Monday, November 30, 2015

On Lucy Maud Montgomery's Tortured Life, The Tragedy of Tauriel and Endings

L. M. Montgomery's birthday is today (I'm sure Google told many of you this also). For those of you who don't know, she wrote the Anne of Green Gables series.

I am surprised(ish) at how tortured she was and how she *may* have committed suicide. She seems to have had a fascinating life though was born in the wrong era.  Apparently she is quoted to have said that she got married because that's what women did in Canada during that time (Early 1900s).Though her husband was a "winner" who suffered from religious melancholia or essentially depression.

Interestingly and not intentionally, I wrote a main character in a now-defunct zombie novel whose name was Lucy Morgan Monroe. I wonder if somewhere in my subconscious I was channeling my inner childhood lit experience? Who knows...if I could go back in time, dress all fancy (especially if I can wear a fancy hat) and have tea with Ms. Montgomery, I would totally do that. If only time machines were real...


L.M. Montgomery was a strong and influential woman of her time, in a time when women were not really able to be strong and influential. They had a path and that path was through marriage and children to inevitable death from a broken heart - broken at their wasted opportunities. Broken as their spirit was, crushed by a society ruled by men and a very few influential, yet narrow-minded women.

Speaking of ruled by men...I saw this meme today on Facebook that initially made me chuckle but ultimately made me sad.


First of all, I totally support the addition of not-in-the-book female characters to the awesome LOTR world. However, if you're gonna do it, FOR GOD'S SAKE PLEASE DON'T MAKE THEM SUCK! You had one job, PJ, ONE JOB! And you blew it.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, my rant is twofold.

1. She SUCKS at fighting. I mean, she keeps slipping up or falling and one tiny orc overpowers her to the point that she fucks over Killi because she can't keep her shit together.  Up until this point, she's been relatively badass, fairly succeeding in everything she tries to do. But in this last battle scene, she jumps on an orc's back and gets flung of like a squirrel on a T-Rex.

Meanwhile, you've got Legolas over here, hopping off monsters and rubble like some type of coked-up mountain goat, using his dagger as a sort of grappling-hook-cum-emergency brake to slow his fall... OFF OF A TROLL. I mean, even the dorky elven foot soldiers fighting with the dwarves do magical elf-dwarf vaults to embed their impossibly short swords into wargs' eyes. ALL OF THEM DO THIS. Why can't Tauriel stay attached to ONE angry orc?

2. Love. Fine - everyone loves a love story. Especially if it's a love story between the second hottest dwarf (c'mon, you know Filli was the sexier of the two with his bad-ass blond flavor savor) and a hot elf chick (not as hot as Arwen, but you won't find me complaining).  Love makes things interesting. Gives us that "aw" moment we don't get in real life, and  lets us have ALL THE FEELS when one of them tragically dies. Fine. I'll bite. This is Hollywood afterall.

But for chrissakes...did she have to be such a whiny baby about it? And worse yet, come crying to a MAN to explain her feelings involving men (dead dwarf-men in this case. *sniff* poor Killi)? And, true to form, it takes the man-elf to say "love is soooo worth it" for her to be like "ya ok sure. gotcha. I'm good now." *double sigh* Fuck you Tauriel and your "love".

This was probably the only (and most) disappointing moment in all the Hobbit movies for me. I can forgive non-book embellishments, silly dwarves, 9 hours of movie, and even the cheesy romeo-juliet/dwarf-elf love story, but could you have at least made Tauriel fight well? Oh, and not be a total baby who runs crying to a man when she needs to solve  her problems?

Stay with me here, people...She's an effing elf! They are magical! And if orc-shield-surfin', three-arrows-at-a-time Legolas is any indication of the species, they kick severe amounts vof evil ass.

Unfortunately, #everydaysexism still applies to girl elves in the made-up, fantasy world of Middle Earth. Peter Jackson, how could you have failed me so? I thought our love was true. Why does it hurt so much.

And lastly, in other new. My novel, Insignia, is finished. Did you hear that? Let me say it louder...

***My novel, Insignia, is finished!!!***

And I don't just mean finished in the "got to the end of the words" way. I mean, like I have edited it ad nauseum, spell checked it, consistently spelled all my made-up names and removed comment bubbles.That kind of finished. And ok, you got me, the formatting needs to be proofed by someone who knows what they're doing. AAAAAND it should probably have a 3rd party grammar check.  And xInfinity, It needs cover art. But content-wise it is done. No major revisions unless one of my grammar nazis decides that something is total crap. But holy shit you guys...FINISHED!

I'm putting this "NANOWRIMO Winner" badge up as I used the rampant writing-energy of this month to ride through the remaining edits. And as I probably put in 50k + worth of editing hours, and accomplished my goal, i feel like a winner. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Humans, Octogenarians, Hate Mail and Sexbots...BoJack Can Come Too

Are you wondering about this post title? I will explain it below. 

This post is probably going to be a collections of some random thoughts as my novel reaches the end of its 3-year gestation period and will soon be born!  

1. I've been wanting to talk about Doctor Who's love of humans and Earth at some point in this book. It struck me as very appropriate since this book is all about humanness and what makes one so and how machines alter that "humanity". Also, I need to explain why my characters love and value this quality so much. Doctor who has some good lines. Like below!

Anne found this awesome Doctor Who quote for me and i decided to give it a prominent place in my novel.  You'll see where. ;-) 




 2. IT IS COMING! (I keep wanting to say "winter is coming" but that is inappropriate here even IF it is stuck in my head. Thanks, George). There is still a little ways to go with my novel.  I added all the chapters headers and have gone through 2/3 of my friends' edits. The 3rd friend had a lot of really involved comments, which is great though some of them really will involve some reworking.  (If your friends can't shit on your dreams, who can?) Which means, I have to determine which items are worth investing in that change and which ones are too much of a deviation from the story.  

