Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Years Round Up and Resolutions

It being December 30th, it seems a good time to get my crap in order for going into the New Year. Now, I'm a firm believer that starting something new, or trying to change something about yourself, just because it is the new year is a planned destined to fail. However, if you want to change something for yourself, or for some other powerful reason, the New Year can be a great time to do it for both the symbolism and the extra energy that is going on around this time.

For me, I only have one major resolution that I want to get done this next year. It is something I have been working on for years, and with every year I am getting better and closer at it. The resolution? I want to write every day.

I'm not setting a word count on that. I've tried before. I tried with 2k a day, then 1k a day, then 500 words a day, and in all cases all that does is build up and make it harder to get back to work because the amount of missed words is so big. However, when partway through the year I switched to just trying to write everyday I noticed something. I started producing a lot more.

Two years ago I wanted to write four novels in the year. I failed laughably at it. Right now, I've got three separate manuscripts that are just a few thousand words shy of being finished first drafts. I am hoping to have two of them finished before the end of January, but the Holidays have kind of slowed things down.

This is a change I know I can make. Momentum is a wonderful thing, and the freedom to be able to know I at least wrote "something" will help get through some of the harshest days.

So, how about you? What do you want out of yourself for the next year?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

End of the Year

We're fast approaching the End of the Year, so how are folks doing? Bogged down with stress? Remarkably well?

This year I feel so strange about it. I'm aware it is December 10th, but I keep feeling like we have yet to reach Thanksgiving. It is a strange feeling, especially considering how crap I know it is.

I'm hoping to have a few more posts here before the new year. Recapping my year, asking about yours, and plans for the new year at the very least. For now though, how is December treating you?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

End of November

Today marks the 30th of November. I'm back home after a few days away with family and a very dead, but very tasty, turkey. How did November treat you? For me, on personal projects at least, November was productive. I made it across the 50k line for NaNoWriMo, and while I still have a lot of story to write I'm also a huge chunk through it. I have similar project on my other story where I believe I'm somewhere in the 60ks and going from there.

Video game wise November was a month for finishing things. I managed to wrap up Alien Isolation, Shadow of Mordor, and Assassin's Creed: Rogue over the last couple of weeks - all while maintaining my League/World of Tanks habit and beginning a Dragon Age: Inquisition problem. I'm excited for this though. When I'm in the mood to finish things it tends to hit everything around me, and the fact that I'm going out of my way to fight my inclination to drift to new shinies for things as trivial as games bodes well for more serious projects (writing!)

Beyond that, December is here now. A month of panic and charging through the stores to grab Christmas gifts for the family and close friends. Thankfully, as real life ramps up work tends to ramp down so that's nice. If things go well for me I should be finishing both first drafts I currently have going in December. Maybe I'll even get the other rough draft I have sitting in the 70ks finished as well. That'd be a hell of an end to the year, wouldn't it?

But that's it. I hope November was as good to you as it was to me at the very least!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Update 2 - The Slushy Middle

I've lost some traction on my story. Yesterday was the first day I didn't write at least the 1.666k that NaNo requires. I'm not sure how it happened. I was off from work the whole day, but somewhere between being a bit sick, minecrafting with my housemate, and trying out Assassin's Creed Rogue the whole day was lost. Beyond that though, my progress has slowed.

On day 3 I was over double the word count that was required for that point, sitting pretty at 10k+ words. Today, November 12th, I'm sitting just shy of 30k. I am still way ahead of where I should be, but it has slowed.

So what happened? Part of it has been doing other stuff. Days of hard writing made my brain want other things. Other things are enticing. But what actually happened is I hit the middle of the story. Even for a 90k work, 30k is in the middle of the story. Even worse it can be where things hit the hardest. Stuff starts happening slower. Things stop beginning, but it's not yet time for them to end. It's the mucky middle that happens after the shine of new story wears off and you're left alone with a word count, a pile of words you don't want to abandon, and the self loathing you can only experience during creation.

