Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Super Short New Years Wishes

Hello, everyone.

As we say goodbye to 2014 and ring in the new year, I wanted to do sort of a year-in-review post. However, we all know how gloriously long-winded I am, and I just didn't have the time to read through my posts prior to about 6pm last night.

I was so drained from the day that I actually passed out before 10pm.

Sadly, said passing out was while reading my blog posts from this year.

I got as far as the end of March with a bunch of notes about things I wanted to reflect upon.

Things like how I was posting a TON of snippets and chapters this year, but my over-all writing was vastly inconsistent.

So, I'm not sure when I'll have the time to get my official New Years reflective post up. In the meantime, be safe on the roads, and here's to a fantastic 2015!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Christmas Gift For You Guys!

First thing's first. I know that Hanukkah is over by now, but life got crazy, which means I missed wishing my Jewish readers a happy one when I skipped last week's post. So, if you celebrate the Festival of Lights, I wish you a belated happy holiday, and hope your Hanukkah was a blessed one.

Now, to explain why I missed last week. Yes, this will be my generic "life is mad crazy, especially working at a grocery store near the holidays." However, it's more than that. The true reason for missing last week's post was because I was too busy writing a short story!


As I mentioned in my last post, Hubby and I have finally gotten around to watching Game of Thrones. We watched the first two seasons thus far, and it has really inspired us. Hubby created his D&D campaign, and we actually had a few sessions last week.

If I remember correctly, our first session was a couple weekends back - either Saturday or Sunday; can't remember which. We had a tournament with all of our characters. As the princess, I only participated in the archery opening games and then watched the others, which consisted of an obstacle course, jousting, a boar hunt, and melee combat.

Well, my in-character little brother - the heir apparent - ended up killing a cousin of Quarthix's character - Brack - during the melee portion. Whoops.

So Brack's family hosted another tournament in honor of their family member dying nobly in the last one. We did that session the next day. Once again my character Airis only participated in the archery portion before sitting out another obstacle course and wrestling portion. No one died this time. YAY!

Then we did our first individual sessions with our characters. Quarthix's fiance's character traveled home with her younger brother and another companion, only to be attacked by a griffon. She and bro lived, but the other companion and two of their horses were griffon-food.

Hubby's character and two companions - cousin's I think - were attacked by an owlbear. I know Hubby's character got out alright, but I can't recall if either of his companions died.... I WANT to say they all escaped with their lives?

Brack and his younger brother were talked in to going to an illegal dog-fighting ring after all the tournament guests left to travel home. Brack, his younger brother, a friend of Brack's younger brother, and said friend's kid brother all went with this guy Malcolm - another friend of Brack's brother's friend - to the games. They bet a few times, but after a couple rounds the underdog managed to kill the favored "dog" - they were actually wolves. The crowd turned ugly and started a riot, killing the victor in the fight. Malcolm and the man in charge of the fights lead Brack and his group in to the back room, where the wolves were kept when they weren't fighting. While they waited out the rioting crowd, the group played some dice, but Brack's younger brother ended up getting caught cheating. Malcolm - who was the wolves' trainer - released them on to Brack's group, and the man in charge of the fights turned out to be a werewolf. Whoopsie.

Brack and his younger brother were the only survivors. RIP little, possibly 8-yr-old Billy. You at least poked a wolf's eye out... or something.

Then we had my character Airis and her younger brother. The road back to their castle has a toll-road. Obviously the royalty can afford the toll, but the guards told their driver that the road was closed down because of a rockslide or fallen tree or something to that effect. Unfortunately, this meant my group was forced down the unsafe, bandit-ridden road. The carriage was attacked by a group of about eight bandits. All six of our guards, our driver, and both of our horses were killed. My younger brother nearly died after getting his eye shot out by an arrow.

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting the Cyclops King.

Injured herself, my character was too flustered to know what to do with her unconscious brother that was too heavy for such a dainty woman to carry. If at least ONE horse were available... *sigh*

So she left him bandaged and with water and food as she walked to the guard station on the other side of the toll-road. The guards there told her that the road hadn't been closed down for over a month; obviously the "guards" on the other side were bandits meant to lead her in to the trap. Fantastic.

We haven't played through it yet, but I'm informed that by the time the guards brought Airis back to the arrow-filled carriage to retrieve her brother he is missing. While she was hoofing it to the guard station another group of bandits kidnapped the future king. Boy, am I batting a thousand.