One of his suggestions was to change the 1st chapter from one person's perspective to another's.  Unfortunately, that would ruin the flow and put the reader in a precarious position. Which isn't something that I really want to do.  So instead, I added a page-ish from that character's POV to get inside his head, just slightly, before you really get to know him.  I think it worked well.  You can see it below.  It is out of context here, but just go with me, OK? 
_______________________________________________
Samson was frozen, literally frozen. No, he hastily corrected himself, not frozen. He was in the air, floating…or falling incredibly slow. His boot had scraped off a layer of paint from the banister and it puffed out behind him in a small cloud. Below was a glass “skylight” – one of those tacky creations that had been popular during the decade before he was born and even though it had never been subjected to the elements, years of smoke, dust, and dead insects had crusted its edges, through which Sam could see a slightly blurred, cinematic view of the first floor cafeteria.
The patrons paid little attention to him, save for one, being wrapped up in their coffees, booze or the undoubtedly witty conversation with their modded-up, Johnny Depp-like date. Johnny Depp on a bad day, anyway.
The other one: dressed in all black, she stared openly with a startled frown, lifting her dark glasses away from her eyes, cappuccino cup in hand. Sam’s confused expression met hers and held her within the trance that he was currently experiencing.
Sharp stinging on his knee was the only indication that he had crashed through the bug-smeared skylight.  He barely felt even that pain as glass fragments gently twirled around his face, falling like weightless snowflakes toward the yellowing linoleum.  A hair-like wire glittered at the corner of his vision, lazily undulating like an animal.  What was that thing?
The dark woman had moved. Arm arched behind her back, she had launched the ceramic cup in his direction.  It gracefully slid past his ear as the aroma of overly-roasted espresso tickled his nose. Closer to the ground now, he felt his left leg tucked sharply into his chest, and his right leg…he wasn’t sure.
Something was on the floor below him, it looked like a limb. A leg. His leg? He shook his head. He was in shock, he told himself, gazing at the eerily-familiar boot toe, resting in a pool of blood. His blood?
Everything is too clear, he rationalized, I’m fine. Red droplets surrounded him, mimicking large jewels or small marbles.  He could see the surface of each one dimple and shift as the circular shapes became amorphous.  There was too much red around him, he thought, as the metallic tang shot through his taste buds. His chest fluttered as he forced himself to breathe.
His left leg was tucked underneath him, but his right…the floor reached him.
_______________________________________________

Another was to add a "Briefing" scene before the final climax.  Think of the rebel briefing before the Battle of Endor in Episode VI.  I think this could work...it may also be able to give you a bit more of a look into Sam's head as well as reintroducing Drake and hinting at the havoc he's going to wreak later.

3. The importance of the first page...it needs to have a hook. If I try to get published, I will need the first page, the first 20 pages or the first 3 chapters to be awesome. Eye-catching, tit-grabbing, dick-hardening awesome. Hmm..maybe I should use that? 

Anyway, I have a sentence on the first page that I have gotten mixed-reviews on. I love this sentence. It flowed from my fingertips as naturally as anything, and took absolutely zero thought. Unfortunately, it may be too unreachable for most people for one reason or another.  It's been a bitch finding a replacement.  I worry that I'm going to go with it's mediocre, C-student cousin. Nothing to get stoked about, but safe enough to get you through. But would it be enough? 

The sentence is as follows:

"She was wrapped in black leather pants the shade of an octogenarian’s favorite easy chair." 

Most people don't know how to parse it, and others think that 80-year-olds just remind them of the smell of pee. Which is NOT what I'm going for here.  I'm more aiming toward worn, comfortable, creased, faded, loved, once-fashion-conscious but not anymore. Clearly I am misunderstood. But unlike Captain Shakespeare (stardust) below, the misunderstanding probably will not make me look more badass...

You see, I'm very much
a man of my own creation.
  
Even chose the name specially.
Took me ages.
  
See, I'm thinking
Legendary British wordsmith.
 
My enemies and crew are thinking,
"Shake! Spear!"

While I don't have a fearsome rep to uphold, I do want to be that writer that thrills you and holds you captive or 350 pages. Losing you on a sentence on the first page, is a bad start...

4. Lastly some distraction because the cold meds are finally starting to kick in. I think I've found a hidden gem of the internet: Sexy Robots. I am fairly certain that I could write an entire blog post JUST about these, but here are a few samples. I am particularly fond of the last one.
Of course, robot is made sexier with Vodka...

Or pool...

Who needs clothes when you have tubes and ten inch heels?

On the other hand...what is she trying to cover up with that barely-there bikini anyway?

"Oops, I totally just fell into a pool with its cover on. And sexbots can't swim. Whoever will help me?"


6. BoJack horseman is telling you to write:

7. Also, just going to put this out to the universe: I hope one day I am popular enough to start getting hate mail. Because that will mean that people 1. took the time to read my work and 2. took the time to write me an angry letter. That's more investment than a lot of people will put into something. I'm good on the death threats though...those I can live without. :) 

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Seven Deadly Sins of World Building

**NOTE: This is not my writing, but I am posting it here for easy access for later....also so that I can remember what the random link was for.  For the original article, please see the end of this post.**This is extremely useful and what I strive to do when writing.  I am not sure I have taken care of all of these holes, but I am working on it. 

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding
Worldbuilding is an essential part of any work of fiction. But especially for science fiction or fantasy, it's the lifeblood of storytelling. But when worldbuilding fails, it can wreck your whole story, and leave your characters feeling pointless. Here are seven deadly sins of worldbuilding.
Top image: Under Tomorrow's Sky by Daniel Dociu.