Now I'm not giving up. I have a plan, and going forward it should work. I know what needs to happen, new characters are about to be introduced, new aspects of the story (it's almost like my plan accounted for hitting the muck right here) and the police are getting closer to finding out my MC is responsible for not one but two dead bodies.

I just need to get home and write it.

How is your story going?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update #1 - A Hopeful Start

As of this writing it is the beginning of the day on November 5th and my NaNo word count - after 4 days of writing - sits at just over 15,000 words. This has me well on track for a 100k NaNo, which isn't the plan but awesome none the less.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tomorrow NaNoWriMo Begins

I'm bad at keeping this blog updated. I'll fix that later. For now I want to make sure that those who do read this blog are aware that NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow.

If you don't know, NaNoWriMo is an international event where people try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Now a real novel is like 70k to 100k words, but NaNo isn't about making a finished product. It's about getting a zero or very rough first draft done so you have something to work with.

Personally I've done NaNoWriMo four times so far. I've "won" three times and failed once. This year I'm intending to give it another whirl and starting a new story idea at midnight tonight.

Over the course of the month I hope to use this blog for weekly updates on my progress, and my thoughts. I'll include thoughts on some of the pep talks that go out or different parts of writing the novel.

I hope you'll join me. It's a fun event.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Star Wars: Rebels

I watched the premiere of Star Wars Rebels last night, and have to say that I really liked it. I was worried when I read that the show was going to be more cartoony than Clone Wars (which, admittedly, got really dark at times) but if the tone they set in the pilot is what they hope to maintain then I'll be a happy watcher for as long as the show runs.

The plot of the show aside, it is a lot of the little things in the show that I really liked. Some of which was for "social justice" reasons, and others for more "Star Wars done right" reasons.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

First Week At University

It's 7AM on a Saturday and I'm up because I'm not able to sleep much more. The past week has been a little crazy due to being move in week, or "First Week" as it's called at the University. Essentially it boils down to being about 1/2 to 1/3 of the Semester's workload boiled down into a week in IT. That's not actually accurate for "all work" but for "client work" and "opening new help requests" it is.

How do I know? Because I did the numbers recently. Over your average semester the Help Center will open up anywhere from 2500 to 3500 new help requests. Over your average first week (based on data from the past 4 years) we open on average 1100 to 1400 new Help Requests. So just over half to just under a third of the help requests for the Fall semester are opened in one week. The best part is, that number is lower than the amount of people we actually help since a lot of times there simply isn't time to make a help request for everyone you're helping.

Now, the rest of the semester will - by default - be more spreadout and quietter. There is still a lot of work to do. All the non-client work, work that happens without help requests, and any looking into those 1500 help requests that has to happen still will all fill the time, but after that weak everyone in my department is quite tired.

Looking forward I have hope. Hope that with the ramp up to the new Semester, and first week itself, out of the way that there will be time for other things.

How was your week?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Off The Backburner

I have an obsessive personality. I tend to do things in bursts. A project, a game, a story, a world, or a theme will grab me and I will spend anywhere from a few hours to a few months to - once or twice - a few years doing very little but that. It is a quality that can let me hear a song countless times and not dislike it. It also helps me get a lot done in bursts. Where it isn't so good is when a task takes a long time to complete. Suffice to say, I have a lot of projects on back burners.

The thing is though, very few of those projects are actually abandoned. Some of them got back burnered because a new obsession took over. Most of them though stalled for some reason - some problem - and that is what let another obsession take over. Which means that at any time, when something else hits a problem, one of them might pop back into view complete with a solution to whatever the problem was.

That happened for me recently. A project I'm working on had a snag. I'm not even sure what it was, but something wasn't working. My mind went back to an old project, I found it, opened it, and what do you know it's good. I'm picking it back up, taking it off the back burner and onto one of the main burners. We're going to get this going, and then we're going to pretty it up and see what it is. In the meantime, the other project can rest a bit while my mind mulls over what exactly is wrong with it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Perfect Is The Enemy of Done But When Is Good Enough Good Enough?

