Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Suicide Awareness and Summer Challenges

It saddens me that I feel I should do this every Late July/Early August.

Just before the weekend, the world lost the frontman of the band Linkin Park: Chester Bennington. Another celebrity who succumbed to suicidal thoughts. Another bright light snuffed out by his own demons. Another reminder of how many struggle with this.

As I stated when Robin Williams died, and as I will always say. ALWAYS. You are loved. I don't even necessarily know who YOU are, the person who is reading this sentence right now, but know that you ARE loved. I love you. I care for you. I want you to be alive. I can only imagine how truly loved you are among the people you interact with. Maybe you don't know. Maybe you do, but those demons inside you make you doubt that love.

Still. KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOVED AND PEOPLE WANT YOU TO FEEL BETTER. Please, if you have any suicidal thoughts, PLEASE talk to someone about it. Ask for help.

If you know someone who might be having suicidal thoughts or might otherwise hurt themselves, also reach out. Ask for help. Have someone help you with the stress and burden of knowing these concerns, and help you get help for your loved one.

We need to watch out for each other. We need to let each other know how much each one of us is loved and valued. We need to make sure that mental illness is no longer stigmatized so people don't fear asking for help.

Virtually no one feels overly self-conscious anymore for needing braces or corrective lenses, so why not have the same social normalcy for mental illness?
In honor of Chester Bennington, Linkin Park started up
It has words of grief and encouragement,
but most importantly, it has places to get help.
Please share.

OK, I guess I should get to the real reason you stopped by, to talk about my writing.

Well.... about that.... Um.... yeah....

There is none. I mean, I continued working on my Camp NaNo story, but nothing that I'm really ready to share. The story isn't done, I don't have a good edited spot that I could share as a teaser, and I haven't worked on anything aside from this project so I don't have a practice or anything to share. Sorry.

I also slacked off over the weekend. Friday I spent speed-cleaning the apartment so it would be ready for my family's arrival. Saturday was work and Family Time with my mom and sister while Hubby was at work. Sunday was my birthday, so it was more Family Time followed by me being a bum and just relaxing on the couch. Catching up on all my birthday notifications and doing more reading of that "Miraculous Ladybug" fanfic Smoulder by midnightstarlightwrites. Then, yesterday Hubby had invited one of our friends over to play Ninja All-Stars, which we haven't done in over a month, so I really wanted to join. So much for my idea of having a quiet writing-catch-up evening after work.

I'll have to squirrel myself away today to get back on the ball. Luckily, I was far enough ahead of my goal that even with all these missed days I'm still in front of where I should be today. Breaking my 10,000 word goal down to 31-day chunks, by July 25th I should have at least 8,064 words to be on-track. I finished Thursday with 8,553 words. Nice buffer for the weekend, but it's time to get back to work.

I also figured out what to do for the Writers’ Huddle summer challenge. Clearly this word-count tracking is the way to go for me. I may not be consistent with it, but since I can never seem to lock down which plot bunny to follow, using word-count allows me to work a little on all of them while still continuing with my challenge. Follow wherever the Muse takes me. Want to work on some more daily practices? How about the "Hey, Arnold!" fanscript ChibiSunnie and I started years ago; get that thing done before the actual movie airs in November? Create character studies for my new D&D character, my almost-forgotten Numenera character, or my new Dread character? World build Gyateara by coming up with more culture studies, describe more main cities, or jot down more myths? Keep going with my Jolene story? Work on the Glitches script I started last summer or work more on character rebuild backstories? It doesn't matter! I can do them all! I just need to remember to count the words I add to each project.

My goal between now and Quarthix's wedding, which marks the end of the Summer Challenge, is to write 22,000 words. That's less than a Half-NaNo in an extra five days. Should be easy, but then again, I have 31 days to write less than half of that amount - 10,000 words - and I'm going to just make it. So, I consider it a challenge still. Besides, as I mentioned last week, my mom will be helping me re-organize my place for the better part of a week, so who knows how much writing I'll be able to get in? I'm also part of the bridal party for Quarthix's wedding, so there's probably going to be a lot of last-minute stuff I'll need to jump in and help with. Plus both Spink's wedding anniversary, and Cyhyr and Ronoxym's daughter's first birthday are at the end of this week, so I'll probably be spending the start of next week visiting to celebrate with each of them. I also have my cousin's wedding to get ready for. August is going to be jam-packed. I think all that considered, over twenty-thousand words in six weeks might be a good challenge.

Besides, if I can beat it that doesn't make it any less of a challenge. It just means that I'm up to meet it. If I get 22,000 words written by the half-way-point, however, I may have to just push it to a full NaNo of 50,000 words.

To add a bit of extra flavor, though, I'm not going to do the same thing as NaNo: take the word-count total and divide by number of days. The true challenge is trying to increase my over-all daily word-count.

