Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays

Aha! I bet you thought you were going to catch me, I bet you were thinking, oh Ben won't update his blog this Sunday because it's Christmas Day and then I'll get him, I'll say, hey you didn't update every Sunday like you said you were going to! But I've got you now! Because I am writing a post, so there. Bam. I win. One to Nothing. Game over.

I know, I know, I gave in. I put Happy Holidays in the title, rather than Merry Christmas. Oh boy, that's nearly as bad as putting up a tree, decorating it, and calling it a Holiday Tree rather than a Christmas tree. Thing is I don't give a damn. You can put up a tree on July 4th, decorate it red, white and blue, and call it a damn Indepence Tree. Who gives a shit? Not me. Have a happy December 25th, whatever that means to you. It's a time of giving and loving, right? So why do people get all bent out of shape about the name of a decorative tree? When did a tree even become a part of Christmas? I guess I forgot the part where Mary and Joseph had a pine tree in the shed where Jesus was born and threw lights all over the freaking thing. Maybe Jesus mentioned wanting a "really bitchin' pine tree, man, with like, lights and colored balls and shit all over it," on his birthday. Anyways, this is just a rant about people getting upset because in some town, some government figure called the tree a Holiday Tree instead of a Christmas Tree. It's a tad ridiculous, the sorts of things that people get upset about.

But regardless, it was a day of fun and feasts, presents in packages and the presence of family. See what I did there? Pretty slick, huh? I thought so.

The novel's coming along. I actually got alot of editing done on the bus ride home, so I'm about 35 pages or so through it, with 40-ish left to go. Whether I finish by January 1st or not...Well it's up in the air. Either way, that is the date where I will send it to close friends and family who wish to take a look at it and will be so kind as to tell me what they think.

So sit by the fire, look at your holiday tree, play with your holiday presents, and have fun with what you got, not what you didn't get, because let's face it, you could've have gotten nothing and you'd still have alot more than many others in the world.

Now I'm going to enjoy some eggnog and rum and maybe do some writing or editing. Enjoy yourselves.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Editing Woes

The process of working on my novel is stalled and stagnant. It is a slimy disgusting swamp, impossible to navigate, every step a boot-sucking hole that pulls you down into murky depths. Editing is simply something I'm not that familiar with I guess. Even in school I rarely wrote more than one draft of a paper. It's simply how I work, I think, at least when it comes to reports and such like that. With fiction, it's entirely different, and considering this is the first time I've really finished a novel, it's not really something I've done before. I've editted and rewritten short stories before, but that's about it. Even then, it's hard to know what to keep, what to change, and what to add. How much detail do you need? The answer is enough so that the reader has an idea of the place, but not so much that the reader cannot use his own imagination to fill in the blanks. That isn't exactly an easy line to toe.

So it's been slow. I've finally decided I'm going to give my novel a full read through, changing what I feel needs to be changed as I go, keeping a list of notes as I read, and simply powering through it. So far I've gotten through four pages out of 75. I guess part of the problem is editing is worse than writing, I'm not even coming up with new ideas, characters or stories, I'm simply going through the same situations, which isn't nearly as fun. I'm going to get through it, though, eventually.

I'm nearly finished with the Millennium series, which consists of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. All three are very good, the plot is a winding twisting and interesting tale, and the characters are fantastic. The story starts off relatively simple, but gets more intricate and complicated(though never needlessly so) throughout the three novels. The whole story is about Lisbeth Salander, who is an utterly believable and tragic character who is very different from most 'heroes' in fiction. She is fascinating and badass.

When I was working last night, I heard someone say "I haven't read since I got out of college," and I thought that was sad. Reading, in many ways, is better than watching movies, or tv, or playing a video game. I'm not sure how to describe it, but reading gives you worlds and characters which you imagine in your mind, you do not see the characters, so you must visualize them yourself. In this way, reading is entirely different from anything else. There is much less limitation. This is why when a book is made into a movie, many people become distraught that the character does not look like the one they imagined. A movie shows only one way to see a character, where as a line of description can be read and visualized in an infinite amount of ways. It just seems too many people these days have stopped reading, they are distracted by everything else, they became jaded by all the crap that we're forced to read in school, not to mention the fact that reading has become 'work' and is seen as 'lame' and 'boring'. Blah I sound like I'm an old man. Try reading something, anything. There's books that are more exciting and fast than action movies, more intriguing and mysterious than any spy movie, books that are about murders much more interesting than CSI, books with serial killers and thrilling car chases and brutal bloodbaths and anything you could think of or be interested in. If you enjoy any kind of movie or fictional tv show, then there is a book out there that you would enjoy reading.

Or not. Don't read. See if I care.   

"I suppose some editors are failed writers; but so are most writers." T.S. Eliot

"When in doubt, delete it." Philip Cosby

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Random Thoughts

A new story idea has been floating in my head, about a depressed lonely substitute teacher. Every day, he gets up and asks 'Who am I today?', goes to work, meets people that he knows he will likely never or very rarely see again, and then goes home. He's in a new city without friends or family around and has difficulty making new friendships, especially because everybody he meets he only sees for a day and then they are gone. Not sure where the story would go, other than perhaps the guy spirals down and down, becoming more and more crazy, losing his own identity in the process. Before anyone asks, no I am not lonely or depressed. Perhaps I would be like the character I'm describing if I had no family or friends, but I do, so don't get any ideas. Yes, alot of what I write has some basis or comes from my every day life. My life inspires me to write, but that does not mean I am writing about myself, if that makes any sense. I just think the profession of essentially 'being' somebody else every day is interesting. In fact, I have another idea that goes with this one.

It's a science-fiction set in the future, idea where, instead of being a substitute teacher, the protagonist is a substitute person. This means in some way he becomes the person he is substituting for. He downloads the persons thoughts and memories and anything he needs to know to perform the job he is subbing. This would be more than just teaching, could be anything, in fact. He really does ask 'Who am I today?', and he really does 'become' somebody else for a day. Now, I've been playing with this around in my head, either as it's own separate idea, or as connected with the previous one. Perhaps the lonely sub-teacher is struggling to write a story about a sci-fi substitute. Or something. Maybe that's dumb. Anyways, the idea of someone who, for a job, becomes somebody else for a day just really interests me, as it very much deals with one's identity.

Anyways, process on my novel is slow. I am finding it difficult to motivate myself to write without Nano breathing down my neck. Part of it might be that rewriting and editing sucks balls, but oh well. Needs to be done. Most people cut down their writing while they are editing but mostly I'm adding in scenes that I believe need to be there. I guess most over-write in their first draft, but I wonder if that's really a problem for me. I think my writing is pretty sparse, a few bare details to give you an impression of the scene, rare thoughts from characters and such. There isn't much that I write that seems excessive. I could be entirely wrong, though. It is tough to tell. I do feel, however, that the deadline of January 1st, when I reveal my novel to close friends and family, is coming very quickly. I hope that I can finish up the last scenes I wish to add, give it a full thorough read through, then hopefully a quick edit and polishing up. We'll see if I have time.

I recently read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which is very good. It is an excellent mystery which actually reminded me why I like mystery fiction. I haven't read a mystery in awhile, I think because in my Detective Fiction class I read too much of it at once. It all seemed too similar, detective-case-investigation-revelation. But I am glad I picked up this one. It has alot of backstory, suspects, investigation and twists, all that is required for a good old mystery novel. I also watched the movie, with subtitles(the horror!) which was also quite good.

I guess that's all for now. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday, December 4th

With Nano finished, I've taken somewhat of a break from writing constantly. It felt good to write every day and create a story that grew and grew and to finally come to an end. It is nice to have a couple days off from it though, a break in the creative outflow, regenerate my imaginary well, and generally not care if I write 1667 words today or not. That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about my novel, though, which still needs alot of work. I've written a timeline, some scenes I believe I need to add in, and there's definitely some pacing issues as well. You need some slow casual scenes in between the violent brutal action, which I think I need more of.

Now, I know some folks want to read it, and I will definitely let you do so, if you wish, in the near future. I would like to do some more work on it before that happens though. I know you may perhaps be groaning, be saying 'what if you simply never feel it's finished or it's good enough or simply forget about it, then we will never read it!' Which is why I promise to give it to anyone who wants to read it by January 1st, 2012. There, less than a month to go, I think you can wait that long. This way, I have a deadline to work towards and you have the satisfaction of knowing you'll be able to read it no matter what. In the meantime I can hopefully finish it up. Now, don't get your hopes up about it. It will be rough and likely need more editting and rewriting. It may also feel short. I know I said it is a fantasy epic, but to be honest, it's more the very beginning of an epic. Lord of The Rings and the Wheel of Time both have books that are much longer than 50k. Consider this novel the very beginning. 50k is only around 175 pages or so, which is very short for any fantasy novel.

