A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Online relationships "aren't real"...yeah, bite me

I was hanging around in one of my usual online haunts this week and something got brought up that's a real hot button issue with me. It was the subject of online relationships vs. offline relationships. One of the things that kept getting repeated was that "online relationships aren't real relationships".

I beg to differ with that opinion. I think online friends are just as real. They remember your birthday. They're there to support you when something goes wrong in your life, and to celebrate the triumphs you share as well. You can hold long conversations with these friends, though most of them are in writing rather than in voice. And with the invention of Skype and Google Talk, where you can connect through a video “phone”, you can talk to them face to face. Or you can share phone numbers privately and call each other when you need to.

The world of social media is a harsh place to be in some of the time. But others it opens up new horizons for us. For me, who ends up staying home most of the time, my online friends keep me company. I'm able to talk to people in different countries, different time zones, and feel connected. Some would say I'm isolated because I don't spend a lot of time around “real” people. (I don't understand that one. Are the friends I've made online cyborgs or androids?) I spend time talking to my roommates, spend time with my dad, stepmom, and younger sister. But I really talk to – and trust – my online friends. My best friend I've never met in person but I know I can tell her anything. She won't tell me what I want to hear. She'll tell me what she thinks. She also feels comfortable enough with me to expect the same.

Yes, I can understand the need to go offline. I do it myself. I'll go watch a movie with Himself or read a book. Sometimes we'll listen to an audiobook as we get ready for bed. I talk to people outside my online world, though I hate using the phone. I prefer having people text me. But my dad and stepmom don't text, so I willingly take their phone calls.

In the end, I don't think it matters how we make our friends. I think what matters is that we have people we can talk to, that care about us. People who accept us for who we are. People who are willing to tell us the truth. People we can trust. Those are the real friends in the world, be they right in front of you physically or in front of a keyboard miles away.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A bite from Fury

There's a blog hop for erotic romance/erotica writers called WIP It Up Wednesday. (At least I think it's only for the writers of those genres.) I thought I'd take the idea and share with you a little snippet of my sci fi story, currently under the title of Fury. It's too short to be a full novel, it comes in at just over 56k words. But I like the story and the characters, and thought I'd share a hint of them with you.

“Fiera, you can't leave,” Niereth said.
“Yes I can,” Fiera said. “You brought me because you knew I'd be able to protect you. You know I can tell which ones are predators, which are prey, and which are in betweens.” She lowered her voice. “Kuen is a predator. That man who just left is a predator. You're very obvious prey.”
“And you? You're one of those in the middle ground?” Niereth asked.
Fiera snorted. “You are an idiot,” she said. “I'm a predator, Ni. They all know it. They're just trying to figure out if I wandered into their territory temporarily, if I'm on my way back out, or if I'm after their prey.” Fiera shook her head. “Stay or go, Ni. I'm out of here.”
Niereth looked around at the party. No one seemed to be paying attention to the two young women. Fiera started towards the door. After a moment, Niereth fell in behind her. “I know better than to stay someplace I'm outclassed, Fury.”
“At least you have some sense,” Fiera said.
They didn't talk again until they were in the auto cab. “Fiera, you say you're a predator but you aren't anything like those others,” Niereth said.
I'm from the colonies, Ni. I'm not going to be like those genetic wastes. I've learned to stand up for myself, my friends, and those who don't have a voice or can't speak up for themselves,” Fiera said. “I don't play their games. I'm another kraken weed in their pool. The longer I stay the more I'm going to attract their attention. Which is something I don't want to do. I'd rather people who aren't such obvious predators or prey do the socializing.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm talking about music again

I discovered a new (to me at least) group over the weekend. It's Audiomachine. I love their music. It's instrumental with some vocals. Not a lot of lyrics, mainly just voices providing counterpoints to the actual instruments. But I think it's gorgeous music. I find it easy to write to but will stop to listen when something intrigues me. Here's one of their albums. It's the latest one, actually from this year. They have two that came out last year and three that came out in 2012. That's all I can see on Spotify. Their first public album Chronicles came out in 2012.

