Among the OASIS and Shardblades

So this has been an eventful week for me.

Work things have occurred. Things that are forcing me to move forward with plans, no matter if I like it or not. One day, I will speak of these things openly. But not today. As of today, it’s still time to just say that things outside of my control have begun…and now I must stay ahead of them.

In addition, I took the time today at lunch to use the program “Aeon Timeline” to plot out the existing timeline of “Steam and Magic.” Why is this important? Because it’s been driving me crazy on the length of time it will take for the Rose to reach one point from another. And now that I have that planned and plotted, I finally got to look and realize where I needed plot points to happen and how they could fit together. I finally have a few things to write. I’ve been stuck in this forever.

At the moment, I’m still waiting for my very busy friend to get a free moment to finish the critiques on “Beyond the Waterfall.” I promised not to publish until she was done. And since she’s so busy with her own work, it might be a bit until that sees the light of day. Just be patient. It’s coming, I promise.

I had a lovely day with Tali yesterday. Just a wonderful day. In fact, we spent a vast majority of the day listening to “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. And that’s the main topic for today’s blog. I want to write down my thoughts on “Ready Player One” and Brandon Sanderson’s “Way of Kings.”

Oh yes, I’ll try and avoid any spoilers.

The Stormlight Archive: Book 1: The Way of Kings

I’ll start with the official synopsis, taken from Sanderson’s website.

Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by overpowering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under the eminent scholar and notorious heretic Jasnah Kholin, Dalinar’s niece. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of more than ten years of planning, writing, and worldbuilding, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

I should mention that I listened to this through Audible.com, which is my go to source for all Audiobooks. It was narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. Let’s start with them. I’ve listened to these two before, since they were the two who did the “Wheel of Time” series…and they drove me batty. But I started to realize my problem was so much with the narrative, but the books as well. I had been used to the narrator for the Discworld series, Stephen Briggs and Nigel Planer (Planer is just freaking AMAZING). These two readers were powerful, entertaining and just slightly crazy. However, Reading and Kramer are much more subtle. They’re a bit monotone. They don’t really get passionate in their readings. Don’t get me wrong, they’re total professionals, but it can come across as dull.

However, it’s more about the book, right? Way of Kings takes a long time to get moving. And it’s huge at 45 hours for the Audiobook version. It’s very slow going at the beginning and it’s frankly not until the end where the three main character threads intertwine. However, the sheer richness of this world is almost overwhelming. I can’t handle it all. Even after reading the entire first book, I get the feeling that I’ve only seen a corner of the world, a tiny sliver of an enormous boulder. Sanderson has world-built this place better than anything I’ve ever seen. It’s astounding.

And the characters? Amazing. Simply amazing. You really get in connection with these characters. What drives them, what they hate, what they love and what they dream. I don’t think I’ve read any of his stories where characters have been so richly defined.

The magic system is also very interesting, but instead of revealing most of it like he does in his other books, Sanderson takes his time. You get the feeling he’s only touched the surface as to what the magic system can do…and what’s really powering it. In the end, you’re left with more questions than answers.

The finale is simply EPIC. Sanderson is well known for his spectacular fight scenes and this one does not disappoint. We have a full scale WAR going on here at the end of the story. But the true shockers are the brief one-perspectrive chapters at the end. The final revelation at the end of the book? That twist will probably pop your head right off. I’m still reeling from it days afterward.

In the end, this is Sanderson writ large. While it takes a good long while to get going, it’s worth the wait. It doesn’t grab you quite as powerfully as the others, but by the time you reach the end, you’ll find yourself unable to stop. It’s a great ride. And I’m looking forward to the next book which I just might read next. You definitely need to check it out. 

 

Ready Player One

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.

A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?

Okay, I’ve had friends recommend this to me before, but I was in the middle of Way of Kings at the time and got away from audiobooks for a while. Once I finished Way of Kings, this was the next book on my list. And I think I finished the audiobook version, all 15 hours of it, in three days. In fact, I was listening to it with Tali most of the time. Every commute that I could (save for those with Caitlyn, because she could repeat some of those words…and the main characters tend to enjoy their colorful language), too.

Let me first get one thing out of the way: there are plenty of infodumps in this book. Especially when you’re listening to the Audible version of it. Sometimes they can be so long that you forget the events the characters were going through. However, I was willing to forgive it because the backstory on the world, the OASIS and the characters was so damn interesting. I kept losing myself within these miniature stories-within-a-story. It was somewhat jarring to come back out of them, but the flow was good enough that it pulled you right back into the main story. (So imagine if Lost had actually told a story well…, but I digress).

