Emerging From the Darkness

It’s been a rather interesting year and a half, hasn’t it?

Amid transitioning to working from home amid the Great Slowdown that’s affected us all, I’ve been maintaining my creative output as best I can, while also taking a more active interest in gardening and renovating/restoring my 140-year-old house. Perhaps it’s out of a greater desire to have a tangible impact on the world, or to create something visible and lasting when so many things we seem to have taken for granted have been swept aside – at least for a time – but it was refreshing to involve myself in a different form of creativity.

That said, I have not been idle on the creative front. I’m delighted that two of my short stories have found homes. Look for “A Faithful Rendering” – in which we learn that not all yard sale finds are necessarily good – in an upcoming issue of Cosmic Horror Monthly (early 2022), a solid and up-and-coming publisher of cosmic horror and weird fiction! Another piece of mine will appear late this year or early next year, but I can’t say more until the contract is signed. Other works of short fiction are making their way through submission-land and a few are under consideration – hopefully I will be able to say more on that soon.

My freelance work in the roleplaying games industry is definitely heating up, and does more than its share to keep me busy. Sentinel Hill Press, a licensed publisher of materials for Call of Cthulhu, will soon be releasing Issue #4 of Arkham Gazette, which will contain a number of articles I wrote. In its pages you’ll discover new locations to use in-game; new (possibly magical, quite possibly dangerous, but definitely fun) curios for characters to find; as well as a couple of scenarios to test the mettle of your players. Other products are in the works, but those are at a preliminary stage.

I’ve also written two more books for Fat Goblin Games, with another collaborative project in the works as we speak!

August saw the release of Camp Hope, an homage to 1980s summer slasher flicks, complete with lake monsters, aliens, giant spiders, and maniacs running about in the woods with machetes – not all at the same time (unless you really want to). It presents complete, TinyD6-compatible rules for summer camps, a system for merit badges (hey, you have to learn something at camp, right?), and more than 10 adventures and adventure outlines to get a mini-campaign going. It was a blast to write and people seem to be digging it.

(I love the worn feel of the cover, as though it’s been sitting in a cabin in the woods for years.)

I’ve also written a series of short adventures for FGG’s Shadows Over Vathak D&D 5th Edition horror setting, as well as a setting book for another of FGG’s product lines, the playing card-based “vs. M” line. The latter focuses on 1930s and 40s pulp and detective action. This was a learning experience for me because I’d never worked with the system before, but challenging oneself, and learning a new genre, is always a good thing. I like what I wrote, and I think if you’re in the market for a fast-paced gaming system high on action and excitement, you will, too! More on that to come.


I’ll be at World Fantasy Convention in Montreal, Canada from November 5-7, 2021. I won’t be on any panels, but I look forward to recharging myself creatively and reconnecting with friends, and meeting new ones.

They Say Everyone Has a Book in Them….

…and in my case it’s true!

I’ve been quiet lately because I’ve been working on a number of writing projects, some of them gaming-related.  I’m happy to share that a project I’ve been working on for Fat Goblin Games has now been published!  I have written a book!

Heritage Composer is a character design aid that helps players and Gamemasters using the TinyD6 system modify existing character Heritages, or design brand-new ones.  I adopted a genre-neutral approach to ensure that it could be used with any TinyD6 game setting (and I do mean any.)  I also crafted rules for designing characters with multiple Heritages, designing Animal Companion player characters, and rules for creating Monster characters.  I really wanted this to be a one-stop resource that will complement any game.

I was given a lot of leeway to write the book, and the editorial team at FGG are a pleasure to work with.  I look forward to more projects with them!


This Just In…. (a slightly late mid-year review)

It’s been a while since I posted something.

Partly this is because of events in Real Life™ (job and whatnot), and also concerted efforts on my part to capitalize on progress made in game writing, which is beginning to bear fruit. I’ve also been trying to get back on the regular writing bandwagon, thanks to my friend and fellow author Derek Künsken, who once challenged me to write 300 words per day as a way of generating more stories. I resumed that practice in April, and at the time of writing this blog post have drafted 34,325 words. It may not seem like a lot, but it is more than I would have otherwise produced, and in the process I wrote a number of things that have either been accepted for publication or are still making the rounds. So without further ado, here is how things are shaping up so far this year…


Four(!) works of fiction have been published this year by publishers, so that makes me happy.

