Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Exercise in Sarcasm

Herman Caine's 9/9/9 plan is easy to understand. That's why it's BETTER. Everything easy to understand is ALWAYS better. That's why iphones and electron microscopes are better than yelling and looking, because everyone understands exactly how iphones and electron microscopes operate. Shucks, I could probably whip either up in my barn in just two shakes of a lamb's tail.

Monday, September 12, 2011


In the realm of the fantastic fiction and games, it's common to find imprisoned entities of terrible malign strength, secured by Ancient Powers of Good rather than destroyed. As for instance happened in the movie The Keep I watched last weekend with Batgirl.

The question is, why? Why didn't those Ancient Powers of Good who managed to imprison the Evil Thing simply not destroy it?

In my novel Sword of the Gods, and its sequel Spinner of Lies, this is something I've had to wrestle with.

The following list are "reasons to imprison, not kill" that I've come up with, along with those I've boiled down from the great feedback generated in comments where I first posted this:

• Death would release the slain Evil Thing (or the slain Evil Thing's essence) to an inevitable reincarnation at an unknown time and place;
• Moral reluctance on the part of the victors;
• Inability for the Evil Thing to actually die (for whatever reason);
• The Evil Thing's potential as a weapon in some other conflict the victors are concerned about;
• The Evil Thing is linked to the Powers of Good so that to slay one slays both;
• Death would be too easy for the Evil Thing--eternal punishment is what it's jailors wish it to receive;
• And finally, some Evil Things are slain (we just don't usually hear about those in stories).

(Of course, if you're not an ancient power of good, but just a really mortal with weapons forged for a god, it's more viscerally satisfying to kill an Evil Thing than imprison it. A mortal's short life span means that killing a powerful demonic entity seems to get the job done well enough, so why worry about future generations who might have to deal with "evil essence" reformed somewhere else?)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ruby Ring

I received an heirloom on my last visit home. It was originally a gift from my grandmother to my grandfather before they were married. It subsequently passed to my father after my grandfather's death, and now it has come to me, on the condition it'll go to my oldest nephew when I shuffle off this mortal coil.

It's a ruby, slightly scratched, set in a gold ring.

It's a humbling gift, and it made me think about my grandfather's life, and my father's, and about the ultimate inevitability of death. But at the same time the ring represents a continuance of a sort. It's a thread through the generations. In this case, the thread is all the more bitter-sweet because in each case, my grandmother personally passed on the ring as a result of a recipient's passing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Visiting Home

I'm back where I grew up to attend an old friend's wedding. Most of the old gang is here (minus one who couldn't make it--we miss you JD!).

As we sat around talking last evening, I think most of us realized that we'd planned far too short a trip. It was just so good to see everyone. We relaxed into ourselves, the people we'd been in jr. high and high school, and laughed at the half-remembered (or well-remembered!) jokes and stories from the old days.

I'm writing this with my feet up on a recliner, passing the time with my Mom in her very comfortable home. Later, the wedding, and tomorrow and the next day I'll go see my grandmothers, each still living out on the farm where each one has lived for the last forty or fifty years (at least).

There's a lot of history in this place; it made me the person I am today. I think I sometimes take that for granted. Or I only think about all the reasons I left.

But not today.

Watertown SD, for this weekend at least, you're number one in my book.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Anti-Vaxers and Grief Predators

I've long wondered how, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, anti-vaccination nonsense continues to hang on with such tenacity.

Then I read this account of a woman's experience attending an anti-vaccination convention, and I figured it out:

Like many wrong ideas that live long past their expiration date, someone's making a buck promulgating the disproved idea that vaccinations are harmful.

And anti-vaccination conventions are example number one. (Books written and speaker fees received by prominent anti-vaxers are example two.) Anti-vax conventions and people associated with them benefit financially when parents are misinformed. And who better to target than people who're hurting and looking for answers, such as the parents of autistic children? Just like psychics and mediums who take money from grieving wives, husbands, and parents of recently lost loved-ones, those pushing the idea that vaccination equals autism are grief predators. They're cashing in on parents who buy their books, buy their alt-meds, and attend their conventions and talks.