I've talked so many times about my love affair with music, but we're going to discuss it again. I'm getting to the point I'm bored with the same old groups I've listened to for a while now. I use Spotify and I've found some new and interesting things using their “Discover” feature. It's an algorithm that takes what you normally listen to and offers suggestions based on your listening habits. Now, Spotify has some peculiar ideas of what I'd like to listen to, but I'll at least give the sample a chance. If I like what I hear I'll go to an album and listen to a few songs. If I decide I don't like them, I go back to the “Discover” list and listen to some more.

That's how I got Audiomachine. They put it as similar to another group I found on Spotify called Nox Arcana. Himself introduced me to them, and I must say I do like most of their music. Some of it is a little creepy, but it's good. Their Legion of Shadows album is my favorite. You can find some of the music from it on YouTube.

I tend to listen to a lot of gothic/symphonic rock. A lot. It's my favorite music genre these days. Bands like Nightwish, Sonata Arcticia, Leaves Eyes, and Within Temptation are among those I listen to on a regular basis. There are others like Krypteria, Epica, and Lacuna Coil which I've only recently begun to listen to as well.

I think music is a big part of my day. When Himself is out of the house, I put on Spotify and one of my various playlists and turn it up. I work with that playing. When Himself is home, I'll either turn it off in favor of what he's watching/listening to, or more often than not, I'll plug in my earbuds and continue listening to my music at a comfortable volume.

There are days where all I want is the quiet. The sound of the box fan is enough noise for me to work by. But there are others where I need something more. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes loud, and sometimes somewhere in between. But I need that extra bit of sound to help kickstart my brain into working on things. Like now, I'm listening to Audiomachine as I write this.

I could give you the list of the bands I listen to, but that's going to be rather boring. I've shared an album of Audiomachine with you, and I've listed a few of my favorites. So how about you tell me who your favorites are? You can find all of mine on YouTube. Share with me some of yours and I'll see if I can find them there too. Who knows? We might just help each other find some new music to love.

Monday, July 28, 2014


My husband is a nice guy. We have our differences, as all married couples do, but he really is a nice guy. He's pretty laid back, unless you piss him off. And it takes a lot to piss him off usually. There are a few things that will set him off instantly though.

He's not afraid to tell you what he thinks. He's blunt, sometimes to the point of seeming rude. But he does it with a smile and people respond to that. He laughs easily and can make anyone feel that he's their friend. He enjoys being around people and can get into a conversation anywhere he is. Me being an introvert and shy, that gets awkward at times. But I'm learning to deal with it without flipping out or making him feel rushed.

My husband also has a lot of respect for people. It takes a while to earn his respect but once you have it he's fiercely loyal to you. Betray his trust, however, and it will take you a long time to earn it back. Sometimes he'll even decide you're not worth his time anymore because of this and will walk away.

Himself is also very generous. On Saturday, he went over to help a co-worker move. He's probably only known this person a little less than a month. But they needed help and Himself volunteered. He's done this for friends a lot too. Whenever someone needed him he was there.

I love him dearly. He's a good man at heart, even if he has his rough edges. He loves a good joke (and some bad ones too, but that's my opinion on them). He loves to laugh. He loves music and building things. He plays video games or practices his programming in his spare time. We go out on occasion too and it's always a good time no matter where we go.

We started dating at the end of June in 1999. We've been together ever since. Three years of dating/engagement before we were married, and we only had one major falling out that ended up in us not seeing each other for four months in there. For fifteen years I've been with this man, loving him and learning from him. For twelve of those years we've actually been married. I hope to have many more long and loving years with him.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Following on my theme of video games from yesterday, I want to talk to you about one game in particular. It's a game I've attempted from time to time, but one which Himself loves and can play for hours at a time (and has, when his insomnia is bad). That game is Minecraft.

I'm sure at least some of you have heard of this game. Here is the main website where you can get a brief rundown of what the game entails. Essentially you're hunting resources and building things. The more you build the better your game becomes.

The base game, or “vanilla” Minecraft, is very simplistic. It isn't simple. I've played vanilla and died so many times I can't count them. The monsters – called mobs – are dangerous after dark. But it's still a fun game where I get to harvest and build. They also have what they call “creative mode” where you have access to everything in the game and can experiment and design without the threat of mobs or having to go hunt for it all.

