Donald J. Bingle's Blog

June 11, 2018

Today is the official release date for Wet Work, my latest Dick Thornby Thriller. It is also the re-release date for the first Dick Thornby tale, Net Impact (now with a snazzy new cover).

So, for those of you who don't like to bother with Kickstarters or pre-orders, you can now get both titles in ebook format or print the regular way on Amazon, bn.com, and Kobo. Heck, Net Impact even has an audio version (though I am still working on getting them to update the cover). Links follow:


Net Impact, Amazon: http://a.co/beSzrUf
Net Impact, Nook, bn.com: https://read.barnesandnoble.com/book/...
Net Impact, Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/net-...
Net Impact, Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Ne...

Wet Work, Amazon: http://a.co/1qni4lH
Wet Work, Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wet-...
Wet Work, Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wet-...
Wet Work, PRINT: http://a.co/2il1eWS

For those of you who have already gotten and read their book(s), thanks so much. Reviews are welcomed on the site of your favorite bookseller or on Facebook, Goodreads, or your favorite blog.

Aloha,

Don
Writer on Demand TM
www.donaldjbingle.com
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Published on June 11, 2018 13:06 • 29 views • Tags: amazon, audible, cover, kindle, kobo, nook, novel, release, spy, thriller

May 6, 2018

For those of you obsessing today over the queue for event registration for GenCon 51, going beserk over the minutes that have gone by without complete satisfaction, please do remember there was a time (yes, in those distant dark years before computers were everywhere) when GenCon's pre-registration booklet was sent out by mail. Worse yet, it was bulk mail, which meant wide variability on when different people in different places would get it. Worst, your registration (with check for fees) had to be sent in by mail (don't get me started on the fiasco of fax submission).

That meant that when you got the bulk mail pre-registration form, you immediately started planning your schedule (I always started by creating a grid of RPGA events, semis, and finals because that is what I did every day eight to noon, noon to four, four to eight, and eight to midnight). No key word searches--just read the booklet and write things down. Make up a schedule, write it on the form (complete with event number), calculate your fees, write a check, make out an envelope, stamp it, then rush to the post office to get it in the mail as soon as possible.

One year I was out of town on business when the booklet came in, so my wife called me at the hotel that evening and we worked out our schedules on the phone for a couple hours so she could send things in first thing the next morning.

Though nerve-wracking, this process was generally effective in getting me the events I wanted ... until the unthinkable happened. You see, one year the folks at TSR got the forms back from all of the compulsive types on the first possible reply date, opened them, cashed all the checks, then lost/discarded/fireballed? the forms without processing them. I knew there was trouble when I saw my check had been cashed but I was mailed no tickets. Frantic calls trying to fix the situation did nothing to help. And so, I arrived at the University of Wisconsin Parkside the Wednesday afternoon before GenCon with no tickets. By the time I got there in the afternoon, the line for onsite event registration was already mammoth and it would not open until 8 a.m. on Thursday. Sure, it was a friendly crowd (except when the guy with bagpipes played for too long in one spot) and many, many gamers I know met lifelong friends in that line, but that line would not get me the games I wanted. Worse yet, the entire onsite process was pretty much a disaster in those days.

You see, they would put up these giant pegboards with pegs on them. Each peg would have the pre-printed tickets for a given event hung on the peg (one-hole punch). In the room with the pegboards, there would also be a giant blackboard at the side with a list of sold out events listed by event number only. People would be let into the room ten or twelve at a time and would submit lists of six or so events to runners, who would then go look on the peg boards for the events and grab tickets, which could then be purchased near the exit. You had five minutes in the room, then were shuffled out with whatever you had managed to snag. There was a lot of pressure to get your first ask correct, because there was little time to figure out and ask for any replacement for a sold out ticket.

Worse yet, since there were many single run, non-sanctioned events which were not in the pre-registration booklet, you had to do this on the fly once you got the onsite registration booklet, which they didn't give you until you got in the door and were in the last thirty feet of the line before you got shuffled in to make your selections. No pressure, no pressure at all.

That wasn't going to work for me. No way, no how. But, what to do? Well, my brother, Rich, and I (probably Linda, too) wandered around the building at Parkside trying to get in so we could make our plea about lost forms to someone with authority. It being a large public building, we eventually got inside. In the course of our wanderings, we managed to snag a couple of the onsite registration booklets. SCORE! After plotting out our events, we then found some crazy busy TSR functionary and made our plea for special treatment because of the lost forms. No go, but they had lots of work which needed to be done before morning, so we struck a deal. We would carry product into the dealers' room and sort tickets for the pegboards ALL NIGHT for the privilege of getting to walk up to the table for on-site event registration right before they opened the door to the public.

That's how I got to be first (or maybe second, behind Rich) in line for event registration at GenCon thirty-five or so years ago. We worked all night and they were continuing to work us without respite as the sun rose. In fact, they would have continued to work us for a number of more hours, except at five minutes to eight, we just stopped what we were doing and walked up to the table for event registration with our lists in hand. The people in line outside the glass doors were not exactly happy we did so, since they'd been there for the better part of a day and night, but they hadn't been carrying boxes and sorting tickets. Heck, they might have even gotten some sleep.

So, when you pressed the button on your computer today for event registration for GenCon 51 and had to wait thirty, forty, or even more minutes for the computer to tell you what events you got, after doing your wish list with keyword sorting at a relaxing pace over the last several weeks, don't expect too much sympathy from me. First, I was there right along with you--I got only 4 of my 11 events after having hit the submit key within a second of it becoming active. But, more importantly, even though I spend more time writing than gaming now (www.donaldjbingle.com), I've been there with you for close to forty years and I have old, single-hole punched, pegboard tickets to prove it.

