RSS

Tag Archives: amwriting

Steel Soul – Chapter 1

Chapter 1

I couldn’t get over the smell of it. The world seemed slightly stale to me, almost like a gym locker.

I definitely was not in a gym locker. In fact it looked like an old village you might find in Holland, pre cars,, complete with tulips in every yard. The stones clicked away beneath my feet as I walked around the little clearing, and the grass at the side of the path squished a bit when I strayed from the path, just like back in the real world.

With everything looking and feeling so beautiful it seemed odd that the flowery area smelled like a gross gym locker. Shouldn’t it smell like a spring day? Maybe the head set I had couldn’t produce the correct olfactory signal. I’d have to get it checked.

On my third pass around the area another figure materialize, 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 just over their head and saw the blue letters hovering there.

Cassidaya Briefoot
Level 1 rogue 20/20 HP

She was not what I expected.

“Cas!” I called.

Startled, she turned around, and jumped back another foot. Definitely a rogue with that move.
“Who goes there?” she asked, blades ready.

“Really? I’m right here in front of you,” I snarled, shifting from one side to another. 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?” Carla asked.

“No, my names Jupiter here, remember? And you’re Cas. Who else would it be? We spawned in together.”

“How would I know? This place is huge! Someone else could have spawned in at the same time.”

“With the same name?”

She shifted from foot to foot, 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 for a moment. She would see my own stats and health, also level one, but as a fighter I had almost twice as many hit points.

“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 chocolate colored skin fairly gleamed in the sunlight, and she wore a triangular mask that covered her mouth and nose, but left her cheeks visible for blushing. There were stylized shark 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.”

“Well I’m not surprised you took dwarf. You and your obsession with beards.”

“It is pretty glorious, isn’t it?” I said, stroking the beard in question. Through my haptic gloves I could feel the rough bristly beard, and the thick braids on either side of my mouth. I couldn’t grow a beard offline, just a tiny little 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 asked, pointing at my spiked shoulder pieces.

I turned from side to side, showing off the evil looking shoulder 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. Might save me in the long run.”

“You pre-ordered?” Her avatars eyes grew wide, her mask clad chin dropping a bit in a good illusion of shock.
“The first mmorpg on an Octo-Nerve VR system? You bet your sweet blades I did.”

She rolled her eyes, turning her back on me.
“Alright, alright, I guess I can’t fault you that much,” she said. “Come on, genius, let’s go find a quest.”

Steel Soul, like any other mmorpg of the age, made it simple to find the first quest. There was an npc right next to the spawn point clad in the shiniest armor, rendered in exquisite detail, just walking back and forth on the cobblestone.

“Should we group before we go in?” Cas asked.

“Maybe,” I said, “ I’m not quite sure how this all works, I just jumped in.”

“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. Right underneath it read “Level 1 fighter, 32/32 HP”. Beneath that 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 asked, as 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.”
“You read all that, but couldn’t look up how to read avatar names?”

“It didn’t come up.”

“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.

“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. But it wasn’t giving us much to go on. Most algorithms mentioned a word, or phrase, to further the conversation. 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 said, spitting on the ground.

Well, greed was out.

“You lot are the reason the town is in ruins!” the NPC said.

I squinted above his head, looking for more information and saw his name light up in soft blue text.

Captain Thanas Lightbringer
Level 30 1000/1000 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. Probably fetching supplies, but at level one I 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 said, and 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 at the moment, and nodded.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 2, 2018 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , ,

There is something to be said for fun

I’ve been working on my second novel for The Half Blood Sorceress series for a while, and pushing through the knots I made in the plot, trying to unravel everything. It was getting to the point I just didn’t want to look at it anymore.

So I set it aside for a week and wrote something different. Here we have a graph showing my word count per week since the beginning of this year. This week I set aside my usual work and I wrote a litRPG. I’m currently about half way done with it, and loving it. I love that the words came so easily, even though I didn’t really have a plot at the beginning. But the plot really took a hold, and after talking to Bjorn about it a bit he asked a couple questions and that made the plot so much better. It became a full story instead of just a little snippet of an adventure.

