Thursday, March 31, 2016

Finally, Some Writing!

Wow, I never went back and wrote a blog post last week. Sorry about that. Not intended. It was just a crazy week, and Wednesday proved too full a day for me to write my post ahead of time, and Thursday I was at work all day. I had all intentions to write the post when I got home on Thursday, or while Hubby was out on Friday. As per usual, things didn't go as planned.

I guess it was for the best, though. I really would have hated to write "I didn't write anything" in yet ANOTHER long-winded, excuse-filled post. Which was one of the reasons I didn't go back to write a post last week. I ended up using that time to actually write some fiction! Egads!

Before my first game as the DM, I had created a bit of a backstory for the tavern the party met at, as well as the town it was associated with, even though it was on the outskirts. It kept me nearly a month to go back to it, but last weekend I finally took the time to sit my butt down and finish the darn thing. Due to the nature of how the story evolved - first tavern, then town, then surrounding area, etc - there is an unproportional amount of time spent talking about this one establishment. I still need more info on the other businesses, the people, the Assassin's Guild, the Thieve's Den, the baron and his family as well as their relationship to the count, etc. In the meantime, though, I feel it's a good start, without it being as overwhelming as my Sandikir culture write up last year.

Also, last year someone commented that not all the Sandikir words seemed to connect to each other in order to make a coherent language. I get that. I'm far from a linguist. I can barely master my native tongue, I can't seem to figure out any other languages - even though they are all comparatively much easier than English - and so knowing language enough to create a believable one is a bit out of my wheelhouse. At some point I'll have to figure out how people were able to come up with their own languages so that I can do the same. That's probably decades from now, though.

The reason I bring this up is that I'm sure I'm going to have a similar issue with this story. I took a variety of approaches to name multiple different things - from landscapes to gods to familial names to business names, etc - and it might seem a bit disjointed from each other. My defense? I took the American approach to things. We're a melting-pot of cultures and languages, and we steal from those cultures and languages all the time to create a diverse environment. You might drive down King's Street, turn left on Rodero Drive, pass Lopatcong Road, and finally park on Lafayette Boulevard. That's four different cultures smooshed together on one simple road trip. They may seem so disconnected, but it works for a diverse culture like America. So, I'm just going to assume the majority of the countries and cultures in Gyateara will be built "melting pot" style.

"Welcome to Ashitar"

I had made sure to finish up this little story, edit it, and post it on DeviantArt as well as FictionPress all by Easter Sunday. Which reminds me. I missed last week's post, and so I also missed this:

I would normally also wish people a happy Passover at this time, but apparently that's still about a month away. Strange that the two celebrations can be so separate from each other when The Last Supper was a Passover meal.... Anyway....

After a bunch of confusion, it was brought to my attention that I unintentionally missed the last local writing group meeting. I had missed the one due to being sick. Then, the Tuesday after visiting my sister was supposed to be the next meeting. I thought that were the case, but I was so - is there a term for "jetlag" when you were just driving four hours away in the same timezone? - that I lost track as to whether it was one or two Tuesdays previous I was sick. Hubby was just as confused, I guess, because he also thought it was still an "off" week. So, last Tuesday I was all set to go to the meeting - although I didn't have anything to really read aside from the incomplete form of "Welcome to Ashitar" - only to get an email stating it wasn't the right day.

The local paper was apparently just as confused as I was, because they had also printed that the 22nd was the next meeting; exactly what I had thought. There was a big email debate as to whether or not the journalist was correct, how we all go the schedule confused, and whether or not we should have meetings three weeks in a row - in case some newbies showed up. Eventually it was decided that the librarians would inform any newcomers of the mix-up, but the meeting would still just wait until this past Tuesday.

The confusion did give us all a great writing prompt, though. So, after a month of no writing group - due to accidentally skipping a second one - I came back a bit triumphant. Not only did I have "Welcome to Ashitar" finished for a read-through, but I also had the writing prompt completed as well:
A newcomer to a writing group gets the dates wrong, and is invited to "another group" that is meeting that night at the library.
We had some very interesting responses to this prompt. Keaton wrote about two boys in a post-zombie-apocalypse traveling twelve miles to a neighboring community in order to join a writing group. They come across a cult-like community of segregation between the sexes. Men and women are never in the same room - aside from a mother caring for her son, or the process that leads to a woman becoming a mother in the first place.... - and the boys happened to have shown up on the WOMEN'S writing group night. Keaton didn't get to the point where the boys were officially invited to join another group, but the men of the village welcomed them into the community messhall for dinner.