Donald J. Bingle
RPGA# 19722

P.S. You can pre-order my latest spy thriller, Wet Work, on Amazon at http://a.co/a1DBWjr .
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Published on May 06, 2018 10:35 • 231 views • Tags: event, gencon, pre-registration, registration, rpga, tickets

April 14, 2018

Most of you who know me know that I played a lot of table-top roleplaying game tournaments during the last twenty years of the last century. Not just the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons (mostly AD&D, 2nd Ed.), but Boot Hill, Shadowrun, Paranoia, Timemaster, Chill, Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, and many, many more. Depending on how you count things, I played 460 (sometimes multi-round) RPGA tournaments in about sixty different game systems and settings and was the world's top-ranked player of classic RPG tournaments for fifteen years. This included playing many spy roleplaying adventures, like Top Secret and James Bond.

Around thirty years ago, my brother Rich and I wrote a James Bond spoof adventure for the RPGA. The actual writing occurred on the heels of watching all seventeen James Bond movies then existing in a marathon back-to-back video binge starting one Friday evening and ending a few minutes before midnight on Sunday (necessitating a quick dash to the Blockbuster to avoid late fees).

While watching, we filled out questionnaires on each of the movies, keeping track of things like most bullets fired without reloading and stupidest gadget (the heroin flavored banana on a shelf in Q's lab was my favorite of the latter). Our adventure included an opening action sequence, title credits, mission briefing, and selection of gadgets before getting down to the serious business of a preposterous plot, unnecessary parade, and secret villain's lair. The plot involved the various incarnations of 007 being sent to find the Queen’s kidnapped dog.

We had a fun time writing the scenario and running it at GenCon and a few other places, but then set it aside. Oh, sure, we tried to peddle it to Victory Games, the folks who put out the James Bond Roleplaying Game, but were told that "the James Bond Roleplaying Game is a serious game system." (This, from the people who put out an RPG with five-step seduction rules.) Victory Games had no intention of putting out any modules not based on the movies (you know, adventures where the players wouldn't already know the plot). They suggested submitting it to Tales of the Floating Vagabond, but that was a rejection, too.

I always thought the adventure would make a good screenplay, but didn’t really know what to do with it (this was pre-Austin Powers days), so sat on the notion for several years until I saw Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. My “eureka” moment came when I realized the adventure could be turned into an Ace Ventura sequel. I wrote it up (formatting it without buying screenplay formatting software—a mistake that resulted in much tedium), naming it “For Queen and Queenie.”

I did my research, locating Jim Carrey’s agent’s name (there is a phone number at SAG which will get you contact information for actors’ agents). Knowing better than to fall for the amateur trap of sending off an unsolicited manuscript, I sent off a query letter to the agent. Sure, Ace Ventura 2 had just come out, but I just took that as confirmation that the franchise was open to sequels.

Imagine my surprise and delight a few days later when I got a call from Jim Carrey’s agent’s assistant du jour asking if I could send in the full screenplay for review. I said “Yes.” (No duh!) A quick trip to FedEx and my script was off to Hollywood, as requested. Then I waited. And I waited some more.

Now, I know not to harass people who are reviewing my writing—they generally don’t have the time to put up with anxious writers and unwanted contact is a sign of an amateur. But, after six weeks I called and got the agent’s latest assistant du jour, told him I didn’t want to be a pest, but wanted to know the status of the review of my screenplay. He consulted his notes/computer (who can tell over the phone?) and informed me that my screenplay had been forwarded on to Jim Carrey’s manager for consideration and that they’d be getting back to me one way or the other.

I was ecstatic. What could be cooler than finding out your screenplay had been forwarded by a big agent at one of Hollywood’s biggest agencies to a world-famous actor’s manager? I’ll tell you what. Finding that out the day before you go to your high school reunion, so when people ask you what's new you can say “My screenplay just got sent by Jim Carrey's agent to his manager for consideration.” Worth the effort of writing the screenplay just to say that.

Then six weeks more went by. I called the agent again and got yet another new assistant du jour. Asked the same question I’d asked the last time around and, after a few moments of paper shuffling (or keyboard tapping), got the same response. But, this time I was ready for a follow-up question. “So, let me make sure I understand this correctly,” I said. “This means that someone—most likely a reader—read my screenplay and liked it well enough to recommend it to [famous agent], who then either read it or a summary of it and liked it well enough to send it on to Jim Carrey’s agent for Jim Carrey to consider. Right?”

There was a brief moment of silence that stretched to eternity. “Yes,” came the reply. “But you need to understand something. Jim Carrey’s agent is notoriously slow. We will get back to you, one way or the other, but it could be a while.”

So, I waited some more. About a month or so later, I saw that Jim Carrey was supposed to be on The Tonight Show, so I tuned in. After some opening jovialities, Jay Leno says “So, I understand you’re between projects. What do you do with your time?”

Jim: “Well, I'm supposed to be reading. My manager sent over a big pile of screenplays for me to read.” He makes a motion indicating a stack about three feet high. I imagine my screenplay two feet from the top. “But I hate reading screenplays, so mostly I just goof off.”

I’m still waiting for them to get back to me. Unfortunately for me, Jim's career went another direction. Oh, I dusted off the screenplay at some point and genericized it (taking out the Ace Ventura catchphrases, names, and mannerisms), but then Austin Powers came out, and, well, I knew I had missed my shot.

Two more things.