So far I have written at least twice as much each day on this new story. Something about it is just fun to write. And that fun keeps me coming back to it, writing more.

I think the Half Blood Sorceress became work instead of fun once the plot got so out of hand that I was actually considering rewriting ten chapters instead of just editing it. I’m still considering rewriting, or dropping a few of the chapters, and that doesn’t seem like much fun, so of course I have put it off some more. But don’t worry, I won’t be doing that forever, just for this week.

You know that saying “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? It isn’t entirely true. Bjorn works a lot, and he loves what he does. But even when you love what you do there are some days when it isn’t as fun, and he has to slog through a bit to try and get it complete. He keeps going because eventually the work will be done and he can get back to the fun part. There is something he loves just waiting for him to complete the slog so he can get back to the good part.

It’s the same with any skill, really. Learning a language? You have to practice. Learning an instrument? Repatition isn’t fun, but you learn faster that way. Writing? Sometimes you just have to push through and get it done. Throw away, cut, rewrite, and continue.

And sometimes you need to set it aside for a bit and have some fun. Knowing when to do that is the trick. Knowing what the best course of action, and what you can finish, makes a huge difference.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 29, 2018 in Updates, Writers Block

 

Tags: , , , ,

Something New

This week has been a journey of new things. I tried doing a few things that I’ve never done before.

I finally finished Ghostly Intentions! It is out right now. You can pick it up on amazon.

Yes, I’ve published books before, but this is my first ghost story.

 

It is a ghost story with a fantasy twist. Magic, a haunted mansion, and a creature that no one should go looking for.

 

 

 

I’ve also made some enamel pins. They are adorable, and I love them. And I’m selling them. I also started designing some fabrics, and they are also available for sale. I only have three patterns up at the moment, but more will come as I do more.

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 11, 2018 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

5min- Failure

How do you judge failure?

I’ve tried so many things in my life. I went to college, but I have no degree. I started painting pictures that are half finished. I have book upon book that is only a fragment of a finished novel or short story.

But is it failure?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve failed, and Gregg has to give me a pep talk and remind me of how far I’ve come, and how much I have accomplished.

You see, there was a time when I did give up. I stopped writing, stopped painting, stopped doing almost anything creative because just existing took so much effort that I couldn’t do much of anything else. That’s the lie of depression. That’s the trap of living in an abusive relationship. You feel so worthless, and useless, that just getting out of bed and putting on clothes is difficult.

And here I am, years later, with finished books and a shelf with my name all over it…. And still I feel like a failure. That thing causing my depression may be gone, but the depression isn’t. It’s a life long companion.

What is failure? Failure is giving into that depression and letting it lie to me. But even if I fail for a day there is still tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, to try again. To get it right.

And that’s my five.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Personal Notes

 

Tags: , , , ,

Review:Cloverfield

I am going to admit that I love the Cloverfield series right here. I like how they blend different genres and styles. The first one had a found footage feel with a Godzilla origin. The second had a thriller/horror vibe with an alien invasion, and the third has a science fiction action adventure and lost in space feel. And yet all work together in the same universe. As a story creator myself, I LOVE THIS!

Now, I admit there are a lot of plot holes, and some big science aspects that really miss the mark, especially in the third one. Still, I enjoyed the actual story. I liked what they did with the main character. I like the mystery of what’s happening. And I think it fits in this…universe…?

For a non spoiler review: Don’t go into this expecting the best picture you ever saw. That’s not what this is. Don’t go into it expecting Godzilla monsters. That isn’t what this is. Don’t go into it expecting hard sci-fi with absolutely flawless science to back up what’s happening on screen. That is DEFINITELY not what this is.

What you should expect is a survival adventure on a space station slowly falling apart. And it does an okay job of being that, as well as expanding upon the universe of Cloverfield a bit. There are some good special effects, some interesting character moments, and as a survival space movie it is good.

