As a writer needless to say, I love journals almost to the same capacity as Fahrenheit 451’s Faber’s love of books. Whether they are composition notebooks, faux leather covered journals, just anything I can write my unending ideas into is amazing to me. Sometimes, I need a little more than what a nice journal from Barnes and Noble can offer. I needed something to help me take notes on a fantasy novel that I want to write. So why not try making my own? This is my journey in learning bookbinding.

First things first: supplies and tools. Reading all the books and crafty blogs I could find, I had a general gist of what I needed for my dream fantasy journal:

  • Large mixed media paper
  • Waxed linen cord
  • Sewing awl
  • Pleather
  • Lots of cardboard
  • Paper cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • PVA glue
  • Book linen tape; if you can’t find linen tape, blanket binding and duck cloth are some of the alternatives you can use (optional, but good for reinforcing book seams)
  • Bone folder (optional, but helps the folds be more even)
  • Repair needles
  • Scissors
  • Exacto knives and utility knives

In most scenarios, I would have needed to cut the paper to the size I wanted the page to be. Fortunately for me, it was the perfect size.

Fold each paper in half and group them in sets—these are called folios. Most sites recommended doing folios in sets of 6-8 pages. I wanted to make the most of my mixed media paper so I did 9 folios that way I would have 72 pages to work with when I started writing. Once finished, they needed to be pressed flat by either a heavy object or a book press. Being the poor college student, what could I use? I know textbooks!

Next I had to think where to stab holes into these folios. I needed enough for the linen cord to go through and secure it. So I measured and made 8 holes equidistant to each other before sewing them together. Then I added some PVA glue to secure it. That was when a minor disaster struck. I had no way of stopping the glue drippage or preventing it from sticking to the pages.

Mistake #1: Dry folios on a nonstick surface and in a position where glue won’t run.

Now the hard part: planning the journal’s set-up. I knew I wanted to have within the front cover something to unroll, so I could draw a map for my fantasy land. But with the limited cardboard that I had, there were only so many ways I could make the cover unfurl. It became a mess of me laying it out, drawing diagrams, researching different folds and journal making techniques. Oh my gosh, so much geometry! After a month and a half of planning, I figured it out, and it was time to sew it and glue it together.

Of course, geometry is needed or just plain measurements. Only problem is that it is a lot of geometry and planning. Fortunately, I recently took a quilting class, so my math knowledge wasn’t lost to high school memories.

Then came the hard part, which was assembling everything: the folio, the journal, and sewing the pleather onto it. This was so hard, especially since I haven’t used the sewing awl that much and kept constantly pricking myself on it.

Pro tip: Do not use pins for thick materials, clips work way better and are a lot less prickly even if you are only hemming. In my case, binder clips work and are lot cheaper than if you bought professional quilting binder clips.

Even though I hemmed, I still used the awl again to fix the pleather to the base board for my outer portfolio.

This took a few more hours to do. But it was well worth my time in securing the fabric.

Once I had finished the outer folder, I thought I should move on to cover the inner journal. However, I realized something. I want the map to be removable, so that I may openly reference it. How could I do that? I didn’t know. And as of now, I still don’t know. Once again, I will return to my planning. Hopefully soon, I can finish this journal. Still I hope this gives a general idea for all you aspiring journal makers out there. Remember, most things are trial and error. Even if you do make some mistakes like I did, the process in making it and those mistakes add a little piece of yourself to your work.

– Angelica Dimson

How you tell a story can be easily overlooked, but it is easily the most important thing to consider as a writer.

A few weeks ago, I recorded an audio post with two fellow editors at OAR, talking about the effects of role-playing games and tabletops. These past few weeks since, I’ve spent hour after hour of my time playing even more games and thinking about the ones I’ve played in the past. Being keen to analysis of many things, I started to question things.

Would these games be different as novels? Would these pieces of short fiction be different if they were illustrated? What other ways could these stories be told that would make them even better than they already are?