Can't wait to see what else these characters are going to get in trouble with....

Well, the point of bringing all THAT up is the fact that it again sparked my interest to world-build Gyateara. If nothing else, so that I can run my own D&D campaigns there eventually.

So, while at work between the 10th and 17th I was thinking of a specific group of people that live on Gyateara, and their faith. The inspiration was basically the Dothraki tribe from Game of Thrones. They are nomadic, barbarian, war-like people. They don't value money at all, but they have no qualms with ransacking a village in order to get food, water, and even slaves and women if they need any of the above. The main thing they value is their horses; believed to be part of their very souls once they pick a horse. I'm obviously not a fan of the raping and pillaging they do when they conquer someone, but that aside, I'm fascinated with the Dothraki. I really wanted Gyateara to have people like them. So I came up with the Sandikir people.

I really, REALLY wanted to introduce you guys to them after mentally working so hard on them all week. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to writing their story prior to last Wednesday due to playing the D&D sessions; plus Christmas preparations.

When last Wednesday rolled around I decided I still wanted to give you folks SOMETHING to show for all of my brainstorming. Especially since I haven't produced anything of note for over a month. I didn't want to tell you all yet again that I had a story building in my mind, but I didn't have anything for you fine folks to read.

I was determined to have the story written out first, and then write out the blog with the link to the story included. Issue was that the story took on a life of it's own - plus I was paused for about an hour or two - off and on - because of researching I was doing. See, one of the key components of the story is a race of Dire Wolves. I didn't want them quite as large as the Dire Wolves you find in D&D, but I did want them to be larger than an average gray wolf.

Originally, I was just going to randomly throw in a size that seemed about the height I wanted them to be. However, I realized how key these creatures are in the story, the culture of the people I'm writing about, and the world of Gyateara as a whole. So I wanted to get them right. I researched wolf sizes and broke down the proportions of the wolf's body so I could better build the right anatomy for Gyateara's Dire Wolves.

I also kept coming up with parts of the Sandikir culture that desperately needed their own terms - Sandikir terms. There was no way that I was going to be able to come up with a full new language, but I HAD to come up with these new words. I used one of the generators I gushed about last time. Thankfully, Fantasy Name Generators did have a language generator. Unfortunately, it still kept me a WHILE to figure out all the terms. I ended up with a list of about 13 new words!

Although, I am proud to state that I came up with Sandikir, Rikmahja, Rikvu, Mahmurja, Konsirph, Likjun, Plinva, and Miknar all on my own! That's over half of my Sandikir terms! I also came up with the names of the three pups by myself, too. YAY!

Now, the story started out as yet another chapter in my The Divine Legends anthology. I was going to simply write the divine "origin story" the people believed in. I had so much of their culture figured out, though. It felt weird to know it and not have it documented somewhere. Granted, I won't be so heavy-handed with "this is how they live and what they believe" in an actual story or D&D campaign. Still, I wanted to make sure to get the culture down on paper - figuratively speaking - while it was fresh. This resulted in me creating a new anthology that talks more about the cultures of Gyateara: The People of Gyateara

Well, the story kept growing and growing until it ended up just shy of 2600 words. I really should expect this by now, I mean... seriously... when have I ever written anything that was short!? I also tried something new. I wrote the story with the narrator talking directly to you as if the narrator were a sort of "tour guide" for the people you - the reader - stumbled upon. Not entirely sure if it works, but you can let me know what you think of it.

"The Land of the Sandikir"

Anyway, with the story FINALLY done, I went to publish it and then work on the blog. Problem being that it was now about 3pm, and I needed to pick up my husband. I had to wait until I brought Hubby home from work before I could publish the tale up on DeviantArt and FictionPress. Once that was done I STILL couldn't get to the blog post.

I had laundry and dishes and other such chores to get done. I was exhausted when everything was complete. I finally gave up and figured I'd post a day late. Then the true chaos of The Last Week Before Christmas kicked in. I had gifts that needed to be finished. My home wasn't completely clean yet - still isn't. I never got around to putting up any decorations aside from our advent calendar and the Christmas tree with no ornaments on it. To this day, I still have most of our presents that I need to wrap.

Totally failing this Christmas thing this year....