First, this blog often contains writing tips and you may be wondering about what tips are included in this posting. Well, besides the advice about how to deal with agents and screenplay formatting, let’s talk for just a moment about suspense. What was the title to this blog? My First Brush With Hollywood. That implies more than one, so I have set you up, gentle reader, to wonder about what the second one might be. That will hopefully make you anticipate my next blog and maybe even check in to see when it might be posted.

Second, nothing is wasted when you write. Sure, you may never use the awful prose you generate for some discarded project, but that doesn’t mean you don’t learn something about what constitutes awful prose. Or you could have used some artful turn of phrase or come up with a clever plot point or character attribute or somesuch in the midst of the awful prose that will help you later on. Not only did I learn to always use screenplay formatting software when writing a screenplay, I thought long and hard about what made a good Bond movie and a good Ace Ventura movie in the course of this writing project. That’s education that came into play when I was first asked to write the spy thriller that became Net Impact, which in turn led to writing my latest spy novel, Wet Work.

Everything now comes full circle in the current Kickstarter to publish Wet Work, because one of the cool rewards you can get for backing is for me to run you and up to five of your friends in the original James Bond spoof roleplaying adventure I wrote with my brother Rich almost thirty years ago. One lucky backer has already snagged a session. But, there’s one more session left. Check it out, along with all the other details of my Kickstarter, at http://kck.st/2GP08ja. Then, you can decide how much my Bond RPG spoof has influenced my spy thriller novels. One clue, there are no heroin flavored bananas in my books.

Sorry, Q.

Aloha,

Don
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Published on April 14, 2018 08:51 • 72 views • Tags: agent, bond, espionage, gencon, hollywood, james-bond, kickstarter, movie, novel, reunion, roleplaying, rpg, screenplay, spy, submission, thriller, top-secret, writing

April 4, 2018

Launched the Kickstarter yesterday for my new spy thriller, Wet Work, and the re-release of Net Impact, the first in the Dick Thornby Thriller series. Got some great early bird pricing and plenty of stretch goals, including books from Kelly Swails and Buck Hanno. Not going to repeat the pitch here because I'd much rather you clicked through to the site and took a look. That way, you can pledge on the spot and hit the handy icons near the top which let you share the Kickstarter with your friends and fellow readers.

The book is already written; the funding goal is already halfway to being met after just one day. Pledge with confidence.

http://kck.st/2Edrc6p

Aloha!

Don
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Published on April 04, 2018 06:28 • 34 views • Tags: action-adventure, crowdfunding, espionage, kickstarter, spy, stretch-goal, thriller

March 17, 2018

A few years back I wrote a spy thriller called Net Impact. The book was published by Alliteration Ink in both print and ebook formats and got good reviews (4.8 stars on Amazon). http://a.co/20HoipW I even put out an audio version. https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Ne... But I got busy with other projects, including short stories and some other books (including a ghostwriting project) and didn't immediately pursue turning Net Impact into a series.

That was a shame, since the set-up for Net Impact has always had a lot of promise. You see, Dick Thornby is not Hollywood's idea of a spy. In his rough and tumble job there are no tailored Italian suits, no bimbos eager to please, and no massive underground fortresses built by evil overlords seeking world domination - just an endless series of sinister threats to the safety and security of the billions of mundane citizens of the planet. Sure, Dick's tough and he knows a few tricks to help him get out of a tight spot, even if his boss accuses him of over-reliance on explosives. But he's also got a mortgage, a wife upset by his frequent absences on "business" trips, and an increasingly alienated teen-age son who spends way too much time playing in gaming worlds on the computer.

Recently, I finally got around to writing my second Dick Thornby adventure, Wet Work. I'll be doing a Kickstarter for it next month and it will be released to the general public in June. I also got the rights back to Net Impact and will be re-releasing it at the same time with a spiffy new cover that ties the two books together. Heck, I even had a cover made up for Flash Drive, the third Dick Thornby thriller, since I've already started plotting and researching it.

I think the covers look great. You can check them out here: http://www.donaldjbingle.com/single-p...

Here's the pitch for the books:

Net Impact: When a young computer expert back at the Philadelphia headquarters for The Subsidiary, an international espionage agency created in the aftermath of 9/11, discovers that bad guys are involved in a vast conspiracy, Dick is forced to partner with the espionage neophyte to battle evil on multiple fronts, leading to a final confrontation that incorporates real-world conspiracy theories and cutting-edge technology. In the end, Dick can save his partner, save his marriage, save his son, or save the world, but he can't do it all.

Wet Work: After taking personal revenge on the criminal behind both his son’s injuries and the continued disintegration of his marriage, Dick Thornby is teamed with Acacia (“Ace”) Zyreb, a young, female agent from the East European office of the Subsidiary, to deal with the mystery behind coordinated hacking of the braking systems of several car models. Doing his best to maintain his vows to his wife, Dick struggles to deal with the inexperience and provocative attitude of Ace on her first non-European mission. Their somewhat combative investigation takes a left turn by uncovering a much more sinister threat to the world and to Dick's family. He's willing to risk his job, his partner, and his life to eliminate the threat, but the clock is ticking.

Flash Drive: When a mysterious flash is detected by satellite, Dick is sent to investigate. Just getting to the site of the flash is difficult enough. Infiltrating the location and taking out the bad guys is a one-way ticket to hell.

Watch this space for more about the Kickstarter and release of Wet Work.
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Published on March 17, 2018 13:45 • 125 views • Tags: action, adventure, cover, dick-thornby, espionage, men-s, new, novel, re-release, release, series, spy, subsidiary, thriller

December 2, 2017

Ho! Ho! Ho!

