On the road!

Yesterday I left Seattle. All of my worldly positions are in my car and little trailer, and I am off to the wild blue yonder.

The days are filled with travel, song for good, taking video, and just enjoying some audio books and time to breath.

The nights are for editing the video I’ve gathered, and writing.

It’s very cozy inside my little trailer. Like my own small bedroom on wheels.

And frankly… I’m happy. The last month in Seattle had some very sad moments, and leaving it behind is like a weight of my chest. So here I come world, let’s do this thing!

Look for videos on youtube, and bitchute documenting my journey soon.

Writers Block and Stress

I have officially had writers block twice now.

I don’t mean the days when you don’t feel like writing, or when the words are a struggle. I mean days when I look at the screen and the words seem to swim away from me. Weeks where stringing two sentences together is such a struggle that I actively avoid even going to the computer, or finding a notepad.

Both instances of writers block were caused by the same thing: stress in my the real world.

Usually writing is a way to get away from the real world for a little while, to create new worlds, and explore them. But every once in a while the stress from the real world compounds and writing seems almost impossible.

The first time it lasted ten years as I struggled to pull myself back after a long, bad marriage. It took a while to find myself again, and once I did it took some more time to remember that passion I once had for writing. This time it’s been the last two years of… everything.

I am starting to pull myself out, and write again. I am finding that taking long walks, limiting the news, and spending time with my mom are helping.

All this to say… it’s okay if you can’t write sometimes. Sometimes things are difficult and you have to take care of yourself first. It’s okay to take your mental health seriously. In fact, you should.

This month was NaNoWriMo, in fact, and I didn’t even try this year. Too much was going on outside of writing for me to even look at NaNoWriMo.

And now it’s almost the end of November. I’m flying back out to Seattle (oh, did I tell you I’m currently in North Carolina?) I am spending thanksgiving with my children, then I am getting in my car and driving all the way to North Carolina.

This is going to be the first time I’ve driven this far on my own. I have no plans other then enjoying the drive, listening to some good books, and taking the time I need to grieve the loses I’ve had this last month.

I hope when I get back to North Carolina in a few weeks that I will be able to move on with my life and find a new start. And get back to the writing.

Short Reads for Summer Reading

I have two anthologies up for free this weekend.

I’ve removed my books from KU so this will be the last time they are free on Amazon for a while. I want to get all of the short stories up on Kobo, B&N and other websites so that they are more widely available. So, if you haven’t grabbed them on Amazon yet, here is your chance to do so.

Review: Perfectly Natural

In a world where everything is automated, including parenting, you might not be able to get back control if you give it up. Sounds familiar.

This is an unusual dystopian story. Set in a world that looks beautiful on the outside with shiny buildings, perfect smiling faces, and lovely houses…but when you pull back the set pieces you see the true ugliness underneath.

The mother and father set their child up with Future Babies, a service that allows you to connect your baby to a virtual world with a virtual representation of parents. The child is taught, nurtured, and loved by the virtual parents leaving the real parents time to go back to work.

The parallels to the real world where many parents sit their children in front of a TV or tablet to watch programming instead of interacting with them directly is clear, but there’s a darker undercurrent. Once you relinquish your time with your children and allow others to raise them you loose the ability to truly be a part of their lives. 

A very well done vignette, and well worth the watch.

It snowed in Texas

Just a small rant:
I’m in Texas. We just got power back after 16 hours without. The house was down to 48 degrees, and we had nothing in the house to eat except chicken salad sandwiches because the stove is electric. At least it was cold so none of our food in our fridge went bad. And thank whoever’s listening that we had the chicken salad we could make.

We finally got internet back today and I hopped online to see what was happening and… It’s tons of people making fun of Texas. More than half the people there voted for Trump, but the other slightly less than half… we care about them and we don’t want them to freeze to death.

What the hell is wrong with people? They hate people so much just because they voted a way you didn’t like? There have been plenty of votes, and laws that I have disagreed with over the last four decades of my life. I didn’t hate anyone for it, I just disagreed with them and tried to have a conversation with them about it.