DFL was having some computer frustrations over the past couple of weeks - after her computer was forced to upgrade to Windows 10 - and so her character had the same frustrations, only to have her day punctuated with the news that her group was cancelled for that night. She was then offered a knitting or computing group to join for the night since she was already at the library. The character opted for the computing group in hopes of learning how to better deal with her own computer. She discovers that the room was filled with middle-aged, blue-collar or retired citizens all just as frustrated with the Windows 10 upgrade, and so they were plotting to build a bomb in order to threaten Microsoft. The story was actually so amusing to picture. I almost wish this was in some sort of visual format for me to watch.

Red had continued a prompt from when I was sick: three randomly selected elements worked together. We had done similar prompts in the past. Her three elements were a parrot, Hurricane Irene, and "Something in the pocket". She hadn't made it to the pocket bit, but the rest of the story was intriguing. A young Au Pair is trying to persuade her young ward to make two large changes in his life. The first is to visit either his mother or father; both in different prisons after being caught as drug-runners during the chaos of Hurricane Irene's clean-up. The second would be to switch from homeschooling - which he had done his whole life - to joining the public high school now that his education surpassed what the Au Pair was qualified to teach him. The parrot element had the family pet mimic important background conversations in order to give both the audience and Au Pair the insight into the kid needed to help him with these transitions.

The final member of the group this past week was apparently a new member as of the meeting I accidentally skipped - if not the one I was sick for. The first "regular" man in our group. It's nice to have the new perspective, especially with us women trying to write males. It would be good for us to have an actual male opinion on whether or not we're writing men "correctly".

I'm under the assumption that he was the one that offered up the "writer on the wrong day" prompt, and he used it beautifully. The lead-in to the mix-up seemed a bit unnecessarily long, but his depiction of the main character was fantastic and humorous. He then gets to the miscommunication, and has his character come across an eccentrically gaudy woman of questionable sexual morality. I pictured the woman perfectly, and every line of description had me actually laughing out loud. Most of us were, actually. It must have really reassured him to hear the laughs he wrote in.

Me? Well, I got a couple of chuckles, but not nearly as many as I thought I wrote in. I don't know if it was a matter of my verbal delivery, the way I delivered it on paper, if it's only amusing to people of my demographic, if it was amusing but not laugh-out-loud so, or if it just wasn't as funny as I thought. Either way, the new gentleman in our group stated that he could picture everything well, and it got his attention. I guess that's something, right?

I think everyone was more focused on trying to learn alongside my main character. I had him stumble upon a group of people using the library as a staging location for their Boff group. For those who don't know, Boffing is Live-Action Role Play using foam weapons to act out fight scenes, and usually set in a High Fantasy setting; so people are generally in Medieval or Renaissance style clothing. No one in the room knew what Boffing was, and so as my secondary character Jenn quickly explained to my main character Ian, the room seemed just as interested to know. Keaton even asked a few follow-up questions on Boffing in general.

All-in-all, everyone seemed to want me to continue the story, which was also reassuring. I stopped it where it could be a nice one-off, but it was also open ended enough to lead into more chapters. I'm probably going to focus more on Gyateara for the near future; build up more of Ashitar so that my players have something semi-substantial to run around in. However, I will give continuing the Boff Group story some serious thought.

Until I get to the point of continuing the story, it will wait patiently in my Anthology. Although, I'll probably have to remove it as a chapter once I decide to make it a story of it's own. Oh well, crossing bridges once I get to them and all.

Like I said, in the meantime, you can find it here:

"Everything for a Reason"

I also managed to finish "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish" yesterday, giving me my second or third - depending on how you're counting - book completed for the reading challenge. Let's check out that list again, shall we?
Challenge created by Modern Mrs. Darcy
Alright, so I have a few "Schrodinger Books" right now, in which they are simultaneously two different categories until future information leads me to which category they're actually falling into.

