Tag Archives: D&D

High School Writer’s Workshop

Back in the long ago. Back in the beforetimes….

Specifically, back in 1990, I submitted a piece of writing to a contest. It was a first for me.

I didn’t go looking for the contest, a teacher mentioned it to me. So I decided to send something I’d already written for class. I was proud of my last paper, mostly because I’d gotten an A on it.

I looked at the contest’s different categories: Formal Essay, Short Story, Poetry… In the end I shrugged and I decided to call my piece of writing “Familiar Essay” and sent it in.

I didn’t hold out any high hopes for winning, but since I was a senior, I knew I should start thinking about colleges. And the prize for winning this contest was a thousand dollar scholarship to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.

UW-SP also offered something called the High School Writer’s Workshop. If your writing was good enough, you got to skip school for the day, hang out on a college campus, and, presumably, learn something about writing.

The end of the story probably isn’t what you’d expect. I didn’t win. I was a distant runner-up. I was invited to attend the writer’s workshop, but I didn’t go. I can’t remember why, but given that I was a bit of an idiot back then, it’s quite possible that I simply forgot.

I did apply to UW-SP, because if the winner didn’t collect the scholarship, it went to the next runner up. If *they* didn’t go to Point either, it would continue down the line.

UW-SP was the only college that I got around to applying to. Again, I can’t remember why, exactly. But again, it’s safe to say that I probably just didn’t think of it. Or I forgot. Or I was busy watching Twin Peaks and playing D&D with my friends. As I’ve already pointed out, I was a bit of an idiot.

Later on, long after the application deadline had passed, I also applied to UW-Madison. Despite my obvious inability to follow instructions or read a calender, I got accepted there too.

That meant I had to chose between Stevens Point and Madison. Two schools that I knew absolutely nothing about.

I picked Stevens Point for the simple reason that it was 100 miles away. Close enough for a visit home, but not *too* close, if you know what I mean.

It’s strange the little things that shape our lives. The small choices that turn out to be so big in hindsight.

As many of you know, I stayed at UW-SP for nine years, taking classes and generally having a great time. Later on, after I got my Masters Degree, I came back to teach for a while. It’s where I still live.

Two years ago, they let me run the fiction category of the High School Writer’s Workshop. Last year I was the keynote speaker at the event.

And this year, for the first time ever, they’ve added a new category: Speculative Fiction.

(For those of you who don’t know. Speculative Fiction is what academics call Fantasy and Sci-Fi.)

And guess who’s running this new category? That’s right, baby. Me.

So if you’re a high-schooler who lives in Wisconsin, and you like to write fantasy and such. You might want to check out this link to the brochure containing all the information you need to submit something. (Hint: You need your teacher to help you submit.)

The deadline for submissions is Oct 15th.

I can’t say for certain why I didn’t mention this on the blog earlier. It might be that I was busy with book two. It might be that I forgot. Or it could be that after all these years, I’m still a bit of an idiot…

Have a good weekend everybody,

pat

Posted in contests, musings, my dumbness | By Pat33 Responses

Mark Tremonti Signature Guitar – Signed by Creed

This is a Worldbuilders blog.

If you want details, click here.

Back in September, I got a piece of fanmail.

By itself, this isn’t that strange. A lot of folks contact me using the form on my website. A lot. While there are too many for me to reply to personally these days, I do read them all.

One thing I’ve learned by reading these messages is that a lot of different people read my book. Subconsciously, I always expect my readers to be like me. That’s to say I expect them to be youngish college students who are… well… kinda geeky.

(I know that I’m not *really* a college student anymore, but that’s still how I think of myself in my head. After spending 11 years in college, then teaching for a couple years, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to think of myself as anything other than a college student. In my head I’m also still in my twenties. And I’m thinner, too.)

But in the last couple years I’ve learned that not everyone who reads fantasy is a geek. Or at least not the sort of geek that I am. I’ve been contacted by soldiers in Iraq, lawyers, carpenters, politicians, a cage fighter, police, and aerospace engineers.

Well, the last one isn’t so surprising, actually. One of my my best friends in high school grew up to be an aerospace engineer, and we played D&D like nobody’s business.

The point is, by this point I should know better than to judge people by their profession. Geeks come in all shapes and sizes, and people aren’t defined by their jobs.

So back to the story: It’s September of last year, and I get an e-mail from Michael Tremonti. He tells me he’s Mark Tremonti’s brother and publicist. Apparently, Creed was going to be playing a show in Milwaukee, and they knew I lived in Wisconsin. So Michael was just dropping me a line to see if I’d like to come down, catch the show, and maybe hang out a little.

To be honest, at first I was pretty sure one of my friends had made a fake e-mail account and was screwing around with me. That seemed a lot more likely to me than a rockstar out there reading fantasy books. Aren’t Geeks and Rockstars diametrical opposites? Aren’t we supposed to be natural enemies in the wild?

