Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It's All Brewing

I don't know why, but I've really been shying away from writing lately. I keep thinking "I should go write now" only to then think "Eh, I've got chores to do. I'll write eventually." Chores to do!? Really!? I mean, yeah, they should take priority with how sloppy my home is, but still. I HATE chores. That's why they're CHORES. I'm not entirely sure why they are now taking precedence over something I thought I had a passion for.

Something I DO have a passion for.

I've fallen off the reading horse as well. I do little to nothing hobby-related when I'm home, and I barely steal away 15minutes at work anymore. When I do have down time, I find myself struggling to stay awake. I do Sudoku puzzles to try to keep my brain active, while not really needing to focus on a whole. Strange way to do Sudoku, but I'm a strange woman.

Every now and then I get flashes of stories developing in the background of my mind, but I never seem to be at a point where I can stop and write any of it down. It just stays brewing quietly in my head.

Hubby and I drove nearly an hour away to go to a movie theater - we live in the boonies - for back-to-back showings of "Logan" and "Beauty and the Beast" last week. I did use the drive to think some more about my stories, but, as the driver, I couldn't really write anything down. The same thing always seems to happen when I'm doing dishes. Or when I'm falling asleep, and I know if I stop to write down my thoughts as I'm trying to pass out, it will just keep me awake longer.

Perfect timing, Muse. Perfect.

I have thought a bit more about "Glitches" lately, though. That was what took up most of my driving time when Hubby and I went to the movies. Mostly trying to build more background for Lia's father Cody. Namely, what his connection is to Chayse's mom - who I believe I named Emily, but I'm leaning towards Margaret now - or Chayse's dad Ryder. I feel like Cody has to be connected with either of them for it to make sense for him to think of working at the school/orphanage in order to bring Lia there to train.

I thought that maybe he was Emily/Margaret's brother or cousin, but then I couldn't have Lia crushing on Chayse, which is a big part of her early character development. I then thought that maybe Cody knew Emily/Margaret via her deceased friend Cecilia. Maybe Cody was another brother along with Dominic - whom I think I'm going to name Mateo after all - or a cousin. Having Lia somehow related to "The Glitch Formerly Known as Wolverine" wouldn't be bad. However, I wasn't really much of a fan of so many characters being connected to him. Dom/Mateo is connected to Emily/Margaret via his sister, he's also connected to Fidget and Lucas after rescuing them, and he's already pseudo-connected to Chayse as an unofficial sensei. If I bring Colette over to "Glitches", Dom/Mateo is also a father to her. It just brings too much focus to him. Makes him too much of a central figure instead of one within an outlying ensemble.

I then thought that maybe Cody was Ryder's brother or cousin, but same issue about Lia/Chayse. A childhood friend, maybe? But I already have that with Ryder and Willow's father. Having both women vying for Chayse's attention be daughters of Ryder's friends? Too coincidental.

Briefly, I focused around the woman who inspired the orphanage/school the series is based in. Cody was Cecilia's boyfriend. Problem with that is she died in college while Cody would have been studying on the other side of the country in Hawaii. Bi-coastal college relationship? It's a stretch to begin with. Plus, how would he have met Cecilia's roommate Emily/Margaret? During the funeral? Would that be enough of a connection to draw him to her school when Lia's powers surfaced? On top of those complications, there's the fact that I had Cody falling for Lia's mom while he was in college. The timing just wasn't adding up. I could only think of taking a page from the Kitty/Gambit X-Future book: Keahi and Cody fell for each other as she helped Cody cope with the death of a loved one. It worked better for Kitty/Gambit though because they were helping each other grieve over Rogue's death.

For right now, I've settled on Cody knowing Emily/Margaret when they were kids. They were childhood friends who built a sort of sibling bond. They aren't siblings, so the Lia/Chayse thing isn't taboo, but that bond should also prevent people from wondering if there was - or will be - a hook up between Cody and Emily/Margaret. I actually don't have much figured out about Cody, so everything's pretty much still up in the air.

There's a lot to figure out, which is why I was able to think about it for nearly two hours and still don't have a definitive answer. I get credit, though, for at least mentally working on it. Right?

