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Is this what my life can be?
This week I am on vacation. A real, honest to god vacation where I left all my worries behind. We are out of the state, and I am able to do what I want to do entirely for a week.
So what have I been doing? A lot of reading. A lot of writing. A whole lot of brain storming.
We’ve taken walks in the country, gone swimming in the ocean, watching the sun set over the sea, and really just enjoyed being us. No stress. No obligations. Just…relaxing.
After years of stress filled “Omg what do I do now” days, this is a lovely change of pace. And we get to do it with our family that we love. It’s kind of amazing.
But is this what my life will be come the end of February when I get to be a full time writer? Some of it, definitely. Days reading and writing, researching and exploring my craft most definitely. There will be stress because I will have to focus on a thing I have avoided for so long…marketing. I’m going to have to learn it, and figure out how to sell my stuff, or find someone else who can hold my hand through the process. One way or another, it has to be done.
I have six months to figure it out, or it’s back to the day job circuit. Then I save up enough to take another six months off, maybe. Something.
Because of this time Steel Heart will be out this Friday. I have been hard at work finishing the last few chapters, and now I can finally put it out there this weekend!
Steel Line is already well on it’s way, as is the fourth book in the series. Oh yes, I am going all in on this one!
Also be on the lookout for some more free short stories. I hope to publish a couple more next month. Since we are moving in February all I will be able to finish will be the short stories, but I do plan to have something out.
2019 is looking to be an amazing time. Thank you to everyone who is following me on this journey. You make this all possible@
If you missed it, YouTube did their annual rewind this year. It has, at this moment, 2.4 million likes, and 14 million dislikes. 14 million! More than any other video out there.
There have been a few people trying to explain why the video is so universally hated, and they make some good points. Marques Brownlee, who is in the rewind, mentions the ever expanding push for YouTube to be brand friendly. Evan Edinger explored why past rewinds were awesome (celebrating amazing music from the year, and community accomplishments) and the break that happens in 2016 where more main stream media starts infiltrating it. Many of the comments ask where Pewdiepie is, the most subscribed youtuber since 2013. Paul brothers, also controversial, okay, but no Pewdiepie. Many people say they didn’t recognize most of the people in it. Many sight the fact that celebrities who have nothing to do with YouTube were included, and the increasing push for diversity and social justice that is starting to feel more like preaching. Mainly the problem was “this isn’t authentic YouTube”.
Other Youtubers responded by making their own rewinds, or year in reviews. Some were remixes of the original, some made fun of it, some cut together their own interpretation entirely.
And then Pewdiepie dropped his own Youtube Rewind (but actually good.) At the moment it has 4.6 million thumbs up, and only 29k thumbs down. A huge improvement over the original. Many of those reviewing it nod along to the music, comment on all the memes they know and love, and even get a sad smile when showing remembrances of some of those who passed on this year, like Stan Lee and Stephan Karl Stefansson.
I find it interesting that some people commented on the Youtube official rewind cramming in too much stuff, and that is why it wasn’t as successful, and yet the Pewdiepie video goes through so many memes and people that I lost count. But I knew them. I knew the content, the people mentioned, the memes, and I could remember at least 80% of them from past videos. And they worked well with the music, flowing together, and becoming part of it in most of the video. A few places seemed a bit forced, but because I had already invested so much into it I already loved it, and those few places didn’t matter.
I have to admit I haven’t always been a Pewdiepie fan. I thought his humor was kind of crass, and he made his mark by being loud and obnoxious. My daughter (a teen) loved his let’s plays, but even then I would watch some of them with her and enjoy it. Now that he is focusing more on what makes him happy, like memes, reddit, and just watching funny vidios, I enjoy his content even more. Plus the inclusion of Pew News, and even the book club, make me feel like Pewdiepie, or rather Felix, has grown up.
But now I feel that Pewdiepie’s rewind, and the whole T-seires war in general, is about far more than a few memes, or even liking one specific youtuber. This is about community. About being part of something bigger. And I think the end of the video exemplifies that the most.
This isn’t just about YouTube appealing to advertisers, or clearing out the less desirable. This is about corporations using their influence to take over what we built. Because we built Youtube. We made the videos, learned to edit, made music, animated, and joined in on conversations around the world. We made it what it is today….and corporations are trying to take it. They tried by suing early YouTube, to make it take responsibility for those uploading movies in order to shut it down. They tried to influence law makers to make SOPA and PIPA. They tried to using advertisers and controversies to shut things down. And for the longest time they have been going after the biggest channel on YouTube to use him for clicks and try to cut him down at the same time.