Now, I never went into detail about my experience with the game, Dread, in the audio post. ( Warning to anyone who wants to play the game; most of the post ahead will include spoilers for the Dread scenario “13”.)

In that game of Dread, I was playing a young girl named Charlie. She was 12 years old, lived a sheltered life, and had no idea how to handle a haunted mansion with rooms that shifted locations. She couldn’t handle any of that, let alone a cat-like, ceiling-crawling monster. For the first half hour of this game, Charlie and I had both been lead to believe that this creature was out to kill the team.

Melissa KleinHad it been a short story, the audience could have been screaming the truth at me. He’s not out to kill you! Don’t stab him, but that was exactly what I did. The tension that the game created turned my paranoia into a specific action: one that ended up killing my most powerful ally in the fiction of the game.

Playing off that tension is the entire point of the game.

I thought, for a long time, how much differently that tale could have been told in a different medium. As a writer, you have to consider scenarios. How could these scenes be written more effectively? How might the audience be reading this? Could they read this a lot differently than I do?

How you tell a story can be easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. Keep in mind what your medium can do for you as a writer, because you have a great deal of control over what the audience will interpret. Use that to your advantage.

Bring the world to life without having to throw in a Jenga tower.

– Melissa Klein

As writers, we feel a huge amount of pressure to be original 24/7. Works derived from others are seen as being watered down, tasteless, and just plain rude. Why is this? As writers, we are constantly hyper-aware of other writers’ ideas and fearful of plagiarism – as we should be – but why do we feel equally guilty for taking writing pointers from the authors we love most?

When you think about it, it’s impossible to grow without mimicking someone else. The only reason we ever learned language is because we repeated whatever came out of our parents’ mouths. We decided whatever genre of music was the “coolest” based on what our older siblings played for us. We learned how to do our makeup by copying our mothers and sisters. If this is how we learn everything else, why can’t it be applied to writing?

This semester was the first time I ever took an English class in which I never had to write an analytical paper. Instead, my professor urged us to engage with each text in a creative way and put ourselves into the shoes of the writers (and even the characters!) themselves. This was an eye opener for me! It was so much fun to think about how Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby) would fare if she were plopped into the prize fighter’s campsite (In Our Time, “The Battler”) or how differently Their Eyes Were Watching God would unfold had it been written from Janie’s first-person point of view. I had the chance to adopt the voice of Lorelei (Gentemen Prefer Blondes) and stage a scene in the town of North Dormer (Summer). Engaging with the works we’ve studied in this way allows us not only to gain a better understanding of the author’s intentions but also to expand our own writing techniques in ways we never imagined.

While I’m not encouraging you to republish the entire Game of Thrones series under different character names or to write about a cult of stay-at-home-moms who use all the same spells as Harry Potter, please don’t ever be shy to look at your work from another angle or borrow the techniques of others. If you’re stuck in a rut, try rewriting a scene in third person. Change your main character’s gender. Introduce the protagonist of one story to the antagonist of your favorite novel. Give one of your characters a thick southern accent. As long as these classics are on our reading lists, we might as well learn a thing or two from them!

Good luck and happy experimenting!

– Mary Wilson

5) Davis McCombs- Ultima Thule

When I was a sophomore, I’d only known the superstars of the poetry world: Hass, Dove, Wojahn, Komunyakaa. Ultima Thule, the 1999 Yale Younger Series winner, was literary mouthwash at a time when I’d only had practice dissecting memory narrative. A deep imagist, McCombs realizes primitive truths through the voice of Stephen—a cave guide hired to spelunk the enormous Mammoth Cave Park. This is a good book to read in the winter.

Check out: Star Cavern

4) Laura Kasischke- Housekeeping in a Dream

As a big fan of Plath and W.D Snodgrass, finding Laura Kasischke was one of the major steps that propelled me as a beginning writer. She helped bridge the gap between the old and new, with spunk and exceptional craft. Her attitude lets stanzas detonate down the page—though some of the greatest moments come in the slowing of time—

“God exists.