My dad was very organized, perhaps even compulsive, about sending Christmas cards. He kept a special list in a ledger with everyone's addresses. The master list had little boxes to checkmark when a card was sent and whether a card was received from such person each year. Not sure exactly what it took to get culled from the master list, but I'm sure the process was more efficient and brutal than culling lists for voter registration. And for many, many years, my parents' holiday greeting either consisted of, or was supplemented with, a long holiday missive about what was going on with the family. Mom was involved with those, even managing multi-color printing off of a mimeograph machine--you know, those things that preceded computers and home printers (whether daisy-wheel, inkjet, or laser). The Christmas card tradition in my family was so long, it approached geological time.

I have a confession to make. I don't send Christmas cards. I don't send "year-in-review" newsletters or glossy pictures with pre-printed signatures. Maybe it's because I'm lazy or cheap or because, as an introvert, I dislike small talk and don't want to engage in the postal equivalent. It's not that I never have sent cards--despite all appearances (and I do mean appearances), I have made some attempts to play the customary social interaction games expected in connection with furthering my career. Heck, one year when I was an officer at a large franchise food company I went so far as to send every other officer in the company a copy of the board game: Franchise Food (though I doubt any of them actually played it other than me). But, over the years, my holiday mailings became more limited and sporadic. At some point they stopped altogether.

Of course, the possibility exists that I was frightened away from doing it. You see, my friend, Jean Rabe, always sends Christmas cards. (She is really great at thank you cards, too.) And she always includes a handwritten personal note in every card she sends. Not a simple "Ho, Ho Ho!" or one-liner, but whole paragraphs of chattiness. That's awesome. But, trying to live up to such an example is intimidating--Jean is very prolific. That's scary enough, but there's even more to Jean's feelings about the subject. Something scarier.

What? Well, I don't want to say more, except that you can find out the answer by reading Jean's excellent mystery novel: The Dead of Winter (Piper Blackwell #1) by Jean Rabe The Dead of Winter. You should all go out and buy it now. If you do get Jean's book (or have previously gotten it), just let me know by email at orphyte@aol.com before December 10, 2017), and I'll enter you into a drawing for a free e-copy of the next book in the series: The Dead of Night (Piper Blackwell #2) by Jean Rabe The Dead of Night.

And, if you are looking for something to spice up your emailed Christmas Card greetings this year, I happen to be running a freebie promotion of my short, humorous, holiday tale: Season's Critiquings (http://a.co/fM1xAC0) on Amazon/Kindle now through Monday, December 4. You can not only get it and read it for free, you have my permission to gift it to everyone on your compulsively maintained Christmas email list.

If you like Season's Critiquings, you can pick up any or all of the continuing series: Merry Mark-Up (http://a.co/2O5ZPex); Holiday Workshopping (http://a.co/8aLQhG0); and Santa Clauses and Phrases (http://a.co/0KPc5Wn). Or you can get all four in the series by getting: The Christmas Carol Critique Collection (http://a.co/j4Lba8p).

By the way, like many authors, I have an Amazon link that gets me a tiny percentage when you use it to access Amazon for your book and other shopping needs. Click through and shop. For future use, click through and add it to your bookmarks to access again and again in the future. Costs you nothing; gets me something, whether you buy my books or Dan Brown's or a new toaster oven. Link here and bookmark for future use: https://www.amazon.com/b?_encoding=UT....

Please consider this my holiday greetings to all of you. Merry Christmas!

Don
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September 23, 2017

If you follow my blog or hide in the shadows on my social media feeds, you probably know that I've had some of my story collections and books featured in various bundles. Maybe you've gotten a bundle or two. If so, congratulations for not only getting a lot of good reading at a good price, but for supporting me and other independent authors. If not, it may be because you want to support my books and stories on an ala carte basis where I get all the proceeds (can't argue with that) or you're just not sure what this whole bundling thing is all about (that I can explain).

First of all, what is bundling? Bundling is when someone (a curator) gathers a bunch of stories, story collections, novellas, and/or novels together with a common theme or style, that are likely to all appeal to some specific category of readers, like, say fans of romance novels set in the old west, or modern spy and techno thrillers, or fast zombies in urban post-apocalyptic settings, or family holiday dramas. They gather these similar publications together with the permission of the authors, set a combo sale price, and offer them to the public via a site like www.storybundle.com or www.bundlerabbit.com.

Why do authors do this? Well, they can make some money, of course, but at the discounted price for the whole bundle (split with the seller, bundler, curator, and other authors) not really that much per copy. Instead, most authors see participating in bundles more as a way to pick up new readers and, hopefully, some reviews by people who love the genre, or to get new readers hooked on the first book in a series. I think of it as a way to advertise that, instead of costing me money, makes me a bit of money. The thought is that fans of one of the authors in the bundle might become fans of another author in the same genre, which builds the fan base of all of the authors and of the genre.

How are these things priced? Well, that's mostly up to the curator, though individual authors may be unwilling to participate in a bundle priced too low or too high. In some bundles, you get all the books in a bundle for either a flat price (say, $2.99 or $5.99) or at a price you pick (pay what you want, but with a minimum because ... well, people can be cheap and selfish and delight in taking advantage of writers and other creators). Generally, in the set your own price bundles (only available directly from the bundlers--not Amazon, BN, or Kobo) there is a slider to allow you to pay more or less, depending on how much you like the authors and the concept. In others, you get some of the books at the minimum price, but if you want them all, you have to beat a price set a bit higher. Some bundles also either donate a piece of the pie to charity or let the buyer donate a piece of the pie to charity. That's nice, I guess, but there are whole lots more efficient ways to give to charity than through a small piece of net profit on a bundle of books and donating directly makes it easier to keep track of your charitable donations if you need to do that for taxes.

