Sunday, 21 January 2018

A new blog?

I'm considering starting a new blog. That's not to say this one will be abandoned, I owe it to my two loyal readers to keep the home-fires burning at the castle! But I am considering running a blog in addition to this one. Those who do read my posts here are probably wondering why I'd bother, given I update this one only a couple of times a month. So let me run through some of my thinking, and, if you have the time I'd value any additional thoughts in the comments!

The new blog would be specifically about writing. It would cover the things I have been working on, thoughts about the process, struggles I am having and resources I find or have found useful. Who knows, I might even post the occasional story or excerpt. My thought at this stage is that I would aim to update it every week, and posts may be short or long, but they would be specific to that topic.

Top of the list of reasons I am considering this is because the subject of the blog would be specific, whereas here they would be mixed in among a range of other subjects, primarily games and gaming. The other key reason is inspirational: I must be doing something in order to write about it. Having to write a post a week will hopefully give me a reason to keep pushing forward with the projects I am working on, and will serve as a way of charting my progress, even if only for myself.

I know from the statistic page that my posts on writing tend to get less attention than posts on games and gaming, so breaking that aspect out both helps me to concentrate my thinking on that subject in one place, and people who would like to read content related to that can more easily do so.

But then again, maybe I won't. Writing a blog post is a neat way for me to trick myself into believing I have written something, and while words are on a page, none of them are pushing a project forward. A part of me thinks the exercise would be little more than procrastination. I'm see-sawing between the yes and the no. If you are still reading this, and have an opinion on the matter, I'd appreciate reading it!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Hobby Goals for 2018

With my writing goals outlined, it is time to turn to my hobby...

Last year I had a variety of hobby goals, some of them I achieved, others I did not. This year I'm going to try and push a few things (like the podcast), and be a little more circumspect about others (game designs).

100 Unique Games

This is a goal I have had for the past couple of years, and have managed to accomplish. I'm not listing this one because I think it will be an easy victory, but because sometimes it makes me pause when I'm picking a game to play, and ask myself whether I wouldn't rather trying something I haven't played for a while. Usually the results are good - with new games arriving on a too regular basis it's good to try and get some of the older ones off the shelf as well. For those of you on, I am tracking the games I play throughout the year in a geeklist which can be found here.

Role Playing

Last year we managed to play with relative regularity, and this is something I'd love to continue into 2018. I have plans to continue the Symbaroum campaign we're currently playing. When that comes to a close (in a couple of adventures hence), I might shift to a different game system and setting for a while, and come back later in the year. Currently I'm looking Heavy Gear, Mythic Battles RPG, Feng Shui, and a couple of others. I have loved getting my role playing hat back on the last few years, and really hope this is something we can keep consistent with throughout 2018.

Miniature Painting

I had lofty goals last year, and managed to get nothing done. This year I hope to... well, to do something. I would ideally like to paint my Chronicles of Anyaral figures, Heavy Gear force, Yu Jing Infinity Force and my 15mm Gauls for Sword and Spear... but I know I won't be that productive. I would settle for just one of those. I think I am going to try first for the Chronicles of Anyaral. I love the look of the minis, and it's something my son and I could do together. Beyond that... who can say.

Minis Playing

The last miniatures game I played was Infinity, some months ago. [aghast intake of breath]. Yes, shame. There are a couple of games I'd really love to get to the table with some regularity this year: Sharp Practice, because it is one of my all time favourites, Dux Britanniarum, for the same reason. Sword and Spear, Kings of War, Chronicles of Anyaral (with my son), Infinity, and Kings of War Vanguard - which should be arrived from the Kickstarter later this year. Fingers crossed we manage some consistency with this. We shall see...

Gaming with the Family

Kids games...

Some classics my wife and I love...

Playing regular games (by which I mean almost every night) with my kids, and playing regular games with my wife. One: It's great bonding time, something nice to do as a family. Two: My wife and I used to play games all the time, and life got in the way. I would love to get games back to the table with the ones I love, it's social, enjoyable, and a great activity to slot into an evening before bed-time (or after the kids are in bed, for my wife and I).