There's one thing about fantasy writing that is interesting and irritating at the same time, and that is the language. Tolkien created his own actual languages, others seem to just make up their own strange words in 'ancient languages' made up in their world. In my novel, there is this sort of ancient language, from which some words and names come from. The problem for me is whether the names feel realistic and cool, or are they just kind of lame and uninspiring. Do I have everyone speak the Common language, (english) like other books or does each race have their own language and on and on. It is a very difficult thing to create. In mine, Elves, Dwarves and Humans all speak the same language, but then, they are considered more of a single race and species, (they call eachother 'Cousins') so having a common language is perhaps plausible. I guess that's just one of those difficult things about creating your own world, you have to create entire cultures, including languages and essentially how they came to be.

Another thing about language is the swearing. How do fantasy folk swear? By their Gods, often, but what else? I use 'blood' and 'ashes' because of a famous battle, as well as 'hell' and 'damn'. I would like to use 'fuck' but would that feel modern? Unrealistic in a fantasy world? And why, I mean, why wouldn't a culture come up with Fuck as a swear word just as we did? I'd like to go the route of Deadwood, fuck the actual logic of how fantasy people would swear and just use the swears we do, so that it actually feels visceral, like swearing in real life, to the reader.

Anyways, such is what a fantasy writer must deal with. It's a great deal of fun as well as a great deal of work. Such is life.

This is a short post because I've got other shit to do, so there.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I won!

I did it! 50,373 words in 30 days! I begun my novel November 1st and ended it November 30th! Feels good!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Week

I guess I gotta post something, because it's Sunday, another week another blogpost, right?

I saw something strange today. I think, sometimes there are very surreal moments, just an odd thing you notice, a moment where you think huh, that is strange, I have never seen that before. Not things that change your life or anything that dramatic, just things that make you scratch your head a little. I saw something like that today.

I was on the green line subway train, heading for park street when I realized there was a man standing behind me, who was rather odd. Now, usually, this isn't that strange. I have taken the subway many times now, and you will usually find some unusual looking fellows, but this guy wasn't a bum or anything like that. He was wearing signs all over his body, signs that proclaimed Jesus as the savior, confess your sins or burn in hell, praise jesus or suffer eternal torment, messages like that, you know, you've probably seen a religious fanatic like that on television if not in real life. If he had been ranting and raving in the streets, then that would be pretty normal, and I wouldn't be talking about him on my blog at the moment. What he was doing, was quietly standing along with everyone else on the train. He flipped through a bunch of little jesus cards he had in his hands, fiddled with the clasps on a sign here, or a sign there. I couldn't help but wonder, was he going home? Would he walk into a house, pull off the signs as his wife asked him how his day of condemning heathens had gone? Was he homeless? Was he merely on his way to his next area of attempted conversion? I guess what was odd was he seemed like any other man going home after a day of work, only his work clothes consisted of religious messages and such rather than his business suit or workman's clothes. Perhaps this guy just liked to do some preaching on his days off, though if he was so gung ho about Jesus, shouldn't he be preaching in his own neighborhood, friends and neighbors rather than taking the green line elsewhere?

So yeah, I thought it was strange, odd and funny, one of those things that you kinda just shake your head at. A religious guy I would expect to be ranting and raving was quietly taking the train just like everybody else.

Nanowrimo is nearly over and my novel is not that close to completion. I am close to 50k though, so I am quite certain I will succeed. Afterwards...well, the novel needs alot of work, rewriting, editting, scenes added in, etc. I am now wondering whether I will let people read it before I do some work on it or not. Part of me wants to, to see what people think, but another part of me, a part that always holds me back from letting people read my writing. The fact is that it truly does need work. You can't write something 50 thousand words long and get everything right the first time. So that is the problem I'm considering right now. We will see. By next Sunday, November will be over. I plan on continuing to write every day, hopefully a thousand words a day if not more. I'm hoping of coming to a decent ending of the novel maybe a week or two in December. I do not know, we will see.

I just finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It is pretty good, bringing mythic Gods into Modern times and doing a good job of it. It is a little crazy and the amount of mythology within is rather astounding. The ending was also quite good, and it is definitely not a predictable book. I would recommend it.

That is all, a short post, no doubt. But there it is.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunny Day

It's Sunday and I don't feel like writing much of anything, so here's an excerpt from my novel that's coming along.


The sky screamed of steel and the air tasted of blood. In the valley of Aleutha, too pretty a name for the work being done there, rivers of the redness ran beneath men's feet as they shuffled, dancing, swinging, striking blows in the deadly dance of combat. Spears were thrust, swords slashing and axes hacking into flesh. Men yelled in the face of brutal chaos, hurling themselves at one another with deadly efficiency.
Jared Longheart roared, raining blows onto another man's helm. The other man, the enemy, folded to the ground and Jared reversed his grip, stabbing downwards. His eyes were fierce. Blood covered him from head to toe. He looked for another foe. It wasn't difficult to find, a pale-faced man with an axe who was charging straight for him. Jared turned, ducking under the axe, spinning around behind. His sword found the back of the man's neck and blood spurted out like a fountain. Jared wiped the redness from his eyes but took too long. A man's spear took him in the gut.
Bareath Damod's axe took twenty-seven lives before another man took off his head. Kent Brenner's steel sent ten men to the grave before an axe took his leg and then his heart. Gerend Tamalde, a vicious dwarf who would have stories told of him long after the battle was over, led a group of men deep into the enemy ranks, slaughtering left and right, until him and those with him were struck down by lightning from a raised hand. A kid barely the age of a man fell underneath a large corpse and drowned in bloody mud.

Bows twanged, crossbows thrummed, arrows sunk into flesh, and bolts punctured armor. Battle cries became cries of agony and pain and death. Men lived and died in mere moments.
Mott Thanson, a lowly boy until the War, was frightened out of his mind. But he fought, because to do anything else was to die, or worse, become one of the squealing and dying on the ground. So he ducked a spear thrust and returned with the sharp edge of his sword across the other man's neck. And he parried the next man's sword, turned it, kicked the man and brought his sword down. He killed, and he killed, and he killed again. He killed until his legs ached, his back burned, his arms were weary. His hands bled from calluses ripped open by the leather grip of the sword. And still, he stabbed one in the back, another in the chest, and ripped open another's belly, spewing steaming intestines onto the ground.
This was not the fight Mott had imagined in his mind. He'd seen himself and his comrades fighting cruel men, men in dark robes, snarling and hateful. Fighting evil and succeeding. Becoming a hero, beating the odds and saving the world. These men did not wear dark robes, in fact the two opposing sides looked more alike than different. It wasn't right. The other side, the mages and their allies, were evil, had caused destruction and chaos upon the world, and yet, they looked like normal men and worse, they died like any other man. Mott saw no evil in the enemies' eyes when he thrust his sword into them, they were the same as any other man, full of pity, sadness, anger and shock at the finality of their own end. This wasn't what he wanted.
But it didn't matter. He couldn't think about it. All he could do was act and react, an instinctual need to survive pushing him and pushing him. All he knew was that he did not want to die. Not here. Not now. Not like this. And so he fought and killed. And when the horns called out, when the two sides fell away from each other, chests heaving and breathing labored, Mott knew it wasn't over. He was going to have to kill and kill again until one side lost or gave up. It wasn't over. Who knew when it would be?
The two sides pulled back as the sun fell in the sky. It was the nature of large battles with many, many men. You push and push and surge forward, and eventually the surge subsides, lessens and finally the waves pull back. Both sides form a mutual unspoken peace, or perhaps a better word for it, agreement, a time of rest, to gather the dead and fallen of your own and then wait for the next surge.
And so the next part of big battles began, as terrible as the last, perhaps worse even. As the ache and weariness grows and grows throughout your body, you have to lift and carry your dead and dying. Pull them back, save those few you can, put those you can't out of their misery. You no longer have the distraction of fighting for your life, now you can't ignore the screams and shrieks of your own friends and comrades.
Mott's mind was blank as he went about his tasks, his body robotic, simply going through the motions. Most of the men's eyes were staring off into some other world, dazed, though the many veterans simply shrugged it off and yelled at the others to 'get a goddamn move on about it afore the enemy rides down upon all arr heads.'
There was another surge before night finally fell. Men roared, fought, killed, and died. A cooling rain fell as the sides once again pulled away from each other. Tents and sentries were set up, campfires lit despite the light drizzle, bland and boring food cooked and eaten. Mott did not think he would sleep, yet his mind remained an easy nothingness, and his exhaustion quickly took him away from consciousness. He did dream despite his weariness, nightmares filled with men being slaughtered and squealing like pigs, and always, Mott was the one who held the killing weapon.

