A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, October 31, 2014

Why I love Halloween

Everyone and their cousin is doing a post about Halloween. I thought about doing one too, but there's something more important than horror films, haunted houses, and trick or treating that happens on the 31st for me.

It's my twelfth wedding anniversary.

Himself and I have been together for fifteen years, married for twelve. Twelve years ago, we got dressed up in nice clothes (I bought a beige lace dress that I wore for several years after) and went to the courthouse. We had a couple friends and my family there. We said our vows, kissed, and that was that. We were married.

I've been asked how we met. It's a funny story, at least to us. I think I've shared this before, but I don't remember. So I'm sharing it again.

I was twenty two with no job prospects, no college education, and no marketable skills outside working in a nursing home or fast food/retail. Not what you want when you're that age. One of my older sisters suggested I try Job Corps. I was under the cut off age by two years and I could learn more about office work by taking their clerical program. So I went to the office and signed up. My only request? To get me out of Idaho. I was also going through some problems in my personal life and I needed to get away from everyone.

There was some discussion, but they finally found me one in Sedro-Woolley, WA that had an open spot in the clerical program. So, a few days after I got the call, my parents and one of my friends saw me off at the Greyhound station. Job Corps paid for my bus ticket. I don't remember how long the bus ride was, but I know we got into the actual Job Corps center just after midnight. I was exhausted and only half paid attention to what was being said around me. Which was fine, because it all got repeated in Orientation anyhow.

Our first introduction to life in Job Corps was an Orientation class that was to last for two weeks. Now, there was a lot of free time on the center. It's all job training during regular business hours. But that left us with our evenings free. I went looking for something to do. I found a group playing D&D (2nd edition) and they let me come in to play.

It had been ten years since I played D&D. I'd been playing Arduin for most of my teenage and adult life. So I needed someone to help me build my character. Enter Himself. He was eighteen years old and supremely confident in his knowledge. So he helped me build my character. He was an arrogant asshole who gave me crap because he thought I should know more than I did. I decided I didn't like him and since he wasn't a regular with the group, I didn't see much of him beyond him helping me with my character building.

Well, near the end of the two weeks of Orientation, the culinary arts students came in to talk about the banquet they were throwing for us. It was a test for them and a way for us to see one of the trades in action. Guess who was the coordinator for our banquet? Yup, you guessed it. It was Himself.

I was surprised by his professionalism and the fact that he seemed to genuinely care about getting things correct for all of us. There were two vegetarians, one who didn't drink soda, and me who couldn't have caffeine at the time because of the meds I was on. He made notes of that and said things would be ready for us.

We had our banquet and the culinary students did exactly what we hoped they would. At the end of the banquet, Himself and his team of culinary students came in to clean up. I did something I still don't know why I did it: I gave Himself a hug and thanked him for the banquet. He was shocked. I was shocked. And my friend started laughing.

We headed back to the Orientation classroom where we hung out until it was time for the rest of the center to go to lunch. We were allowed to wander around and hang out with people. Well, I found Himself in a gazebo smoking. I stopped and gave him another hug, much to the amusement of my friend since I'd told her I found him to be an asshole. Then he asked me if I was seeing anyone. I told him no. He asked me on a date. I said yes.

That yes was the beginning of a relationship that has had it's up and downs. We've had fights. We've gone through some pretty hard times. But we're still together. And that's what makes Halloween so special to me. My husband.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The curse approaches

A sorceress stops a curse set by her husband, while feeling her own spreading out towards a sleeping village.

The power bled from her as if from an open wound. Her fear acted as a blade, digging into her, making her weak as the very core of her being was sacrificed to stop the curse. She stumbled as her feet found every rock in the path. The chill grew behind her. She couldn't risk a glance over her shoulder without the chance of falling. 

She searched the village in front of her, stealing energy from all living things. Plants withered and livestock died. Children woke in the night screaming as terrible nightmares filled their minds. Men woke and reached for weapons. Women shrieked and flung themselves out of bed, some to flee and some to protect their children.