It also occurred to me this week that I still haven't officially written up a backstory for Jynna. I have the broad skeleton of her past, though.
Orphaned at a young age, Jynna was a street urchin that was abducted by a cult. One of the few religious in the area, the cultists were zealots who believed the numenera was a gift from The Divine as a way of communicating with the denizens of the Ninth World; proof that the gods exist. Jynna resisted brainwashing during her initiation, which lead the cult leaders to submit her and a few other unindoctrinated to "The Tests." Jynna and the others were forced into surgeries that started transforming their bodies into mechanical conduits for the numenera, as a means of "helping" the initiates better "communicate with the divine."

It kept her until she was fourteen, but Jynna eventually learned to manipulate the numenera enough to help her escape. By the time she did, the other initiates were either fully embraced by the cult, or had died. She was alone in the world, and quickly learned all she could about the numenera as a means to better learn how to survive with her new body. After a few years of isolation, beatings, and near execution at the hands of scared citizens, Jynna figured out how to both utilize her new powers, and how to hide her mutilations.

She still loathed what she was forced to become, and attempted to become a jack; working the less-than-lawful career bracket. It didn't last because she was no longer a jack, she was fully a nano. When she hit adulthood she embraced her ability to manipulate the numenera; now knowledgeable about the nanites that made up the world around her. Not only was she a proud nano, but she added to her body enhancements. She wasn't quite human any longer anyway, so she embraced what the cultists made her. She tried to remain as human looking as possible, and will never again allow someone to force her through surgery, but she was no longer above putting herself through further transmutation. She loved being able to work the numenera to her will, and her goal in life was to learn as much as she could about the power. If no other reason than to be able to return to the cultists as a Divine Avatar, then promptly tearing them apart so they could no longer torture another child.
I still need to get it to Hubby to approve. Then, perhaps I could start working out more details, such as the name of the cult and where it's based. I'm thinking of having Jynna be mid-to-late twenties when the game starts; depending on how old everyone else is in the party. So, I also have quite a few years to try to fill in gaps about. Finally, one of the components of my character build - as dictated by the actual rules of the game - is that I need to select another player's character as the one party member who knows that Jynna is a cyborg. If I decide Jynna's no longer going to hide that fact - probably not from her partymates at least - then I need to come up with a dark secret the other character knows. For instance, a command word that would shut down all the mechanical parts of her body. I was thinking, being raised in a cult constantly trying to brainwash her, that she does actually have a command word. I'll need to figure out what the word is, and what it does. Should be fun.

Finally, on the "thinking about writing counts as actually writing, right?" front, I did use a prompt to start up another Willow/Devon scene. I only managed to get about four paragraphs in before I had to stop - I don't recall why - but I have been thinking about how the story goes. The writing prompt was "write about a sideways glance" so it's a fun scene to think about.

I really need to stop slacking off and actually get back to that prompt, and other prompts since I'm not even done with all 31 January ones yet. I also should go back to character building for "Glitches" to help with the world-build. Everyone else in writing group has at least one story they're trying to continue and finish. Something that they can share progress about, and I just have this long list of individual prompts. People could comment about my writing in general, but they can't share thoughts about my story building abilities like we do with everyone else.

I need to pick a project, and stick with it.

In the meantime, perhaps I'll read "Please, Let Me Explain" in group. I don't recall if I've done that yet, and maybe it will drive me to finally finish editing/writing the darn thing.

For now, though, I do have another prompt typed up for your reading pleasure. It's the first narrative about Jynna that I wrote a month or so ago. It's just a vignette, but it does hit the "under 1000 words" limit that Ronoxym gave me. So I guess this counts as another entry for his challenge. I don't know if I really set up a lot about Jynna herself in this short, but I hope I set up the Ninth World setting of Numenera well enough.

"The Future is Bright"

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stuck in a Winter Wonderland

This week was.... um.... interesting. The Northeast of the US got hit by "Winter storm/blizzard Stella" last week. The majority of it came down last Tuesday, cancelling my writer's group meeting. It also meant I had all day inside. A day where I could get away with not doing laundry or other errands because I was snowed in. It wasn't my fault. I wasn't being lazy. I just had no choice. A guilt-free day to ignore adulthood.

As Judy Reeves wrote in "A Writer's Book of Days":
Snowbound
(or The Serendipitous Effects of Bad Weather on a Good Writer)

There's six feet of new snow, and outside your window a gauzy shroud of white obliterates any horizon....

Let's just say that, for whatever reason, and through forces outside your control, you're homebound for the day. Consider this a gift. You've been given a writing day, free and clear.

