January RPG Blog Carnival Roundup

Whew! Sorry, everyone, January got away from me a bit. Between work getting busy and illness, I looked up and it was February. Nevertheless, we had several contributors to the January Blog Carnival, and I want to thank all the bloggers who took on our theme of “gaming on a budget”. Here’s a little round-up of our contributors:

Rodney has a three-point plan for gaming on the cheap over at Rising Phoenix Games. It’s a cleverly simple plan, and if you follow it you’ll come out the other side with a role-playing game library you’ll actually use. And books you will use are always a better value than books that sit on the shelf unopened.

Loot the Room looked at great RPGs with a low initial cost of entry. And by low, they mean free. Hours of entertainment for free, you say? What sorcery is this?! It is true, though, and they have four suggestions for games you could take home with a few mouse clicks.

Eric’s Gaming Pulse had some ideas on gaming on the cheap. An interesting aspect that Eric touches on that we hadn’t considered is how to budget your time as well as your money.

The Wandering Alchemist had some great ideas on how to stretch your money and make sure you’re getting bang for your gaming buck. I particularly enjoyed the discussion around which systems give you the best value. It should come as no surprise that generic systems are a much better value, allowing you to play a wider variety of campaigns types.

Cirsova jumps into the RPG Blog Carnival pool after a long absence with some Dos and Don’ts for gaming on a budget. The Dos are some excellent advice, and the Don’ts are a handy look at what you could do once you have a bit more in the way of funds.

Last but not least, I share a few ideas for the miserly gamer over at The Rat Hole. If you take nothing else from my article, remember two things: the internet is your friend, and save all the paper.

Thanks again to all the bloggers who took part this month. If you like their stuff please take a moment to drop by their sites and tell them so. And as we are well into February, make sure to check out the February RPG Blog Carnival hosted by Daemons & Deathrays. This month’s theme is “Time Marches On”. Boy, they aren’t kidding.

Give and Take

As I mentioned in my New Year’s resolution post, I want to branch out and take on some guest blogging in the coming year. Writing for my blog is all well and good, and I obviously love it or I wouldn’t keep doing it. I love writing about any gamerly topic that pops into my head, and I especially like making up words like gamerly. Hey, my blog, I decide what’s proper language, thank-you very much.

But sometimes one can have too much freedom. I discovered during the 30 Days of GMing Challenge that I enjoy writing to task, committing myself to a topic I might not have chosen and seeing what develops. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes challenging, but it was always interesting. And interesting gets me out of bed in the morning.

To keep that alive, I’m making an open offer to anyone with a gaming blog: I’ll write a guest post for you. If you’ve looked around here you have a pretty good idea of my style. You pick the topic and give me a deadline, I’ll deliver a print-ready post. A few stipulations:

1) Deadline must be at least 2 weeks from date of initial request; I need time to fit your post into my schedule.

2) I’m credited for the post, with a link back to my blog.

3) I’ll write on any gaming related topic you’d like, but I’d like to keep the post in the 500-1000 word range. If I think the subject is too broad I reserve the right to narrow the scope or write multiple posts. Which I chose is dependant on my schedule and how you’d like to post.

4) I don’t write attack or smear pieces. I stay positive on my blog and if I’m visiting yours I’m going to bring that with me.

That’s it. If you’re interested in having me as a guest on your blog, please send your inquiry to: brent.jans (at) gmail.com. Please use the subject line “Guest Post” so I can pick it out of the chatter.

At the same time, I’d love to have guests here on Renaissance Gamer. If you’d be interested in writing a guest post for my blog, drop me a line at the same address. I’ll make sure you are credited and linked, and you can write something that interests you or about a topic I provide. Otherwise, the rules from above apply, just in reverse.

Tomorrow we get back to our long-dormant Campaign Creation with a closer look at our main NPCs. Until then, keep playing!