But at least I have this one gift for you guys. The story that stopped me from posting last week. Hopefully that and this long post is a good enough gift to thank you all for being such faithful readers.

Love you all, and have a merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Song of GoT and Generators

Oh! Is it "Pretend I was writing" day already!?

As I forewarned, I wasn't going to be able to get much writing in before the end of the year. However, same deal as it has been for over a month now: brain has been brewing.

Thanks to a friend of ours, Hubby and I were able to finally watch the first season of Game of Thrones just before Thanksgiving. We loved it so much we quickly used Hubby's one birthday gift to purchase season 2. We plowed through the whole thing yesterday.

It wasn't as gore-filled as I expected, but it was as bloody, as foul-mouthed, and had way more nudity than anticipated. That aside, it really is an addicting story. You don't really know who to root for. There's backstabbing, allies actually secret foes the whole time, sweethearts becoming complete jerks, murderous villains becoming the heroes, hatred birthing love, and if all else fails, once you've chosen whom you wish to root for, they get killed off.

I know, I know, if I enjoy it so much, I should actually read the books. However,
  1. My reading list is already far too long.
  2. The book could ruin the series for me, but it's unlikely that the series could ruin the books aside from giving me images instead of letting my mind form them based solely on the words.
    • Actually, I think with such a large cast of characters it would be a LOT easier for me to picture the actors in my head instead of trying to start from scratch with a mental image and get all sorts of confused as to who is who.
  3. The man takes FOREVER to write! I don't wish to be like everyone else and wait a decade for the next book. I'm content only in waiting until we can buy the next season. I'll then wait until George R. R. Martin is either done or dead before I'll start actually reading the Song of Ice and Fire saga.
Aside from praising it, my point in even bringing up GoT is this: Martin took YEARS researching and world building. He has then spent nearly two decades in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire - almost 25 years if you count that he started writing the first book in '91. It may be confusing and hard for even him to keep track, but it is an intricate world as well thought out as Middle Earth or Narnia. Maybe even more so considering he has something like 250 characters to keep track of...

As much as I enjoy the series, I find myself entranced by the land. I never skip the phenomenal opening sequence; loving that it changes to showcase where the characters are going to be based in that episode's tale. I study the maps included in the season box sets; trying to memorize the layout of his two-continent world.

It drives me to get lost more in my own world, but more on that in a moment.

The show inspires my husband as well. Shows usually do; the really good ones anyway. He loves them so much he wants to be able to play in them. And play we usually do.

After watching X-Men: Evolution and a few other X-Men based cartoons, Hubby created the X-Future Play by Post forum roleplay game.

Now, he's working on a D&D adaptation of Game of Thrones. In truth, he's working diligently in making his own world and seven ruling families. He toiled away - doing little else - for about three days straight. He drew maps, named reigning cities and families. He came up with their family tree, sigils, and phrases/words-of-honor. He doesn't have seven like GoT does, but he does have a family for each of the six stats in D&D: Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each family has a bonus in one particular stat, dependent on the environment of that house. For instance, one family is the protector of the realm's largest university. Anyone in that family gets a familial stat bonus to Intelligence. Another rules over farmers and receives a bonus to their Strength. So on; so forth.

THREE DAYS my husband did this! Granted, it isn't as detailed as most fictional fantasy worlds, or the one I'm trying to build. Still, that's an impressive feat for someone who's unsure of his own storytelling abilities.

So, I now have yet another character to play with: Airis Castilien. She is the eldest daughter of the king and queen; heir apparent for about two years before her younger brother came along.

In the past my characters have been cold. They have been snarky. Most were sarcastic and witty. Some were bleeding hearts. All were generally "good" characters.

I'm switching it up with Airis.

Keeping true to GoT, I'm treating the eldest of royal birth as a bratty young woman with entitlement issues. Namely, the fact that she's the eldest child and yet her little brother gets to rule over her simply because she's a woman.

It is well known between her and her parents that she is now little more than their best bargaining chip. If their reign begins to wobble, she'll be married off as a peace offering. She is being groomed specifically for that purpose: the land's greatest and most coveted commodity, and possible bargaining chip to keep the Castiliens as the rulers of the realm. Airis has accepted that she'll never marry for love, but she sees her marriage as more of an investment than an olive branch. Her goal is to sway her parents in to allowing her to marry the perfect patsy. A man who has enough power that it would be deemed a good match by her parents; a man with enough pull that he could topple the kingdom if he wished; a man fooled easily enough that Airis could take rule from him.

