Category Archives: [A-Z]

[A-Z] D is for D&D

DnDPH Yesterday’s post about kobolds made me think about my old Dungeons and Dragons days. I used to play a lot of D&D. I mean a lot. I played a little in junior high and high school, but I really became addicted in college. My friends and I would play for hours on end, several days a week. When I lived with my friend Matt, he and I spent hours and hours discussing the philosophy of gaming, its mechanics, its dynamics, and so on. I even took a quarter off from college in my sophomore year to play even more D&D (well, that and to refresh my brain that had become stale on too much… well, whatever it was I was studying at the time). In short, I really loved the game.

While immersed in D&D, I discovered that I really enjoyed being the Dungeon Master (DM), the guy who created the settings that the players would explore and interact with, and who would create the storylines and plots that drove each game session. During college — and for many years after college — D&D and other role-playing games — was where most of my creative energies were focused. I didn’t do a lot of writing in those days. I created wizards and dragons and empires and desperate moral dilemmas for my players to muddle through. There was a time when I considered those years “lost” in terms of my creativity, since so much time I spent playing and DMing I could have spent writing. However, it was recently pointed out to me that those creative energies were not wasted after all; I provided thoughtful and challenging entertainment for dozens of players over the years. When I moved on to running Live Action Role Playing games, the scope of the sessions expanded from five or six to several dozen at a time. Creating storylines and plots that so many people could get involved in and enjoy was challenging and plenty of fun, but exhausting.

These days, I don’t run nearly as many games as I used to. Back in the day, it wasn’t unusual for me to run two separate campaigns at the same time, one session per campaign per week (yes, that’s two or more gaming sessions of six to seven hours each per week). Nowadays, because all of us players have lives and jobs and families that demand attention, the gaming sessions are much more sparse, with weeks or even months between individual sessions.

I used to bemoan those years when my creativity could have gone into my writing. These days, though, I’m pretty grateful for those years. I made a lot of great friends. I learned a lot about storytelling. And so even though I’ve moved on from Dungeons and Dragons (I play Pathfinder now), I’ll always be grateful to that game and all its myriad editions, and to the time I spent with it, and to the people I shared it with.

Edited to add: I don’t know how I could have failed to mention this, but I actually met my wife during a Dungeons and Dragons game. So that’s pretty cool too.

[A-Z] K is for Kobolds

D&DKoboldWinston Churchill had his “little black dog” of depression that followed him everywhere. I have my kobolds.

Kobolds are, of course, little annoying sprite-like critters from Germanic folklore. But I think of them in the D&D sense, since I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since I was in junior high school. They’re low-level creatures, with few hit points, which means that any fighter with decent swordsmanship skill can take one out. On the other hand, they often attack in swarms, they lay cunning traps, and they ambush the good guys. So to my mind, they make the perfect metaphor for my depression. It can attack in singles (a pretty good day marred by a momentary bad mood), or in swarms (days or weeks when I just feel plain ol’ shitty for no reason at all). Swarms, traps, and ambushes. The metaphor can be extended indefinitely.

And I’ve been feeling those kobolds swarming for the past week and a half now. And tonight it’s pretty bad too. So you get a short entry tonight, all about kobolds, because I just don’t have the energy to post any more.

[A-Z] R is for Reviews. Reviews are nice.

Have you read The Winds of Patwin County yet? Did you enjoy it? Did you not? Either way, if you write a review of it on Goodreads, Amazon, or Booklikes, I’d greatly appreciate it. And the first five people to write reviews get a free paperback copy of the novella when it comes out on May 1! How awesome is that?

But I feel kind of like a hypocrite when I ask for reviews. When it comes down to it, I’m not much of a reviewer myself. I’ve written a couple of book reviews here on my blog, but that was long before reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon were a thing. I also wrote a review of SyFy’s interpretation of Flash Gordon once on this blog, and it wasn’t a positive one. But, on the whole, I just haven’t written that many reviews.

Am I a bad person for that?

In other news, it’s come to my attention that I ought to issue a content warning for my novella. It’s got some violence. Some gore. No graphic sex, but plenty of graphic discussion of sex, and lots of misogyny from one particular character. This character doesn’t represent me (more on this sort of thing in a future blog post), and he’s pretty awful.

If this sort of thing turns you off, then I honestly don’t mind if you decide to give The Winds of Patwin County a pass. There’s plenty of other good fiction (some nearly as good as mine) out there.

This blog post is brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge. R is the fourth letter of the alphabet, right?

[A-Z] X is for X-Ray

I took a three-week break from Facebook since it’s such a big time sink and because I’ve got a few projects to work on. During that period, I accomplished much: I wrote about 3,000 words on an outline of my current novel Code Monkey, and about 2,000 on an outline of my other current novel, Brought to Life. I also wrote a couple of short stories. I made no progress on the advanced PHP/SQL course I’m taking for work, but I expect to catch up on that Any Day Now.