During this night, other things were happening, and on the morrow, things would happen that would cause the boy Mott much worse nightmares than these which he had now.
In his own camp, there was a light coming from the High Lord's tent. It was a tent only slightly larger than any of his soldiers, room for only a small cot, table and a couple chairs. Right now a large map lay open on the ground, rocks on the corners and small markers set in certain places on the map. It was very well detailed, made by Elves in fact, and showed the region around the two armies nigh perfectly. The High Lord, called only 'Leaan' or 'Leader' by all, sat upon the ground, chin on a hand, pondering the map before him. A torch set in the ground provided the tent with flickering illumination. Another man, Leaan's Second stood behind Leaan, hands on his hip, scowl on his face.
"We should attack in the night. Tonight. You know it to be true," The Second said.
"Attacking at night is a scoundrel's tactic, and a foolish one," Leaan replied.
"And do they not use dishonorable tactics? Do you forget they use magic?" The last word was spit out as much as it was said. "The coward's weapon? Evil and dastardly and the cause of all our problems?" His voice grew louder with each word until he was nearly shouting.
"Calm yourself." Leaan's voice was steel. "I understand them better than you know.  Any commander worth his salt knows to keep his most hardened and alert men as night sentries, to guard and alert to any such attack. The men know to sleep with their armor and weapons close at hand. It is nigh impossible to move a large amount of men softly and quietly through the night. Sentries give the alarm, the defenders quickly rise up and become the attackers. And if we should send men in the night and kill their sentries without alarm, what of it? You said yourself they use magic, do you not think they will have wards up? Spells of warning should a foot make a step too close to the camp?"
The other man looked away, into a shadowy corner of the tent. He did not speak.
"A night attack is a fool's tactic, at least in the situation such as we are in. I would hope we would be attack this night, for we are more than ready, but I know Angun." Leaan sighed. "He is no fool."
"No," the other man said softly, "just a betrayer."
"Enough! I will not hear you speak ill of him. He simply made the wrong choice. He chose the wrong side. He does not understand. He could have slit my throat in my sleep, caused chaos and destruction in the ranks before he left but he did not." Leaan remembered that day. Angun had simply told him he could no longer fight for him and was leaving. He climbed upon his horse, a great white beast of a horse, and began trotting away. Leaan could've ordered him caught, killed or taken hostage, but he held his tongue. He had let Angun go. It was the honorable thing to do.
"You let them have one of our great commanders for nothing. That was ill-decided, Leaan."
"It was not for nothing, Calwer, it was for honor. Remember that." Leaan gave Calwer a stern look, then turned back to the map. Calwer was a great fighter, but all bluster and glory-seeking. He did not think things through, and was not a keen strategist. Leaan almost regretted promoting him to Angun's position, but there was naught else he could have done. Calwer was stalwart and loyal and had been with him nearly as long as Angun. Leaan rewarded loyalty, he had to. If you did not have loyalty, you had nothing. Leaan leaned closer to the map.
It showed a vast forest surrounding a large open valley, in which the various stone markers stood. The forest was Lelandrial, Leaan knew it meant Forest of The Lights, but most simply knew it as Forest of the Elves, or the Elven forest. Leaan's army had chased the mages through this forest and into this valley. The valley butted up against an enormous lake, the north of which was off the map but Leaan knew what was up there. Red stone markers stood on the valley near the lake, the enemy encampment. Blue markers curved around the red ones, showing Leaan's own army. There was nowhere for the enemy to retreat to. Perhaps they were building boats, ready to flee across the lake, but Leaan doubted it. The lake was a wild one, buffeted by heavy winds from the cold Northern mountains, with high waves, and where would they flee to? North of the lake were high rocky bluffs, even if they could find a landing for their army, there would be nowhere to go but up into the mountains, where orcs, goblins, and giants resided, not to mention the cold, and though Autumn was barely starting, a cold chill would be growing across the land, colder this far North. No, it would be a mistake to flee across the lake. Leaan felt, no, he knew Angun would make his final stand where he was, with his back against the lake, like a dog in a corner, and Leaan knew a dog backed into a corner was a very dangerous animal.
"Tomorrow we end it. We attack at dawn." It made sense, charging with the rising sun. "Go, Calwer, sleep. You will need it."
"Very well, Leader." Calwer patted his fist against his chest in one swift motion. "Ah-stahn." He left.
Ah-stahn, a saying that simply meant 'I stand'. "Ahl-stahn," Leaan said to himself. "We stand." He did not sleep that night.

Across the valley, as a pale sliver of a moon rose up in the sky and a cold wind blew through the cloth of tents making torches sputter and flicker, Angun Silverbeard stood in a large white tent with six other men, each dressed in colorful robes and Angun in simple leather and wool. He was arguing with fools and he knew it. At times, he regretted joining the mages, but he simply could not follow a leader who would kill a man simply because of how he was born. It wasn't right, but Leaan couldn't see it, wouldn't see it. And so he had left, thinking he would be taken hostage or killed before his horse let a hoof fall outside the camp, but Leaan had led him go. And now he was here, the commander of the army of the mages, and it was hard, but it was his duty.
"We will not attack at night and that is final!" Angun bellowed, his voice loud and powerful, silencing the robed men before him. Between the men stood a table, and upon the table a map, crudely drawn, of the surrounding regions. If the Elves had agreed to help them...but they had refused. The mages and their army had fled to the Elven forest expecting aid, indeed Elves were widely known as a deeply connected race, more connected to magic than humans and dwarves and yet they had refused. Leaan and his army of men frightened them and they had dared not risk his anger, much less open war. The dwarves had given Leaan warriors, crafters and builders, and the Elves had given them maps and knowledge of their surroundings. It seemed the mages were on their own with an army of supporters, and that was it. It would be a difficult battle to win.
"We should flee across the lake. Why do you not have men building boats?" One of the robed ones asked.
"Because it would take half a week, meanwhile we faced attack after attack after attack with men tired from building." He almost added 'you fool' but managed to hold his tongue. It would not help matters to piss off these sneering wizards, the so-called lords of the mages in this army. He shook his head. He did not like explaining himself to those who knew little of battle, did not like explaining himself to anyone at all for that matter, but he needed these men and their magic. "Now, tomorrow, will you wear simple leather and armor, as I have asked you?"
Five of them sniffed in annoyance. "Should we dress as simple soldiers?" One of them sneered, and a couple tittered.
"Yes, you should." The titters stopped, and the one who spoke sputtered in surprise. "Alcoth was wearing his signature green and red robes." The mages looked elsewhere, anywhere but Angun's eyes. They could not block out his stone cold voice though. "That did not stop a bolt from going through his throat. Each one of you that wears robes gives the enemies archers a target, a beacon on the battlefield that draws fire. It is your choice, however."
There was muttering but no one spoke up. Angun sighed. That was settled. Good. He pointed at the map. "We will not make boats and we will not flee. We will stand here and fight. Is that understood?" They nodded reluctantly. For all their stubborn arrogance, they knew he was the best commander they had.
"If we wish to win with the least amount of casualties, withdraw your restrictions, sir." This one was Lavathin, robed in blood red. "Give us freedom to do as we will and the battle will be over after the first foray."
"Nay," Angun replied, shaking his head. He did not raise his voice but it had a deadly softness. "I will not have masses of men butchered and burning in agony. You know what I allow."
"Parlor tricks and pathetically weak demonstrations of our power. We would have them running if only-"
"I said no. If you wish to keep me as your commander, you will do as I say." Angun doubted the enemy would run no matter what was thrown at them. They had The Leader, after all. He waved a hand dismissively. "Leave me. You will have battle plans for the morrow soon."
The six mages left the tent with heads held high. They were weavers of lightning, masters of fire, and lords of awesome destruction. They did not like being told what to do. Two robed men broke off from the rest, walking together.
One was Lavathin Teallin, a name that would soon be remembered for long time to come,  a tall severe man with dark eyes. "I will not wear leather like some lay man." His voice was smooth and slippery and filled with anger.
The other man, short and balding and wearing purple robes, spoke up with a high whiny voice. "But Lord Silverbeard makes a good point..."
"Silence. He is no lord, just a simple soldier who does not understand our power. Tomorrow, he will. They all will. I will send them running like dogs."
Angun stood over the map, looking at it, strategies forming in his mind. He thought of Leaan, and what he knew of the man, and just what Leaan might do. Angun closed his eyes. He knew what Leaan would do. He would attack at dawn, and Angun would meet him. They would push against eachother as ocean waves beat against the shore. It would be an honorable but bloody battle, and at the end, one side would rise victorious. Angun nodded. Very well. No tricks or sneaks. He had mages, true, but he had restricted them to healing, strengthening his troops, and spells of lightning. Lightning was clean and quick, at least. Just bloody brutal fighting. He stroked the silver beard that gave him his name. It was the only name he had. In the times of chaos, he had been lost and afraid, but Leaan had found him. Had raised him up and formed him into a man. And now, now he would face him on the battlefield. "So be it." Little did Angun know there would be no honor in tomorrow's battle, not after what Lavathin planned. Angun found no sleep in his cot that night.