Instead we are teenage girls, drunk

at one of those awful carnivals”

Check out: Fatima

3) Maurice Manning- Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions

I remember the class where my poetry professor pulled out Langston Hughes’ “I too sing America” and stomped along to the cadence. There is something communal, human and ritualistic about rhyme and music in poetry. In Manning’s debut, country boy Lawrence Booth daydreams and sings his way through an odd assortment of scenarios. With his right-hand man, Black Damon, Booth channels the heartbreak and charm of the racially tense south.

Check out: Strait

2) Larry Levis- The Darkening Trapeze

I remember discovering Levis in the dedication page of a Philip Levine book. If that wasn’t enough– when I met Linda Gregerson, one of the first books she ever recommended me was Levis’ posthumous Trapeze. Levis poems combines the surprise of short story narration with an unmatched ear for breath. Terrance Hayes calls Levis “The Whitman of our generation.”

Check out: Darkening Trapeze

1) Tony Hoagland- Donkey Gospel

What I love about Hoagland so much isn’t the political turmoil bubbling beneath some of the poems. In the same vein as Philip Levine, or Neruda, Hoagland has the rare gift of splitting the atom of a poem open into its bare truth. Many of these poems are wrapped in the delight of humor and story. This book is guaranteed to make you toggle between laughter and tears.

Check out: Mistaken Identity

– Will Georges

Anyone who has a passion for reading books is familiar with the website Goodreads; if not, your mind is about to be blown. Goodreads is a website dedicated to allowing readers to post honest reviews and rate novels that they have read, rave about future installments and author news together, along with directly contact some of their favorite authors. Goodreads is a haven for book lovers and a joy to explore.

There is, however, a problem with Goodreads. The problem, is exactly why I love it so much. Confused? Let me explain.

As previously stated Goodreads is a website which allows readers to rate their favorite stories, but it also then allows readers to rate their most hated stories, and for anyone who reads, we know just how divided people can be on just one novel.

I personally use Goodreads as a recommendation source each time I am searching for something new to read. I usually will try to go to what my favorite authors just finished reading or maybe something popular I saw on the best-sellers list.

The same thing happens to me every time.

Each time I will go to a novels personalized page and I will see their overall rating, if it’s above a 3.5 I usually will go down to the user ratings and begin to read what others have said about this particular novel. Here is where books come to die. The first three will be astounding reviews, five star ratings and raving readers; I get excited and begin to scroll faster, believing that I’ve finally found another book to read and then BAM! It happens, a disappointing one-star rating slaps me in the face.

Goodreads has such great potential, unfortunately the book community is so divided on interests that it’s difficult to get a concrete feel for any book besides ones as popular as the Harry Potter novels or anything by Stephen King. If you are the type of person who loves to review books, this is the place for you, if you are someone like me who is constantly looking for new recommendations, tread carefully and don’t believe what everyone says. You do get to see fun GIF’s like this one though.

– Lindsey Strom

If you spend most of your time reading newly published books and enjoy sharing your opinion and excitedly discussing those books, then you’re the perfect candidate to be a professional reader. If you don’t know what a professional reader is, it is someone who reads, reviews, and recommends books to other people, whether for libraries, bookstores, in classrooms, or online via blogging. For more information, read this post where I explain and discuss what professional readers are and what they do.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re interested in becoming a professional reader- or maybe you’re just curious. Either way, here are the steps to become a professional reader:

First, you have to have some kind of influence.

This can be through your professional job, as a bookseller, librarian, or educator, or through having a social reach online, etc. You need to have a large audience of people to influence. Think of it this way: as a professional reader, your job is to help inform people about books before and as they are published, therefore, you have to have an audience to inform.

Many people already have this kind of influence, but for those of you who don’t it can be a lot of work to gain an audience. Personally, I gained an audience by creating a blog and posting reviews. However, I created a blog before I learned what professional reading is, so while these steps are (hopefully) helpful, I haven’t used them in order to achieve the goal of gaining an audience- at least not initially.

