GenCon 2016 Writer’s Symposium


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My nerdling broodmates, hearken! I have visited the phenomenon known as GenCon since I was sixteen. This year, I go in a more professional capacity as part of its Writer’s Symposium. The schedule for the symposium has just been released, and I’ll highlight my events below. Between those events, I’ll be there to sign things, hand out toe tag bookmarks, play some games, drink libations, meet people new and known, and cast dark rituals. I hope to see as many of you as possible. Perhaps we’ll shake some dice and tell a story or raise a glass.

My schedule:


2:00 PM — Signing (Room: Exhibit Hall)
 6:00 PM — Reading: Joshua Alan Doetsch and Suzanne Church (Room: Causus)


9:00 AM — Marketing: Social Media 101 (Room: Chamber)
11:00 AM — Writer’s Craft: Creating Truly New Ideas (Room: Chamber)
2:00 PM — Video Game Writing: What NOT To Do As a Game Writer (Room: Cabinet)


12:00 PM — Signing (Room: Exhibit Hall)
 3:00 PM — Video Game Writing: Worldbuilding for Game Worlds (Room: Cabinet)

Is that my voice?


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Last weekend was a busy weekend if you like the sound of my voice as much as I do. I had two meaty interviews live on the web. What’s that? Did you miss it? Are your ears frowning for my dulcet tones? Have no fear!

On Friday, the delicious folks at The Secret Podcast interviewed me regarding my position as Lead Writer of The Secret World. We talked video games, writers block, video game writing, and more. Learn of my secret origins over at Funcom. You can see that interview HERE.

On Saturday, after an all-nighter of writing, I was interviewed by the wonderful Beth Barnes (also known as DJ Psywarrior). Our main topic of discussion was writing LGBT characters in video games. It’s not a topic of discussion I’d ever thought I’d be specifically invited to talk about, but I’m glad I did. We dug into some weighty stuff, all while killing zombies (a wonderful activity to do while talking serious topics). Beth made me feel very comfortable and welcome and it was easy to spill. That’s her magic. We even discussed fictional characters I’d smooch! Check it out HERE.

Portraits Beat Impostor Syndrome


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portrait_of_a_scrivnomancer_by_meladdams-d9v78qa (1)

Some gourds got more reason to grin than others.

I’m a portrait! Look, look! The wonderfully phantasmagoric-minded Mel Addams made this for me. You can read their  story why here.

I’ll break the image down, because I want to illustrate just how much thought and effort went into this. Mel saw that I had some lovely paintings of both Poe and Lovecraft on my wall, by Michael Bielaczyc.


I once talked about the notion of Impostor Syndrome, the insidious doubt that you don’t belong or that some success was not really earned, and how that can pop into anyone’s head, from beginning to novice to the most successful. Mel, in their glorious and kind wisdom, thought a good safeguard would be for me to look up and see my face with a couple of my heroes. They put my face to the same stylized tilt as the Bielaczyc paintings. And they pieced me together from bits of things I’ve provided online over the years.

The Great Pumpkin

Years ago, I played around with photo shop to make this image of me.


The one-eyed cat on the left, in the portrait, is my actual one-eyed cat, Raven. I adopted her in Montreal and she has been my home scrivnomancy familiar ever since.


The served hand on the right, is my workplace familiar. I picked it up one Halloween, when I lived in Oslo. It’s been my office mascot ever since (in three countries). And was once a regular character feature on my twitter.


And finally the top hat. It’s actually my leather top hat, purchased from a vendor, many GenCons ago. The eyeball patch I got from Grichels. The hat has taken on a life of its own. Players and readers have gotten to know me by the image. It’s featured in the live twitch dev-stream I do for The Secret World, called The Streaming Ones.


The hat has even taken on surreal digital life within The Secret World game itself. Behold, Nyarlatophat!


Also featured are a coat and vest of mine.

And there you have it. The gift Mel gave me, besides their amazing talent, was an image that I unknowingly got to collaborate on making (by taking pieces of me). That’s a swell gift to someone who likes composing visual things (but with no real technical skill for it). It means the fiddling I did with photoshop or the eyeball I had attached to a hat, and the paraphernalia I surround myself in, all contribute to a sweet image. THANKS, MEL!

If you happen to want a print of the portrait, you can contact Mel Addams to order.


Tomorrow’s Cthulhu


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The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.

If the above quote (from HP Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu”) is correct, then the dread entity known as Google is destined to “open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

Enter Tomorrow’s Cthulhu. The new anthology features my short story “The Five Hundred Days of Ms. Between” and many more. The book’s blurb says:

Super science. Madness. Transhumanism.

This is the dawn of posthumanity. Some things can’t be unlearned.

Gleaming labs whir with the hum of servers as scientists unravel the secrets of the universe. But as we peel away mysteries, the universe glances back at us. Even now, terrors rise from the Mariana Trench and drift down from the stars. Scientists are disappearing—or worse. Experiments take on minds of their own. Some fight back against the unknown, some give in, some are destroyed, and still others are becoming… more.