She'll be sweet, proper, may even display herself as the damsel in distress in order to manipulate protection. She'll also be cunning as she craves power. She'll listen to every little whisper and follow every subtle plot. She will be patient, but she'll also be ruthless.

Most of all, if she doesn't get killed, she'll be tons of fun!

But let's backtrack to my world building. In order to help Hubby quickly build his own world, he searched for some fantasy name generators. He found a few that he could work with, but one in particular is now our new favorite.

It has a generator for nearly everything, including things like plant or food names, character descriptions, or even PLANET descriptions. You can practically write a short story using only this guy's generators.

I found it only mildly interesting at first as Hubby had me search for my character's name - I chose Airis because it's pronounced like heiress, and I couldn't resist. However, as he showed me all the other generators on the site - and I took a mini self-guided tour later - I realizes how fantastic this can be for breaking down my writer's block.

Here, check it out for yourself! I'm totally putting it on my Handy Links tab that I've neglected this year. This generator is a must-have for any stumped writer. That, or ones like me who are just really bad at naming things. Although, after names like Middle-Earth and Westeros, is Gyateara really that bad?

Anyway, not writing a fantasy? Writing a horror, historical, mystery, sci-fi, or futuristic tale? He's got generators for that too!

Just go ahead and check out the link: Fantasy Name Generators

I'm a kid in a candy store right now, and so I'm not really advancing anywhere in my world building at this point. I'm having too much fun seeing what the generators come up with. The closest I have is a spreadsheet of deity names and titles. I take the ones I like and just keep going. Eventually - perhaps in the next week or so - I'll narrow it down and start working on my pantheon again, but it's the first time I've really thought about it in months. I call that a victory.

Now, to try to help Ronoxym rekindle. Poor guy confessed that the only tales he has in his head right now are about Devon. I told him he can still write them out as non-canon tales or to tuck away for my comic reboot of X-Future. Not sure if he's alright with those options though. Maybe I can get him to co-write with me again, at least to get his creative juices reflowing.

We'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rolling in to December

First up, I have to start and conclude this post the same way:
Yesterday was his birthday, so that was a nice way to conclude our mini-vacation post-Thanksgiving.

To be frank, I had no clue what I'd write today. Due to the holiday, I didn't really think about writing at all this week.

Wednesday was a frantic last-minute dash to get things together for Thanksgiving. Thursday was the crazy holiday itself, but I did manage to get in my belated post. That evening Hubby and I drove to my mom's. However, due to the weather I was going only about 40mph the whole trip, and so it kept an extra 1.5hrs.

Friday I spent some time with my family, and then I zipped off to visit my one friend from Girl Scouts and high school. After spending an hour or so with her I sped off to my bestie's home to help her with the move to the larger apartment. Sadly, I showed up right at the tail end of everyone else moving the non-furniture items. I feel so guilty that I didn't really help much with the actual move, but she CLAIMS I helped by watching my godson while she reorganized the boxes and unpacked a little. So... I can pretend I helped, right? Friday concluded with one of my mom's old friends - and pseudo second mother of mine - swinging by and all of us drinking, catching up, and enjoying treats Hubby and my sis threw together.

Saturday was the family Thanksgiving gathering. Sadly, it's not as big of a thing now that us cousins are all adults, moved away, and started our own families. Still, it was a nice grouping of us. I connected with the "middle cousins" a bit more. Let me clarify, in my family there were four of us born within a year or two of each other. We are the "older cousins," and I am the youngest of that group. The next group of four - which actually includes a cousin born a year after me but he connected with the younger ones more - includes my sister and are about three to five years younger than I am. My poor sister was the youngest cousin for about 13 years before my mom's youngest brothers had families. This group of five - four from one uncle, one from the other - is the "young cousins" or "little cousins" and they are all between 8 and 10. On occasion, two of my cousins will bring their son and daughter and we'll have "the little ones" part of the party. This year the younger cousin - from the "middle" group - brought his daughter and the "Young Cousins" had great fun playing with her.