While I’m not the greatest fan of Wil Wheaton’s narration (I don’t feel he does that great with different voices or accents), this story was just amazing. I love all the nostalgia. While I’m about five years too young to enjoy all of the references, I do remember the Colossal Cave Adventure. I played Joust on the Atari (when most kids were playing with Nintendo…my parents didn’t exactly help my gaming career save for some PC games). I remember the tales of Dungeons and Dragons, though sadly I’ve never actually played a game (something I still regret to this day).

This book is a celebration of some of the most iconic pop culture that still defines our era.

But the best part to me was the relationships and the revelations. More than anything I wanted to see the answer to the “will they/won’t they.” I love seeing these people who are unabashed shut ins and social pariahs building real relationships that move past the borders of fantasy and into reality. They become real people even as they fight for a virtual reality. And I think that’s the greatest accomplishment of this book.

The OASIS currently has a present-day counterpart. Second Life. You could also argue that it also lives on in Everquest, SW:ToR, WoW and all the other MMORPGs. I know how addicting being someone else can be. I was insanely addicted to Second Life…so much so that it almost wrecked my real life in ways that are a bit too personal to discuss on a public blog. Needless to say, I made a vow to myself and my wife that I would never enter Linden Lab’s game ever again. The temptation is just too strong.

And that might be the reason this book resonates with me so very much. I’ve been in the main character’s shoes. I’ve created new personas online and metaphorically passed through the screen, becoming this other person. It happened before I was married and sadly, a few times afterwards too.

And I think that’s why I loved this book so much. Because of the ending. Because we all have villains in our lives we would love to fight using giant mechs, plasma rifles and elven swords. They might not be the world-crushing baddie, but we all have bullies and jerks around us that we wish we could challenge to single combat. And in the end, we all want to be heroes of our own lives. This book has that in spades.

Good characters, great references, fantastic action. This is a required read for anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s…and doesn’t mind playing the occasional game. 😉 A must buy.

 

Well, this is already at 2138 words. Way longer than my last few posts put together. But I was super-passionate about these two books, especially “Ready Player One.” I admit I’m sad that I don’t get to listen to Wil’s voice anymore for the story. I’m sorta hoping we might get a sequel someday. Maybe, maybe not. No matter, it’s still a damn fine book. Both are.

I don’t have a PMV for you today. I regret to inform you that my favorite MLP fan-animation studio “Jan Animations” got hit with a Cease and Desist order a few days ago due to trademark issues. It’s a long story and there’s someone who’s already talked about it far more effectively than I can. I’m hoping Jan and Hasbro can work out some sort of deal…but I’m also glad I saved all of his amazing videos to my computer.

So tonight, I will just wish you good luck and have fun.

-rks

Advertisements

Dimensions, Scrolls and Blocks

Right now I should be writing. But allergies are kicking me in the tail. Either that or I’m actually sick. So this is about all I got within me. And in all honesty, I don’t even want to do this. I might even have a fever, but need to work since I need the money.

Ah, such is the way of life.

This week I managed to do a pretty serious critique of “Beyond the Waterfall” due to one of my good friends’ kindly (and occasionally brutal) critique. I think the newer version sounds fantastic. She requested I not publish it until she gets a chance to do the full critique, so that’s why it didn’t come out yet. But soon. Still, it was hard and I don’t enjoy editing. But at least I’m over halfway there.

I found out recently that my dimensions and scaling may have been wrong for my map of Taylin. My math was wrong during my initial calculations. Why is this important? Because I want to have an accurate length of time for travel time, important especially if a new style of airship is crossing entire nations.

Blocks!

Something cute Caitlyn’s been doing lately. She’s insisted the last two days that I take some of her large building blocks with me to work. I now have 2. Heh. And yes, I am reading Warbreaker again. 🙂

The last thing to talk about today is Elder Scroll Online. I got into the beta this weekend and was very impressed. I don’t have the mind for a full-blown review right now, but I think it’s excellent. It’s quite polished, very little load time (SWToR drove me crazy with incredibly long wait times). But it’s the combat I really enjoy. Most of the MMOs I play are based of the d20 method…using random rolls to figure out damage. I cast a spell and the computer calculates resistances, misses, armor, etc. However, Elder Scrolls Online has a reactive combat system. In fact, if you’ve played Oblivion or Skyrim…it’s the exact same combat system (at least with weapons, I didn’t really explore magic). That alone makes things interesting. It means it’s much more based around talent and ability than simple gear. Blocking at the right time can stun an enemy. Stealth works the same too.

