Thursday, August 23, 2012

GENCON 2012...The Experience

Here's what I was doing end of last week and beginning of this case you were worried.

The bad: Surprise, surprise! The hotel and accommodations again were less than spectacular and extremely overpriced. I got slammed with a valet parking bill that was added to my bill daily for $28.00 per day. Holy crap. Lesson learned the hard way again. Oh, well.

Hey, that's my book!
hey, that's my name!

The good: Everything else!

What can I say? Awesome. That’s what.

I had an incredible time! Aside from my hotel bill…again…which I cannot seem to do anything about.

I met some amazingly interesting people that I must say were very cool. I met Jason Klimchok, (@runnetib on twitter) a fellow author who found me in Author’s Avenue and introduced himself. Very cool of him to seek me out and say hello. Mr. Erik Scott de Bie, he of the Forgotten Realms fame (game designer and author) and Shadowbane fame, made his way over to my table to chat before he went off to sign books himself in the D&D booth. I also had breakfast on Sunday with Mr. De Bie, which I will detail a bit later.

I met and introduced myself to Jeanette LeGault who runs the whole thing and who was responsible for getting me in this year. She was very kind and spared time even though she was constantly busy.

my table at GENCON 2012
Special kudos to my son, who was with me all four days (way to go, Nick!) and who endured the 10+ hour drive both up and back with me. We had a great time bonding, which I will treasure always. Nick was awesome as my ‘booth monkey’ as he so eloquently put it.

I met fellow author Chris Jackson (@ChrisAJackson1 on twitter) and his wife (Anne, I believe) and they were very nice to me as well. I sat across the way from Tammy Blackwell, a librarian and fellow author who is writing an incredibly popular coming of age series about Seers and Werewolves, which I would check out. She can be found here: Tammy was also kind enough to gift a copy of her book to my wife, who I believe will enjoy it. 

I also gave some books away to librarians, interested book bloggers and a young woman who gave me this 'token of appreciation'.

my token of appreciation
Some of the people that I met come to mind when I write this that made an impact. I met a British fella named Adam that I really enjoyed talking to. Another long-haired college kid I chatted with a few times made an impression, though I cannot remember his name. A woman named Jeanette who purchased the books was extremely nice and she came back to snap a pic of me the next day (very flattering...I think?). I met a couple who chatted with me about Pathfinder for about an hour named Blake? he and his wife are inspiring me to possibly make a Realm of Ashenclaw RPG supplement for Pathfinder... might be coming.

Here are the best two experiences. I met a man named Tony Rodriguez who wanted the books and purchased them from me on Saturday and had me sign them to his son, Alex. He happened to bring Alex in on Sunday and he was happy to meet me, told me he’d read up to chapter 6 that morning and was loving it. Wow! That made my day. And it got better. The second was a man named Scott, who had downloaded Wothlondia Rising: The Anthology (The short story prequels) to his kindle. He went out of his way to come back on Sunday morning to tell me that he was 94% through the book and thought it was amazing…and that he had downloaded the other two books that morning!

I was again completely humbled by their expressions of how I had affected two different people in such a great way. I felt honored that they had chosen me and my writing in order to escape from reality. I was honored that they both entered into my Realm of Ashenclaw with open arms and with an open mind. I cannot express in words how that makes me feel as an author and a human being.

So, on to my breakfast meeting with Erik Scott De Bie on Sunday. I must tell you that it was a tale of mishaps and odd misunderstandings as Erik and I exchanged texts as to where to meet, but after an hour, we finally caught up at a Starbucks there. Interestingly enough, Erik is a rather tall and imposing individual and carries himself very well in conversation. That being said, Erik and I talked about many things. The most memorable to me was his advice. He gave me some constructive criticisms, advice on becoming a better writer and talked to me as a peer. I cannot tell you what his respect means. He not only gave me the critique, but he also made a point to give me the good news, and I am paraphrasing, but, it included the following: My covers were eye-catching and consistent, my branding and logo (Realm of Ashenclaw) was extremely professional and most importantly, that my writing was compelling. He went out of his way to say that I was passionate about my work, that he thought I was on to something and that he was happy to see what I was able to do as an independent author.

All of this was extremely humbling to hear from an author who works for Ed Greenwood and Dungeons & Dragons. After we parted ways, I went back to my booth for the last day and Erik stopped back one more time to gift me a copy of an anthology that he had contributed on for GenCon, which was above and beyond. I highly recommend any fans of fantasy to check him out and follow his writing, as I believe he is worthy of being included in the Forgotten Realms gaggle of writers.

Go buy his stuff! Erik’s site is here if you are interested in seeing what he is up to.

Well, that about wraps up my details. Next post will include pics of all of the scenes and costumes that I was able to get! Stay tuned.

Oh, and all of my books are currently resting at 99 cents on the kindle for a post-GENCON sale! Go download 'em before I come to my senses and raise the

Hugs and kicks,

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Blackrazor by any other name...

Continuing the theme of books that influenced DnD (and therefore my writing!) the next one I thought I’d tackle was Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. A lot of Moorcock’s work in the sixties and seventies probably had a direct influence on Gygax and the other creators of the game, not least the Corum sequence and the two Hawkmoon series (The Runestaff quartet, and the Chronicles of Count Brass trilogy), but undoubtedly Elric was a key one.