Then you have the mod packs. This can be anything from adding technology packs (redstone and circuits) to Thaumcraft (magic). They have mods where you're on the ground and ones where you're on a sky island and have to buid that up with limited resources to start with. Himself loves challenges like the skyblocks and learning the magic system.

One of the most beautiful things I've seen him build on any server was when he was doing one of his skyblocks. He spent days on his island. When he was finished, he had a huge stained glass pyramid full of water, flowers, and trees. It was very impressive. The whole island was impressive since he went from a very small space to one as large as the server would let him grow. But the beauty of the stained glass pyramid was amazing.

Once he finished it he got bored with that server and moved on to something else. While he hasn't built anything in stained glass (though he's used some for decoration), he's built some equally as impressive things.

As a video game, Minecraft can be tedious. But it teaches people resource management, spatial relations, and lets them expand their world to the limit of the game engine and their own imagination. If you're into building things, I recommend getting Minecraft. You can look up all sorts of videos on YouTube about it, including tutorials on how to build things.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Video gamers FTW

Very few people seem to understand the value of video games. I never really played them growing up. We didn't have any of the consoles, and the only games we played were solitaire and spider solitaire. I would occasionally play in the arcade, but even that was discouraged as a waste of money.

Then I went to Job Corps. I discovered what a PlayStation was (the first ones – the massive gray one). I really only played a little, though I made some momentous comments about them. Like my first experience with the rumble pack (vibrating controller). I exclaimed, “It's a vibrator!” I couldn't figure out why my boyfriend (now my husband) and the RA in the dorm were laughing. It was only later, when I wasn't as innocent (let's not talk about how long that innocence lasted, okay?), that I realized why they thought it was so funny.

One thing I did notice though, as I started playing more video games. My depression was less pronounced. I could escape and play without hurting anyone. I could lose myself for a few hours in a world that was different from my own, in a way that reading and writing couldn't give me.

My favorite video games are the Final Fantasy series from VII to XII, skipping XI because, well, it was stupid and the Sims games all the way up to Sims 3 and its expansion packs. (I played Sims for a while, got Sims 2, and then when it came out I won Sims 3 in a contest.) As I don't have a console anymore (and I don't really miss it that much), I focus on the Sims. I need to get it on Himself's computer so I can play it, but that's another thing altogether. Sims 3 gave me the freedom to introduce myself to a world where I could see what it was like to be rich (cheat codes FTW!) and have lots of cats.

I was recently reading some things online when I came across this article from Time Magazine. It talks about how a specially crafted video game helped depressed teenagers deal with their depression. I thought it was an amazing study. Here's another one from the BBC on how video games can help with depression. And this one from the Huffington Post gives a much broader view of what video games are good for.

I get so tired of the naysayers of video games, saying they'll lead to violence and drug use. I've seen other reports out there where the need for violence, the desire to commit suicide, and general aggression are lessened by playing video games. They help a person put those emotions to use in a safe way and helps them relax. Where's the harm in that?

Now there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Some people become so obsessed with video games that they lose all touch with reality. But those people are few and far between. We hear so much about them because it goes to prove the negative point. But more and more we're hearing about the benefits of video games as well.

What are your views on video games? Do you play any? What's your favorite?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Sometimes I feel like Himself and I have gone back to the beginning of our relationship again. We're relearning each other's limits, personalities, and how the other feels about things. Four years ago something happened that caused a huge rift in our lives and it's taken its toll on us. We've been married for 12 years and have had to go back to the start to work things out. There's been a lot of pain shared between us and we've finally gotten to the point where things are starting to balance out again.

A marriage is a partnership, one that has to be an even balance between the two roles for it to work. Notice I didn't say equal. There are going to be things that one does better than the other. What needs to be figured out is how to work within those limits. A newlywed couple starts out with a preset notion of how things are going to be. As a relationship matures and grows, that balance is going to have to be restructured again and again as new knowledge and skills are gained.

