I have questions….

(Note: I started writing this a few months ago before I got sick. It had some good points about story telling so I thought I’d share it. Also… SPOILERS.)

picardI just watched the new episode of Picard and I have so many questions.

Why isn’t the Dr in the brig?

Why is everyone saying Data is Soji’s (sp?) farther, not the doctor that created her?

Does anyone else find it utter cringe to call Picard “JP”?

Why did elf boy hug Seven? That seemed so out of character. For both of them.

There were a few things I actually enjoyed. Seven joining the cube was visually awesome (though it was a fast let down since it ended up not mattering what so ever). I could even see her disconnecting since she wasn’t actually part of the collective, but it wasn’t explained well. But I find it telling that my BF, who isn’t as familiar with the borg, had an immediate reaction of “that’s not how the borg work.”

The casino planet seemed out of place, and out of touch just like the casino planet in Star Wars (can we just stop it with the casinos in sci-fi?). The whole sub plot of the child on the casino planet made no impact what so ever on the entire thing and just made Raf look like a bad mom, and a junky. I feel like they could have done something with this, like had them make up at the end since she proved her conspiracy theory was real. But instead it was just a plot point to get her on the ship and didn’t actually matter.

And that’s the way the whole thing felt. Nothing actually mattered. Dr kills someone with no consequences. All the borg die with no consequences. The droids try to kill every organic being in the universe…with no consequences.

Consequences give the story gravity. It makes it matter. And the biggest consequence could have been if Picard actually died at the end. Instead they created a deus ex machina and gave him a new body. He lived, he got rid of his old ailment, and everyone is happy.

Actions should have consequences. Without them what’s the point? Everything is retconned anyway, and nothing really happened, except now androids can dream of electric sheep again.

Anyway, if you enjoyed it… well great. Every story has an audience, so they say. This clearly wasn’t for me and I have no interest in further Star Trek. I’d rather watch Axanar.

Slowly getting there

It’s been a week since the surgery that happened at 5pm last Monday. I am feeling a lot better already but there is a long way to go.

I had a c-section twenty years ago so I was prepared for some of this, but it is worse just like my surgeon cautioned me. Mainly because it is taking much longer to heal than the c-section did. A lot more was removed, and the cut was a lot longer. I also have a huge black bruise on my outside so no idea what the inside looks like.

On the plus side…. I can eat again. My stomach is still small so I can’t feast on a giant turkey dinner, but I can have a small plate and even mostly finish it now.

I can get into and out of chairs now without help, but I can’t lay down completely in bed, and I can’t get myself out of bed without help. I’m also hobbling around the house a bit more, and as long as I don’t go too far it’s okay.

You don’t realize how much of what you do every day depends on your stomach muscles. I tried sitting at the pc today and that lasted all of five minutes before I had to get up. I don’t dare put the laptop in my lap either, it would be too much weight for my stomach. I’m pretty much stuck on small things like my phone, switch, or kindle.

Sleeping is… Interesting. It’s hard to sleep if you have to go pee every couple of hours. It’s worse on those who have to help you get out of bed every two hours because your muscles aren’t strong enough to get you up. I don’t sleep a lot anyway (my normal is 4-6 hours before all this). I could deal with it. Gregg, not so much. The poor guy isn’t suited for sleep deprivation.

So I have been sleeping for a few hours in bed, then when I have to get up I switch to a reclining chair beside the bed so that I can sleep a bit more, and if I have to get up again he doesn’t. It’s a good compromise and we both get sleep.

Gregg and his parents (who we are staying with) have made it abundantly clear that they expect me to focus on getting better, and taking care of myself. Not push too hard, and relax when I need to. I am forever grateful for how much all the of them have helped with my recovery. That doesn’t mean I magically feel okay about laying around and doing little. I can’t cook, clean, or help with dishes. I can’t even carry more than a dish or two without hurting myself. I’m still trying, of course, when I can, but in a reasonable limit.

Recovery is boring. But…. I’d rather be here then the alternative.

But now that I’m more awake, and moving a little better, it’s time to see what I can do. Like writing on my phone, or drawing some designs. Anything that gets me back to doing something productive.

Till then, I’m just recovering.

The Platform- is there a message?

It’s always interesting when you have a movie or book that is just esoteric enough that you can read different things into it depending on where you are in life, but the person who wrote it refuses to tell you what they actually meant. The Platform (on Netflix) is a movie just like that.

This Netflix original horror movie is about a man who volunteers to be locked up in a prison so he can quit smoking. In this prison you are on a floor that has a giant hole in the center. Every day a platform lowers through the hole and you have two minutes to eat whatever the people above left for you. But there are more than 200 floors, and the people above are hungry.

I almost think this is a psychological horror movie because most of the horror is dealing with the starvation, and knowing that you never have control over this fundamental need to eat every day. However, there are a lot of gory things that happen as well.

The basic premise of the story was interesting. How do you convince the people above you to eat less so that more people can eat? How do you get everyone to ration, especially since you can’t speak to everyone? Especially if many of the people locked up with you are criminals who already committed terrible crimes, and have no compunction about committing more?

