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  • Donald J. Bingle, Writer on Demand

Jean Rabe, The Best Friend any Writer Could Ever Have

Two things. First, I've started up a monthly newsletter (usually coming out around the tenth of the month. Since it is a hassle to cross-post the blog portion of the newsletter here and on Goodreads, I'll eventually start just posting links, then maybe not so much here at all. We'll see how it goes. If you want to make sure not to miss anything, you can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Second, and more importantly, Jean Rabe (my co-author for The Love-Haight Case Files) recently

won the 2019 Soon-to-be-Famous Illinois Author competition for her book, The Bone Shroud. So I thought I'd make a special edition of my newsletter and my blog all about Jean.

JEAN RABE MADE A WRITER OUT OF A GAMER During the last couple of decades in the preceding century, I played a lot of roleplaying games, especially classic-style RPGA Network tournaments at places like GenCon, Origins, Winter Fantasy, Spring Revel, Glathricon, and Contact. I also ran games like Chill, Paranoia, and Top Secret for others. Eventually, I started writing tournaments and submitting them for sanctioning to the RPGA, where Jean was Network Coordinator. Jean was very encouraging of my writing, both for the RPGA tournaments, and for various contests to write monsters or magic items or whatnot for the RPGA clubs' competition. Those led to me writing (with my wife, Linda) some articles for Polyhedron Magazine (which Jean edited for the RPGA), as well as connecting with West End, for some work on Paranoia, and with Mayfair, for some work on Chill 2nd edition. I also wrote materials for Timemaster, a game which my company bought the rights to when Pacesetter went bankrupt. Back at TSR (which, of course, owned and ran the RPGA), Jean got me a gig re-writing monsters for the Fiend Folio (and writing a couple new ones). That, in turn, led to a chance to write an adventure (Beneath the Twisted Tower) for the Forgotten Realms Boxed Set and work on Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels Boxed Set and the Battle of the Bones portion of Elminster's Ecologies. Eventually, I tried my hand at a short story about two guys talking about aliens and religion while they played a game of chess. I sent it to Jean shortly before GenCon. When I saw her there, she said she had liked it and because Margaret Weis was about to close submissions on an anthology on Elementals, she'd changed the aliens to elementals, fussed with the ending, and submitted it. Gotta say, I found that to be a pretty cheeky thing to do, but Margaret accepted it. Jean also pushed me to submit a story to the BattleTech magazine she was editing. Then came the story that really impacted my short story career--not because it was my best ever, though I still like it--but because of the deadline involved. Jean called me at my day job to let me know there was a Civil War anthology being put out through Tekno Books (which packaged anthologies for DAW) and she had planned to submit, but couldn't, so if I submitted a story in the next three days, it had an enhanced chance of success because they would be short a story. I told Jean I didn't really know anything more than average about the Civil War. Jean mentioned that she had heard one of the editors was going to be a woman, so if I wrote about women in the Civil War, my chances would be even better. I told Jean I knew nothing about women in the Civil War, but promised to see if I could think of something. I decided women liked horses and wrote about horses in the Civil War. I turned it in a couple days later and sold it From there, I fell into a run of short story success. I was not nearly famous enough to get invited to DAW anthologies, but Jean (and soon other editors at Tekno, like John Helfers) found out I could write fast and clean to subject and word count specifications. I got requests for last minute stories in various anthologies in a plethora of genres about subjects I never would have written about otherwise. Look at my writing resume' and you will see Jean Rabe and John Helfers and Margaret Weis (and people they mentioned me to) edited most of my work early in my career. Heck, I even got invited to write a Transformers story because Helfers told the editor I could write a fighting robots story fast. After doing a Dragonlance tie-in story, then a Dragonlance tie-in novella, I also was selected to pitch (and was selected to write) a Dragonlance novel on a very, very short deadline, but ended up turning it down--that's a whole story. Jean was there to reassure me that I wasn't crazy to do so and that the folks at TSR respected my decision. Jean also kept pushing me. That's how I came to write my first book. Jean convinced me to attend World Horror Con in 2002 and called to urge me to sign up for one of the pitch sessions with a science fiction editor. I told her I had nothing to pitch. The screenplay I had wouldn't work, because these were New York book guys, not Hollywood types, and the event description said not to pitch short stories. She insisted it was good practice and I should pitch anyway, so I wrote up a pitch sheet based on an old story idea set in a world with a fair amount of backstory. When I finished the pitch, the editor asked me if the book was done. I said it wasn't started, but I had a copy of a novella he could look at to see I knew how to write. He said he would read it on the plane, then asked if I could send him three