We know the day is coming when music and media companies have the most viewers on YouTube. This isn’t the first industry to see these changes, and it won’t be the last. But this fight with T-seiries is our way of saying we aren’t going to give up quite that easily.
I hope someday there is competition with PayPal, Patreon, and Youtube. I hope someday freedom to speak isn’t just a catch phrase, it’s a reality because no one has the power to shut us down just because they don’t like what we’re saying. I hope some day we really, truly, own the work we do. Right now that isn’t very possible because we distribute the work we create on someone else’s network, be it music, books, or videos. We don’t have a way of getting that information to other people because someone else owns all the servers and the connection points, and someone else can threaten to shut off the access either by cutting off the people buying the product (or taking away the products after they sold it to you), or by cutting off income to the creator.
Until then we’ll keep fighting the good fight, trying to keep the power in the hands of the people, and trying to keep our community strong and vibrant. Keep it growing. Because we never know what tomorrow will hold.
Bjorn got an amazing opportunity that we couldn’t pass up, so we’re moving.
Okay, not so bad…Except that we’ve been in this apartment for ten years. You accumulate a lot of stuff in ten years. But still, doable.
Oh, and we’re moving to Texas. From Seattle. 2300 miles! DRIVING!!!!
So, as you can imagine, the first thing I’m doing is throwing away as much stuff as I can because where is no possibility that we can take everything we have. Ten years of stuff is a lot, especially when one of the people works with leather and has a huge stock of leather here.
I have a few months to go through everything and sort it into keep, throw, donate, sell. This weekend I went through my books and marked three bins of them to take to half price books. I also started the big task of going through my craft room and tossing or giving away a very large part of them. It isn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be. I’ve been needing to purge my craft area for a very long time, and I’m actually happy to start getting rid of a lot of it. I mostly work in markers on paper when I do artwork so having all of this…STUFF… gets a little distracting after a while.
Still, this is going to take some time. I’m glad I have some notice so I don’t have to get rid of everything right away, but I also wonder if that’s a good idea. Kind of light ripping off a band-aid, the longer you take the more it hurts. If I had to get rid of it right this minute I would probably just go through and pick out the few things that meant the most to me and donate the rest. We’re doing it a little backwards, but I’m okay with that. I have a little more time to figure out what I really really want, and how much we can take.
On that note, I’ll be putting up some more listings on Etsy. If I can sell a few things I don’t have to move them, but also I really don’t want to send things I made by hand off to the thrift store. You’ll find paintings, hand made beads, and leather keychains. All sorts of interesting things. I’ll also be sticking the shop in vacation mode in a couple months because we’ll be moving…so grab them while you can. I’m also going to put a few of my craft supplies up there just because I hope someone will want to use them.
But stay tuned….I might have some more announcements and information in the next months.
I am not winning NaNoWriMo this year. I guess I didn’t even really enter it. This is the first time in years that I haven’t even tried to do NaNoWriMo.
Even though I am not doing NaNo this year I’m still being productive. I’m finishing the last little bit of book two, and three for my litRPG series. I also took the first week of November to finish edits on book one, and publish it. It’s precisely because I’m doing all the edits right now that I am not participating. Edits take longer, and make fewer words,but are still incredibly important to get a book out. And I want book two or before Christmas!
But maybe I can have my own NaNo in January or something. We will see. First: Let’s get these books out!
Steel Soul is out for pre-order! Release date is the 16th. Here is the first chapter:
I couldn’t get over the smell of it. The world seemed slightly stale to me, like a gym locker.
I definitely was not in a gym locker. In fact, it looked like an old Dutch village, before cars took over the world. The little white houses with bare timbers were complete with tulips in every yard. Just beyond the town to the north lay a thick brooding forest right out of a Grimm’s fairy tale.
I marveled at the sounds of my shoes on the cobblestones, or the squish of the grass when I strayed from the path. Though tiny, with just a single road and a few scattered houses, the town itself felt charming. If I hadn’t put on the NerveGear I would have suspected I was back in the real world. Except for the smell.
Shouldn’t it smell like a spring day? Maybe the headset couldn’t produce the correct olfactory signal, I’d have to get it checked.