This post is going to focus on gaining an influence as a professional reader by using a blog.

Second, you have to build a blog.

Creating and managing a blog can be a lot of work- it involves creativity, effort, time, and a whole lot of writing. You’ll need to write blog posts regularly, and by regularly, I mean nearly every week or every couple of weeks, if you want to continually attract readers and build up an audience. This is especially difficult if you’re the only content creator for your blog. Teaming up with a friend or several friends is always a great idea when it comes to blogging.

You can create a blog (for free!) on several different platforms, although the most common are WordPress and Blogspot. Once you’ve set up your blog, start creating content (that’s the blog posts): you can scour the internet for all kinds of inspiration.

It’s a good idea to consider writing book reviews for books you’ve already read to start practicing your review technique and to set up a portfolio of sorts for publishers to view when you begin requesting to review their galleys.

Third, reach out to your favorite publishers.

Once your blog is all set up, you can contact your favorite publishers and begin requesting advanced reader galleys. You can do this directly by emailing the publishers (you can find contact information for those in charge of publicity on many publishers’ websites) and requesting specific titles. However, if you’re new to this, you might not know which titles are available as galleys and you might not be sure how to format your request. You can find this information on many websites.

I recommend using a service such as Netgalley or Edelweiss (both websites are free to join) to request titles when you’re first starting out. Personally, I primarily use Netgalley, which has catalogs from various publishers of the available galleys that you can request through their system.

While the contact with publishers is indirect, it can be much easier to find titles this way. Additionally, if you review galleys for a publisher regularly and they value your feedback, they may contact you directly through email (if you choose to allow them to view that information) and ask you to review other galleys.

Fourth, review the galleys you receive.

If you’ve set up your blog and requested galleys from publishers (and we’re approved), now all you have to do is read them and provide honest feedback. You don’t necessarily have to write out a review, although it is recommended, as long as you do provide some kind of feedback on the galley you received.

If you do choose to write out a review, you can be as creative as you’d like. Most publishers appreciate enthusiasm and helpful critiques, but they also just value the opinion of the reader, so be sure to be honest.

You should post this review on your blog and share the feedback with the publisher (you can do this by emailing them a link/copy of the review, or if you use Netgalley, you can just use their feedback option).You should also share your review on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Goodreads is especially helpful for finding readers who share your taste in books and for influencing readers looking for new titles to read.

Fifth, keep on reading and reviewing.

Being a professional reader isn’t an actual job when you’re a blogger, but it does take a lot of effort and persistence to continue regularly reading, reviewing, and blogging. So if this is something you enjoy, keep on doing what you’re doing (and if this sounds like something you’re curious about and would like to start doing- go on and get started!).

– Jessica Trudeau

I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of a consistent creative space used to make me roll my eyes. I never bought into the idea that your focus on writing could be aided by having one go to place for yourself when you wanted to write or paint or do anything creative. But as someone who had to get into their creative space even to write this, I’m here to tell those who still might doubt that it’s helpful.

Creative space, obviously, will mean something different to every person. For some, that might mean getting up and going somewhere else. For others, that might mean doing a particular activity. For me, that means putting on instrumental music. Modern music with no vocals. The second a voice comes into the track, it takes me right out.

I found this creative space on accident. In high school, I always wanted to be one of those people who needed music to focus, but I would’ve settled for just being able to put it on in the background. It would always frustrate me when I would go put on top 40 playlists and get too distracted to get anything done. For a while, I gave up and decided that I was just one of those unlucky people who had to work in silence. But then, that didn’t work either. I’d heard about the connection between focus and classical music, but I’m not always in the mood to listen to classical stuff. This only left one option that I wouldn’t even explore until college: modern instrumental. Currently, whenever I am trying to do something I need to focus on, I’ll put on Google Play Music’s Downtempo Instrumentals playlist.