1. Not thinking about basic infrastructure.

How do they eat? What do they eat? Who takes away the garbage? Who deals with their bodily wastes? How do they get around? What do the majority of people do to survive? You're not just constructing a society, you're creating an economy. People don't oppress each other for fun — usually, systems of hierarchy and oppression have an economic component to them. Maybe you need a lot of peasants to grow labor-intensive crops, or maybe you need lots of cannon fodder in your space war. Maybe your only source of protein is a weird fungus that needs to be tended by specially trained people. Maybe everybody's eating algae. In any case, there's nothing worse than a fictional world where there are elaborate social structures, which seem completely separated from the realities of food, shelter and clothing.

2. Not explaining why events are happening now.

Chances are your story revolves around all heck breaking loose in your fictional world. (Or your fictionalized version of the "real" world.) One major worldbuilding flaw is not explaining why heck is breaking loose now, as opposed to 20 years ago or 20 years from now. Why is the dark elf army showing up now? Was there something preventing them from showing up, which has been removed? Will it be too late if they wait another year or two? Often, if your plot is swinging into motion for reasons that feel purely arbitrary, that's actually a failure of worldbuilding. You haven't fully accounted for the things that kept your villain in check, and probably also for the factors that keep other political actors in your society in check as well. And that's a larger issue — every society has checks and balances. Even an absolute monarchy has invisible lines the monarch can't cross. Sometimes you can't figure out how these checks and balances worked in a particular era, without reaching beyond the official history as sanctioned by the people in charge.
7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding
On a related note, if you're drawing on real-life history, for your fantasy world or your future history, don't just read works by historians from the dominant culture, or works focusing on the ruling class. Historians have done amazing work on discovering what ordinary people and marginalized groups were doing during a lot of eras, and there's plenty of resources on what was going on in, say, the Middle Ages outside of Western Europe. To the extent that you rely on actual history in your world-building, you should reach beyond the Kings and nobles of a few Western countries. Image by Frederic St-Arnaud/CG Society.

3) Creating fictional versions of real-life human ethnic groups, that never go beyond one dimension

This is a huge problem that tons of creators seem to struggle with. But as a rule of thumb, if you want to have Belgians in your novel, you're going to have to try and create an accurate view of Belgian society. If you decide that instead of Belgians, you're going to have an alien species called the Bzlgizns — who are basically Belgians except they've got antlers — you still have to try and make them well-rounded and as nuanced as possible. Ditto if you're creating a secondary world where there happens to be a land of magical creatures called The Belge, who are still basically Belgians. Really, you should make sure that any cultural or ethnic group you create has multiple dimensions and a sense that its members have their own subjectivity, and a believable culture. Whether it's the culture that your main characters come from, or a culture that they see as the "other." But it's also a really good rule of thumb that the more your fictional group resembles real-life Belgians, the more you ought to worry about being true to life. Changing "Belgians" to "Bzlgizns" doesn’t actually let you off the hook for presenting a true-to-life portrait of people from Belgium.
7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding

4) Creating monolithic social, political, cultural and religious groups.

Everybody in a particular ethnic group agrees about everything. Every member of the ruling class, or the working class, agrees about everything. Every citizen of a particular nation holds exactly the same set of opinions. There is one version of history that absolutely everybody agrees on. Every member of a religion interprets the tenets of that religion in exactly the same way. That sounds plausible, right? Maybe if you've never been around actual humans. In real life, if you get three members of a particular in-group together, you'll probably hear four different opinions on most of the group's major concerns. Asserting that all Christians agree on all matters of doctrine is probably a good way to get laughed out of the room. So when you imagine the ruling class of your world, it's safe to assume that no two members of it will agree on much — and when you retell your fictional history, remember that nobody's likely to agree on what actually happened. Image by MacRebisz/Deviant Art.

5) Inventing a history that is totally logical

In an imaginary world, the strongest side always wins and the people who are in charge are always the descendants of the people who were in charge 100 years ago. But real life isn't like that — history is full of odd quirks and happenstances, and powerful people often make huge miscalculations that wind up costing them dearly. Just think about weird happenstances like Ireland being divided in half. Or Korea. Or Germany, for nearly five decades. Why is WashingtonDC the capital of the United States instead of Philadelphia? Why did the Portuguese have their own colony in India until 1961? History is weird. And things that seem inevitable in retrospect usually seemed anything but at the time. So a totally logical history will never pass the "smell" test. And speaking of smell...
7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding

6) Not really giving a strong sense of place, like what it smells like after it's been raining.

You can spend hours and hours thinking about the history and culture and mores of your imaginary land, and how people interact and the ways that different religious and ethnic groups collide. But if you don't make me feel the dirt under my fingernails, then you still haven't created a real place. If the reader doesn't get a little lightheaded from the stench of the polluted river, or transported by the beauty of the geometric flower gardens, then something is missing. Most of all, there should be a few spots — bars, taverns, crypts, spaceports — where the reader really feels "at home," as if you could imagine hanging out there for real. The purpose of worldbuilding isn't just to do a cool exercise, but to give a sense of place — and all of your thought experiments absolutely have to result in something vivid and alive. Image by Michel Koch/Don't Nod

7) Introducing some superpower, like magic or insane tech, without fully accounting for how it would change society.