So I'm going to slowly increase what I'm expecting of myself. This week and next week I'll be aiming for 500 words of narrative writing per day; at least five days out of the week. This brings me to 2500 words by the end of the week. It also allows me two days per week where I can slack off; already used one of them yesterday.

Weeks three and four - August 7th through the 20th - after I've gotten used to punching out 500 words, hopefully easily, I'll turn up the heat. I'm going to aim for 700 words per day instead. I'm still going for five-days-a-week. This will bring my weekly goal up to 3500, and my overall word-count target to 12,000 words by the end of week four.

The final two weeks I'm kicking it up another notch by increasing by 300 words. An even thousand words per day, five days a week, totaling in 5000 words per week. This will lock in my final 10,000 words to bring me to my total of 22,000. That also means, while I allowed myself a full month to write 10,000 words in July, I'm only giving myself 2 weeks to do the same thing by the end of August.

I'm going to need a lot of pokes to make sure I don't slack.

The real fun is that my first week of the Summer Challenge - writing 500 words 5 days a week; ending with 2500 words - is also my last week of Camp NaNo, where I need 1447 more words to hit my 10,000 word goal, and that's with me finishing on the 30th instead of the 31st.

As long as I hit my Summer Goal I'll more than pass my Camp goal. The question will be, however, will all those extra words also go to the Devon/Trish story, or will I need to supplement?

It's me. It's all going to the Devon/Trish story.

So, I may not have anything new to share to you guys for a little while, but I'll be sure to keep you updated on how well I'm doing on these challenges.
Hacker Boy Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc
Also, Happy Belated to both me and my nephew.
Also, to my aunt and her husband...
And an early one for my coworker and his mom...
And of course Ron & Cy's daughter....
There are a LOT of birthdays at the end of July!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Next Challenge

I don't know if I'm still on track to do a half-NaNo for this month's Camp NaNoWriMo, but I have managed to stay ahead of the curve since the 9th. Largely due to the massive writing session I managed to get done that day. Saved my butt after neglecting my writing again for four days. On the fifth day, though, I was back below where I should be by July 14th, so I cracked the whip again. I've missed two days since, but otherwise I've written at least 300-some words per day to stay ahead of the game. Out of my 10,000 goal for the month, I'm currently at 6334 words. Not the greatest, but also not too shabby considering how little I wrote pretty much April through June.

Yes, I'm doing fairly well with the word count, but what about the narrative? Well, I didn't get as far as I would have wanted before tonight's writing group. I knew I wasn't going to have it done, but I wanted to at least have the confrontation through to the end written.

I do have the confrontation, and the end, written, but I've been firmly avoiding writing the actual fight scene. How many more times do I have to admit how much I'm dreading this? Maybe I can convince myself to write it today so I can indeed have the back half of the story done by group tonight.

Or, at least, maybe have the rest of the opening written and explain my hesitation with the fight scene. That shouldn't be so bad, right? "Here's this story, and then they fight and Devon gets his ass handed to him, and here's the ending..."

The problem with finishing the rest of it - meaning, the opening of the story - is knowing how to start it. I know that Nyssa gets letters from her parents, but I don't know how to explain her parents knowing where she is. Maybe the teachers at the Xavier Institute contacting the parents? But if Nyssa's family truly are mutant haters, wouldn't the teachers want to shield her from that? Even if I skim over how Nyssa's family found her, how do I explain Devon's ability to escort Nyssa by himself when they feared Trish was with her parents? Why was the default "We need to go and get them" instead of "We need to let the X-Men know so they can save them"? Why did they keep the whole thing a mystery from the X-Men instead of asking for help from their new family? Especially considering the amount of trouble doing pretty much the same thing two years prior brought Devon.

Sadly, Hubby's attempt to move the game plot along quickly meant creating such a broad overview that in-depth thoughts like those above were kind of glazed over. Somehow Nyssa got mail from her parents. For some reason Devon and Nyssa thought they could handle it on their own and kept the real reason for the trip secret from Cyclops. The X-Men randomly decided to let these two go on their own without an escort, but the knowledge that backup might be needed for the kids. Finally, neither Devon nor Nyssa thought to call for backup once they knew how bad the situation was. Don't think too much into it....

I'm hoping the holes will fill once I start writing.

I have a few other things I need to think about anyway, such as what comes after this Devon/Trish faceoff story? Also, what to name this story so it doesn't have such a lame working title anymore....

What other things do I need to think about? Well, for starters, as I just mentioned, the obvious What Am I Going To Write Next question. I'm rolling straight from the Camp NaNo challenge into the Writers’ Huddle summer challenge. In fact, a week overlaps. At WH the challenge will be six weeks between Monday, July 24th through to Sunday, September 3rd. Or, in other words, the time between my birthday and Quarthix's wedding!

