A kindred site.

It's kind of old news now, but I do use Instagram and I'm happy to follow and be followed by others. It started as idle curiosity, and not really getting Instagram, but I've definitely had fun with it. In particular, I enjoy letting the Internet store and date-stamp images so I can look back and recall what happened and when. Much like a Facebook album.

In any case, my username is jlasala2112. And http://statigr.am/jeff_lasala is one way to just see it without the need for a smartphone.

posted on 04.28.2013

Wizards of the Coast has just unleashed a host of audio books for their titles. And I'm lucky, again, to find The Darkwood Mask to be among them. In fact, I think every Eberron novel was included. Which surprises me greatly.

The Inquisitives books are narrated by Steve West. I'm an instant fan, and not just because of my obvious bias. He just makes the text sound better by far.

Anyway, I'm stoked. Are y'interested?

posted on 01.07.2013

Elaine Cunningham, Forgotten Realms luminary and all-around magnanimous writer, tagged me in the Next Big Thing meme, which prompts writers to talk about what they’re working on. I don't normally cave into memes (yeah, everyone says that, too), or give into peer pressure, but with peers like this, I'm honored to. Plus it gives me an excuse to talk about some very cool things and people.

So I'm answering ten questions about what I'm working on as a writer—though I am stretching the questions a little by including what I’m doing as an editor—and then five of my colleagues will go and do the same thing. I’m going to answer on behalf of everyone involved, since this project is way bigger than my efforts alone.

Art by Megan Glover

1. What is the working title of your current project?

Webshadows, though it's not a book at this time. In the last year, you may have heard me blabbing about Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero, the big cyberpunk book+soundtrack that released last February. As editor and contributing author, I'm mighty proud of this thing. It’s gotten some high praises, some awesomely positive reviews, and we even showcased Foreshadows at GenCon 2012.

Click here to see the video!


But if the Foreshadows anthology is a dark and winged shape flitting through the night sky, Webshadows are static traces discoverable by anyone at any time. They’re freely available on foreshadows.net/webshadows. Some will be stand-alone additions to the expanded Foreshadows universe, while others—like the first one—are prequels of stories in The Ghosts of Zero.

And I'm happy to be editing again.


2. Where did the idea come from?

From having more ideas, stories, and artistic expression than one book+CD can contain. But really, we wanted something to give our readers and listeners more to enjoy, and maybe even tease in some new people. Not to mention that there are tons of talented authors, musicians, and illustrators out there that I’m happy to find an excuse to collaborate with and get collaborating with each other.


3. What genre does this fall under?

Science fiction, with a decidedly cyberpunk bent.


4. Is anyone else involved?

Oh yes. Heaps of folks. The Foreshadows universe is one big vision seen through a multitude of different lenses, and from its outset collaboration has been essential to it. The first Webshadows tale, "Into Pandora's Box," was written by Jaleigh Johnson, composed by Dylan Leeds, and illustrated by Ruth Lampi.

But others on the docket are Elaine Cunningham, Ed Greenwood, Eytan Bernstein, and Chris Dias, with music and art coming from the likes of Charles B. Griffin, Bilian, Alan Norman (as Thee Crumb), Michael John Keegan, Megan Glover, and Oliver “Moth” Haldon. They’re waiting in the wings, with their contributions mostly finished and just being touched up. But further down the line, other souls linger and may be yet drawn into the fold. Like John Rossomangno, Colin McComb, Elvis Podvorac, Ed Gentry, and Harley Stroh, oh my! And perhaps more! Before too long, I’ll be gangpressing my brother John LaSala—co-producer/editor of the whole shebang—into producing some music of his own.

Art by Adrian Dexter


5. Can you give some one-sentence synopses for these tales?

I'd love to! The following Webshadows tales are waiting for their cues, stage left...

  • “Truthtell” by Ed Greenwood, Nick Parton, and Adrian Dexter. A peek into the mind of CEO Mark Steelweather, one of the most powerful capitalists on Earth. (This is a prequel to "Best Served Flash-Frozen.")
  • “Destroy. Consume. Erase.” by Eytan Bernstein, Thee Crumb, and Moth. Two lonely souls bring the B-One Corporation’s office in Montreal to its knees.
  • “In the Company of Mirrors” by Chris Dias, Megan Glover, and Bilian. Three things stand between Talvin Pascal and his freedom: a corporation, a conspiracy, and a very big robot.
  • “Enfold Us Beneath Open Wings” by Elaine Cunningham, Charles B. Griffin, and Michael John Keegan. The synthetic sisters of the Order of St. Hildegard have more in mind for the world than simple prayers.