I urge you, whomever is reading this, to go search for your creative space if you haven’t already. I can guarantee that it will be worth your time.

– Sam Boggs

Have you ever thought about what inspires you? Whether it be a person, a goal you have set for yourself, or a phrase out of a book, inspiration is a motivating force. A popular way to pay homage to what inspires us is to get it permanently marked on our bodies as a tattoo. Personally, I do not have any tattoos, but I was recently asked “What quote would you get a tattoo of if you were forced to quickly choose a tattoo?” This made me think about what inspires me and what I would want for an indelible phrase on my skin.

Almost immediately, I had a quote in mind:

“To be great is to be misunderstood.” This quote comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay entitled “Self-Reliance” and I feel that it speaks to me because many individuals feel as if they are misunderstood, yet those misunderstandings have the ability to make a person stronger.

Since literature is a source of inspiration, I deemed it appropriate to compile a list of quotes that I would have no qualms getting tattooed on my body. If the quotes speak to others as well, let it serve as inspiration, whether it means reading a new book or committing and getting a new tattoo.

Without further ado, here are 5 quotes from books, essays, or poems that I would permanently place on my body:

1) “Force the sun to overcome adversity in order to rise” (The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, p. 136)

2) “A wyf is Goddes yifte, verraily. / Alle other maner yiftes, hardily, / As londes, rentes, pasture, or commune, / Or moebles, all ben yiftes of Fortune, / That passen as a shadwe upon a wal” (The Canterbury Tales, “The Merchant’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer)

3) “When the fruit is ripe, it falls. When the fruit is despatched, the leaf falls. The circuit of the waters is mere falling. The walking of man and all animals is a falling forward” (“Spiritual Laws” by Ralph Waldo Emerson)

4) “Thy blemishes amend, if so I could: / I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw, / And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw” (“The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet)

5) “It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing” (The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway)

These quotes are some that personally resonate with me, but obviously not everyone draws inspiration from the same places. So, my question is: What inspires you?

– Amber Bush

I remember the first time I took a creative writing class at college level. I waited patiently as everyone shared their typical, first day of class “about me” skits, each one ending with their major: English, creative writing, or literature. All of a sudden, I felt excluded from a club I didn’t even know existed, a big fat “you don’t belong here” sign above my head as I told everyone that I was not, in fact, any of those, but a Japanese language major instead.

It’s difficult when your major is not linked directly into the writing community, you feel ostracized and different, like your work isn’t as good as others because you’re not majoring in it. It’s a complete lie, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel it each time your classmates talk about all their writer-ey stuff around you.

When I was younger all I wanted to do was be an author. I would spend countless hours pouring my soul onto cheap paper, roughly collected in a binder. I never thought it would actually amount to anything; I just wrote. I lost my passion for one of my largest hobbies simply just through growing up. Fast-forward to when I was a Junior in college. I took my first creative writing workshop and was terrified. Not only had I somehow managed to jump into a class I hadn’t taken the prerequisite for, but I hadn’t written anything creative in a couple years (let alone let anyone else read anything I’ve ever wrote in the past.) But, I did it. I did it, and it changed my life completely.

This is why workshops are important. For most people, going into a workshop is terrifying, but it’s a necessary step to anyone who has an interest in writing. Whether you get involved in an online workshop community or actually take a workshop course, it’s important to have your work critiqued in an environment where everyone is shown their flaws, English major or not. This “levels out the playing field” in a way where everyone is at the same level and work to help one another.  It can be difficult, hearing critiques on work you have spent hours on, but the amount that you will grow as a writer is priceless.

So I ask all of you Non-English, creative writing, or literature majors, if you have any interest in creative writing at all, to push yourself into the next workshop you can and find, once again, your passion.

– Lindsey Strom

podcast1

To start us off, how long have you played said roleplaying games as a player or as a DM or have you had experience in both? Maybe, we can roll for initiative to answer, just because we can. We have no set modifiers though.