And for the people saying how awful our government in Texas is, and it’s all their fault… Really? I was in North Dakota 24 years ago when the entire state had a black out because of an ice storm. I was in CA during a lot of their fires, and Washington during both the fires, and the massive snow storms that paralyzed the entire region. And we survived. None of them were the fault of the government any more than Katrina, or other natural disasters. That’s because it’s nature, and nature can do what she wants.

What did our state reps do in Texas that was so awful? They put too much reliance on wind power, and the system froze under the onslaught of a winter storm that hasn’t happened in recorded history that I can find. Sure, it’s snowed in Texas, but not like this.

Why do I want as little to do with the left as possible? Because of crap like this. This isn’t about politics, this is people freezing to death in their homes because nature did something we couldn’t be prepared for, because we didn’t know it would happen. A hurricane in the gulf, a blizzard in North Dakota, those are predictable. A blizzard in the heat of Texas? Not so much.

So we’re expecting more ice or snow tomorrow…and hopefully they can keep the wind turbines working. The things that are supposed to be greener, and better for us… And I am reminded, yet again, that you should never put all your eggs in one basket.

Among Us – the movie?

This 12 minute movie has everything you want in an Among Us theme. Suspense, mystery, accusations, and really good cinematography. They did a pretty good job of making it feel serious, while at the same time adding in a lot of the fighting, accusations, and back and forth from actual game play. A great watch.

Perhaps it’s the fact that they kept it down to 12 minutes that really makes it shine. They had enough time to tell the story, and even add in a bit of back story for the origin of the virus, but didn’t feel the need to bog everything down with long drawn out mellow drama. Well done, and the actors are really good at getting their emotions across in this short film.

My Favorite Reads of 2020

According to goodreads I read 33 books in 2020. I was expecting to read more while in the hospital, but honestly I was too busy just sleeping. But I still read a great many good books last year, so here are some of my favorites.

Of the books I read five were comics, and six were short stories. Several of them were audio books, too. The vast majority of them were also litRPG since I’m still enjoying that genre quite a lot.

Polyglot() has got to be my favorite from last year. Told from the point of view of a girl dropped into a game world who doesn’t know who she is, or how she got there. Only she isn’t a girl at all. She’s an NPC, and not any ordinary NPC either.

The style of story telling, the world building, magic system, and character development of Polyglot() just stuck with me. I listened to it via audio book, and they chose a great narrator for the book. I will probably listen to this one again sometime.

The other books worth noting came from five different series that I have been reading.

Axe Druid – A band of brothers fighting mobs and magic on another world.
The Crafters Dungeon – A dungeon that likes crafting more than fighting.
Bone Dungeon – A ridiculously funny dungeon made of bones.
CivCEO – Civilization meets litRPG
Awaken Online – A litRPG that follows a necromancer.

I finished Bone Dungeon this year (as the trilogy was completed this year.) I also read through all of Awaken Online and The Crafters Dungeon that is currently out. I’ll be finishing CivCEO in 2021. I haven’t decided if I’m going to go back to Axe Druid yet. It’s definitely a fun one, but I prefer the audio books because they are well read. The other books I read the book instead of listening.

I would recommend all of these series. The crafters Dungeon is great because it focuses on the crafting more than the fighting. Bone dungeon has a good sense of humor, and a bit of intrigue behind the scenes. CivCEO is completely unlike anything else I have read focusing more on commerce and trade than any other book so far. And both Awaken Online and Axe Druid are just really fun adventures.

I was gifted a year of Kindle Unlimited for Christmas … seriously, if you have a reader on your Christmas list that’s a FANTASTIC gift to give them. I plan on using it to whittle down that TBR list of mine. (and all my books are on KU too.)

Till then… happy reading.

The End of the Year

It’s the end of 2020. It’s been an… interesting…year. I might write a blog post about the world later, but right now I’m going to focus on my personal journey this year.