A long term relationship like what my parents had before my mom died (45 years, I think), a lot of compromises had to have been reached. Learning to compromise is one of the hardest things in the world, especially when both partners think they are the ones in the right. There will be arguments, harsh words, hurt feelings. But the whole point of the thing is to keep going and not give up. It's when people give up on talking to each other that things can fall apart.

I'm not trying to tell anyone how to run their relationships. I'm definitely the last person you want to ask, given the kind of examples of marriages/families I've had in my life. I'm fighting to sort my own marriage out right now. I can share what I've noticed through trial, tribulation, and pure observation. Your experiences are different from mine, so you may see something different that I don't. We are, after all, the sum of our experiences.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Orphaned" characters and ideas

My angel, my light, I bid you good night.”

I've had this line kicking around in my head for months. I've been looking for a home for it since it obviously belongs in a story somewhere. Except I haven't had much luck with finding one because it doesn't fit in with anything so far. Yet I don't want to leave it out in the cold. So I'm tucking it into the back of my mind to rest there until I find a place for it.

I end up with a lot of these “orphans”; lines that don't seem to have a place, bits of dialogue or the introduction to a character who has no home. A lot of these end up in a file on my hard drive that I back up frequently so I don't lose any of them. They're there for when I need them.

Sometimes I have a problem with creating too many characters for a story, and when I go back to edit these characters get cut. The scenes with them in them get cut, and many times those scenes will also end up in a file, on the chance that they will be needed again in a later story or a whole new book. I've converted characters between genres and added them to stories as needed.

I find that this is all part of my creative process, and an important one at that. My imagination rarely ever stops working, even when I'm not focusing on anything in particular. What I see, hear, and read ends up in my head and I mix a lot of those things together to create something new. I don't always have places for these new things, so I have to put them somewhere until I'm ready for them.

Take one of my sci fi stories, Fury. That actually started out as a random drivel I was going to post on my blog as a kind of serial. I didn't know much about Fury and her friends. In fact, I wrote a few scenes and decided I wasn't sure I liked it. So I tabled it. I kept the characters around, figuring I'd use them somewhere else. Then I had a dream that sparked something in my subconscious and those characters came out to play. I watched some episodes of Babylon 5, Firefly, and Serenity. I read a few sci fi stories and some interesting articles on technological advances. Fury came back to me and demanded another chance at being in the spotlight. The result was a (currently) 56k story dealing with a colonist and her struggles against the core worlds of her solar system. I think the story is coming out well, and I'm glad I listened when those bits and pieces I collected came together to form a new voice.

For all the writers out there, do you sometimes find “orphans” crop up in your plotting/writing? Do you find you have characters that need homes? Or am I alone and weird in this? ;)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Environmental issues

The past two weeks have been interesting, and not in a good way. Our AC broke, our water pump decided to die, and my cat vanished. All of the above have been resolved finally, to our relief. But the one thing I noticed while all of these were going on was how it affected my writing.

I found that when it was blisteringly hot, as in even the box fans weren't keeping me cool (we got up to 106 F one day), I couldn't think. I just wanted to lay there and do nothing. I was having problems reading, let alone trying to get something written.

Now that things are mostly back to normal, I'm finding it easier to connect with life again. I realized that my environment plays a huge role in what I do and how I do things. The heat turned me sluggish. The water pump breaking sent me into an environment not my own. Losing my cat pulled a vital component out of my environment, which made things more difficult. (Reidar is home and fine. He just took a 4 day vacation. And we still don't know how he got where he ended up.)

I know I have environmental cues for when I'm out of the house that will trigger problems. Crowds of people can set me off. Loud noises bother me and I get anxious. Heat drains me and unless I find AC relatively soon after getting hot I get tired/irritable and am not a pleasant person to be around.

Our environment is a large part, I think, in how we react to things. If we're in our comfort zones it's easier for us to respond to stimuli. If something affects those comfort zones, people have a tendency to react in a negative fashion. The more uncomfortable a person becomes, the worse things get for them and possibly those around them.

What about you? How does your environment affect you? Is there something that will give you trouble every time?

