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

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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

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

2013 – Looking Back, Looking Forward – 2014

Happy New Year to all of you!

I know there are a great many people out there who take New Year’s as a chance to go out, get drunk and party…thereby preventing themselves from having any memory of the night’s events. As you may have guessed by now, I’m not that kind of person.

Instead, I’d like to take a look back…and take a look forward. I’m sure you had no idea that’s what I was going to do this time, right? No, stop looking at the title. There’s nothing there. I said stop.

*Sigh*

Let’s move on, shall we?

What I’ve Written

A Glimmer of Perspective

Since this blog is supposedly about me as a writer, that should come first, right? Well, let’s start with the biggest accomplishment: I’m finally published.

A Glimmer of Perspective” was released on Amazon Kindle on September 6, 2013. For the first 90 days or so, I sold it at $0.99 and it did fairly well. A total of five reviews, with four five-stars and one four-star. A short time later, I published it on Nook, KOBO and iBooks using the Draft2Digital platform.

I’m not saying that it was a huge success. It wasn’t really. In fact, I’m still not sure how to promote it.

In September, I sold 11 copies of the book on Amazon.
In October, I sold 2 copies.
In November, I sold 1 copy.
In December, I told 2 copies.

In all that time, I only sold a single copy through the Nook, KOBO and iBook Channels.

In truth, I have a lot to learn about the process, especially about promoting my books. But at least I can say that I’m out there. This was a huge first step for me and I don’t think I should let myself feel marginalized just because I wasn’t an immediate smash hit.

In the Sun Eagle’s Wake

This project was supposed to originally be a short story that ballooned into a small novella I managed to finish the day before National Novel Writing Month Started. Perfect timing too. Set in a previously-unseen area of Taylin (The Scribe/Dreamscape universe), it was the story of a boy with the obsession of wanting to fly like his beloved sun eagle…but never being able to find the right kind of book to help him Change into a bird. When the chance to get access to a book that might just give him that power coincides with his first date at an impromptu festival, which will he choose?

I started it on October 11, 2013 and ended on October 30, 2013 at 12:01PM. The story clocked at 28,491 words.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this story, to be honest. Maybe one day it’ll go in an Omnibus. But it’s another story with more of the rules started.

Solstice by Starlight

I talked a little bit about this story two weeks ago. I was hoping to have it done by today, but I got rather sick in the last few days and time just managed to get away from me. *Sigh* And in truth, I really am not sure what I’m doing there. It’s supposed to be about how Pauline becomes Ak’s apprentice. However, I’m having trouble with the conflict. There are two primary conflicts…but both of them get answered in “Soul of the Scribe.” I can’t answer them early, since this is supposed to happen 4 years before the events in “Scribe.” So in the end, I decided to move back to my NaNoWriMo story…

What Lies Beyond Magic and Steam

Another great writing accomplishment for this year: winning National Novel Writing Month, even with having a second baby on October 31, 2013. I’m still not quite sure how I did it, but I did it. And this one finally gets my hero cast out of Rosan City to see the various fantastical locations all across Taylin. At the moment, our heroes are under attack by strange flying contraptions, pinned down by technology they’ve never even seen before. And that was after getting blown out of the sky (literally) as an elevator shaft was destroyed around them. They’re having a rough day, to say the least.

Anyway, while I won’t be able to get to this tonight, I’m looking forward to getting to it tomorrow. I haven’t been writing in it the last few days because I’ve been as sick as a darn dog.

In the Corridors of Light and Dreams

The second of the Taylin stories, this mammoth beast was originally my National Novel Writing Month story for 2012. In the end, it became nearly 175,000 words. I’m not quite sure what to do with it, but right now, I’m still nailing down the general universe. But I think I might be reading too much Brandon Sanderson. My novels are too darn long most of the time. Anyway, I was happy to finally finish this on March 14, 2013. It needs an immense amount of work before I’ll let anyone even see it, but there’ potential there. I should also mention that I did my NaNoWriMo with this, but I actually started this story on July 12, 2012.

Beyond the Waterfall

Beyond the Waterfall was my original entry to the OC Writer’s Anthology (which is eventually coming out, I promise!). However, the story I wanted to tell refused to fit into the guidelines provided. In fact, it was my story that stretched them quite a bit. In the end, I decided to finish this story as it was and write an entirely different story in the space of a couple weeks. I always felt this was a stronger story, but at 9,000 words, it definitely wouldn’t fit under the 4,000 word limit. I also enjoyed pouring my own burgeoning issues with my interest in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic into the main character.