This is a day for snugging in. Think of words like
warm, fuzzy, cozy. Brew up some cocoa; hot, spiced tea; coffee with warmed milk. A few cookies or some buttered toast won't go astray. Build a crackling fire or, lacking a fireplace, encircle your nest with candles. Get your notebook, your favorite pen, and settle in.

Warm up with a five-minute writing... then maybe a ten-minute writing.... Refresh your coffee or tea, give the fire a poke, and encamp yourself again. Release all constraints of time and begin another writing session. Continue writing one of the pieces you've already begun, or start fresh.... Instead of stopping after fifteen or twenty minutes, keep going. When you come to what might be a stopping place, don't mark a period on the page but instead put a comma and keep writing. Or begin again with a connector such as
then or however or instead of or but and allow the pen to begin its meanderings anew. Write as long as you want. Let this be a leisurely session; there's no schedule to keep, nothing to do instead of write.
Well, we only had about three feet of snow; not six. Maybe that's why I didn't spend the day writing. I spent it cleaning the apartment. Still a productive day, right? I did do a lot of reading, and I did write for at least 15minutes in the evening as I FINALLY got around to responding as Trish over on the X-Future boards. Only kept me like three months....

Not the most inspiring way to use a snowday. Hubby and I watched movies, snuggled warmly in the living room. I did some cleaning. I watched him play more "Breath of the Wild." I did some reading. I finally got around to filling out the official character sheet for Jynna. I still need to officially write up her backstory so that Hubby can approve, and then I can write that out on her character sheet as well.

Then, Wednesday, I had the fun of doing this for most of my morning:
Fun, right?

More cleaning commenced inside once I was done unburying myself, my work, and my in-laws. No reading was done, but I did get another prompt finished. Poor Lia has been off on the sidelines for a while. I've written about the yet-to-be-fully-formed Elymoxa the Gnome. I've had two stories to help me get into character with Jynna. Amara re-emerged for a short. I even had the umph to write Trish's part on the X-Future boards. Willow I've had some posts on the boards before the game died off. Lia? She's been kind of quiet, but she piped up a bit on Wednesday. That was exciting.

It was also the last thing I wrote for the week.... From Thursday on it was all about playing catch-up, on work, on the last of the remaining chores, on the errands I couldn't do in the snow, etc.

I'm not sure what's up with me this winter. I just don't have the drive and NEED to write like I did last year. I'm not entirely sure how to fix that, either, which is the truly sad thing. My exercising and waistline have also fallen to the wayside, if that is any indicator. Something about winter, even a mild one like we had - minus last week's storm, always makes me want to hibernate on the couch.

Now that it's officially spring, maybe I can get myself back on track. To try to start the trend, I actually took the time to type up a couple more of my writing prompts. I'm now up to January 7th.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Progress is progress, I guess. At least writing wise I'm up to January 18th. Not much better, but still... Hubby's going to have to go "full grounding" and send me to our room as well, not just swipe my computer. I still don't seem to be getting anywhere that way.

Well, while I'm trying to get my footing again, here are my January 6th and 7th writing prompt works:

"Quick Thoughts on Time Travel"
This one is super short at only 562 words. Not at all what I was intending when I read the prompt, but I "trusted the pen" and ended up with a micro-essay, as it were.

"Nature Can Bite Me"
An actual narrative, but this one is still only 829 words. I finally have another flash to send to Ronoxym. We'll just ignore that I wrote it back on February 9th.... Doing so well on those writing New Years Resolutions, guys!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Budding Theorist

I should have never doubted Legend of Zelda. Yeah, it's a distraction, but it's also inspiration. It always has been. One of the reasons I love the game series so much.