6. Will this be self-published or represented by an agency?

Well, Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero (the book+CD) is published through Blindsided Books and distributed by the Very Us Artists, with the e-book sold through BaenEBooks.com. Whereas Webshadows are free to read/see/hear right off our website: http://foreshadows.net/webshadows/


7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Oh, gosh. Individually, the stories and music and art came together quickly. But these were collaborations made by some very busy people. Foreshadows as a whole was the steady coalescing of great imaginations, and these Webshadows are coming together similarly.


8. What other books would you compare Foreshadows/Webshadows to within your genre?

Being an anthology of very diverse authors, there’s really no other books I can directly compare Foreshadows to. Really, it would be easier to describe it to people if I could say, “Oh, it’s like so-and-so, but in the future!” With writers like Robert J. Randisi involved, we’ve got some stories more akin to oldschool pulp than to, say, William Gibson’s. But then we’ve got Ed Greenwood, whose imagination is twisty and fantastical even in the wavelengths of science fiction. There are moments in both Foreshadows and Webshadows that feel like the Twilight Zone, too. Joe Rixman’s story, and even Jaleigh’s Webshadows story, have those creepy moments.

Mr. Roboto from CyberpunkReview.com wrote, “The Very Us Artists have made their case for the next generation of cyberpunk, and it’s a pretty bold statement. A broad collaboration that shows what multimedia should have been in the 90s. Even now there’s word of more than could be published in a book. Webshadows continues where the book leaves off.” Given that, its hard to accurately compare this project to anything else.

Art from Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero by Talon Dunning


9. Who or what inspired you to write this?

The interesting thing is, the genre alone doesn’t necessarily inspire any stories. Each artist is inspired by something different, but we’re all projecting these inspirations into this dismal, if high-tech future morass. Some authors bring hope and light into it, while others shine that light upon the gritty reality of a dystopia. Both have a place in the Foreshadows universe.

For my own part, I definitely like to draw on a bit of mythology and older literature—gargoyles, the Golem, even Greek monsters. I’ll also be writing some Webshadows myself at some point, and probably will rope in Brian W. Matthews to help me with it. Again.


10. What else about your book might pique the interest of readers?

The illustration! Foreshadows has been multimedia from the start, and that means visual appeal, too. While you can get the book+soundtrack in digital form, the physical book and CD are all-around beautiful to look at and hold. The cover art was produced by Michael Komarck, one of today’s leading fantasy artists, and the twenty drawings inside the book were all made by Talon Dunning, a superlative illustrator and the nicest Southern boy I know. We’ve got some newer artists on the way with Webshadows, too.

Cover art by Michael Komarck

Oh yeah, and one more thing: once we get the first few Webshadows installments out the door, we’ll open it up to more and more writers, musicians, and illustrators, possibly even as an open call. Keep an eye out.


Who's Next?

And now for my recommendations. People whose writings you need to be more familiar with because the world is a little bit darker without them.

  • Foreshadows author Brian W. Matthews is the glue that kept the anthology's team together. He is also a compelling writer of horror fiction with a book hitting stores in February. When he's not helping friends and supporting his Michigander family, he's a noble tiefling warlord with some issues to sort through.
  • Elvis Podvorac is a creepy Canadian rat bastard and literary perambulant I've had the pleasure of crossing paths with. He's part of a paranormal investigation group and seems to delight in writing horror. His upcoming Webshadows story will hopefully gross you out.
  • Eytan Berstein is a freelance writer, NYC-based D&D expert, and Foreshadows supporter only two notches away from being a civil rights enforcer. His upcoming Webshadows story, brings cyberpunk into Montreal and involves a scary ex corporate soldier with machine-modded limbs, and that's the good guy. Eytan also plays a crazy-ass drow wizard in my weekly Eberron game.
  • Foreshadows author Keith Baker needs no introduction. But if he did, it would involve hardcore game design (video, card, and RPG), an eyelash, and a bit of gum Arabic.
  • Foreshadows author Ken Hart knows more than you do about comic books, monsters, and cinema, but you wouldn't know it because he's such a nice guy. He's a writer and editor and D&D aficionado.
  • D&D freelancer John "Ross" Rossomangno, who won't stop writing about demons, space illithids, mummified four-armed gorillas, and lobster-headed goddess monsters. Look for him in the world of Foreshadows soon.