Both "Life, the Universe, and Everything" and "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish" can fill the "published before you were born" category. LU&E can also fill the "already read at least once" category while SL&TfAtF could also fill the "previously abandoned" category. If I read one more story that can fill the "published before you were born" category, and only that one, I'll shift the other two into the other categories. Otherwise, I'll have to shift either of those Hitchhiker's Guide sequels into that publication category if I read something else for a second time, or another book I gave up on; such as books I should have read in school. ALL THE SCHRODINGER BOOKS!!!!

Now to figure out what I'm going to read next. Also, tomorrow is April First. Not only does that make it April Fool's Day, but it also makes it the first day of the now disbanded Script Frenzy month. Considering Nickelodeon announced a few months back that they were FINALLY greenlighting The Jungle Movie - after the fans fought for it for nearly a decade - I feel like perhaps I should reach out to ChibiSunnie, and we should finally finish our own version of the movie plot before Nickelodeon releases the official one.

So, I must make a few decisions: what to read, what to write, and whether or not to try out Script Frenzy on top of my other fiction writing.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


This has been the week of distractions. So much intention to take a time-out and write, and it always ended up as missed opportunities instead. Which is even sadder since I only had to work today and the previous two days.

Last week's update marked the first of an almost week-long mini-vacation from work. After I was done with the blog post, I was going to work more on the story I told you folks about last week: the backstory of the town and tavern I created for my premiere D&D session. I honestly can't recall what actually happened, but I know it was centered around getting ready for my trip back to my mom's for the weekend. Everything that day took about three-times longer than it should have. The alarm for my writing hour went off, and I was in the middle of a project of some sort, so I ignored it. This was a theme all week: ignore the Writing Hour alarm because I was in the middle of something more pressing, or I wasn't anywhere that I could take an hour-long time-out.

Between all the last-minute errands I needed to do, as well as packing and a few house chores before leaving, I just didn't have a moment to really sit and breathe. Still, I stole away a few minutes in order to try to keep up with the X-Future roleplay so I didn't hold anyone up. Even went ahead and had Lia and Willow do something in order to move them forward as well. Ended up having them interact with each other. Got to say, it's a bit boring roleplaying with myself.

Friday was my sister's birthday. Trips me up that she's now the age I was when I got married. When did she get so old and mature????
Well, belated birthday now that it's almost a week later....
Anyway, I drove down to visit her for her birthday, which meant no writing to be had. I woke up early, but only to finish the last of the packing and car maintenance before the drive. Then the celebrations were had, which lasted fairly late into the night.

Saturday had a little bit of "recovery" time in the morning, some more bonding along with a lot more food - I gained about five pounds over the weekend - and then getting ready to head out yet again.

Not only was I down to visit my sister, but coincidentally, my godson was born on the tenth. Made life easier that both he and my sister are about twenty-minutes from each other, and share the same birthday weekend. Saturday was spent with him and PA-Bestie for a belated birthday hang-out. This lead into more food, Sis taking everybody out for frozen yogurt, a relatively-large dinner, and then a game-night that lead into the wee hours of the night.

Sunday found me waking up just about in time for church with the fam. Then a LARGE brunch. So large that I was actually spending a great deal of time waiting in the living room playing on my 3DS while Sis and Mom put it together; too many chefs and all kept me at bay. I probably should have taken the time to write, but I had no clue how long it was going to take. So I just stuck with my video game, figuring it would be easier to stop what I was doing the moment food was done.

Once brunch was done we had some more family bonding before I drove home. That's when I unpacked and just crashed; a bit burnt out.

Monday I really don't have an excuse. I had the day off; last one before returning on Tuesday. Hubby was at work early in the morning, and so I had the house to myself. Did I read? Did I write? Did I clean? Nope on all three. I DID end up exercising with Spink, and was late picking Hubby up from work because of the hang-out. Prior to Zumba, and after picking up Hubby was spent mostly working on a project for Cyhyr and Ronoxym's anniversary. It's definitely a labor of love, because dear lord I didn't realize it was going to be so time consuming and tedious to complete!

I should have accepted that they weren't going to get it for their anniversary and just taken an hour time-out to write or something. I just slacked off there.