For those not indoctrinated in one of the most debated topics of the fandom, one of the first things most fans do when a new Zelda game comes out is try to figure out where it fits on the overall timeline of Hyrule, the kingdom that the vast majority of the games take place in. The debate was eventually quelled when the book Hyrule Historia was published as a be all end all canonical listing of the history of the series, as well as a way to fill in gaps between the games.
This thing is kind of large, just google Hyrule Historia Timeline
if you want a better look.
After the timeline was published four games were released: First was "Link Between Worlds" which told the players that it takes place after "Link To The Past", and the next two - "Hyrule Warriors" and "Triforce Heroes" - aren't generally considered canon. Well, at least "Hyrule Warriors" isn't because it isn't by the Legend of Zelda team. "Triforce Heroes" might be canon since it's an official Zelda game, but it's kind of a joke-story compared to the others so.... *shrug*

Anyway, my point being, after the official timeline was released the only game that has question marks around its placement in the timeline is the newest installment: "Breath of the Wild." There was "word of God" confirmation from the game developers that it is intended to take place post-Ocarina-of-Time, but beyond that, we don't know which timeline it falls into. As of right now, as shown above, there are three timelines/alternative realities. One is known as the "Downfall" timeline, due to the downfall/defeat of Link against Ganon, and the following downfall of all of Hyrule. One is known as the "Child" timeline, due to Link, with all of his memories of defeating Ganondorf, returning to his lost childhood. The final is called the "Adult" timeline, the original timeline where Link, as an older teen, defeats Ganon, but is then transported back in time, creating the "Child" timeline. Lately, perhaps due to "Breath of the Wild," there are theories of a "unified" timeline where events bring these three realities - Downfall, Child, and Adult - collapsing onto themselves to create just one reality/timeline again. A lot of people are placing BotW as the first major event post-unification; perhaps the cataclysmic event that started the events of BotW were the same ones that collapsed the timelines into one. Others are creating a fourth timeline, one where Link refuses to leave the Adult timeline; what was done was done, Zelda doesn't need to send him back to live his childhood, they should just all work together to rebuild from Ganondorf's rule and destruction. There are fans who are placing BotW on this new perceived timeline.

Then there are those, like me, who are trying to keep with the three established timelines. Although, not many conceived of the "Downfall" timeline prior to the Hystoria's release, due to everyone assuming each game was won; therefore Link triumphed over Ganon. If "Ocarina of Time" could create an alternate reality based on Link failing, why can't all the games? It gets complicated if we think like that, so we'll leave that decision to the developers.

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is that there are vast debates going on right now trying to figure out where BotW falls in relation to the other games. I personally have watched about a dozen different theory videos of people arguing what timeline, or at least showcasing the arguments for each timeline.

It seems most agree that it takes place in the Child timeline sometime after "Twilight Princess"; most likely after "Four Swords Adventures" too. However, there is some conflicting evidence that points towards the other timelines. This is probably why the Unified Timeline theory is gaining traction.

What does this have to do with my own inspiration? Well, I'm one of the nutjobs who has a Timeline Theory. Sadly, I don't have the tech to create a video like everyone else seems to be, but I do intend to write out my theory at least. It may not be groundbreaking. It may not really have new insight that the other theorists haven't already stated. It may not be read by more than my friends and family - and even that will be slim pickings based on who is a Zelda fan.

However, I am determined to write it, especially after Fan Theory Enthusiast - one of Hubby's best men - Goob suggested that I go full throttle. The game itself is massive; far more so than any previous Zelda game. Hubby has been playing nearly every chance he could since it came out on the third, and he's still maybe 3/4 of the way through the game, if that. So I'll still have to do some research, and borrow a lot of information from other theorists and Let's Play videos to get information I personally haven't witnessed yet.

It's not really much by way of story writing. It's more theoretical essay than narrative. However, I still do need to find the proper words to convey my thoughts, far more so than a video theorist who can use visuals to assist. I also need some creativity to explain why certain elements make sense. For instance, some Adult Timeline theorists point out that two prominent intelligent species - the Koroks and Ritos - are only ever previously seen in "The Wind Waker" which falls into the Adult timeline. Downfall Theorists use the existence of the more primal species Lynel for the same reason: they only appear in games that fall in the Downfall timeline. They also point out that the Master Sword - Link's ultimate weapon against Ganon - is always in the Temple of Time/Hyrule Castle in both "Link Defeats Ganon" timelines, but always in the Lost Woods in the Downfall timeline. Guess where the Master Sword is found in BotW. So, if I truly believe that BotW takes place on the Child timeline, I have to be creative with my explanations of these discrepancies. I think I have most of them figured out. My last major snaffu is the placement of the game on the Child timeline. Logically, it has to take place after "Four Swords Adventures" for the 10,000 years and then additional 100 years to take place. However, the Temple of Time from "Ocarina of Time" is in better condition - although still in ruin - in BotW than in "Twilight Princess" even though BotW should be quite a few millennia after the events of TP.