Last year was the inaugural year for our local game convention. I am part of the committee, though what my role is remains a mystery to all involved, myself included. Nonetheless, and thanks mainly to the leadership of our fearless commander-in-chief Karl, as well as those on the committee who did things (Nath, Matt, Will et al), it was a resounding success. This year we hope to increase numbers and generally improve on the whole event. If you're an Aussie - come along and have a great time. You can find the website with information here.


Well, I'll be honest. 2017 was a bit of a let down. Quinton and I had intended to get On Minis Games rolling, and life interceded. We didn't manage it. This year we're hoping to do what we hoped for last year - 2 episodes a month. We already have two recorded, the first of which will hopefully be soon. You can find information about our podcast (including the RSS link) here. We'll be covering mainly miniature games, with a sprinkling of RPGs and Boardgames as well...

Well, that about rounds out my hobby related goals for 2018. Looking back, I think it is more than enough to keep me occupied. Fingers crossed I managed to tick a few more of these goals off than last year!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Writing Goals for 2018

It has taken me a little time to come back to the blog with some clear thoughts on what to write next. Logically speaking, given the last few posts centered around looking back at 2017, and that the new year is underway, the thing to do would be to add a few posts detailing my goals for the coming year. Fairly straightforward really. A few things have held me back. First and foremost of course is the need to solidify in my own mind what the goals for the coming year should be. Should they be a repeat of last years, flow from them, seek to improve on them, focus on those things I struggled with... But there were other thoughts too, as you will read below.

So, this post details my writing goals for 2018, some of them are a continuation from last year, some wholly new.

Freelance Writing

Readers of my blog may know that I have, for the past few years, worked as a freelance writer for Spartan Games and Modiphius Entertainment. The last half of 2017 was devoted to working on the Infinity Role Playing Game line, writing background material for upcoming sourcebooks, adventures and the like. I have work still to do, and am very much looking forward to continuing my efforts with Modiphius.

Since I have a better handle on my rhythms as a writer, and I have a bit more experience in regards to both what I need to do and how to go about doing it, I am hoping this work continues throughout the year. I have loved working on the Infinity line, I have also done a little for the Star Trek RPG, and hopefully will have the opportunity to write for various of their other product lines.

My key goal here is to keep at it. Keep writing, keep working, and keep enjoying the process. I have loved every minute of the work I have done so far, and have been lucky enough to work with some absolutely wonderful, helpful and inspiring people. Here's to 2018 being bigger and better than an already enjoyable 2017! Many thanks too to the boffins at Modiphius, it has been a pleasure!


For the last two years I have had the goal of blogging at least twice a month. Ideally I'd like to increase that to once a week. But in all honesty I think that when work gets busy I will find myself struggling with the time to do so. So, here's to a carefully constructed escape clause: my ideal goal for 2018 is to blog four times a month, and my realistic goal is that I will blog twice a month. A bit wishy-washy, but there you have it. My journal will include four tick boxes instead of two next to my monthly goals, but if I don't manage to tick them all I'll be content with two.

A Novel

My hesitation in writing this post stems mainly from this goal. I felt a level of reservation. By articulating that something is a goal I am placing an expectation on myself; that I will endeavor to follow it up; to do something about it. This goal is particularly personal, and since I place an emotional value on it, any failure to achieve it would be disappointing. Better perhaps to not vocalise it, to keep it hidden, to toil in silence... In this way there is no chance of failure, no chance of falling short, and any inability to achieve it can be safely directed away from any real emotional consequence because it was never really a goal, was it?

In the end though, if it is truly something I want to achieve some action must be taken. If I want to do a thing then I must begin.

This year my aim is to write a novel manuscript.

There. I said it.