She reached the end of the path and looked over her shoulder. Ice slowly made its way down the path she'd just run. Rocks cracked beneath the cold. She could feel the tiny points of life vanishing as plants and animals were killed as it followed it's inexorable path. She stopped and reached out once again. She seized on every life she found. Taking only a fraction of the power released by them, she sent her magic to stop the curse. The gods smiled on her this time for the ice stopped at the edge of the village.

She could feel her own spell from the castle making its way down now too. A different curse would soon be upon the villagers. This one she couldn't stop. She didn't want to. There were some things that she couldn't forgive.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Yet another post about NaNoWriMo

Unless you've been living in a state of blissful forgetfulness, I'm sure you're all aware that it's almost time for NaNoWriMo. You can find out more about it here. 50K in 30 days. It sound scary but it really isn't. It's a good way to kickstart that novel you've been kicking around in your head. Or you can be a NaNo Rebel and finish an already started manuscript. You can't use anything you've previously written in your word count of course, but it's still possible. (Yes I know I did a post on NaNo on the 3rd. Bear with me for the repeat.)

Now, I've been doing this since 2003. I haven't won every year. I've lost five times due to various circumstances. A couple of them, life jumped up and bit me on the ass. The others I didn't like what I was working on and lost interest in it. I tried to write a different story, counting the words on the original idea I had as part of my word count (which I could get away with since I wrote it in November). It didn't help. I floundered and just couldn't get into it.

I've read some fantastic posts regarding NaNo over the month. Liana Brooks has been doing NaNo boot camps on her blog every Tuesday and Thursday. One of my favorite blogs, done by Kristen Lamb, has a few good posts on it as well for NaNo. And just for general information about writing. Both of these ladies are awesome.

What am I doing to prepare for NaNo? Good question. I'm working out character backgrounds, setting descriptions, and who the antagonist is since I still don't know who my main characters are fighting against. I had an idea, but I didn't like it so now I'm scrambling to figure something else out. But all of this is as much of a plan I'm doing. I'm a pantser, not a plotter.

What about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What's your story going to be about? Are you planning or pantsing?

Friday, October 24, 2014

A musical Friday

I love music. Not all music. Not even most music. What I love is a niche market with me branching out into other stuff from time to time. I'm beginning to like some of the strange music Himself listens to. I don't even know what to call it. But some of it sounds good to me. Mostly I can't stand it because of high pitched tones that hurt my ears. But it's still fun.

Today, in lieu of a regular post, I thought I'd share some of my favorite songs with you. I hope you enjoy.

Catfight - Technoboy

Augen Auf - Oomph

Iron - Within Temptation

Shatter Me - Lindsey Stirling & Lizzy Hale

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The beginning of Lisa's adventure

Lisa's twin brother - who she thought was her cousin all her life - has been kidnapped by a dark power. The world she envisioned for her novels turned out to be real, and it is to this world she must go to save him.

They waited until the moon was up before slipping out of the house. Lisa directed her mom to one of the many lakes around the city. “I'm scared, mom,” Lisa said.
I know you are,” Sarah said. “So am I. But you have to do this.”
Lisa nodded. She got out of the car and walked towards the lake. She heard the sirens. Three police cars screeched to a halt. Lisa continued walking into the lake. Water splashed against her calves. “Lisa Harper, come out of the lake,” an officer yelled.
Lisa heard it. The faint growl under his voice, the hint of darkness in his words. She ignored him and continued heading for the middle of the lake. “Get in there and grab her,” someone else said.
The bottom dropped out from under her. She surfaced long enough to take a deep breath before submerging herself again. She swam out to the middle and more towards the floor of the lake. Her lungs screamed and she fought the panic. She wanted to surface. She needed air. But she ignored it. She couldn't hold her breath any more. She let the breath out and drew in a mouthful of water. She choked but felt something growing deep inside her. She took another breath. Her vision blurred and she felt her body floating. A third breath and she lost consciousness.
Who is she?” The voice was accented. Someone peeled open one of her eyes.
Lisa pulled back and sat up. A hand steadied her. She stared around at people who could have come out of her novels. “Tell me, young one, what is your name?” an ancient woman said with a gentle smile.
Lisa.” She coughed.
How did you get here? You're not from Harvelan,” a tall man said.