Everyone who played the game in the early Eighties with me knew of Elric, although only a few of us had read it. The RPG Runequest had a particular supplement relating to Elric as I recall, and since then I think there has been a specific game around him. I got around to reading the Fantasy Masterworks collection of Elric last year, and enjoyed it. I could see why it had appealed to so many people, although I’ve never really got into Moorcock’s style (I did enjoyed Dancers at the End of Time).

Moorcock is often quoted as saying he wrote Elric as a direct opposition to the traditional fantasy works of Tolkien and RE Howard (he famously described Lord of the Rings as akin to a fantasy Winnie the Pooh). Elric, in his original inception in the nine short stories that comprised Stormbringer (re-published by Fantasy Masterworks as ‘Elric’) is a superb anti-hero. He starts the stories leading an attack upon on his own kingdom, he then proceeds to (admittedly inadvertently at times) chop up all his mates, and he becomes addicted to his magical sword, Stormbringer. Perfect for the Sixties, when people wanted their heroes rather more flawed than the idealistic Fifties!

The influence on the game is overt in a number of areas. The DnD alignment system owes a large debt to the concept of Law and Chaos that Moorcock used, although this in itself was probably evolved from Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions (which I’ll review next time). Moorcock took it further, and this battle between the two forces was the key plotline in the later part of the Elric saga (and continued in parts of the Eternal Champion sequence). Law and Chaos are balanced by Neutrality (the Cosmic Balance) and in his books the Eternal Champion served the Cosmic Balance. Moorcock created deities aligned to both Law and Chaos that feature in his books. It’s easy to see how the addition of good and evil created the 9 alignments in AD&D.

Stormbringer, a runeblade that is essentially a Chaos demon in sword form, was a major aspect of Elric’s saga. It was a mighty sword that could chop through anything and drank life energy to sustain Elric, in a vampyric fashion. Its sibling blade was ‘Mournblade’ which had similar powers. In the DnD game the idea of life-drinking magic swords was most obviously emulated in White Plume Mountain (S2), which to my gang was the most frequently played module next to B2: Keep on the Borderlands. I’ve still got the original pale-orange covered one at home! The sword in question was Blackrazor, one of the three personalised magic weapons in the adventure. The author of the module, Lawrence Schick, later admitted he was embarrassed by his blatant rip-off of Stormbringer (he’d thrown the module together from his favourite bits of his own scenarios). Personally I thought it was awesome, and each time we played it there was a full-on scrabble for the soul-drinking sword.

The more subtle influence of Elric on the game was the adventuring aspects of the books. Elric has a group of companions—Moonglum, Dyvim, Rackhir—with whom he adventures, fulfilling ‘missions’ and ‘quests.’ We also had a healthy collection of opposing sorcerers, and a few monsters chucked in for good measure.

There’s a criticism of Moorcock’s Elric books that the characters can be a little flat, and the dialogue a little cheesy, but I think if you read them as a fun fantasy read in instalments (as they can get a touch ‘samey’) then you’ll not go far wrong. And let’s face it we all wanted to have a character as cool as Elric... soul-drinking sword, hot-line to demons to save your arse in a fight, a goth-look that the lasses adored... perfect.

Next up... torn between Fritz Lieber and Poul Anderson....Thieves vs. Paladins...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Start by going to my REALM OF ASHENCLAW FAN PAGE! 

SHARE THE POST pinned at the top of the page on YOUR OWN FACEBOOK PAGE for 1 chance to WIN

It reads:
≫ Let your imagination loose! Leave this world and escape to mine: Book 1 in the Beginnings series contains 6 short story prequels that give a glimpse into the history of my main characters in WOTHLONDIA RISING: THE ANTHOLOGY! Or jump right into the full-length novels with Book 2 of the saga: COVENANT OF THE FACELESS KNIGHTS. Continue the epic journey with SECRETS OF THE EBONITE MINES! Don’t have a kindle? Don’t worry, here is the direct link for downloading kindle apps to any of the following devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, Windows 7 phone, Windows, Mac, iPAd, Android Tablet and they even have a cloud reader. ≪

Don’t want the kindle versions? Check them out in PRINT on CreateSpace!
☞ Wothlondia Rising: The Anthology
☞ Covenant of the Faceless Knights
☞ Secrets of the Ebonite Mines

CONTEST GUIDELINES: Like  My Fan Page page (if you haven’t already) and share the post pinned at the top of the page on your wall for a chance to be entered to win one of three prizes!

Click SHARE to get your name entered! 

Contest ends on Halloween, October 31, 2012! I will announce the winners right here and on my Realm of Ashenclaw Fan Page!

❖ If you would like MORE CHANCES TO WIN, here’s how ❖

Purchase any one of my books, copy and paste the Amazon Order Summary section of your receipt into the 'How may we help you’ box on my CONTACT PAGE. Fill in your name and email and I will enter your name again! If you buy all three, now you have 3 more chances to win!

❖ Want even one more chance to win? 
All you have to do is leave a review for any one of my books and send an email to with the link for the review. It’s that simple!

What the readers are saying...
❝Covenant of The Faceless Knights was an epic read that kept me turning the page❞
❝Gary Vanucci is an author to read now and look out for in the future. He has a unique approach to fantasy with his intricate characterization and his eye for the unpredictable❞
❝The writing style and everything was top-notch and I would rate it at ten stars if I could.❞
❝Strong combat scenes will keep you on the edge of your seat.❞
Best of luck!