Usually for the end of year review I look at numbers, trends, and how I’ve improved year over year. However, 2020 has been an unusual year. It wasn’t the numbers that matters as much as pushing through even when the world was falling apart around me. So, I’m going to focus less on numbers, and more on just what I accomplished, and the setbacks I had.

But before I get to this year I have to go back to the end of 2019 for a minute.

At the end of 2019 I wrote a large chunk of the 4th book in my litRPG series. It is currently standing at 40k words, which I feel is about half finished. (I also had half of Vertigo, a side quest in the series, done.) This will put book four at double the length of the others in the series. When I saw that, and realized I had added a bunch of lore to the world, I decided I needed to go back and redo a lot of the first three books, and possibly combine them to make two books instead of three.

Because of that indecision about the series I decided to take the books down in December. I was going to rewrite them, and then finish the new books afterward. But I still wanted another book to finish while I was doing some updates to the old stuff. That meant December of last year wasn’t very productive as I was editing, traveling for the holidays (remember when we could do that?), and going through files and old books to decide the best course of action.

In January of this year I settled on book two of my Half Blood Sorceress series. It had a good foundation, and I already had an outline, so I got to work. Around January I also started paying way too much attention to the news as reports started rolling in. The more I saw in the news the more depressed I became and while I was still writing…it wasn’t as much as I should have been doing. I was worried about my family back in the Seattle area, and…well I’m sure a lot of us were obsessing about the news this year.

I kept working away getting another 5-10k words a month on Dragon’s Blood, while also putting in more time editing the old litRPG books, and a few other projects here and there. In May I decided I just needed something short to finish and went to /r/writingpromps for an idea. Impology came out of that. I wrote the bulk of it in May…and then…. June arrived.

Towards the end of May, and more in June, I started getting sick a lot. I thought it was allergies at first. I popped some allergy pills, turned on the air purifier, and still kept plugging away at the writing and editing. But during June I got sicker and sicker, sometimes sleeping an entire day. I was hungry but I couldn’t eat. My stomach was swelling. And we were getting worried.

June 30th, from my journal: I don’t feel good. My body is betraying me. Stomach swelling, unable to eat. So hungry. Hard to move or sleep. What is it? Dr Appointment tomorrow.

The doctor took an ultrasound and said “you need to go to a specialist” but didn’t tell me what it was. For June and July I was so concerned with my health. I looked like I was 8 months pregnant suddenly, so much so that people were starting to comment on it when we went shopping. I could barely eat because whatever was swelling my abdomen was putting pressure on my stomach. I had no energy because I was getting less than 1000 calories a day. So sick… I slept a lot during June just trying to function.

Even so….in June I managed to put down another 7000 words for the new Dragon’s Blood. I would lay in bed with a laptop, or my phone, and pluck just a few words at a time between sleeping.

In July we made the decision to go back to Seattle for medical care…and I’m so grateful we did. Grateful that we had family to stay with, medical insurance to pay for it, and the ability to drive there even during a pandemic. What started as me just thinking I was tired because of bad allergies, and swelling because of the food I ate….it ended up being a tumor. A very large tumor that had to be removed ASAP.

The second week of July was spent in a hotel waiting for covid tests, cancer screening, scans, and blood work. And during that time I slept…a lot. But I also managed to finish the last few paragraphs of Impology, and I had a rough draft.

On July 19th I sat in a hotel waiting for my surgery the next day and I decided I had to finish the edits for Impology and get it published before I went in. I would get up and write a few words at a time, then lay down when I got too dizzy. Then try again. It took the rest of the night but I managed to push send on KDP.

The next day Gregg dropped me off at the hospital. He wasn’t allowed to go in with me, or sit in the waiting room. He had to go back to the hotel and pack up, waiting for the doctor to call and tell him if I made it okay… and if the tumor had spread. (Thankfully it didn’t.)

