2014 Year in Review: The Year Everything Changed

It’s been a long year.

I used to always do these for my deviantArt page, where I’d go over my various works and accomplishments. And in the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about this year. Thinking about how different a place I’m in now.

Most of you know that I’m a diehard fan of Babylon 5. People would ask “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” and my answer was always “Babylon 5.” Best damn science fiction series ever done. And yes, even better than Firefly. (Shun me if you must, but it’s true)

Season 4 was probably the best season of Babylon 5. You had the Earth Civil War and the end of the Shadow War. So much happened in that one year of storytelling. But what really stood out to me was the opening titles.

Babylon 5: Season 4

It was the year of fire… the year of destruction… the year we took back what was ours… It was the year of rebirth… the year of great sadness… the year of pain… and the year of joy. It was a new age. It was the end of history. It was the year everything changed. The year is 2261. The place: Babylon 5.” 

That…is a very effective description of the last year. You know, save for the whole 2261 and Babylon 5 bit.

A Year of Fire, a Year of Destruction, The Year We Took Back What Was Ours…

2014 started with me on short-term disability from severe panic attacks in relation to…conflicts…with the Apple Store I was with at the time. Though I returned to work shortly after my birthday, the panic attacks resumed within two weeks. It was then when I realized that Apple–or at least that Apple Store–wasn’t the place for me anymore.

As I searched elsewhere for an escape from the madness and depression, things became apparent to me. That there were those who sought to see me gone from my position I had fought so hard to earn. I saw the “writing on the wall” as it where.

It was during a conversation where I saw these motions in play when I received a voicemail that changed everything.

You see, a week or so before, I had interviewed for a position with Blizzard Entertainment. That was within a few weeks of me applying. This was after several phone interviews, all of which I simply called out of work for.

Even in the midst of pain, fear and mental agony, everything changed. And a week later, I went outside to take a phone call on my last break of the day. During that phone call, I was offered the chance at a dream. A chance I never thought would actually happen. A chance to work for Blizzard Entertainment.

It was that day when I put in my two-week notice at Apple. It was the end of my history with Apple. After a fashion. I was sad to leave my friends. I was not sad to leave that store. I still hope for the people who remain…but even before my departure, many long-time employees had fled that store. I still have friends at that store…but they are few and far between.

I have no intention of ever walking in there again. Because the suffering my family endured at the hands of that Apple Store wasn’t over.

However, at the beginning of June, I got to walk onto Blizzard Campus for the second time. The first time was for my in-person interview. The second time…it was as an employee of Blizzard Entertainment. The things I’ve seen there…they still take my breath away. Even six months later (can you believe it’s already been that long?), I still make sure to drive by Building 1, with the huge “Blizzard Entertainment” logo in blue letters stand proudly at the top of the third floor.

I found a purpose there. I found people who respected my knowledge and my experience. A place where I can truly be myself. Where my crazy ideas aren’t shot down because “that’s not how we do things” or “that’s not the direction Corporate wants us to go.” Instead, I’m told “go for it.”

I did.

And I’m happy to say that in my time at Blizzard, I have completely rewritten the book on how they handle–ironically–Mac computers. I’ve said many times that I’m no Apple-head. I don’t think everything Apple does is perfect. I’ve endured too much to have any such illusions. But what I’ve accomplished there in six months has had a bigger impact than my entire time at Apple Retail.

Sadly, the suffering wasn’t over. In the months after my departure, my wife was subjected to cruelty, cowardice and mistreatment. They refused to accept her new schedule since I now had a job with regular hours. Instead of simply saying goodbye, they strung her along for six weeks before suddenly, one Saturday, terminating her for “attendance violation” because they forced her into a position where she would be required to call out, despite her constantly trying to get her shifts covered and notifying them well in advance.

That was a hard blow to us.

Thankfully, through multiple miracles, we were granted unemployment despite Apple’s “claims” on how Laura had left the company. And so, God gave us enough to survive even with my new pay at Blizzard.

And I prospered at Blizzard. Laura herself has said many times that though it is a little harder on us with me there, she’s far more happy that am happy. That’s what really matters. While things haven’t always been easy, I have to say…I do truly love my new job. And as I go into the new year, things look even brighter.

 

It was the year of rebirth… the year of great sadness… the year of pain…and the year of joy.

