Game Masters - spawning of a genre, Olga Olha's "Amanda", Kevin G. Chapman Coming eve
International GM's Day
Today we celebrate Game Masters, who are known as GMs for short.
Spunkrat, a user on EN World's message board who later changed their username to Heathen72, made a post on December 4, 2002, proposing the idea for a day honoring GMs. They asked for suggestions for a date, and a user named Mark suggested March 4, because it was not only a date but a command that may be used in a role-playing game—"march forth." This is the date the messageboard community settled on, and the day spread to the rest of the role-playing game community.
On today's holiday, the work GMs do is celebrated, and they are given thanks and gifts. Deals on role-playing games can often be found in stores and from game publishing companies. Since 2008, the day has held greater significance, because Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax died on the holiday that year.
GMs date to the early 1970s. They were used in play-by-mail games, where players chose actions to take such as moving armies and mailed their moves the GM. The GM would mail back updated versions of the game to all players after recording all the moves. Some early examples of other games with GMs include Ironclad, Blackmoor and Chivalry & Sorcery.
GMs may have any number of jobs, such as organizing and moderating role-playing games, developing nonplayer characters, and making sure game rules are followed.
In tabletop role-playing games, they bring character's stories together, solve disputes, and controls aspects players aren't involved in.
In online games, they often enforce rules and provide customer service. They are often known as referees, game managers, and game moderators, and different gaming systems may have different names for them that may reflect their primary job related to the game. For example, they may be called a director, narrator, judge, or referee.
Some names reflect the name of the game, such as a Dungeon Master, or DM, for Dungeons and Dragons. Today we celebrate GMs no matter what their role is and what official name they are given.
International GM's Day, also known as Game Master's Appreciation Day and Game Master's Day, is being observed today! It has been observed annually on March 4th since 2003.
Celebrate the day by playing an online role-playing game or a tabletop role-playing game. Find out who the GM behind the game is and thank them for their work. Perhaps you already are a diehard gamer and know who the GM of your favorite game is. In that case, it may be easier to thank them and give them a gift.
Many stores and publishing companies have deals today, so be sure to keep an eye out for them. Some places to look include DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, Dungeon Masters Guild, and Storytellers Vault. You could also check out the Facebook page dedicated to the day.
Last week our author guest was Olga Olha Segal who brings us her character Amanda this week.
1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.
I’m Amanda Blake.
2. Tell us where and when were you born.
I was born in Orange, NSW, Australia.
3. How would you describe yourself?
I am hardworking and my passion is photographing wildlife.
4. Tell us about where you grew up.
I grew up in a suburb of Sydney and had parents that never showed me any affection.
5. How old are you?
I’m thirty years old and never married, but I want to marry some day.
6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
My childhood was difficult as my mother and father were strict and I rarely received any Christmas presents.
7. What do you value above all else in life?
I value my camera.
8. What are you obsessed with?
Photography and my cameras.
9. Biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that I will not be able to support myself with my photography. That it will end as I feel so lucky doing what I love.
10. What line will you never cross?
I would never kill another human unless I was in danger of losing my life.
11. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?
I met my mother today. I don't know exactly what I expected but one thing for sure was that I didn't think I'd look so much like her.
I want so desperately to like Jean but I'm at sixes and sevens trying to get used to the knowledge that I have a natural mother. She seems to be trying hard to help me come to terms with all this but I'm resisting and I can't help it. It's tearing me apart as all I was used to was a woman who I thought to be my mother, Elaine, who died when I was twelve. But now I know different.
Funny how life throws a curve ball at you and you can't duck it no matter what you do. The picture below is an antique camera from my little collection. I'm a professional photographer and love what I do. I fly all over the world taking pictures of wildlife and go to places where few people have been.
12. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
When I was 14, I was in a school play and I forgot my lines.
13. Biggest secret?
I’m obsessively watching my weight and try not to eat.
14. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
15. What is your current goal?
To be the best photographer in the world.
Here's a newer genre of fiction that comes with a murky past.
Let’s dispel the mystery and dig into what LitRPG actually is, according to the community and the genre’s various founders.