One Skeptic's Experience at an anti-vax convention:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Necropolis of the Sword

Sword of the Gods includes a scene where the characters Demascus and Chant (and Riltana) discover a portal to a mysterious destination. Demascus knows his enemy Kalkan has recently fled through the portal.

When Chant and Demascus decide to follow Kalkan, they find a strange new place—the lost necropolis of Khalusk.

The backdrop article I've written provides an excerpt from the novel, some background history, context, and a bit of game mechanics for Khalusk. You can use the information to inspire a few D&D game encounters, or use it as the basis of a longer adventure set in one of the lost places of the Forgotten Realms® setting.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Portal 2

I just finished playing Portal 2. This is one of the funniest and fun video games I've played in quite a while. If you haven't played the first Portal, get it. Then move on to Portal 2. Five Stars! The video below provides a hint why I enjoyed the game so much.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fun with Magnifying Glasses

Watching this video reminds me how my Grandma Cordell got my brother, sister, and I out of the house on sunny days--she'd break out her magnifying glasses and send us into the driveway to do . . . science! Or at least play with the power of the gathered, focussed light of the sun itself: Professor Paper, you've finally met your match. Dr Sunbeam is here, mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Had you, like me, forogotten the joys of owning a magnifying glass? Well, here you go, have fun. And don't burn any ants!

Large 4" Magnifying Glass 3X Optics
Large 4" Magnifying Glass 3X Optics

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Finding The Right Card for Dad

As I was browsing birthday and congratulations cards this morning on Amazon, I came across a design that said, "Just For You Dad."

As easy as falling out of bed I realized I'd never shop for another father's day, birthday, holiday, or any other kind of card for my dad ever again. He's gone. There's no 'replacement' Dad who I'll begin sending cards to instead.

I remember when I used to shop for cards for him, finding the pre-printed Hallmark message that struck just the right note was important to me. Something indicating I was thinking of him, but nothing too smarmy. Because if it was too smarmy, that would've been terrible, right?

With the hindsight of today, the card I'd send now would say something like:

"Hey Dad, thinking of you. I didn't spend much time with you this last decade; I wish I'd spent more. I didn't always answer your calls, and I'm sorry. We had some rough times early on, but both of us grew past that. I've come to appreciate all the positive things you did for me, stuff a child can never really repay, other than to accept and acknowledge it. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you in my life. Your son, Bruce."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 Simple Ways To Support An Author

I've been stuck lately trying to come up with ways to market my novels. In the absence of a traditional publisher's budget that does this sort of thing for select books, I'm sort of left to my own devices when it comes to promoting myself. Wizards of the Coast publishing relies on the strong brand name of the Forgotten Realms to sell its titles. This has worked well in the past, actually.

However you don't need me to tell you that things are changing in the world of publishing. People have less time to devote to novel reading, and more novels to choose from when they do decide to sit down with a book (or whatever ereader they've chosen).

This collusion of events troubles me as an author interested in continuing to practice his craft in the part-time fashion I currently enjoy. And the virtuous circle closes--this is why I'm interested in finding new ways to market my novels.

So along comes this great blog post by Jody Hedlund titled "10 Simple Ways to Support the Author You Love." In this post, Jody notes how you can do an author you love a big favor by, in addition to buying and reading the book, by taking your support one tiny step further.

An excerpt:

1. Write a book review and post it on Amazon. If you’ve ever ordered on Amazon then you’re eligible to post a review. It’s very simple to do and incredibly helpful (if it’s a good review!).

2. Copy and paste your review onto other online bookstores. There’s nothing wrong with copying your Amazon review and using it on other sites, like GoodReads, Shelfari, Barnes& or

3. Click the “Like” button on a book’s Amazon page. (If you're not sure what this is, head over to The Preacher's Bride Amazon page and you'll find it near the top.)

4. Click on the “Tags People Associate With This Product” on Amazon. If you scroll down on The Preacher’s Bride Amazon page, you’ll see approximately 32 tags. The more tags and the more clicks, the better a book will come up in search results.