Yes, while the information above can very easily be handled by those words, other things did happen. Such as during December, both of my daughters had seizures within a few days of each other. We did three separate ER visits. Two overnight stays in the hospital. One fully battery of neurological exams including CTs and MRIs. I ended up watching each girl by myself for at least a day and a half each. And it happened the week before Christmas. It was also the week when Blizzard had all their special Christmas events, save for the actual company Christmas party. I remember when I called out on Wednesday because Caitlyn now had had a seizure…thinking that this was the most ridiculous excuse ever. Like calling for your sixth “grandmother’s funeral” in Discworld terms (If you’ve reach the City Watch books, you’ll get it).

In addition, the panic attacks haven’t really stopped. I thought changing jobs would help. And while that has helped, I’ve found that there is much more happening behind the scenes. I don’t pretend to understand it at all. At the moment, I’m just struggling through.

On rebirth though…I usually don’t like another year passing. It’s a reminder of everything I want to do but haven’t yet. Did you know that I had planned to have two novels published by now? Why didn’t this happen? Blizzard. And that’s okay. Blizzard changed everything for me. In fact, I’m going into my next birthday happy…looking forward to what the years ahead have in store for me at Blizzard.

It was a new age. It was the end of history. 

My writing? Well, I managed to knock out another NaNoWriMo, making this my fifth year running for winning the 50K race. This time it was a close one. And I finally rewrote Stormhaven, a project I’ve been meaning to do for years. I’m fairly happy with the outcome too.

In addition, I’ve published my second short story: “Beyond the Waterfall.” You should go check it out. Like right now. And if you could leave a review, it’d make my day. I published that back in September, though it was ready in July or so. There’s a process you have to go through when publishing fictional works now that I work for Blizzard. Oh well, it’s a small price to pay for working there.

I’ve recently started writing again. I took most of December off, as I’ll admit I was swept up into World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. Makes sense since my name is in the freaking credits now!

WoW:WoD Credits

 

My name should also be in the credits for the “Goblins vs. Gnomes” Hearthstone Expansion, but I haven’t actually looked that one up yet. But I have to say…seeing my name in the credits for World of Warcraft is a mind-blowing experience, especially since our subscriber base went from 7 million to 10 million within about a week of the launch. People like it. A lot. In other words, WoW isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Anyway, a little obsessive about that game. Heh. And that’s my “new age.” An age where I can finally be doing something that’s going to affect millions of players across the world. I’ve found bugs in places no one’s thought to look. Remember those Panderan Phoenix mounts you got from the Silver Challenge Mode Dungeons in Mists? Well, during August or so, I discovered a rather surprising bug that they weren’t going account-wide as was initially posted in a blog post. It was just something someone overlooked and that stuff happens. Let’s be honest…within a few minutes of people logging into WoD for the first time, people would have noticed. But I stopped that from happening. I got it in and even got some praise by the Dev saying “Good catch.” (I’m not revealing anything here. It’s actually buried in the patch notes somewhere).

That was awesome. Now that’s long past and I’ve found plenty of other things. I’m even happy to say that some of the hotfixes in the game have been from me, especially some of the ones involving legacy raids involving the whole stat squish thing. For all you legacy raiders out there, you’re welcome. 🙂

It’s totally awesome to see your work in the classic “Blue Text” of patch notes.

The funny thing is that’s not actually my job! It’s not my job to find bugs in the game itself. I’m supposed to handle the hardware side. But since I play this game every day the same way I’ve played it for years even after starting at Blizzard, I’m coming in with a unique perspective. I read the quests. I explore the details. I look around. There’s a lot of players who just hit “accept” the moment the quest pops up. I don’t. I’m emotionally attached to the characters. (And let’s just say that when I finally get in Creative Development, the Alliance is going to have their day (okay, I’m totally kidding, it would be years before I could do anything like that, but it’s a fun fantasy)). I play. And that’s gotten me a lot of cool things.

Otherwise, we now have two kids. That was the same as last year, but Tali’s now yammering away in her own speech, though she can say Mama, Dada and Yay. I love this. She danced to the Opening Intro of My Little Pony. Heh. Caitlyn was raised on Mass Effect and Tali’s going to be raised on My Little Pony. I’m okay with this.

But that brings about another change. I’ve said a dozen times that one of the reasons I threw myself into the Brony fandom is not only because of the amazing community, but because I realized I was afraid of what people might think if I decided to like this show. And that ticked me off.