3 RPG Blogs You Should Read

Recently I joined the RPG Blog Alliance, an agrigator for role-playing blogs. I wanted to get my blog in front of a slightly wider audience (which has happened), but I was equally interested in having a source of good blogs for my own enjoyment. While sites like Gnome Stew or RPG.net are great, sometimes I want a more personal touch in what I’m reading. I mean, I enjoy taking in panels at a con and getting that sort of polished delivery, but I also enjoy sitting around with fellow gamers and talking about the hobby. The blogs I’ve discovered over at RPG Blog Alliance fit that bill nicely, and I’ve had a great time rambling through them.

Here are three of my favourites so far, in no particular order:

Sarah Darkmagic – Sarah Darkmagic is the blog of RPG writer Tracy Hurley, and I’m so happy I found it. Reading through her blog is a lot like getting together for coffee with a gaming buddy. There’s a broad range of interesting posts; yes, gaming related ones like product reviews and game play posts, but also things outside the hobby that might be of interest to gamers and GMs. I love finding out about things like the Getty Museum’s open online collection, or books like A Labyrinth of Kingdoms. Good GMs read and learn outside the hobby for inspiration, and thanks to Sarah, er, Tracy, I get wind of gems like these on a regular basis. She also spends time discussing sexism and issues facing equality in the gaming community and industry, something I appreciate because it often doesn’t get discussed enough. If you’re looking for a great site that’s always going to have something interesting, I can’t recommend her enough.

Role Play Craft – At about 3 months old Role Play Craft is a very young blog, but don’t let it’s youth fool you; it makes up for it with great content. Patrick came out of the gate strong with setting and adventure oriented posts, and an obvious passion for the D&D Next playtest and game. I find inspiration every time I visit, and I’ve read and re-read posts several times. I’m also glad to see someone on-board the D&D 5th bandwagon, and I share Patrick’s hope this next iteration will revitalize the game. If you want to get in on the ground floor of a great source for setting and adventure ideas, plus an ongoing look at the new D&D, Role Play Craft is for you.

The Geek Life Project – It’s no secret I’m an Old Gamer (35 years and counting, baby!), and while I enjoy this time in our hobby I also like taking the occasional look back. The Geek Life Project scratches that itch, while also giving me a great sampling of gaming nerd stuff from around the interwebz. Plus, it’s sort of a two-for-one deal, because you can also check out They Might Be Gazebos (his other blog) for a dose of OSR creativity. I’m not going to lie, I’ve lost chunks of my day looking through old Classic Dungeons Revisited posts and reminiscing about games gone by. If you like a good mix of old and new in your gaming blog, give both blogs a look.

What gaming blogs do you read? Drop your recommendations in the comments!



Altered States

Starting the week off with updates about Renaissance Gamer, because some things are, you guessed it, changing. I’m going back to a M-F update schedule. I tried M-W-F, or sometimes T-Th-Sat, but that usually resulted in a single post and an “eff you!” to the rest of the week. Habit is everything when it comes to writing on a regular basis, and working through the 30 Days of GMing Challenge showed me I can post everyday. But since I do need a few days a week just for me and nerdy gaming things, I’m compromising with M-F.

Speaking of the GMing Challenge, you won’t see the last posts for it here on the blog proper. It seems that Triple Crit, the originators of the challenge, stopped updating theirs around Day 19. I am finishing out the full 30 days though; not only is it a great writing exercise but I think the questions are useful and allow me to give some good advice and tips on GMing. So I created a page containing all the 30 Days of Game Mastering posts in one spot. I’ll finish answering the questions over the next week or so, and then all the Game Master-y goodness will be located in one spot for your enjoyment. I’ll also go back from time to time and edit or add to the information, as things change for me as a GM, or new resources make themselves available. It also occurs to me that, with seven entries to go and a word count now around 15,000, there must be a way for me to turn all that advice into some sort of Game Mastering PDF. So I’ve put that on my “to do” list, albeit lower down.

Work proceeds apace on my own first gaming supplement in the “Argent’s Guide” series. I’ll post something soon about “Fulroar’s Longhouse”, give you a taste of what’s to come. Getting back to the idea of building good writing habits, the Gamer Lifestyle Bootcamp has been worth it’s weight in a metal much more valuable than gold. If you’ve thought about writing a game resource for a while now but don’t really know where to start, I can’t recommend this course enough. It breaks the process of creating a gaming resource down into manageable chunks and makes the project easy to fit into even the busiest of schedules. Jump on the next one, you won’t be sorry.