If any of you are Zelda experts - or just hardcore fans such as myself - please feel free to chip in your two cents in the comments section below.

Regardless of your feelings about Zelda - in which case, sorry if it wasn't very favorable prior to reading this post - I hope we all can agree that writing up my theory, and the crafty, creative, problem solving it involves, is only a positive for my writing. At least it's getting the wheels turning.

I also finished up another prompt yesterday. Sadly, I'm still only about half way through the January prompts via "A Writer's Book of Days." However, even a little writing is better than the no writing I was doing before. So another win?

I still don't have anything to share with you this week. As I mentioned on Thursday, I was visiting family this past weekend, so I was kind of "unplugged." Which means I didn't even take the time to type up the already-written prompts. I then spent Sunday evening and last night doing more research for my theory instead of typing up my writing.... whoops. I'll try to get on top of that for next week. Considering how much snow is falling right now, I know I'm not going to be out of the house for any reason other than writing group, and I'm fairly certain that's going to be nixed too. I should have plenty of free time today then!

Finally, I'd like to give a shout out to Ronoxym and Cyhyr; celebrating their second anniversary today. What a day to do it! Ron, drive home safe, and you two enjoy some snuggle time to keep warm in this blizzard!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Where is the Darn Reset Button!?

A day early, but whatever....
I'm not sure what happened last week, but it didn't involve writing. It's probably one of the reasons why I wasn't so focused on getting this post written on time. Even now, it's a bit of a struggle to write this instead of hiding somewhere doing something else.

I'm in a rut, or at least I was, I'm still debating if I'm still there. Something snapped this week that just drove me far away from putting word to paper. I'm still not sure what it was.

I could blame it on not feeling well this weekend, but that only really qualifies for Sunday and late Saturday. I could blame it on having to work this Tuesday - why I didn't have the post up - so I could have this weekend off. I could blame it on the fact that Hubby and I got the latest Legend of Zelda game "Breath of the Wild." A game that I desperately wish I was playing instead of writing this, if I'm honest.

In fact, I could probably blame most of my laziness the past week on Breath of the Wild. I just get sucked into the massive world: how pretty it is, how strategic you need to be, how it calls for you to be creative in the ways you advance the plot. The problem with blaming Zelda is that it came out on Friday. It still doesn't excuse my writing neglect the rest of the week.

I just fell completely off the horse in February. I didn't even complete reading one book; although I did complete it last night. Even with the "Two hours of watching something; max" rule for Lent, I couldn't get myself to refocus so far this month. Yes, we're back to my greatest downfall: focus. I either have none or way too much.

It wasn't Lent, but my husband who helped reset me, or at least attempted to the other day. He's now taking my computer away for an hour or two and forcing me to sit with paper and pen. It didn't help me with writing this post on Tuesday after I was done with work, but it did help me actually write two prompts on the same day for the first time in I can't recall how long. Having my computer privileges revoked didn't help me type up more of my already written prompts, but it did help me finally finish reading my book. It didn't help me with the past two weeks, but it did help me with the past two days.

So, thanks, Sweetie. It's because of you that I'm typing this instead of getting sucked back into Hyrule. You always know how to get me re-centered. Love you.

Now, as I just mentioned, I don't have anything new for me to share due to it still being in my notebook. However, I can now share my update on my reading challenge:
Challenge by Reading Books Like a Boss
Again, I don't have "Ready. Set. Novel!" checked off because I haven't completed the book. In fact, I haven't even done any new activities out of it, sadly. I'm focusing on just catching up on the writing prompts thing. Along those lines, I'm now working on reading through the "March" chapter of my copy of "A Writer's Book of Days." I have to say, I'm getting quite a few notes throughout.
The pink and yellow tabs are locations of her prompts, but the rest are key
bits of advice that I go back to reread.
Now for me to actually get myself to FOLLOW the advice.....

As for the latest book that I added on for February's read? Well, ABC used to have a long-running show that ended this past season: "Castle." For those who don't know the main premise of the show, it was about Richard Castle, a crime/mystery/thriller author, shadowing Kate Beckett, a NYC homicide detective, as a means of research for his new novel concept. The pairing worked so well that even after his first book was long-since published, he continued his ride-alongs; now a pseudo-consultant to Beckett's team while also becoming close friends with all in the department. Well, since the titular character was a novelist, ABC thought it would be great marketing if the viewers of the show could actually read the books that Castle wrote throughout the series. Thus the Nikki Heat book series came to the real world. Each year when Castle's book dropped in the show, it also was released in the real world, and actually hit real world New York Times Bestseller lists. Even after the series got cancelled last year, at least one more Nikki Heat book is set to be published this May.