The gray hour before dawn found Mott tightening his leather and pulling on his armor. His hands shook and memories of the nightmarish dreams of the night before echoed in his head despite his attempt to ignore them. Dawn was coming and it would soon be time to kill again. There was no time for extraneous thoughts or mulling over actions. He picked up his sword, and though it did not shine, it was clean. Not for long, though, not for long at all. Soon it would be red with blood or he would be dead.
The Leader rode amongst his encampment on a gray armored horse, his full plate on, dull and hard. He was not one for shine and polish, no amount of shine and polish would make the armor stop a blades edge any easier. The men saw him in his plain armor and helm hiding his face, and felt courage in their hearts. Here was a man like them, but better than them, strong and wise, who would lead them to victory just as he had saved them from their individual hells during the time of chaos. They would fight hard for him. They would fight to the last.
Breakfast had been cooked and eaten, armor was being strapped on, weapons wrapped around waists. Nobody rushed, but they all moved with swift surety. One day of battle was over and another was about to begin. The veterans accepted it stolidly, just another day, another battle, while fresh-blooded soldiers simply tried not to think about the day before or the one ahead.

Time passed without Mott realizing it, and suddenly the two sides were joined, crashing and clanging together. Swords flashing and axes swinging. Mott found himself facing a giant bear of a man wielding an axe. Mott ducked and dodged as best he could, unable to attack as he simply tried not to get split in half. The axe whistled by but the big man's foot came out of nowhere slamming Mott in the chest and laying him on his back. The breath was knocked out of him and his sword went flying out of his grasp. Gasping for breath, he struggled to move but the boot came down again, slamming him back down and holding him as the big man stood on him, axe raised. Mott did not think but he moved. He pulled a dagger from his waist and stabbed it into the man's ankle. There was screaming from the man and yelling from Mott as he stabbed again, this time higher up the leg. The man's foot let up but he sent his axe blade crashing down. Mott pushed the foot away and rolled, axe slamming the ground behind him. Mott pushed himself to his feet, looking for a weapon, anything other than a tiny dagger. He found a spear as the big man limped after him. He slammed the butt of the weapon into the man's hurt leg, felling him with a scream of agony and finished him with a spear thrust into the throat.

Lightning flashed, not in the sky, but on the ground, flashing into men and dropping them in a moment. Lavathin sneered at the pathetic attacks. This was not true magic, true power. True power should not be restricted or withheld, it should be used and shown. He grinned, surveying the battle from a hill far back from the front lines. Most of the mages stood back, sending brief flashes of lightning, healing the wounded who'd been pulled back, or using magic to bolster the soldiers' strength. These were what Angun allowed.
"It is past time this is over," he said, raising his hands.
"Wait, what are you going to do?" The purple robed man now wore leather and armor and looked quite awkward. His voice however, remained annoyingly high-pitched.
"What I should have done yesterday."
"But wait, they're pulling back..."
It was true, the two sides were pulling back for a moment of respite, but Lavathin didn't care for the idiotic unspoken rules of battle. There were no rules, only winners and losers. He could feel his Connection, strong, perhaps stronger than any other alive. He pulled from it, twisted it, used it to do his bidding. Bright flashes of light erupted from his hands.
And suddenly, as Leaan's men were retreating, pulling wounded off the frontlines, the enemy surged forward. It was not right, to attack when one was healing the wounded or taking care of the fallen, yet they came. Mott's eyes widened as the other men charged, bellowing with a strange sudden energy. Their eyes and movements were wild. They attacked with no thought to their own safety, simply throwing themselves upon the enemy.
Angus whirled on his horse amid his men. "What are you doing? Fall back, I said, fall back!" But his cries fell on deaf ears, as his men attacked like animals.
The sound of warhorns arose. Leaan bellowed. "They come! Fight! Fight I say!" He eyed Angun with anger, but realized the man, once his closest friend, had lost control of his men.
Mott parried and parried again, but the man in front of him would not relent. There was red in his eyes, a madness that spurred him on even after Mott had taken an arm and a leg. The man crawled, reaching and biting. Mott finished him and then another was upon him, knocking him to the ground.
"What have you done?" The bald man shrieked as Lavathin laughed.
"Turned the tides, my weak-willed friend, turned the tides to our favor."
The other man sputtered as he spoke. "But you've driven them insane!"
"Bloodlust, fool. If you have less men than the enemy, you must even the odds somehow." Lavathin felt the power within him bubbling and boiling up. "And now, it is time, to end this." He pulled on the power and unleashed hell.
Fire exploded across the front lines, burning friend and foe alike. Burning men alive, cooking them inside their armor, blistering skin and bone alike. Men became ash. In moments it was over, the fire was gone, leaving charred bodies, ashes, and men still alive screaming in the worst agony of their lives. Both sides seemed stunned by the destruction. Miles upon miles of smoking corpses. The smell of burnt flesh was overpowering, and smoke drifted over the battlefield. The shrieks were loud and unending and ashes were carried on the wind.
Men looked upon the vast death and destruction wrought and felt fear. Nobody could fight this, nobody could stand against something so overpowering as this. And still, the screams went on.
"And now, they run." Lavathin smiled.
The other man looked horrified. "What have you done?" He whispered. "What have you done?"
Lavathin sneered. "I have saved us, fool. We've won. Watch as they flee my power."
Mott, lying on the ground, heard an explosion of sound and felt heat searing his back, filling the air above him. As the heat dissipated, he pushed himself up, surveying a sea of cooked corpses and screaming burning men who had survived, though not for long. Mott did not see. He refused to see. He stumbled around in a daze.
"Ah-stahn!" The cry came, bellowing out from a loud voice, a strong voice. "Ah-stahn!" Men turned, uncertain, looking for the source.
It was Leaan, riding his horse, gesturing with sword in hand. "I stand!" He bellowed. "Who stands with me?"
The cry was thunderous. Men stood, they picked up their weapons and raised them high. "Al-stahn!" They cried out. "We stand! We stand!"
Leaan spurred his horse forward, pointing his sword at the enemy. He charged, and his men followed. They stepped over their still-smoldering comrades, they ignored the stench of crisped skin and the screams and followed their leader. Mott found himself following with the others, caught up in the excitement of the moment. He could taste ash in his mouth as his boots pounded through puddles of blood.
Lavathin snarled. "Very well. If they want more, then they will have it!" He lifted his arms wearily, ignoring how tired his previous Drawing had made him. "If they want to burn, then they will burn."
"No, Lavathin, it's you who will burn," a voice spoke from behind, and then the point of a sword ripped through Lavathin's stomach, point emerging in a burst of blood.
Lavathin and the bald mage beside him looked at it in sudden surprise.
"In hell," Angun said, withdrawing the sword. Lavathin collapsed and Angun turned his attention to the other mages. He butchered four before one managed to capture him in air and stab him with a dagger.
By then it was over. Leaan's forces broke the stunned enemy with ease and fell upon the mages with a reckless vengeful brutality. They were struck down as they fled.

        That was the battle of blood and ashes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I know it's not Sunday, It's Monday

I know, I know, it's Monday, not Sunday, but I'm trying to write a novel in a month, so gimme a break.

Speaking of Nanowrimo, It's going well and I am finding it easier than previous years to stay on track. I think part of it is that I told alot more people that I am doing it so now I feel obligated to keep going. Some parts feel boring and badly written, plain and useless, bad descriptions of places and feelings. But some feels good, feels cool. Some descriptions feel scenic and perhaps even poetic. Sometimes, I feel I've written something cool and even if that is just one scene, one paragraph, one description or one sentence, even just one word placed perfectly, it feels really good. I guess that's why writing is really fun, because of those rare moments where you feel you have created something good, in some way, shape or form.

I've written 23k words so far and am just getting to the beginning of the real adventure in my fantasy story. Perhaps there's too much build-up but I feel that's okay. I'm still getting a feel for the characters (is it wrong that I'm liking the lesser main characters than the main characters so far? I guess so, considering I always liked Aragorn better than Frodo). So yeah, maybe 20k words is too much lead up but if a novel is a piece of clay, than the first draft is the rough shape and once the whole shape is complete, then you go back and cut away the sculpture into it's fine detailed form. Or not. I don't know much about sculpting, but the metaphor sounds okay in my head.

Life is interesting, crazy and unexpected. I am not anywhere I expected to be but it is fine, great even. I always felt my future was a vague, undefined and foggy mess filled with uncertainties and lack of knowing, knowing I wanted to do with myself or what I even could do in the future. Now that foggy mess is clearing, the shape defining itself as I slowly figure shit out. There is still some vagueness to it, I think I want to teach but I am not absolutely certain about it, but that's okay, there will always be fog, questions, and the unknown. It is the future, after all, it must hold some mystery or what's the point? But I know the basics of what I want. I want my girlfriend and I want to write, I want to get published in something somewhere eventually. I want to enjoy art, in books, movies, video games and life. I want to enjoy life and to realize when I am enjoying it. Not only to stop and smell the flowers, but to realize just how great life is, that I get to stop and smell those flowers just for the hell of it. Hell, I want to sniff those flowers so hard the petals get stuck in my nostrils. I think that's a metaphor.