Anyway, I really enjoyed my time in the beta. I’m considering getting the game.

Well, that’s it for this week. I know it’s not a lot, but since I skipped so recently, I needed to do something.

Here’s your PMV for the week.

 

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

Distortions in Reality

I hope you’ll excuse my lack of a post last week. Things remain extremely difficult for me at the moment. Emotions can be quite overpowering, quite overpowering indeed. The panic attacks have not stopped. Indeed, I seem to be getting them more often, but also getting them at very strange times, like after good social events. It doesn’t make sense to me. But what else is new? Emotions are not logical or rational.

But let’s talk about the writing shall we?

I’ve actually made some progress lately. I did another edit of “Beyond the Waterfall” and I hope I get the time tomorrow to actually finish the edits I’ve been doing. I’ve been sitting on it for too long. Some folks have had the chance to give me critiques and reviews, some have become too busy. And that’s okay. Life happens. But I know I’ve waited too long already. This was supposed to be out at the end of January.

So…let’s just put this on the books, shall we? I’m aiming for next Sunday for the release date, if not sooner.

Steam and Magic is slowly progressing. I managed to have a single day with 910 words, which was a personal best lately. The emotional state continues to drain my creative energy…and I haven’t found an effective way to combat that. The discipline I had before I returned to work seems to have crumbled in the wake of my new responsibilities…namely dealing with both Tali and Caitlyn. Harder than I expected…especially lately as Tali has become almost insanely fussy at times. *Sigh* Such is the life of a parent of a 4-month-old.

The OC Inklings is going very well. People seem very happy with it. And I got to meet some of those I hadn’t met in person this last Thursday when Laura had a shift that allowed me to attend the Lake Forest Panera Bread Write-In. I think that was the 910 day. There’s also potential for another story of mine to be launched sometime in April. But it felt so good to actually get to go to my writing group. I’ve missed it terribly. There’s something so energizing about meeting face to face with other writers, even helping other writers with different perspectives on their work.

Job wise? Nothing to report, sadly. Nothing at all.

I don’t really have a lot else to say personally. I have no desire to dump my depression issues onto the internet and subject you to such things. Well, there’s a little bit of a desire, but I’m not going to do it.

However, I do want to share something close to me. You all know the story of Michael Morones and his struggle after his attempted suicide at the end of January. I just searched for an update on him…and was shocked to see my initial blog post the SEVENTH entry under a Google search for his name. Good Lord, didn’t see that coming. How many people have read that post?

Anyway, that’s not what this is about. I wanted to share the latest update, taken directly from MichaelMorones.org:

***Update from Michael’s Mom***: As of late, we have not posted an in-depth update about Michael. Not because we don’t want to share, but because we have been busy and I have become a little shy about what we share because some people have said very unkind things. But I really want to share with you guys! So, here we go!

Michael has been making huge strides. For you and I, they are things that seem small and simple, but we have to keep in mind that Michael has brain damage and everything is huge for Michael. We DO NOT know if he can see. We suspect he has SOME vision, but to what extent, we just don’t know yet. He has a neurological condition that is common with his brain injury called myoclonus. What this means is that his brain and spinal cord are working to reconnect, but the transmission of signals has a bit of static so he shivers or when startled, jerks uncontrollably. This could resolve in time, get better or never go away. The brain is going to heal to some extent or completely, we just do not know. Only time and patience will help us see where it will go. Michael is not speaking, yet, and he may or may not be able to. We are trying to start the very long process of weaning him from the trachea. It may or may not be successful, but we are incredibly hopeful that it will be. During physical therapy, Michael will sometimes hold his head for a few seconds, but more often than not needs support for his entire body. As you could see in the video, we believe that he hears and comprehends, but to what extent or how delayed his reactions are we don’t know. Only time will help us know these things.

So what does this all come down to? Michael, for the foreseeable future and according to doctors, will need medical care and will be dependent on others for the rest of his life. While he is FAR beyond where they saw him being on the night of January 23 when he attempted suicide, he is a LONG way from being where he was on January 22.