Well, I’ve taken it to a whole new level at Blizzard. I’m actually leading the Blizzard Bronies. When I first arrived, I searched for the group, as there are Pony references littered throughout their games. (My favorite example is from Diablo 3. There’s an achievement named [Magical Mystery Couture] which just means you equip a wand, a source, and a wizard hat on your wizard at the same time. That’s a direct reference to the Season 3 finale “Magical Mystery Cure,” the musical episode where Twilight Sparkles ascends to alicorn and princess.)

Anyway, I was utterly shocked to find that there wasn’t one! After some internal debate, I decided “Screw it! I’ll start one!” For months, I was the only one in the group, because I had no way to advertise. Then someone in HR decided to do the old Summer Rush idea (you know, when all the college clubs would come out and have booths so people could sign up?). Well, I knew I would be the only one there, but I did it. I had my Build-a-Bear plushies, along with my vinyls, PMVs playing on my laptop and a signup sheet and a raffle with prizes I purchased myself. And I got eleven people.

Since then, my desk has become a tourist attraction for anybody who likes Ponies. (I have about a bajillion of them decorating my desk, screensaver and walls) A lot of the people are parents like me who got into it because of their daughters. Some of them are original Bronies, who just checked it out probably because the internet was flooded with them. But no matter what, it’s a good group now. There’s still some misunderstanding about the Brony sensation, but I’ve made it my mission to make sure people get it. They don’t have to like the show, but I want them to understand the purpose behind this culture and that it’s not weird or creepy.

I’m never going to convince everyone, but who knows? Maybe I can get a full “Elements of Harmony” quest line into the next WoW expansion. Heh. That would be awesome.

It was the year everything changed.

I think 2014 is the year of the greatest changes for us as a family. I know the addition of the kids are enormous changes to handle…but…well, remember those websites that list the events that cause the highest levels of stress? I just decided to pull one up at random. Now I know this isn’t purely scientific or anything, but here’s the events. (It’s based off of the The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, apparently)

#6 – Personal injury or illness – 53

#11 – Change in health of family member – 44

#15 – Business readjustment – 39

#16 – Change in financial state – 38

#22 – Change in responsibilities at work  – 29

#25 – Outstanding personal achievement – 28

#26 – Spouse begins or stops work – 26

#30 – Trouble with boss – 23

#31 – Change in work hours or conditions – 20

#38 – Change in sleeping habits – 16

#42 – Christmas – 12

My total is 364, which (according to the website) means I’m way above the normal line of stress. Heh. I could have told you that. Anyway, it’s just a random website I pulled up. But a lot of these events were one time events. The key is that we survived.

Laura and I have been through more than you can possibly believe. Things that I will not be sharing with you all, but know that since we managed to survive them before we had kids, it made us all the stronger. While we will probably always have the occasional fight, miscommunication, broken expectation or issue, both of us know that neither of us is walking.

Everything has changed. But instead of changing for the worse…or seeing the slow decline of my life into mediocrity, boredom and self-doubt, I can actually see a bright future ahead for the first time in a very long time.

The war with Apple is over. Laura and I are both done. We passed through it, battered, cracked and scarred, but we passed through it alive. And now, we have a whole new life to look forward to.

I think it’s only fitting that in the last few days, I’ve started a new story. You see, I’ve had trouble sleeping this last week (I got Christmas Eve-New Years Day as paid vacation) because of intense dreams. And I remembered something…that happens when I haven’t written.

This story isn’t actually new per-se. It’s a massive revision of a story I began in 2010 called “Rain.” It was a story I didn’t really know what I was doing with. Then I had this cool idea called “The Last Dreamer” about a future where humanity has done away with sleep after an unexplained plague of nightmares prevents the entire human race from sleeping properly. They’ve replaced eight hours of sleep with this wondrous technology that requires them to enter stasis for three hours a day. That was after most of the population of the solar system went half-mad…or worse. So about a hundred years later…we have someone who can dream…someone without a name, without an identity…

Someone who isn’t affected by the nightmares. And what this individual has the ability to do will change the entire course of human history…and human society.

Cool, eh?

Anyway, this has been my year in review.

So there’s only one thing to do so I can end it properly.

That’s right…it’s PMV time.

I’ve done two major events for the Blizzard Bronies. A Double Feature starring “Double Rainboom” and “A Brony Tale” and Hearth’s Warming Eve with “Snowdrop,” “Children of the Night” and a couple other things. And I’ve found the perfect finale that I’ll be using for every Blizzard Bronies Featured Event.