LitRPG or Literary Role Playing Games is a sub-genre of fiction where characters enter into or play, a role-playing game. LitRPG has the flexibility to encompass other sub-genres depending on the world a character exists in or enters into. This includes but is not limited to: Fables, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, and Mystery.
Often times, characters in a LitRPG story have their consciousness uploaded into a game, or they enter into a game, through fully immersive virtual reality systems. In this game, the characters usually have the ability to level up, complete quests, and gain rare items.
Main Elements of LitRPG
Many forums and groups in the community have discussed what makes a book LitRPG and what doesn’t. Indeed, many new authors want to understand this as they attempt to break into the explosive market of LitRPG.
To understand LitRPG there are three main elements you need to look into;
The main world
The game world
The connection between the two
The main world in a LitRPG book is not limited to today’s landscape. It can take the form of the past, the future, or something else entirely,
The game world usually follows the conventional definition of a role-playing game -“a game in which players assume the roles of fantasy characters”. This point has incited debate about whether or not other games like shooters can be included in LitRPG. More on this later.
The connection between the main world and the game can also take on a variety of formats based on the story. Most successful authors like Ernest Cline of Ready Player One and Charles Stross of Halting State focus on this element of LitRPG. However, a vast majority of LitRPG authors choose to limit the interaction between the main world and the game. Settling on a story that mostly exists in the game world. Some even completely kill off the real world in an apocalyptic event. This method is often easiest for authors and still admittedly fun for the readers. It allows readers to suspend their disbelief and get immersed in a game world without the story being classified as strictly fantasy.
Gamelit’s original intention was to cover all LitRPG type books that didn’t actually fall into the LitRPG genre. However, as LitRPG became more popular and it’s definition more solidified by the community, Gamelit has begun to be viewed by the community as a synonym for LitRPG.
Shooters and other games that are not classified as an RPG can and do exist in a LitRPG stories. For the purpose of this example, we will use a shooter as a stand-in for all games that do not usually fit the definition of a role-playing game.
The MC enters into or plays a shooter. Effectively role-playing as that character.
The MC’s main world or game is a shooter and he progresses over time and gets stronger.
In summary, the third element of LitRPG (the interplay between the main world and the game) often allows for classically non-RPG games to take on RPG elements. If it doesn’t, a common trope of LitRPG is used: character progression.
To understand the differences in these two terms we must dig into common themes and tropes of LitRPG, more below.
UPDATE! The above information regarding Gamelit may be inaccurate. Here is the full history and purpose of Gamelit by one of the authors that coined the term!
LitRPG is believed to have been around for almost 3 decades, but the genre wasn’t actually named until around 2013. That year, Russia’ largest publishing house (EKSMO) began their infamous campaign that coined the term LitRPG.
Here is a timeline of notable events.
1980-2007 – Various LitRPG books are published without the actual term, including the 1/2 Prince.
2007 – The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor was published in Korea.
2010 – The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor is translated to Russian, starting a surge of interest in the unnamed genre.
2011 – Ready Player One, an American novel, was published.
2013 – Spurred on by the popularity of The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor and of this unnamed genre; Russian publisher EKSMO, and authors Vasily Mahanenko, Dmitry Malkin, and Alex Bobl coin the term LitRPG.
2014 – Moonlight Sculptor surpasses 1 million copies sold and 3 million cumulative readers.
2015 – Magic Dome Books begins translating best-selling Russian LitRPG books to English.
2015 – A movie based off Ready Player One and directed by Steven Spielberg is announced.
2017 – More than 2,200 LitRPG books are available through Amazon.com.
Common Tropes & Themes of LitRPG
Below are the common tropes of LitRPG and what the community enjoys in the genre. These LitRPG tropes often separate the genre from GameLit.
An interface or system messages that inform characters of interactions with the game world. I.E; “experience gained”, “level up”, “weapon acquired”, “you cannot open that treasure chest because your lockpicking skill is too low”, etc.
Clearly defined rules in the game world.
The presence of non-player characters (NPCs) and their interesting interactions with real-world characters This article can be seen online at this address
INFLUENCE AND REACH OF
GAME LIT AND LIT-RPG
AUTHORS I KNOW
(AND YOU SHOULD KNOW THEM TOO!)