Our lives, not just Michael’s, will never be the same. Something terrible and tragic happened, and you just can’t go back to like it was before. But out of this tragedy, something wonderful will rise. My son is still alive against the odds. A community of people full of acceptance and love for a complete stranger has come together. Not only to support Michael, but also each other. It is a truly amazing thing, and will only continue to grow and get bigger. The love and strength from all of you in the GUMC Community, the Brony community and the human race in general has kept me going for Michael. The moments I have felt weak, or simply not good enough for this task set before me were when all of your cards, comments and well-wishes kept me going. I will make sure that something good will come from this, that Michael will always be safe and loved. Thank you everyone for your love, support, prayers and positive thoughts.

Hugs and loves,
Tiffany
#TeamMightyMichael

This is a wonderful thing. There have been a few YouTube videos showing his recovery…but I can’t bear to watch them. Because I’m worried I’ll start crying and won’t be able to stop. You can check out one of them at Equestria Daily’s Post.

Anyway, as life continues for me…I understand this kid more than I ever expected to.

But let’s stop for something fun. It’s PMV time folks. If you’re a gamer, you’ll love this.


Until next time folks. Good luck and have fun.

-rks

A Mixed Bag

This week has…you guessed it…been a bit of a mixed bag.

I’m starting to actually make some progress with “Steam and Magic,” but it is slow, very slow. The frustration and depression have pretty much sapped my creativity to the point where I have next to nothing. However, during the course of the week, I’ve found some inspiration in these short beginnings I’ve called “Fragments.”

A fragment is a lot like it sounds. It’s usually a beginning of a story. Something random. Depending on my mood, something often combat related. I might post a few of them later. I might turn them into short stories or even novels someday. Not really sure what I’m going to do with them. I’ve even made a little progress just today with Steam and Magic itself.

I’ve spent some time plotting out the overarching story of Steam and Magic, but I’m concerned I’m not getting enough of it really into beginning. I’m already 107,000 words into the story and I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s really at stake in these novels. However, that is something I can “fix in post.” So I’m pushing myself forward.

The OC Inklings is also going pretty well. I’m getting some great feedback for my own work and I think everyone else is really enjoying it too.

I have some possible help coming in the whole work thing. Some generous individuals have offered to come to my aid. I’m hoping that good things will come of it, but at the moment, I’m keeping things on the down-low.

Let’s see…what else?

Oh, Laura and I had a pretty good Valentine’s Day, which was actually done on the 15th, Laura’s birthday. After leaving Tali and Caitlyn with the wonderful babysitter Chelsey, who used to watch Caitlyn when she was much smaller, we headed out to this great little Italian place named Maggiano’s. After an excellent dinner there, we headed over to the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa to for the Valentine’s Day Special starring Matthew Morrison, or better known as Will Schuester, the optimistic and charming teacher on “Glee.”

We started with a good old symphony orchestra from our seats in the nosebleed section (I actually had vertigo when we first got up there!). And the songs played were:

Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah (this was freaking great, adventurous sounding too!)
Love is a Many Splendored Thing
All the Things You Are
Someone to Watch over Me (Very sweet)
Suite from Father of the Bride (Beautiful, especially the way the wedding march was woven into the piece)
Stuermisch in lieb und taenze, op. 393 – “Tempestuous in love and dance”

But the real treat was Morrison himself. He was hysterical and brilliantly talented. He did all sorts of things such as “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Luck be a Lady Tonight” and the excellent “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” Laura and I both loved it. It was a spectacular performance, even though we were way up in the rafters. He ended the night with “Sway with Me,” “Singing in the Rain” and finally did a duet version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with a student from his former school (which was wonderful.).

In the end, it was a very good night, something that I think Laura and I both needed desperately. Some time to actually enjoy ourselves together without juggling two children.

There’s not a lot else to tell right now. I’m sorry, but it’s been one of those weeks. I’ve been fighting panic attacks and depression a lot of the time and that’s made things hard on my writing. Thankfully, I’m on the path to getting help.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying/fighting the whole Skyrim mod thing. I’ve probably gone just a bit nutty with the level of Mods, forcing me to get various managers and such to work them out. It’s a huge challenge, but since it’s something new and deals a bit with programming, I don’t mind as much.

And now, just for fun, I’m going to post a Fragment called “Dungeon Fight”

The blade clattered to the cold stone at our dancing feet. The iridescent runes vanished on impact, casting half of the decrepit room into darkness. I followed up with a two handed strike at the creature’s head. The Raket slapped away the blow with one of its iron claws as if I was a child.