The real fun thing about these books is that they are completely "Richard Castle" books. Nathan Fillion, who played Castle in the series, is shown on the dust jacket as the face of Castle. The dedications and acknowledgments are completely in-character for Castle, although the latter does break the fourth wall a bit by thanking the main cast of the show, as well as the show runners, via first name only. Probably the best thing about how in-character the entirety of the book series is? I've tried for years, and I STILL can't find out who the ghostwriter was. I cannot find mention anywhere as to who is the true author of the Richard Castle books, and even during book tours and signings, Nathan Fillion would go as Richard Castle. Wonder if he's still going to do so now that the character is behind him. I guess I could find out when the latest - and possibly last - book comes out in May.

Anyway, I mentioned back in February, when I started reading the book, that it's a bit of a floater. "Heat Wave" is the first book of a series, which is why I currently have it as "start a new series" even though I have read this book before; I haven't read the others yet. All the books in the series have Nikki Heat's silhouette on the cover, so "woman on the cover" could be used. The majority of the cover is red, so it could bump off "Ready. Set. Novel!" if I wish. Finally, the titles are all plays on Nikki's last name, so I guess it counts as "Name in the title."

I decided to stick with the rolling ball and pick up the second book in the series. I'm not sure if I should read through the remaining four books I own - there are eight Nikki Heat books in total once the new one comes out this year - and just count them as extras, or if I should use them to fill in those "floater" categories for the challenge. Either way, I'm going to try to knock out "Naked Heat" this month. I'll figure out where to put it later.

Now that I'm getting my reading back on track, I really do need to do the same with writing. Yes, I wrote two prompts on Tuesday, but yesterday I didn't write anything, and today I only wrote this blog post. I did contact Spink, and we're going to try to set up writing dates. Sure, the bi-weekly writing group meetings are great, but we only read what we already wrote. The group sprints we did in November really helped me stay focused, and I think I need that again. So, I'm going to try to set up a "date night" at least once a month where Spink and I will meet up for a few hours and do little more than writing sprints. Between that and Hubby "grounding me" until I've written something, I might actually get traction again.

We'll see how well it works while I'm visiting my family for my sister's and my godson's birthdays this weekend....
Also early, but you get the idea....

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

TEMPORARY POST

I'm sorry, but this blog post is currently under construction.

I apologize for the delay and will get everything cleaned up here as soon as possible.

In the meantime, enjoy some complimentary coffee and donuts while you wait.

Also, feel free to take some of this newly-found free time to sign up for my email updates, or my RSS feed if you haven't already. That way you can be quickly contacted once everything is finished up here. 

You can find the links to the right.

Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter (@LycoRogue). I generally only tweet about my blog updates, so you don't have to worry about being flooded by me. 

Thank you again for your patience. We should have everything up and running again soon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Alright, Lent, Help Me Out

The egg timer thing didn't work. Mainly because it required me to remember to use it.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by  Bryan Lee O'Malley
I allowed myself to splurge and indulge a bit as I prepared myself for Lent. I still had no clue what I was going to do for the Lenten season, but I knew I had to figure something out, and wanted to take on as much pleasure in the meantime. Before giving something up.

First of all, Lent is supposed to be a time of fasting and sacrifice; giving something that you love up so you not only have greater appreciation for it, but you now have more space to bring God into your life and heart. You are supposed to give up a vice; a worldly pleasure that you use to fill the void you should be filling with your relationship with God. Vices are distractions, and the forty days before Easter are supposed to be the time you give up those distractions as a means of healing your spirituality and your soul before one of the holiest days in Christian faith.

Lent is a way for you to improve and better yourself; make yourself a "better Christian." A better person.

For me, though, Lent isn't purely about sacrificing a vice. It is first, and foremost, about improving myself while also improving my relationship with God. A time - outside my November daily thankfulness reflection - for me to feel a divine force around me, directing me, comforting me, and blessing me; even with small blessings.

I know, I'm getting super religious right now, give me another minute, I promise.

