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.