The second blow I didn’t even see coming, but it sent me flying across the room and into a musty, half-rotted bookshelf. Bits of moth-eaten leather and paper cascaded around me as the creature roared in defiance.

I didn’t hesitate, instantly taking advantage of the pause. I slammed my right open palm into the ground and the blast of shadow propelled me to my feet. It would take a moment for the nightglove to recharge, but I didn’t waste the time. I gripped my main hand blade, a twin of the one on the other side of the room and rushed the feral Raket.

Bulging muscles under thick greasy fur tensed as I swung my weapon at its neck. All four of its eyes tracked the movement, but it still wasn’t ready for the feint. It swung, but I was a hair quicker, twisting the arc of my blow away from the neck and down toward the legs in a great sweep. The thing hadn’t been ready for such an odd attack and screamed as Gemheart’s icy edge bit into muscle and sinew.

I rolled with the swing, creating a great gash that forced the creature to stumble and took a moment to grab my fallen blade. As soon as my hand closed around the hilt, I felt the nightglove connect with the ebony heart built into the crosshilt and the runes sprang to life again, pushing back the darkness.

I popped my neck and fell into the Esar stance, holding each blade out in front of me, swinging them around in my hands to keep the creature focused on the right thing.

It turned and bellowed, favoring its right leg. I eyed the glowing keystone around its neck. It was the last piece I needed to open the great gantry beyond the ancient library.

It came at me flailing, maddened by the gash in its leg. I dodged left, using a half pulse of shadow from my left nightglove. It wasn’t much, just enough to get me clear of those claws and to land a double slice across the monster’s side. Blood dripped from the wounds when the beast crashed into the thick lichen-covered stone.

I pressed the attack and struck hard with Gemheart, slamming the blade into the creature’s shoulder. It howled in agony and backhanded me, but I saw it coming and infused a shadow-grip, using the weapon buried in the Raket’s side to keep me there.

I was quicker this time, using both blades to cut the tendons above the feet. The earsplitting shriek deafened me, but it didn’t stop me.

And finally, for my own entertainment above anything else, it’s time for a PMV.

That’s it for this week folks.

Good luck and have fun.

-rks

Tests of Balance

Work’s been hard the last few days. Can’t really give specifics. I rambled on for a while about it while being all vague, but it just was a jumble of nonsense. I got so annoyed, I decided to restart this post. Yeah, I got that annoyed with the ramble.

So let’s talk about what’s going on other than work, shall we?

The Michael Morones story has gotten pretty big, huh? You’ve probably seen it in mainstream media. Can I just say that I’m proud to be part of the “first responders” group for this poor child? And I’m proud of my community for it. The Bronies are awesome. I’m no longer a closet Brony in the slightest and this was the event that changed it for me. Please, take a moment to consider donating if you haven’t.

Writing

I’m letting “Beyond the Waterfall” sit for a time. A friend of mine who’s a professional editor is taking a look at it and I don’t really want to move forward until I see her thoughts. I’ve never had a full professional edit, though. I’m a bit scared, but I know this is part of the experience in being an author.

Soon, I plan to go back in there and fix the issues with the critiques and such.

“What Lies Beyond Steam and Magic,” the latest novel in the “Crafters of Taylin” series cracked 100,000 words this week. In fact, I had a great whirlwind sprint of 3492 words the other day. That was awesome…and was totally thrilling too. I haven’t had a surge like that in what feels like months. Just the story flowing through my fingertips as if it was already written and all I was doing was copying it from the manuscript in my head. It was wonderful.

I recently finished an ebook called “21 Reasons You Think You Don’t Have Time to Write” which was recommended through my favorite writing podcast “Writing Excuses.” It’s nice and short. And it’s ironically targeted directly at writing parents, which seemed pretty effective. Not quite the age of Caitlyn and Talissa, but still good nonetheless. And there’s one important thing that I forgot: you rarely get a full 2 hour stretch. It’s much more common to get 20 minutes here and there. But that’s still time to use as writing. You can still do it. I remember that I won NaNoWriMo three years doing my writing primarily on my 50 minute lunch and 2 15 minute breaks.

