Tracy Hickman joins us again at “Life, The Universe, and Everything,” and in this episode we let Brandon ask him random questions while Dan and Howard chime in with comments that hopefully don’t detract from the discussion.

During the interview Tracy mentions his latest project, XDM: Extreme Dungeon Mastery, but he doesn’t mention the very latest news about it. That news is that Tracy and Curtis Hickman (the authors) have contracted with Howard Tayler to illustrate and publish it. So that bit about Tracy doing it in his basement? It’s no longer accurate.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by I Am Not A Serial Killer by our very own Dan Wells. The book is only available in the UK, but you can get now from which has free shipping to anywhere in the world.

Writing Prompt: Give us Winnie the Pooh’s big death scene. On a destroyer in the South Pacific.


This entry was posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 9:45 pm and is filed under Career and Lifestyle, Guest, Live Audience, Q&A, Theory and Technique. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. March 24, 2009 @ 12:11 am

    Are Howard’s monkeys involved in Winnie’s death? What kind of monkeys do they have in South Pacific?

    Posted by Mike Barker
  2. March 24, 2009 @ 7:02 am

    I’ve read quite a few of his books, so it was really fun to hear Tracy Hickman – but one thing I was wondering about, is that he has written much in collaboration and how that differs from writing alone?

    And really! Killing off Winnie-the-Pooh – how unutterably cruel! Thankfully though, I haven’t read those stories, so I need not rush for my non-existent smelling salts and try to recover as best as I can from a nervous breakdown. But I’m most certainly not mentioning my childhood favourites for fear they will meet with some dreadful end…

    Posted by LRK
  3. March 24, 2009 @ 7:47 am

    What an AWESOME episode!!!

    I’ve been struggling with writing for about five years now. I decided that 2009 was the Year I Got Serious About Writing, and set as my goal to write two practice novels.

    I finished the first in 60 days — a 77,000-word crime novel. It was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life, holding the finished novel in my hands.

    The next day, I started my second novel . . . and after a few days of brainstorming, I was bogged down, scared that I was going to fail, yet again.

    It’s so nice to know that a write like Tracy Hickman feels the same thing when he starts a new project.

    And I REALLY love his advice — “Remember, the best is yet to come.”

    Being so new to the writing game, it’s hard to not to be discouraged — to think that I’m too old (at the ripe age of 35), or that I’m too dumb, or that I’m just wasting my time.

    But the fact is that I don’t know where my writing will in one year, or two years, or five years.

    I think I’m going to tape that quote to my computer.

    As you can probably tell, this episode meant A LOT to me. It came at just the right time in my life.

    Thanks a million!

    Posted by Jeff Baerveldt
  4. March 24, 2009 @ 9:27 am

    That’s really great to hear, Jeff! Best of luck with your second project. :)

    Ironically, I went through a bit of the same myself, on a smaller scale. My first serious project, a short story that I’ve been mulling around on, started more than once but kept getting stuck – I talked with my fiancé a bit about my dreams of having a writing career, and talked about the story and my ideas for it, and suddenly while I was talking it was like a storm clearing in my head; the road map suddenly appeared, now I just need to walk it and see what stops I make along the way! :)

    So it really is all there in your head, and it really is best not to get too discouraged! You never know what might break up that block between you and your muse.

    Great episode by the way!

    Posted by Paige
  5. March 24, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

    God bless Tracy Hickman. Marvelous episode.

    Posted by John Brown
  6. March 24, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

    I’m glad this episode resonated with so many of you. Having met with Tracy a few times now on the XDM project (well… TWICE) I can tell you that he’s a genuine joy to work with, and every bit as inspiring in person.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  7. March 24, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

    In reference to the comment LRK made, I am also interested in someone’s take on collaborative writing. I’m actually co-writing a story with a friend – and we have plans to collaborate on future projects too. It would be great to get suggestions on the ways collaborative writing can be done successfully. Something to keep in mind if you get Tracy back for future episodes – I loved hearing from him.