“House of Ponies” by Racercarghost.

 

And then I just realized something. It’s actually not New Year’s Eve. It’s New Year’s Day. So I can’t “end” this. I need to “start” this. So there’s only one thing for it.

This is the introduction PMV I play to every one of my Blizzard Bronies events: “Together” by TheAcelps:

Here’s looking forward to a New Year for the first time in a long time. May it be filled with fun, friends, games and a hell of a lot of writing. 😉

-rks

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Beyond the Waterfall: Published!

It’s done.

It’s finally, finally, finally, finally done.

Words cannot express how happy I am to have Beyond the Waterfall finally in the Amazon.com “review” process. I’ll be doing another post as soon as I find that the book it actually live, providing everyone with links and everything.

For now, it’s going to be an exclusive Kindle publication.

Wow…finally done.

It’s ironic. Jenn Hunt, who’s an amazing professional editor, did the final edits for me. And do you know where I went through them? Mission Viejo Library, the inspiration for the McKinley Heights Library in Waterfall. But for the record, all the drama and stuff was completely fictional, hence the name change. I do love that library.

It’s been a very long week for me. More mounts and fun in WoW and I got to attend the Cinematic Premiere for WoW: Warlords of Draenor. That was pretty damn cool. Even got to shake hands with Mike Morhaime at a New Hire Mixer that night. What I love about him is that he seems like a really normal guy. I suspect he actually is and I secretly wonder if he’s as astounded by Blizzard’s growth as everyone else was back in the day.

I love this darn company. Love it.

It’s been a very long week but with the publishing of Waterfall, it’s finally over.

My next writing project is to finish the rewrite of Stormhaven. And then? I think it’s time to go back to Taylin and get that ready to actually rock and roll. But for tonight, it’s a time to finally slow down and enjoy myself.

So have a PMV!

Good luck and have fun everyone!

I’ll post tomorrow most likely with links!

-rks

Astride the Exceptional

Beyond the Waterfall

Good news! Beyond the Waterfall has finally passed through Blizzard Side Projects! I’m clear to publish it. Good timing too, since an editor friend of mine just offered to take one last look at it before it goes “to print.” She said it would be done by next weekend. So what does that mean? You get to read a new story next weekend for a whole $2.99. And it’s totally worth the $3, because it’s a heck of a lot longer than Glimmer. 🙂

I’m hoping to get a carte blanche cover for the rest of my stories so I don’t have to do this with all of them. But we’ll see. If not, I’m going to FLOOD THEM with everything I’ve ever written and ever plan to publish. Heheheheheh.

Something cool? I get to actually attend the World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Cinematic Premiere at the Ace Theater in LA this Thursday. I’m seriously psyched for this. Going to be a big deal. Yup.

 

Speaking of World of Warcraft…

I’ve done some cool things in there lately. First of all, I managed to get together through OQueue with a guild called “Friendly Fire” from Proudmoore. Great group of people who were doing 10-Man Normal Siege of Orgrimmar. You see, I’ve been working hard to take down Garrosh Hellscream before the Warlords pre-patch hits so I can get the special achievement and the Kor’kron War Wolf. Well, it didn’t happen the first night I ran with them, but last Saturday night…it did. Honestly, it happened so quickly, I didn’t even realize what had happened! Real victory! I got the achievement, the title “Conquerer of Orgrimmar” and the [Reins of the Kor’kron War Wolf]!

Lyssinna Astride the Kor'kron War Wolf

Lyssinna Astride the Kor’kron War Wolf

The Achievement!

The Achievement!

On the Throne of the Horde

On the Throne of the Horde

But it doesn’t end there. Oh no, not in the slightest.

You see, I ran with Friendly Fire again last night, but we couldn’t down Garrosh. Had some issues with bad spacing and folks were getting discouraged. That’s okay…because I got into a 25M Heroic ICC and cleared out all but one of the achievements I need for the meta-achievement and the [Reins of the Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher]. It means that first thing next week, I’ll be getting that mount.

After that, I didn’t really feel like raiding or anything else, so I did something I hadn’t done in a long while…I went mount hunting. The first place was The Eye of Eternity to take down Malygos…and to my utter shock…he dropped [Reins of the Azure Drake]!