Waterfall Steps

My second attempt at the OC Writer’s Anthology, it still ended up around 5,000 words, but managed to pass. This one happens six months before the events in Beyond the Waterfall, both of which are loosely tied with the Taylin world. I haven’t decided if they’re “canon” or not, but that’s a decision I can make some other time. But it’s another accomplishment, especially since I did both stories while working at another Apple Store.

A Secret Project

I also did one other short story this year that you don’t know about. And I have no intention of sharing. So ha! But it’s another one I can add to my list of accomplishments.

Stormhaven Revision

This is what I worked on during summer, hoping to create a full novel out of this. I got about 1/3 of the way into the revision before my time was demanded elsewhere.

The rest of July-August was spent working on “Glimmer” and another story I can’t quite remember trying to figure out which one to publish first.  I worked endlessly on Glimmer to make it perfect.

Other Writing-Related Projects

Taylin Map: I had did a map of the entire Taylin world, including places that shouldn’t be spoken about for years in book time.

OC Writers: After getting some time away from work, I managed to start being able to attend the OC Writers Group every Thursday. This was a huge encouragement to me. The whole no-work thing also saved me in regards to National Novel Writing Month, giving me the time I needed to work on it.

-rks Blog: I got serious about the -rks blog, as you can see, doing posts almost every week for a good portion of this year.

What’s Coming

OC Inklings: I’ve decided to take the initiative and launch the OC Inklings, which will be the OC Writers official online critique group. It’s launching January 2, 2014. And so far we have about 10 members. Which is probably all we can handle at the moment. I’ll admit I don’t have any idea what I’m really doing. I’ve ran an in-person writing group before, but never an online group. It should be interesting

Finish “Magic and Steam”: Obviously, this will be my main writing project for the time being. I’m also hoping that by finishing this, I’ll get the answers I need for “Solstice by Starlight.”

Publish “Beyond the Waterfall”: This little guy is begging to be published, which is why I’m offering it up to the critique group as a guinea pig.

Submit “Glimmer” to PodCastle: PodCastle is a great fantasy podcast that I used to listen to all the time. I don’t have the time anymore, but that was a huge influence on me several years ago. In fact, some of the ideas of Scribe came from “In the House of the Seven Librarians,” my favorite short story of all time, which I found on PodCastle. I’m hoping they might be interested in Glimmer. 🙂

There are plenty of other projects running around in the back of my mind, but right now, I want to focus on what’s achievable and doable. That’s important. Very important. And all four of those can be done before February, I think (except for maybe Magic and Steam…I’m not sure how long this one is going to be).

Life’s Events

There’s more to life than just writing. And this year, life has been interesting to say the least.

We found out we were pregnant and were expecting on November 5, 2013! Of course, little Talissa didn’t wait that long and she arrived on October 31, 2013. Whoo! Caitlyn also turned 3 just a few weeks ago. Now that was an interesting event…a bit crazy, but fun nonetheless.

However, tragedy hit when Laura’s grandmother passed away and we were forced to fly all the way to Michigan during…April? That was an adventure and a half. But in the end, Laura got to show me a large part of her family and Caitlyn’s grandfather on Laura’s side finally got to meet Caitlyn, which honestly…didn’t look like it was ever going to happen. And it went fairly well.

Not only did I get my long-desired Genius promotion at my Apple Store shortly before the end of 2012, but I finally came into my own there too. I created a “Get To Know You” Project at work so everyone could actually learn about the other people on the team, which turned into a rousing success.

And of course, during the middle of April, I decided to take Caitlyn home and watch the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And all of you know what that led to. A radical change in my perspective and a whole new kind of obsession.

Finally, we had the big one. The panic attacks that forced me to take time off of work and in combination with my Baby Bonding leave, I was gone from work from the middle of September and will continue to be gone until near the end of January.

I’ve read a lot of books, played a lot of games, written a lot of words.

You know, it’s common for me to look back at my life and think that I’m wasting it. But in truth, I would burn out if I really tried to write every minute of the day. If I didn’t take breaks for gaming and stuff…I would self-destruct. It would eventually kill me. It’s hard to remember sometimes. But when I write something like this…I realize that I have done a whole lot this year. Finally published, multiple stories on the way, networking with other authors, beaten games, introduced Laura to new authors and stories (Name of the Wind, anyone?) and so much more.

It’s been a crazy year.

I don’t expect my life to get any less crazy.

But God willing, maybe it’ll get a bit more focused.