For me, Lent wasn't just about giving something up. It was finding something that will improve me. If that means I ADD to my life instead of subtracting - things such as donating or volunteering - that is what I'll do.

Since I'm still trying to figure out my off-hours life, I decided adding-on wasn't the way to go. I also don't like completely removing something, because inevitability, I slip and feel guilty about breaking my Lenten fast. So, I generally cut back to bare-bones. Just enough to still get the pleasure, and then appreciate it because of how small it is.

In this regard, I'm going to move away from my latest Time Suck. A few years back I dropped my Facebook time to an hour or two. Yes, there are still days I over-indulge, but ever since that Lenten season Facebook isn't the hole it used to be for me. Now though? It's watching anything. Hubby and I will just mindlessly watch whatever's on TV, even if we're not terribly interested in it. Or we'll binge watch Netflix until I wonder what happened to my week. Lately, I've also added in Cracked, Watch Mojo, Screen Rant, or WhatCulture YouTube channels to my binge-watching Time Suck.

So that's what I'm "giving up" for Lent. I still want to have some downtime with the Hubby, and Tuesdays I have two back-to-back prime time shows we like to watch. Then there's the occasional Conan that we watch all the way through if we like the guests he has on. So, instead of giving up TV completely, and forcing Hubby to do the same so he won't feel guilty about watching episodes I won't be able to until reruns or the show's on Netflix, I'm cutting down to two hours daily. It still feels like a LOT of time, but considering the fact that we seem to almost exclusively watch hour-long shows, it just means two episodes. Sadly, that's not much when compared to the binging I've been doing lately.

Two hours of my day, at max, will be taken up by the TV, Netflix, or YouTube. The rest of the time I'll be at work, cleaning my home, reading, and - GASP - WRITING!

The extra free time I will get by not sitting in front of the TV mindlessly for hours on end should be used to reflect on God and the sacrifice Jesus gave himself up for. I will use some of the time to reflect, I'm sure, but at the same time, I'll increase my spirituality also by using that time to write.

I feel blessed whenever I find those minutes to put pen to paper. I feel blessed whenever inspiration strikes. I feel even more blessed when I have control of the muse and don't have to wait for the lightning. I feel blessed whenever I come up with a phrase or description that my writing group praises me for. I feel blessed whenever I notice that my story was favorited on DeviantArt. I feel blessed when I get a message on Facebook telling me that my writing was read and enjoyed.

Sadly, I don't use Lent as I "should," as a means to better connect to God and reflect on what Easter truly means. However, I do use it to try to better myself, as well as reflect on how blessed I truly am. I focus on not taking anything for granted. I focus on slowing things down so I can better appreciate what is in my life. I feel like, in turn, that helps me become a better person, a better Christian, and helps me reconnect with my spirituality.

I always set up four "resets" in each year: New Years Resolutions, Lunar/Chinese New Year, my birthday, and Lent. Here's hoping I do well enough with refocusing myself during Lent that I won't have to do another reset on my birthday this year.

While I'm resetting myself and attempting to write more than twice a week, feel free to read another edited writing prompt from the beginning of the month:

"Thief!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shackled to an Egg Timer

Excuse me for reviving an old meme, but....
*Sigh*
I'm a bit of a Sad Panda this week.

Due to the job chaos, I had to work my normal Tuesday off, but to make up for it I was given Thursday and Friday off. Sunday was the start of a new work week, so that was my "second" day off - since Tuesdays are my regular "first" day off. Anyway, this means that between last Tuesday and today I had THREE days off. THREE!

Yet how much writing have I done? If you guessed "pretty much none" you win!

I had days off! I should have had all the time in the world to write and read and elaborate on my Valentine's Day blog before today. Instead, I lounged pretty much all of Thursday since Hubby and I had the day off together. We considered it a belated Valentine's Day for the two of us. It was sweet having so much time to just snuggle with him on the couch, but A WHOLE DAY!? I needed the stress relief, but geez! Friday I did what I always do: get suckered into ONE task and spent all day on it.

Aside from tasks such as writing this blog, which have deadlines anyway, I have now taken to sitting with a kitchen timer next to me. It's set to hour intervals. Once the timer goes off, that's it. I move on to another task for an hour. Then another one. I might circle back to a previous task, but never in back-to-back hours. It's the only way to break me of my..... um..... anti-ADHD? I'm sure it's some sort of disorder in and of itself with it's own name. Over fixation? Regardless, I lose far too much time in my life due to my laser focus.