I had some time today, as I subbed for a high school social studies teacher (it was rather an easy and uneventful day) that I had time to hand write on lined paper. It felt good, nostalgic even, as if putting a pen to paper and moving your hand and seeing words you created and drew is more personal than typing on a computer. I guess it makes sense. On a computer, each letter is typeset in the same font/size, perfect and robotic where as in handwriting, every person has a style and each letter is a unique drawing, especially in my handwriting, and those who've seen it know, it resembles that of a third grader's, or worse. Chicken-scratch some would say, but it's not chicken-scratch, it's human-scratch and feels creative, like I'm sketching a strange drawing as I'm writing. A piece of paper filled with handwriting is very unique and beautiful(or ugly, if it's my handwriting) in it's way, where as computer-typed paper looks the same as any other.

Sitting here in a quiet class as the kids read and take notes on a worksheet, I guess I will write about some stuff.

For books, I recently read Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King, which I have to say is an amazing read. It tells the story of 4 or 5 characters with intersecting lives in different time periods while using 3 or 4 different writing styles. It really is quite remarkable and I would highly recommend it. It has only a touch of supernatural, most of it is simply modern fiction an it's damn good. Some of King's best writing, in my opinion.

I would also recommend Salem's Lot, by King. It is basically a tale of Dracula coming to a small Maine town and it is very well done.

I also read Vonnegut's Man Without a Country, which is very short an to the point. It is depressing and negative and has alot of truth. It is also funny. I remember Slaughter-house Five was one of my favorite books in high school.

Speaking of books from high school, Lord of the Flies is one that comes up in Hearts of Atlantis, an I think I'm going to read it again. I remember it was a very good book and I enjoyed it, but I also think my high school self was pretty stupid and probably missed alot. I think it will be alot of fun going back and rereading it. Yup, that's me, the guy who rereads books from high school for fun. Just call me an old fuddy duddy.

Television is at it's best and worst. Reality Shows more fictional than fiction show human beings being stupid, overly-dramatic, and competitive. They show rich people being horrible so we who are not rich can feel good about ourselves. They show human beings being terrible people. The worst of the worst is Toddler's and Tiara's, a show about mothers torturing their daughters, ages anywhere from 1-4(I wish I was joking) by putting them through beauty pageants. Look! You can see stuck-up snobby materialistic bitches with self-worth problems being molded before your very eyes! Meanwhile the disgusting mothers attempt to live vicariously through their toddlers, dressing them up and parading them around like dolls, even having them wear bathing suits in front of an audience and judges. Why the hell do pageants exist at all anymore? And little girl pageants? Seriously? And now we're televising them? It is absolutely fucking stupid. And yes, that fucking deserves to be there.

There is some okay reality shows, about actual workers and history, shows where you might learn something or where the people are people and not the worst scum on the earth. I don't really watch these though, because when I watch tv, I want to experience a story more than I want to learn about a job or about history of certain objects. Speaking of stories on tv, some of the best tv ever made is being created right now. Stories with characters more real than a 'real housewife' or a 'bad girl', dealing with more realistic problems than 'omg my 3-yr-old lost in a pageant.'

Best show ever? That's tough, too tough. Deadwood is great, nay good sir or madam, it is fantastic. Take a lawless western town, add a ruthless determined boss-man, an angry sheriff, Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, with awesome acting and brutal violence and you have one hell of a show. Another great is The Wire, which tells a story of drug dealing and murder, with realistic characters on both sides of the Law. There are cops you hate and criminals you pity, even root for. The acting is great, politics and machinations so realistic it's almost painful, an the characters tragic. Once you watch this, you won't be able to watch CSI because you'll realize it's all tv bullshit. It has a large cast of characters, alot of slang dialogue, and doesn't hold our hand through the plot so it can be confusing to follow. It is very good, though. Oh and it features the awesomest most badass gay gangster you'll ever see.

The Walking Dead is good. It has zombies but it's really about what humans do in a crisis, how they react when society breaks down and what's the point of living. It's entertaining, sometimes silly, but I mean, it's the only show on tv with zombies and it is better than much of what's out there.

Another good one is Dexter, a show about a serial killer who kills serial killers. Really makes you question exactly what a hero is and should you root for a murderer. The main actor, Micheal C Hall is also amazing. Fringe is entertaining sci-fi. If you accept the science bullshit, it tells a cool story with entertaining twists and turns.

Lost is a show I could probably write a whole blogpost on. It had many cool mysteries, twists, and interesting characters. The first two seasons were great. It was very good at making the viewer go 'OH SHIT!'. It also had mysteries for no reason or that made no sense and were never explained and the writers definitely did not have everything planned from the beginning. I liked everything about the final season except for the last five minutes of the finale. I got alot of enjoyment out of that show so I can't really hate on it. It was a fun ride.

Another show I loved was Terriers, about two grizzled private detectives. The characters were funny and 3-dimensional, acting was good and plots were interesting yet believable. I really enjoyed this show. Unfortunately marketing was terrible, nobody knew what the show was about and it got canned after one season. It's a great season though and doesn't leave loose ends.

There are also some funny sitcoms out, that are more about character humor than simple punchline jokes. People are funny in real life and these shows get that. Modern Family, New Girl, and Raising Hope are all hilarious and make me laugh every time.

As for movies, I haven't watched much recently. Toy Story 3 was as fun for me last week as the first one was when I was little. I am excited for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, even though I find it silly American's can't watch a subtitled movie. Still, if a really good movie comes from it, then I guess it's okay by me.

In the dreaded and vilified video game world, I have been playing Skyrim, and let me tell you there's nothing like rampaging across a fantasy world as a viking with an axe slaying dragons in the countryside.

This is turning out to be my longest post yet, all because of a slow day at school. Oh substitution, what an interesting profession. I am getting alot of experience in classroom management but not in creating lesson plans which I'm afraid will be my downfall while trying to find full-time positions.

In the bouncing world, some guy tried to pick a fight with me Saturday night. It got my blood pumping and I was ready to drag him outside but we talked him down. It's a little crazy how testosterone driven our society is, how much emphasis we put on being tough. Is it any mystery why guys get in fights when they're drunk, considering being a man supposedly means being tough and how can you be tough if you haven't been in a fight? Silly and stupid, I know but I feel that desire to show off how tough I am as much as the next guy. Dumb.

And now I'm dumb, this post is too long and I need to get to work writing. Or perhaps killing some dragons. So long and see you next Sunday...Or Monday.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's Sunday and I Need to Write More...

Sunday again, so here's another blogpost. It'll likely be a short one though, as I'm falling behind in my novel so I need all the words I can get. 

Last night was the Kareoke Mustachio Bashio party and it was fun. Unfortunately, I drank too much. I was one of those too-drunk guys I shake my head at when I'm bouncing. Though I don't party very often anymore, when I do, I sometimes drink too much, and it's something I need to work on. I've said I will drink less but maybe I haven't taken it seriously enough. The truth is I would've had alot more fun if I had just had a couple drinks instead. Drinking to get drunk really isn't as fun as everyone seems to think it is. But ah well, it's a problem I need to face and work on. So there it is. 

In other news, nanowrimo is in full effect and up until this weekend I've been doing pretty well. I think I need to write a couple thousand words tonight to stay on track which I'm pretty sure I can do. It's alot of fun, crafting a story and putting out as many words as I can. So far I'm still in the prologue of my epic fantasy novel. It's coming along well and I'm mostly happy with it. Current wordcount: 7501

I've also heard one of my brothers has started writing a story, which I think is very cool. I enjoy hearing about other people writing and their ideas. Apparently he's come up with a cool sci-fi setting, so I look forward to reading it at some point. 

I guess I have more readers than I thought, so I've decided that perhaps I'll swear a little less, basically only when I feel it is appropriate to whatever I'm talking about. Someone told me to keep my reading audience in mind, which I think is good advice. 

I know I haven't been doing any 'Writing on Writing' exercises lately, but I have recently read two books on writing, one by Dean Koontz and one by Stephen King. Both were good, but in different ways. Koontz's wasn't really about being writing 'better', but specifically about how to write good marketable genre fiction. It's focus is on being marketable, writing for the market and basically making money. Some might say oh writing for money is lame or selling out or something, which is simply stupid. If you can make money by writing, then you can spend much more time performing that act that you love, writing. Koontz points out how to write in each genre, and talks about plots, settings, and characters, as well as the different things each genre needs to be that particular genre. I liked it, it was very informative. 

King's was very good as well, I actually liked it better. It was more about being a better writer but the way King goes about it is very interesting. He writes about how he became a writer, and gives some general advice about writing. I enjoyed it alot. Both books have very sound advice for writers.

Aghhhh, I need to get back to work on my novel. Need to jot some words down, so this is the end of the post. 

Time to write. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Super-Duper Sunday

So yesterday was Saturday and as Rebecca Black says in her very informational music video, "Sunday comes afterwards." So yes, another Sunday, another Blogpost.

Time is moving fast for me. Subbing by day, bouncing by night, and hanging out with my girlfriend on my free time is making time fly by. Last I knew it was September, now October is just about over. It's strange. Soon I will be heading to Vermont for a karaoke and Mustache-bash party. Yeah, you read it right. I am excited. 