Anyway, I went on a tangent there. Point is, I was the only one of the "older cousins" that came back for the gathering, and so my socializing ended up with the "middle cousins" group. It was nice to connect with family I didn't really interact with much growing up. It was also fun to have my long conversations with my one uncle. I just wish it were more frequent than "our annual Thanksgiving catch-up."

Sunday was a day of relaxing, FINALLY watching the movie my sister had bought - How to Train Your Dragon 2; it was fantastic - and my mother flipping out that she can't stand my hair and that she was buying me a wash and cut for an early Christmas gift.

The poor stylist. I must have told her about four times "Oh, I don't care. I'm low-maintenance; do whatever." Some stylists love the "do whatever you think works with my face" comment because I'm like a blank canvas they can have fun with. Most stylists, however, just look at me blankly as they desperately wait for more direction. Thankfully, Mom was there to give direction this time. First time I've had my mother pick out my hairstyle since I was about 13. It was a disaster then, but thankfully it worked this go!

Monday we did some last minute things that my mother wanted me to go through, and then the drive home before spending Hubby's birthday early with his family.

Yesterday was our little party for the man. It got so crazy I totally forgot about an eye doctors appointment I had set up. D'oh!

So, for this week, the most I've done storytelling wise was have a cooky dream. It's been a while since I last had a vivid dream, but it almost always seems to happen in my mother's house. Something about that place, I guess.

I was part of a pirate LARP group, but I was just chosen to be "the everyday citizens" and so I ended up signing up for another LARP dealing with time travel and sci-fi elements. Little did I know that I was actually signing up for a top secret government mission. I was informed that I needed to capture some guy before a mass murder happened, and then the next thing I know I'm standing in front of my high school locker. It had been about 12 years since I graduated, and so it was a struggle to remember the combination. When I did there were still items in the locker and I realized I had jumped back in to my 18-yr-old self. I did some spy-stuff around the school and then ended up with a group of pre-teen orphans on their fieldtrip to an amusement park.

It was part SeaWorld/zoo with animals in captivity, but part Six Flags with the typical amusement park rides, games, and food stands. I noticed one of the orphans had a stuffed animal that claimed to be a sea otter, but it had leopard printing along the belly and underside of the tail. I went over to the sea otter tank to make sure I didn't miss anything; some sort of strange breed that had this printing on it.

While over there I heard a woman talking about closed attractions as she pointed at the park map. I went over and noticed a huge section that was marked as "closed due to flooding." Each main portion of the park - split up sort of like Disney World - had a button in the center of it and when you pressed it a mini-movie talking about the attractions in that section played on a side monitor. When I pressed the button on the closed section a video talked about how this portion of the park - in a very Jurassic Park-like way - was once an open game reserve/safari for animals that were genetically engineered for the park. Some were just revivals of extinct species, such as the dodo, sabertooth tiger, and mammoth. However, some were genetically spliced, such as the sea otter/leopard hybrid the stuffed animal depicted.

The video then continued on to tell the tragic tale of Hurricane Katrina flooding this portion of the park and drowning all of the animals in it. Until the section can be fixed up from the flooding, can prevent future floodings, and can rebuild the animal population the section would be closed.

I then realized that the man in charge of this genetically engineered zoo portion of the park was the same man giving me and the orphans a tour of the park. I ran back to the group to find out the man had them held hostage. This was the person I needed to find, and the thousands in the park was going to be the mass murder. I found out that the man had a tragic childhood and he related to the orphans. His family were those animals he engineered, and he lost them too. His family was gone and he was going to show his pain to everyone else.

However, there were some land-based animals that managed to climb high enough to survive, and the man was using them as his murder weapons. He controlled them telepathically through a metal circlet he wore as a crown. I tried to talk him down from his rage, but it was one of the advanced intelligence gorillas that understood my plea and took the man out. The gorilla then used the circlet to inform me and the police how he and his fellow genetically engineered animals were being mistreated. The man went to jail, the animals were put in to protective custody, and I returned to modern day having prevented a large-scale murder spree.

At least my imagination is going full throttle now. That month vacation from writing must have really hit the spot. I just need the time to harness that flow and get my butt to work.

Now, to conclude how I started. I'm also going to throw in an early Happy Birthday to Spink since hers is on Friday.
This image is actually very fitting. I used to make home-made
cards via a card-maker computer program.
The lip marks and handwriting font were both part of my logo.