And game editing continues as well. Friday I made a “proud papa” post about Foreign Element, and I’ve been helping out with a few other smaller supplements as well. I’ll also be working on Issue #10 of the Wayfinder Fanzine. It seems I did a good enough job on Issue #9 to be invited back, which makes me happy. It’s one of my favourite Pathfinder resources, so to contribute to its continued success in some way is gratifying. Seriously, guys and dolls, not only is it packed full of Pathfinder goodness, but it’s free. You can’t beat that, so go pick it up.

Also, I meant to do some sort of milestone contest when I hit my 200th post on the blog…and I blew right past 200 without realizing it. This post included I think I’m at 213? Anyway, I’ll have a contest with actual prizes for my 250th post, which should fall sometime in December close to the Solstice. Entry will be easy, and open to anyone subscribing to the blog. Prizes will be an assortment of gaming swag: miniatures, books, things I custom make for you. We’ll see, but keep your eyes peeled for that. And if you’ve enjoyed any of my posts but haven’t subscribed, now’s your chance. Heck, bring a friend!

And that’s where we’ll leave this episode of Update Brag. If you have any questions or comments, there is a place for that and you should use it. I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 1 of “Building a Dice Tower”. There will be pictures and everything!

5 Blogs I Read for Fun

I suppose it should go without saying that, since I write a blog, I must also read other blogs.  While that is weirdly not always so (I do know of one blogger who doesn’t read other blogs because “they generally all suck”… *sniff* But not mine, right?) in my case it is certainly true.  Besides the information they provide, reading other people’s blogs gives me insight into different writing styles, and most importantly different viewpoints.  And since I follow several blogs on similar topics, I can also get a sense of the prevailing winds of opinion on certain nerd topics.  And, contrarian that I am, allows me to write the occasional piece tacking against that wind if I think it’s warranted.

I’m not sure how many blogs would constitute normal reading.  I currently have about 75+ blogs that update through my Google Reader; add to that the ten or so that I read from webcomic sites I visit (guilty confession time: I like the Penny Arcade comic.  But I LOVE the blog updates that go along with them.  Something about his writing style speaks to me.) , and maybe a further 5-10 I read from links on social media oh god I forgot Tumblr, more like 15-20…okay, maybe that’s a lot.  In my defence not all of them update daily, though Wired and Geek Dad appear to have me covered by updating a bajillion times a day.  So let’s say that, daily, I read somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40-50 blogs.  Your mileage may vary, but I find that a comfortable number.

Out of all that, I’m going to suggest 5 blogs to you that I think you might get a kick out of.  They aren’t in any particular order.  They aren’t necessarily my top five blogs either; rather, a representative spread of the things that amuse me.

Slushpile Hell – I stumbled across this one a little while back, and it immediately spoke to my editor’s soul (how my editor’s soul could hear it through all that stone…).  For non-editors, the slushpile is the sometimes mountain of unsolicited manuscripts received by publishers.  Reading through it can be…a challenge.  Slushpile Hell is one literary agent’s journey through the slushpile, one mind-bogglingly bad query at a time.  Each post is delightfully concise and offers up just the right amount of weary snark I need in my blog diet.

The Chapel Perilous – Okay, my nerd-crush on Monte Cook is fairly well known in certain circles (and now this one), so my reading his blog should come as no surprise.  Interestingly, it was reading his blog that led to him coming to Edmonton as a GoH at Pure Speculation; of the names that then Gaming Coordinator Scott C. Bourgeois suggested, Monte’s was the only one I “knew” through his blog, as well as recognized.  So I suggested he be moved to the top of the list, which of course Scott had already done (his nerd-crush being as strong as mine).  I love reading The Chapel Perilous for its blend of gaming and personal posts.  Monte posts about the things that matter to him, first and foremost.  So when I read something about gaming posted amongst more personal material, I know the opinion he is giving is sincere.  And sincere passion in the nerd hobbies these days is like gold…if gold were still valuable.  Platinum, then.  At least electrum.