And maybe you’ll be able to pick up one of my books off of a bookstore bookshelf this time next year.

After looking at all I did this year…it doesn’t seem like such a long-shot after all.

Now…what do put for New Year’s Eve PMV?

The first thing that came to mind is something powerful…something energetic…something ascendant.

So how about Ascension?

But then I realized there’s another one that’s even more beautiful…and it works so well with my writing, that I can’t help but put it in. Because there’s still one wish that hasn’t come true. Ironically, it’s the whole point of that show I’m so obsessed with.

I’m still lonely. And I still really need some true friends. And God, if I can have a real wish, I’d like some more friends this year. Real ones.

 

It’s been one hell of a year guys. And I hope you stick around for 2014. It’s going to get interesting. That I can promise you.

Until next time, good luck and have fun.

-rks

(PS Just not too much fun tonight 😉 )

 

 

Solstice by Starlight

New Project!

I’m really excited about this new project I’m working on. You see, I recently saw a Facebook post about the “Writers of the Future” contest. I’ve heard about it before, but I realized the deadline for this quarter’s version is December 31st, which isn’t too far away. So, I decided to put “What Lies Beyond” on a brief hold while I work on this new short story I’m calling “Solstice by Starlight.”

What is it, you ask?

It’s the story of how Pauline became Ak’s apprentice, happening 4 years before the events of Soul of the Scribe. Ak just began writing again and despite his wish, the Elder Council of Scribes has decided to saddle him with a young eleven year old girl as an apprentice just as the Winter Solstice festival begins.

However, as you may or may not know, all of the “Crafters of Taylin” stories are done in first person. It’s important to the magic system that I have a direct perspective into the character’s head. Of course, while it allows me to delve deeply into a character’s beliefs, motives, thoughts and feelings, it limits me. And therein lies the true challenge.

I’m going to do this story from Pauline’s perspective, which makes her the fourth perspective character I’ve done. And this is also the fifth story within the Crafters of the Taylin Universe.

Chronologically…

  1. Solstice by Starlight
  2. Soul of the Scribe
  3. In the Corridors of Light and Dreams
  4. The Sun Eagle’s Wake
  5. What Lies Beyond Magic and Steam

This one I really hope will be a true short story. And if I manage to stay focused on Ak and Pauline, I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be. Right now, I’m developing the holiday itself. I’m trying to figure out why the Winter Solstice is a big deal. And ironically, I’m taking a page from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Now don’t tune out here. It’s important. “Hearth’s Warming Eve” was a huge episode for me, showing me the depth of storytelling that the writers will go to. Instead of sending the Ponies to help out Santa or fight the Grinch or the usual sort of saturday morning cartoon Christmas stuff, we get the history of Equestria itself and how the three races finally learned to work together despite the hatred and stubbornness of their leaders. We get an enormous pageant, a beautiful song and the true history of how this nation of ponies came to be.

That’s what I’m looking for. Something that fits into the mythos and culture of Taylin, not just a cop out. Patrick Routhfuss did a great job of this in Name of the Wind in describing the holiday regarding TehluFrankly, I wanted to find some better information on it since it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I couldn’t find any good wikis that describe the holiday, which was rather surprising.

Anyway, I might even through just a bit of Christmas Carol into it. At that point in Ak’s life, it seems only fitting.

More Sound Things

I rather sick of this entire situation, so I’ll be brief. Don’t buy Incase products if you expect to have a warranty offered.

I purchased a wonderful pair of Sonic headphones from them a few months ago. Now, I adored these headphones. They totally blocked out all sound around me. Made things wonderful for me to write…and gaming with them on was godly. I utterly ADORED them. However, the left side was starting to go out, forcing me to jam the cable in certain angles to get it to work. So after dragging my feet a little, I send them out for warranty replacement, spending about $20 on shipping them out.

Only one problem. They’re out of them. And they’re discontinued. So…they can’t replace them for me. Now, off the bat, they offer a full refund on the headphones (which were $50 because I got them on sale), but refuse to refund the shipping costs. Now they didn’t tell me about this. I call them and chew them out, but there’s nothing to be done. I get an email this morning saying they’ll give me a credit on the shipping costs for their website if I can provide a receipt.

I gave them the receipt…but told them frankly that wasn’t good enough. I wanted that refunded back to my card. I told them spending $20 to have $50 returned when they didn’t even mention they were out of stock was a little screwed up. And I told them to talk to a supervisor. And if they still refuse, go ahead and give me store credit. It doesn’t matter, because I’ll never buy from Incase again after it.