You can purchase the Kindle edition of the anthology right now. You can also pre-order soft cover and hardcover editions of the book over at Broken Eye Books. Bellow is teaser of my story. It’s my first crack at a time travel story . . . or is it?


“The Five Hundred Days of Ms. Between” (excerpt)
by Joshua Alan Doetsch

Can’t feel my legs. So I slither along the ground, toward the audient window, humming that song. I hear the wet-velcro rip of the thousand hands rending flesh. I see her through the window. That mocking grin.

The first thing Ms. Between said to me was, “I’m a mad woman with a lab.” The second thing she said was that I could leave at any time with no obligation. The third thing was that there could be no questions—questions would cause her and her offer to evaporate. I believed absolutely in that, so she handed me the murder weapon.

No, wait. That’s not the beginning. I don’t remember exactly when it began—some time after Ms. Between came out of our touchscreens. Everyone has seen her Tech Talk videos and all their terrible wonder. Yet nobody knows where she broadcasts from. No one ever meets Ms. Between.

But I did.

She provided no name, only an address. She said he had done a bad thing. Said he deserved it. I swallowed all of my wriggling questions.

The Nameless Man looked old and kindly. He had one eye and smiled as he slept. Oh how I wish he had tossed with moaning guilt. Everyone sleeps more soundly since the symbionts.

Hesitating, I stood over the Nameless Man’s bed for an hour. With the speed of a carnivorous plant, I took out the dagger. It was carved from bone and coated in lacquer that gave it a greenish hue. I raised the dagger over my head and held it there, squeezing the leather-wrapped handle. Another half hour. My arm ached. I bit my inner cheek and tasted copper. Ms. Between had said I could leave at any time.

No, Val, Lailah pleaded from inside me. You must not do this.

Lailah is my dedicated symbiont.

“Have to,” I rasped.

The Nameless Man startled. His eye opened. I brought the dagger down. I’ve never been good with knives. It took many tries. “Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry,” I said until I was nothing but tears and snot.

“Lailah,” I said when it was over, “now.”

Her coils tightened in my gut. No, Val. Don’t make me. Don’t make me.

“We have to, Lailah. Please.”

I felt her sigh and shiver. Her tendril came out the port in my wrist to snake down into the Nameless Man’s mouth. His symbiont would not live long without him, but it might have stored recent memories in synaptic backup. Through Lailah, I felt its distress. Not a dedicated symbiont, not even a thought interface. How lonely. Just a silent worm. But I don’t judge. I recognize my privilege.

As Lailah devoured the other symbiont, I put the wet dagger into a plastic bag. Ms. Between had handed it to me just before telling me the rules of time travel. It was preposterous. Time travel couldn’t exist.

I committed murder on the off chance that I was wrong.

My New Writer Bio


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Joshua Alan Doetsch is a sentient word virus spreading across the collective unconscious through the vector of human language. It has taken on many forms, from short stories, to screenplays, to tabletop roleplaying games. It spreads through print, digital, and audio mediums. It coalesced as the novel Strangeness in the Proportion and shaped itself into an anthropomorphic guise as Lead Writer of The Secret World, a massive multiplayer online computer game. It is made of cuttlefish ink and earworm rhymes, and its fingernails are gleaming fountain pen nibs. You can help spread the infection at It’s already too late.

Lore of the Clans and True Detective


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Once upon a time, when I was 16 or 17, I went into a bookstore and opened Vampire the Masquerade (2nd ed.). I’ve never been the same. I’ve done some writing since then. Fast forward. There is a new book available that I’ve contributed to: Lore of the Clans. You can listen to Eddy Webb talk about the development of my two chapters at the following links (the Followers of Set and the Tzimisce respectively).

I’ve done the math. I’ve been reading White Wolf books for longer than I have not been (yikes!). Since the beginning, if you crack open one of those books, you’ll find, in the opening credits, a little Special Thanks section. Contributors and other people involved are given thanks via little nick names. Even if I didn’t know the context of these inside jokes, the section always added a little warmth. So now, all these years later, of all the things I’ve done in this fictional world I’ve played in, I find this little bit tickles my inner teenage fan the most… Getting my own nickname.

Screenshot 2016-01-07 22.27.32

You can read the intro fiction to my Tzimisce chapter HERE.

Below, is the opening fiction to the Follower’s of Set chapter. Have you heard the legend of Haint Blue?

The Poison Tree

I’m rolling down the outer-roads, somewhere near the Okefenokee Swamp, edging on the static of “Black Snake Moan,” when the phantom signal comes in.

The car radio croons, “Mmm-mmm! Black snake crawlin’ in my room.” Then it says, “Zzzzzzzshhhhhhhhhh!” Then the music. Deep. Bottomless. Filled with the primordial blues of reptile sex. Music that taught people new ways to revel and kill. The music of Haint Blue.