It turns out we’re not. While e-mailing back and forth with Michael, he told me he and his brother used to play D&D in the basement just like the rest of us.

Again, I didn’t believe him. So they sent me this picture.


I am cowed by the might of your geekery, Mark. And I hereby promise never to question anyone’s geek heritage ever again. Not just D&D. But AD&D. That’s the real stuff. Back when the game was badass and you had to roll for things like parasitic infection when you traveled through a swamp.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it down to the show. This was back in September, and Sarah was big with baby. I knew if I drove down to Milwaukee, she’d go into labor. I was absolutely sure of it.

Still, we stayed in touch, and when I was starting to gather prizes for Worldbuilders, I dropped Michael a line and asked if they might be interested in donating a couple of signed CDs or something.

He replied, “How about we just give you a guitar instead?”

“What?” I said.



Thanks so much, Michael and Mark. This is really going above and beyond…

I have to say, all rockstar coolness aside, this is a really gorgeous guitar. Holding it, I was filled with a great desire to rock out.

Here’s the link to the auction.

This sort of thing is kinda unexplored territory for the fundraiser, as until now we’ve focused mostly on books and book-related stuff. So I’d appreciate it if y’all could help me spread the word a little bit. And sooner would be better than later, as the auction ends on January 15th.

Money raised by Worldbuilders goes to Heifer International, which helps people all over the world raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. If you’d like to donate directly you can head over to my page at Team Heifer and I’ll match your donation by 50%. Trust me. You’ll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want more information about the Worldbuilders fundraiser itself, you can head to the main page HERE.

With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

Posted in meeting famous people, music, Wierd Shit, Worldbuilders 2009 | By Pat20 Responses

Names Are Important Things…

So. A while back I mentioned I was going to be giving people the opportunity to get their name into book two.

Since then I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how I was going to accomplish this.

I considered an auction. I’ve seen that done a couple different ways by a couple different authors. It would be fairly simple, and it would be a good way to raise money for the upcoming Heifer fundraiser…. (Which is going to be even more awesome this year, by the way.)

However, something about the thought of an auction rubbed me the wrong way. It would be relatively easy to handle, and I’m all about raising money for Heifer. But still, it seemed odd for me to set up a system where the person with the most money automatically wins. That irks my egalitarian nature.

Plus, I had WAY too many imagined conversations along these lines:

Me: [on the phone] Congratulations! You won the auction!

Winner: Yay! I want to put my D&D character’s name into the book!

Me: What’s his name?

Winner: Studd Beefcake.

Me:

Winner: He’s awesome. He’s a dual class fighter/ranger. That means so long as he’s only wearing leather armor…

Me: I don’t think the name Studd Beefcake will fit smoothly into the world I’ve created.

Winner: How about my other character? Grignir Theqjirn’ateth.

Me: I beg your pardon? I think there was some static on the line…

Winner: Grignir Theqjirn’ateth. He’s a dwarven monk.

Me: Do you…

Winner: Stunning Fist!

Me: Yes. Stunning Fist. Do you have any ideas for names that aren’t your D&D characters?

Winner: Well… We could use my little boy’s name…

Me: That sounds great. What is it?

Winner: Drizzt.

Me: I think there are copyright issues involved…

Winner: Drizzt Do’Urden RULES! Wooo!

Me: I don’t think we can use Drizzt, either.

Winner: [Angrily] Why do you keep shooting down my awesome ideas? I paid, like, 4,000 dollars for this!

That’s how all these conversations end in my mind. With the auction winner feeling that because they’ve shelled out a bunch of money, they have the right to stick whatever they want in my book.

But that’s just not going to be the case. What will happen is you’ll win a chance to propose a name for book two. If the name you’re proposing sounds great to me, then huzzah. If not, the two of us will talk it over.

For example, maybe you want to get your girlfriend’s name into the book because you’re hoping it will get you that threeway you’ve always wanted. But her name is “Veronica” and that doesn’t quite feel right for my world.

So we start talking it over. Maybe we can use her middle name instead. Maybe we use her nickname and I tweak the character’s description a little bit so that it more closely resembles her. (Though I’ll probably do this a little bit anyway.)

Maybe I put a little twist on the name. “Veronia” would be fine for the book.

Or maybe you decide you’d rather use your own name after all. And it turns out I’m fine with that because your name is Ferrel and that’s exactly the sort of name that would fit on a Vintish Courtier, and I happen to be tweaking that section right now…

What I’m getting at here is that we’ll negotiate until we’re both happy with the addition to the book.

Anyway, the point is that I’ll be running this like a lottery. That way we can raise money for Heifer, AND everyone has a chance to win.

In fact, everyone will have *several* chances to win.

In fact, even people that can’t afford to buy their way in will have a chance to win.

Interested? Of course you are.

Tune in on Monday for the details.

Tantalizingly Yours,

pat

Posted in Heifer International, naming | By Pat65 Responses
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