I’m still ticked off about it honesty. I hope they just do the right thing. I’d prefer a pair of new headphones honestly, because those things were so insanely comfortable. I need them for writing, to help me focus. However, my Dad’s wife suggested that be my Christmas gift from them…a replacement pair of headphones, just to help me out and cut down on my stress. It was very kind of them.

Party!

We had Caitlyn’s birthday this last Sunday and it went very well. We had three families there…something like that and everyone had a really good time chatting and talking and having fun. Caitlyn went a little nuts there…but that’s okay, because I went nuts with the Pony decorations. We had Pony cupcakes (Bling Bag Ponies) a large Pony Cake (with the Mane 6 on purple frosting), an enormous Pony balloon bouquet featuring a massive Rainbow Dash as big as Caitlyn, a huge 6 ft tall wall decal celebrating Happy Birthday, Pony plates, tablecloth, cups and napkins and finally a huge Pony banner saying HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY. It was AWESOME. Most of the stuff is still up actually. 🙂

Caitlyn got some good stuff and she seems happy with it. If you’re following me on Facebook, you’ve probably already seen some pictures of her on her new single-person trampoline.

It was a great time had by all, even if everyone I wanted didn’t show. That’s okay…because if we had more people, it probably would have been too much anyway! We had six kids in our little two bedroom condo with six adults. And it worked great.

Best part? The winning gift was a Disney Princess sliding phone that everyone wanted to play with…boys and girls…especially since everyone else was boys! Caitlyn and Tali were the only girls…and Tali slept the entire time. 😀

Life, the Universe and Everything

And then there’s Skyrim. I’m having WAY too much fun with this. I’ve set Valla, my Nord maiden with all sorts of cool mods. She’s currently dual-wielding violet lightsabers while wearing N7 armor. 🙂 Heh. It’s great stuff. I love it. I just finished the College of Winterhold quest line and became Arch-Mage last night. Good final boss fight too. That was a challenge. I also love the house-building aspect of it and I’m looking forward to actually buying all three of the land plots available from the Hearthfire DLC.

Other than that, I’m in my Week of Dreams, so I’m sleeping terribly. I wanted to sleep in this morning, but both Tali and Caitlyn ended up screaming at the top of their lungs just as I was going to go back to sleep. Just not fair sometimes. Bleh.

Well, I should go get some lunch now. Laura’s joining my for my therapist appointment today at 1PM. Need to be all ready and stuff.

Oh wait! We need some Pony stuff, don’t we?

Seems appropriate, doesn’t it?

Good luck and have fun folks!

-rks

Home Strech

NaNoWriMo

Well, I’m really close to finishing NaNoWriMo. I didn’t expect I’d be able to do it this year and I’m glad I was wrong. Because this story it turning out pretty cool. In fact, yesterday, I spent a bunch of time brainstorming the construction of Yellow Jubilation, the tak’tak home city. Below is Ak and Pauline telling Gaina a little bit about it.

“Yellow Jubilation isn’t what most people think of when they think of a city,” I said quietly. “It was built out of a unique part of the Thornwood by the tak’tak after their ‘birth.’ The whole area had been hit by a severe moonbreak some years before, creating these enormous trees hundreds of feet high built like steel.”

“Oh come on, Ak,” Pauline laughed. “You can do better than that!”

“I’m tired, Pauline,” I grunted. “It’s been a rough night.”

“Yellow Jubilation is unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” Pauline said in a voice of whispered awe. “The most of the ground floor is nothing but a huge port for the harbor that ships to the Western Isles and the Athlon Sea. The rest of it is an enormous series of farm terraces. But five hundred feet above that is where the city really starts. The trees actually grew together, their branches forming a massive platform that’s at least three miles wide. There are some larger areas and some smaller areas, higher and lower, but you could walk from one end of the city to the other without ever touching the ground. They’ve built entire towers out of these trees where the tak’tak’s live and work and everything else.”

“Sounds like an amazing place,” Gaina said.

“Oh and the Library there! The Rooted Library,” she continued. “It was actually grown from the Pillar, the greatest tree in the very center of the city, directly below the Triumvirate’s Amphitheater. It was built vertically and reaches all the way to the ground floor.”

Anyway, I’ve also had a ton of success with my new mapping system. Below you can see the original versions I posted last week.

I particularly like the way the forests came out...These mountains took way too long...

And here you can see the updated version with the new coastlines.