In other news, what the hell is up with this weather? We had a Nor'easter yesterday and it ain't even November. There was a heck of a snowstorm outside while I worked and it was really frikken cold. Felt like the middle of winter. What the hell happened to Autumn? I like Autumn. I hope it comes back and stays a little while longer. 

Not that the weather stopped us from being busy at the club though, oh no, not on Halloween weekend. We were still packed by midnight with all manners of freaks and ghouls. Just off the top of my head, I saw Captain Morgan, Pillsberry do'boy, Lego man, 5th element girl, Dexter, Robin Hood, Batman, Superman, Clark Kent, two bananas, a box of wine, an 'Occupy' protestor, Ace Ventura, Santa Claus (what's up with that, right? It's not Christmas), Elves, Redsox players, zombie ballerina, basic zombie, etc. The list goes on. I'll admit there were some pretty good costumes but people be crazy going out during a blizzard, especially with little to no warm clothing on. 

I'm just kind of rambling here, no idea or plan of what to write for this post. Sunday came fast and I've been busy, but that's not a good excuse. I guess every blogpost can't be awesome, interesting, informative and funny.  Or any of them, for that matter. I'm looking forward to Nano starting and writing 1667 words a day, and creating a fantasy epic. We will see whether it becomes 'epic' or 'fail'. Is anyone else annoyed when people use 'epic' and 'fail' in real life? It irritates me. It seems like everything is epic these days, like that skate trick or this internet video or some other stupid thing. No, drinking a case of beer in a night is not 'epic;', throwing the fucking One Ring into the Fire of Mordor is. One is not like the other so stop using that goddamn word to describe things that are barely above being 'cool'. Please, use other words like 'Awesome', 'jazztastic', or bodacious. And stop using fail as a goddamn noun, alright? Saying this or that was 'fail' or 'a fail' is annoying. Just goddamn say it sucked or it failed or it was a failure, alright? All this using internet-speak in real life just makes us sound stupid. 

Anyways, here's something I wrote. 

The Long Nap
I sat in my office, chewing on a toothpick. We weren’t supposed to chew on toothpicks in school, but then, I didn’t really care. I took another pull from my juicebox, feeling that it was almost empty. I’d need a refill soon. I was at my desk, blank paper in front of me, pencil in hand. I was waiting for a case, waiting for anything, really, when I spotted a movement.

There was alot of movement going on in the classroom, as it was choice time, so kids were playing with legos, drawing, and doing other silly things with their time. I was trying to do my job, solve a kid’s case or two, maybe get a quarter or a dime for my trouble. The particular movement that caught my eye was different, because it was aimed at me. Some kid was gesturing to me from behind the coat rack. Apparently he wanted me to leave my office and come over to him. I frowned. I didn’t really want to leave my office. It was nice, brown wood desk, couple chairs, and a sign I had made myself, plain white piece of paper with blue and red block letters saying ‘Office’, of which I was pretty proud.

I gestured to the gesturer to come to my office, but it was no use. He simply waved frantically, like a kid on Hawaiian Punch, so finally I sighed, finished my juicebox, tossed my toothpick in the trash and went over. I followed him behind the coatrack right by the door, so we couldn’t be seen by anybody, even the teacher. It was risky. If caught, the teacher would definitely send us back to our seats with a scolding, but I guess the kid wanted his privacy. And me, well the teach and me weren’t on the best of terms anyways.

His name was Nathaniel James Hawson, a mouthful of a name if I ever heard one. Today he was wearing a clean green polo underneath a red-patterned sweater and black dress pants. His glasses were gold-rimmed and thick, and he polished them nervously as he glanced around quickly. He seemed hesitant to speak.

“What do you want, Nate?” I asked.

“It’s Nathaniel,” he said automatically. He was a rich kid, daddy was the principal, mommy was a doctor, the kind of kid who’d gotten everything he’d ever wanted. I wasn’t sure how I was going to help him if his dad couldn’t, but if I could, I’d make more than usual, that’s for sure, maybe a couple dollars even, so I was willing to listen. I eyed the can of Dr. Pepper in his hand. Normally you weren’t supposed to have soda in school, all the mommy and daddy health nuts had complained, but of course, the rules didn’t really apply to Nathaniel.

“Nathaniel,” I said. “What do you need?”

“Want some Dr. Pepper?” He offered the can.

I hesitated. Yes, of course I wanted some of that deliciously sugary nectar of the gods, what kid wouldn’t? He was obviously attempting to butter me up before telling me something I wouldn’t like. Why else would a kid share? I took the can anyways and had a sip. That sweet carbonated liquid went down smooth.

“Now what’s this about?” I asked.

His eyes met mine for a brief second. “Pokemon cards.” Then he looked away.

I nodded, not surprised. Pokemon cards, of course. It’s all kids were about these days. They were big, huge even, kids looking to score the newest creatures, the best cards, trading and playing during recess, lunch, whenever they could get away with it. In fact, I had one of the rarest cards you could get, but few knew that and fewer knew where I kept it.

“And what exactly can I do for you?”

“It’s a...delicate matter. I need you to get a card back for me.”

“From who?” I asked but already knew. I felt something drop in the pit of my stomach and my mouth was dry, so I took another sip of the Dr.

“Butch,” he said, avoiding my eyes.

It was then I knew this was going to be the most difficult case I’d taken in my relatively new career, way harder than finding little Ricky’s lucky blanket. He’d just forgotten it on the playground. This was going to be more complicated than simply asking and looking around. Butch was the toughest kid on the block with an attitude to match, not to mention a couple of gorillas who’d stayed back at least two years and were known for stringing kids up by their shoestrings just for fun. I took another sip of soda. I needed it. The sickening sweetness made me fel alive, gave me some liquid courage.

“Alright,” I said. “Gimme the details.”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

It's Sunday again, yeah I know, big surprise, I wasn't expecting it either, but it's here, and you know what that means? Another gosh-darn blogpost. So here it is.

I guess first I'm going to talk about being a bouncer. I know, I've said a few things about it before, but it is quite an interesting experience, to see and interact with hundreds of people, all of whom, are pretty much plastered. Seeing these people stumble outside, half-dazed and mumbling, really makes you realize just how crazy we all  are. We go out, purposefully damage our brains and livers, turn ourselves into bumbling idiots, turn our rational mind off, not to mention spending large amounts of time and money, all just to 'have a good time'. And how many people actually drink too much and have a shitty night, regretting it the next morning? It is literally insane, especially for college kids. Yes, drinking and going out is fun, but the amount of time and money spent, the idea that 'getting wasted' is like the best thing ever in our society, is absolutely ridiculous. But anyways, I wasn't even planning on ranting like that, I probably sound like an old lady mumbling about 'those darned kids these days'.

And skirts/dresses in 30 degree weather? What is wrong with some of you girls? It just doesn't make sense in my head. Maybe I'm just too practical.

Anyways, what else have I been doing? Substitute teaching. In ways it's easier than being a full-time teacher. You deal with different kids every day, you start at 8 and end at 2:20, with no need to do work outside of the school day, which is nice. It has it's difficulties though. Knowing a kids name helps immensely with getting their attention, and as a sub, you don't know any of their names. Also, the kids try everything they can to see what their boundaries are, and just how serious you are, how many times you will tell them to stop before you actually get angry. And it's hard to discipline these kids, as you have only just got there, only have a bare knowledge of what is allowed and not allowed, so you have to figure out very quickly how to deal with noise issues, distractions, and whatever else comes along.

I subbed for a PE teacher, because I thought it would be fun. It was, but it was also highly irritating and incredibly loud. I'll be absolutely honest, it was chaos, and my job was to attempt to control that chaos. Little kids screaming and running around all over the place. By the end of the day, I felt worn out. Apparently little kids do not feel pain either, because they were falling all over the place, bashing elbows and knees but not even noticing. Crazy savages, hooping and hollering. It was a loud day.

I have this idea running around in my head, basically a detective story set in elementary school. It sounds incredibly silly, and is, but I can't quite get rid of it. It sounds funny in my head.

In other news, I have begun to think about my brother's zombie idea, attempting to think exactly what I would want in a zombie novel, essentially a group of interesting characters struggling to survive. It would begin with each on their own experiencing the outbreak and living, eventually finding each other. The character's goal is obviously survival, but you need more than that, you need events, conflict, something other than simple survival. They need another goal, even if it's something like 'get out of the city'. In Dawn of the Dead, the goal becomes to get to an island. You need more than just 'zombies are here aaaaaaah!'. The Walking Dead show is doing a good job, with a cast of interesting characters facing terrible events in the zombie apocalypse, figuring out their goals and dealing with new situations. If I was going to write a zombie novel, The Walking Dead would be very good inspiration.