Speaking of, Tuesday was CERTAINLY the Ides of March. It was such a Murphy Day; I was in a terrible mood by the time I made it home from work. We had just received our tax refund, and so Hubby decided to cheer me up with a mini shopping spree. This first resulted in us still being out during my normal writing hour, which I then forgot to reset the alarm for in order to remind me later that day. Then we bought a new board game, and a new 3DS game for us to play together. The evening was then spent playing said games instead of me writing. Whoops.

Yesterday I was working through my writing hour. I did spend most of the day thinking about what I'd write next, though. How I was going to fix the blaring plot hole I created during the last D&D session, how I was going to turn that into a mini-quest, should the players follow, and possible alternative plots depending on how the players follow through with the mini-quest. I also plotting out this blog post. See, technically I've been at work since 8am today, and so I had to write all of this last night.

When I should have been writing recreationally.

I guess it's alright, though. I need to take a step back after trying to marathon-write in February. Same deal as what happens after attempting NaNo. Give myself time to let my brain recollect itself. Bounce around writing directions in my head; figure out which I'd prefer to do.

In the meantime, I guess I'll focus on X-Future and prepping story for D&D.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Role Plays Getting Me Back to Writing

Yet another week where I'm avoiding writing this post. Three in a row where I have little to nothing to show for my week. Aside from a mildly-persistent cough and a need for a handful of tissues throughout the day, my cold is gone. Hubby's better. Nothing should have been standing in my way.

And yet I'm again finding myself without time to write. Well, I HAVE found time to write, I just haven't been using it for novel-writing.

The ball is slowly but surely rolling over on the X-Future boards again. We'll see how the fresh blood works this time. I'm hoping for a successful transfusion. The board needs it!

I've been running around as Colette. Formerly celestialTyrant's second character, when his work kept him too busy to play anymore, Colette became an NPC almost exclusively played by me. Basically the same thing as with Crystal, except Crystal was always an NPC. I just get stuck with all the 15yr old girls, I guess.

Eh, either way, it's been fun running around as Colette; finding her character. Sadly, I've been neglecting all of my other girls in the process. I JUST played as Willow and Lia this morning just to say I've done so in the past month. Trish, I'm still figuring out her next move. I may just have her "go with it" simply to move things along in the Brotherhood thread. And the aforementioned Crystal? Frankly, I forgot about her. Mainly because I was focusing too much on the other characters, and Tyler hasn't really been doing much on the board. Let's face it, that's really the only person she's around for.

Anyway, as I was saying, I've slacked off for a while, but I'm back into the swing of posting frequently as Colette, and I'm having fun with her and the two new players. She even has a bit of a crush on one of them, who seems to have a crush back. Ah, budding romance. Super sweet considering they only met each other about fifteen minutes ago game-time.

What can we say? Puppy-love at first sight, coupled by the whole "We're mutants, we can be killed off any minute now; YOLO" thing.

So there's that. At least it's creative and writing. Heck, the player who runs Colette's crush Joseph even joked about how much me and Zebey - the other new player - writes. Can I give myself some credit for that?

I also FINALLY started up my first ever D&D session where I ran it as the DM. I cheated and used a "boxed adventure" - one that was pre-written and sold with a map so the DM just needs to read and do rolls accordingly - but I wanted to supplement it. I didn't want to just be like "Alright. You four are in a party together and are doing this quest. Go." I wanted it to be at least mildly organic. Give them the option, and hope and pray they all decide to go. This was the main reason I told everyone that I needed basic character motivation for adventuring. That way I could present the quest in a manner that would appeal to all the characters, based on their motivations.

It was a bit rough go at first, but they all headed out, and are having a grand old time it seems. But, as I mentioned, to make that organic introduction to each character as they meet up and bond into a party, I needed to supplement the "boxed adventure." I did this by creating a tavern and neighboring town for them to all meet up in. To try to get SOME writing done before the end of last week, I spent Friday and Saturday working on said tavern and town. I created rough descriptions of both, as well as broad histories for both. Problem being, I completely destroyed the concept of the town while presenting the quest, and I didn't even pick up on it until after the session was done.