Read Jody's full article (and all 10 steps) here:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sword as QR Code

I love the concept of QR codes. I'm not sure we're quite there yet, but it's still fun. Like my latest encoded message below--point your phone at it and see where it takes you! (Well, ok, I'll tell you--I bet most of you reading this don't have a QR scanner app on your phone; this particular code takes you to an Amazon link for Sword of the Gods.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Artificial Left-Right Divide

This year GE had a profit of $14.2 billion. Of which exactly nothing is being collected for taxes (reference), even while all us honest workers fork over a significant percentage of our wages to improve the country we're all part of.

Our elected officials could have tackled the deficit by imposing a fair share of the load on these corporations. Instead they cut billions from programs that do "wasteful" things like create new jobs, drive economic growth, and help the needy and our nation's children.

Is there any clearer evidence of the artificial nature of left-right divide that has been foisted on us (or that we've allowed ourselves to fall victim to), blaring from every major news outlet? We squabble over crumbs while corporations secure their hold on power.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

e-signing for Sword of the Gods

Taking a cue from Paul S. Kemp, I'm doing an e-signing for my novel Sword of the Gods.

So if you’re interested in a signed softcover first edition of Sword of the Gods, read on!

If you live in the United States, you have a couple options. You can send me $17USD to me via any of the following methods (see? I aim to please!):

1) Pay Pal (my paypal account is bruce at brucecordell dot com).

2) via Cashier's check. This requires that you email me here to get my address of course.

3) forget USD; send me bitcoins (email me here to get my bitcoin address and in this rapidly fluctuating bitcoin market, how many bit coins to send!)

The $17 covers the cost of the book, tax, and priority mail shipping via the USPS. Include your address and any personalization instructions (if you provide none, I’ll make something up). After that, I'll get it out to you as soon as I can, though please don't expect overnight!

I have several copies of the book on hand right now, so the first dozen or so participants should have their copies pretty quickly. After I get through those, I’ll have to order additional copies (so the process of getting signed copies out will take a few days longer at that point).

If you live outside the US and are interested in one or more copies, email me here and tell me your address. I’ll let you know what the total cost of the book and shipping will be and you can decide if you want to proceed (international shipping costs can be prohibitive, according to Paul's blog, from which I'm cribbing much of the format here--Thanks Paul!).

Monday, March 28, 2011

X-Files vs. Fringe

I was a big fan of the X-Files in its day. The Truth Is Out There! The first episode I saw was Squeeze (thanks to my friend Monte telling me there was a show I just had to see).

Many years have passed, and now I've become a big fan of Fringe. I mean, come on; coretexiphan!

Recently I started re-watching the X-Files. Granted, the pacing is slower than modern shows, but it was appropriate to the era. Most of the shows stand up just fine. I'm really enjoying the experience, and it's a good way to pass the time on the elliptical machine.

As I finished the X-files first season and moved onto the second, I was struck by a realization: A philosophical difference exists between the two shows. These differences influence a given plot in a noticeable, characteristic fashion (though of course outliers exist*).

Both shows deal with unexplained, odd, and unlikely phenomena. In fact, I'd say it's obvious that the X-Files was a big influence on Fringe.

In the X-Files, many episodes are devoted the idea that society can't or won't accept the Truth that Is Out There. Villains are many times scientists working in secret labs or in government facilities. Or, if scientists are not outright villains, then they are part of an uncaring establishment, hidebound in its dogmatic acceptance of the world. In fact, at one point the FBI agent Dana Scully goes so far as to tell her partner Mulder that she's always accepted the facts that "science" has taught her, and is unwilling to accept that things might be different (which is an odd way to look at science).

In Fringe, one of the main characters is a scientist. All the crazy phenomena and odd occurrences that threaten the world in Fringe are dealt with and mediated by science and the application of reason. Sure, reason in the form of Walter Bishop, but back off man, he's a scientist.

Thus my comparison: The X-Files was slightly suspicious of the scientific method, while Fringe is more apt to embrace it. The X-files is more likely to reject that science can solve the problems that beset us (problems like killer insects escaped the Pleistocene and aliens who live in black goo, granted), while Fringe usually holds that only science can save us (from parallel-dimension shape shifters and collapsing universes, sure). On the X-Files, scientists are more likely part of a conspiracy, while on Fringe, scientists are more likely to show us how things really are.

I think you can probably guess--though I love both of these shows--which one I prefer.

