Tara Calaby

writer, editor & phd candidate

Category: Life

Into the Dungeon

Recently, I embarked upon my first Dungeons & Dragons campaign, along with my wife and three good friends. I was arrogant/foolish enough to put up my hand for the role of Dungeon Master, which I’ve found to be both extremely labour-intensive and extremely rewarding. Because I am not one to do things by halves, I’ve been creating a homebrew world for the players’ characters (PCs) to move within, although I’m sticking as closely as possible to the 5e rules, and basic (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide & Monster Manual) races, classes and monsters.

I don’t consider myself a spontaneously imaginative person. I generally describe my creating process as picking up my mind and thrusting it at a question I want to answer or a person/place/situation I want to invent. Because of this, the highly improvisational nature of D&D doesn’t come naturally to me. I feel quite at home while doing hours of world building, when I can work at my own (slow) creative pace, but when I’m actually sitting at the head of the gaming table, I am far from my comfort zone. The role of a good Dungeon Master is to facilitate a story that the players create, which means coming up with non-player characters (NPCs) and locations on the fly and responding to the in-game questions, actions and motivations of the PCs. It’s not something that comes naturally to a person who likes to have everything in life thoroughly scripted-out in my head before I encounter it!

At this point in the campaign, the PCs are only at level two and are thus very squishy. This means that I have an excuse to script things out a little more than would usually be appropriate for a campaign. Right now, I need to make sure that I don’t accidentally kill the entire party with an overpowered random encounter, so a lot of the play has been introducing the characters to the campaign via a limited chunk of the universe. Centring things on one small town has allowed me to create NPCs ahead of time, so that the improvising was at least guided a little by point-form character traits.

Soon, though, the adventurers will be strong enough to venture forth into the greater world, and this will prove the real challenge for my nascent improvisational abilities. I’m hoping that I can continue to overcome my insecurities about acting and storytelling, because I think it’ll be a great learning experience, as well as a super-fun social experience, if I do.

2018 in Review

Every year, I compile a list of the various forms of media I’ve consumed, along with a few other important details about the year in review. Previously, I’ve published this on Dreamwidth/Livejournal, but one thing I’ve come to realise this year is that those types of blogging are now firmly in my past. So here’s my 2018 in review: WordPress-style.

Continue reading

Mid-Year Round-Up

Apologies for the long delay between posts. I’ve been up to my neck in study, so the focus has been more on essays than fiction. However, I’ve now completed the graduate certificate and hope to post more regularly in the future.

While I was away, I’ve had a few things published, so I’ll make this a quick dot point list to fill things in.

In more personal news, I got married last month! Australia is still dragging its heels on equal marriage but, as I’m a British citizen, my wife and I were able to be legally married at the home of the British Consul-General in Melbourne.

An Update: In More Ways Than One

Welcome to the new site. My old Blogspot site was beginning to look decidedly dated, so I’ve moved to a self-hosted WordPress site that hopefully looks a little better! Everything from the old site and my even older review site should now be available here, and I’ll be adding in some further (backdated) stuff over time.

I guess the biggest news is that I have officially graduated from my degree, so I’m now Tara Calaby M.Litt M.A. I was very pleased with my marks and am now investigating PhD programs, because I just really love study. In case it wasn’t blindingly obvious.

I’ve also had a story accepted into Solarwyrm Press’s upcoming anthology, Marked By Scorn, edited by Dominica Malcolm. Malcolm’s last anthology, the Aurealis Award finalist Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction was excellent, so I’m pleased to be a part of her next project.

I haven’t been writing, but I’ve been thinking a lot about writing. That counts, right? No?

An Update

bookcaseI’m afraid I’ve been neglecting this site rather dreadfully over the past half year or so. I’ve been in something of a transition period, but have come out the other side more focussed and inspired.

Quite a few things have been happening, but here are just a few snippets by way of an update.

  • ‘Speed Dating’ had a very successful season in Sydney, polling well with both the judges and the audiences. We just missed out on the Gala Final, but that didn’t do anything to dull my enjoyment of the process. Glen was a great director to work with, and I loved what he and the actors did with my words. I didn’t get up to see the production, but I was able to watch it on DVD, and it was a strange, but exciting, experience watching my play being performed.
  • My short piece ‘Wound’ was accepted for publication by Every Day Fiction. It’ll be up on the site on the 18th of April (almost in time for my birthday) and I’ll update when it’s available to be read.
  • I’m moving to Melbourne! I’m still a country person at heart, but my partner and so many of my people are in Melbourne, so I’m headed back there myself.
  • I’ve started studying towards a Master of Letters (Creative Writing) with CQUniversity. As of today, I’ve completed the first draft on two short stories, one for each of my first two units. I’ll probably talk more about those pieces in the coming months as I move through the editing process and eventually seek homes for them.
  • I’ve done a minor site update, taking the focus away from other people’s writing and placing it upon my own.

Sewing Post: 1970 A-Line Skirt

I’ve been meaning to learn how to sew for ages, because most of the clothes I want to wear stopped being made at least sixty years ago. I have time and a need for activities at the moment, so I decided it was about time I did something about it. I tried to photo-document the process as I went along, courtesy of my phone camera, but I admit I got into the actual sewing a bit much towards the end and forgot about the photos a lot of the time.

So this is what I was trying to make. It’s from a 1970 Simplicity pattern, and it’s your basic 60s-style A-line skirt. A-lines are great because they’re flattering to almost everyone and good for both casual and business. So the perfect pattern to make again and again if it turned out well.

Continue reading

© 2019 Tara Calaby

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