First, Pole-to-Pole Publishing picked up “Deadly Cargo”, my Lovecraftian tale of terror on the Great Lakes, for inclusion in their reprint anthology entitled Re-Terrify, which was reviewed very awesomely by Ottawa-based horror author and podcaster Lydia Peever! This story is special to me because it’s the first historical piece I ever wrote, and it is set in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, which is where I’ve spent a good portion of time over the years, and is itself a place steeped in history.

Re-Terrify Cover
Second, Lycan Valley Publishing released its Subliminal Reality anthology, which features my story “The Draught of Dreams”. I’m especially proud of this one because it happens to be one of the first short stories I ever wrote, which I’ve submitted to a number of markets and never abandoned. It really does pay off to be persistent.


Third, “By a Thread”, an alternative fantasy story I co-wrote with my partner, Fiona Plunkett, is appearing in EDGE Publishing’s long-running Tesseracts series of anthologies. Tesseracts 22: Alchemy and Artifacts, is out now!

Book Cover

Finally (and this is big for me), The NoSleep Podcast picked up my flash fiction story entitled, “Passing On” (which about laying family grievances to rest – and what can happen when they rise up again) for inclusion in their Suddenly Shocking series. This is the first time any of my work has made it into audio, so this is a real first for me.




The bulk of my game writing this year has been for Sentinel Hill Press’s Arkham Gazette, which is an awesome magazine for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game that features new adventure scenarios; characters or monsters for the players to encounter; evil tomes to acquire; and so on. A number of articles will be appearing in upcoming issues – due out fairly soon! I won’t say too much about what I created, but issues 4, 5, and 6 will feature a possibly sinister school in Kingsport (as well as a strange pond just outside of town); numerous strange curios (which may help or hinder players) that the players can come across in their investigations; and an adventure outline scenario that could put the players on the trail of a missing journalist. There could be even more in the offing but it’s still early days, yet.

I’ve also designed a collection of interesting random tables for Rogue Comet’s Dungeonesque game, which is an accessible version of D&D 5E. There could be more projects in the wings, but time will tell.

Finally, I am now a freelancer for Fat Goblin Games! I’m working on a product for the TinyD6 “rules lite” game engine, and I’ll be able to say more when it’s closer to being done.


If nothing else, all of this activity keeps me out of trouble!


Walking a Tentacled Tightrope: My Challenging Relationship with HPL

The other day my friend, Clinton Cronk (talented cartographer and author of a really awesome, nuanced, and well-edited Forgotten Realms adventure that will be on sale very soon), posted a link to an article on my Facebook wall and asked for my thoughts, given my writerly inclinations and interest in matters Lovecraftian.

I started drafting a response and quickly realized this was a far deeper question than a mere FB reply could handle.

I can usually separate the artist from their art, and appreciate a creator’s work on its own merits in a detached manner, even if I find said creator to be a loathsome human being. I don’t know if this is a “normal” thing to do, but I can do this quite easily.  Maybe this is because in most cases said piece of art, unless it deeply moves me, is a thing—possibly even a lovely thing—that someone else created.  Or perhaps my being able to compartmentalise in this way is a product of having worked more than 20 years in government, where in order to succeed one must occasionally check one’s personal beliefs at the door in order to faithfully carry out the commands of our political masters.  Despite all this, Lovecraft and his views present a challenge to me.

It is generally accepted now that Lovecraft was bigoted even by the standards of his time (he was called out for it on several occasions)—we see evidence of this in his work, and accounts from his ex-wife and friends all paint a picture of a man who hated immigrants, despised (and feared) intermarriage, and held romanticised notions of a white colonial, Georgian America that never existed.  Sadly, many tendrils of these ideas are found in his works, which I won’t expand on because it’s done in many other places.  I didn’t notice these unsavoury aspects when I first picked up Lovecraft in my teens—he was the first horror author I ever read—and I was enthralled by his mythology surrounding the Great Old Ones, his portrayal of advanced science as fantasy to those who cannot comprehend it, and above all his “cosmic indifferentism.”(1)  By the time I finished high school I’d read all of his fiction, plus that of many of his circle of writerly friends from the ‘20s and ‘30s, and he became a yardstick.  More than that, it was Lovecraft’s Mythos and the deep history behind it that gave me a strong nudge on my writerly path.