I have a whole collection of short stories, novellas and even two novel manuscripts, one only about 20,000 words, the other close to completion, sitting on my hard drive. But none are finished. None are at a point where I would be happy to send them off for an editor, publisher or agent to look at. Some of them are dated from when I was doing my writing course back at the turn of the century, and that was a younger me, with less experience. My goal this year is to write the manuscript for a novel. To have it finished. To have it between 80,000 and 120,000 words. To edit it, and otherwise have it in a state where it is 'ready' (well, ready to be cut apart by an editor).

I have started. I am reading books on structure and writing again. I am listening to writing podcasts. I have a collection of ideas I like (too many). I have written short descriptions and outlines for each. I have the stories mulling and stewing in the back of my mind, refining and being refined. I have even pitched them to a few people to see what ideas seemed to resonate and what didn't (thank you to those people, really). My next steps in this endeavor center around cutting this list of ideas down to one. To outline, plan, plot, characterise and all the other necessary things, and then lastly, to write it.

It has been stated; at least; at last. We shall see...

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Looking Back - Favourite Books Read in 2017

I used to read voraciously, but life, work and hobbies have all conspired to make it easy for me to devote time to other things the last few years, and I haven't been reading as much as I would like. I made a conscious decision in 2016 to try and read more books again, and while the number read in total hasn't been anywhere near what I used to get through, it has been better than the few years before I made that commitment.

This year I have a range of different books, for myself, to my kids at night, and out loud to my class. I have tried to make sure I review many of the books I have read over the course of the year, and you can find those either on Good Reads, or by clicking on the 'books' tag at the bottom of this post.

So, without wasting too many more words, what are the best books I have read in 2017?

First and foremost, the book I most often think about since finishing is Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. You can read my review here if you're interested in more details.

Children of Time is something I keep coming back to because of the juxtaposition of the two stories that unfold. It reads like a real and thoughtful examination of the human condition, and represents both the best and worst our species is capable of. The story is different, one set of characters are alien and strange, and yet it works. The rise of civilisation charted throughout this book is measured equally against the slow disintegration of a microcosm of our own. All the characters are interesting and engaging, the story dramatic and full of highs and lows. All in all it is a book I enjoyed a lot. I thoroughly recommend looking it up, and have been very glad to note that the author, Adrian Tchaikovsky, has stated on Twitter that he is working on a sequel.

My absolute favourite book read this year has been Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by J.K. Rowling. 

I actually read this twice, once to my class and once to my son. My class enjoyed it, which was nice, but my son went from not being interested in reading this 'strange' book, to absolutely adoring it. We're currently reading Chamber of Secrets, and he is loving the Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle card game (recommended).

The moment where Harry faced down Quirell would have to be one my favourite parts of year, not just reading. My son, rapt, was sitting in his bed disbelieving. Genuinely upset at the betrayal and twist. This book changed his attitude to reading, and it was an absolute joy to be a part of that.

Harry Potter is a wonderful story, and never seems to fail in drawing readers in and capturing their imagination and their hearts - it certainly did mine, and my son was no different. It was an absolute pleasure to read this to him.

The most interesting book I read this year was Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I read this book to my class on recommendation from another teacher (thanks Tara). I was skeptical, I'll be honest. But wow. I am a convert. This book was a revelation, to myself and the kids in class both. I am not sure if I have read a book that genuinely revolted, amused, and fascinated a class more than this. Killing and butchering an animal, making cheese, playing with a corn-cob doll; all the simple every day things that consumed the lives of the Wilder family in their time in that log house was an eye-opening adventure back in time. What a wonderful book and window into another era this book is.

The most influential book I read this year was Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen.

A classic tale of survival, where a boy is pitted against nature itself in an epic quest just to survive. This book contains everything one would expect of a survival story, and is brutal in its exposition. The kids in my class were equally delighted and horrified by it. Why was it most influential? I read it out loud. The rhythm and cadence of the book is sublime. The repetition pounds the message home. The short sentences combined with long sentences and repeating phrases call to be read aloud and make the book a fascinating experience. The story is good, but the writing is fascinating. I loved it.

So, in short order there are some of my favourite books read of 2017. Not all new and shiny, some old and dusty, in fact, but all good books and thoroughly recommended.