Soaring on Azure Skies

Soaring on Azure Skies

Soaring on Azure Skies

Soaring on Azure Skies

I’d been hunting for this mount off and on for YEARS. Seriously. And it’s freaking gorgeous! It’s the special one too, not just the Blue Drake, but the Azure with all the cool arcane runes along the sides…

So I felt pretty darn lucky after that. I decided to hit up a few other locations. Skadi didn’t decide to give me his blue proto-drake, so I headed to Tempest Keep. Instead of killing all the bosses like I usually do, I decided to skip them all and head right for Kael’thas Sunstrider. I moved his adds around and finally downed him after what seemed like hours of him yakking at me instead of killing him (Monologuing anyone?)

You Sly Dog

And then the most incredible (pun intended) thing happened…

The [Ashes of Al’ar] dropped.

Reborn

Reborn

This is probably one of the rarest mounts in the game still. People (like me) have farmed it for years to no avail. I never expected it to actually drop for me. But it did. It actually did. Now want to know why this mount is so special?

A quote from the WoWHead Comments on the Ashes of Al’ar

“…the first ever phoenix mount was given away to Ezra Chatterton, the young man who recently went to Blizzard’s offices with the Make-A-Wish foundation. Ezra was given the first ever Phoenix mount in game for two reasons. First, it was probably the best gift that Blizzard could really give any gamer as far as one of the new Outland mounts. Netherdrakes are awesome, but a phoenix trumps that, if you ask me! And hey, who wouldn’t want a mount that could move at 310% speed like the Swift Nether Drake arena award mount. Secondly, as Ezra’s father Micah explained to me, the phoenix is an extremely important personal symbol for him…”

That’s right. It’s one of Blizzard’s most famous Make-A-Wish deals. Ezra did sadly fall to his cancer, but he lives on in this mount and in a small quest chain in Mulgore where he actually voiced his own Tauren character, who asks you to go find his dog. It’s sweet. Very sweet.

Soaring over Dustwallow Marsh by the Moonlight

Ashes of Al'ar Achievement!

Ashes of Al’ar Achievement!

I did go after Onyxia and Rivendare’s Charger, but no dice there. But I’m more than happy. Three awesome mounts in two weeks and two of them extremely rare and in the same night? Within the same HOUR? That’s awesome.

Freaking awesome.

 

Okay folks. Enough about WoW for the moment. Sounds like Tali might need me.

Because of all the screenshots, no PMV for this week!

 

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

 

PS You’re definitely getting a post next week when I launch “Beyond the Waterfall!”

Final Considerations

So, you’re probably wondering AGAIN about Waterfall.

Sadly, it’s still in committee. I pray that it’ll be done soon. And I also pray that after I deal with this one, I can get a carte blanche clearance to publish without having to go through legs. But since I’m new, I want to follow the rules exactly by the book. So it’s totally out my hands.

I’m waiting. And that’s all there is to it.

Other writing things? Let’s see…I’m still working on my rewrite of Stormhaven, but I’ve probably allowed WoW to take my lunch time a bit too much. But since the new expansion is coming out soon and there are a few specific things I want to do before launch…eh, it’s a hard decision. I’m trying to go back and forth.

By the way, if you happen to play WoW and you’re interested in assisting me in killing Garrosh just once on 10-Man Normal, let me know.

The Inklings are having a bit of a hard time lately. We’ve lost a few people due to inactivity. If you’re interested in a writing critique group, please let me know. However, we’re still making it work. There are a few who are dedicated to making this work. Some folks believe in summer breaks. They can do that, but I’m not going to. If you’re serious about writing, you need to keep at it.

Pfft. Look who’s talking. *Sigh*

 

There’s not a lot else to report. Things are going pretty well at Blizzard. I’m definitely enjoying my time there…is so much better than Apple. And nothing new for Laura yet. So it’s just me as the provider at the moment.

It’s been a long weekend…and pretty stressful, so this is about all I have left in me right now.

So instead, you don’t get a PMV. You get an official flashback on Season 4 instead!

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched Season 4, do NOT watch this.

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

Good News and Bad News

Let’s start with the Good News:

“Beyond the Waterfall” is done.

The story has gone through its final audible edit.

The story has been properly tweaked to be correctly formatted.

The story has been proofed in Amazon Previewer for Kindles and iPads.

The cover is done and uploaded to Amazon.

The story has been converted into the Kindle file format.

The story has been uploaded to Amazon.

 

The Bad News?

I’m struggling to come up with a good description of the story.