Spend seven straight hours on a forum catching up on old posts? How about four hours on DeviantArt looking at fanart? Five hours on Google Image trying to find reference pictures for a new character? Two full evenings - each a three-hour sitting or so - on doll-maker games trying to design a new character because I can't draw? Yeah, maybe I wasn't addicted to Facebook. Maybe I just don't know how to turn away from a task until it's complete.... or away from a distraction until a need - such as food or a bathroom break - arises.

So, now the timer is attached to my hip to keep me on track until I can learn to Adult better.....

Doesn't really help that I figured out the whole timer-thing AFTER last week's fail, though. I got barely anything accomplished when I only had to work four days.

I haven't even written on my writing calendar. I'll have to try to backtrack and remember when I wrote what. I know I only wrote two days last week; worst record this year. I also know that the last time I wrote anything was Wednesday. Such a long zero-day streak.

Either way, it's the good-old Chicken-or-Egg situation again: Am I not writing because I'm tired and cranky, or am I tired and cranky because I haven't written anything?

My performance at work has gotten kind of crappy as well. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm overwhelmed with trying a brand new tactic our Director of Sales wants us to follow, if it's because so many "losses" shook my confidence, or if it's because I'm not allowed to write at work any longer. It really allowed me to drift from a bad day for a few moments at a time, maybe as much as an hour, and then come back to reality completely refocused; centered. If my confidence was shook, I sat and wrote or read to escape for a little bit. By the time I was back I was ready to crush it.

Instead, my down-time is flooded with trainings, workbooks, studying, role-playing to practice the new technique, and stern talking to's.

So, the biggest selling point of this job for me - the downtime to read and write while still being a productive member of the sales team - is pretty much null. We'll see how I can re-adjust. I'll give it until my year point to see if things turn around.

In the meantime, how about I give you more details of what I did the previous week, since I didn't have time to really do so on Valentine's Day?

Well, to start, even though I changed up my Writers’ Huddle challenge goal, I STILL haven't managed to hit a week-goal yet. It's obvious that I didn't write a prompt a day this past week, let alone two, but even the previous week - when I was on a hot-streak - I wasn't able to fit two in. So much for catching up on the daily prompts by March 9th. I haven't even hit the January 13th prompt that I started the book with. My only real consolation is that there must be some sort of anti-writing-whatever in the atmosphere, because just about everyone over at WH stated that they didn't come close to completing their task this past week. In fact, I think, out of the years that I've been at the Huddle for winter challenges, this one has been the least productive over-all among the participants.

As for the prompts I already have written, I only had a chance to type up two of them, which caught me up to January 4th. Jynna's flash-story was from January 8th's prompt, so it will be a little bit before it's ready to share. I also haven't had much time to really delve back into her backstory in the meantime.

Well... OK, as I shared above, I DID have the time to either work more on Jynna or type up more prompts; I just didn't utilize it.... Point is, I don't have much new to share about her, but she does at least have a name. Yay. Also, Hubby's just waiting for the others interested in the game to build their characters, and then we'll be good to start playing Numenera, so... yay again!

I'm about half-way through "Heat Wave" and I'm trying to speed through the second half so I can still have at least one book done a month. So much for my new goal of two a month this year, huh? Darn Director of Sales messing with a system that didn't seem broken from our end. We were doing better than last year's sales, but I guess not better "enough" for his liking.

That doesn't really matter, though. Boss-Man wants us to focus more on sales and how to improve them while at work. It's understandable. How many office environments allow for an hour or so of employee downtime for things like reading or writing?

While I'm trying to get my act back together, I do have those two prompts for your reading pleasure.

January 3rd's was the first time I wrote for Amara in years. I'm still trying to lock down her party-mates' names, but for right now I just ran with what I had. Also, sorry for the poor title; I got nothing for it....

"The Courtyard"

January 4th's prompt had me completely stymied, so it turned out to be a mildly-rambling, stream-of-consciousness, personal essay about writing prompts in general. It's only about 800 words long if you want to still give it a whirl.

"Trust the Pen"

Now, let's try this "writing daily" thing again. Starting with creating a "sacred" writing time to keep me from constantly playing hookie from this part of my day. Time to go set my timer....