The whole concept of the town of Ashitar was that it was a merchant-town run by a baron, because the "boxed adventure" had the baron asking the party to retrieve his ring from some lizardfolk called Kobolds. Well, the wealthy merchants that lived in Ashitar didn't like that the baron ran the joint instead of them, and so they plotted to assassinate him and his family for a generation or two. Stopping these plots created a "weapons war" of assassin guilds, thieves dens, and cityguard barracks. All competing against each other to either keep the baron in power, or put one of the wealthy families in charge.

I built all of this, only to screw it up by having the baron overtaken by the kobolds, kidnapped, and leaving his 12yr old son pleading for the adventurers to help him. He wants his father returned, but the tavern owner suspects the baron is already dead and eaten by the kobolds, and so he secretly asks two of the party members - they lagged behind - to at least bring back the baron's ring so the kid could use it to prove his rightful place as leader of Ashitar.

So, here we are. Level one characters who are going up against some of the easiest monsters so they don't die while trying to level up and become stronger. These kobolds are experience fodder to help grow the characters. These are the things that eventually got to the otherwise superbly protected baron? What. The. Heck!? If the bodyguards are THAT bad at protecting the baron, what prevented the assassins all this time? Are they just THAT bad too? Is Ashitar filled with incompetent morons? Or was the baron overtaken because he didn't have his bodyguards for some reason? If so, then what was the reason? He knows there's continuous assassination attempts on his life, and he had his son and heir with him. Why only four shitty town guards?
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc
I hate plot holes!

Now I have to either figure all of that out, or scrap everything I came up with for Ashitar.

I THINK I might have a solution that I figured out while working yesterday. I'll have to play around with it a bit to see how it develops. Thankfully, I'll be visiting my sister and godson for their birthdays this weekend - obviously including visits with Mom and PA-Bestie - and so no D&D this Sunday. Gives me another week to figure out what to do with the baron story. Plus, the party isn't done going through the dungeon, and so I have a little more time there too. The issue now is that Spink won't be available the next Sunday we'd play, and so I don't know what to do with her character that is out adventuring in a dungeon right now, and the Sunday after that is Easter. Maybe switch to Saturday games the next couple of weeks?

Eh, nevermind that, that doesn't have to really do with writing right now. I'll figure that out on my own time.

Point being, I've been at least creative and writing a little bit thanks to my two role-plays: X-Future and D&D. More writing than normal for D&D since I'm creating the world, and the story of the quests and adventures. That's something, right?

Speaking of, I should get back to one of those to try to get SOME sort of word count this week. Once I have the issue with Ashitar figured out I'll try to post my write-up for it. The trick is that I'd want to put it in the The People of Gyateara anthology, but my campaign is currently in the generic D&D world of Greyhawk, to make things simpler for me. Sure, I still created Ashitar and the neighboring tavern, but things like the town's patron deity is a D&D creation, not one of the yet-to-be-created deities of Gyateara.

Another thing to work out, I guess.

Maybe some Spring Cleaning around my apartment will help me unclutter my mind too, and then I can get back to really working on all this writing. Maybe it will also bring Ronoxym back out of writing hibernation, and we can get back to work on Please, Let Me Explain; a year after the last chapter is posted....

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sickness: 2; Writing: 0

Ug! Two week streak. Fantastic.

Hubby was oh so kind to make sure to share..... his cold.....

Friday, when I normally would have the house to myself, due to Hubby being out with his friends playing their weekly game, was a writing wash for me. None of them wanted to play the format of Magic that was being hosted at the local gaming store - as I mentioned last week - and so we all got together to watch a movie instead. It was a fun time, but an unproductive one.

And Friday was my last healthy day.

I woke up Saturday with a non-stop running nose and a wicked pressure headache. Popped some meds, which ended up doing nothing really, and headed in to work. Since my normal Sunday Solitude was also a wash due to being scheduled for the overnight, I was planning on spending the day writing, sleeping, and trying to kick this cold before it got as bad as Hubby's.

While I was mildly successful in preventing it from getting as bad as my husband's, this cold still majorly kicked my butt all week. I only survived work via travel packets of tissues, a near-endless supply of non-medicated throat drops, and my shifts only being 4hrs long. When I wasn't working I was huddled in bed; mostly sleeping.

Hubby stepped up and did the chores around the house, but he's still getting over the tail end of his cold, and so said chores were sort of a minimum: laundry, do the dishes needed for that meal, take out trash, etc.