    Posted by bdagger
  8. March 25, 2009 @ 12:34 am

    Great episode again guys. I was a little surprised as I listened to Howard on the Comics Coast to Coast blog and heard that you were going to be doing the illustrations and publishing for XDM, and then listened to this and hear that it is still a project in the works. I felt like I was privy to a secret, (even if it was totally public knowledge at that point).

    You guys are awesome and I hope you can keep teaching me about writing.

    Posted by WEKM
  9. March 25, 2009 @ 5:44 am

    Ugh, hearing about writing game systems makes me twitchy… but I must not be deterred from the current novel!
    Good podcast, but hearing that it takes 10 years to be an over-night success — just like that as a fact that was a bit of a bummer.

    Posted by Bernd
  10. March 25, 2009 @ 10:11 am

    I loved this podcast. I have started a ton of stories that I have as yet to finish. Which is a bad thing, but there is never a day when I am not writing something. (Rather it turns out or not.) So I have got to make it sometime.

    I also would really like a podcast on collaborating. My friend and I have been working on a story forever. The idea is good. We just haven’t gotten much further then that.

    “It takes ten years to be an overnight success.”


    Posted by CM
  11. March 26, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

    I wish I could listen to music while I write. I like Tracy’s method of using music to fit the mood that he’s writing. My problem is, since music is my day job, I keep finding myself stopping and analyzing the music. It would be like a writer trying to write and listen to a book on tape at the same time. But I guess that’s a personal problem.

    I also like the comment that the best is yet to come. I’m learning so much from my first novel, and they are things you can only learn by doing. You can’t just read a book about it and have it mastered. It’s so much like music, you have to keep practicing and refining. Each novel can only get better.

    Posted by Berin
  12. March 29, 2009 @ 11:45 am

    @ Berin,

    Orson Scott Card says that you learn more from writing a 100,000-word novel than you do taking any class — even his. After writing a novel, I would completely agree. In fact, I’d even say that was true with books. You learn more from writing a 100,000 words of fiction than you do reading any number of books.

    What I’ve found is that now, after struggling through a novel, what I read and hear in this podcast makes a heck of a lot more sense to me than it did before. Context is everything.

    If I ever get in a position in which someone asks me for my “one piece of writing advice,” it’ll be — write 100,000 words of fiction before taking a class or reading one how-to-write book.

    Posted by Jeff Baerveldt
  13. March 29, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

    The first eight minutes or so were pure gold. Thanks Tracy!

    Ditto to Berin and Jeff, that comment really put things in a new perspective for me too.

    Posted by S.M.
  14. March 29, 2009 @ 6:07 pm
    Posted by Mike Barker
  15. March 31, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

    The ‘I’ve finished and now have the whole next book to write’ thing is the same reason I hate assignments – its a never ending stream of getting proficient in one subject, then having to start all over again.

    But I’m greatful you all do it so I can have more books to read.

    Posted by Danielle
  16. April 15, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

    Tracy gave a stunning keynote address at LTUE. I was pleased to discover this MP3 with more words of Wisdom from Tracy and Co. I am also pleased to discover this web site! I’ve been perusing the episodes eagerly. You all are doing a tremendous service to aspirants everywhere.

    Posted by Brad R. Torgersen
  17. October 14, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

    […] Writing Habits […]

  18. July 30, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    Wow, that was a great episode, and what a Writing Prompt. I laughed along when it popped up, but I’ve made a point of writing all the prompts so far, so I dutifully set to work on this one. I’ve just finished it in 644 words and I have tears in my eyes. I just killed Pooh! I am a MONSTER!!

    Actually Owl, Tigger and Rabbit were already gone before my scene started. It was all very emotional, Pooh died in Piglet’s arms. Damn, I’m tearing up again just thinking about it.

    Can you please lay off the childhood icons in future?

    Posted by Robinski