How long do these bundles last? That varies, too. Some are on short time limits, to drive impulse purchases. Some have standard thirty day periods so that word can get out and possibly even reviews of the bundle as a whole. Those bundles tend to have a flurry of purchases at the beginning and at the end and a fairly quiet period in the middle, kind of like many Kickstarters for anthologies. Others can last as long as the authors want on a kind of long tail theory, I guess.

Who curates these things? Some well known publishers and authors, like Kevin J. Anderson at WordFire Press (www.WordFirePress.com), are active curators, particularly at StoryBundle. BundleRabbit lets pretty much anyone become a curator (with the potential to get a very small slice of the bundle proceeds). Besides picking books, dealing with the paperwork with the bundler, and convincing authors to participate, the bundle also generally needs to have some promo text written and a bundle cover. While not as important as a book cover, a strong, eye-catching cover can help sales. Some fairly nice stuff can be generated from free stock photos and a bit of text editing. For example, I did a fairly simple cover for The B Movie Bundle, but then Steve Sullivan, one of my authors, beefed it up for me because he is good at Photoshop and I am not.

If you are an author and want to have your stuff bundled, you can set up a free account on BundleRabbit and post your stuff. Curators can then look for it by genre, length (short story, novella, novel, collection, or whatever), or key word searches. If you are interested in StoryBundle, watch for who curates their stuff and see if you can contact them to offer something up. Or contact the powers-that-be and offer to curate a bundle for them.

I've had a couple books in StoryBundles and am currently involved with several bundles on BundleRabbit, the new kid on the block. StoryBundles can be bought on StoryBundle. BundleRabbit bundles can be bought on their website (setting your own price, with a minimum; the authors get a bit more money since Amazon or whoever doesn't get a piece of the pie) or on Amazon, BN, Kobo, and iBooks, which gives you broader reach--though most of the books will end up being sold on Amazon anyhow.

I've curated two bundles. The B Movie Bundle (www.bundlerabbit.com/b/movie), which is currently for sale, and The Halloween Horror Horde (www.bundlerabbit.com/b/halloween-horr...), which is currently available for pre-sale and will be available for instant download starting October 3. I've been busily emailing B movie review sites to try to get reviews for the former. I'll move on to pushing the latter next.

I've also got books in bundles created by others. Forced Conversion is part of The Duty, Honor, Country Bundle (https://bundlerabbit.com/b/duty-honor...) because it's near future military scifi with plenty of action adventure. The Love-Haight Case Files (with Jean Rabe) is part of The Summer in the City Bundle with twelve other books (https://bundlerabbit.com/b/summer-city) because it's set in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district (associated with the summer of love), albeit with an urban fantasy/legal/horror/romance twist.

If you've got questions about bundles or bundling, drop me a line in the comments section, or through my website or email.

Gotta go now. I've got a bundle of stuff to do.

Donald J. Bingle
Writer on Demand TM
www.donaldjbingle.com
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July 18, 2017

As many of you know, I put together Paragons from the Past to run RPGA Classic-Style Adventures From the Golden Age of Gaming and Today at GenCon 50 this year. The posting about it got a lot of likes and comments about how cool an idea that was, and most of the tickets were sold, but when the calls for GMs (contact Carol Clarkson on Facebook or at gildana@aol.com) went out, the responses were more muted: "Not going this year ..." "Maybe next year ..." "My schedule is full ..." "Haven't GMed in a lot of years ..."

Here's the thing. I'm not going to be doing this next year. This is special for GenCon 50, so if you want to relive the glories of the golden years of the RPGA and classic-style games or get your friends to see what all the fuss was about or just help people play some really cool games written by legends of yesteryear, there is no tomorrow. The time is now. Dust off your GM screen (we have both 2nd edition of 5th edition modules), gather your improvisational wits about you, and volunteer to GM an event NOW. We need to know we have plenty of GMs for all of our slots; you need time to read the module before the con and prep. Schedule follows. Please SHARE (don't just like) this post with all your gaming and RPGA friends.

Schedule
 
Thursday:
 
8 a.m. to Noon: No events in this slot.
 
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Pond’s Place by Jean Rabe (NEW! D&D 5th Ed.): 4 tables of 6
Don’t Go There! by Saul Resnikoff & Donald J. Bingle (Rerun! AD&D 2nd Ed.): 2 tables of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Heart of the Forest Savage by Skip Williams (NEW! AD&D 2nd Ed.): 5 tables of 6
Down on the Farm by Linda Bingle, Jay Tummelson, and Donald J. Bingle (Rerun! Chill 1st Ed.): 1 table of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
Friday:
 
8 a.m. to Noon:
Pond’s Place by Jean Rabe (NEW! D&D 5th Ed.): 4 tables of 6
Don’t Go There! by Saul Resnikoff and Donald J. Bingle (Rerun! AD&D 2nd Ed.): 2 tables of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Heart of the Forest Savage by Skip Williams (NEW! AD&D 2nd Ed.): 5 tables of 6
Beyond by Donald J. Bingle (Rerun! Paranoia 2nd Ed.): 1 table of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Pond’s Place by Jean Rabe (NEW! D&D 5th Ed.): 5 tables of 6
Let Loose the Sheep of War by Tom Prusa & Donald J. Bingle (Rerun! Battle Cattle 2nd Ed.) 1 table of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
 
Saturday:
 