On my third pass around the area, another figure materialized, their back to me. The faint glow of immunity shimmered over them as it did with anyone just entering the game in a safe zone.
I squinted to read the blue letters hovering just over their head.
Level 1 rogue 18/18 HP
She was not exactly what I expected, but far be it from me to choose someone else’s avatar for them.
“Cas!” I called.
Startled, she turned around, and jumped back another foot, her hands raised to defend herself. Definitely a rogue with that move.
“Who goes there?” she asked, daggers ready.
“Really? Like you can’t see me,” I said. The armor was lighter than I thought it would be, and the spiked shoulders only impinged on my vision a little. “Cas, it’s me.”
“Freddy?” Cas asked.
“No real names,” I admonished her. “I’m Jupiter here, remember? And you’re Cas. Who else would it be? Come on, we spawned in together.”
“How would I know?” She stood, looking around us with wide eyes. “This place is huge! Someone else could have spawned in at the same time.”
“With the same name?”
She leaned to the side putting a hand on her hip, the dusky skin of her avatar shimmering in the sunlight. Her face actually blushed. Bloody hell, but the graphics were good.
“I didn’t think to look at your avatar name,” she said, sheepishly.
“Ah, well just focus just above my head a bit. You’ll see it there.”
Her eyes moved to the spot above my head and unfocused. She would see my own stats and health, also level one, but as a fighter I had almost twice as many hit points.
Level 1 fighter 29/29 HP
“Now stop fooling around,” I said, giving her another smile. “We’re in spawn, we can’t hurt each other here, anyway.”
She relaxed, and I took a moment to look over her avatar. Willowy, with long black hair streaked with blue dye. Her skin glowed in the sunlight, and she wore a triangular mask that covered her mouth and nose, but left her cheeks visible. There were stylized shark’s teeth emblazoned across the mask.
“I thought for sure you’d be an elf or something,” I said.
“Humans get more perks available at higher levels.”
“Already min-maxing? I should have known.”
“The NerveGear might be new but leveling in an RPG is definitely not. I can’t say I’m surprised you took dwarf, though.” She shook her head at me. “You and your obsession with beards.”
All too true. We grew up on role playing games together, on and offline. It was the NerveGear’s ability to link users together in a realistic virtual world that really set it apart from all other virtual reality gaming devices. Previous systems had lower resolution, and the sounds weren’t as crisp. You could not produce the same immersion on the old VR that I now felt inside Yevelia. The NerveGear had a direct connection to the users brain waves, using REM sleep to produce the realistic shared dream. As far as our minds were concerned, we were there. No other VR system could compete.
“It is pretty glorious, isn’t it?” I stroked the beard in question. All the information was being transmitted into my brain back in my bed, but I could feel the rough, bristly hairs and the thick braids on either side of my mouth. I couldn’t grow a beard in real life, just tiny scraggly stubble that looked more like a rabid bear rug than a beard, thanks to my mixed genetics. But here I could be anything, so of course I went with the beard.
“What are those?” She pointed at my shoulder pieces.
I turned from side to side, showing off the evil-looking spikes.
“Like them? They’re Dadron’s Blessed Shoulders, a pre-order perk. It doesn’t look like much, and it has crap for armor, but it levels with you so you never have to get another pair of shoulders again. The added armor might be the thing that keeps me from dying in a battle.”
“You pre-ordered?” Her avatar’s eyes grew wide, her chin dropping a bit in a good illusion of shock.
“The first mmorpg on an NerveGear Virtual Reality system? You bet your sweet blades I did.”
“But it’s been out for almost six months. Why didn’t you play until now?”
I hesitated, like I’d been caught red-handed. “I…um…I didn’t have a NerveGear.”
“You pre-ordered the game but not the headset?”
“Come on, Cas. I’m a student on basic income. I don’t have a job like you do. You know I had to save for it.”
She had the decency to look a little ashamed of herself. She knew my living situation. Automation hadn’t taken her livelihood away from her yet, but she had been to the slums where those living off subsidies, like me, lived. She knew what basic income got you in the city. A sardine had more room than I did.
My mother told me about life before everything was run by automation. You could get a job at a fast food restaurant or mall shop, something menial that even the unskilled could do. Then it became more cost effective to buy machines to do all of the work rather than pay for employees. Starvation lead to high crime and riots. The government came to the rescue with basic income alternatives.
It worked as well as any government program—oversight, corruption, implementation problems. Some survived, some barely got by.