Melissa: I have 17.

Angelica: I have 17 too.

E: I have 18. I have been playing since August of this year.

M: Going in as fresh meat.

A: So have you played as a DM or a player?

E: Like I have said earlier, I have played largely as a DM. Occasionally, my group got a little more into it. The people in my party if they want to host their own campaigns, it’s just a lot of fun.

Angelica: For me, I started about 2013 or 2014. Unfortunately on and off for one and a half years. Right now, off. I have played both as a player and a slightly a DM. And DMing is very difficult especially cause my first time DMing, my friends were like, “oh, so you’re going to DM.” And I’m like yes, “5 people only please.” Then it became like 8, and I thought to myself this is going to be hard. And yourself?

Melissa: I want to say it’s been since 2011. Mostly on and off. Never actually finished a campaign. But I do watch a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons. I have played quite a bit of Pathfinder. I haven’t played as a DM, don’t have anyone to play with yet, but one day. We’ll get there one day.

Angelica: So in regards to playing said role playing games, what editions of these games have you played? What edition have you enjoyed most?

Erin: I have only played Dungeon World, so…

Melissa: I really prefer 5e among all of them. It is a lot more streamlined than Pathfinder, which is I hear is a lot similar to 3.5, it just makes a lot of the processes a lot simpler. It leads a lot more room for interpretation as far as when players need to get into your character’s head more easily even if you are not so accustomed to the environment, which is why I speak so highly about this edition.

Angelica: I agree since when I played 4th edition, they super dumbed it down. More like a smash-em up sort of game, but it made it easier for people to pick up, but story wise, it was story wise.

Erin: I play Dungeon World mostly because it is easier for people to get into. Like partial fail and partial success.

Angelica: Yeah, I know when I played 3.5 edition, there were so many skill checks; I was like what do I do with these?

Melissa: When am I actually going to use a performance check? I’m a Paladin.

Erin: Dungeon World made it really easy for players. Okay roll, 2 D6s and tell me what number you got as opposed to roll and then check that against your skill.

Angelica: Have you guys played any story or DMed story outside of the fantasy genre?

Erin: I have. Have you ever heard of Dread?

Melissa: For those who are listening who don’t know, Dread is a tabletop roleplaying game. I think it was only published with 4 stories in it. Instead of playing with dice, you play with a Jenga tower. If you pull a Jenga block without knocking over the tower, your action is a success. If the tower falls over, you die. End of story. You are removed from the game one way or another and that is why I highly recommend that one, specifically for the horror atmosphere even if it doesn’t have as many games. The tension and the mood that it sets is absolutely astounding.

Angelica: Yeah, I haven’t played it, but I remember watching Geek & Sundry and Wil Wheaton. And I really want to play it.

Erin: We just played that at my Halloween party last week. I really hope people enjoyed it. We played a sort of teen slasher in the woods.

Melissa: I did play that one. I also played “Thirteen.” That one I’m not going to tell, but it has a really good twist. But that was a very interesting story and I would recommend that system and if you are trying to get into, specifically for mood in tabletop, Dread is where to start off. It teaches you all about tension and to hold the feelings of your players. I was trained to DM in Dread but haven’t gotten around to it but I have also played it. It very much trains you to get you into a mindset and how put your players in a specific way of thinking and how to get them to feel certain things and act certain ways. It is interesting psychologically, and it helps you set up the mood so easily and teaches you how to do that in a multitude of ways.

podcast2Angelica: What has your experience been playing as your character roleplaying? Not just roleplaying but also collaborating with others? Like very tense moments? Was there just a “cream of the crop” moment that you remember very vividly in your mind? Like, I don’t know how I survived that but I did.