If your pitch is, "It's just like our world, except everybody can turn invisible at will," then you've already failed. Because if everybody could turn invisible at will, it wouldn't be anything like our world. Especially if this power had been around for more than a few months. Whether you're creating an alternate history or a secondary world or a far future, any technology or power you introduce is going to have far-reaching effects — not just first-order effects, but second- and third-order effects, too. Going with the "invisibility" example, you'd have people using it to spy on each other — but you'd also have a huge boom in heat sensors. We'd start redefining the whole concept of privacy, and pop culture would be massively transformed. There would be whole art forms based around invisible performers, and it might be legal to shoot an invisible intruder on sight (on smell?). You could be here for hours imagining all the ways that the universal power of invisibility would change the world, and you'd probably still just be scratching the surface.

Link:
http://io9.com/7-deadly-sins-of-worldbuilding-998817537?trending_test_d&utm_expid=66866090-62.H_y_0o51QhmMY_tue7bevQ.4&utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Words of Insignia

A while back I was playing with a website called "Wordle" and I made a few with the text from my story.  What Wordle does, is figure out which words are used most often and displays it in a graphic.  It doesn't grab articles and prepositions but pretty much everything else is up for grabs.  It's not the most sophisticated tool.  However, there is a way that you can filter out certain words by culling them individually.

This is very interesting to ponder. It says a lot about my writing style and also the story focus. I bet I could analyse the shit out of this if I really wanted to!

So, here are my awesome creations:

This one is all the words with only super generic verbs and such filtered out

This is all the words with all character names filtered out 

This is all the names with Mara's deleted (for some reason).

The problem with this tool is if you delete a word, you can't rally get it back...so that's why Mara is not in the last one. :-D

Yay fun...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The teenager had been so hungry - Edit - #6

New prologue for my novel: Insignia

-Prologue-


The teenager had been so hungry.
Life on the dirt-smeared streets of the slum city was more difficult than he had anticipated: squatting in abandoned warehouses with other disenfranchised youth and huddling close for warmth during the bitter winter. But not too close. He couldn’t get too close. Teens disappeared off these streets every day.  He wasn’t sure where they went. Maybe they moved on, found something better or maybe…something worse.
A year on the streets had made him lean. Gaunt. Pale. Desperate. Playing in the underground market was always risky. Unreliable. Volatile. Stressful. He had not been nearly as successful as he’d hoped to be.
Hunger.  He never imagined that he could be so hungry.
Learning to dumpster-dive had been a mixed blessing.  He now knew where to find the freshest food, though fresh was a liberal word. The food still stank with the rancid fumes of whatever had been left in the bin the night before.  Some days, he couldn’t stomach it. So he’d learned to beg. Occasionally he’d get treated to a mystery street-meat skewer, but most of the time the fare would be the mildly stale remnants of a stranger’s half-eaten sandwich. It was not much better than the dumpster, but at least it didn’t smell rotten….Then his pride overtook him.
He was better than this. He was smart.
So he taught himself to steal. He always had a knack with data:  computer navigation was second nature to him, even though he never loved it. The dingy cyber cafés had become his new haven.  Long days crouched over an ancient typepad, hunched in cheap fiberglass chairs with eyes straining at a dimly lit LED yielded him a fake credit account to which he stored real money.
He traveled through security networks of big CORPs, the underground tunnels of their cybernet space. Worming his way into firewalls and secure shields like a cockroach made of bytes, he scrounged for scraps of cred. Then he invested that cred in the virtual market. Win. Lose. Win.
He snagged only bits at a time. A little here. A little there. Not too much. Can’t get caught. Take just enough. Can’t ever get caught. Data heists were among the most severely punished crimes. In this world of capitalist greed where consumerism was rewarded, credit theft was punishable by death. 
The money though…it wasn’t for food. It wasn’t for clothing or shoes or mech mods. It wasn’t for him. It was for Charley. Someday, he hoped to have enough for two train tickets out of the hate-filled shitthole. To a real city. East, west, north – he didn’t care. All of them had promises, potential. A real job. A real school. A life. For both of them.
Then this strange man with a handlebar moustache and a plush burgundy waistcoat approached him in the café. Looking for him.
Why me? An offer. A good offer. Money. Money for food. He had been so very, very, hungry. And then this offer…
“What do you want me to do?” He asked the strange man.
The man took a drag of a long, mud-colored cigarette and handed him a small chip. “I need you to hack a shopping mall’s security system and pull the locked files.”
“Hack a system?” The teen asked incredulously, “That’s it?”
“It’s not as easy as you might think, kid,” the man explained, “It’s an AI security system. Makes what you’ve been crawling through look like a toddler’s game. It takes Skill.
“Oh, I got skills,” he responded arrogantly.
The man barely smirked and cocked his head. Nonetheless, he tapped a metal plate on the chip. There was one line of text:
JR. Avenue 5. Independence Plaza.
 “This is where you can find me,” he said cryptically and left, nodding.
*tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap*
Skills indeed, the teenager thought angrily, this bastard’s convoluted as shit.
Maybe he was in over his head. The man had warned him that several who tried before had failed. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and his t-shirt was becoming damp under his arms.
Failed how?”
The man didn’t say. It didn’t matter.  The money was too good. Enough to get him and Charley out of the slums. To get to freedom.
*tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap*
The lines of code taunted him. Flashing their glaring green deep into his strained retinas. His stomach growled. It’s just a shopping mall! He railed to himself silently. What could be on here?
*tap* *tap* *tap* *tap* *tap*
An AI system.  What was an AI system?  It couldn’t be a new software because he knew all security systems. He’d never heard the term before. Maybe it was an old word? An antiquated security system? Maybe that’s why it was so hard to crack?
*tap* *tap* *ta—
He was in, he stared wide-eyed. The files suddenly were zipping themselves onto the storage device.  Bits flashed by in a whirr: zeroes and ones. Replicating with the precision of high-speed data, submitting to his hand, no longer taunting him but almost screaming.
Screaming... Red lights flashing. Something had triggered an alarm. How, though? He had been so careful!
Shooting to his feet, he yanked the chip out of the mainframe just as a boring-looking man strode casually into the server room.  The man’s eyes, however, were not boring. They were dark, and angry. And they were looking straight at him.

