Warlord Games’ Action Fiction Competition

Warlord Games are inviting players to write short pieces of action fiction for Beyond the Gates of Antares. Whilst there will be up to five winners for a some store vouchers, Warlord will publish the best shorts on our websites, we’ll also be looking for more fiction from the best writers for future supplements.

There’s only 4 weeks left.

We’ve had some great submissions – and multiple submissions from the same person, too! It is an action fiction comp, deliberately short to match what we’re looking for and can use. And I’m happy to offer first-cut once-over advice to those who have never written before.

The link for more details is below. Do read and follow the instructions!


Homeworking – a few tips

Given the isolation and homeworking that is now being encouraged due to current crisis (March 2020), a friend and screenwriter posted some advice which reminded me to do the same (thanks, Nicky). Originally, I couldn’t get to this blog – a very strange affair – but it’s now been sorted.

I work at home, and have done so on and off for decades. At first it was to have quality time to design or write before returning into the office, or managing staff who were doing the same, then in a home office, then later it was because I have to due to pain management. What follows is based on that experience, and I hope it helps…

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Exercise and pain

There’s a number of steps to exercising with pain which are worth bearing in mind. Why? Predominantly because, in my case, walks in the open air, amongst the green, are fantastic for health, well-being and enjoyment. Others may find the social contact or body support in a swimming pool useful, the low-impact nature of cycling and swimming achievable. But there are a number of steps it’s worth bearing in mind before doing the exercise.

Whatever you do, though, it’s worth bearing in mind that finding the right exercise for _you_ may be difficult, but it is worth it. The health, breath and relaxation it brings can be immense. And that’s good for pain management.

The steps I consider worth looking at are:

1) Discovery. Explore the options you think might work, or which others suggest, and be prepared to fail. Yes, I know failure means pain, but it’s a process in which all results are steps onto the next. Try cycling, swimming, walking, pilates, yoga, even jogging, etc – as long as it will not overly impact pain. For me, for example, I was aware that stretching of arms and impact jogging will cause pain due to aggravation, so that drew a line under a bunch of types, but I tried returning to cycling and swimming just to see. As it happened, cycling aggravates my arm too much and swimming involved too much stretching and overload. Some pilates exercises I had already developed (apparently) to resolve intermittent back pain (cause by sitting too long in a couch, really) and they are low-impact, work almost totally on core strength/back, and do not affect the rest of my pain. On-road walking can be high-impact. However, off-road walking, especially hills, is deceptively more strenuous (balance, uneven surfaces, etc) and takes me out in the green spaces and amonst woods.

2) Start gentle. Remember pacing and developing periods of activity. Do a walk/exercise at a gentle pace, but be very aware of how it affects your pain/body at every moment. Build up time and ‘speed’ (however speed is measured – it’s really exercise level). Don’t be afraid to back off for a while and start again – it’s your pain and no-one else knows how it affects you. Once you realise it’s working, then go to step 3 but keep step 2 going.

3) Research good practice. Be aware of what is beneficial about the exercise, walking in my case. Due to humans being so well optimised, slow ambles bring almost no physical benefits but may bring great emotional/spiritual benefits just by being outside in the fresh air – and don’t forget the sunlight vitamins. :slight_smile: However, faster walks and at 20 minutes plus (last time I checked!) bring masses of benefits.

4) Build up. I’ve worked out a maximum time for walks and focus on that. Yes, I go for longer walks, but I stop at the pacing mark or even if pain is building up too much. Don’t be afraid of taking those rests-stops or calling for them if walking with others. And just don’t overdo it: make sure you’re in control or in a comfort zone. More of the exercise means you’ll build up confidence.

5) Take the support and clothing you need. For example, I walk in all weathers. Which means I have a good jacket, decent walking boots, take a hat so as not to get too cold, and carry a sling. And if it looks as if I’m on the edge, I take low-end painkillers beforehand, just in case. Water is always good for longer walks when you think you may have to stop.

6) Be aware of everything around you – it’s not just the exercise itself that’s good. Research is constantly coming up with the benefits of green spaces on well-being, but I find it’s also the views and, when I can, the company that helps. For me, there’s a lot of enjoyment and relaxation to be gained by breathing in the fresh air, being aware of the sights, small and large: the plants, the birds, the trees, dew on a spiders web, frost on the grass, mist in summer and winter hovering in the valleys. Take time to appreciate all this beauty.

Ultimately, an exercise such as walking can help fulfill a whole bunch of pain management goals: relaxation, the physical exercise, encouraging breathing, fitness and just enjoyment – those good brain-chemicals really help beat back the pain. But the exercise that’s good for you is good for oyou – just be aware of the various factors involved and try it!

Happy walking!

Review: Skin

Skin by Liam Brown

Allergies. They’re more and more commonplace, whether nuts, pollen, cats, dogs, horses, dust-mites… But what if they went one step further? What if we became allergic to something much more common, something we couldn’t avoid and something that would complicate even the creating of an anti-allergy drug (antihistamines won’t work)?

What if we became allergic to each other?

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Pacing and Pain

I’ve been busy, again, hence no posts. Insanely busy, in fact, and I let something get away from me: Pain Management. I know, I’ve said plenty of times here and on my other blog that PM is a lifestyle, a way of living to allow you to live. But I had a whole host of mini-handbooks to write, some mini-supplements to write and edit, a players pack to finish,  playtesting, an inquest and its rather stressy fallout…

…all of which is not good for pain management.

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Review: Poster Boy

Poster Boy by N.J. Crosskey


As many know, I like good dystopian fiction. Inevitably, it has a science fiction element so one of the problems is establishing the reality and, in places, a viewpoint. Poster Boy starts off with a suspense-filled scene that we know is an ending: we just don’t know when. But it has to establish a baseline in the past and has to do so from the perspective of a privileged, spoilt teenager with all the proverbial angst and self-focus.

It’s a difficult task. Very difficult. But NJ Crosskey manages it, and establishes a viewpoint and voice(s) that you cannot help but grate against: I loathed the main protagonists… but had to keep to reading.

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