Life

I’ll admit right now that I’m struggling. I’m struggling with my new purpose of family and writing. You see, I do suffer from depression. Writing helps most of the time…and helping others helps too. But I have a lot of trouble keeping those good thoughts in my head. My emotions tend to be extremely overpowering, to the point where I can’t think about anything else. I’m struggling with my writing…especially with both Laura and I at work. If one girl is asleep, the other is awake and needs attention. I find little time to myself…for writing or for simply recharging.

I’ve thought about cutting out video games from my life for a time…but I suspect that would be a bad idea. Gaming is one of my true releases. I can really lose myself in them. But I do need to stop gaming for hours on end and writing for only 30 minutes. That just needs to stop.

The road before me is going to be a hard one. And I don’t think I realized how hard until today.

At the moment, I’m trying to focus on the joy I can get in the moments I can. It’s hard work. Very hard work. My Little Pony is helping. As is the cooing smiles of Talissa and the squeezy hugs of Caitlyn. Even Laura is somehow giving me comfort even after battling the two girls all day.

I don’t really have a powerful end to this blog. The last two blogs have been this big things…focusing on the plight of a poor boy that still needs our help. And in the face of his struggles and trials…

I won’t let myself mentally think about what it would be like in his parents shoes. I can’t. I love my girls to death. And if someone hurt them…

So I’m focusing on what Michael would have wanted instead. Otherwise…it would likely destroy me.

Heh…

This is probably one of my more…rambling posts, eh?

So let’s just call it for the night. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. And hopefully good things will be happening and I can talk about them next week.

So let’s finish with my favorite way to finish: a Pony Music Video.

This one is freaking awesome. Seriously…the effects are utterly amazing. The sheer genius of this community never ceases to amaze me.

I’ve been actually watching this almost every morning before work to try and get my spirits up. And it’s been working. 🙂

Good luck and have fun everyone.

-rks

The Great Juggling Act of Ryan K. Stansifer

I’m not sure which statement is more appropriate for tonight.

“And so it begins” or  “And so it ends.”

You’re right. It’s probably both.

Tomorrow, I return to my normal job as a Genius for Apple Retail. I’m sure the coming week will involve a great deal of training and certification on newer products, getting used to getting into the swing of things and other minutiae of returning to work after an extended absence.

But what’s more important than any of that is how I approach it from here on out. As I said last week, writing is my new focus. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months at home, though likely not as much as I should have. I’m sure I spent too much time playing games and too little time playing with my girls or working on my stories. While my ADHD can take some of the blame for that (along with the panic attacks), in the end, it’s a choice. And in the last few days, I’ve chosen family and writing above anything else.

There is nothing in the world more important to me than my family. I will do anything to protect them and provide for them.

And the second greatest joy in my life is seeing someone connect with something I have written. To see an emotional resonance between the reader and the work I created. In truth, that is the heart of “The Crafters of Taylin.” It brings that resonance to another level…to a magical level. I think that joy is shared by any creator.

Sadly, that joy can be fleeting. The explosion of warmth can fade very quickly, like a spark in a dark room. And then you get distracted by the other things in the dark and find yourself forgetting the spark of creation. The spark of passion. The spark of giving a tiny piece of your soul to the world.

*Laughs*

I’m sorry, I’m in a strange mood tonight. The truth of the matter is, I’m a little afraid. I’ve started some great things while on leave from Apple. I started “What Lies Beyond Magic and Steam,” the most ambitious “Crafters of Taylin” book yet. I started the OC Inklings online critique group to great success. I’m about to publish my second short story on Kindle with “Beyond the Waterfall.” And then…there’s the whole new baby thing. Kinda a big deal, that.

I know in my heart that it’s imperative I don’t lose the passion to see that spark. When I suddenly have to add a 40 hour work week to the rest of my life…it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be hard to think about writing after a long day of work and an even longer drive home. It’ll probably cut severely into my gaming time. And I’ll often make hard choices about  spending time with family or spending time writing.

But I know that my eyes need to be set on those two things which are the most important to me: my family and my writing.

I don’t know if you all are the praying type, but I would ask for your prayers in this and the weeks to come. At the beginning, I’m sure I’ll be quite gung-ho about it. But as time passes…I can’t let the drudgery of daily life take that passion from me. Somehow, I have to juggle this. Somehow, I know that it’s imperative that I pull this off.

Beyond the Waterfall

The bad news? I won’t be making my deadline of tonight.

The good news? I’m probably within a week or so of publishing it up to Kindle.

