Wide Awake but Dreaming

Slip into my thoughts and do watch your step


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Make Believe Faces in Make Believe Places

When I was first designing my Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning–under a different name, mind you–I had maps drawn and things labeled.  I had a location in the middle of Maine for the school, towns that the students could visit, and interesting things that could be done in and around the area–which, to be honest, was pretty much all wilderness.

During the process of transplanting my Salem school into another world, I started thinking, “Having it in Maine makes no sense.  But where can I put it so it’s close to Salem?”  Fortunately for me Goggle Maps exist, and I found the perfect place:  the middle of Cape Ann, a small island where the town of Gloucester is located.  I could come up with all sorts of interesting ways to keep the school hidden–after all, what’s the point of writing about a huge, world-encompassing organization if they can’t hide a large group of buildings in plain sight?–and, if I set my mind to it, I could make the school bigger.  Much bigger.

That’s where I got into Blender and began doing a little three dimensional modeling.  I came up with a whole new layout for the school, while keeping the central area–The Pentagram, the Coven Towers, and the Great Hall–all right where they belonged.  So I started thinking big–really big.  And a whole new school was created out of the old.

It's real enough--you just have to look hard and think of it that way.

It’s real enough–you just have to look hard and think of it that way.

Constructing a model of the school and the tunnels that run under the school took weeks.  In actuality, I probably tweaked this model for a few months–in fact, the labels you see in the picture above were put there last month, and this included labels I put on one of the cross-country race tracks–the Green Line–so when people say, “He lost it in the Northwest Passage”, I know where it’s at.

How big is the school  The Great Hall is 175 meters from the north end of the library to the main entrance at the south.  That’s 574 feet if you don’t do the whole metric thing.  That means The Pentagram is much larger–each of the walls between the towers are between 220 meters (722 feet) to 240 meters (787 feet).  And yet when you look at this structure, it fits nicely inside the walls.  From the north Polar Tower to the southern wall next the Gloucester Entrance it’s about 5.5 kilometers (or 3.4 miles), and a good part of the school is about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) across.  Like I said, it’s a big place with room to move.

Now that I had a place, I was almost ready to start writing the pre-novel, The Scouring.  I just needed to do a little modifying of some of the characters . . .

All of the characters were developed around a starting 2011 time frame, but a lot of them were teaching back in the year 2000, the time of The Scouring.  Not only there, but a few of the current teachers in the work in progress were students.  So you know what was needed?  Time lines.

Ask and you shall have to make your own.

Ask and you shall have to make your own.

As you can see, I know that Erywin, Jessica, Madeline, and Ramona were teaching in 2000, and that Isis, Deanna, and Wednesday–who work at the school in the current novel–were students then.  I also see that Coraline came in as the school doctor on 30 April, 2000–the day after the time of the Scouring.  This is where a time line comes in handy:  it lets you know what people did went, particularly if you’re working on multiple story arcs.  And you also see just about when all the main characters–and a few side characters–were students.  The nice thing here is that Aeon Timeline allows you to export part or all of a time line as an image, and then you can insert that image into a Scrivener file.  So if you don’t want to have two programs up at the same time, just bring in your time line and view it when you feel it’s needed.

Now, one last thing, and it’s about my characters.  I’m an old role playing gamer and GM, or Game Master.  I love making characters, and I like to make them as real as I can.  When I started putting the characters for these stories together, I not only did a little bit of history on each, but I assigned a “face” to them, something that, when I’m first starting out with the character development, I get an idea of how they looked.  Sometimes–like I did for Her Demonic Majesty–the faces are of people whose pictures I just find.  And then there are times, like with the character in The Foundation Chronicles, that they sort of become celebrities in their own right.

Here are the people I picked for each of my characters for The Scouring, and I’ll show you were I altered them.

Instructors:

Jessica Kishna, Mistress of Transformation.  She came from a picture I found of an African-American runway model, with a big helping of the wonderful Angela Basset.

Ramona Chai, Self Defense and Weapons.  Ziyi Zhang.

Matthias Ellison, Music and Arts Director.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Madeline Palmescoff, History.  Mary-Louise Parker.

Erywin Sladen, Formulistic Magic.  Joanna Lumley.

Students:

Isis Mossman.  Chloë Sevigny, but with changes.  Since it was stated in The Scouring that her mother was Egyptian, that meant altering her features and complexion slightly.