Total Fan Girl – I read other nerdy blogs for a variety of reasons: inspiration, information, entertainment.  Total Fan Girl gives me a healthy dose of all three, plus a perspective on the hobby that I find valuable as an Old Male Geek worried about inclusiveness.  Like me, she is a general-purpose nerd with a variety of interests, and her posts reflect that.  She is also a gateway into another of my media addictions, as she posts updates for the GeekMoms podcast.  Mostly I like her blog because she always brings me the really cool stuff.  And that challenges me to do the same.

Awesome Dice Blog – Okay, I’ve actually only been reading this blog for a few weeks now.  But in that time I’ve gone back through and read EVERYTHING! (putting the OCD back into OCD…five times!)  It first came to my attention through the Twitters because of a link to a very cool little time-line of dice throughout history.  Then in one of those internet happen-stances I received an email from Brian at Awesome Dice, asking if I would link to their site.  So I checked their site out, thoroughly (see above EVERYTHING), and said yes, of course I would.  Yes, they talk a lot about dice; if that isn’t in your wheelhouse then you might want to give a pass.  But the blog also covers a wide variety of gamer nerd topics, and includes video posts from Balthazar (yes, THE Balthazar) on…well, just about anything.  Here’s a sample:

So I highly recommend these guys for your daily dose of game nerdery.  Oh, and they also sell dice.  Awesome dice, so I’m told.

The Unknown Studio – Better known for the podcast of the same name, The Unknown Studio also has a snazzy and interesting blog.  While there are a number of sources I follow to keep up on what’s going on in Edmonton, this blog is probably the most fun I have doing it.  It’s worth reading for FML Fridays alone, but Adam Rozenhart also posts some really sincere and insightful pieces on my city and the people in it.  And he also posts some flat-out goofy shit.  The combination works, and like the podcast, keeps me coming back.

Okay, that’s me.  What are you reading in the blogosphere?  Share in the comments below, and maybe we’ll all read something new today!

Back in the Saddle Again…

Okay, that was a nice little “vacation”.  I promise not to let too many more of those happen, but believe me when I say it was needed.  But I’m back and working on some new Renaissance Dork goodness for the new year.  Let’s get started.

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I have toyed with the idea of recording a podcast for a while.  I took some steps toward doing that back in August, and spent the last 4+ months getting some technical and support aspects in place.  I am pleased to announce that you can expect to hear my mellifluous tones soon; the countdown clock has started on the first podcast release, slated for February 15.  The plan right now is to record a 3-5 show buffer, and release a new episode every two weeks.  Each episode will run 20-30 minutes in length, depending on that episode’s subject or feature; local nerd topics, interviews, reviews, discussions.  I’ll bring in other nerds when I can, so we can speak of dorkiness and give you a bit of a break from my voice.

The blog isn’t going anywhere; to start the podcast will supplement the blog, since one post during release week will be show notes and links.  That still leaves me with plenty to write about, so you’ll still be subjected to my meandering typings here.  But while we’re talking about the blog…

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I am looking for guest posts on Renaissance Dork to fill out my schedule.  If you have some nerdy thing you want to write about and can keep it in the 500-600 word range, drop me a line at brent.jans(at)gmail.com, subject line GUEST POST.  I’ll answer any questions you might have, and then all the fame my tens of readers can provide will be yours!  Don’t be shy; I’m not looking for perfection, enthusiasm for your nerdery goes a long way with me.

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This may still be news to some, but just before Christmas I started working part-time at Wizard’s Comics.  I am having a great time so far, learning the peculiarities of the comic shop biz.  I am on the staff unofficially as the store’s game expert; I keep up on the new boardgames and RPGs and advise the manager on what the store might like to stock (and yes, the store has begun stocking Pathfinder on my suggestion, so come get some).  The job is doing a few things for me: getting me out of the house on a regular basis, supplementing my freelance earnings very nicely, and expanding my education about comics.  That last is thanks in large part to the efforts of Brandon (@soupytoasterson on the Twitters). His enthusiasm for comics is contagious and his knowledge quite formidable, and I have begun learning much as his padawan.