Monday, July 14, 2014


For all of you who missed me, I took a brief break from my blog to think of blog posts. I've got some ideas, but unfortunately those are going to have to wait. We've lost our ac and now our water isn't working (pump issues and our landlord/roommate isn't around to fix them), so we're going to go stay with my dad where I will most likely be offline for a while. It may only be a few days, it may be a week or more. We don't know.

I'll see you when I get back online!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Description - what's too much, too little, just enough

For all of my writer readers, you may have realized I have a love affair with Kristen Lamb's blog. Seriously, you need to follow her blog and on Facebook. I don't remember if she has a Twitter account or not, but if she does you need to follow her there too. She's an amazing woman. Her Facebook feed is full of her more personal life. It lets you get to know the woman. Her blog is full of writing advice and lets you get to know the author/editor.

Today's post is about description. This is something I have trouble with. Am I giving too much? Am I giving too little? What's my middle ground? Kristen has some great advice for us and I thought I'd share the highlights.

She talks about avoiding description like you'd give to a police sketch artist. As she puts it, “...a good writer is a wordsmith and we should be able to describe characters better than someone who's been on the wrong end of a purse snatching.” Anyone can do this kind of description. It gives you an idea of what someone or something looks like, but it doesn't tell you anything about the person/place. There's no emotional attachment.

The info dump description. I am so guilty of that one. I give every little detail of the setting and the appearance of the people. We don't need to give everything to them. We do need to leave stuff up to imagination.

Kristen gives us an idea of what makes GOOD description. “The common denominator I see in great description is it delves beyond the surface and evokes some kind of feeling.” I know that my favorite books have descriptions that make me feel as if I'm there, makes me feel like I'm living there, working there, breathing there. It makes me feel something, so I can see where she's coming from here. She has some great examples of various types of descriptions on her blog.

Then she gets into weather/setting/information without being an info dump. She gives a brilliant example of what she's talking about. The example shows how we get a description of the weather and city, but it becomes more visceral, more of an experience rather than mere description. It's brought to us through the character's backstory and feelings.

One point she brings up is the amount is still subjective. What you want to do is what you should do, within reason. If it's part of your voice, use it. Just be aware that not all readers are going to like your level of description.

Seriously, go read her blog post. Check out her examples. And while you're there, check out some of her other blog posts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Why can't people be charged with a crime for this?

Okay, dusting off the soapbox again. I've found something else to rant about. Be prepared.

How is this acceptable? Not the assault, but the fact that people recorded the incident on their phones but did NOTHING to stop it, to call the cops, or in any way do something to help the victim. All they were interested in was getting it uploaded to social media. (Beware watching the video. It's brutal.)

I wasn't really aware of this other than in passing until Himself actually pulled up an article on it. Apparently the attacker is now in jail in Salem under a $35,000 full cash bond. I can't find the article he was looking at that talks about this. She ended up turning herself in.

Himself made the comment of “I don't want to live on the planet anymore”. Honestly, I can't disagree with him on that point. What the hell are people thinking, watching a young woman get beaten – to death for all they know at the start – and all they do is pull out their camera phones and start recording? How is that even allowable in our society?

Where did the compassion go? I can understand not wanting to get involved in the fight, but surely there were a few strong young men there who could have helped pull her off. Maybe someone could have called the cops instead of leaving the woman to find her own way to get help. What about the danger the woman's two year old was in. I'm so sick to my stomach about this that I don't even know what to say.

I think what happened to the victim was horrendous. I think what the onlookers did was despicable. I can honestly say I wouldn't have gone in to rescue the woman. I'm not that strong and I'm a little afraid of physical violence. But I would have called 911. I wouldn't have stood there with my phone out recording the whole thing. Why do young people – and probably some not so young people – this this is right?

Something else I found in one of the articles I read made the comment that the Salem police were contemplating criminal charges against the onlookers but the subject was dropped by the prosecutors. Why? Aren't they as guilty of a crime as the woman's attacker? I think they'd be accused of being accessories to it because they did nothing to help.

I'm not being very coherent here other than saying “why is this a thing” and “why is this happening”, so I'm going to step off the soapbox now. But seriously, this just pissed me off and made me lose all faith in humanity.