekend, my wife and I took him out to dinner, where I found myself in
front of a Centipede arcade machine, drawn there by the unmistakable
sound of the player earning an extra guy.

Something caught in the mental driftnet, and I began to reel it in.
"I have to play this," I said, doing my best not to be as manic as
Richard Dreyfuss behind a pile of mashed potatoes.

They looked at each other, warily. "Okay…" my wife said.

I dropped a quarter into the slot, felt the trackball fit
comfortably beneath my right hand, and began to play. By the time the
first flea dropped, I'd retrieved a childhood memory from the early
'80s.

You can read the whole thing at the LA Weekly.