8 a.m. to Noon
Heart of the Forest Savage by Skip Williams (NEW! AD&D 2nd Ed.): 5 tables of 6
Down on the Farm by Linda Bingle, Jay Tummelson, and Donald J. Bingle (Rerun! Chill 1st Ed.): 1 table of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Pond’s Place by Jean Rabe (NEW! D&D 5th Ed.): 4 tables of 6
Don’t Go There! by Saul Resnikoff and Donald J. Bingle (Rerun! AD&D 2nd Ed.): 2 tables of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Heart of the Forest Savage by Skip Williams (NEW! AD&D 2nd Ed.): 4 tables of 6
Beyond by Donald J. Bingle (Rerun! Paranoia 2nd Ed.): 2 tables of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
Sunday:
 
8 a.m. to Noon
Heart of the Forest Savage by Skip Williams (NEW! AD&D 2nd Ed.): 4 tables of 6
Pond’s Place by Jean Rabe (NEW! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
The 6th Warrior by Tom Prusa (New! D&D 5th Ed.): 2 tables of 6
 
 
Descriptions:
 
Heart of the Forest Savage
 
By Skip Williams. A quest to a forest filled with robbers, fairies, and more awaits in this new, classic RPGA-style adventure. Pre-generated characters; interaction notes; roleplaying emphasized.
 
The Forest Savage lies on the kingdom's eastern border like a great wall of gloom and green. Its shady depths hide all manner of secret deeds, from fairy revels to highway robbery. Still, the place has its guardians. There is Sir Evrain, knight of Castle Savage and enforcer of king's writ. And, there is Lady Sigune, wise woman of the forest (some would call her witch). Some say these two are rivals, others call them lovers. All warn that it would be most unwise to provoke anger from both at the same time. So, it is perhaps a mite odd the pair have entrusted you and five of your friends with a quest to the forest’s very heart. This is a NEW 1 round AD&D 2nd Ed. scenario written by the legendary sage and DM, Skip Williams. Roleplaying emphasized. RPGA classic-style event, with pre-generated characters with PC background, personality description, and interactions.
 
 
Beyond
 
By Donald J. Bingle. This rerun of a classic RPGA-style adventure is  about six Citizens competing to go beyond Ultraviolet Level. Pre-generated PCs with interaction notes; roleplaying emphasized.
 
Beyond is a wacky Paranoia 2nd Ed. adventure written by legend in his own mind and friend of The Computer, Donald J. Bingle. Six ultraviolet level PCs are tested and pitted against one another to see who is worthy of being promoted beyond Ultraviolet Level. Can they succeed? Can they even find out lies beyond their already elevated status? This scenario was originally run as the first Paranoia Grandmasters at GenCon in 1990. Return to the golden age of RPGA gaming or try out the style for the very first time. Paragons from the Past have a full slate of new and rerun adventures in the style of RPGA classic scenarios. Emphasizing role-playing, the scenarios will all include pre-generated characters with stats, skills, equipment, background, personality description, and interaction notes about the other PCs joined in the quest.
 
 
The 6th Warrior
 
By Tom Prusa. Viking warriors face mystery and danger in this new classic RPGA-style adventure by a legendary RPGA author. Pre-generated characters with interaction notes; roleplaying emphasized.
 
Legendary RPGA author Tom Prusa lends a NEW D&D 5th Ed. viking adventure to Paragons from the Past's slate of new and rerun adventures in the style of RPGA classic scenarios. Vicious beasties besiege a band of viking warriors, who are doomed to perish unless one more joins their ranks. Are you the 6th Warrior? Emphasizing role-playing, the scenario includes pre-generated characters with stats, skill, equipment, background, personality description, and interaction notes about the other PCs joined in a quest with plenty of battle and plenty of character interaction.
 
 
Pond's Place
 
By Jean Rabe & Bob Farnsworth. Adventurers run a friend's store in this fun, new classic RPGA-style adventure. Pre-generated characters with interaction notes; roleplaying emphasized.
 
Pond's Place is a NEW one round scenario using D&D 5th Ed. rules written by the legendary RPGA Coordinator, writer, and gamer, Jean Rabe, and well-known gamer and DM, Bob Farnsworth. Six seasoned adventurers are asked to mind a friend's store while on vacation. Such an easy task, it will undoubtedly also seem like a vacation for the PCs, but, then, maybe not. Return to the golden age of RPGA gaming or try out the style for the very first time with the full slate of new and rerun adventures organized by Paragons from the Past. Emphasizing role-playing, the scenarios will all include pre-generated characters with stats, skills, equipment, background, personality description, and interaction notes about the other PCs joined in the quest.
 
 
Don't Go There
 
By Saul Resnikoff & Donald J. Bingle. Experience classic RPGA-style adventure with this rerun of a 1999 scenario specifically designed by top-ranked players for strong role-players. Deadly encounters.
 
Written by a team of Nationals/Best of the Best winners to test the wits and worth of participants in a series of complicated and dangerous situations, Don't Go There was first run at BenCon and Summer Revel in 1999. Return to the golden age of RPGA gaming or try out the style for the very first time. Paragons from the Past have a full slate of new and rerun adventures in the style of RPGA classic scenarios. Emphasizing role-playing, the scenarios will all include pre-generated characters with stats, skills, equipment, background, personality description, and interaction notes about the other PCs joined in the quest.
 
 
Down on the Farm
 
A classic RPGA-style Chill rerun from Gen Con 20, thirty years ago. Something mysterious is going on at Grandpa's farm. Pre-generated characters with interaction notes; roleplaying emphasized.
 