The self-imposed bed rest did allow me to finish my second book of the year, but I only managed to get it done by the end of February by the grace of the Leap Day. I was about five chapters away on the 28th.

My brain hasn't really been functional enough to write anything creatively, though. I've tried. It's been keeping me about seven attempts and two days each to respond to anything in the X-Future game. This Sunday was supposed to be the first adventure of my first campaign DMing, and not only did I cancel due to exhaustion and illness, but throughout this week I've been trying to figure out a pre-written adventure that was part of the D&D Starter Kit I bought nearly a decade ago. My mind can't even unfog enough to think of a simple dungeon for the players to run through.

I skipped out on my bi-weekly local writing group meeting on Tuesday as well. I was still too sick to really leave the house unless I really needed to - e.g. work - I didn't want to infect any of those ladies, and I didn't have anything to share anyway.

The closest I got to working on my next chapter is a very vague outline. As I mentioned last week, I'm attempting to gather up a bunch of "too short to be a solo-chapter" roleplays to add to the chapter where Chayse is training Lia; to beef it up a bit. I have two others I can use. Neither are crucial for over-all plot, and I was originally going to breeze past them, but it does show that there's more characters at the institute than just Chayse, Nix, Lia, and Annika. Also, it adds some fun character development. Actually transferring this outline to narration? My brain fogs up again. Man, I need this cold to go away!

I have been trying to stay creative. I did mention that I've attempted to stay active on the forum. Just because I'm ill doesn't mean the new players should be deterred from playing due to my inability to interact with them. So, I attempt. It takes a while, and it's not the most exciting posts, but it gives them something to respond to at least.

I've also been grinding through getting this first adventure ready for Sunday. No clue if I'll follow through, though. Yet again I was scheduled to help with the overnight - something I'm NOT happy with, but think of the money.... - and one of the players may have already had something scheduled.

Right! I forgot to mention. One of Hubby's friends Goob watched the movie with us on Friday, and we were talking about the D&D stuff. He's mildly interested in playing, but - much like the rest of us - hasn't had a consistent-enough playgroup to really get into it. So, Saturday, when I should have been resting, writing, or at least planning the first dungeon, was instead spent helping him - and later Spink - build his character. Between the two of them, this was an all-day event. Spink didn't go home until close to midnight, and Hubby and I had work at 3am. Not much rest to nip my cold in the bud.

Anyway, Goob has a pseudo-prior commitment for this weekend that he's still not sure he's going to follow through on. If not, then we'll D&D if I'm not on death's door from working the overnight again. If he does to with the prior commitment, we may still play, but bring him in a little later. Only problem there is making up the experience gap from him missing the first game. Third option is to not actually start playing until Hubby and I come home from our PA trip mid-March. That gives me another two weeks plus change to figure out a dungeon. It might be best.

I have been trying to doctor the "boxed adventure" I got from the starter kit so that it's mildly original, and fit the party a bit better. Trying to come up with my own NPC dialogue and character motives for the quest-giver as well as the monsters the players will come across. Make the whole thing seem more organic than "you all randomly decided to join together to go into this dungeon and fetch this thing for the local baron." That counts as creative writing, right?

The true embarrassment is that Ali Luke draws at random among Writers’ Huddle members that check-in weekly during the challenges. Even if you didn't hit your goal, if you checked-in you were still eligible to win the weekly prize.

Guess who won last week?

I know, if I felt so bad about being rewarded for slacker behavior - as I teased Ali about - than maybe I should have purposely delayed my check-in until after she announced the winner. I was too sick-fog-induced to think of that at the time. I had hoped that maybe I could have used it as a motivator to kick some writing butt this week, but my illness has just held me back more than my chaotic schedule last week did.

Hubby's off at work. I'm home most of the day. I'm hoping that will result in SOMETHING productive. We'll see. At worst, I can try to use my bedridden-ness to get started on my March book: "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish", the next book in the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series. This will probably be my "book I once abandoned" selection for the reading challenge. Once again, here's a reminder of the list for any who wish to participate:
Challenge presented by Modern Mrs. Darcy
Alright, well enough chatting here. I won't get anything accomplished this way. Here's hoping I'll have something to share with you next Thursday.