I've also been thinking about my soon-to-be fantasy novel idea. I have a setting in my mind, that I've been thinking about for awhile. The basics are this, in this world, people use magic by connecting to a higher plane, essentially connecting to another world, this connection gives them power, gives them the ability to use magic in specific ways. In the olden times, life was good, magic was used to make life better, society flourished. Then, various powerful archmages wanted more and more power, began experimenting, doing anything they could to increase the connections to the magic world, eventually creating an event called The Opening. Magic flooded the world, turning people into monsters, destroying cities, bringing nightmarish creatures, and essentially plunging the world into a chaos filled with violence and death. A man came, began banding people together, driving off the monsters, building a new society in this savage land. Eventually things calmed down, one kingdom of men grown strong. Then this man, now king, outlawed magic, burned the magic out of magic-users or simply outright killed them, blaming them for the Opening. Now, three young children, each with a powerful connection to the world of magic, must attempt to escape this society where magic is punishable by death or worse.

Blah, that was a mouthful. A very quick and sloppy summary right there. Ah well. I am thinking of trying to keep the events of the novel contained within one large city, so that I only really have to create that city, without paying attention to fine details all around the world. Start small and all that. Anyways, that's it for today. Next week, look for some actual pieces of stories that I am working on. I'm off to watch some football.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Writing Projects

On the Seventh day, God rested, but not me, oh no, I'm not lazy like God. Sunday is now going to be my blog-writin' day. That's right, weekly blog posts are going to be coming every Sunday for your reading pleasure or displeasure. At least, that's the plan, anyways. Whenever I make a plan like this, a deadline, a regularly-scheduled bout of writing, I tend not to follow through. This time, though, I'm going to do it! (I say that everytime). I've got a sweet new to-do application for chrome though, all fancy-lookin', with regular reminders and everything. Apparently it's a social app too, so if you have friends who use it, you can give 'helpful' reminders to them, and stuff like that. I'm not really sure, as I don't have any friends who use it. It's called Astrid, if you would like to check it out.

So let's see, another blog post. What to talk about? How about the fact that nobody comments on my posts? I know you're here, looking! I can see the (very) few page views my blog gets! Leave a message, a note, a quibble, a lyric, anything! Yes, I am selfish, I want to know someone is reading these useless ramblings. A comment suddenly makes blogging more interesting. It gives me something to read, something to think about, to respond to. It suddenly turns this blogging into more of a conversation and less of long-winded monologue. So if you read this, (is there anybody out there....)just leave something. Anything. It would make me feel better about myself.

But regardless, onwards. I thought maybe I'd talk about of the few writing projects I have going or are circulating in my head, at least.

Interestingly enough, both of my brothers have pitched ideas to me.

The oldest had an idea for a setting, basically, in a sentence (which was about as much as he gave me), post-apocalypse earth with aliens, aliens who came to earth for resources, but because of the apocalypse and all, basically they're screwed. They can't even leave earth, and so they struggle to survive just as the humans do.  That was the basic idea, he thinks it would be cool for a graphic novel or something, so I've been mulling it over, and have actually started a short story about it. There's so many questions about this setting though, so many variables. What caused the apocalypse (disaster/nuclear/virus/etc.) What are the aliens and what are they like? Etc.

I have a few answers to these questions, as I have let them swirl around in my blender of a mind for awhile now. I must say I am very interested in the post-apocalyptic setting, in the question of What happens after? Lately, I've been thinking less of a viral or nuclear or zombie apocalypse, as those have been done and redone quite often. No, recently I have been thinking of an apocalypse brought about by mother nature herself. It's probably not surprising, after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in DC, the storm that hit the East Coast, etc. What if these things kept happening, getting stronger and stronger, all at once, destroying entire cities, killing billions, and plundering the world into chaos. Yeah, that sounds interesting to me, and one apocalypse that hasn't really been tried, at least not that I know of.

So I've got the apocalypse figured out I guess, though I'm still playing around with how long it's been since it happened, enough for people to have gotten back on their feet somewhat, but not so long it's not fresh in their minds. As for the aliens, I got humanoid creatures with black scales, red eyes, and completely hostile to humans. As for why they came to earth, or what they want, that's still something I'm working on as well.

My other brother pitched a zombie apocalypse idea. He said we just have to figure out the location and how far along the zombie apocalypse has progressed. I said that's not exactly alot to go on, but I'd give it some thought. So far, it's percolating in my mind but that's about it.

As for other things, I've been thinking about my novel for National Novel Writing Month. I'm thinking of going with a fantasy story, with a setting that's been in my head and written in random word documents sporadically. I will tell you something, it is mighty difficult to create an entire world in your head, not to mention with the other great fantasy worlds out there, Lord of the Rings, Song of Ice and fire, the Kingkiller Chronicles, DeathGate, etc, you have to really make the world believable, with cultures, languages, geographies and everything, or else the reader will feel cheated. That's alot to come up with, and sometimes feels like too much. I'm trying to start small though, and work up. You also don't want it to feel cliche or contrived, or fake. It has to work, and it has to have rules. The geography has to make sense, the land, the people, everything, just like the real world. It's a pretty heavy undertaking, but it's fun too. Creating an entire world is quite different than anything else.

Meanwhile I've got half a dozen other ideas, novels, and half-started stories, either in my head or half-written down somewhere. A thriller where an ex-marine is hunted by a killer who has deep pockets, heavy resources, and loves a challenge. A zombie detective who solves supernatural cases has to find his old friend's son. A western where the lone cowboy comes into town and faces a sociopathic sheriff. A vampire hunter and his mentor find out an Elder has come to town which is very bad news. A group struggling to live after the apocalypse are beset upon by a gang of ruthless thugs. An ex-cover ops agent finds himself the target of a serial killer and chased by his old agency. Etc. Some of these are Nanowrimo attempts, others simply ideas I've had for awhile. The thing about being a writer, is I'm constantly thinking about things I could write, a setting, a scene, a character, ideas are always there, inspired by anything I see.

So there it is, some of my 'projects', ideas, and other stuff. Be nice and leave a comment or something.                                                          

Monday, October 3, 2011

Doin' Stuff

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. This is probably because I've done very little writing at all. My excuse is that I've been busy, but that's not a very good excuse. I have been busy, substitute teaching 4 days a week, bouncing on the weekends and hanging out with my girlfriend, but I still have time to write. It's just usually I find something else to do, like watch television shows or movies or playing video games or reading. There's so much to do in my free time that at times, I can't decide what to do at all. Isn't that a little crazy? There's so much good television to watch that I can't pick a show to watch, so many movies that I want to see, so many games I want to play, and so many books I want to read....At times when I have time to do whatever I want, I just sit doing nothing at all, trying to convince myself to do this or that. It's strange really. There's times I just don't know what to do with myself. It's silly. It's stupid. I should just pick something and do it, right? Well hell yeah, I'm doing it now. I've decided to write a blog post, and so that is what I'm doing.

There is one thing that has helped me write. It's called FocusWriter, and it's free. I've heard about a bunch of writing programs with virtual sticky-notes and chapter-thingys and all kinds of organizational and helpful applications, programs like Scrivener but these cost money and quite simply, I would not know what to do with all those helpful applications. I feel like all those doo-hingies would simply get in the way of me actually writing. Though I'll admit, organization and planning and perhaps outlining a story might help me actually finish one...But regardless, I do not feel like I need something that complicated. That is where FocusWriter comes in. It is a simple program that eliminates the distractions on your screen. It provides a simple background and page to write in, completely covering the screen so you cannot see when someone instant-messages you, you cannot see when someone updates their facebook, and you cannot browse the web while you're writing. It's simple, with as many features as I need. (It even has a feature where it sounds like a typewriter when you're writing, which is pretty awesome). So check it out if you're a writer who wants to write more but get too distracted by other things on your computer. Like I said, it's free and I've enjoyed it so far. I will definitely be using it come Nanowrimo.

Speaking of Nanowrimo, I will be participating in it once again. This is the fourth time, I believe? I have yet to actually achieve 50k words, but maybe this year is my year. If you don't know, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and occurs in November. This link should help, Nanowrimo info. Essentially, you sign up on the website and attempt to write a novel in the month of November. Hundreds of thousands people have been doing this for many years now, and it's always fun to try. You write 1667 words a day and attempt to surpass 50,000 words, the size of an average novel. It is extremely difficult as you have to constantly juggle your schedule and write like a maniac as much as you can. At the end of it all, you have quite a bit of writing, a solid chunk of something resembling a portion of a novel. The most I've achieved is around 30k words. Like I said, hopefully this year is my year. I also have a couple friends attempting it with me, so I think it will be easier with other people that I know participating. If you're thinking about trying it out, let me know, it's always better knowing others that are doing it as well. It's good to have people to talk to about writing.

I have (very slowly) been reading through the What If? book on writing fiction. The latest exercise was about writing a story with a given first line, working on fleshing out the 'starting a story in the middle of things' idea. Their line was: Where were you last night?