Fuck! He ran like hell. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My name is Lyndsie Clark and I am a Writer

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is my very first Toastmaster's Speech...roughly. It sounds better when spoken. I won the best speaker award (out of 2 ppl lol) and earned the nickname of "Brave Normal-Human-Size Toastmaster".



*****

My name is Lyndsie Clark and I am a writer. Saying that feels like I am admitting to a bad habit. A dirty secret.  Like I should be in rehab, not a toastmaster’s meeting.
This is because I have always struggled with being creative and also being taken seriously. When I was a child, I was encouraged to embrace this creativity.  However, as I grew into an adult, that was less and less embraced in favor of education and a “good job”. (or one that pays a lot of money)
It has taken me quite some time to accept that this creativity is as much a part of me as the desire for education and career.  And even longer to accept that I can both be simultaneously creative and successful.

1 –
When I was in fifth grade, I entered a poetry contest. My first poem inspired a life-changing love of writing.  Throughout grade school I wrote: poems, short stories, longer stories and novels. I started my first epic fantasy series when I was 13, finishing the first novel two years later.  Sadly, the second one, is still sitting half finished on an old hard drive.
This was because in high school, everyone was planning for college.  I didn’t want to go to college, I wanted to become a writer. However, my father – who had fought his way out of poverty to become a respected geophysicist at NOAA, believed in the irreplaceable value of a college education.  And as he was the one holding my college fund, I could choose to attend a university or stay home while my parents traveled the world with that money.

2 -
I chose college and enrolled in the architecture school thinking that it was creative. It also, oddly, required the least amount of science courses. I mean, you can build models and draw things, right? Not really. If anyone has ever gotten through an architecture course, I admire you. It is a lot more difficult pictures and models. Especially for one who doesn’t have much affinity for math.
Halfway through college, I changed my major to linguistics.  It was a major that sounded sciency enough for my dad to respect, but still allowed me to play with words all day. Even though I enjoyed linguistics enough to go on to my master’s degree. Something was always missing.

3 –
I hadn’t written anything for fun for my entire college career. Not a single poem. Then in the middle of my MA program, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  This is where I would write 50k words in 30 days. I was young, reckless, invincible and a bit masochistic – so I finished. I have never been more sleep deprived in my life, well…until I did it again the following year.
My creative drive had been reawakened. I was a writer! Well, not really…I was just writing for myself. I didn’t have to admit it to anyone. It’s not like I was going to make a profession of this anyway… 
But in 2012, something else happened.  I realized that I had many great ideas. I didn’t want to keep them secret, I wanted to share the excitement of my expansive imagination with the world. So this time I decided that I was going to write a novel and would not stop until it was completed, edited and my hands, my reader’s hands, my publisher’s hands.

Conclusion -  

When I won that poetry contest in fifth grade, the best thing about it for me was sharing my ideas with my friends. And that is still the case today.  When I admitted to myself that the writer in me wouldn’t be silenced until I could share my creativity with the world, I made the best decision of my life. And even if my career progresses in a different direction, I am still and always will be, a writer.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I am happy to be single

I am so happy to be a single woman. I am not lacking anything in any way. I am not any better or worse off than anyone else. I am happy and in love.

Even though I love people, I also love being by myself. I am not afraid of dying alone. After all, everyone dies alone. I am not worried about not being loved, as up until the moment I die, I will feel love every day. I am not worried about not finding love because I love so many people already, including myself.  I am not worried about having no one to rely on because you all are there. I'm not afraid of taking care of myself because I know best what I need in life. 

I don't need a husband, a wife or children to feel complete. I already am. I don't need anyone to make me a better person. I strive to do that every day, and I am always improving. 

Sure, I don't love loneliness and I'm still not happy when I get hurt. But I don't fear it. I know that I get better and hurts don't last. I will never truly be alone because I have myself. I have friends. I have family.  I have wonderful  people all around me. I don't need that one "special person". You are all special to me.

I couldn't love anyone else, if I didn't love myself. I couldn't make anyone else happy, if I was always sad. If I couldn't take care of my self, how could I take care of anyone else?

I love people but they are limiting. You have to answer to them, explain yourself, make sacrifices.  Right now, I am limitless and because of this, when I do choose to answer, explain and sacrifice for someone, it will be for the right reasons.  And I will not resent them for asking things of me, because I will have already consented to what they are asking.  Because I know myself, and my desires. I know my deal breakers, game changes, favorite foods and flaws.

I am so glad I have had a chance to really get to know myself.  I am so excited what new things I will learn in the years to come. And while sometimes my resolve will flag, in the end I am so grateful for where I am. I'm happy being single, and I may never go back. Or I might, but that choice is my prerogative. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Memoires

OMFG - I worked for almost 5 hours on my novel tonight. And I want to do more. CURSE YOU, DAY JOB! Sooo tired.  I don't really have the mental focus right to post an excerpt so here are a few of the chapter headers for your reading pleasure.  If anyone actually reads this...XD

Headers...get it? Har Har Har.
IMG: http://www.zbrushcentral.com/printthread.php?t=46653&pp=40


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1: Three hundred years ago, human bodies were functional.  Adequate.  They were just as nature designed them. Boring. Then we came in with technology and made them remarkable. – Memoires of A. St. Claire