In any creative endeavor, or even professional endeavor where you have to polish a project or proposal, there is this feeling that you can do just a little bit more to make it better. Just another pass to clean up the lines. A quick edit to make sure the flow is right. Another look over to make sure you have no typos in your proposal for how to train people in the use of the Spell Check feature of a word processor.

Just another, a little, a bit, more, more, more, more. The thing is, once you've fallen into that trap you're never going to be finished. It could always be better with just a bit more work, and it will never be perfect, which is what your brain is trying to do. In that regard while you are going for perfection you will never be done, which is a fancy way of saying that for something to be done it can't be perfect.

But that leaves the question of how good is good enough? "Good enough" as a phrase kind of has a negative connotation to it. We don't say something is "good enough" when it is actually good, we say it when we want to justify something. "It's good enough considering..." or "It's good enough for a first effort" or even "It's good enough to be a blog post."

Somewhere in the middle is where your project needs to be.

If you're writing, the middle is not "after the first draft." I mean, not unless you want it to look hideous and be full of mistakes you didn't notice.

The same is true for any art, and even simple things like e-mails. Find the right spot in the middle, but remember it can't be perfect and at some point it does have to be good enough.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Growing Up

Probably the most surreal experience I've been going through lately is that the people around me, people I consider to be in my age range, are starting to have kids by choice in their endeavor to start or grow their family. Now, objectively that doesn't sound weird. I was born in the 80s, it's now the 20-teens, and that means that even if I were born in 1990 I'd be 24 now, which is about wen that starts to happen (for those just turning 24, it starts with marriage and goes from there usually. Sometimes in reverse though.)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Giving Up Videogames?

I apologize for the lack of posts the past couple of weeks. I'd love to say I've been busy, except that what I've been busy with hasn't really been stuff that couldn't be set aside. It would be more fair to say that I've been distracted rather than busy, and while I'm not ashamed of that it is something that has to be dealt with.

Like many people I have goals and aspirations. One of those is keeping this blog and Reality Refracted up and running. It doesn't take much. This blog only really needs a post a week. Reality Refracted needs three posts a week but about a topic I've proven I can talk endlessly about for four years or so now. Beyond that though I have other things I want to do and videogames are less and less a part of that.

Don't get me wrong, I still love games. I love the power they have. I love the narratives they can tell. But the thing of working 8-9 hours a day, going home, making dinner, and then videogames for the rest of the night just feels a bit shallow right now. Whats more is that, on my own, I'm not even sure I enjoy the game for the game itself.

For example, on Tuesday this week after dinner I was on my computer. My friend who I normally play League with wasn't around so I logged in to the apartment Minecraft server. I did a few things, but no one else was on the server and I grew bored fairly quickly. In the end I logged out, put on a movie ,and did other stuff for the evening. It was kind of awesome and very productive.

My thought is that with the exception of gaming as a social exercise that it doesn't hold the same sway it once did. Maybe that is just a temporary mood, but I can't help but think that making it a conscious choice could clear the way for other things. And yet, at the same time, that conscious choice could just drive me back to old habits if out of spite and nothing else.

It's a strange feeling. Kind of like growing up. Still, I did love the feeling of productivity I had that night. I guess time will tell where I stand but forward progress on dreams and aspirations can't be a bad thing.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wedding Bells

Tomorrow is the big day. Not for me, but for two close friends. At noon they're being married by a Justice of the Peace, and then there will be a small party, and then who knows. I expect I'll be tired after. The wedding is set to take place on top of a local mountain and as a big person that doesn't walk enough that's bound to be tiring alone. Then there will be the wedding.

Still, it should be a good day. The forecast is for clear skies and not too hot a temperature. Hopefully the humidity will stay low, but that remains to be seen.

But yeah, weddings..what are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Made My Bed Today

I made my bed today. Bragging about it here on the blog sounds kind of silly, but it is true. I don't usually make my bed. I do it so rarely that the bed will get made maybe only half the time that the sheets and pillow cases get changed for cleaning. I'll also make the bed when I'm giving my room a thorough cleaning like I do every couple months. Beyond that though I rarely make my bed. I never saw the point in it to be honest with you. I mean, the next evening I'm just going to get back into the bed, right? No one is going to see my bed either, so it's not like presentation matters.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's a Busy Busy June....