Okay, that’s me up-to-date.  You’ll see regular posts in this space from now on, so keep stopping by for the latest from my nerdy brain.  Until tomorrow…

Quiz Winners!

Thanks to everyone that submitted an entry to my Centurion Quiz.  It was highly entertaining to see how much, and how little, you know about me.  The time has come to announce the three winners, but first the answer key:

  1. Let’s start with an easy one: I changed my Twitter handle to match my blog title. What was it before that?  DorklordCanada was my original Twitter handle.
  2. Another easy one: I freelance as administrative support. What is the job title I use for that work?  I consider myself a White Collar Mercenary, since administrator just doesn’t sound cool enough.
  3. Now we come to the math question:  If I copy-edit your 27, 483 word manuscript how much will I charge you?  $151.16. And cheap at twice the price. 😉
  4. In what municipal location did I first learn to play D&D? (Need the name of the city as well, please.)  A lot of half-answers, but I was looking for city and building. So Fort McMurray Public Library was the correct answer.
  5. What is the web-comic I have followed the longest, and why?  The correct answer is PVP, because one of the main characters is named Brent.  The first part you could get from my post on webcomics, the second part…you needed to know how vain I am.
  6. Name the only character to make it into Star Trek’s second pilot.  This was on my mind because of the guest post I had just written, but the answer is Mr. Spock.  Although his character changed a bit, he was the only one brought forward from the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”.
  7. I am a huge fan of this Star Trek: The Next Generation alumnus, and I gave him my best Killer d20 at a Gen Con.  Who is he?  My fancrush on Wil Wheaton is no secret.  And when he put out the call for dice at Gencon 2010, I was more than happy to respond!
  8. Okay, I’ll slide you an easy two-parter.  Fill in the blanks: ___________ is my favourite RPG, and I just became a ____________ to support it.  In order, the correct answers are “Pathfinder” and “Venture-Captain”.  People did get very creative with this one, though. I didn’t even know they made a Hide the Monkey RPG…
  9. If I could be swept away on one vessel from science fiction, what would it be?  Many good answers to this one, and the truth is I wouldn’t turn my nose up at any of them.  But the correct answer is the TARDIS.  PVP shows my reaction the best…
  10. What is your favourite colour?  I was surprised, I actually got a few people with this one.  Since I am asking for your favourite colour, there was no wrong answer.  But to the person who cursed me out for not providing the answer anywhere in my blog…the answer was inside of you the whole time. Also, reading comprehension, look into it.

Okay, I can’t put it off any longer, mostly because a few of you will organize lynch mobs.  Though no one rated a perfect score, but the top three scores belong to: Michael M., Josh B. and Kirk M.!  Congratulations you guys, I’ll contact you via email to discuss your prizes.  And a big thank-you to everyone that entered; it was heartening to see so many entries from new people.  Welcome to the blog, and I hope you enjoy it for a hundred more posts.

I do have another post that will go up later this afternoon; I wanted to end the quiz suspense as soon as possible.  So stay tuned!  The afternoon got away from me, so you’ll have to be patient and wait for tomorrow morning. Worth the wait, I promise…

My Centurian!

Welcome to the One Hundredth Post here on Renaissance Dork!  It’s a pretty exciting day around here; one hundred posts means I can finally sit back and let the sweet syndication money flow in, right guys?  Guys? Right?

Seriously, I’m really happy to have made it to one hundred posts.  This is officially the longest I have stuck by a blog, and I don’t see myself winding down any time soon.  If anything, I have plans afoot to keep RD rolling into the future.  So thank-you to everyone who stops by to read the blog, regular or ir-.  I can see by my metrics that there are more of you every day, and even though I’d keep writing even if there were only two of you (Hi Mom & Dad!), it’s good to know more people have taken a liking to my scribbling.