2: When that shark took my arm, I thought I would have to wear a hook and a curly wig while running around yelling, “Smee!” But, thanks to science, I am more robot than pirate.  Thank god for science.  Now I’m famous. – Donatello Fark, First Robot Comedian

3. The titan Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give to his creation; mankind, opening up new doors of thought, freedom and innovation which were once locked behind lightning bolts and denied.  Prometheus was bold in challenging his creators, and was brutally punished for his disobedience.  – Legends from Ancient Greece, Adapted for a Modern Time.  Micah Weaver


4. In the year 2036 Mirabel Industries invented the world’s first cybernetic arm.  It was a quantum leap that afforded new freedoms and thought. As the fire from Prometheus had delivered humankind from the world of shadows, cosmetic cybertechnology forged a people we know today. Consuming. Unfeeling. Mech. – Before the War: A Brief History of pre-WWIII America

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tanks Don't Float

Another Excerpt from Insignia

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Almost floating in midair, Sam watched Mara land with a great splash, displacing a huge amount of water. Droplets shot out in a wide radius like daggers or homing missiles, with vicious intent. The sheets of water themselves reached their peak of inertia and curved downward, falling back into the canal like hundreds of diamonds. Sam inhaled a large breath and slipped into the water after Mara almost gracefully, the sharp spray stinging his face before he became submerged. The water was cool, but not nearly as cold as he expected, and very salty. He remembered reading about that in geography class.

Suddenly, fire slammed into his senses as the seawater assaulted his open eyes. He closed them in surprise, fighting his way up to the surface. The force of the waterfall pushed him downward again as he struggled through the deluge, finally breaking the surface. He gasped in air, kicking his legs against the current and scanning the spray for Mara. A commotion of splashing to the left drew his attention, though amidst it all he saw no sign of human anatomy.

Taking the clue, he ducked under the water quickly and slid his way toward it, forcing his eyes open even though they began to burn almost immediately. A black boot flew only inches in front of his face as he dove deeper into the canal. It was Mara, scrambling violently toward the surface, a trail of bubbles dancing up from her partially opened lips. She seemed to be making negative headway, sinking instead of rising, a look of terror on her distorted features.

Sam headed toward her, but was unable to get close enough to her flailing form to be of any assistance. Even using his Foresight, he couldn’t see a clear opportunity. Wondering if his skill was compromised by being underwater – Which doesn’t make any sense, he told himself – he decided to go for Mara anyway. Rushing forward and pushing the water away with both legs, he attempted to grab the collar of her jacket. The back of Mara’s flinging hand connected with Sam’s face; pain exploded stars across his vision as his head snapped to the side. His body went limp in surprise as he stopped fighting the current, trying to clear the clouds from mind. The water carried him, a trail of red following as he floated easily to the surface. More pain startled him from his lethargy as his head smacked against the concrete lined wall of the canal. Reaching upward, he groped for a handhold, fingernails scrabbling on the rough surface, and found one:  a narrow lip jutting out from the wall. He yanked himself partially out of the water and was greeted with a throbbing in his temple. With his other hand, he touched his face.

Yep, he thought as his hand came away bloody. Broken nose.

Looking around, he tried to orient himself. The sky was above him and the water below. Good, that’s all normal. He took a deep breath and noticed that he was about a hundred yards away from the waterfall. The current was not as strong here as it had been closer in and he was able to retain his grip on the wall relatively easily. He looked up. The wall was much higher than Sam would have guessed – maybe ten to twelve feet high – and smooth above the three-inch ledge onto which he was holding. This was going to make it near impossible for them to climb out.

Them… Sam looked around for Mara. She hadn’t surfaced yet. He swallowed hard, trying to relieve the pain in his cheekbones so he could try and find her. Suddenly, the world slowed and water flowed past him like molasses, ripples rising and falling languidly. The breeze became a static hum, filling his ears like cotton balls. Through the now stilled water, he could see Mara lying on her back with only a couple of bubbles left, their amoebic forms changing fluidly as they wobbled to the surface. She moved very little as her heels, the last to settle on the canal bottom, bounced gently several times. Her features had gone slack and her eyes were closed. She looked calm, relaxed even.

(Picture from: http://otakugangsta.com/image/43441031460)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Underground Tunnels and Gigantic Rats - Insignia - #5

A continuation of last night's post...