As I got older and became more socially aware, and after I’d read annotated stories and critical essays about him, I came to see the other side of the author.  The more I saw, the less I liked, and as I read more by other horror authors I began to look at his writing more critically.  His florid prose, while evocative at times, was not masterful, and his reliance on portraying horrors as being “indescribable” increasingly came across as being lazy.  Lovecraft may have been kind to his friends, he may have offered encouragement and support to up-and-coming authors, and he may have ardently loved cats, but I doubt anyone would say he was a particularly “good” person in the sense we consider it to mean today.  After starting on the writerly path in my 30s I began attending conventions where Lovecraft and his racism were discussed, and on several occasions participated in panel discussions about it.  I met other authors on different creative paths who interacted with Lovecraft’s works very differently—or not at all.  How could I reconcile the truth of the man with the fact that I still enjoy his fiction (which was partly responsible for me becoming a writer today)?  I also knew I had to take a stand because, rightly or wrongly, some in the writing community see me as a “go-to” person about Lovecraft and his work, and if I am to fulfill that role honestly I have to view it objectively.

I looked inside, and knew that I couldn’t compartmentalise this so easily.  I had been inspired by the Mythos, and it’s a fountain I return to on occasion.  It’s helped me write published fiction and gaming products that I know people out in the world enjoy.(2)  In some way, it’s part of my creative self.  And that’s when I decided how I would address the shambling cephalopod in the room:  I made the conscious choice to dislike the author for his politics, to acknowledge the presence of his unsavoury ideas in many of his works, and, should I create something in a Lovecraftian vein, to do so consciously.  My Mythos works may be inspired by Lovecraft’s creations, but I tell my stories from my own perspective that is informed by our time.  Where possible, I try to build my own additions to the Mythos.

This makes writing harder, but I hope doing so produces stories that carry far less baggage.

(1) That the universe is basically a great, unfeeling, unknowing machine and humanity is ultimately insignificant within it.  This notion resonated with me greatly at an impressionable age.

(2) Which is interesting because Lovecraft despised games—which would probably be a shock to many Call of Cthulhu fans.

For What It’s Worth

Although I work a day job, I try to advance my creative endeavours in fiction and gaming whenever I can. It’s a long slog peppered with occasional setbacks, but I’m determined to realise my dream. One motivational tool I use is to pin up copies of all of the covers of the roleplaying modules I have written, as well as the anthologies and magazines that have featured my work as a reminder of how far I have come. I don’t trumpet it to my co-workers or brag about what I have done; I let the covers speak for themselves (and I have a few more to put up…)


Last week a co-worker came by my office to talk about something, and noticed my collection. The conversation went something like this:

Colleague: “Hey Geoff, what are all those pictures in your office?”
Me: “Those are covers of all the anthologies my stories are in.”
C: “You write? Cool! I’d love to read them!”
Me: “I’ll send you the Amazon links if you like. All I ask is that you post a review.”
C: “Oh. I was hoping to be able to read them online.” (shuffles away)


Like anything else that is worthwhile, art takes a lot of time to create and even more to master. On the latter, I see the skillful demonstration of any craft as being analogous to an iceberg—the part you see is tiny compared to what lies hidden. Basically an iceberg squared, if such a thing could exist. Whatever creative endeavour one pursues, it’s work—and a lot of it:

It’s stewing in one’s creative juices trying to come up with something worthy of making into art.

It’s the first abortive attempts that seem awesome at first, and then appear totally worthless as our confidence and initial creative euphoria erode in revision runoffs.

It’s finally, after many twists and turns, making something that seems to match what we had in our heads…and then submitting it for scrutiny (whether by an editor, a gallery, etc.), only to find ourselves on another emotional rollercoaster where we often question our integrity and value as artists until our work is either accepted or rejected.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

All this to say, any form of artistic expression, whether it is done “for the love” or because the artist is trying to make some money from their craft, requires sacrificing a great deal of time and energy from an all-too-finite pool. And that sacrifice is, in itself, a gesture of love towards one’s craft.

As an artist’s friend, colleague, partner—or even if you’re a complete stranger—you should not, out of respect for that love of craft, dismiss their work out of hand. Approach their work with a curious eye or accepting ear, and above all an open mind. If, in the end, you don’t like their work then give honest, respectful feedback and explain why. Likewise, if there was something about the artist’s work you did like, give them the affirmation they need and tell them so—and post a review.

Above all, if the artist respectfully tells you that they aren’t about to give you their art for free don’t scurry away, because in doing so you are telling them how little value you place on their work.