Melissa: I have these moments. I have quite a lot of nasty situations that have happened. When I sit there and get into my character’s head the most that is when all the bad things happen. There is one particular situation that I always remember, because it was one of my first games. I was a rogue, trying to intimidate one of the leaders of the cultist group that we trying to get eliminate from our town. This is back when I played Pathfinder. We were trying to get rid of these cultists that we followed underground. We captured one. We were trying to intimidate her; I intimidated her because I was the prettiest but also the scariest. I intimidated her, and she led us into a hallway. All I was worried about was just being intimidating and scaring her and getting her to do what we want, because everything that I had tried to do thus far has failed and I didn’t realize that in the process of trying to scare her that she lead us into a hallway nearly butchered us. All of us. All five players almost went down in one swoop and that was the one experience that stood out the most but it was also the one time I got into one particular character, but she lived.

Melissa: And that’s all you can ever ask for.

Angelica: As long it is not a TPK.

[TPK means total party kill in which all the player characters are killed.]

Erin: Recently, the campaign I DM for, one of the people in my group wanted to do a one-off.

[Geeky term #2

One-off/One-shot: is when a game group decide to do not a long campaign story, but just a very short story that is usually compressed into a single session.]

There some kind of problem, but no one could get any information. Three people in my party who got into town had joined a militia in a town full of refugees and were given logic. And since my person is a goliath, the very first thing he thought of is that “I needed to fix the dead,” so two of us were fixing the dead. A third character, a ranger, decided to go and fuck the people in town and immediately ran back screaming so that was kind of like a very our first big thing we did during that game and very much set the tone that there are very dangerous things happening. I didn’t almost die, but someone almost did.

Angelica: I think for me; it was a custom 3.5 build with four different races. There were humans. There were goblins. There was this race which were essentially cyborgs and thought they were supreme and thought they needed [technological] parts. But there was an extreme faction of this group where they were sort of Nazi, where they believed everyone should become machines. And then there was the race that I was which was attuned to magic, but due to some sort of special event, they mutated to have animal ears. But between the two techno people and the magic people, they hated each other except for my character who loved technology, and it got her into trouble when we went to the techno part of capital. Obviously out of character, I knew this was probably going to be a trap, but she’s still going to walk in and be super amused. So the entire party got kidnapped and when we woke up, they put us into a colosseum.

Angelica: To connect this back to writing, if any of you write, how has this impacted how you create things or write things? And in what way have you seen it?

Melissa: D&D relates to my writing in a direct sense. I have always been a fantasy writer. I have always been someone who consumes a lot of fantasy. Not so much recently being in university and my last year of it. And I kind of took a break of writing while playing Dungeons and Dragons, and Pathfinder, I started to realize that D&D helped me make characters human and very relatable. D&D teaches you how to get into someone else’s skin and how to easily get into that way of thinking where you are no longer yourself; you are this other person with ulterior motives and your own way of thinking, your thought processes and as a writer, that is completely invaluable, since nobody is going to whole heartedly believe and think and feel what is happening if you can’t make these characters believable. Having this experience, it makes your work so much well responded too in my experience.

Erin: For me as a writer, I have always started with characters. I get a sense of who they are and the world they live in. And I think that feeds a lot to my interest in roleplaying games. As a GM, creating characters and seeing how my players related them. I invented this Halfling thief, who was snarky and morally gray, thinking that people would like him, but they hated him. I found it really interesting that when you are writing you are controlling all your character, how they relate and interact with one another. But being a GM showed me all these options, all the ways things can go when playing with all these other characters.

angelica_dimsonAngelica: I agree with both you. I start with characters too. Within D&D and being a DM, it expands into creating a setting as its own character. Cause each town, each place has little, minute qualities that make it unique. Like the first town I DMed, it was a primarily a Dragonborn farming community town. One of my players got to arm wrestle with a character from this town and rolled a natural 20 and broke the table, and so that Dragonborn farmer felt sad since he got beat by a half-Dragonborn woman, and challenging people in this small community and winning made him happy. And even in delving into character building, you become aware of their flaws.

Melissa: I will very much attest to using the setting as a character…

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– Angelica Dimson