Here's the beginning of a story with that line that I wrote:

In a bit of a Bind

             “Where were you last night?” The question is followed by a swift punch to the stomach, knocking Damien to his knees with a groan. Hands grab his arms and pull him up only so he can receive another blow. He wheezes, gasping for breath.
            “It’s...rather answer...whilst having the air...knocked outta me...” They give him a moment to catch his breath. “Now,” he smirks, “what was the question, again?”
            A hard fist wipes the smirk off his face and sends him sprawling to the ground.
            “So.” The voice is hot with anger. “You think this is a joke, Damien?”
            Hands once again grab him and hoist him up. His face aches and he can taste blood in his mouth. The man in front of Damien is huge, at least six and a half feet tall and heavyset besides. There is no anger in his face, however, only cold hard eyes beneath a bald head. His fists are clenched, ready to unleash more pain, should Damien deserve it, and Damien is pretty sure he’s going to deserve it very soon.
            “Not bringing me my money is no joke.” The voice does not come from the large man, but from a much smaller man at his side. The size difference between the two would’ve made Damien laugh under other circumstances, perhaps if his face didn’t feel like it just got smacked with a ten-pound hammer. The small man is barely four feet tall, short arms and short legs, and short black hair. At the moment he’s wearing a black business suit with polished black dress shoes and he’s shaking his head. “Damien Damien Damien...This is no laughing matter.”
            A midget mob boss, who’da thunk it, right? Damien can’t help but burst out laughing despite the midget mob boss’ words. In a flash he’s on his back, unsure of how exactly he got there so fast. All he knows is his face suddenly hurts alot more than it did five seconds ago. The dark room, lit by only one bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, swirls in Damien’s vision. A boot catches him in the side and he vomits on the brown-stained carpet. The dwarf says something but he can’t understand the words as he dry heaves. Boots suddenly come from all sides, kicking. One in the chest sends him gasping, one in the back makes him squeal. As the boots fall, he flops on the ground, struggling to find any position where the feet won’t hurt. He wonders if this is the end, death, the final scene of the movie of his life, when a hard steel-toed boot connects with his forehead.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


It was an interesting first day as a substitute on Monday. Teaching isn't easy, even when you aren't really teaching anything, and getting kids to be quiet and productive and listen to a stranger is a difficult prospect. You have to be firm and unyielding. Give 'em an inch, and they'll take a mile, asphalt, road signs and mile markers included. Thankfully, kids are dumb, yet think they're very clever. I remember I was the same way. If you can establish a stern, commanding and dominant presence, if you enforce your rules to the letter and do not bend to their wills, then you can have a quiet and pleasant classroom.

My first period was actually pretty easy. I handed out worksheets and told them they could not talk while doing them. It was quiet mostly. I did have to write a student up for sleeping, but that was it. They occasionally asked a neighbor for help quietly, which I allowed. It was a good class. Then, the next class, I actually told them they could ask a neighbor for help quietly if they needed to. Big mistake. The classroom became chatty and I had to tell them to quiet down multiple times. Then one kid convinced me they were supposed to have a book for the worksheet, and I only had two books in that class, so I let them share, making the classroom even more chatty. Despite this, it still wasn't a bad class and never really got out of control. It really showed me though, that students will take any boundary you give them and push it, as much as they can, especially since you're just a 'sub'.

The rest of the day was fine, just gave a couple kids a worksheet, hung out in the staff lounge and listened to real teachers talk, which was funny. The things teachers say about their kids and their jobs outside of the classroom....It made me want to be a teacher, not just a temporary stand-in for one. My last period was only 12 kids, so I let them work together quietly and that was fine. It was a good day overall, and I can actually see myself doing this whole teaching thing as a living, so that is a good thing.

So I took a look back in that writing book and decided to do that exercise that I said I wasn't going to do. It is because I was very bored waiting for my next class, but anyways, I guess the real point of the exercise to work on clearly showing an idea/feeling in one story starting sentence. So here's some story starting sentence pairs.

He came out slimy and bug-eyed, like some tiny crying alien from space. It was sad that what he remembered most about that fatal moment, was the foul smell after the bowels had let go.

The sun was shining down on the couple as they made their vows to each other on the golf course green. The phone rang and rang, meanwhile Eddie drank and drank, letting it ring, knowing it would be her or her lawyer demanding more money.

The days were growing longer and hotter while kids out of school continued to do nothing productive at all, which was perfectly fine with them. Snow was melting and rain was coming down daily, meaning only one thing for a small town with many dirt roads, Mud.

Other stuff,
It seems I may attain more followers any time now, depending on if a few family members stumble upon this blog somehow. I can only give a warning. I swear alot on this blog. I swear because it relieves stress, expresses how I feel at times, and is also the way I talk when I'm with my friends. We swear alot. I don't know why it just happens. So to me, swears make these sentences feel a little more real, like I'm having a real conversation with somebody, rather than writing a formal letter or something. Regardless, there it is. Time for this blog post to end. Peace out homeys.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bouncing, Writing, and Teaching

I worked Sunday night and it was...interesting. I was the only bouncer after 10 pm, and the place got pretty busy for a Sunday. I was outside, carding everybody. It was pretty easy and pretty boring except I met someone. A bro. A serious bro. A certain serious kind of bro known as a 'lax bro'. This particular kind of bro is one who played or plays lacrosse, and considers himself pretty much the awesomest guy ever because of this fact that they play(ed) a sport. So this bro comes outside to smoke, and we chat. It happens often, actually, people who are hanging around outside and drunk like to chit-chat. It's fine, mostly kind of boring, but it's something to do other than stand around doing nothing. So this bro and I chat it up for a little bit. The first conversation is not bad, but annoying. He says I'm not that big for a bouncer, and I respond well appearances can be deceiving, and he agrees, then he goes on to ask if I know any martial arts or something. At this point, I'm confused, what is this guy even talking about and why does he care? Later I realize he's just trying to know how 'tough' I am so he can compare how 'tough' he is. I tell him I played some sports, as soon as I mention lacrosse..."Oh you play lax, bro? Me too." Bam. Lax bro alert. I tell him I play defense, he says he plays offense and he would totally burn me or something similar. I just smile and nod, wondering when this conversation was going to end. Then he asks "How much you bench?" This question simply astounds me. Bench? Is this guy seriously asking me how much I bench? How is that a serious question outside of an actual gym, much less outside a bar/club at 11 pm at night. I tell him I don't really go to the gym that much, and this statement simply confuses him. "You don't go the gym?" He asks it like he doesn't understand how a man, much less a 'lax bro' like himself, does not go to the gym. Sorry I don't have time and money to waste pumping iron meanwhile I'm working as a bouncer and substitute barely managing to pay rent. Yeah, I don't go to the gym often, sue me. The conversation continues, some people go inside and think he's a bouncer, despite wearing a t-shirt and jeans. After, he says 'People always think I'm a bouncer for some reason.' "Well, you're standing right on the other side of the door just like I am..." He replies with "Nah, it's cuz I'm friggin' jacked." I just smile and nod, hoping against hope he will finally finish his goddamn cigarette and go back inside. He finally does, with some final piece of wisdom, "Alright, time to go get some pussy." So yeah, interesting night.

Anyways, that was my experience with a lax bro. Onwards to better and hopefully more insightful things.

I am officially licensed to teach English grades 5-8, and 9-12. Not that that is going to help me get a full-time teaching position because I have no experience, but it's not like I can find fault with any schools that don't want a completely inexperienced teacher taking on full classrooms. The good news is I have become a substitute for a few school districts, so I will be getting experience and pay. So that's good.

Writing on Writing
I'm still reading this fiction-writing book, though very slowly, as I want to write about it on the blog, and my blog posts aren't exactly timely. Anyways, onto the next exercise, which is pretty lame. It's about how every story has a history, a background. Even though you want to start a story in the middle of things, you do need to introduce a background, a history to the events that are transpiring. A story with no history doesn't feel real. It feels made up, which is exactly what it is, but it shouldn't feel that way or nobody will want to read it. The exercise is essentially looking at stories and thinking about all the events that happened before the events on the first page, and then looking at your own stories. It's a good exercise, and there are times where my stories don't seem to exist until the events happen, so they have no past. It's something to work on and to keep in mind when writing.

As an example, I'll take one of the First Sentences I wrote in an earlier post, take the one about the ghost looking at his own corpse for example. The events that transpired before that very sentence are pretty obvious, the character died in some way and for some reason. Perhaps it will be a mystery as the ghost attempts to figure out why he was killed, revealing bits of the past at a time. That sounds pretty cool, if perhaps an idea that's already been done before.

The next exercise, (yeah two exercises in one post, crazy I know) is about writing two sentences that are opposites, like one about birth followed by one about death, marriage and divorce, love and hate, etc. I guess it's to get used to writing about different concepts, intertwining them together in a fluid way. It ends up just being kind of awkward and silly, to me, so I am refraining from doing it. I just don't really see the point in writing random sentences and putting them together.

I heard people actually read this thing occasionally, probably when there is absolutely nothing else to do, there are no more stumbles to stumble, no more website waves to internet-surf, no more shows and films to stream on netflix or download, and they are wracking their brains for anything at all to engage their minds in any way whatsoever. Regardless, the knowledge that anybody reads this has motivated me to continue posting when I can, when I feel like it, and when I feel I actually have something to write about.

"Interesting and witty quote that perfectly ends the blog post" -Someone witty/interesting/famous