…And That’s the Kind of Year It’s Been

At one point I promised myself I would improve my blogging habits, as it’s important to have something to shoot for. I’m happy to report that I continue to have a goal in this department. While I didn’t post much here in 2018, a lot did, in fact, go on – perhaps it’s accurate to say that I was busy trying to do things that would be worthy to post here.

Yeah, we’ll go with that.

So, without further ado, I’ll run though how 2018 shaped up for me…


The year started off with a high note when I learned that “The Wind Father”, my Lovecraftian weird western story that was published in 2017 by Third Flatiron Publishing in their Principia Ponderosa anthology, made it onto Tangent Online’s 2017 Recommended Reading list . This was almost as good as winning an award, and it buoyed my spirits in the early months of 2018.

In May, “Full House”, a science fiction story I co-wrote with my partner, Fiona Plunkett, was picked up by Exile Editions for their Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland anthology. This story was intended to be a fast-paced piece with space operatic overtones, and I was glad that Tangent Online also thought so. We had a successful book launch in Ottawa, and followed up with more readings later that year at CAN*CON. I was especially happy that “Full House” got the nod because I’ve long been a fan of space opera and wanted to get something published in that genre. Fiona and I ended the story with Alis and Risus heading out for further adventures, and I plan to see where they end up. 😉

Around the same time, I received word that a horror story of mine called, “The Draught of Dreams” had been accepted by Lycan Valley Publishing for their “Subliminal Realities” anthology. This was especially satisfying because this was one of the first stories I ever wrote, and each rejection (more than I care to count) only made me even more certain that it was a tale that needed to be told. The book is due out soon, and I happy the story finally has a home.

This year was also a good one for reprints—two, in fact. “Giving At The Office”, which originally appeared in Dusty Wallace’s People Eating People (2014), was picked up by Digital Fiction Publishing for their latest horror anthology. Also, my Lovecraftian tale of terror on the Great Lakes, “Deadly Cargo”, will appear in Pole-to-Pole Publishing’s “Re-Terrify” anthology, due to come out soon.

More recently I received word that another story of mine has been accepted in an anthology due for release in early 2019, but I can’t say more for the moment… 😉


For the past couple of years I had been devoting a considerable amount of energy to my work for The Ed Greenwood Group, but when the company folded I saw an opportunity to take what I learned and cast my net out farther. I’m happy to say that a few articles of mine will be appearing in the next issue of Arkham Gazette, a Call of Cthulhu-themed magazine produced by Sentinel Hill Press under license from Chaosium, Inc. Writing material for my favourite Lovecraftian game has long been a career goal of mine, and getting my foot in the door makes me feel like I levelled-up (pun slightly intended). There is the possibility of more work with SHP, so time will tell.

2018 was also a turning point for me, game-writing wise, because it was the first time a professional market approached me to write something for them. Expeditious Retreat Press asked me for an adventure module, and I happily delivered one to them in the horror vein. Stay tuned for updates on when it will come out!

Other stuff is on tap for 2019, but again I can’t say anything about it right now.

Other Awesomeness

Perhaps the most surprising thing that happened this year was when Tito Ferradans, a Vancouver-based film-maker, approached me for the rights to make a short film based on my short story, White Noise”, which was first published by AE Science Fiction in 2013, and re-printed in the anthology, Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse”. This has been a hugely exciting experience, and I can’t wait to see the final product! Tito created an Indiegogo campaign to finance the making of this film. There’s still some time left before the campaign ends, so I invite you to check it out and support an indie film-maker!

My friend and writing buddy, Brandon Crilly, kindly interviewed us about the film and the story behind it.

All things considered, it *has* been quite a year…and I wouldn’t have wanted it to turn out any other way. Here’s to hoping 2019 proves to be just as fruitful!

It’s CAN*CON time again!

The leaves are turning, chill winds are beginning to blow, and Hallowe’en is just around the corner…

…and that means CAN*CON, Ottawa’s annual conference on speculative arts and literature, is upon us again!.

This year’s program is loaded with excellent panels you won’t want to miss, and there are a number of very notable guests you’ll want to meet! Although pre-registration is now full, you can still buy admission at the door.

For those interested, here is my schedule at the con:

Friday, October 12

17:00-17:50 (Salon B)
Alice Unbound Reading
Join me and Kate Heartfield, Cait Gordon, Dominik Parisien, Elizabeth Hosang, and Andrew Sutherland as we read from our stories published in this anthology.

18:00-18:50 (Dealers’ Room)
Exile Editions Table
I will be manning the table for Exile Editions – copies of Alice Unbound and other Exile titles will be on sale. Stop by for a chat!