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Sam was almost doubled over, pointing at her with one hand, the other clamped over his mouth tightly in an attempt to restrain the laughter bubbling from within. She narrowed her eyes at him and shoved him roughly backwards. He allowed himself to fall, reaching out in a half-hearted attempt to grasp the side of a nearby ride car. Missing, he landed in a pile of twisted metal fencing and yelped briefly as one of the barbs caught his cheek.
A flood of guilt washed over Mara as she began helping him extract himself from the fencing. The barbs grabbed at his jacket and pants, a couple finding their way into his hands before he was finally back to standing upright. He scowled at Mara as she gingerly wiped blood from his cheek.
“You have no sense of humor,” he spat.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled, pulling out a piece of gauze and handing it to him.
“That stuff is all rusted to hell!”  He complained, brushing dust from his pants. “Who knows what chemicals are in this?”
Mara wiped the cold sweat from her forehead, refusing to admit how nervous this mission was making her. Even this far south, the December wind was chilling. “Well I hope you’ve had all your vaccinations,” she continued, avoiding his accusatory stare.
“I can see why some of the rebels think you are a monster,” Sam muttered as they resumed their trek.
Mara spun around again, face flushed this time, “Who says that?”  She snapped.
Sam flinched, instinctively raising his hand in front of his face.
Her anger receded as quickly as it arose. It was true; she did have many reasons in her past to be called a monster. This should be no surprise to her. She placed her fingers gently on Sam’s arm and lowered it. “I’m sorry,” she said again.
“You’ve said that,” he replied dryly.
“But, really, I am,” she pressed, “Sometimes, I…I don’t know. Its instinct, I suppose.”
Sam shrugged at her, clearly hurt.
Mara huffed. They had to continue their mission. She let it go and the two completed their journey across the amusement park in silence.
When they arrived at the sewer grate, they found it half hidden by overgrowth and trash. The grate would lead them through the underground tunnels, directly into the Sea Wall where they would begin looking for the newest holobrick. This sewer had not been used in decades, probably longer. It would have been cleared of most of its waste by rainwater and the secret efforts of rebel prisoners. The bars of the grate were so rusted that they were hardly indistinguishable from one another. It was stuck fast to its latch and the hinges were barely discernible from the rest of the structure. These conditions didn’t deter Mara for long; for once she found a good handhold she ripped the fixture upward as hard as she could. The entire thing crumbled as if it were made out of sand. Red dust rained down into the dark hole it revealed.
Dripping water echoed in the tunnel and Mara could see the slight shimmer of water reflecting the bleak winter sky. Another shiver ran through her. She just stood and stared.
“Well,” Mara said, already tired, “Let’s get to it.”
Sam’s expression was grim as he stared into the blackness, his jaw clenched and face pale. Mara placed a hand on his shoulder and he relaxed almost imperceptibly, his previous grievance toward her set aside for this new task. She tried to give him a reassuring smile in the fading light, but he just nodded briefly.
Buckling her knees, she prepared herself mentally for the descent. There is water at the bottom…she thought. She balked, frozen in her space.
“What are you waiting for?”  Sam asked her, raising an eyebrow.
Mara shook her head.
“Wait…”  Sam continued, “Is this the water thing?”
She grudgingly acknowledged.
Sam snorted a short laugh then looked at her, with a mildly unsympathetic glare. “It’s okay,” he attempted reassurance, “It’s just water.”
Mara grunted.
“Look…” he started, “Whatever happens, I’ll keep an eye on you,” the boy smiled weakly, “I’m a pretty good swimmer. Back home…I swam in the quarry lake all the time.” 
She attempted a thankful nod, though thoroughly doubted that Sam could do much for her when she began to sink. Even though he was taller than her and already growing broad of shoulder, Mara had a difficult time seeing him as anything but a kid. Still, it was a nice gesture. She would try to remember it as she drowned. Mara gagged, cold sweat breaking out on her forehead again. The mission would fail if she couldn’t even make it into the sewer now. Taking a deep breath, she steeled her nerves.
Mara didn’t bother with the corroded ladder rungs, but instead just jumped the nine-or-so foot distance, landing with a thud and slight splash. The water was barely a trickle in this part of the sewer, though she could almost feel its minute tug as the tunnel sloped downward.
Sam followed, gingerly climbing down the rungs, slowly lowering each leg. Metal bits and sodium flakes floated downward, agitated by his passage. Halfway toward the bottom, one of the rungs under Sam’s new leg cracked sharply, startling the boy, who had only one hand on a higher rung. Mara’s hands shot out to catch Sam under the arms. She lowered him the rest of the way down, though he pulled away quickly. In the dull light from the opening above, she could barely make out his affronted expression. She just shrugged at him, trying to screw her face into a motherly mask of concern. Sam’s snort indicated to her that she had not succeeded. Nonetheless, a slight smile crept onto her lips and she winked at him before donning her night vision goggles.
As they sloshed cautiously forward, the tunnel swallowed them in its coal shroud. The entryway and slate-grey sky disappeared from view, and any light it provided became quickly snuffed as well. The water became deeper here, lapping over her toes. She could already feel the stray droplets soaking through the seams.
After a few more moments creeping through the darkness, a sharp squeal startled them as Sam, several feet behind Mara, cried out in disgust. Mara stopped cold. A scrabbling noise combined with light sloshing followed.
“Ugh!”  Sam groaned, “I totally just stepped on something soft. I think it ran in front of my foot.”
“Or swam,” Mara helped, nonchalantly. The water was over her ankles now, she noted, choking down the hard lump of panic in her throat. She waited for Sam to catch up.
“What the hell was it?”  Sam continued. Mara could feel him shaking violently.
She grabbed his clammy hand and squeezed it firmly. There was a lightly amused edge to her voice even though she tried to stifle it. “Probably a rat,” she explained as she saw a larger than anticipated heat signature dart past her periphery. These suckers were big. “Didn’t you see it?”  She asked Sam, referring to his Skill.
Sam grunted. “No…must not have posed a threat…Go ahead and laugh,” the teen said, defeated. “I probably deserve it.”
Mara allowed herself a huff, before squeezing Sam’s forearm. “I kind of hate rats too,” she commiserated.
Sam’s quavering finally stilled, and he looked at Mara, his goggles meeting hers. “Thanks,” he breathed. “And sorry for earlier,” his mumble continued.
She slapped his back once in an expression of sympathy, before gently guiding him forward by his arm. His other hand, she noticed, rested lightly on the pommel of the anlace, currently in rapier form.
After almost an hour of walking straight ahead in the darkness, the water rising over the tops of Mara’s boots, they came upon a crossroads of sorts. The tunnel opened up into a circular room with a drain in the middle, where dim lights flickered weakly. The ground gradually sloped upward toward the center of the room, and Mara noted the futility of the drain’s placement.
The remnants of a band of squatters, probably junkies, lay scattered across the floor. Mara scanned the area quickly searching for two things that could pose an immediate threat: living beings or dead bodies. The former could cause an unpredictable altercation and the latter would foreshadow the existence of an even more dangerous enemy. Luckily, she detected neither.
She placed her fingertips lightly on Sam’s shoulder. “Anything?”  She whispered.
He shook his head, his hair (which had almost grown back to its original length) wavering in the crimson haze.
Letting out an entrapped breath, she explored the place carefully. “Don’t touch anything!”  She warned Sam, noticing a pile of discarded needles in one corner. She kicked the pile, scattering them across the concrete floor.
“What is this place?”  Sam asked, nudging an overturn tin pot with his boot toe.
“A junkie commune,” Mara explained, “Of all the legal drugs of the world that you can purchase, even for cheap, there are still those who would prefer the candy of bygone ages: heroin, stardust and opium which are supposedly very close in formula to those that had been sold at the turn of the millennium. They have very dangerous side effects.
“But, it’s the ‘illegality’ of these drugs that makes them so desirable. These addicts somehow feel ‘above’ society, outside of the corporate fist. However,” Mara chuckled slightly here, “the CORPs manufacture all these drugs too. They hire dealers to ‘illegally’ sell the schwag and then pose fake ‘raids’ on the communes, holding the dealers long enough for the public to forget about the event. Then they are back on the streets to repeat the process.”
Sam shook his head, “I don’t understand why anyone would want to do drugs on purpose.”  He flinched at his own memories, studying a melted glass pipe overtop of a small, cold stove.
Mara shrugged. “Why does anyone do anything, these days?”
Sam didn’t have an answer for that.
They crossed the alcove and came upon a door in the far wall. It looked to be made of simple metal, but was strangely bright and new-looking, uncorrupted with the rust and sodium deposits of its neighbors. It was padlocked with several lopsided and antiquated key locks, the keys to which had long been lost to time, but Mara’s hand scanner told her there was an AI lock hidden in the door as well. This would be the entrance to the Sea Wall. She waved the scanner over the joint until a faint robotic gurgle issued forth.
“You ready, kiddo?”  Mara asked, turning to Sam.
He shrugged, loosening the anlace in its scabbard. “Let’s just get this over with.” 
Mara braced herself against the stone wall and tore the door free of its ancient locks. A puff of dust and mold hit them full in the face, and they both coughed spastically, thankful for the protection of their eyes by the goggles.
Stepping through the entryway, Mara closed the door behind them using the scanner to release the AI lock. Then she dropped the scanner on the dusty floor, it only had enough charge for one use. They would have to find another way out as this one was now closed to them.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Outside Old Anaheim - Insignia - #4