 

Yeah, I’m actually really having trouble with it. I’m not good at boiling down my stories to a few sentences. And every direction I try doesn’t seem to work! So it means that Beyond the Waterfall is going to be delayed a little longer. But once I get the description done, it’ll be published that day.

Now, I should probably just do this today. But last night was very rough and I’m exhausted. I can barely think. Ironically, tanking an LFR Raid in WoW takes less brain power for me than coming up with this kind of stuff.

So I’m going to let this settle for a bit and think about it rather than trying to rush it. After all, this is what will sell the story more than anything.

 

I’m also happy to say that I finally have my own desk at Blizzard. That is freaking awesome. I know there’s a huge thing about the evil nature of cubicles, but honestly, I don’t mind at all. I’m thrilled. I’ve never had my own space in any place I’ve ever worked. But I have some (okay, a lot) Pony stuff up, pictures of Laura and the girls, some books and a few posters. 🙂 I love it.

This place is spoiling me rotten. Heh.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’ll be posting as soon as I get the story description done, but I’m not going to force it as I originally intended to.

 

Until then, good luck and have fun!

-rks

Dreams + Reality = Epic

Well, it’s hard to believe I’ve already been at Blizzard for over a week now. It’s still not even real. I got to have lunch with Laura and the girls there with a few friends, to take tours, to know some actual stuff that others don’t know and to meet my entire team. Hell, the second day was a pancake breakfast for my team. Seriously. This place is freaking amazing. Even had to chance to score some cool Blizzard swag. It’s funny how long time employees complain (good-naturedly) about having too much, but I’m just starting out, so I’m thrilled.

But the best part? The people I’m working with are my kind of people. I mean that by saying they are gamers, techies, nerds and geeks. But not only that…they are also parents of small children around my age.

You see, at Apple, I always felt I was surrounded by jocks and party kids. People I had little to nothing in common with. But now? I feel totally at ease with these people, aside from my stupid natural shyness which is rearing its head something fierce.

This place is unbelievable. I wish I could tell you all the reasons why…but it truly is. I know this is where I’m meant to be. And I’m so thankful to God for pulling off this insane impossible miracle. It’s still not real…and it won’t be for a long time, I suspect.

As for my writing, things are actually going well. Last week, even with my new schedule, I managed to do some work on Stormhaven. This week, I’ll be focusing on getting Waterfall done. There’s also been some development on that whole anthology thing…aside from enormous amounts of drama. I’ll let you know as that develops.

Other than that, there’s not much to report. I’m behind on my critiques for this week, so I need to tackle that tonight. Not sure what I’ll do later, but that needs to be done today!

And just to celebrate the Blizzard thing (and no one even blinked twice about the Pony thing), here’s the 20th Anniversary Special Video!


Good luck and have fun!

-rks

Adventure to Azeroth: A Retrospective, Part III

Part III: The Year of the Author

I’d submitted to the Blizzard Global Writing Contest in 2010, but hadn’t placed. Ironically, it was a poor review by a friend of mine which drove me to start doing personal journals daily. I just had to process the information somehow and it was the best option. It was the origin story of the Mage Dayshaun, who would eventually become Lyssinna.

When the new Contest with live on August 15, 2011, I did my homework. I studied the previous winners and all the recently-released Leader Short Stories. Exhaustively. I read through the Grand Prize winners a few times. I realized that the winners of the contests had all taken known-characters and revealed hidden parts of the story that just hadn’t been addressed in books or the games themselves.

So after taking some time, I finally landed on an idea of General Marcus Jonathan fighting to survive Deathwing’s attack on Stormwind. The story went through at least 30 revisions. I slaved away on this story for months. And just a few days before the deadline, Blizzard decides to come out with Varian Wrynn’s Leadership short story, which occurs a short time after Deathwing’s attack. I freaked…but found out that I only needed minor changes to make it work with my own story.

I submitted it with about 18 minutes to spare and hoped for the best.

The Tease of WoWInsider

The Tease of WoWInsider

On December 19, 2011, I saw on WoWInsider.com that the winners had been posted. I was crushed to see that my name wasn’t on the list. I remember being in the Genius Room at the time. My Store Manager came in and said I looked like someone had just punched my dog. I mentioned what had happened and just shrugged. A coworker was next to me at the time. I decided to click on the link for the actual article on Blizzard’s website

The first part was no surprise.

*Sigh*

*Sigh*

But just beyond that was a section that wasn’t listed in the WoWInsider.com article.

What's that there at the top?