*Note that I tried to stay away from using absolute language, like 'fundamental difference' and 'always this way.' Mainly, I think I've pegged that both these shows lie on a continuum, and those points are in different locations between 'embrace science' and 'suspect science.'

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A few words about my Dad

I lost my dad last Monday morning unexpectedly. He was only 64 years old. The fact that both his grandfather and father lived into their 90s led me to believe he'd be around at least as long. But it wasn't to be.

Trying to sum up a lifetime in a few short paragraphs is impossible. Especially for someone who lived and loved life as much as him.

I remember many things about my father. Good times, and good lessons.

I remember how much he loved camping. How the entire family would go camping practically every weekend during the summer. And no camping trip was complete without putting the camper on the pickup, a campfire, pitching the tent for me and my brother Brian (my younger sister Laurie slept in the camper), and marshmallows. And of course the video camera. I can’t even guess how many hours of video of trees, lakes and mountains were generated. Those shots of rolling landscape always seem like a good idea at the time.

And I’m sure some of you remember how much he loved having everyone out on the 4th of July for fireworks. Bottlerockets, snakes, smokers, ground displays, and huge rockets we’d light and run away from. Oh, and sparklers of course. The kids and some of the grownups always got to play with the sparklers.

I remember how he used to love riding his motorcycle. It was an 1100, a big bike. So big he never let me ride it. I remember him and Mom rode to Sturgis for several years, how they rode in a local club, and how he loved to wear his jacket with “colorful” slogans ironed on.

I remember how much he loved his cat Mouse, how that cat would bite the living daylights out of your hand or attack your leg out of the blue, but Mouse had his sweet moments, and my Dad still loved him.

He helped me build my matchbox derby car in boy scouts, getting those lead weights inside just right—heavy enough so the car would race down the track, but not so heavy they’d disqualify the car for the races.

My dad also taught me a lot of things. Taught all of us kids who grew up in his house I suppose to a greater or lesser extent. A few highlights:

He taught me how to throw a football, and how to punt and catch one too. Same thing for baseball; he even gave me his old catcher’s mitt. If there was any downtime in the summer, count on Dad to say, “Let’s go throw the football.”

He taught my siblings and I how to wheel and deal in games of Monopoly. Trading properties, hotels, cash, even turns. No deal was ever too convoluted for him. Of course, if he ended up with Boardwark and Parkplace out of the deal, all the better.

Along with my Mom, he taught me how to care for animals, with all the kittens, dogs, and even a few calves that lived at our place. It was a regular menagerie, and I suppose it explains why I’ve had a similar situation in my life, with more pets than sense.

He taught me how to canoe. I remember one time he let Brian and me off near the lake that had flooded over its boundaries, and we canoed for hours over flooded roads, ditches, and fields.

He _tried_ to teach me how an engine worked, but I was a poor student. I never could figure out the difference between a 5/8ths and a 11/16ths wrench!

He taught me that for the big things, there was such a thing as grace under pressure. When I slid off the road and crashed into a telephone pole in the middle of South Dakota miles from anywhere, and that car was subsequently buried under a blizzard for three days, he didn’t freak out, yell, or ask me how I could have done such a thing. He just nodded, and started making plans on how to deal with it. I’ll always remember how calmly he handled that.

But the best lesson my dad ever taught me was this: If you practice something long enough, no matter HOW AWFUL you are at it, eventually, in time, you’ll not only improve, but master it. You see, I joined the wrestling team in grade school. Even though I wanted to quit every year on account of how bad I was, my dad convinced me to keep it up. After 8 years of this, in junior high, I was the best wrestler on the team, and the 2nd best wrestler in South Dakota (in my weight class /qualifier).

The great thing about that lesson is that it applies to everything in life. Reading. Writing. Juggling. Computer programming. Martial Arts. Whether physical or mental; he made me realize

that Talent Is Practice. Sometimes long grueling practice, but so it goes.

And I have my Dad to thank for teaching me that.

My dad taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.

Just like I’ll never forget my dad, Leroy Robert Cordell.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How To Eat Yucky Food

I ate Ethiopian cuisine last night for the first time. Wow! I love trying new foods, and this was all new to me. Who wouldn't enjoy food you eat with flatbread (think of it like a thin sourdough pancake) instead of utensils?