Trent dropped them off outside Old Anaheim, about ten miles from the California Sea Wall at what looked to be an abandoned amusement park. It was just before dawn and the rising sun cast a gloomy pallor on the ruins of roller coasters and decrepit buildings. Dark snake-like shapes of metal and wood twisted sinuously through the park, disappearing under piles of debris only to emerge again, almost eruptively, yards later. Overturned coaster cars spilled out dirt and rust ran down the hills in eerie rivulets, unsettlingly blood-like. Cherubic faces of cartoon characters stared down at Mara and Sam with hauntingly lifelike eyes, their faded smiles morphing into sadistic grins the longer Mara looked at them. She turned her eyes away with a tremor. What horrible place was this? She asked herself, feeling the inanimate gaze on the back of her neck like a crawling insect.


Gingerly she stepped over a life-sized statue, half-buried in the dirt, with only its vaguely mouse-like face peering up at her. The paint was chipping off the nose and eyes, giving it a maniacal glare. Suddenly it shifted under her foot and Mara jumped, getting tangled in metal wire and plant matter, before furiously wrenching herself free. Panting hard, she heard a low chuckle and turned around, wild-eyed.

 Sam was almost doubled over, pointing at her with one hand, the other clamped over his mouth tightly in an attempt to restrain the laughter bubbling from within. She narrowed her eyes at him and shoved him roughly backwards. He allowed himself to fall, reaching out in a half-hearted attempt to grasp the side of a nearby ride car. Missing, he landed in a pile of twisted metal fencing and yelped briefly as one of the barbs caught his cheek.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Streets of the Metropolix - Insignia - #3

Just a very short excerpt from Insignia.  I just wrote this and love how it turned out.

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They made their way to the through the crowded street markets on the lower levels of the city. These were the low-lying, frequently flooded sectors of the Metropolix where immigrants, run-down mechs, undercover savants, true humans, and other persona non grata did their business. Outwardly, they all looked to be law-abiding citizens but many of the fronts covered illegal or semi-illegal activity that lurked in basements and back rooms. Because of bootlegging, drug dens, human trafficking, and counterfeiting (just to name a few), one could find any service, pleasure or goods in these districts, all under the watchful eye of the XCGen security forces. The corporations weren’t opposed to these illegal activities, especially when they could draw benefit as well. As such, it wasn’t unusual to see a contingent of security guards prowling between the ale houses and taverns of the lower levels or a smartly-dressed businessmech slipping through the moist and grubby streets to meet his lover of choice in an ancient Chinese bathhouse.

photo from: http://i.imgur.com/4XZ5SbZ.jpg


The markets hawked all kinds of wares, a lot of them reminiscent of old Asia or ancient Southern America. There were stands serving up delicious-smelling street food of dubious origin, stationery that was curling and water-stained on the edges, useless trinkets, odd clothing, bootlegged electronics and after-market mods. Mara tried not to think too hard on where these “after-market” mods originated, but had difficulty ridding the image from her mind of a squirrely True Human ripping a mech’s arm off as he lay drunk in a gutter.  The mod shops were also unsettling, with faded pictures of smiling mechs in the windows and a bone-vibrating hum emanating from the doorways.  She shivered looking for a salon: a similar faded picture of a smiling mech with far too much hair piled elegantly on her head.