It was the entertainment industry that kept everyone from rioting again. There was enough food, but cheap entertainment through books, movies, and games, kept the population from becoming hostile. Who cared where you lived if you could pop into a virtual world and have a mansion?
Cas turned her back on me to save us both from the conversation.
“Alright, alright,” she said, “I guess I can’t fault you for being excited for Yevelia, it does look pretty awesome. Come on, let’s go find a quest.”
Yevelia, like any other massive multiplayer online role playing game (mmorpg) of the age, made it simple to find the first quest. There was a non-player character (NPC) right next to the spawn point clad in the shiniest armor I had ever seen.
Every lacy scrawl on his breast piece and embroidered edges of his sleeves were rendered in exquisite detail. And yet all he did was walk back and forth on the cobblestone, his stride stiff and precise. It almost seemed excessive.
“Should we group before we go in?” Cas asked.
“Sure,” I said, “if you know the keys. I’m not quite sure how this all works, I just jumped in.”
“You pre-ordered but you didn’t learn the keys?”
“I may have been caught up in the lore of Yevelia.” I lied. The truth was I couldn’t look at the game for the longest time. Every time I did, I felt like an idiot for spending so much money on something I couldn’t even play. The first step into the world had been like a vindication for me. I could finally experience the thing I had been dreaming of for months. But I wasn’t about to admit that to anyone else.
“You call up the menu with a cupped hand moving from the left, like you’re pulling something,” she said, miming the action.
I tried it and a floating menu appeared. My name, Jupiter08, was written in neat blue script at the top.
Level 1 fighter, 29/29 HP
Strength – 6
Constitution – 3
Agility – 5
Endurance – 4
Intelligence – 3
Luck – 4
Resistance – none
Beneath my stats were several menus. Inventory, skills, friends, options, and a few others.
There was a soft ring in my ear, and an orange marker appeared next to friends. I tapped it and saw a request from Cas at the top.
“You’ve got this all figured out already?” I tapped the accept button.
“Only the basic controls. I read a few things, watched a let’s-play last night, and got the gist of it all. A lot of the basic controls are similar to any other NerveGear game, but this will be my first RPG in it.”
“You did all that, but couldn’t look up how to read avatar names?”
“Oh stop, I knew how, I just didn’t think of it.”
“Well, you’re elected group leader, then, oh wise one. I’ll follow your lead.”
She rolled her eyes at me again. Oddly it felt just like we were back on the college campus. She held the same simmering disdain for my witty humor.
“Who goes there?” asked the NPC as we walked up to him. Cas gave me a look as if to say “see, he gets it” before answering.
“Cassidaya Briefoot,” she said with a half bow.
“Jupiter Rocklore,” I said, bowing.
“And why are you here?” he asked.
I blinked at this. It was an NPC, a computer algorithm searching for keywords. We just had to say the right keywords to get it to give us the quest. Usually they had keywords buried in dialog for you to repeat, but this walking tank wasn’t giving us much to go on. What would this NPC react to? Greed? Altruism? An NPC of little words made finding the quest a little tougher.
“We’re adventurers seeking fame and fortune,” I said with a smile.
“Adventurers? Pah!” He spat on the ground.
Well, greed was out.
“You lot are the reason the town is in ruins!” The captain glared at us, and I could feel the anger rolling off of him.
I squinted above his head, looking for more information and saw his name light up in soft blue text.
Captain Thanas Lightbringer
Level 30 Guardian 850/850 hp
Captain of the once glorious elven village, Trelisa, now one of the sole survivors tasked with restoration.
Rebuilding a ravaged city didn’t seem like much of a quest. It probably involved fetching supplies, but at level one we couldn’t be that picky.
“Adventurers like us?” Cas asked. “What happened?”
Captain Thanas looked back over his shoulder at a tall building at the end of the plaza. It was the only three-story building in the village, and there was foul green smoke coming out of all the windows.
“I’m sure you can smell it.” He spat in our direction again before walking away from the plaza.
“Well, I think we know where to go,” I said.
Immediately a card popped up in front of me.
Quest Granted: Noxious Smells. Find out what caused the green fog in the Trelisa mayor’s office.
“The mayor’s office, huh?” Cas said. “I was wondering why it smelled like gym socks around here.”
“I thought I had a broken olfactory device.”
“Doesn’t look like it. Shall we go?”
I tightened my grip on my hand ax, the only weapon I had, and nodded.