If I had any complaints it might be the dialog for the film. I couldn’t tell if it was written poorly, or a translation problem. The film was done in Spanish, and we watched the English dub of it. Because it was dubbed there was, obviously, lip syncing issues. Some of the dialog sounded forced, and unnatural. It tries not to give too much commentary while giving you information on the situation. It could also be that they are trying to increase the unsettlingness of the whole situation with the way they are talking.

The whole movie seems to be a commentary on society. Those above take as much as they want and leave the crumbs for those bellow, and those at the very bottom are left with nothing. But how do you stop that chain? You can try getting everyone to ration, take only what they need, but often they just think “this is the way things are” and go along with it.

It’s an interesting thought experiment, and the movie has a brutal way of presenting it. Considering that each set of prisoners stays on a level for thirty days and there are many, MANY levels, there are probably just as many people dying from starvation as there are from suicide and murder.

Unpublishing….

So I’ve done something I didn’t think I’d do….I unpublished a series. I just went into KDP and took them all down, so if you already own them you’ll still get to keep them, but they won’t be showing up on amazon after tomorrow.

The series I took down was my litRPG series, The Hub World. I had three of them out, and I think I made the right choice.

I didn’t take them down because they were bad, but they weren’t amazing either. They were just okay. I can say this after a year of reflection, and writing five books. That’s right, I have two more books in the series that I have almost finished and they are just sitting here. Waiting.

The problem is the books I started writing aren’t the same as what I’m writing now. Or I should say my knowledge of that world isn’t the same. I know more about the mechanics, the people, the creatures, and the gods of this world. So much more of the lore. Even just knowing WHY the two main characters are there, and what they hope to accomplish, is enough to change everything about the first few books.

When I first started the series I just set out to have a little fun. I’m a gamer, so it wasn’t hard to write a story about people playing a game, and inserting some of the history of gaming into the setting. But I’m also a world builder, and I didn’t do a lot of that in the first two books. I added more in the third book but who wants to wait till the third book before they start to get invested in a world?

So…it was okay. I told a complete story, the characters had some good banter, and there was a conclusion. But the world wasn’t deep enough, and that means the books just aren’t good enough to make them worth continuing.

So here’s the plan. I know this world better, so I’m going to rewrite the first three books, finish books 4 and 5, and release them all once I’m done. If I do this right I’m hoping I can get them all done and start releasing one a month for a while.

I am finishing up The Half Blood Sorceress, book 2, right now. I want to have that out by the beginning of April. Then I start on a much needed overhaul of The Hub World Series.

I’m going to do this right. I love litRPG. I want something to be proud of.

So, look forward to Dragon’s Blood by April, and a new, better, litRPG series coming soon.

NaNoWriMo: I Cheated

Okay, cheating at a self imposed deadline is basically cheating yourself. In most cases I would say cheating yourself is a bad idea, in this case it was an accomplishment I had to complete.

Five minutes till midnight on the 30th I was 1100 words short on my NaNo project. I managed to write TEN THOUSAND words that day. That is a feat that usually takes me two weeks, and I did it in one day. When midnight came I decided to give myself an hour to finish, and declare myself a winner.

I put in my numbers, and continued writing. At 1:03 am I hit 50,011 words.

Each year when I do NaNoWriMo I set out with one goal, learn something new about my writing, or myself. Win or loose the actual challenge I have always learned something. This year was no different. This year I had no excuses to “lose” the challenge, so figuring out the secret to winning made all the difference. And it was such a simple thing, and yet so difficult, to figure out.

Time management.

I’ve had a love hate relationship with time management. For most of my life my time was dictated by a job, or school for my children or myself. Things like doctors appointments, shopping trips, and even sleep revolve around the schedule dictated by someone else. When I was free of all that I thought “now I have time to write,” but it wasn’t as easy as I thought.

There are so many things to distract us. Sometimes we get bogged down in those things, turn on the tv and sink into episode after episode of whatever we’re interested in, or loose hours in a game. It’s easy. It’s fun. It makes us happy. And when you don’t have that daily thing like a day job to set your schedule to it’s so much easier just to say “I’ll get to that later.”

So this year during NaNoWriMo I learned that I have to find some balance to my schedule. It doesn’t have to be strict, and it can change when necessary, but I had to find something that worked for me so I could prioritize the important things.

The first thing I did, which worked fantastic to get me through the end of NaNoWriMo, was download Toggl. With this app I was able to track what I was doing, for how long, and actually get a good look at how much time I was wasting. Once I logged things into the app I could click a button to easily toggle tracking for specific things. Items can be lumped in to projects so you can easily see where time is spent. For me house care includes cooking, cleaning, and taking care of things for the home. Admin includes marketing, blog posts, and research. Writing is….writing. And me time is all the gaming, reading, and everything else I do just for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last three days I only tracked 24 hours. It’s going to take some time to get used to using it, but the app is going to help me increase my productivity by allowing me to see where all my time is going. It takes away all the excuses and shows you exactly what you’re using your time for.