If you’re trying to bridge the gap between Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane then you might get annoyed. Don’t watch it for that.

Now, for the spoilery stuff. You’ve been warned:

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 6, 2018 in Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

But that’s HARD!

I recently got an email from a young writer (young in her writing, I have no idea her actual age) and she described her writing to me in the same way I would describe mine. I write until I come to a hard part, jot down a little note, then skip to the next easy part to write. Anyone who is just trying to get their words down for the day has probably done this, or skipped that spot of dialog that didn’t quite work, or put down “battle scene with hero as the winner” or some such. I do this a lot for battle scenes because it takes me a while to puzzle through the moves to make it right.

The problem becomes, and this is me talking more about myself than anyone else because this is where I am in my writing… eventually you have to finish something or you have to admit this is just a project novel. Like that project car your dad had in the garage when you grew up. He kept it to tinker on, and play with, but never really got around to finishing it.

So here I am, 40, with hundreds, if not thousands of ideas in my idea journal, half written novels and partially written short stories, and only a small fraction of them finished. I keep putting aside the hard parts because… it’s HARD!

And damn right it’s hard. It’s hard because you’re writing something that is actually worth reading. Something with detail, and heart, meant to move people and get them to read. If it was easy then everyone would do it. If it was easy then there would be no value in it, but a book on a shelf has a value. People buy it and read it, then take their time to review it. If you expect people to spend time and money on your words then it should be good.

But there is good, and there is perfectionist. Finding that balancing point where you can actually finish stories, and get them out there in good order vrs tinkering on the story for years…that’s the edge that you walk.

Sometimes I do have to walk away from a story. Maybe it doesn’t work, or something isn’t quite fitting together right, so I put the story away and I work on something else. I’ve been working like this for years, and I have over a million words banked in my folders, waiting to be finished. (Here’s a picture, but this is not ALL of the stories I have started. The blue are published short stories and novels. Pink are finished, but not published. The rest plots, or started stories, but never finished.)

I have a whole shelf filled with tinker stories. I add a few words here and there, I might even binge through a few chapters on a novel, but finishing one isn’t easy. There’s always that point where it’s just hard, and I skip it.

I need to stop skipping it. I need to write down why it’s so hard and get my head back into the game. Last year was my worst word count in almost five years. That’s not acceptable, and neither is never finishing another novel.

So here’s to the hard parts! *Cheers!*

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 27, 2018 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on Star Wars the Last Jedi

Is been a few weeks since I saw the new Star Wars movie, and I had to think about it because I wasn’t sure what I thought about it at first.

On the positive side, there were some cool new creatures. Crystaline wolves, fish people, and porgs (that were flavor to the set rather than integral to the story, which I liked.)

I loved the final battle scene. The beautiful reds and whites playing off each other, and marking every move made in the field.

I really liked the development of Rey and Kilo. Tense hatred, punctuated by bitter betrayal, and a risk finding answers for both of them. I almost felt their story line was a little rushed to add in bits for other people, which disappointed me.

I even liked the bomb run. It had a very ww2 vibe to it, risking everything to stop the enemy, which is what the original SW fight scenes were based off of.

So, there was a lot to like in the movie, and even love.

But let’s get into the things I didn’t like as much. Here there will be spoilers, so you’ve been warned.

The biggest problem I had with the movie is that while we were watching I would be really into what was happening, on the edge of my seat, and then something would happen that just pulled me out of the scene and ruined it for me. I thought about it too much, stayed analyzing and trying to figure out why it didn’t fit, and it took me a while to get back into it. There weren’t a lot of those moments, but they were sometimes big moments.

In writing one of the worst things you can do is throw a reader out of the story. It becomes less likely they will pick the book up and continue reading. There were other things that pointed at bad, or sloppy writing. No foreshadowing, missing continuity, sub-plots that lacked cohesion with the main plot (casino planet?). You probably want specifics, but it’s been a few weeks since I watched it so I can’t give you a very detailed list of anything. But I can tell you why I think the purple-haired-lady was such bad writing.