chapters of the proposed book. I, of course, said I would. Since I didn't know if he expected those chapters in a few days, I started writing and eventually sent him the whole of Forced Conversion. After sitting on it more than a year, he ended up passing, but my contacts through Jean paid off again when John Helfers agreed to read my book and quickly connected me up with Five Star. The story goes on, with Jean not only encouraging me, but sending gigs my way. A novella she convinced me to do in a world she created ended up as part of The Love-Haight Case Files, a novel we co-authored and have turned into a screenplay for a potential television series. Jean got me involved with The GenCon Writers' Symposium and Origins Game Fair Library, where I made many, many more writing and editing contacts. And just recently, she suggested me for a tie-in novella in a new fantasy game world which will be crowdfunding in a few months. Yes, I know this piece seems like it is all about my career, but it is really all about a career that Jean Rabe not only made possible, but continues to foster at every single opportunity. And, the thing is, I am far from the only writer who can say this. So, on behalf of all of us, thanks, Jean. JEAN'S WRITING CAREER SO FAR Jean was a bona fide newspaper journalist, covering everything from City Council meetings to the crime beat and even a major plane crash. (Later on, she even did a true crime book, When the Husband is the Suspect, with F. Lee Bailey) When she was hired by TSR to head the RPGA Network, she not only edited tournaments and Polyhedron Magazine, she edited the GenCon pre-registration booklet and various published source materials, as well as writing her own game materials, adventures, and stories. She's been a tireless editor who improved content and kept to a tight production schedule for various magazines, from MechForce Quarterly to the SFWA's Bulletin to Galaxy's Edge and many, many more. She's also run major writing programs, including the GenCon Writers' Symposium and Origins Game Fair Library. She's written more than you probably know, because she has ghostwritten adventure novels and ghost-edited anthologies which don't acknowledge her work and has co-authored books where she has definitely had the laboring oar. Some of this is just the nature of writing for hire, but some of this is because, as nice as Jean is to everyone, not everyone treats her as well as she deserves. Told she was not famous enough to be on the cover as editing a high-profile hardcover anthology, a major publisher instead substituted a completely unknown pen name. She's been stiffed on royalties and treated badly by small and large publishing organizations over the years. Despite all of this, she remains upbeat and constantly seeks new challenges, including switching over in recent years from fantasy tales to writing mysteries, including The Bone Shroud and her Piper Blackwell mysteries: The Dead of Winter, The Dead of Night, and The Dead of Summer. I like to think our paranormal fantasy horror mystery thriller The Love-Haight Case Files helped her make the transition to mystery novels. Jean's written so many books, she doesn't even bother to list her many, many published short stories on her website. Just take a look at this list of books (if you want links to the books, click on Jean's picture, above, to go to the newsletter version of this blog): The Dead of Summer, Boone Street Press The Bone Shroud, Boone Street Press The Dead of Night, Boone Street Press The Dead of Winter, Boone Street Press Shadows Down Under, Catalyst Pockets of Darkness, Wordfire The Cauldron, with Gene DeWeese, Wordfire The Love-Haight Case Files, with Donald J. Bingle, Wordfire River of Nightmares, Rogue Angel, Gold Eagle Sunken Pyramid, Rogue Angel, Gold Eagle City of Swords, Rogue Angel, Gold Eagle Phantom Prospect, Rogue Angel, Gold Eagle Submerged, as Jordan Gray, Gold Eagle Eternal Journey, Rogue Angel, Gold Eagle Dragon Mage, with Andre Norton, TOR Books Goblin Nation, book three of the Stonetellers, Wizards of the Coast When the Husband is the Suspect, with F. Lee Bailey, TOR Books Death March, book two of the Stonetellers from Wizards of the Coast Fenzig’s Fortune, Five Star Books The Rebellion, book one of the Stonetellers, Wizards of the Coast The Finest Creation, trilogy–book one, Boon Street Press The Finest Choice, trilogy–book two, Boone Street Press The Finest Challenge, trilogy-book three, Boone Street Press A Taste of Magic, with Andre Norton, TOR Books Aftershock, with John Helfers, Roc Return to Quag Keep, with Andre Norton, TOR Books Lake of Death, Dragonlance, Wizards of the Coast Dhamon: Redemption, Wizards of the Coast Dhamon: Betrayal, Wizards of the Coast Dhamon: Downfall, Wizards of the Coast The Silver Stair, Bridges of Time Series, Dragonlance, TSR Books Eve of the Maelstrom, Dragonlance, TSR Books Day of the Tempest, Dragonlance, TSR Books Dawning of a New Age, Dragonlance, TSR Books Maquesta Kar-Thon, coauthor, Dragonlance, TSR Books Night of the Tiger, fantasy-horror young-adult, TSR Books Secret of the Djinn, Arabian fantasy young-adult, TSR Books Along with being a USA Today Best-Selling Author, Jean has won three Silver Falchion Awards and the 2019 Soon-to-be-Famous Illinois Author Award. You can read her blog and sign up for her newsletter at It's easy to be a friend to Jean, because Jean is a friend to every writer, every reader, and every person she meets Aloha. Donald J. Bingle Writer on Demand TM

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