I want to track everything for a few weeks to get a base line of where my time goes, but once I have that base line I expect I will only track work and household related time.

Of course this has a second consequence… I had been using the excuse that I was “working up” to 2k words a day. I learned that when I am writing well I write 33 words a minute, that’s about 1k every half hour. Of course editing, and certain tough chapters, will be slower, but the more I think about it the more I realize I should be writing a whole lot more every week. I will have to see how far I can get if I work harder to put in the time.

Expect more updates as I get this time management thing under control, and hopefully that means new books as well. After all, I just wrote 50k words in one of them.

Review: Terminator Dark Fate

I loved the terminator franchise. It, like Alien, RoboCop, Star Trek and Star Wars, shaped my view of science fiction and action films. Sometimes gritty, often funny, with fantastic fight scenes and eye catching special effects.

Of course when they announced Terminator Dark Fate I watched the trailer hoping for a great new movie….and it failed to compel me. All of the things I wanted, action, special effects, a touch of humor…not there. What they did have was an all female cast. That was the important point they had to tell me in this trailer. We aren’t protecting a guy who will save the world, no, this time it’s a WOMAN. The blatant “for women” mentality behind the advertisement completely turned me off. I’m not looking for girl power, I want a good story!

But when my roommate bought us tickets I didn’t say no. The three of us went off to the theater. I hoped for a decent movie, but my expectations were not high after the trailer.

Watching the movie I have to say that the trailers did not do the film any favors. The movie is a decent enough popcorn flick. Lots of action, a few great laughs, but no real meat to the film. It was a solid okay.

A few minor spoilers beyond, but I try not to be very specific.

A few things did bother me about the movie. One, they absolutely ret-conned a large section of the franchise. This is a series that deals with time travel, so it isn’t unheard of, but the way they did it felt like they were just dismissing all the previous movies as if they didn’t matter.

In fact when the new female hero finally meets up with Sarah Conner her reaction is…. “Who are you?” She has never heard of Sara Conner, effectively overwriting the previous history.

The best part of the movie was actually Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had the funniest lines, giving them in his usual dead pan terminator style. His action sequences were some of the best. He fought off the new terminator while the person they were rescuing stood by with wide eyes watching everything happen.

On that note, let’s talk about the new cast. We have Grace, the augmented human from the future who isn’t half bad. She’s kind of a bad ass, and kicks some butt. However, I felt like we didn’t get enough time to really get to know her as anything but a body guard. She hides the reason she is helping Dani until the end, and by then I just didn’t care enough.

Then there is Dani, the person Grace was sent to save. She almost seems to go from scared little girl to inspirational leader in five seconds flat. She lets others fight her battles for her. She keeps trying to run back into danger when she knows it will kill her. Over all she wasn’t an effective character. She isn’t going to be this inspiration just because future girl says so.

When I saw the original Terminator I felt like Sara Conner was an amazing woman who dealt with the bad hand that she was given, and made the best of it. She was scared at first, but she made every effort to fight for her life, and for everyone else’s life. She didn’t keep running back into danger, or stand around staring at everyone else fighting. She ran when she needed to, and she fought when she had to. She grew into something amazing so that she could inspire her son to do the same.

Dark Fate had the same problem that a lot of modern movies seem to have. The characters don’t grow over time, it’s more of an instant thing. Something happens, or a flip switches in their head, and all of a sudden they are a new, better version of themselves, if they grow at all. It’s unrealistic, and abrasive.

The last part that I found really cringy about the entire movie was the whole “they want you for your womb, not for you” part. Yes, I get it, Conner is pissed off at the world because her life was messed up, but the whole “we want you for your womb” part was over the top and reaching. Conner was a great character because her strength inspired her son to become who he was. That was the point. Without her he would have been nothing.

Still, the cringy parts are short, and easily overlooked if you just want a nice popcorn flick to get you through the weekend. It did have some great fight scenes, and the new terminator was kind of cool with the combination metal skeleton and liquid skin. And, of course, Arnold was fantastic.

The sea is deep and full of terrors.

The first trilogy I published is set in the Sea of Tears where witches are hunted, and the kraken is feared. There is more to this world than the island nation, and I hope to revisit it some day.

This weekend you can get the first novel in this exciting trilogy for free. Witch’s Sacrifice, the first steps in this dark fantasy.

 

Also an update to Vertigo. It is available on WattpadRoyalRoad, and now WebNovel. I add a new chapter every Saturday, and there are currently five chapters up. You can follow it there, and I will occasionally send out emails to notify when several new chapters are up.
Vertigo is a side quest for The Hub world based around trading card games.

 

Next month is NaNoWriMo and I already have the fourth book of The Hub World series planned and ready to go. Currently I’m working on the second book in The Half Blood Sorceress series. I’d like to get both out soon. I’ll give you an update on that after NaNoWriMo.

Until then, keep reading!