In a story you have to make people care about characters. Make them hate the character, or love the character, but make them FEEL something about them. Either you see them a lot and grow accustomed to them, or they save a puppy, or kill a puppy…SOMETHING happens to make them endearing or hated by you, and then when they die you care. Either you cheer, or you’re sad. It really impacts the audience. But you have to SHOW that they are worth caring about, not tell us.

If I said “hey, that dude over there killed a puppy,” you might look at him a little sideways, but you’re probably not going to believe me. If I show you a video on youtube of the guy tying up a helpless puppy, putting it in a sack, then throwing the sack into a deep, fast moving river…you’re calling the cops more than likely. Showing has far more impact than telling ever will.

In this case they introduced a character, told us she was some great commander that did some awesome thing, then she promptly told Poe (someone we really liked) to get lost. She keeps telling him to get lost, and has no meaningful interaction until the very end. Even then she tries to destroy the one chance we, the audience, can see of the rebels survival by trying to capture Poe. Then after she’s destroyed all chance of anything good happening (from what we see) someone finally speaks up and says “oh, she had a plan.”

We spent no time with purple-haired-lady. We knew nothing about her, other than Leah said she was a good general. We did not see her kiss a kids boo-boo, rescue a puppy, or teach some young trainee to shoot. She did NOTHING except stand there and tell Poe to sit down and shut up, over and over again.

I saw a video from I Hate Everything that said we also didn’t care about Admiral Akbar, so it wouldn’t have mattered if they would have switched it out. I disagree. The fact is Admiral Akbar has been a staple meme of Star Wars culture. “It’s a trap!” is imprinted on us. We quote it, time and time again. We see his face, hear his voice in countless videos, pictures, and jokes. We knew him. No, he didn’t save a puppy either, but he did try to save the fleet, on screen, while we watched, and that resonated with us. We watched as the ships were decimated, and we knew Admiral Akbar tried to save them, but it was too late. If he had been the one on that ship to sacrifice his life than it would have meant something. Instead we got a “and Admiral Akbar is dead too” from some lady we didn’t know, or care about. They didn’t even have the decency to show him die.

You know what it felt like? What a lot of the movie felt like? The director said “how many women can we cram into this movie” and he cut out as many men as he could, making their rolls insignificant if he couldn’t out right cut them. Unless they were the bad guy. Notice that most of the fighter pilots they showed were women? Or that all of the generals were women? Poe was cast as even more of a screw up maverick than the first movie, and Fin was painted as an idiot at times. Mostly due to sloppy writing. I try to imagine this is because most of the men already died in battle and all they have left is women, but it’s still awkward that they make the male’s in the rebel group look so damn incompetent. Even Luke had become a coward, though I was glad to see he learned from it.

Lastly, the way they destroyed the ship at the end was kind of bad ass, I’ll admit. It was beautiful imagery, and looked amazing…and it left a lot of questions. Like why didn’t they sacrifice any one of the other three ships that were being destroyed before that? Oh, I can see not sacrificing a ship unless you had to, but you’re already dead. Why aren’t you doing something heroic instead of letting yourself get blown up? And how did purple-haired-lady know it would work? Was she really the first person to even think of doing it? Even so, it was a beautiful scene, and I think with a little bit more story they could have made it fit in better.

And no, I’m not talking about the casino planet. Let’s just forget that ever happened, okay?

Overall I loved the imagery, and the battle on the salt planet was beautiful. I even liked the end of Luke, it was fitting. I thought the dice on the mirror were kind of dumb, but what can you do? There was sloppy writing, and inconsistencies, and it kind of didn’t fit entirely in the Star Wars universe, but it was a really good space adventure film.

Would I watch it again? Maybe, if it was on late night cable or netflix. I’d probably even like it more the second time. If you believe the film theorist watching something repeatedly makes us like it more. I will probably even go to the theater to see the next movie in the series…and hope it has a better writer next time. Or the director stops trying to make it so female-centric. Whichever.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 23, 2018 in Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,