Coalition Wilds (New Coasts)Harklanian Union (New Coasts)

It actually looks semi-realistic now. I’ve done a rough outline on my process as to how I did this. I thought I’d have that ready to publish, but I want to do it again to make sure all the steps are correct. I found some great guides online at The Cartography Guild for GIMP and Photoshop, but Pixelmator, while similar, is actually an entirely different animal. And honestly using this technique gives me a LOT more control than any of their techniques did. (And I can’t stand GIMP. Drives me crazy).

You’ll also notice that I took some time to redo the city markers (capitals are in dark orange, cities are in yellow and towns are in purple), add in some rivers and lakes and even expand a few forests. I’ve also added the infamous Borderlands between the Wilds and Folas, a dangerous area unclaimed by anyone. (I decided I had made Taylin far too civilized) By the way, the red dashed line is the path of the RCS Rose on her maiden voyage.

By my next post, I should have NaNoWriMo done and won! Hooray! I’ve been pushing myself with a minimum of 2,000 words a day. That’ll be hard today since I’m getting sick with a sore throat, exhaustion and other general ickiness. But I’ll do it. This will be my fourth year running. 🙂

Princess Twilight Sparkle

Well, Season 4 premiered of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on Saturday morning. You know, I don’t know if I’ve ever watched Saturday morning cartoons before, even as a kid. It was a bit of an adventure since I don’t actually have real cable TV. So I got to watch an HD Livestream of the event that was kindly provided by a myriad of awesome people in the Brony community.

I then found a full YouTube HD copy of it. Now yes, I did download this, however I did also purchase the Season Pass through iTunes. The way I see it, if I want to get a gray copy of it before I buy the legit thing, that’s okay. Because Hasbro still gets my money. 😉

Thoughts on the episode? Well, you should probably skip this part if you haven’t seen it yet. And if you haven’t seen it yet, what’s wrong with you. In fact, let me make it easy on you. Here’s the link!

Now you have only yourself to blame.

I adored it. I find the fact that Twilight is essentially the same character with the worrying tendencies, the same care for her friends, the same love of lore is all still there. She’s just grown up a little, such as the scene where she commands the Royal Guards to continue their search for Luna and Celestia.

John de Lancie was wonderful as Discord. Simply brilliant. As stated in Equestria Daily’s Followup, Discord was doing an excellent job of teaching Twilight a lesson, though it’s only revealed at the very end of things. In fact, this is the most Q-style thing he’s ever done. Q was famous for trying to teach Picard and his crew “lessons” about their own internal struggles and conflicts, about the future and about what they could be. “All Good Things…” is probably the best example of this.

I loved the lore revelations of Celestia’s banishment of Luna (and how much of a badass Nightmare Moon really was), the defeat of Discord (and why Discord was in such a strange pose when he was turned into stone) and the revelation of the source of the Elements of Harmony.

But the best? The best thing was that they had to give up the Elements. Beyond anything else, this shows me the maturity and brilliance of the storytellers. For three seasons, the Elements of Harmony have been the “In Case of Break Glass.” They have been a very effective weapon against Nightmare Moon and Discord. I did enjoy that in A Royal Canterlot wedding, they didn’t make it to the Elements, but had Shining Armor and Cadance save the day instead.

What does it mean? It means that they can’t just depend on the Elements to get them out of stick situations. The Elements could have easily become the go-to weapon. But by removing them (at least for the time being) it forces the Mane 6 to handle problems in new and different ways. It’s truly brilliant.

Equestria Daily did a far better follow up than I could though. Complete with hysterical screenshots, including Discord in a French Maid’s outfit.

Other Things

Other things are going on. Such as my mom recovering from her knee replacement, me being sick, our continuing issues with Caitlyn’s discipline and other matters, but right now, I’m just too tired to go through the rest. However, I will mention that I finally got “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.” I’m loving it. It’s great storytelling…especially considering Nathan Drake usually approaches things with “Seriously?” He’s got a great attitude. It’s just fantastic.

What was even better was the letter that came with it, from a dear friend. Considering the day I had and the way she gently teased me about the whole My Little Pony thing, it was just perfect. That actually did more for my spirits than the game itself.

Oh yes, I also finished Mass Effect 3: Citadel. Best DLC I’ve ever played. EVER. Seriously, it’s freaking amazing. The game isn’t complete without it. You haven’t finished Mass Effect 3 if you haven’t done that mission. I’ll do a bigger write up on it another time. 🙂

And Tali’s doing just fine. She had her first bath last night. 🙂

That’s it for this week. And I’m only going to have one video this time…and of course, it’s the one above!

Good luck and have fun!

-rks