A Good Month at BlackGate.com

swordswizardry_coverI have been writing the Monday morning post over at BlackGate.com since March of 2014. ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ has covered a wide range of topics while still focusing on the greatest private detective of them all.

September was by far my best month there, as I had three of the top ten most-viewed posts. Interestingly, all were gaming-related and had nothing to do with Holmes or the mystery genre. Of course, since it’s a fantasy website, that’s not a huge surprise.

My post looking at why I chose Swords & Wizardry (old school) over Pathfinder (modern school) for my current RPG campaign turned out to be the second most popular post of the year so far. I’m a Pathfinder fan and I’ve got a couple of posts coming on why I still think that is a fine system.

The #7 post for the month, RPGing is Storytelling, looked at how growing up Dungeons & Dragons (along with reading mythology) helped me become a writer (to the extent I am one).

And at #9 was my post on prolific pulpster Lester Dent’s formula for writing a pulp story – with plenty of additional insights from Michael Moorcock.

My post on James Edward Holroyd’s two entries in Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes Library came in at #48.

While I’m going to continue to keep writing about Holmes and mysteries (I have GOT to finish an essay on Erle Stanley Gardner’s Cool and Lam series!), I’m going to be writing more gaming stuff over the course of the next year. I enjoy it and people seem to like it.

Makes sense to me!

And Even More of Otto Penzlers SH Library! (The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes)

penzler_robertsSo, over at BlackGate.com today, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looks at a fifth book in Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes library. This one is from S.C. Roberts, an accomplished bookman who had a life-long impact on Cambridge.

This is a nifty little collection of essays written by Roberts and a nice addition to a Sherlockian bookshelf. I’ve long been fond of his pastiche, “The Strange Case of the Megatherium Thefts.”

I had previously written a post on Vincent Starrett’s two entries in the series, followed by a post on the two books from James Edward Holroyd.



Story Telling & RPGs (Black Gate)

bg_wraithA couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post over at BlackGate.com, comparing the old school approach to Role Playing Games with the more modern one. I used Swords and Wizardry, a recreation of Original Dungeons and Dragons, and Pathfinder. I’m a fan of both systems.

I think that post has turned out to be one of the most popular I’ve written at Black Gate. So, of course, I went back to the well somewhat and this week, talked a bit about how Role Playing Games are about storytelling. And storytelling is what being a writer is about.

I also mention The Iliad, so you know it’s a good post!

If you’re at all interested in RPGs, or wondering how fantasy games with pen and paper can foster imagination, head on over. And add to the comments, please. We get some good discussion and some great points ‘below the line.’


More from Otto Penzler’s SH Reference Library

holroyd_bywaysA couple weeks ago, ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ looked at two Vincent Starrett books: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and 221B: Studies in Sherlock. Both of those books are part of the nine title Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes Reference Library.

This week, I look at two more books in the series: these from James Edward Holroyd. As with Starrett’s, one (Baker Street Byways) is his own work while the other (Seventeen Steps to 221B) is an edited collection from multiple writers.

Both books are solid additions to a Sherlockian bookshelf, so click on over and check them out.

Vincent Starrett on Holmes

Starrett_221BThere are a few names that stand above all others in the Sherlockian world. Edgar Smith, founder of the Baker Street Irregulars, of course. Christopher Morley and Father Ronald Knox loom huge.

Vincent Starrett, one of the great bookmen of the twentieth century is another. Today over at BlackGate.com, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looks at two Starrett collections The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and 221B: Studies in Sherlock. Both were part of Otto Penzler’s classic Sherlock Holmes Library.

Starrett was a huge Solar Pons fan and even wrote introductions to two of the short story collections. One is an intro that should be looked at as a standard in the field.

And he was a great supporter of Derleth in the latter’s battle with the Doyle brothers in publishing The Adventures of Solar Pons.

Dungeon! (The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes)

Dungeon_boardWay, way back when I was a kid, I played Dungeon!, the board game that TSR put out in 1975. A few years ago, I bought a recent edition and taught my six year old how to play it. Dungeon! was the father of all dungeon crawlers, like Descent and Dungeonquest.

Today over at BlackGate.com, I did into the history of this venerable board game. It came directly out of Dave Areneson’s Blackmoor sessions and really, pre-dates D&D.

Head on over and check it out.



The Beach Boys – at The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes?

BeachBoys_MTVernonThis week, I actually managed to tie my favorite band into my Monday morning post over at BlackGate.com.

Included with the Beach Boys’ 1972 album, Holland, was an EP. For you youngsters, that stands for ‘Extended Play’ and it was a bonus record: less music than a regular album but more than on a 45. Mt. Vernon and Fairy: a Fairy Tale, was an odd piece of music, singing and spoken verse, telling the story of a young prince and a magic transistor radio.

I talk about this rather unique piece of Beach Boys history, so head on over to Black Gate and check it out.