 “No, I'm from Jasperville,” Lisa said. “It's a long story. I'm not even sure I understand it all. I just know that my twin brother was taken by the Nykran and my mom told me to run for it. She said I had to get here if I wanted to keep the darkness from overwhelming my world.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why do I write? Why do you write?

I was talking to my stepmom last week and the conversation turned to my writing. She's not that interested in fantasy or science fiction, but she tries to be supportive. She asked me how my work was going. We hadn't talked about it for a while so I told her the project we'd discussed the last time we talked about it had a finished first draft and I was working on a Snow White retelling that I was having fun with.

Then she asked me when I thought I'd actually get paid for my writing. I told her I was still waiting to hear back from some e-zines about the short stories I'd submitted to them. Then I said depending on if I self-pubbed, went to a small press, or got a publishing contract from the Big 5, it could be up to two years before it saw print and I saw some money from the novels. Not to mention I have to finish revising them and find someone to read through and point out my mistakes.

She said it sounded like a lot of work for little return. I told her it could seem that way but for me writing was more than just for money. When she asked me why I write, I had an answer for her that she didn't understand.

This is what I told her: I write because I have stories to tell.

I don't mind the thought of getting paid for it. I've been leaning towards submitting my writing to different places in the hopes that my stories are well received by others. And I'd be lying if I didn't say my goal is to publish. But it's not the money that drives me. It's the need to tell as many people as possible the stories kicking around in my head.

And I have a lot of stories.

So, here's a question for all of you. Why do you write?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gwillym's desperate hope

Lord Gwillym was married just the day before. Now he risks losing his daughter, who has been the most precious thing in his life since his wife died when Dairine was very young. In his desperation, he pleads with his daughter's playmates for help.
 Gwillym went down into the heart of the forest. He knelt before a short stone altar grown over with vines and flowers. He and Dairine were the only two who even knew this place existed. He clasped his hands in front of him.
“It is not normal for the father of the gifted one to come to us,” a voice said. He looked up and what once looked to be nothing more than a gnarled root turned over. A pair of black eyes peered at him through bushy eyebrows. It didn't take long for a group of beings to surround him.
“I've come to ask for your help,” Gwillym said.
“Where is she?” an ethereal spirit asked.
“Dying,” Gwillym said. “She burns too hot and her body is too weak.”
“When did this start?” the gnarled man asked.
“It must have come on her last night,” Gwillym said. “We were holding a ceremony my new wife insisted we perform. It is where a sprinkle of water from the important people is spread on the newlyweds. It came to Dairine's turn. She couldn't even hold the dipper. She dropped it and then ran off. We didn't find her until this morning, when the servants came upon her.”
“There is a darkness in your house that we cannot penetrate,” the ethereal voice said. “None of us dare step foot in there now. It would destroy us, and through us your daughter.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

What playing Sims 3 does for me

I know I've talked about video games before, but I'm going to revisit the subject again. Mostly because I've started playing Sims 3 again. I don't have all the expansion or stuff packs, and I don't have all of the ones I do own installed right now. But I have the base game plus the expansions I love on the computer and I'm playing the game pretty much daily now, even if it's only for an hour or two.

I've discovered that I like playing Sims 3 because I can make life be as good or as bad as I want it to be. Some days I want a glimpse of the life I hope to lead one day. So I give my sims everything they want, build them lovely houses, give them multiple pets (okay, multiple cats...though I do have one family who has a bird, three turtles, and four cats instead of just cats), give them good jobs, and just generally give them a good life.