Look for these guys' next big things soon!

Art from Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero by Talon Dunning

posted on 12.13.2012

First off, you should totally click Play here, or just download the thing:

It's a medley of songs and sound clips from the movie. (And thanks go to Joe Rixman for getting me the music in the first place.)

I'm reposting these images and this music from older posts on this otherwise dormant website...because it's Thanksgiving time, and this stuff is funny, and awesome. There are a lot of things I wish I had right now, but at the absolute minimum, I've got so much to be thankful for. Not the least of which is wonderful friends and family. I've got nothing to complain about.

And with that said...

As you already know if you know anything, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is arguably the best comedy ever and you should be watching it right now. Certainly it's John Hughes's finest. And I say that despite the awesomeness of Jeffrey Jones's portrayal of Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Planes is the heart-warming, side-splitting story of an uptight businessman (Steve Martin) trying against the odds to get home to his family in Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. And in the bustle, his fate is entangled with an irrepressible traveling salesman (John Candy). Steve Martin's always amusing and the immortal John Candy has a slew of hilarious movies, but in Planes the combo of the two is without equal.

Will you ever find a movie more suitable for Thanksgiving? Let's just say you'd have better luck selling dental floss at a Willie Nelson concert.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

And also, have this image:

posted on 11.20.2012

Four years ago, The Darkwood Mask, my first novel, was published by Wizards of the Coast. Then a couple years later, it went out of print, like many series books.

But just two days ago, the ebook was released, on Amazon and on barnesandnoble.com! It's purchase-able again, yay! Feel free to buy a copy and spread the word...

4½ stars on Amazon can't be wrong, right?

posted on 03.21.2012

Exercising is generally not very fun, but it is when you make it adventurous. And to me, that's especially applicable to hiking, jogging, or biking. Recently, I've had the opportunity to ride my bike (often with my wife, which make it more fun) and make some discoveries along the way.

My latest discovery: the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, which runs from the Bronx (where I live) up through Ossining. A 26-mile stretch. We've been driving up to various points and hitting the trail for a few miles at a time. We've almost reached Sleepy Hollow at this point. (A town we're already fond of.)

And along the way, we've seen some pretty cool sights. Monstrous trees, windy trails, bridges, streams, parks, statues, castles...there's a lot of old ruins strewn about New York State, and the Hudson Valley boasts some good ones. Oh yes, and plenty of old houses and mansions (you can tell at a glance that many of them must be haunted!). Huge swaths of this trail look wild and remote and would probably be especially creepy (i.e. cool) at night.

I've posted up a number of photos right here.

Like this stately fellow:


posted on 03.15.2012

This is it out NOW, world:

Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero

You can...

A portion of the profits from Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero will be donated to The Hunger Project, a global nonprofit organization committed to ending world hunger through strategic, grassroots partnerships in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.

posted on 02.25.2012

Some time ago, I was given the opportunity to write an article in the new “History Check” series in Dragon magazine. It was to be about the legendary battle between Corellon Larethian, the god of the elves, and Gruumsh, the god of the orcs. “Updating” this legend—which actually amounted to organizing all the contradicting accounts and paying homage to them all (at least, that’s how I do it)—is nothing short of geek indulgence.

And this is the end result:

"Corellon and Gruumsh"

The first thing I needed to do was dig up all the old books that pertained to Corellon and Gruumsh, including their first appearance. Now, I’d owned the 1st Edition sourcebook Legends and Lore since I was a kid. And while that book is a wealth of D&D lore and a hefty dose of real world religion and polytheism—which unquestionably kickstarted my childhood interest in mythology—it also introduced the non-human gods of D&D. That is, the gods of elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs, goblins, gnolls, trolls, kobolds, and a bunch more.

Rather, its predecessor did. Fellow writer/game designer/Foreshadower Mike Ferguson helpfully sent me some excerpts from the book Deities and Demigods—thanks, Mike!—which included the original tale of Corellon vs. Gruumsh. And every now and then there’d be some new version of the event, alternating the method by which Corellon blinded Gruumsh: with his sword...no, with his bow...no, the sword again...no, with a hot poker!

