Sunday, September 22, 2013

Birthdays, Apologies, Vamps, and a LOT of Pictures

I had a TON of online buddies with birthdays this past month! Sheesh! September is BIRTHDAY MONTH apparently!

So let's pause a moment to give quick happy birthdays to the following:
And sort of Duchess's little sister FMA:B since she was born this year at the beginning of the month. She actually shares a birthday with Chopfe.

Alright, so maybe that isn't a TON of people... but it's still a lot after months of no birthdays at all.

And since we're talking about my online buddies, AngelBlood666 has two new chapters up for his collection of the 30 Day Writing Challenge from last summer. He's now up to 26 out of the 30; better than my 14.

Final updating note on my buddies? Omnibladestrike just sent me his second chapter to read. This is pretty big. He's only done that once before. He usually gets so self-conscious about his work that he just sticks in an endless loop of reworking his first chapter. So the fact that he has finally moved on is fantastic, and in and of itself shows how much he's grown as an author. So big thumbs up there.
Now, if only I could just sit myself down to beta read for him and Chibi....
Gah, I miss having a netbook/laptop. I love my desktop, but computer chairs are so uncomfortable. I get a lot more relaxed and in the writing mood when I'm reclined or laying in the grass. Also, if I weren't tethered to the desktop - which is in perfect sight of the TV - I could remove myself from distractions so much easier. As it stands, I have to blast music through my headphones to drown out the TV and/or the talk of visitors playing MTG with Hubby, and then I have to try to angle myself so that I don't see the TV in my peripheral.

Although I can usually write while like that, I found it's increasingly difficult to beta while sitting at an angle to the computer and with music blasting in my ears. It's equally hard for me to proofread my stuff. Add in the fact that I'm getting sadly close to blind, and well...

Here, let me explain. I much rather prefer contacts to glasses. I look better in contacts. I don't have to worry about things in my peripheral being blurry since they are outside the range of my lenses. Plus, after a decade of almost exclusively wearing contacts, the extra distance between my eyes and the corrective lenses of my glasses is just enough to give me this weird fish-eye-lens feel that makes me a touch dizzy and kills my depth perception.

Problem is, like I said, I'm closing in on "blind." Without any corrective lenses of any kind I have to be within about five inches of something to see it clearly. Once your eyes get that pathetically bad it is impossible for contacts to be made in small enough increments to truly correct your vision. So, I can either stick with the prescription I have now which is a touch too weak, or go to the next level which would be majorly too strong.
Obviously I'm sticking with the touch too weak. This means I'm good for most sight purposes, but when it comes to reading something I have to be about two feet or so from it - depending on the size of the font, obviously - and items in the distance aren't as clear to me as they would be with 20/20 vision. To my guestimation, I'd say I'm at something like 15/20 vision. It's pretty darn close to corrected, but not quite there.

Add in the fact that I'm pinching pennies right now, and so I can only afford the contacts as opposed to the rough estimate of $200+ for new glasses. Ah, glasses. THEY can be made with small enough adjustments that they could get my exact prescription need and I'd be at full clear vision again.

Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is similar to why I brought up the whole desktop thing too. The way my desk is set up my monitor is probably about 2feet from my face, so it's at the edge of my clear vision with my contacts. Add in the normal eye strain of staring at a computer screen for too long. This results in me either adding a lot of stress on my neck and back as I lean forward to read, or really putting a strain on my eyes as I try to focus. Either way, it's literally painful for me to read at my computer too long in one sitting.

So, I apologize to Chibi and Omni for not being the quick-turn-around beta I vowed to be while coming up with my New Years resolutions. I apologize to my fellow members at the Writers’ Huddle for once again disappearing from the boards; it's just hard to read what conversations have been going on, let alone join in. I also apologize to AB666 for not reading/commenting on his chapters lately. Finally, I apologize to any other author whose story has been sitting in my inbox for weeks/months on end. Same goes for the three or so bloggers that I follow and haven't read in ages.