What’s that there at the top?

And there…to my shock…I saw my name at the top of the Honorable Mentions list. I just pointed, barely able to speak. My coworker immediately stormed out of the room and hauled the Store Manager back into the room and pointed. I couldn’t believe it. He laughed and clapped me on the shoulder.

Ashes over Stormwind” had won Honorable Mention!

But it got even better. That night when Laura and I were celebrating at Olive Garden, I got an email from none other than Tommy Newcomer, an Associate Publishing Developer attached to Creative Development for Blizzard!.

Salutations from Blizzard Entertainment, Ryan!

If you haven’t already seen the blog posts on our websites, YOU received an honorable mention in the 2011 Global Writing Contest with your entry, “Ashes over Stormwind”! You may now commence the bacchanalia (if it wasn’t already under way).

We really enjoyed your portrayal of Marcus Jonathan, and while many stories this year dealt with the chaos in Stormwind during Deathwing’s attack, yours was easily the most vivid re-creation of the event. We look forward to seeing what you come up with for next year’s global writing contest!

Congratulations, once again, and feel free to keep in touch if you have any questions or concerns!

-Tommy Newcomer
Associate Publishing Developer
Creative Development
Blizzard Entertainment

I was beyond shocked and beyond overjoyed. Not only was it one of the greatest moments of my life, but I had always struggled with an absolutely vicious internal critic for my writing, always telling me that my writing was horrible and that no one was being truthful enough to say it.

Well, now I had absolute and irrefutable proof that I was a damn good writer. To this day, this event has permanently shut up that little voice.

 

The Wrench and the Hammer

But even better? In February of 2012, I found out that the Wyrmrest Accord forums was doing a community writing contest. I decided to enter this (though I can’t quite remember if this was before or after I found out about the Honorable Mention. I think after).

And I decided to do the same general idea: take a scene that isn’t really told in the books or game. But this time I tackled one of my secondary ideas from the first contest. So was born “The Wrench and the Hammer.”

Synopsis: As the gnomes enjoy a brief lull in the ongoing battle to reclaim their homeland, High Tinker Gelbin Mekkatorque embarks through a blizzard to pay his respects to his fallen friend. But Ironforge is a far different place under the rule of the Council of Three Hammers…

I remember writing this story in about a week, but I still worked my tail off. I actually created an English to Dwarvish dictionary by studying the Dwarvish accents in “The Shattering” to make sure the accents were correct. And my hard work paid off.

I want to put in a few posts from the Forum Thread about the contest. Am I showing off a little? Probably. 😉

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Because then I got this email. 🙂

Hello, Lyssinna!

Congratulations! It was such a hard decision to make, but I can say with all my honesty that you were above and beyond the most deserving recipient of a grand prize! Myself, Thokk, and Sinphonii all found ourselves in agreement on this, it couldn’t have gone any other way!

So huzzah! Hooray! Your talent with the written art has won you a Heart of the Aspects mount! Please get back to me and we’ll iron out the details of your prize!

Thanks again for your submission,

Aibreann

That’s right, I was Grand Prize Winner. Several people in the forums said that mine was voted for top at 110%. It was fantastic.

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These two events helped give me the courage to write ANYTHING. Seriously anything. The inner critic was DEAD. I knew I could write anything I needed to, as long as I put enough effort into it…

…I could get published.

 

Contacts

Now, since I worked at the Genius Bar, I had the opportunity to meet thousands of people every month. I didn’t often get Blizzard employees, but I definitely did make sure to ask questions for those who I did. I made two major contacts, a couple expecting their first child who gave me a ton of advice on how to apply and what to put in the resume, and a second who we actually became friends with for a while.

Sadly, the second, who had a very unique position within Blizzard, was laid off during February of 2012. It was too bad, because they were great people. Laura, Caitlyn and I even had dinner with them at one point and they were kind enough to give me a copy of the Diablo 3 “Book of Cain.” They were good people.

The other sad part was that the man behind the Blizzard Global Writing Contest was also let go, making 2011 the last year for the contest. But at least I managed to get my name on Blizzard’s website before that ended.

 

2012 and Beyond

I’m going to stop here because I want to end things on a really high note. This was one of the greatest periods of my life. Things get a lot rougher after this. A whole lot rougher. But that’s okay, because we know how at least that part ends.

Tomorrow, I’ll release Part IV where we approach current events. Stay tuned!

Good luck and have fun!

-rks