Deanna Arrakis.  Deanna was difficult because she’s Iraqi, and it took some time to find good pictures of women from Iraq.  Eventually I settled on a combination so that she has a slightly large nose, a strong chin, large brown eyes, black hair, and a slightly tanned complexion.

Wednesday Douglas.  Here I went totally meta, because I literally came up with the actress first.  That actress is . . . Christina Ricci.  And who is Christina known for playing?

"Why am I dressed like someone's going to die?"  "Wait."

“Why am I dressed like someone’s going to die?”  “Wait.”

There you have it:  Wednesday Douglas, who will have a daughter named Tuesday and a granddaughter named Friday.  And who is one of the best little witches to come out of Salem in a long time.  She doesn’t have pigtails, though.  She hates them.  Now you know why.

And lastly, Supporting Characters:

Helena Lovecraft.  She’s a Kiwi, so I wanted a Kiwi as her “face”, which means I picked Lucy Lawless.  she’s gone through a lot of changes, however:  I kept the body and her intense look, made her half-Māori, darkened her hair and complexion, and gave her “black shark’s eyes”.  All and all, I have always loved Helana, and I have her back story with Erywin, her partner and companion, thought out and down pat.  One day Erywin will even tell Kerry about how she met her “pretty girl”.

Coraline Gallagher, the new School “Nurse”.  Coraline is modeled after Christina Hendricks, thought the young character that Wednesday meets is more like Yo-Saf-Bridge from Firefly (with red hair, naturally) and not Joan Holloway from Mad Men, the person Annie and Kerry meet.  This is also why when “Red” meets Coraline–as she likes to call him–for the first time he doesn’t know how to describe her except as “curvy”, which is his way of being polite.  Coraline is a huge romantic and a hell of a fighter–I still have to publish that except of her and Madam Chai going at it–and Kerry doesn’t know it yet, but he and Nurse Coraline share a birthday.  There is a reason for that . . .

Now that we have all that out of the way, tomorrow I can get into outlining a small novel.

The big one comes after that.


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It’s No Game

There has been a lot of playing around the last couple of days, and some yelling on the phone as well.  Why would one be yelling on the phone?  Because there’s someone on the other end who isn’t listening, that’s why.  That’s all short-term nonsense, however, and I expect things to go back to some semblance of normal by the end of the week.

Or a black hole will open and suck me into another dimension.  Anything’s possible at this point.

There’s been a lot of thinking going on between writing.  Most of said thinking isn’t about the new story, because I know what’s happening with that, and since I’ve mind mapped the story and I know the ending, all that is required is getting the middle parts written.  I’m into the sexy bits now, and while I’m only doing a thousand words a night, it’s fun getting into that stuff.  Right now I don’t feel like doing more than a thousand a day, but the end is already in my head, and I’m guessing that the totally erotic stuff happening now is going to be good for another three, four thousand words.

There’s the nagging feeling that I want to get into another story, a different story, soon.  I know I want to edit Replacements so I can get it ready for publishing, because the writing’s complete, it only needs a cover and some polishing and then it’s off to be self-published for fame and glory.  Sure, that’s why I’m a starving artist, don’t you know?

Beyond that–well, I’m thinking of getting Couples Dance out and starting the work on that as well.  Despite my emails I’ve heard nothing from the publisher that wanted a look at the manuscript, and I have to guess they’re either not interested, or they’ve went belly up.  Now that story, it’s a strange one.  If I can get that published alongside Replacements and Her Demonic Majesty, that’s three out of the four titles I set as a goal for this year, and it means there is still the possibility I can make Number Four happen before the end of the year.

There is the feeling, though–I want to do something science fictiony again.  Yes, I have science fiction stories that I could either write or edit for publishing, but I want to get back out into space.  I want to do something that is adventurous.  I don’t know why I’ve had this feeling kicking me about the back of my mind of late, but when I’m looking at the desktop of my computer I see my 3D rendering programs, and I want to get into one and start playing about with ship designs and the such.

I want to jump back into the sci fi game.  I want to do something that’s fun–maybe a bit of space opera wrapped up in some seriousness.  I want to do it and keep it “short” and see if it touches my mind.  I even have a character that would be perfect for this sort of story–

Maybe it’s time to pull her out and give her a run at the readers.