And since I'm here apologizing anyway, I might as well add in that I'm sorry that I don't have a chapter update for you guys this week. Normally - so it seems - I would therefore not have a blog update, but I figured if I wasn't going to give you guys a chapter I might as well give you this, right? Besides, I do have something else - aside from the above - to talk about.

This week has just been rough at work. A LOT of my co-workers have been getting sick now that school started up again. In other words, school started, kids went back to school, the increased socialization within a confined space is causing these kids to catch each others' colds, said sick children are now bringing their colds home to their parents, and they in turn bring the sickness to work. Yay....
We're pretty short staffed to begin with, and on top of that a lot of my co-workers are college students who now have a very restricted work availability. So now that people are dropping like flies with these stupid illnesses, the few of us with open availability have to fill in the gaps. I personally gave up my day off today - as well as shifted my Friday and Saturday schedule a little to open up some hours for me to work before hitting overtime - in order to cover for someone.

When I'm not dead tired at work I'm home cleaning the apartment. Either that, or once more getting suckered in to my husband's siren-song of snuggling on the couch while binging on hours of anime. The meal of the week? Black Butler II, and now Fairy Tail.

Side note: I LOVE Gray!
Gray-Fullbuster-fairy-tail-17464806-1798-2560 250px-Gray_Anime_S2
HAWT (ironic for an Ice Mage...) Grrrrowl... ;)

I LOOOOOVE watching him enter this stance in the anime. He looks so awesome! *swoon*
*Ahem* Right... I'm married... to an actual man, not an anime/manga character....
I was semi-creative this week though. I swear!

So when I wasn't dying at work, cleaning, or wasting my life by watching hours on end of anime, I actually had the vampire LARP this past Friday. It's been MONTHS since we last played, so it kept a bit to get back in to character.

I then couldn't get her out of my head. Yay, insomnia!
Anyway, the character I'm talking about is my most recent: Neghya. Yup, name "stolen" from online buddy Neghya.

She is for our Sabbat game; simply, very violent vampires who wish to rule over Humanity as farmers rule cattle. If one were an X-Men fan I'd say - very loosely - that Sabbat are the Brotherhood of Mutants to the Camarilla's X-Men. They are chaos to Camarilla's order. They also have a sort of bastardized mock Catholic Church set up to their society's standings. It's complete with such positions of stature as Bishops being the most powerful vampires to rule over a city or borough, and packs within said city who each have their own Priest that performs rituals every night and Abbots who protect their haven.

All that aside, Neghya's story consists of living in a dystopian present in which every man is more-or-less out for himself. There are little to no "heroes" among Man any longer. Vampires and other supernatural creatures control nearly everything from the background, still hiding supernatural existence from humanity. In this dystopia Neghya is a 25-yr-old runaway who has taken on a nomadic lifestyle for the past decade, more-or-less. One night, after working a shift at a New York City bar, she comes across a strange man. I have yet to work out enough of her backstory to know how she pissed him off, but I do know she somehow came upon a ring that is of great importance; although The Bard has yet to bring the subject of the ring back up and so I have no real clue of its significance. Anyway, she either won the ring off of him by besting him in some card game - probably though rogue-like cheating - or she just plain stole it off of him.

Either way, she had the ring - along with more of his valuables - and he wanted it back. Not only that, but he wasn't about to be bested by a mere human. He is from Clan Ravnos; originally the Gypsy Kings of the vampire world, now a nearly extinct race of common rogues, thieves, murderers, and delinquents. Being outsmarted by a human was NOT an option. So he took his revenge on her the best way he knew how, but more on that in a moment.

The real draw for me to play Neghya was that I'm still learning how to play Vampire: The Masquerade. We have games so infrequently - and the rule books are so convoluted in describing how to play - that I never really understand what to do or remember key points that any vampire character should know. We set Neghya up as a newly-embraced vampire. The first role play session I had with her she didn't even know what she had become. She was terrified after killing a homeless man and draining his blood. Hubby's character Javed found her and took her in as his surrogate Childe. There were some humorous moments when she mocked the most powerful vampire in NYC because she didn't quite comprehend yet that not only were "those creatures from TV, movies, and preteen novels" real, but she was now one of them.