As a special treat to you all, I present to you my Centurian Quiz!  Some of the questions test nerd knowledge, some can be answered by a careful search of my site and others…well, you may need to dig around for a bit to get the dirt.  But that shouldn’t be too tough for savvy nerds like you, right?  But wait, before you begin, here are the rules:

  1. Do not post your answers in comments!  Please send your answers to me at brent(dot)jans(at)gmail(dot)com, with the subject line Centurian Quiz.  Don’t forget to put you name somewhere in the email, in case your email addy doesn’t make that obvious.
  2. Top three scores will win prizes.  In the case of more than three of you getting top score, the three winners will be chosen based on the time I received their emails.  So don’t delay!
  3. I’ll pick a prize to fit the winners from my vast supply of stuff.  But don’t worry; I have a lot of suitably nerdy things to give away; Star Trek figures, books, RPG manuals, mini-games and so on.  And if I don’t have anything suitably nerdy for you, I’ll revert to the good old Gift Card!
  4. Deadline for entry is Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 8am MST.  Entries dated after that time will not be considered.

Okay, now that the stuffy rules part is out of the way let’s get down to the quizzifying!  Here are your ten questions, and your time starts…now!

  1. Let’s start with an easy one: I changed my Twitter handle to match my blog title. What was it before that?
  2. Another easy one: I freelance as administrative support. What is the job title I use for that work?
  3. Now we come to the math question:  If I copy-edit your 27, 483 word manuscript how much will I charge you?
  4. In what municipal location did I first learn to play D&D? (Need the name of the city as well, please.)
  5. What is the web-comic I have followed the longest, and why?
  6. Name the only character to make it into Star Trek’s second pilot.
  7. I am a huge fan of this Star Trek: The Next Generation alumnus, and I gave him my best Killer d20 at a Gen Con.  Who is he?
  8. Okay, I’ll slide you an easy two-parter.  Fill in the blanks: ___________ is my favourite RPG, and I just became a ____________ to support it.
  9. If I could be swept away on one vessel from science fiction, what would it be?
  10. What is your favourite colour?

There you are, ten questions to see if you’ve been paying attention.  Get your answers in right away and good luck!  I’ll announce the winners and post the answers on Thursday.

Thanks again to everyone who stops in to read.  I hope you’ll stick around for another one hundred posts, you can help me celebrate my bi-centurian! (I do not think it means what you think it means…)

Edmonton Nerdery and Future Plans

Today is sort of a two for one post; I have some local nerdery to promote, and I want to talk for a bit about my plans for Renaissance Dork.

But, nerdery first!

Costuming Help 101: An Informal Affair

Join the Edmonton Steampunk group for a casual afternoon of costume planning and instruction!  If you have questions about steampunk costumes, need some inspiration or just want to hang out with an awesome bunch of nerds, this is the event for you!  Taking place at 2pm at the Elephant & Castle downtown (10200 102nd ave), this is an all-ages event so don’t be shy.  With Pure Spec just around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity to put the finishing touches on your steampunk array…

22nd Annual Folding Festival

Curious about the mysterious art of origami?  Ever wondered if you could do it yourself?  Pop on down to the Folding Festival and find out!  With a mix of origami displays and hands-on instruction, the Folding Festival is your place to explore this beautiful and deceptively simple-looking Japanese art.  Running two afternoons in the Edmonton Room at the Stanley Milner Library, admission is free to the public.  Come get your fold on!

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Okay, that’s the nerdery.  Don’t worry, there is more coming, I just don’t want to spoil the surprise too early.

On to Renaissance Dork!  Since I started running fairly regular Edmonton Nerdery posts, I’ve had a really good response from readers.  Obviously there was a niche to be filled for a local “What’s On for Nerds” type of site here in YEG, and I am quite frankly happy to be the niche-filler.  Edmonton nerdery is there, no question, but some days I think it needs an amplifier to be heard properly.

So I am going to be that amp, brethren and sistren, and I go to eleven!  In the next while you’ll see a separate page go up with a list of the regular and ongoing geekery around town (things like the Social Media Breakfasts, monthly events at Metro and so on), with links to find out more.  As well, unless there really is no nerdery to report, the Edmonton Nerdery posts will continue on a weekly basis.  If I have to skip a week I will be a very sad panda, so keep those geek events coming!  Seriously, if you are organizing a nerd event or have an ongoing event you’d like on my event page, contact me at brent.jans(at)gmail.com with the details.