Kevin G. Chapman is the next author we'll meet. Welcome Kevin!
What made you want to be a writer?
I’m a lawyer, so I write for a living (in a way). My job requires me to draft arguments, which ultimately involves telling a compelling story.
I wrote poetry and songs as a teenager, and in college I read a novel that had a disappointing ending. My professor challenged me that if I didn’t like it, I should prove that I could do better, so re-wrote the ending. It was better. But I had law school and then the beginning of my working life and had a child and . . . well . . . you know how it is – no time to write.
Then, in 1991, I got laid off from my job and had three months with little to do aside from job hunting. I decided to use the time and started writing my first novel, a detective mystery featuring a New York City private investigator named Rick LaBlonde. I enjoyed the writing process, but then got a new job and the novel went on the shelf. Plus, it was the early 90s so there was no amazon.com to publish an independent author.
I pitched the book to a few literary agents, but it’s impossible. The book got published when my wife gifted it to me for our 20th wedding anniversary and paid to have it self-published by Xlibris. I still have a few copies left from that one and only printing of Identity Crisis: A Rick LaBlonde Mystery. Since then, I’ve dreamed of someday retiring from my legal career and becoming a full-time author.
When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.
My next novel will be the second installment in the Mike Stoneman Thriller series, titled Deadly Enterprise: A Mike Stoneman Thriller. I expect it to be published this fall. My current novel, Righteous Assassin: A Mike Stoneman Thriller is Mike Stoneman #1.
Both books are crime dramas starring NYPD Homicide detective Mike Stoneman and his partner, Jason Dickson. Righteous Assassin is a serial killer chase in which Mike and Jason, along with an FBI profiler, track a mysterious killer who is taking out criminals and other scumbags on the last Saturday of each month.
In the next story, Deadly Enterprise, Mike and Jason investigate the death of a young girl that at first appears to be a routine drug overdose, but there is more to it. The investigation leads Mike in several directions and points to the involvement of some cops who have decided to make some money on the side and whose entrepreneurship has led them in a dark direction. Mike will have to confront some of his colleagues and confront his own ethical ambiguity.
How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?
Reading is critical. I encourage all aspiring writers to read, and to read many different genres. Don’t stay in your comfort zone. Read mysteries and sci-fi and romance and adventure. Get free books (available all over) and then post reviews, which forces you to really think about what you have read. Different authors with different voices and styles help you hone in on how you want your writer’s voice to sound. Reading good writing helps you know what it looks like, and reading some bad writing helps you identify the flaws in your own prose.
Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I remember reading was Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. I read a lot of sci-fi as a young adult, including Edgar Rice Burroughs (loved the Martian Chronicles), Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land is perhaps my favorite book of all time), and Isaac Asimov.
What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading “Brush Back” by Sara Paretsky. I’m also reading the Marc Kadella “Justice” series by Dennis Carstens. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and reviewing lately.
How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?
I created the character of Mike Stoneman for a short story I wrote for a writing competition sponsored by the New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association. The competition required the story to be about law or crime and I created a cop who is around my age. I got the idea for a serial killer who is a kind of macabre Robin Hood – killing off rich scumbags who have evaded justice. The killer thinks he’s doing God’s work, cleansing the world of evil sinners. I had to find a nickname that the New York tabloid newspapers would come up with to refer to the killer once his rampage became public and I settled on the “Righteous Assassin.”
Which character do you identify with most in your novel?
There’s a lot of me in the Mike Stoneman character. He’s dedicated and highly moral, but he also recognizes that all issues are not black and white and he has some rough edges. Unlike my last novel, where I had a very autobiographical character, Mike is not really me at all, but he’s certainly my center.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The events in Righteous Assassin are entirely fictional. But, the setting – New York City – is where I get to draw upon my experiences living in the City for nine years. Mike Stoneman’s apartment is my old building and all of the places on the upper west side are real. My New York friends have been very happy that I got the details of the City right, which many authors seem to have trouble with.