Since Neghya is still trying to wrap her head around the concept that supernatural entities do exist and that she's no longer human, she's also learning the ways of the Vampire. This of course means that I can goof up during game sessions and then blame it on Neghya "not knowing". Win!

The story diverged a bit from Neghya's original storyline; mainly because it wouldn't be fair to the other players if the whole game was centered around her. So, for game purposes, she's just a new recruit being thrown in sink-or-swim style during a massive war between the Sabbat and the Camarilla for possession of NYC. We're about to hit the conclusion of this war as we played out the beginning of the final battle this past Friday.

If I were to turn this in to its own World of Darkness fanfiction, Neghya's story would consist of her tracking down her true sire - the Ravnos - and take her revenge on him. There is unbridled hatred for this man, and Neghya wants to unleash her full fury on him. Fair warning, though, if I were to actually write out her story - a thought I toss around every now and again - it would have to be a mature rating and the first chapter alone would be greatly disturbing.

See, the Ravnos' revenge on Neghya was to "take everything that makes her who she is"; in other words, the most violently forced embracing he could think of. The whole thing was about dominance over her and stealing as much as he could from her. Poor thing is stripped down and shackled to a dumpster in a side alley behind the bar she worked at, is violently raped while being sliced open so he could slowly drink her blood while inflicting as much pain as he can, and then is turned in to a vampire just before he rips out her insides so she could survive the torture of it.

Jack the Ripper had nothing on this creep. In fact... maybe he once was Jack the Ripper...

When I started roleplaying as Neghya we knew that she was raped before being violently turned in to a vampire, but we didn't have the specifics. After Friday's game I guess Neghya wanted me to have the specifics.

I tossed and turned while having the most random bout with insomnia; something I've only suffered from maybe half-dozen times in my life. As I lay snuggled against my husband I couldn't turn off my brain as I witnessed the entire brutal scene of Neghya's embracing. I heard her Sire's voice as he berated her, screamed at her, threatened her, and mocked her. I heard her pleas for him to stop, forgive her, and spare her; I then heard her cries of agony. Actually, it's no wonder I couldn't sleep with such torturous visions playing out in my head.

At about 2am I caved and went to the desktop to type. I didn't get every single word or nuance, but I have more-or-less the entire vicious act written down now. Then during my break at work today I had Neghya's response to this vile deed. There is a trick that vampires can use on each other. Camarilla forbid its use - it's an executionable offence - but the Sabbat embrace it. In fact, Hubby's character Javed has an obsession with it to the point where he will frenzy if he is allowed the opportunity to do this feat and then it is denied him.

This action is called Diablerie; a heinous act, akin to vampiric cannibalism. One vampire drains another of his blood, and once the victim vampire is completely dry his very soul is consumed by the feasting vampire. Javed just taught Neghya how to diablerize a vampire during Friday's game. Now that she knows this trick exists, the extreme power and ecstasy it brings, and the complete irreversible death it causes; she's figured out how she'll enact her revenge. I have that whole scene written out too.

So, alas, there is no new X-Future chapter for you guys to read; almost exclusively due to me spending nearly two entire days watching anime with Hubby. However, I WAS creative over the weekend at least. Plus, I managed to get over my hurdle of "I can't torture my characters"; at least with poor Neghya. I think it's mainly because she was able to more-or-less recover from it. Same with Amara. I was able to torture her, but she also more-or-less recovered.

From what I hear, Hubby's co-storyteller - whom I idolize for his ability to create such compelling characters and side-stories - is thinking of doing something major that would result in a complete annihilation of one of his characters' personalities. I nearly cried when I heard that! And the guy hasn't even DONE anything yet. He's just THINKING about it! Man, to be so cruel and cold to one's characters after making everyone else fall in love with them!? That's talent.

So, while I sort out this whole mess of "can I truly torment my characters for the betterment of their development/the story?" I'll also debate writing out Neghya's story while I actually work on the next chapter of X-Future. Unless I'm called in to cover for more sick co-workers, I should have my scheduled two days off in a row this week. With any luck I can accomplish some writing on at least one of those days.

Wish me said luck!

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