But by far my greatest accomplishment was probably falling down the stairs in our house and injuring myself pretty severely. What happened was this: as I was going downstairs with a load of laundry, I noticed a towel and a pillow on one step. I made to step over them, and ended up missing the step together. I could not compensate, naturally, and fell down the rest of the three or four steps in the staircase.

My wife heard the thud and thump and my crying out and rushed to the staircase and asked immediately if I was all right. And, of course, me being a Manly Man, I responded, “I’m fine!” even though I knew I could barely move my right arm and my right foot was shooting red pain all the way up to my skull.

“I’m fine,” I repeated later that day as I lifted my right arm with my left in order to eat a piece of pie (it was Pi Day, after all, and we had guests over to celebrate).

“I’m fine,” I said again as I limped to bed.

The next day, though, I was ready to admit that I wasn’t quite as fine after all. So on Tuesday I went to the doctor and got X-rays done of my shoulder and my foot. There was no bone damage to my foot, just impressive bruising. But my shoulder… well, that was a different story. My doctor identified a “chip fracture”, which I guess means a tiny little chip of bone was knocked off my humerus. He sent me to an orthopedist, who confirmed the chip fracture and also told me that there’s a tiny bit of separation between my rotator cuff and whatever bone it’s attached to. Not enough to warrant surgery, of course, but enough to warrant some PT exercises and Advil. Lots and lots of Advil. What he said in essence was, “This is probably going to hurt for a couple of months. Come back in May and we’ll take another look.”

It’s been nearly three weeks, and I’m feeling much better. My foot barely hurts at all at this point (though I’m still a bit gimpy in the mornings when I first get out of bed). My shoulder is still painful, but I’ve recovered a lot of range of movement, so I can even put on shirts without crying now. This is important, as you can probably imagine. I figured out how to do a lot of things with my left hand: brushing my teeth with only my left hand, showering with only my left hand, eating, getting dressed, etc. I never did figure out the trick of shaving with just my left hand, so I’m looking a bit scruffy these days (fortunately no one cares at my office, where, because we’re a creative organization, we’ve developed a sort of deliberate casualness).

I still get grumpy about the pain in my shoulder, of course. But I expect it will get better soon. And I can point at my humerus and explain that in all my years, it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced a bone break.

Next time I take a break from social media, I expect to accomplish something more impressive.

This post is for the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I’m not doing the alphabet in order. Sorry about that.

[A-Z] N is for Noodlin’



It’s been a long time since I’ve seen or listened to a Marx Brothers show, but I’m still a fan. Have been since my mother gave me an album of theirs for my… uh… twelfth birthday? Maybe it was my thirteenth? At any rate, I was pretty young, but I loved the album, which was something like “Marx Brothers Classics Volume 2”. I listened to it obsessively for months, possibly years. I had every one of Groucho’s jokes memorized, and while I never got around to learning to play the harp (or was ever interested for that matter), I did certainly appreciate Harpo’s talent on that instrument.

There were some neat guests on that album (I think Doris Day was one), but the one I really remember is Oscar Levant. He played an instrument (I think it was a violin? Again, I was very young), and did an improvisation with Harpo that I thought was brilliant. Groucho asked what the two would be playing and Levant answered, “We’re just going to noodle around.” And so that’s what they did.

I spend a lot of time doing that myself: improvising on what I’m going to do, what decisions I’m going to make, where I’m going in my career (both writing and tech). I have a feeling that noodlin’ around is what adult humans do the most. I certainly remember thinking at times when I was a teenager that I couldn’t wait until I was an adult and would have my act together; little did I know that “having your act together” is just a myth, and that adults don’t really have any better an idea what they’re doing than the kids do.

So I just noodle around, poking my head into various projects and tasks until my to do list becomes unwieldy and I start to panic about the number of novels I’ve started outlining and the number of new features I’m going to implement into our product at work. Right now I’m working on two novels and three short stories, primarily because I’ve managed to whittle my project list down significantly. I have a “top ten” list of projects at work which has ballooned, sort of like the early Universe in its hyper-inflationary period, into a couple dozen. I like to think that I do a pretty good job of condensing it into an easily-managed list on another platform.

See? Noodlin’.

Just like I’m noodlin’ through this A-Z challenge. I thought about doing the letters in order, I really did. But then yesterday I realized that the only A word I could come up with was “Antelope”, and I have nothing clever to say about antelopes, so I decided to start with another letter entirely, and copy what my wife did by working with the letter H.

There’s still no plan.

Groucho would have been proud.

[A-Z] H is for Howdy!

This is my first post for the A-Z Blogging Challenge for the month of April.

I have no theme.

I have no idea what I’m going to blog about for the next 25 days.

I have no plan.

So this post is simply a “Hello, there!” post for you. Hello. My name is Richard S. Crawford. I go by Richard, though for reasons that I will not divulge here my family calls me Scott. I’m a writer who is also a career web developer.

This post is late. Sorry about that.

It’s also disjointed. Sorry about that too.

So I think I’ll just post this one, let it hang out there in the wild for a little bit, then post the second one later today. Then hopefully I can stay on track for the rest of the month.

Also, I like cats.