 


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Tales Beyond the Table

With the latest novel out of the way, it was time to get into another book and getting some information together for someone to design a cover for said story.  There wasn’t a lot to do–well, maybe I’m being modest, because there was a lot of hunting for information, and a bit of cutting and pasting, to get the final document in order.  As it was, I passed off about two thousand words of useful information–I hope.

So that’s off to the printer, so to speak.  Probably going to get into another edit tonight:  I want to shape up Replacements, and there’s a chapter I need to write to have the story make a little more sense–I’m putting in some dumb character building, I know, why do I need that shit?  Because I do, that’s why.  The story will get edited, then I’ll put in another requests for a cover . . .

April will see a lot of work towards publishing.  But I’ve got other things going as well.

In the last week I’ve had two role playing games reviews published.  These aren’t new reviews, and they aren’t new games; I originally published them on another site a few years back, and sort of let them sit.  Since they weren’t doing much in the way of traffic, I offered them to someone to post on their site after I gave them a bit of a polish, ’cause lets face it, I see mistakes much better these days.  If you are interested in reading the reviews, the are for the games Diaspora and Eclipse Phase.  Enjoy.

I don’t game much these days.  Actually, I don’t game at all; it’s been a couple of years since I’ve done any serious gaming, and while I’m always ready to jump into something, I’ve encountered the problem of either not finding a game I like, or not finding a group I like.  Both can be a problem, because if you are in a game that’s not your style, or you’re gaming with assholes, the urge to play goes right down the toilet in short order.

Yet I still pick up games now and then.  Why?  Simple answer:  they can be fodder for ideas.

There was a time when the games I ran were my stories.  Trust me:  run a role playing game every other weekend for two years, and you’ll develop a sense for story, for metaplots, and for characters.  You play in their world, but you make it your own:  you build most everything off the structure, then make your cast of characters, direct the action so your players have something interesting to do.

I did this for a couple of decades, and it helped me understand what sort of work it takes to be a storytelling.  I prided myself on my games, and I pride myself on the tales I write these days.

As for these games I still buy . . .

One can find inspiration from anywhere.  One of my first completed long stories took place in a game universe, one that I knew intimately   It could be argued that I was writing fan fiction even though the character throughout the story were entirely mine, but I won’t argue the point.  It was a good exercise for me, and my only regret is that this particular story is lost to me, vanished on a hard drive failure.  Doesn’t me I couldn’t rewrite the story from scratch today, because you always remember your first novella . . .

I hear you out there, however:  so you’re still buying game to steal ideas, is that it?  Inspiration can come from anywhere, as my muse Erin would tell you.  If you find something in a paragraph of a supplement that gets the mental gears cranking, then good for you, because working your imagination is a great thing–maybe one of the greatest things a person can achieve.

Besides, Quentin Tarantino has found inspiration this way for a couple of decades, and some call him a genius.

I already am one, so the calling should come easy . . .


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In the Glen of Semi-active Awareness

Oh, such is the aftermath of sleeping with the Luna Moth.  I make it through the night without waking at some ridiculous time of the morning, but the next day forces you to deal with the hangover for many, many hours.  It’s never fun; in fact, it can be a dangerous thing when you’re out on the highway surrounded by idiots–as I’ll be this afternoon.

At the moment I’m trying to analyze business intelligence software–always a fun thing–and write this.  I’m sort of failing at both ends, because my body is revolting against me, saying, “No, you can’t make your fingers move that way, because it feels funny to us.”  Also, these companies don’t want to give me a quote on their software:  the want me to try it first.  I don’t want to try it, I just want to know how much of my money you’re going to take.  There is no “try”, there is only, “How much, Bunky?”

Since I didn’t write anything last night–I was on Skype with my therapist, and by the time that was through I was inching into ten PM territory–I did polish up an old game review and sent it off to the guy who’d asked me about them the other night.  Yes, I found some errors; yes, I did rewrite part of it because it felt very clumsy in some areas.  Mostly I rewrote things because I know how now to tell the same tell better, and I want to see things looking nice and shiny before I send them out into the Interwebs again.

One of the things I’ve seen over the years is how good some of the stuff I wrote three, four, five years back is today.  It’s not perfect, but it’s readable in a good way.  I still get ideas across; I still manage to make the right points; I still manage to let what passes for “my humor” present itself upon the page.