Then there's the times when I feel like they deserve to live as cheaply as we have to. I've got a married couple, no children yet, who are working low wage jobs just to make ends meet. They live in a small house with cheap furniture and struggle to pay the bills even though they live as simply as possible. Every now and then I'll cheat and give them an extra thousand simoleons (sim cash) to help them get a leg up so they can get promotions. Sims 3 has three age levels for adults: Young Adult, Adult, and Elder. My poor couple are halfway to adult and still within the first two rungs on their jobs. My wealthy family has one who's reached the top of their chosen career, with the second not far behind. Both of them are barely halfway through the Young Adult phase.

What's that mean? Honestly, it's a game of dream vs. reality. I love playing both of them because they both give me hope. The game where everyone has money, has a good job, and has as much food for themselves and their pets that they want – that they can even afford to support all those pets as well – is fun in it gives me a glimpse of what my future might be. The one where they're poor and live paycheck to paycheck is good also because it gives me hope because even though they struggle they're very much in love with each other and I don't let it stop them from getting things done. Those little bonuses of $1000 they get once in a while is like a bonus on a check. They use it to fix something or buy something they need. (Books aren't cheap on Sims 3. And you need books to increase skills.) I love Sims 3 for just that reason: I can glimpse several different lives all at the click of a button.

Do you have any video games that help you out? What are they? How do they help you?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Aya hates reporters

This is a little snippet from the very beginning of the story I restarted this weekend. It's a little snapshot into Aya's personality. Of course, she's far more complex than can be shown in a few paragraphs, but I thought this was a fun way to introduce you to her.

“Hey boss, we've got two nuisances coming in,” Junior said. Though he was the co-owner of Lacey's, he preferred to act like he was just an employee.
“Who?” Aya asked.
“That reporter and a werewolf,” Junior said. “He's already pulling that attempt at alpha male shit at me.”
“Brendon told them to quit that,” Aya said.
“I don't think it's one of the pack,” Junior said. “He doesn't smell right and I don't recognize him.”
“Great, a stray,” Aya said. She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Which one's more important?”
“The reporter. He's got a camera.” Junior's voice held a hint of a growl. “He's pointing it at Randy, who conveniently had to run into the back. Everyone else is hightailing it too. Coop, Alex, and I are the only ones left.”
“I'm on my way,” Aya said. She got up and walked out into the main area.
“Ms. Winters,” the reporter said, holding his camera in one hand. He extended the other. “I'm so glad to see you. I really think we could do a great piece on this place, with it's history and all. If you and your staff would stand for pictures, we'd show what a great little family you've got here.”
Aya snorted. Family was a good term for the ragtag bundle of misfits that worked for her. She stared at the reporter's hand until he dropped it. “Mr. Kelley, I've told you politely several times what my opinion on doing a piece on Lacey's is. Let me be more blunt this time. No, you're not going to get our pictures. No, I refuse to give you access to our records. No, I do not want an article published anywhere on our establishment. If you even so much as try, I'll have a lawyer up your ass so fast you'll need an enema to get him out.”

Monday, October 6, 2014

One aspect of writer's block

I started a new story some time ago, but it stalled out when I was only 8k into it. No matter what I did, I couldn't bring myself to continue working on it. So it went into my story ideas folder, along with the notes I'd sketched out, to sit until I felt like working on it again.

I dusted it off over the weekend. I could see where I went wrong, but I wasn't sure how to fix it. I went back to the characters notes and realized I hadn't fleshed them out enough. I went through and did that. Once I was finished, the way to move the story forward finally came to me. It took erasing a good chunk of that, a little over 5k to be precise, to get it back to where I could make the story flow again. But it was worth it because I started getting somewhere instead of sitting and staring at the cursor blinking.

What happened to me initially with the story is, to me at least, a form of writer's block. I have a story I want to tell, but sometimes telling it gets in the way of the story itself. I wanted to keep it set to a series of events that I was planning for. I built it up too fast and then found it too difficult to keep going. How was I going to top some of the tension I'd already created moving forward? I wasn't sure I could, so it stalled out as I tried to figure out where to go.