Without me realizing it the month of June has managed to fill up with all sorts of special events for various friends and family members. I've got birthdays, weddings, and family holidays all coming up. Beyond that, work is picking up this month as we launch this year's New Student Orientation program to welcome the incoming freshman for the Fall 2014 semester.

I've got family birthdays on the 10th, 15th, 25th, and 29th. My sister's anniversary is this month. Father's day is this month. Finally, a pair of good friends, and old friends for me, are getting married.

It should be fun. I'm looking forward to most of it in all honesty, but it is also going to be busy and leave me with not much in the way of weekends.

Hopefully it will work out. Still, I'm curious. How does your June look?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


This is a call for help. No, really! Please! Save me! No? Well then come join me in commercial doom.

Last week one of my housemates bought and brought home the starter pack for the "new" Skylanders game. His reasoning was noble. A good friend of his had recently left the company he currently works for and is now an employee of Vicarious Visions, the creator and developer of the Skylander line of toys and games. He wanted to support his friend's company, keep them in business as it was, and in doing so he may have doomed our entire apartment.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Climbing The Ladder

I have an obsessive personality. By that I mean I tend to obsess over something for a few weeks to months, consuming everything I can about it, and then I move on to the next thing. It's pretty rare for any one thing to keep my attention longer than that, and when it happens it usually means there is something special to it. Writing is one thing that I keep coming back to, but even in that my obsessed -> dismissed nature shows in how I change projects. Why say all this? Because I want you to understand what it means to me when I say I have been an avid League of Legends player for almost three years now.

I'm not sure what it is about the game. It could be the simple to understand premise with the depth of all the characters. It could just be it is the game that friends I have play, and play regularly. Something about League though has kept me coming back since before they started their second competitive season and while I maybe don't play the same raw number of games I once did, it is still the game I play the most and keep coming back to.

So much so that I've even tried my hand at the ranked ladder. My ranking isn't anything special. I'm Silver 3 currently, which means I'm just around the 50% marker for skill in the community. I am average. Half of the players are better than me. Half of the players are worse than me. Not a horrible spot to be in, but not the best either. The thing is though that I've been climbing the ladder lately. In season 2 I dropped as low as Bronze 5 (the lowest possible ranking) and barely made it back to Silver 5 by the end. In Season 3 I never climbed higher than Silver 3 and spent most of my time in Silver 5. I also didn't play ranked as much. Now, in Season 4, I've been bouncing around Silver 4 and Silver 5 until recently I started going a bit more seriously and climbed from the very bottom of Silver 5 to the very top of Silver 3.

Where before a failed promotion series would see me drop rank on a long losing streak until I hit the bottom of Silver 5, I've actually been staying near the top of Silver 3. I've failed the promos to Silver 2 twice now, most recently last night, but I'm still within one win of trying again, and I have a good feeling about this next shot.

So what changed? Mostly my reason and approach to playing. I'm not playing to climb the ladder - though I am taking joy in doing so. Rather, I am playing to see how far up the ladder I can go. I am playing to improve myself as a player. Losses mean less to me now because they're chances to learn. Wins are awesome, but it's just a step along the way.

It is an approach not unlike those shown by other characters aspiring to imrpove themselves. Ryu from street fighter isn't looking to be the best so much as he is looking to challenge himself, and overcome the challenge, of increasingly difficult foes. Maybe someday I'll get to the top. For now though, just climbing is a joy in and of itself. Even with the occasional slide back down.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Callisto - The Monsters Made By The Hero Are The Scariest

I've been sick the past couple of days, and as we all know that means Netflix marathons while I sit huddled up in a blanket and wishing whatever misery was besetting me at that moment would go away. You can of course imagine my delight when I saw that Xena: The Warrior Princess in as near to its entirety as I can tell is on Netflix. Course, this wassomething I apparently had found out a while ago and forgotten about because my queue was set some twenty episodes into the first season already.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Where Do You Get Your Ideas And Why Saving One Does No One Any Favors

Two common questions I see around a lot of creative spaces - well, one question and one statement - and I figured it might be worth it to answer them both to get my own bearings on them, how they work, and just to ground myself in my own work.