What I’m saying it the writing was good, and it was something of which I am proud.

In fact, I was just looking over another review I did in 2011, and while there are a few issues here and there, I have no problems with it.  Sure, a clean up is in order, and I might have to correct something were I to republish it because a few things have changed since the original publication, but it’s not as if I need to perform massive triage to get it presentable.  It is . . . good.

If the two reviews I sent in are deemed worthy, them I’m probably going to send a few of these other things that I penned.  I’m also looking and publishing some–wait for it–new articles, because I’d once made the promise to do so, and I should follow through, should I not?  I was even looking at some research material because that’s what I do, even if I don’t want to write.  But since I likely will, the reading came in handy.

The plan is to finish Suggestive Amusements this weekend or early next week–but that doesn’t mean I won’t write something else in the meantime.

After, every little bit helps.


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Options of Light and Darkness

The end is approaching.  Not that we should be sad about that, because the end I mention is the end of my current work in progress.  The penultimate chapter has started, and people are talking about what had happened up to this point.

This is the chapter I’ve been thinking about for a while, so it came easy to setting up the meeting between Erin and–lets call her one of her bosses, a member of the upper Goddess echelon that has come to sit with Erin and find out just what in the hell is going on.  I’ve imagined the conversation for some times, and when I was writing last night the idea was coming out on to the page well.

We’ll see where it goes tonight when I continue Goddess Chat.

There was something else going on while I was writing, however, because if nothing else, I multitask like mad.  I was chatting with someone I know, someone who I’ve written things for in the past, and whom has enjoyed my writing.  As I was working through my chapter I was also working through a discussion of some articles I’d written some time back, and the comments that came my way were sort of like, “Hey, you ever going to write any more of these?”

There was a time when I was writing a lot of different things.  For a while I was doing game reviews on another website, and writing a few articles for another site, all of which occurred while I was blogging and working on my first completed novel.  It was a lot of fun, and it helped me develop my talent as a writing, and even more as a researcher and editor.

But all good things come to an end, as it is said.  I was doing all this writing when I was “between jobs”, as the saying goes, and I had a lot of time to put pen to computer.  Then I found a job, I had to move, I had to find time to write while I had spare time, and with spare time at a premium, I found that if I wanted to work on my stuff, I had to cut other things out of my life.

Ergo, no more articles.

But there is another saying:  nothing that dies ever stays dead.  True, they might only say that in the Marvel Universes, but there is some precedence for that in the real world as well.  When I started thinking about the stuff I’d written once, it made me realize that, hey, that stuff was pretty good, and it was a lot of fun to write.  And I was reminded that, at one time, I did tell this person that I’d write them another article . . .

Today I pulled out something I’d written nearly two years ago, a game review that I’d put up and sort of left.  I read it, edited it, and sent it off to the person I was speaking with last night, ’cause I told him that reviewing Science Fiction type role playing games is a good thing to do–and there are probably people out there who’ll want to read them.

Does this mean I’m back into doing articles and reviews for other people?  Hard to say.  After all, Jean Grey hasn’t popped up from the dead again–

Yet.


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Last Night in Mister Moon’s Drive

I was out last night.  It was another in a long line of visits where I go out, have pizza, chat, and watch shows that either invite snarky commentary about plot holes (Prisoner of Azkaban, why walk back to Hogwatts when someone could have apparated Peter back?  Why not have someone go back and get Dumbledore?  Why not just take Peter to Hogsmeade, which was right next door?  Why did Lupin conveniently forget there was a full moon that night?  Why was the story plot hammered like it was being run by a bad GM?) or something more interesting (like two episodes of Season Two of Sherlock).

Then came the drive back after midnight.  For some reason there was almost no traffic, and my drive home was one of just letting the cruise control do its thing just point the car down the road.  There wasn’t a need to touch the brakes, so I drove and thought . . .

I had a waxing gibbous moon on my left shoulder for most of the drive, and it struck me that this would be my last moonlit drive for 2012.  And it was strange because on so many moonlit drives, I’ve been with characters who have made my stories shine, with ideas that drive me on to produce good stories, and plots that I hope work out once I put them to paper.

I had none of that last night.  It was just me, and a few of my thoughts.  Not that there was anything wrong with that, but as perfect as the night seemed, I really wanted to have someone alongside, sharing the experience.