I was in the waiting room trying to sit in a chair and slowly becoming more and more distressed….the tumor was 17 inches, and pressing right on my veins so sitting up for more then a few minutes made me faint. I finally got them to get me a bed. One of the nurses came back to take my vitals and when she saw me she smiled and said “Oh are you in for delivery?” She paled when I said “no, it’s a tumor.” At least I could giggle and tell her it was okay, Lumpy was being evicted, and I was all good.

The surgery went spendedly, and I woke up 25 lbs lighter. Between the tumor, and not being able to eat for a month or two, I lost 50 lbs this last summer. So there’s that.

The rest of July was all about recovery, sleeping a LOT, and just getting back on my feet. I was in the hospital for almost a week and finally able to have more than a pudding for lunch. It was amazing!

We stayed in Seattle until Aug 15th. But an amazing thing happened at the beginning of August, though. I was able to stay awake more. I could concentrate. I was in pain, because I had surgery, but I could still function. That month, even while recuperating, I did another 10k words, the bulk of it in Dragon’s Blood. And I FINISHED the first draft! I was so thrilled!

We drove back to Texas in the middle of Aug. That was an interesting drive. A lot easier than I thought it would be. I slept a lot less than I did on the way north, and we managed to stop and see my daughter in northern CA. It was, in general, a much happier trip. Gregg and I were able to just spend time, laughing and singing, and enjoying the drive this time.

The end of August and the month of September I got through the edits for Dragon’s Blood… except for the major fight scene at the end. Now…Because fight scenes do not come naturally to me they take me a while to write. I have to plan them out, then write them a bit at a time. I will often avoid them because I do not enjoy them as much as I do the rest of the story. And when I got to the edits for this scene I realized how bad the first draft was, and how much rewriting it needed. Ug.

So October I avoided writing.

Back in the hotel while waiting for surgery I started watching a lot of devlogs from indie game designers. I also tried learning a bit of code in-between writing. It was a nice break from the rest of what was happening to me. So in October when I needed a bit of a break I decided to actually try to make a game and made my first one… then…..I joined Ludum Dare.

Ludum Dare is one of the biggest game jams out there, so I decided if I was going to make a game why not make it for Ludum Dare and be courageous. It was so much fun! I dove in both feet first and finished my second game in a weekend. It was a lot of fun, and those who played it seemed to enjoy just driving the ball as fast as possible down the pathway. They also said I made a really pretty game.

That encouraged me to make another… and another. By the end of October I had done three game jams, and four games. But that also meant I didn’t write much.

November I did a lot of art for a different game, and some writing, but I really just focused on re-centering myself. I had been through a lot in 2020 and I never allowed myself to just… take it all in. So I did so then.

That brings us to December. I decided I needed to get Dragon’s Blood out no matter what, so I put my nose to the grindstone and got it out on the 18th of this month!

Since then I’ve been looking at the books I have ready to be finished to decide which one to complete:
Half Blood Sorceress 3
LitRPG 4
Vertigo (litRPG sidequest)
Eternal Tapestry Prequell

I am about 40k words into each work, and all of them are worth publishing. I think for 2021 my goal is to publish all four of them. Now to get started on that…

I’m glad 2020 is over, even if the end of a year does not solve the problems it does encourage us to try again. To make the next year better. Here’s to that.

After ask of this year I think I’ve learned that family is very important to me, and that life isn’t infinite. We could die any day from some random thing. Hiding away in your house isn’t going to save you if it’s your time.

But everyone had to do what’s right for them.

Fire meets Ice

It’s here! Dragon’s Blood is now available, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. I did add it to Kindle Unlimited so you can read it through KU if you prefer. 

If you have read Dragon’s Flame please review it on google. Reviews are the best way to help any authors you love. Telling amazon you loved a book is the only way amazon will decide to promote a book.

Prophecy By Barlight : A comedic look at self fulfilling prophecies. 
The Scarab Necklace : A tales of the crypt style short story.
Twilight Tales : Four creepy short stories. 

And until then… Keep reading