A group of kids who have never heard of S.A.V.E. or experienced the supernatural are faced with a mystery they must solve.  Written by Linda Bingle, Donald J. Bingle, and Jay Tummelson, Down on the Farm is a Chill 1st Ed. scenario first run at GenCon 20, thirty years ago. Return to the golden age of RPGA gaming or try out the style for the very first time. Paragons from the Past have a full slate of new and rerun adventures in the style of RPGA classic scenarios. Emphasizing role-playing, the scenarios will all include pre-generated characters with stats, skills, equipment, background, personality description, and interaction notes about the other PCs joined in the quest.
 
 
Let Loose the Sheep of War
 
By Tom Prusa & Donald J. Bingle. Rerun of the most unusual classic-style scenario ever sanctioned by the RPGA: an RPG version of a wacky miniatures game about armored cattle.
 
Since RPGs originally started as a miniatures game variant, it is only fitting to run a single table of the oddest scenario ever sanctioned by the RPGA: An RPG version of the wacky miniatures game, Battle Cattle (2nd Ed.), written by legendary RPGA writers Tom Prusa and Donald J. Bingle for the all-charity convention, BenCon, in 2001. Play a telepathic, armored bovine bristling with weaponry and accented attitude. Remember, we moo as one. Paragons from the Past have a full slate of new and rerun adventures in the style of RPGA classic scenarios. Emphasizing role-playing, this scenario includes pre-generated characters with stats, skills, equipment, background, personality description, and interaction notes about the other bovine PCs joined in the cow quest.  Just one table of four to six fun-loving gamers ready for a silly stampede of mayhem, moos, and hi-tech slaughter.

Contact Carol Clarkson through Facebook or at gildana@aol.com to volunteer to GM any of these events. Do it now!!!
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Published on July 18, 2017 12:51 • 157 views • Tags: 50th-anniversary, chill, dm, dungeon-master, dungeons-dragons, game-master, games, gencon, gm, judge, origins-game-fair, paragon, roleplaying, rpga, tsr

February 25, 2017

If you're an author, you do public readings of your work from time to time or participate in writing panels or Q&A sessions about your process and/or your work. That means you need to have a bio ready. It also means that, like famous actors promoting a movie, you get asked a lot of questions you've been asked before. And, since I recently did a reading for the fine folks at Waterline Writers, where I've read before, I needed to do their usual author questionnaire for use in their promotional postings. Like a weary actor, I answered their questions, just not in the way they probably thought I would.

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

Mrs. Pate, in the 1st Grade, was quite insistent about it. Right after I learned to read my first word, "look," with an eyeball drawn in in the middle of each "o," Mrs. Pate made us write it down. Then came "see," with eyeballs drawn in each "e." (Mrs. Pate was either surreptitiously letting us know that Big Brother was watching or was secretly part of the Illuminati, indoctrinating us with her rendition of the "all-seeing eye.") Soon thereafter, I was looking and seeing Spot run from Dick and Jane for reasons never clearly explained.

My first experience with non-traditional writing was when my Speech teacher insisted upon an essay on some form of communication, which I found irksome, as the main reason I took Speech was to avoid having to write an essay paper. So I wrote a fairly mundane paper on codes and ciphers, then encrypted it with a key-word cipher and super-encrypted the coded version by trans-positioning the letters in each word backwards. It was, frankly, quite irksome to then type up. From there, it was to college where I joined my buddies in the dorm in turning in fake papers in the name of the Playmate of the Month every time we got an essay assignment or take-home test. I'd tell you what Adam Smith's "invisible hand" did, but it would never get past BATV's censors. It did, however, garner a B+ for an un-enrolled winsome lass.

I suppose this is a smart-alecky response to the question, but if you know my writing, you know that it is often smart-alecky (though sometimes it can just be smart, and other times just alecky).

Describe your writing process.

I am a lazy writer--I don't write anywhere close to every single day--but I am reasonably efficient when I am writing and can be fairly prolific when I am under deadline (whether self-imposed or external threat). I generally have less than a page of notes before I start a book and only a few jotted lines before I start a story, but I pretty much always know where I am starting, where I am finishing, and at least one thing I want to do along the way. Tone is important to establish up front, but once I am going I just think cinematically about what should happen next to move the plot along and keep the reader interested, then write it up. Please understand, this is different from listening to what the "characters" want to do. I'm a control freak and the characters do what I tell them to; after all, they don't really exist.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I actually never intended to write Forced Conversion or any book. I wrote short stories (one novella length) and screenplays and was planning to attend World Horror Con with my writing friend, Jean. Jean pointed out there were going to be publishers there doing pitch sessions and I should sign up for a pitch. I replied that the program made it clear they didn't want short story pitches and, since these were New York publishers and not Hollywood agents, no one wanted to hear about my screenplays--a statement which remains true to this very day. Jean insisted I should pitch something anyway because it would be good practice. So, I pulled out a short story idea I'd made some notes about, which was set in the near future and had a fair bit of world-building backstory, and put together a single page pitch sheet which started with an action sequence, moved through a road-trip that provided an opportunity to learn about the backstory, and included the gist of the short story sequence I'd envisioned as a scene about three-quarters of the way along. Went to the con and did my pitch. When I finished, the editor said "Is this book finished?" I said "No, I just wrote up the pitch last night, but I write fast and here's a copy of my novella so you can see I can write." Then he said, "I'll read your novella on the plane home. If I asked you for three chapters to this book, would you send them to me?" Of course, I said "yes," but once I walked out, I panicked, thinking he was going to read the novella on the Sunday flight home and ask me for three chapters of the book on Monday or Tuesday. So I started writing, eventually finished the book a few months later, sent it to him, then twiddled my thumbs for almost two years before he got back to me with comments and a rejection. So I sold it elsewhere, via a short story editing contact.

What are you working on now?