In addition to promoting YEG geekery, going forward you will start to see interviews popping up in the posts.  I am reaching out to people I know in the geek community, to chat with them about this and that.  I will then post our chats here on Renaissance Dork for your edification and enjoyment.  It turns out I know a lot of really interesting nerds, so it seems fitting I should introduce you.

Last but not even least, I am opening the door to guest posts.  I have a few people that have expressed an interest in writing the occasional bit of geekery, but don’t have the wherewithal to set-up their own blog.  Down the road I will provide a home for these orphan posts, and I thought it only right to extend the offer to my tens of readers as well.  So if you have a nerdy piece you want to write and you need a place to post it, talk to me.  It can be anything; editorial, review, amusing anecdote.  Just drop me a line at brent.jans(at)gmail.com with a query (or even the finished piece) and we’ll talk.

That’s all for now!  The game is five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky’s the limit!

Comments go in the Comment place!


What My Blog Has Taught Me So Far

Sorry if you looked for me at the end of last week.  I got slammed with a summer cold and decided to take Thursday and Friday off.  But I didn’t waste that time away, in fact I thought a lot about my blog and what I want it to become.  For those of you that enjoy reading, don’t worry, this is not a “I’m done with it all, goodbye!” post.  Not even close.

Taking my blog seriously again has opened up a number of opportunities and helped me better focus on my goals, both short and long-term.  I’ve learned a number of things, mostly through trial-and-error, about writing, editing, social media and the mystical realm that is the blogosphere.  I’ve discovered some wonderful blogs, really helpful people and, sad to say, a fair number trolls.  But even trolls can sometimes be useful in the learning process, if you can pick the 1% (rounded up) of legitimate criticism out of their inane hooting and bellowing.

I won’t bore you with every little discovery I’ve made right now. Not only would that be prohibitively long, but would also deprive me of blog fodder for later.  But I’ll let you in on three things I learned for myself about blogging:

1)  Pick your subjects as if you write for yourself; write the subject for other people.  I write about geeky things because I love geeky things.  Left to my own devices I would spend every waking moment thinking about this stuff (luckily, my devices are often packed away in a box).  And if I were just writing for me, the blog could be as haphazard and chaotic as the things teeming about in my brain, because only I would get to see it.  But I don’t just want to write about geek culture, I want to communicate my love of geek culture to other people.  That requires me to hold my writing to a higher standard.  For me, that has come to mean that I do not just finish writing and hit post. I go back through and edit, I make sure that the post is saying what I want it to say in a way that will be understood, and hopefully enjoyed.  Because the blog isn’t just about me; ultimately I want it to be a conversation I have with my readers. If I want a good conversation, I have to hold up my end.

2)  Write like it’s a job, but in a good way.  Early in my blogging “career” I struggled with my writing.  Not the technical aspects, I have a decent grasp of those.  No, I suffered from Not Planting My Ass in Front of the Computer to Write Syndrome, which is a disease that afflicts many new bloggers, some so severely that their blogs just waste away.  For Renaissance Dork, I didn’t want that to happen.  So I treated it like a job, like there were people depending on me to put out a blog five days a week.  Are there such people? Chances are good, no, no one’s day is ruined if they don’t hear from me.  But that little lie to myself carried me from “have to write everyday” to “want to write everyday”.  And wanting to write everyday has made a huge difference in my writing plans outside of the blog.

3)  If the worst thing that happens in my Comments is someone says something mean, then I’m still having a great day.  Look, no one can tell you what your troll thresh-hold should be.  Mine is pretty high, I’ve learned, because the relatively few trolling comments left on my blog left me feeling…meh.  Almost every troll has remained anonymous, and the few that didn’t used false IDs.  So how seriously am I going to take what they say?  The answer is, not seriously at all.  And I should stipulate that I don’t consider disagreement to be trolling.  You can disagree with me; heck, you can even disagree angrily.  I even encourage you to play devil’s advocate and oppose my viewpoint just for discussion’s sake.  But there is no need to be a douche-canoe about it.

So one way or another, trolls don’t bother me.  What comments do bother me?  The ones that don’t get left; no comments means my post was just okay. But that just pushes me to write better.  After I’m done crying, of course.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments below.  Until next time, good geeking!