The fuel needle does a heroin shiver over E. Sold my homicide badge to some kids for gas money three truck stops back. It was just the relic of a dead religion. My lost history. The cult killings—the gaudy headlines—crime scene photos—the screaming eyes of cadavers—the dead eyes of interviewees—the tendrils of conspiracy—the warnings from above—my lost vocation—lost marriage—lost. Empty context. An amphetamine stew of memories.

How long had I been chasing Haint Blue?

Static. Lost the music. My knuckles form a row of white tombstones on the wheel. I jerk left. Right. The music crackles back, filling my brainpan with sizzling eel afterbirth. His music.

Haint Blue. The Conjure Man. The walking mythos. Everyone knows somebody who knows somebody who heard his music live. Did a deal with the Devil at a crossroads, they say. His music shows you things, they say. His coffin-shaped guitar case holds secrets. For a trade, he’ll show you wonders. When the six-string priest plays, the dead dance.

In all of the twisted paths of the investigation—from prostitutes to deacons to drug dealers to government officials—the one constant was Haint Blue. Georgia truckers will vomit apocrypha about the rogue radio signal that comes in the late hours, Mesozoic lyrics you can’t quite make out. The sound virus.

No leads. Nothing left. All I had was the music. I don’t know how I know, but I know where to go. All roads lead to Haint Blue.

Just like that, he appears in the cyclopic glare of my last headlight. A dapper holocaust with his coffin guitar case. I’m out of the car, gun drawn. I aim for his heart. Gators bellow and eyes gleam in the dark off the road. Under the brim of his hat, Haint Blue smiles at me the way mushroom clouds smile at the sun. I drop the gun. Bullets are just an unnecessary rudeness.

All the terrible things I saw to find him, the things I did, just rungs down the ladder. Every clue teasing the ultimate secrets of the cosmos, like humming a song you can’t quite remember.

“More,” I say through the tears, “please show me more.”

He nods. His pale blue tie glows in the black, like a river of souls dribbling down his chin to his belt. He offers me a straight razor. I cut along, not across.

Frogs croak prayers to the void. The smell of rotting peat. The feverish crossroad pavement.

When did I lay down? That’s when I notice the bottle trees—small, dead trees with blue bottles stuck on the ends of the bare branches. Used to see them in yards, when I was a kid. Mama’d say some hoodoo about the bottles trapping roaming night spirits until the morning light destroyed them. The wind blows piping music through the stained glass branches.

A cold palm presses my mouth. Baptism tastes like unlucky pennies. “See you on the other side of Duat,” Haint whispers like a kindly psychopomp. Then he strangles his six strings down to revenant whale groans. He sings, but I can’t catch all the words.

“…I was angry with my foe—I told it not, my wrath did grow—and I watered it in fears—night and morning with my tears—and I sunned it with smiles—and with soft deceitful wiles—and it grew both day and night—till it bore an apple bright…”

The gators become crocodiles. The sky opens wide, showing the convoluted pantheon that is its teeth. The godmonster menagerie—all perched in the branches of the Poison Tree of Souls. Before the river of death carries me away, I hear the breaking of blue glass. Haint cackles, “Come out! Come out! Meet your new sibling.” Funny thing, as the bottles break, the mad piping does not quiet. It grows louder.

How to Kill Santa


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Finn remembers. The dark woods. The chair of bone and horn. He sat on Santa’s cold lap. The blue-black skin. Moon-glow eyes. The clotted beard. That distended belly that shook like things writhing in jelly.

May your holidays be weird. Want to make them weirder? Check out my story, “How to Kill Santa”, in Weird Winter Stories, an anthology featuring the characters of Sparrow and Crowe (from the audio drama Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery).

Norse draugr mythology meets Santa lore, preternatural parasites, and more! I’ve even made you a playlist to listen to while you read.

The night before Christmas is a long stretch of dark.

You can hide anything there.

Santa Draugr

Signed Books II: the Reckoning


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Elizabeth Báthory had a dwarf accomplice named Fickó.

That fact has nothing to do with the rest of this post. Books! Specifically, my novel! I recently sold a small box of them I stumbled upon, and they sold fast. In fact some people who contacted me were not able to get one. So, I’m going to do a second round of signed copies of my novel, Strangeness in the Proportion.

You too will smile as big as this happy reader…


What do you get?

  • A physical copy of the book! All three dimensions (plus a bonus dimension). Look at that creepy cover by Christopher Shy.
  • Autographed, with anything else you’d like scrawled in it.
  • A genuine toe tag bookmark (never mind how I got them!).

The price (which includes shipping) is $25 to ship to the US and $45 to other countries (sorry, shipping nailed me last round). You can also buy the book cheaper and in electronic format (but sans signature and toe tag) at the link above.

I’ll accept payments through Paypal. If interested, email me at (that’s not my paypal address, email me first) for details. I’ll get a shipment of the books in October, which means I should be able to have shipped to people before Halloween (a perfect time to read it!).

Want a taste of the novel? This is my short and sweet synopsis:

Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back…one piece at a time.

Want a deeper look? The dynamic duo at The Booked Podcast does a lovely review of it.