I'm more than halfway through the first draft of Wet Work, a sequel to my spy novel, Net Impact. So, when you grab your copy of Forced Conversion at the break, you can also get Net Impact just to be ready for the sequel when it comes out, hopefully later this year. And, if you've already read both of those, please post reviews on Amazon or your favorite blog as soon as possible. Heck, you can do it on your phone during the break. Because reviews are important, especially to the Amazon algorithm. Math teachers never tell you how important algorithms are in real life. Maybe they're part of the Illuminati conspiracy, too. You'd have to ask Mrs. Pate.

Hope you enjoyed my responses. Here's a link to my reading: https://vimeo.com/205261748 .

Aloha,

Donald J. Bingle
Writer on Demand tm
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Published on February 25, 2017 08:43 • 58 views • Tags: forced-conversion, interview, near-future, reading, science-fiction, scifi, video, waterline, writer, writing

October 25, 2016

Back when I participated in role-playing games more frequently (enough so I was the world's top-ranked player of classic RPGA tournaments for about fifteen years), one of the things I and my gaming friends would often say when somebody did something unexpected was "actions have consequences." Those consequences could be bad, but they also could be good--maybe the result of a heroic sacrifice or clever planning. Sometimes the consequences might not be intuitive or obvious, but as long as they were logical, that was always fine by me.

In fact, some of the adventures I disliked the most were ones where misguided GMs prevented actions from having logical consequences in an effort to keep a PC alive or steer the party where he or she wanted the party to go. You see, one of the things I like about most role-playing games is that actions do have consequences. In the real world, actions don't always have consequences--or at least the logical consequences they should have. Instead of the "evolution in action" of the Darwin Awards, people who make foolish decisions are protected from the consequences of those decisions. And that often leads to consequences on society. All too often people--especially those who think there are very simple solutions to very complex problems--forget that there can be consequences from actions and laws that are not what was intended or not even intuitively obvious.

Not only may those consequences be remote (Yes, John Helfers, I once again bring up the impact of the Old World's importation of the potato from the Americas as an indirect cause of World War I), they can result in good intentions being twisted for bad effects. Pretty much everything that can be gamed, will be gamed.

All of this, as well as my experience as a debater in college and as a debate coach in law school, focused a lot of thought about causation. That I later owned a company that produced a time travel role-playing game and wrote adventures for it, just reinforced the importance of causation in my mind. I think it's fair to say that a lot of my writing reflects that, from my non-fiction chapter on the topic in Eighth Day Genesis: A Worldbuilding Codex for Writers and Creatives, to several stories about time running backwards (from our perspective) in "Knowing She Would" in Tales Out of Time and "For Every Time, A Season" in Time Traveled Tales, and my various thriller novels, including Forced Conversion, which deals with the consequences to those remaining on a largely de-populated Earth after most of humanity has converted to virtual reality, and Net Impact, which deals with what rapid developments in cyberspace, MMORPGs, and virtual worlds mean for law enforcement and world security concerns.

Actions having consequences is, of course, what most thrillers are all about. Bad guys are doing bad things for their own nefarious purposes, but some guy or gal or group can, with enough effort and sacrifice, do what is necessary to stop them and save the day. The various obstacles to success are what provides tension and suspense, rather than mere action, driving the tale forward.

Part of that suspense arises from mysteries to be solved: What are the bad guys doing? Why? What will be the result of their plan? How can the plan be stopped? How can these obstacles to stopping the plan be overcome? What is the cost, in pain, emotional upheaval, loss, and life, of thwarting the plan?

But, I submit, one of the other aspects of that tension and suspense, the part that makes it thrilling, is the credibility of the situation. That the bad things happening in the story really could happen or are logical extensions from things that have happened inherently raises the stakes. That it is not obvious how those things can be stopped in a credible way drives suspense. This is, in essence, why superhero, battling monsters, and giant robot movies are "action" movies, not true thrillers. It's why the soft middle section in the pantheon of James Bond movies is widely panned--because giant (yet secret) underground lairs and superhuman henchmen with razor teeth have no inherent credibility.

Sure, I like fantasy and science fiction as much as the next guy--probably more, since the next guy often hasn't read a book since he graduated high school. But the best worlds are worlds that make sense to me at some core level, either because they are derived by extension from the real world or the world-building makes sense and operates within a logical framework. Like many teenagers of my generation, I devoured The Lord of the Rings, but it still bothers me to this day that the supply and, dare I say it, sanitary facilities, for the armies in Mordor made no friggin' sense at all. (Compare the awesome world-building in Elizabeth Vaughan's Warprize series, where the customs of the Plainsmen derive quite logically from their circumstances.)

It's a tough balance for an author--putting in enough explanation to make what happens real or at least real enough to satisfy the reader, without bogging down the action with a lot of backstory. Every author has their own recipe for how to cook up a thriller and every reader has their own taste as to how they like their portion cooked up. I'm sure I focus a bit more on causation than some others, but I hope you feel my take adds flavor that you can savor.

Right now, Forced Conversion is part of a bundle of pulse-pounder thrillers and I'm proud to have it included with fast-paced thrillers from such authors as Kevin J. Anderson, Jonathan Maberry, Jean Rabe, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Mike Baron, Dean Wesley Smith, and more. They'll not only satisfy your craving for action, they'll satisfy your craving for thrills.

You can find the Pulse-Pounder StoryBundle at www.storybundle.com/thriller. I hope you'll take a look. And, if you know a reviewer you think might be interested in some or all of the books included in the bundle, drop me an email or a comment about them.

Aloha,

Don
Donald J. Bingle, Writer on Demand TM
www.donaldjbingle.com
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