I’ve got a good feeling about the story and the cover art seems to have gotten a lot of positive reviews from Facebook, which is one of the ways I help decide which one to go with. I have a horrible tendency to create variant upon variant. I could spent weeks on a cover if I wasn’t careful.

Don’t worry, the moment the story goes live on Kindle, I’ll fire off a quick post with a link. I will almost certainly be charging $2.99 for this story, as it is 10K (28 pages for paperback, 46 printed pages).

I’m really excited for this one. It was originally my entry into the OC Writers Anthology (which will eventually come out, so I’m told), but it ran way too long and I knew there was no way to trim it down to fit the goal. But I always knew something was special about this.

You see, I wrote this story as I was getting into the world of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (Don’t tune out yet, this one’s important). And I wanted to capture something…I wanted to capture my fear of disapproval. That nagging, horrible fear that tells you you’re not allowed to enjoy something because it’s “childish” or “wrong” or “what would others think?” To be honest, I’ve missed a lot of good things because I’ve let that stupid fear win out.

I think I’ve spoken about this before, but that’s the reason I threw myself into the fandom of My Little Pony and why I was (and still am) so vocal about being a fan. It’s my own personal battle against that fear, because living in fear of the disapproval of “others” as a general entity is just plain stupid.

So there, now you have a little history about what this story is about. I might add that in the afterword in the story. Maybe not. I’m not sure.

However, I do want to let you see some of the mockups I’ve done for the cover of “Beyond the Waterfall.” Now, I’ve already narrowed down my options, but if any of you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

Beyond the Waterfall Cover 3dBeyond the Waterfall Cover 1 Beyond the Waterfall Cover 3Beyond the Waterfall Cover 2 Beyond the Waterfall Cover 3aBeyond the Waterfall Cover 2a

Just thought you’d be interested in seeing the experimentation process. I’m likely going to go with something similar to the first one.

The Future

I feel like I should be putting something profound here. Something about always striving forward. Heh. Well, there is a quote that works fairly well for my final thoughts before I return to work. It’s a quote that I do love and I’ve probably put in here before. But it works.

And in the end, a writer usually tries to do what works.

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson

And now, so we don’t end on a completely serious note…you know what’s coming next, right?

Heh.

I highly recommend you check out “Don’t Mine at Night” before watching this. Because it’s freaking hysterical.

Okay folks! Good luck and have fun! I’ll see you next Sunday.

-rks

Dreams with Deadlines

Dreams with Deadlines

This blog is sort of my public journal of sorts. I honestly don’t know how many people actually read it. I know some read it by email subscription and a very small few actually come to the main page. I just added Google+ and LinkedIn, but I don’t know if that’s really going to matter or not. I’ve shared a lot of thoughts on this blog since I became serious about it. A lot of thoughts on writing, my progress, gaming, Caitlyn, Talissa and a lot of other things. 

But in the end, -rks is a writing blog. It’s about my journey to becoming a full-fledged author. To becoming a published author. One day, I hope someone will be interested enough to go into the archives and read posts like these to find out how I made it as an author.

Why am I doing this blog? Sometimes, I don’t really know. Part of it is that I know I’m supposed to. I’m supposed to do a blog. That’s what authors do these days. I know most of the time I’m talking to myself. But somehow, I’m okay with that. I’m one of those people who tend to figure out things as I write them. It’s one of the ways I think. So if I ramble, it’s probably because I’m trying to work something out. Part of it is because I hope that I might somehow find a community out there where I fit in. Part of it is because I can.

Why am I saying all of this?

Because in about a week, my Baby Bonding Time will be at an end. And that means my time at home is at an end. I haven’t worked at Apple since the middle of September due to my panic attacks and the birth of Talissa. Very soon, I’ll be going back.

I’ve been thinking a bit about what that means. About what that means for my daily writing goals. About what that means for the OC Inklings Critique Group. About what that means for me as a person. About what that means for my future.

The conclusion is one that I’ve already come to, but somehow it seems different now.

In 2011, I won Honorable Mention in the Blizzard Global Writing contest, the last one they ever did (the person who spearheaded it was laid off during that Winter, sadly). For me, that was the proof I needed that I could write. And I could write pretty damn well. Enough that out of the thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of entries, mine warranted a “Honorable Mention.” That I could take characters who were not my own and create a believable story enough for the people who originally crafted the world…that was a major milestone in my writing life. Since that event, the little voice in my head telling me that I can’t write has had no power over me. Because I had the proof that I can do this.