Friday, May 2, 2014

On Writing Premises

Here I go resetting the blog as I don't want it to just be about writing and one of the first posts is...about writing. This isn't about me though so much as it is about us. I was doing some surfing online recently and I came across this page. You should check it out, it is basically tips for how to write a premise which is a good place to begin if you want to write a story.

Now I know that everyone's writing method is different, but I'm always exploring new and different ways to plan for stories to see what works well. This way, while it may just be a beginning point to think about, is kind of neat though as it gives you the whole narrative arc in one or two sentences. From that you can build and add side plots and other things as you need.

So, the link again is here, and maybe you give it a check and maybe, just maybe, it'll help you out.

Also, for anyone who isn't aware, Baen Books is doing a fantasy short story contest right now. Submissions have to be fantasy stories of 8000 words or less. You can read more about that right here.

Happy writing folks. More on something that isn't writing later.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Relaunch

Hello there,

My name is Anthony and this is my blog. Technically this is my second blog. My first blog, Reality Refracted, was started in 2010 and is dedicated to Table Top RPGs, primarily in the form of GMing advice. It's been going strong since then, and I like it, and as table top RPGs are a big part of my life I intend to keep it. However, Reality Refracted is very narrow in it's focus and so I wanted some place else to talk.

About what? Well, about other things that interest me. Music, movies, games, things I am doing research on, life, etc. I want a place to share flash fiction challenges when I do the ones that Chuck Wendig posts on Terribleminds every Friday. Effectively, I want a place to engage with people about things that are not table top RPGs.

So why the relaunch? Two reasons. My recent posts had been more about writing and had mostly been done at times when I was feeling slowed or bogged down and thus didn't reflect what was going on as accurately as I would hope to. Secondly, I want the fresh start to try and make this blog something more than what it had become and a clean break seemed the best way to do that.

Going forward you can expect posts about popular culture and some posts about research I am doing. Hopefully it will be engaging enough for folks to stick around. If not, then thank you for whatever time we've had together.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Award Winning Opening Line ;)

If you head over to Terrible Minds today you'll see that Mr. Wendig posted the winners of the recent opening line contest. You may also notice that I was one of three winners. So, woohoo to that. Now, this post isn't to brag, but I wanted to discuss the line a bit because for me it is kind of loaded.

For those that didn't check, the line I used was:

I'd won a kingdom through iron and blood, but I had no idea what to do with it.

It's a fun line. It is also the beginning premise to a story I've tried to write like five different times and failed each time until I finally admitted I wasn't good enough for the story just yet. It's kind of an excuse, but it could be true. I do, after all, have wild ambitions for the story. The question is how to portray it?

The idea for the story is simple enough. It's basically the "what happens next?" after the classic story of a person recovering their family's land from the people that took it over. The break down then being that you have this young noble who has spent their life learning to steal, fight, and survive suddenly in charge of a kingdom. Their problems are no longer the "shove a sword through it" kind but more the negotiations and compromises that have to be reached in order to run a country. Stuff that makes them balk and gall are common place. Why do you have to make concessions to feed orphans? Because the person with the food won't give it to you without them. Just kill him? Great, now you're in a war, and did we mention they have all the food?

There are also other problems as well. The old friends that helped the person succeed, other nobles, other kingdoms, old debts, the list goes on and on. Perhaps too far. Perhaps too ambitious? But it is something I want to write.

I've abandoned dozens of stories over the past few years. I regret each and every one of them, but this one has never left me. It's refused to be cleared from the stove. It is always just there, on the back burner, waiting to come back out.

Maybe it's time to try it again? Of course, I'd need to finish my current WIP first.