The Forgotten Realms also had its own incarnation of Corellon, and in that tale—told eloquently in full by Elaine Cunningham in Evermeet: Island of Elves—the elf god nearly met his defeat by the betrayal of Araushnee (aka Lolth). Another notable take on the legend came from The Complete Book of Elves, a memorably awesome 2nd Edition book written by Colin McComb. And of course, both Corellon and Gruumsh saw some dramatic changes in the 4th Edition of D&D—particularly with their involvement in the Dawn War, their fundamental origins, and their relationship with other gods.

In my article, the intent was to unite or otherwise allude to all these various versions, to tie them together somehow in a single tale and maybe add a couple of new elements to it without just rebooting the whole thing. It’s written, like all the “History Check” articles, by a member of the Vistani, the gypsy-like nomads (originally from the Ravenloft setting) who travel across the planes. And since they are the Vistani, it’s still just a story. So whether a player or DM wants to take is as canon or just another version in the list, I’m really happy to have had the chance to play with some of D&D’s iconic characters. It’s pure homage to me.

The illustrations of Corellon and Gruumsh have also varied greatly across the editions of the game. Sometimes they’re hilariously awkward, sometimes really cool, sometimes, I think, a little off the mark. The illustration for my article, and serving as the “cover” for Dragon #408 is certainly a new but fun adaptation: Wayne Reynolds doing what Wayne Reynolds does: making detail-heavy, epic battlescapes with dashing heroes pitted against very monstrous foes.

But hey! Where’d spear-toting Gruumsh get a hammer? Just like with The Darkwood Mask, a prominent character on the cover is given a big-ass hammer he doesn't actually have in the story. Why am I not writing about Thor?

But these artists are making me look good, so I'm not complaining.

posted on 02.04.2012

Last month I had a second article in Dragon magazine. "The Sentinel Marshal," which is a rare and esteemed (and reviled) vocation in the world of Eberron. It's also the type of hero in Marcy Rockwell's novel, The Shard Axe!

"You're under arrest for trying to steal my dragon, lion, and goat badge out here in the jungle."

There's been some positive discussion about the article on the WotC boards, too.

posted on 02.02.2012

This month D&D Insider (Wizards of the Coast's D&D digital magazines) has the theme of royalty and romance. Mostly, it's royalty and nobility. But I had the opportunity write an article about themes of love in Dungeons & Dragons...so I totally took it: "D&D Love Stories"

At a glance, you'd think this topic might be, at best, mildly interesting and, at worst, lovey-dovey or maudlin. I strove for very interesting, and I hope it delivered that to some gamers.

Categories include:

  • Courtly Love
  • Beauty and the Bestiary
  • Star-Crossed Lovers
  • Forbidden Love
  • In Love and War
  • Undying Love
  • Unrequited Love
  • Faerie Tales
  • Love and the Divine

A little excerpt:

First and foremost, love in the D&D world doesn’t have to be sappy. This is a realm of magical fire and ringing steel, of physical transformations and powerful rituals. Love could be the catalyst for a paladin’s quest, a rogue’s heist, or a wizard’s research. A villain might be motivated by unrequited love or a personal betrayal. And why not? Kings have been slain for less. Monsters and villains can have motivations and goals, and their interest in the heroes might extend beyond "food that walks" to something more personal.

Which is more fun to play—having the heroes chase down a bog hag because a local lord is hiring them to do it, or having them chase her down because she impersonated the eladrin warrior’s lover during the previous adventure and locked up the real one in an oubliette somewhere in the Feydark?

And here's a sample plot hook:

Dark Demise: The love interest of one of the heroes is killed. The mysterious nature of his death, however, prevents the Raise Dead ritual from working—for whatever reason, the subject’s soul is not "free and willing to return to life." But all is not lost. A shadar-kai mystic approaches the characters and tells them that the man’s spirit can be recovered and returned to life. He gives them a strange map and brings them to a place where the borders between the mortal world and the Shadowfell are thin. In the manner of Orpheus from Greek mythology, now they must venture deep into the underworld of the planes and bargain for a lost soul.

posted on 01.13.2012

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