This is has been a long year, with plenty of ups and downs, things to be remembered and forgotten.  There has been exhilaration and doubt.  Particularly the doubt, which has seemed to increase in the last few weeks.  Don’t ask why, because I don’t know myself.  It’s the way my mind works, and it’s not ways a good thing, that.

The thing about being a writer is there is always doubt.  Is this story good?  Are the characters believable?  Does any of this make sense?  Is the cover nice?  Is this damn thing going to sell?  It’s the nature of the beast, these doubts, because creative people are like that.  Nothing is ever good enough for them; everything is “okay”.  Or, if they are really down on themselves, “not so good”.

Quite honestly, we’re all seconds away from an Admiral Ackbar moment, and it will drive you crazy when all the thoughts of everything bad that could happen to you come knocking.  I had a touch of that last night, then kicked them out of the car because I realize the more negativity you embrace, the longer it stays with you.  That was the problem with my last job:  it was a negative environment, and very little made me happy.

I don’t want negative:  I want happy.

It seemed that once I pushed the bad stuff out of the car, a couple of characters who I hadn’t thought of in some time entered my mind, as if to put me at easy and tell me, “It’s okay, love.  We all go thought this:  you’re no different.”  It was comforting that even someone fictional could bring a smile to my face . . .

Perhaps they needed someone to ride with as well.


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Mayhem Most Marvelous

Two chapters to go in Replacements, and it’s surprising how easy it’s been to reach this point.  It’s helped a lot that the last couple of chapters have been very easy to edit, with only the need to change a few things, and adding a phrase here and there.  It’s easy to see that when I wrote this on the first pass, I knew what I wanted to say in these later chapters than I did in the first.

But then I had a better idea of where I wanted the story to go by the time I’d finished the first couple of chapters.  It only makes sense that when I reached then last three chapters, I didn’t have to think about what I was going to write–I only needed it written.

In working this last chapter tonight, I realize that I should do something to the story.  There’s an event that happens at the end, and it takes place in something five paragraphs.  Which makes me wonder:  can a truly horrible event be summed up in under a hundred words?

Why not?

The event that happens, while needed, is not that important that if you never saw it happen, the omission would ruin everything.  If anything, the short scene–the whole chapter is about fourteen hundred words–shows how the person who’s become Olivia will do just about anything to get her way, and while she may feel sorry about what she did, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t do it again.

In a way, the character who is Olivia is something of a psycho.  She’s kicking ass and burning bridges left and right, and what pisses her off is not the possibility that one may have picked up something strange about her–it’s that she’s enjoying her new role as department head and secret mistress, and woe be to anyone who steps on the toes of her Ferragamos.

I may have given it some thought in the past, but Olivia is probably one of the most screwed up characters I’ve ever done.  She’s not crazy in a Hannibal Lecter way, but once she figures out that she can do pretty much as he pleases, she talks about screwed people up as calmly as she would discuss what sort of polish to use for her pedicure.

When I used to run my World of Darkness Vampire game, there was one character who used to put in an appearance in just about everyone’s game, because when it came to the World of the Undead in Chicago, she was right at the top of the heap of room-temperature bodies.

She was old, powerful, and sometimes referred to as the person who was the historical Helen of Troy.  Since she was so old and powerful, people liked to play her in a very over the top manner, with a lot of histrionics, and beating of breasts.  She was this Amazonian vampire Wonder Woman who no one in their mind would ever cross, because she would hold out your maybe-beating heart for you to see if she was of that mood.

Naturally, I had her show up for a few secessions.  When the players meet her, what do they get?  A very short woman, about five foot without heels, somewhat dark, olive tone skin, black hair, dark eyes, and a physique that might lead you to believe she could lift her body weight–if she were lucky.

This was the same character, the old vampire killer to end all killers.  And she looked like you wouldn’t notice her twice if you ran into her at a local Micky-Ds.

I was questioned about why she looked the way she did.  I was able to justify her appearance on that fact that if she really were from Greece, circa 1,000 BCE, then the whole idea of having a six foot tall plus woman running about the city was ludicrous.  Skin tone, hair, eyes–pretty much the standard for the area.  If she’d been a real lady before turning bloodsucker, then manual labor was totally out of the question, and she probably wouldn’t have had a lot of toning or muscular definition.