But, oddly enough, when I was a kid, I would have HATED this meal.

Despite that my parents liked to occasionally experiment with food, I was a VERY picky eater as a child. I was a practitioner of "de-gunkification," which involved removing all onions, olives, mushrooms, and other yucky ingredients. Or, when nothing could be done to fix a meal, I would steadfastly sit at the table staring at the plate until my father's attention shifted somewhere else, at which time I would stealthily dispose of the plate's contents in the garbage. "I'm done eating!"

However, I eventually learned another, much more satisfying trick when it came to dealing with foods I didn't like or foods I had never been served before (and thus didn't like): Eat them, and enjoy doing so!

It proved to be an easy trick of the mind; I pretended I was one of the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings, that I was on a journey across Middle Earth, and that I was being served a banquet in a foreign land by a horse lord, an elf queen, or a returned king. In this guise, every food gained a sort of luster, no matter how green, or oddly textured, or suspicious smelling. It was a magic glamour I was able to cast on myself!

Of course, I no longer employ that trick--I think I've absorbed that sense of appreciation for odd foods into my subconscious. Which means I wasn't a hobbit last night eating a repast prepared by Elrond for the Fellowship. But I imagine the food would have been right at home somewhere in Middle Earth.

And, phsst! Listen up all you picky eaters (who also like Lord of the Rings)--Ethiopian flatbread? What if it was some kind of Lembas! Oh yeah, I think you know where I'm going with this. Give it a try.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Positive Message

"What new wonders undreamt of in our time, will we have wrought in another generation, and another? How far will our nomadic species have wandered, at the end of the next century, and the next Millennium?"

"Yet it will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very much like us, with more of our strengths, and fewer of our weaknesses."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stardeep: A Forgotten Realms Novel

A message summons Kiril Duskmourn back to the hidden dungeon of Stardeep, a message that finds her a full decade after she fled her duties there. Kiril has no choice but to respond. How can she do anything else?

The message is, impossibly, from the long dead man who's soul is trapped in her sword Angul.

Hello! Thanks for your interest in my novel. If you'd like to purchase a copy, you can do so in one of the following 3 ways.

1) You can get an audiobook of Stardeep (performed by John Pruden) at

2) You can get an ebook copy of Stardeep on Kindle, Kobo, or Nook.

3) You can acquire a used copy of Stardeep at a hard-to-beat price.

4) You can also get a new copy of Stardeep, but that'll cost a bit more ;-).

Stardeep is a stand-alone novel, but the a thread of the story continues in the Abolethic Sovereignty trilogy!

One of the stand-out characters in Stardeep is Kiril Duskmourn. Here's what I once wrote about her:

A Profile of Kiril Duskmourn 

Kiril Duskmourn is on the run. She flees the honors she once attained, and the memory of noble deeds she accomplished. She seeks to outrace the price she paid for her triumph: the loss of her love, and then, the loss of her innocence.

Kiril has blood on her hands, and redemption lies beyond her grasp.

So she wanders, a hard-bitten, drunken sellsword perpetually a few drinks from oblivion, courtesy of the bottomless whisky flask strapped to her belt. She curses and swears her way from one day to the next, unable to put behind her the tragedy that changed her life.

How could she forget? After all, strapped to her other hip is the sword Angul. Angul's unforgiving steel contains the soul of her dead lover, a soul stripped of all darkness, doubt, and mortal failing. In Angul burns a righteousness that surpasses worldly virtue. His light burns away all doubt and shades of gray, bathing his wielder in warm, certain, and lethal clarity. When one wields Angul, no wrong is too small to punish.

It was Angul that drove Kiril to the crime she flees to this day. She hates the blade and what it made her. Yet, she yearns for it, too, for it is her last and only tie with her lost love. To give up Angul would be to give up the only thing she still cares for.

Now, a message summons her back to the hidden dungeon of Stardeep, a message that finds her a full decade after she fled her duties there. Kiril has no choice but to respond. How can she do anything else?

The message is, impossibly, from the long dead man who's soul is trapped in her sword Angul.