Now I'm using minor bursts of tension to raise the stakes but not so much that I can't get around it when it comes time for the climax. Getting to that point too early in the book makes it more difficult to handle the coming scenes. Every character has a story, and some of them are subplots for the main one. I'm letting a little bit of those stories, not every detail but a hint of them, come out here in the beginning. This is giving me a lot more to work with than I initially had.

This is part of where being a pantser can be difficult at times. Which is why I may write the story by the seat of my pants, but I at least try to have a few conversations with my characters before I start just to get a sense of them and their stories.

What do you do? Do you write out notes for every little detail? Do you just wing it completely? Or are you somewhere in between?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Talking NaNo

It's October. October 3rd to be precise. October is a good month. We're finally getting into our fall weather here. Pumpkin spice everything is coming out. I've got a month to prep for NaNoWriMo. And I got married on Halloween twelve years ago.

I'm not going into my anniversary post yet. That's being saved for the end of the month. What I mostly want to talk about now is NaNoWriMo. This year I'm doing something different than I normally do. I'm taking time to make notes about the world, the environment, and the characters. Furthermore, it's not in my comfortable realm of fantasy. It's not in the world I've taken years of painstaking effort to create. It's going to be science fiction.

I've given it the designation of dystopian cyberpunk. Because that's kind of what it is. The world is covered by mega cities now and life takes place online as well as in the real world. In fact, if you can afford it, being online is a lot better than being offline. I'm not going to give too much away, though I'm tempted to do character sketches at some point this month just to help me cement the idea of the characters in my mind.

This one is going to be tricky because there are three main characters. I'm either going to have to write it 3rd omniscient so I can head hop as needed. Or I'm going to have to split chapters between the three of them. I haven't decided yet. I've been using 3rd limited for most of my stories for years. So far, there's only been one story I wrote in first person. I can't seem to find it now. It was a rather interesting short story. But I don't use other POVs. Which means I'm going to be trying something new as well as writing a story out of my regular comfort zone. This should be fun.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Do any of my followers not know what that is? If you don't, go here and take a look. For those of you who are doing this with me this year, what genre are you writing? Are you going to totally pants it or are you planning a little ahead of time?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Play time is cut short

Athena and Justin have a friendly rivalry. Something new is encroaching on their territory.

The day wore on. Athena dealt with a few more customers, but the shop was quieter than usual. Athena felt a strange energy coming from the front of her shop. She left the counter and walked over to the door. She began swearing. There was a spell cast on her door that would drive off the sensitive. Most of her customers were among the more unusual members of society.
It took Athena fifteen minutes to counter it. A presence nearby moved closer to the shop. Athena kept her powers active but returned to the counter. It didn't take long for someone to walk through her door.
The emanations from this person were overwhelming. Athena brought up her defenses and released her hold on her own energy. “I was hoping for a challenge,” the person said. The voice was such that Athena couldn't tell if it was a man or woman. “I can see I'm going to be disappointed.”
“Don't count on it,” Athena said. “I take it you're thinking to take control of this city?”
“It almost isn't worth the effort,” the being said. “But I must have a new power base and this will do well enough for me.”
“Don't think we'll let you take over our home without a fight,” Athena said.
The entity smiled. What Athena could see of its face looked human but she couldn't be sure. “You can try.” It turned and walked out of her shop.
Athena waited a few minutes before checking her door. There were no further spells cast on it. She went over and picked up her phone. She hit speed dial on a number she only called in times of emergency. “Athena, I'm surprised,” Justin said. “You're not usually calling me.”
“We have a problem, something far larger than our petty squabbles,” Athena said. “I'm calling a meeting of the Circle tonight.”
“I'll be there,” Justin said. “Does it have to do with the spell put on your shop earlier?”
“That's part of it,” Athena said.
“We may have our differences but even I wouldn't do something so low as to cause you that kind of grief,” Justin said.

 “I know,” Athena said. “You and I have a friendly rivalry. This is not that.”