To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I draw upon experiences I’ve already had, so I have not needed to travel to new locations in order to get inspiration for new venues. My first mystery novel was set partly in New York and partly in Bermuda, which is a place I know very well. If I’d travelled to a different island, I would have written about that, so it’s not as if I’m travelling just to do story research. If I’m lucky, the Mike Stoneman series will last long enough that I’ll need to do that! The third book in the series is scheduled to take place on a cruise ship, so I’ll be drawing upon my extensive experience on cruises for that one.
Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.
I’m so busy at work that I write whenever I have spare time. I write on airplanes, on the sofa while watching baseball games, during quiet moments around the house, and anywhere else I can get a chunk of time. I can’t afford to be picky about the atmosphere or I’d never finish anything.
What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?
I’m a gum-chewer, so that’s a must have. Also diet Pepsi.
Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?
Marketing. Handling advertising and selling. I love doing signings and talking about the books, but the mechanics of marketing I could do without. I have writing to do!
What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? If it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can.
I wish I had a great story about overcoming some great obstacle, but I really don’t. The biggest problem I have is finding the time to write when I’m not working or attending to family business.
When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?
My wife, Sharon, is a great inspiration. She helps me brainstorm ideas and characters and plot continuity and proofreads my stuff. When I need a good idea, Sharon is always there.
How do you market your book?
On my third attempt now, I’ve learned (some) from prior mistakes. I tried to work up a big list of folks who got a direct email on publication, and I set up a Facebook page and website for the book so that I could sell directly as well as on amazon. I also blitzed the local newspapers and online news sites where I could get on. I got a few other authors to give me promotional quotes for the back cover so that I had a nice poster.
I also contacted local book stores, who were happy to stock a local author and I set up a few early book signings in book stores.
Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.
I’ve had nice conversations with many of my readers, but the best are the comments from readers who know me from my non-writer life. I’ve had several people who purchased the book only because they wanted to be nice to me later tell me that they read the book and “it’s as good as a real book.” I’ve been fortunate to get some really great reviews and comments during reviews. Here are a few:
“Kevin Chapman is the East Coast distributor of tension. Righteous Assassin eats it, drinks it and breathes it.” --- Greg Prince, Author of Faith and Fear in Flushing.
"Mike Stoneman hunts down a high-tech serial killer – the old-fashioned way – in this sizzling mystery thriller." -- - Saul Warshaw, author of Loose Ends/Mind Tricks.
“A taut thriller that moves with lightning speed. If you enjoyed Seven, you’re in for a treat.”
- Anna Willett, author of Small Town Nightmare.
“Excellent writing, good character development, edge-of-your-seat pacing, and significant, sometimes explicit violence” -- Bruce Perrin, author of the Mind Sleuth series.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book.. In fact, I read it all the way through at first sitting, even though that kept me up way too late. It is a real page-turner. . . . I highly recommend Righteous Assassins. In fact, I have sent it as a gift to friends who are thriller aficionados because I know they will enjoy it.” – Carol K on amazon.com.
Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?
My wife reads everything, but I also have a small circle of beta readers who read and tell me what’s wrong and right. But most important is my daughter, who is also my editor. Samantha Chapman is a professional freelance editor and has a really keen eye, especially for character development and plot issues. (Find her at SamanthaMChapman.com)
Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.
My very first signing was at a Barnes & Noble in south Jersey in 2003. The store was home to a mystery book club and I got them to invite me in for a discussion about my first novel. They had about fifty chairs set up mid-store and a big poster with the cover of my book that said “Meet the Author.” I was stoked, and pretty nervous. I guess it was easier in those days because today I can’t get a whiff from my local Barnes & Nobel. There were only about fifteen people who showed up for that first signing, but I stood at a podium and pretended to be a “real” author for a half hour, then I signed hard-cover copies of the book. If only those folks (mostly ladies) knew how valuable those first editions are – there are only about 200 in existence.
Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?
My last novel, A Legacy of One, was much more a “message” book. That one was about identity and individual accountability and morality and integrity. Righteous Assassin includes a few subtle points about tolerance, rushing to judgment, and loyalty, but it’s not intended to have deep meaning. It’s supposed to be fun!