20:00-20:50 (Salon D)
Braaaains. Please. Sorry.
A discussion of the mark made by Canadian zombie fiction and its connection to our wider focus on the living dead.

Saturday, October 13

I’m not on any panels, but will be there for much of the day.

Sunday, October 14

11:00-12:50 (Salon C)
Creating Game Adventures: From Outline to Treasure Hoard (Seminar & Workshop)
Love RPGs? Ever consider writing your own module? Join me for this 2-hour workshop where I will you through the considerations and process of writing for an RPG, beginning with a seminar discussion of what you need to consider, and finishing with a collaborative workshop. The best part? You’ll walk away with the beginnings of a product that you can market to games publishers.

1:00-1:50 (Dealers’ Room)
Exile Editions Table
I’ll be manning the table once again for Exile Editions.

I hope to see you there!

Updates, I have a few…

It’s been a while since I posted – part of that is because of the ups and downs of regular life, but the other reason is because I’ve been away creating!

First, I’m excited about the recent publication of “The Wind Father”, my Lovecraftian weird western short story, in the recently-released Principia Ponderosa anthology by Third Flatiron Publishing!

The story takes place in the Canadian West in the 1880s.  Settler families have been murdered with some being carried off into a forbidding no man’s land. Sergeant Blake is determined to rescue the most recent victim, defying his commanding officer and leading his small detachment into the hills. What they find is not a band of criminals, but an ancient evil beyond the scope of mere laws…

Principia Ponderosa is available in trade paperback and electronic form, and so far the collection has been receiving very positive feedback.  The kind folks at Tangent reviewed the anthology, and called my story “[a] well-executed piece of Lovecraftian horror set in the Canadian frontier” where the tension build each scene is “just a little bit stranger or more disturbing than what came before.”

I’m also happy to say that Digital Fiction Publishing bought the reprint rights to two previously-published stories of mine:  “Re-Possession”, a zombie-themed tale of corporate intrigue, and “For Old Times’ Sake”, my flash piece about what happens once superheroes retire. This is a great company to work with, and they give free access to hundreds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories.  You can follow them on Twitter, as well.

I’m putting the finishing touches on a few other creative works – more horror and fantasy short stories, as well as a full-length roleplaying module set in Ed Greenwood’s fantasy world of Stormtalons.  Stay tuned for more!

Back to Adventure

While much of my focus, roleplaying-wise, is now on working with an awesome team of Creatives to develop The Ed Greenwood Group‘s world of Stormtalons, I still produce other works from time to time.

I’m very happy to announce the publication of my latest roleplaying adventure module, “The Crocodile’s Tear”, by Expeditious Retreat Press, an independent publisher of quality, old-school roleplaying games of a variety of genres – from high fantasy to gritty modern espionage. This is the third module of mine that they have published, and I enjoy working with them.

AA34 Cover

A “New” Roleplaying Release

As I’ve said a few times, I started my writing career in the roleplaying world.  The many hours spent adventuring in the imaginary worlds Dungeons and Dragons and similar games fuelled my imagination in ways that movies, TV shows, and even books never could.  After I’d run a few adventures of my own, I read the professionally-published adventure modules with a more critical eye.  The storylines offered the blend of heroism and peril that I found engaging, the adventure locales they presented were often interesting, but I couldn’t help but walk away slightly dissatisfied.  There wasn’t enough history.  I wanted to know more about the motivations of some of the personalities the players would meet along the way.  I often saw opportunities for further adventures that the module writers hadn’t explored (or, more realistically, didn’t have the time to explore because of production schedules).

So I started writing modules of my own, and in so doing learned quite a bit about how to structure a storyline (a well crafted adventure is a highly interactive story, after all), and how to build a world on a small scale.  I also derived a lot of satisfaction from producing something tangible that other people could read and use at their leisure.  After I joined the online roleplaying community and connected with like-minded people, I found an audience as well as friends and colleagues with whom I could share ideas, and give and receive constructive criticism that pushed me even farther along my path.  Eventually I moved into writing fiction, but I never forgot my roots and I enjoy returning to them from time to time.

With all that in mind I am very happy to share my latest release, an adventure module for Dungeons and Dragons (although it could be used with any system with a bit of tweaking) entitled “The Wanderer’s Grave”.  This product is free to use and share, and if you have any comments I would love to hear them.

GGA1 Cover

Happy adventuring!