Stop! Look! Listen!


Merry Christmas to all my Twitch viewers, book readers, and audiobook listeners! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday. Gifts are not a big part of my holiday experience, but here’s wishing that you received many treasures this month.

Year’s end is a time for reflection. I was unable to meet all my creative goals in 2017, but that’s okay. This past year felt like I was moving my pieces around a war game board to set up for a future attack. The time I did have free was dedicated mainly to my broadcasts on Twitch. They’re what I enjoy most at the moment and I hope that you will stop by, say hello, and become a follower. (On Twitch I go by the name TalkingTowhee – towhees are the birds shown in the Christmas card above!)

But there are newsworthy items I wanted to let you know about as 2017 draws to a close. First, STOP by Drivethrurpg.com .

Traps Bazaar, one of my gaming projects from way back in 1994 is available again as a digital download. Can your dungeon party survive this collection of devious traps specially curated by Grimtooth the troll and young Grimtina? I think not!

Next, take a LOOK at what’s coming in January at MarsCon in Williamsburg, VA. Here’s a sneak peek at the table of contents for Go Ahead and Howl, the werewolf anthology to benefit the Heritage Humane Society. Weather permitting, I will be at the convention on Saturday, January 13 for a signing, so look for me at the Dreampunk Press table.

Lastly, have a LISTEN to this interesting interview with my City of the Gods Universe creative partner Steve Crompton on The Susan Harmon Hour. Steve talks about the City of the Gods, mythology and more. You can hear this free at Soundcloud.com. Skip to the 31:37 mark to jump right to Steve’s interview.

I wish you all the best for 2018. My next update will come in late January with a look at what’s on the horizon for Spring.

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Seeing My Shadow

groundhogday Happy Groundhog Day! The little critter saw his shadow, so legend decrees that winter will hang on for six more weeks. I’ll treat that as an extended creative deadline, for when spring and warmer weather come along it’s even harder for me to keep myself at work at my writing desk. My list of unfinished projects drag behind me like a darkening shadow, things that I would like to complete yet am having trouble devoting time to. I suppose that’s the mixed blessing of having so many interests that not all of them get the same attention.

Despite my lack of drive, progress has been made on several fronts. The City of the Gods: Forgotten audiobook production continues and is in its 30th chapter. I am also working with the Awkward Compliments team for an April relaunch of the game at RavenCon, and writing progresses with glacial slowness on City of the Gods: Ambassador.

In addition, I have launched the epic undertaking of streaming Planet Coaster builds of City of the Gods properties on Twitch TV. Here’s a look at the Royal Hotel from D’Molay’s neighborhood in the City, The Settlement. The concept is based on item 51 on the map from the City of the Gods Map pack (inset). This build is still in progress and currently contains over 1,100 pieces. Next month I’ll show you what it looks like inside! Click the picture to view a larger image.

royal-hotel-progress

I Know What I Like

I spent the end of the summer learning how to live stream and integrate my content into Twitch TV’s gaming platform. Now that I have been broadcasting my  video game show nine hours a week for over two months, I can honestly say that streaming is my favorite way to interact with followers. I’m “talkingtowhee” on Twitch. Here’s my channel banner:

channel-offline-coaster-farm-banner

When viewers enter my chat room during a show, I can speak directly to them, find out their interests, and engage them personally. Twitter follows and Facebook likes seem so hollow in comparison to an actual conversation — not that I discount that support, but unless a comment is included with a thumbs up I have only a general idea why my content interested you. And it’s rare that a writer gets a chance to go in depth with a reader about particularly pleasing elements of a work.

In contrast, broadcasting is instantly rewarding, unlike writing. But handling live feedback requires a degree of extroversion and flexible social skills that some creative folks lack. Occasionally a troll will spawn in the chat room, or some awkward person will say something uncomfortable. But that’s easily dealt with, and uneven chat sessions don’t have the staying power of negative reviews. Streaming has also confirmed I have “the gift of gab.” No one wants to watch a boring, mostly quiet stream. I’ve found I can chatter on to the camera easily for the three hour time slots of my shows.

My streams have been visited by gamers from all over the world. Many of them have become regular viewers. I haven’t run into any negativity or criticism or judgment which has been a breath of fresh air when compared to some of the writing world’s elitism.

Once “City of the Gods” is completed, I may put books permanently on the shelf. I find myself drawn creatively to the mobile gaming and streaming world at this time. We’ll see what 2017 has in store for me. In the meantime, grab yourself a free Twitch viewing account and come say hello during one of my streams. You can also view short highlights at the same link below.

“Talking Towhee’s No Kill Zone” broadcast schedule: Monday, 8-11 AM EST — Wednesday, 7-10 PM EST — Friday, 1-4 PM EST. View live on Twitch TV: https://www.twitch.tv/talkingtowhee

Dragon Con, A Fall Update, & Twitch Debut

I'm ready for battle at Dragon Con 2016! Photo By Hacklight Photography

Ready for battle at Dragon Con 2016! Photo By Hacklight Photography

Another Dragon Con has come and gone, and it remains the best (and only) convention I always try to attend. Recently I was asked what makes it different from any of the other big events such as San Diego Comic Con, NYCC, PAX, Wizard’s World, etc. The easiest way to answer this is to look at the structure. While other large conventions are built around the guests, the products (movies, comics, etc.), and a centralized mass gathering place (convention hall), Dragon Con is a widespread “Winchester House” of creative people whose contributions to the event spill out into the streets of Atlanta, all day and night, for almost a week of wonder. For many who attend, the questions aren’t “what star am I going to see?” or “what am I going to buy?” They’re “what crazy event will I run for my fellow (insert media) fans?” or “what cosplay photo shoot will I organize” or “what can I teach new fans who are interested in the same things as me?”

These are the building blocks of Dragon Con: the attending fans. Fans drive the programming tracks. Fans host gatherings for hundreds of specialized interests. Fans march in the biggest parade the city of Atlanta hosts each year. The event schedule for this year’s con was 112 pages long. There were panels, parties, costume contests, meet-ups, autographs, shopping, gaming, concerts, wrestling, robot battles, stage performances, puppetry, films, and that’s just scratching the surface. To sum up, Dragon Con is a 24/7 event that has the music and revelry of Mardi Gras, the crazed creativity of Burning Man, every elective class you ever wanted to take in college, and the joy and sometimes awkwardness of a huge, happy family reunion.

There are a ton of great videos about Dragon Con 2016 circulating on YouTube already, so check them out. I am working on one of my own and will update this post with the link when it is available. And I’ll try to stop thinking about Dragon Con (only 350 days to the next one!) and get back to work.

Project updates:

  • Writing of City of the Gods Ambassador is still cranking along.
  • The audio book of City of the Gods: Forgotten has been recorded through Chapter 20.
  • The Kickstarter for Awkward Compliments ran throughout August. Unfortunately, it did not succeed.

Goal Attained!
One of my goals for 2016 was to begin streaming live video gameplay on Twitch TV. There was a big learning curve to achieve this. I had to figure out how to livestream and even buy a better computer to make it happen. Broadcasting “on the fly” is exciting and fun. If you would like to check out my channel you can find out all about it here. Or search for the user talkingtowhee if you’re viewing on your Roku. I’d love it if you would follow my channel and hang out in the chat room with me. As I gain a viewer base I’ll be doing giveaways and posting lots of fun creative content.