But when she–well, I, since I was playing here–spoke, she was calm, has great manners  never once raised her voice or threw a tantrum.  I was ready for that, too.  “If you’re a poseur badass,” I explained, “you have to constantly show everyone so they don’t forever.  If you’re a true badass, though . . . you never have to show anyone what you can do.  They just know.”

And . . . they’re never bothered if they have to kill everyone in a room if they don’t get the first lesson.  You should have known, you dumb shits, that you don’t mess with Death in High Heels . . .

That’s the way Olivia is shaping up.  Killing people is just a thing, and if it’s gonna be done, then get it done.  She’s turning into a sweet badass without having to tip her hand to everyone.

She’s pretty sweet.  I should write more like her.

 


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Call From the Far Stars

No writing last night.  I actually ended up playing with a program that lets you build three dimensional models, since I’m thinking of trying to use stuff like this to do story illustrations.  I’m not an artist, but I could use this to model things that I’ve always wanted to model–like ships that will spend most of their time in space.

That was something I wanted to do a couple of years ago, when I was starting up a role playing game called Diaspora that tried to put a little science back into science fiction.  The game didn’t last very long–a couple of sessions, max–and the setup took longer than the number of sessions played.  There were solar systems, ships, characters . . . all of that lost to time now.  Well, not completely lost, but for the most part it’s all vanished.

The one thing I wanted to do very badly was create a model of the ship that the characters were using.  I didn’t know my modeling tools then–and I still don’t–but I was able to create a diagram of the ship, which is somewhere on my computer, I just have to find it.  Still not the same as seeing a model in three dimensions, but it was okay.

I get drawn to space all the time.  I like games that take place there, and a few of my stories end up going in that direction.  Well, not always space, but other planets and other places.  That’s where my science fiction takes me.  Even when I’m still on Earth, it’s not always the Earth we know.  I mean, you have an imagination, so why stay here when you can hop into the next dimension and have fun there?

When I wasn’t playing with software yesterday, I was thinking of a story.  Yeah, I know:  surprise!  The story is one that’s been bouncing about in my head for a while, one that takes play inside my Transporting universe, and it’s a chance to show people a little about how the government of the future use Cytheria’s and Audrey’s abilities–hey, they still have to work some times–and what they can do when they’re turned loose to go all psycho psychic on people who are trying to kill them.  It can get ugly fast.

But there’s one scene I kept paying in my head . . . they have to meet a ship which is on its way to where they are suppose to go as well, and they have to take a really small, and really fast, message sloop to catch up with the big ship.  When they finally rendezvous with their ride, they’re about 175 light years from home, and maybe 10 light years from the nearest star system.  They’re standing in the open hatch of their sloop, nothing between them and the vacuum save for their skin suits, and they are able to have a few minutes alone in the Deep Black, not losing their minds as people in another universe might, but marveling at the sight of the naked universe.

This is what I try to convey with my writing:  a sense of wonder, and how it’s viewed by my characters.  They don’t realize that their world is marvelous, because to them, it’s what they’ve always known.  But we don’t know that, and seeing the world through their eyes is, in itself, a thing of wonder to behold.

Is this where I’m going?

Maybe it is, because I need to stand and spend some time with the stars as well.


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The Fooling Around Before the Storm

After returning to The Undisclosed Location from the soul sucking hole of hell that I call a job, I had dinner, and . . . relaxed.  It was time to fool around, not do anything writing related.  Because I know what’s coming:  work, then the drive home, then dinner, and relaxing.  By the time I get on the computer, it’ll probably be about 8 PM local time, and I can finally dig into the journey that will be Harper Voyager.

I figure I’ll have my package together and polished by Saturday afternoon, so as soon as I feel comfortable that it’s ready to go, it goes.  I’ll update my Author’s Page on Facebook, then play the waiting game.  I figure, at best, I won’t hear anything until after the first of the year.  Before that probably won’t be good news.  But after the first of the year . . . yeah. I can see that happening.

Since I was resting last night, I caught up on some news, and contacted a couple of old friends that I hadn’t seen for a few weeks, because editing takes up a lot of your free time.  I listened to music, which is no different than another night, because without music, I’m only half there at the computer, and my mind needs something to help churn the waters of my imagination.  (Notice I didn’t say “chum”, because I don’t believe I have sharks in my mind.  Not yet.)