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I have this question posted on the book’s Facebook page. My favorite suggestion to play the part of Mike Stoneman is Sam Rockwell (and not just because of the symmetry of “Rock” and “Stone”). I have already got a few pages of “screenplay notes” for things I would want to insert into the screenplay that were not in the book.
Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Dorothy Parker. She was such a bad-ass radical intellectual. I would drink with her all night.
Do you have any hobbies?
I’m an avid tournament poker player and golfer.
What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a Star Trek geek. I love Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic view of the future and all the interesting moral/ethical issues that the writers intertwine with the action in the Star Trek shows. Have the DVDs of every episode of TOS, TNG, DS9, and Voyager and I watch them on a cycle while exercising in the mornings. As for current or recent shows, I love Dexter, Game of Thrones, and Homeland.
Fudgie the Whale (Carvel ice cream cake). Sushi.
What’s your sign, lucky number.
I’m not superstitious about numbers and such. My New York Jets jersey is #51. My New York Mets jersey is #10, but that’s mostly an homage to former Met Kelvin Chapman.
What’s your favorite color.
New York Mets Blue & Orange
What music do you hear in your latest book.
Mike Stoneman, like me, loves classic rock. I also love jazz, but I don’t picture Mike as a jazz guy.
Do you have hobbies other than writing?
As noted earlier, I love to play poker. This is my main hobby, which includes reading about poker, studying strategy, and playing a lot of cards. It takes time away from writing, but it gives my mind something totally different to think about. I love meeting new people around the card table and learning interesting things. Several characters in my books have come from people I met while playing cards.
Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’ll be dead. I will be writing until I’m gone. I write many things that are just for myself. When my family looks through my computer files after I’m gone, there will be some surprises and there will be a lot of material for others to look at and hopefully appreciate that was never published.
You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Drinking the best scotch I can get my hands on.
What do you want written on your head stone?
I have never thought about this one. How about “Loving husband, devoted father, celebrated lawyer, and best-selling author.”
Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?
Oh, so many. I had dates at the top of every chapter to help the reader follow the time line, but in the middle of the July dates I had a chapter that said “June.” I had to get a patch with the correct date and physically paste the patch onto the pages of the books, which had already been printed. You would think I would catch that in proofreading! I also should have hired a professional editor, but it was my first book and I had neither the money nor the wisdom.
What kind of advice can you give to other aspiring authors?
Write the ending first. So many books lose steam because the author doesn’t seem to know where the story’s going and it just meanders along. Have a precise outline of each important development during the plot arc and write to the outline. That way the pacing will flow naturally. Also, get a good editor. No matter how many times you read and re-read yourself, you won’t see things that an editor will see –and not just typos and grammar – a good editor will see the bigger picture and the holes in your characters and story. Fixing that will make your book so much better.
When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?
My wife. No question. She’s smarter than I am in many ways.
Tell us how we may get a copy of your book. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.)
Righteous Assassin is available as a Kindle ebook or paperback from amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JJDZZC1.
Readers who want to bypass amazon can go to this link for other retailers for the ebook, including Barnes & Nobel, Kobo, and others: books2read.com/u/mqVGr1. I’ll be happy to send an autographed paperback copy to anyone who wants to order one directly from my website at www.kevingchapman.com.
Note that from March 13 through March 20, 2019, Righteous Assassin will be available as a Kindle ebook for only $1.99 on amazon.com. This is a special promotional price, so get ‘em while they’re cheap!
Social media links and websites?
You've all been busy this year!!
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And so February draws to a close! I'm thanking all of you for your support and want you to stay tuned for out support winner announced on my Children of Stone Facebook Page. IT'S PARTY HAT TIME. First if the top 15 winners to respond gets to pick a prize!
March 11 Dream Day
LitRPG and GameLit Authors Lucid Dreaming and me. Prepping for a live show: Authors and Dancers against Cancer - Perrysburg, OH March 15-16
Amanda Rose Interview – Comicon Kevin Chapman Character + Promo
March 18 Goddess of Fertility Day Children of Stone and the goddesses A report on a live show
Amanda Rose Character – Release Info
Christen Stovall Interview
March 25 Pecan Day