In the last three months, I’ve learned a lot about writing. I’ve learned a lot about networking and that “Ashes over Stormwind” was not a fluke. “Beyond the Waterfall,” the first story submitted to the OC Inklings, was 9,000 words. The assigned goal for critiquing was 3,000. Nearly everyone burned past the 3,000 mark and just finished the story. They were so interested in the events of this short story that they read their required reading twice over.

The results? Overwhelming positive. Reviews on “A Glimmer of Perspective?” Overwhelmingly positive. Comments regarding “Soul of the Scribe?” Overwhelmingly positive.

A while back, I decided I wanted to be an author for real and I wrote an extensive post on it.

As I head back to my normal day job, I’m realizing that’s exactly what it is: a normal day job. A vast majority of authors have to hold down the standard day job to make ends meet as they worked on their craft. And as I go back to Apple, that is my new mindset. I will do my job to the best of my ability. I will search for ways to push myself and learn all I can. Because places like Apple are ripe for stories. Not necessarily because of the events that happen, but in watching the way people interact with and react to one another. Coworkers, customers, managers, kids, regionals, Geniuses, salespeople…I can learn from this place and it can make my craft better.

What I believe my greatest story, “Soul of the Scribe” which spawned the “Crafters of Taylin” universe with 5 books and over 300,000 words (or more) started while I was sitting in my car on my lunch break on a hot summer’s day, staring at the screen because I was bored with the story I’d been working on and wanted something new. So I started with that. An author with writer’s block on a hot day. That became what I believe to be my masterpiece.

My passion is for writing. And one day, I hope to pursue that passion full-time. But until then, I must remember that the environments around me are what show me human interactions, which is almost always at the core of any good story.

So what does this all mean? It sounds all really fancy and hypothetical and theoretical and a lot of other -reticals.

Well, Saddleback Church is going through a series called Transformed. Heh, ironic, considering what I write, right? (Pun mildly intended there). And the lesson today was about goals. Pastor Rick Warren said that the difference between a Dream and a Goal is a Goal is a Dream with a Deadline.

So what’s my Dreams with Deadlines?

By January 27, 2014, I will have “Beyond the Waterfall” ready to go up on Kindle.

By June 1, 2014, I will have at least one novel ready to shop to traditional publishers.

By October 1, 2014, I will have a second novel ready to shop to traditional publishers.

Every week, I will continue running the OC Inklings Critique Group.

And by 2019, five years from now, I will be making enough income from my published works to pursue writing full time.

There are many who might say a few of these goals are impossible or absurd. Way too high. Especially the last one. I’ve got to be crazy right? Well, part of the whole goal this is that it stretches your faith. I can’t do this alone. I don’t have the self-discipline, I don’t have the self-control. I need God to help me…and I need writing friends to help me.

If anyone would like to be a writing buddy of mine and you’ve actually gotten this far, please let me know. I’ll tell you about my ideas.

But the true challenge? Tomorrow morning. It’s easy to make big plans in blogs. It’s easy to do big promises. And then I need to actually do the editing I need to do. It’s hard. I hate editing. But it has to be done. It has to go through that process. I need to do that work. Which is why I’ll spend some time tonight working on my critiques for “Beyond the Waterfall” after I’ve done my personal journal.

By the way, did you know I write 2000 words a day in my current work and another 1500-2000 words a day in my journal? 4,000 words a day. That’s pretty cool. Psychotic. But cool.

Other Things

I could mention other stuff, like my complete and total obliteration of the English Empire in Civilization V and the joys of seeing my invasion fleet crossing the ocean between our continents. About sending their navy to the bottom of the ocean and watching their cities fall in quick succession and enjoying wielding my insane amount of power across the globe, to the point where I send frigates wandering icy straits to take out marauding bands of pirates just for something to do.

Or the joy I got in playing “The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime” this week, in revisiting a very old and dear friend who looks damn good even after 15 years.

Or the photo shoot we did yesterday in Irvine Park which I hope to post pictures of soon.

Or the fact that we got Tali to take the bottle fully yesterday.

But today, today is about the writing. So the rest of that can wait for another time.

However, I will add a Pony Video. Because it would be weird if I didn’t, right?

It would.

IT WOULD.

This one you probably won’t get unless you’ve actually seen the episode it’s referring to, but still. It’s awesome.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. They’ll be a special post next week before I return. 🙂

Good luck and have fun!

-rks