I also caught up on a few game supplements   Even though I rarely game these days, I have a ton of games on my external drive.  And there are probably a dozen supplements and core rule books that I haven’t read through.  Again, writing takes away from your free time, particularly when writing isn’t you main source of income.

I didn’t do a very in-depth read of the books; it was more like, skim, skim, skim . . . oh, there’s something interesting.  It’s a routine I’m used to, because you stop and get the stuff that jumps out at you.  I can spend three or four days going over a book this way–especially if it’s one of the books for Eclipse Phase, which have great writing, incredible amounts of information, a lot of wit, and comedy you can’t find anywhere else.  (Read about Momo von Satan and the Chewy Gristle Commentary Hour, and tell me if you don’t laugh.)

One of the games I went through last night, though . . . I need to dig into it a little more.  The author and developer gave some rather particular reasons for developing the game, and the more I thought about it, the more a review of the game seemed necessary.  And when that review comes, you’ll see it here.  It’s been a long time since I’ve written a game review:  it should be interested.

But that’s for later . . . this weekend comes the real work.  Package, edit, upload, click, hope:  such is the mantra of today’s writer.  Oh, don’t forget wait, which hasn’t changed for writers for, well, a long time.

Everyone wants to buy the next masterpiece, but they certainly take their time that your book is it.

I can wait, though.  I can wait.


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The Need For Make Believe

It may not look like it, but that’s Iceland and Hatsune Miku in the picture to the right.  Oh, sure, it looks like a couple of girls in funny, costumes, but trust me on who they are.  I know, because I spend the day with them, and I’m familiar with their back story.

Yesterday was a day spent at a local anime con, and while I wasn’t all that much in a hurry to go–mostly because I had a lot of editing to do, and being there was going to take away from that time–I went, mostly because my daughter wanted me to go.

While I walked around a bit, and mingled with the otaku crowds–and even spoke with a few old friends that I hadn’t seen in a few years–I mostly found a place to sit, plug in my computer, and chat a bit while I snapped pictures with my phone and uploaded said pictures to my Facebook page.  And I wasn’t being a creeper; the one time I snapped a picture of someone else, I asked if I could take her picture.  There is a certain decorum one should maintain when you are at a con, and people–particularly woman–are in costume.

Otherwise you should stay home and leave the people having fun alone.

There was a time when I had my own anime fandom.  I like to tell my daughter I’m “Old School,” which is a way of saying, “None of the stuff I watch has been around for decades.”  But I’ve worn by share of crazy tee shirts, and sat through my share of films that, back in the day–aka, twenty years ago–were subtitled by fans because that was the only way you could see that stuff that, at the time, wasn’t suppose to be seen outside of Japan.

The only time I’ve every gotten into costume goes back even farther:  1984, to be precise.  It was at a Doctor Who convention in Chicago, and I decided to dress up at the Forth Doctor, complete with a twenty-one foot scarf.  It’s unfortunate that no pictures of this event exist any longer–the ex-wife has them all, I believe–but somewhere there is a picture of me mugging to the camera while I stand next to a Dalek a couple of guys made in there high school auto shop.  Good times, let me tell you.

Since I don’t have that picture, I’ll have to give you something else, which is likely to be a bit frightening.  So here you go:  me as Hatsune Miku.  Kawaii!  You’re welcome.

I wish my earrings had been longer . . .

There is nothing wrong with getting up in costume–or, as the kids called it, cosplay–and having a good time.  Make believe is what I do for a part-time living, remember?  Maybe I’m not getting into a costume every time I write, but I am getting into there heads.  In a way, I have to be my characters so I can deal with them, deal with how they are suppose to be feeling, and help them figure out where they’re headed within the context of the story.

You have to get inside their skin, put on their clothes, and walk in their shoes.  When I read a story, I can tell when someone has gotten into the mind of their character, and when they are just “writing them out.”  And I’m not talking about Mary Sueing someone; I mean when you have sat and thought about what the character is suppose to do, how they are suppose to feel, knowing their dreams and aspirations, their fears and flaws.  Particularly those last two, because what is a real character if they have no fears, no flaws?  I’ll tell you who they are:  someone named Mary Sue.  Please, you may love the ground I walk upon.

Getting in touch with an inner child is important when you write.  Neil Gaiman said it best:  “Growing up is highly overrated.  Just be an author.”  Think about how much fun it was pretending you were someone else, and channel that feeling into something that brings a feeling of wonder to some place inside yourself that hasn’t been touched in a while.  Sometimes you gotta break out the imagination.  Some times you gotta remember what it was like trying to wear mom’s high heels.  As a famous doctor once said, “There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.

As for getting the mind limber and going to different places . . . Miku-chan (not me, the one at the very top) had reddish hair under that wig, and she said she wanted people to call her Pepper Potts–who, as we know, is the only thing that allows that drunk Tony Stark to do the things a normal person does–though I’m sure a fifth of Crown Royal helps.  Thinking ahead, I told her she should keep her hair color, and come to the con next year as Rescue, wearing her own powered armor suit.

If you look at the picture to the right, you can see just how fetching an Iron Pepper would look.  Who cares if it’s gonna be a lot of work to put it together, because if you show up at a con looking like that, you’re going to rock.

So let that cosplay flag fly.  Use it in your daily life, because we don’t have as much fun as we should, and if you aren’t having fun day-to-day, then what’s the point.  And let it come out and play when you feel the need to create something that’s going to entertain others–even if that “other” is only you.

And you know what?  I look good in a wig.  I don’t know about the blue hair, though.  Maybe something in a red, then I can say, “I wear ginger now . . . gingers are cool.”

Catchy line.  I should use that more often.


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Is it Gaming, or is it Storytelling?

Yesterday I mentioned that I was thinking of a character that I’d created for a role playing game, and that I’d written a few chapters around them, sort of gave them a history.  I also made a comment sort of like, “Oh, I don’t do fan fiction.”

Except for that time when I sort of did.

Allow me to explain:

Back in the dark, dim days of the early 1990′s, I used to do a lot of gaming.  In fact, I pretty much gamed non-stop from about 1989 until 2003, or there about.  Yes, there was a little bit of gaming going on from 2005 to 2010, but not like I’d done in the prior decade.

I not only gamed, but I ran them.  I was The Gamemaster, and for a few years my games of choice were MechWarrior, and Cyberpunk.  MechWarrior was your “Giant Mechanical Things You Pilot so You Can Blow Shit to Hell!” game, and we had a blast with it because people loved blowing shit up.  Save when the shit being blown up was your mech–the gigantic robot-like thing your character piloted–then it wasn’t so much fun.  For the most part, however, it was a great game, and I put in a lot of time changing the “known history” of the game, just to put a twist on the game, and so people wouldn’t be going, “Oh, I know what happens next!”

The other game was Cyberpunk.  Now, if you want to know about that, read The Sprawl Trilogy, by William Gibson, and you’ll know a little about the game.  People were cybered up, hook into The Net, and loaded down with armor, guns, and drugs–and not always in that order.  Well, my players, the armor and guns always came first, and if you weren’t careful, you might take a shotgun blast to the face–or worse, Full Auto To THE HEAD!  People were killed just going to the ATM, and not always because they were a target.

Again, there was a lot of fun to be had, and I ran one particular game for about two and a half years of weekends.  I finally brought the game to a close, ended up killing a few player characters, and gave everyone–well, almost everyone–a good resolution.

However . . .

When I was in my writer’s group, I needed something to write about.  And lo and behold:  I came up with a set of character who existed in the world laid out within the game, and its supplements.  And, once–yeah, I wrote a story for them.  Said physical story is now lost to the ages, because it ended up on a hard drive I didn’t back up, and I never recovered, but it’s still in my head, and if I ever wanted to rewrite it, I could.  If memory serves me correctly, the story was probably thirty to thirty-five thousand words long, but it could have been longer.  To be honest, I just don’t remember.

But to show you how nutty I was, I not only wrote that story, but I figured out a whole HBO-type TV series for the characters, one that was about thirteen to fifteen episodes a season, with a full eight seasons planed.  No, really, that’s how I was rolling back in the early 1990′s.  I even had titles for some of the stories:  the first one would have been, “The Great American Nightmare,” and the last three would have been based upon the titles of famous movies.

Ah, another of those crazy ideas that never went anywhere.

So let that be a lesson to you:  no matter how crazy your ideas may be, act on them.

Because what’s worse than never having them come true?

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