Oh, and another side note. Ali Luke has just dropped the cost of Writers' Huddle to only $10 per month! She also sent out a mass email as I was writing this paragraph - I still say the woman has a spy kit focused on me or something - alerting the public that she's now opening Writers' Huddle to new members. She only does this in brief spurts so that all the newbies come in as a "class," as it were, instead of slowly sprinkled in unevenly throughout the course of a year. So, if you're looking for an online place for critiques, info, and support, please check out Writers' Huddle. It really is such a great community, and Ali is such a big help.

OK, sales pitch over, back to my writing.

I had stated that I have a "few" other things to think about outside of my existing story. Well, one of which is the Summer Challenge at WH, but another is a way to get back to my writing practice. This week I typed up the last of my pre-written writing practices. They are all online now. I can only post them as I write them from hereon out, which is great that I caught up, but at the same time intimidating that I have to really stay on the ball going forward. I guess it's for the best: accountability. I wanted to share something with you guys every week, and posting those challenges was my way of doing so. It was simple: I opened up my notebook, typed a practice up, and edited. Easy peasy.

I have to get back to the grindstone now. Make sure I stop slacking off. Like I said, it's a blessing, but also an added weight.

Maybe that will be my challenge for August: work on my writing practices again. Have at least four done per week. That gives me slip days for when I'm just overwhelmed. Especially since my mom is retiring this Friday and is planning on coming up to spend the first week of August with me helping me organize my house, and possibly life. I'm drowning over here.

With any luck, the fresh look to my house will revive me. The de-cluttering of my environment will also de-clutter my mind, and I can again focus. I'm both antsy to start, and terrified. Point is, I want to spend the time outside of work with my mom redoing my house, which will leave little to no time to write. I want to be able to allow those cheat days where I ignore my writing. Maybe even wait and write four different writing prompt practices in one day just so I still have them done.

Then I'll have a backlog again.... which will mean I can again slack off and still manage a new story each week here..... maybe this isn't the most brilliant idea.

On the flip-side, it may get me back into the rhythm again, and drive me to set up daily writing hours once more. I could get my writing nest back in the library! I could take time-outs to sit on my front porch and enjoy the weather while I write. I could have a backlog of the practices to post weekly while working on a larger project, like I'm doing now with the Devon/Trish story! I could get back to Jolene's story. I could go back to the Hey Arnold Jungle Movie fanscript before the real thing comes out in November.

Maybe it IS a brilliant idea!

Well, I'm giving myself until Sunday's deadline to figure out officially what I'm doing, so who knows how much more see-sawing on the subject I can do in the next four days?

In the meantime, enjoy the last of my pre-written writing practices. I'll catch you next week with a new short - hopefully - and my decision on the Summer Challenge!

"Best Left Unsaid"

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Not Inspired? Try Binge-Watching

It's been an interesting week. For the most part, I've slacked yet again on the writing. The weekend was completely shot - I'll explain why shortly - and I've been keeping myself busy both at work and after. On top of that, both Hubby and me have been feeling a touch under the weather this week.

Even with all of that, though, I am determined to have something for writing group next week. Because of that, and a painfully slow Sunday at work, I did manage to write about 4500 words so far for my Devon/Trish battle story. Still no clue what to title it, but when do I ever?

Over 4000 words sounds impressive, as does the idea of being about half-way to my 10,000 word goal only nine days in. However, the story I've written is only Devon's last-ditch effort to escape Trish, her "killing" him, his escape, and Kira finding him. There's more in there, but I don't want to spoil.

I still have to keep backtracking through Trish and Devon's fight - the part I'm dreading to write; me and fight scenes.... - Devon and Nyssa confronting Trish in the first place, and the letters that convinced Nyssa and Devon to come into the trap in the first place. This might be closer to a half-NaNo at 25,000 words when all is said and done.

Also, I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It's kind of a love-hate relationship. Kind of like Devon and Willow!

On the one hand, I love how it ends. It's perfect for Devon. It really works with his character, and it's a fun way to introduce Kira. I think I hit my stride a bit with it. On the flipside, though, the reason I love it so much, the reason why it fits Devon so well, is that it's playful and a bit goofy. It fits Devon's personality so well. However, the rest of the story is going to be intense, heart in your throat, edge of your seat action - if I do it right - and a dark theme. I mean, Trish is involved. There will be blood. There will be excessive violence. There will be rage. There will be a TON of extreme cursing. To end the story on a playful note just feels like a weird genre hop.

I feel I did it justice though. I feel like it's a gentle flow into this uplifting ending. I think the playfulness brings the reader to a hopeful sigh of relief after an otherwise exhausting emotional ride - again, assuming I do the ideas I have in my head justice.

So, yeah, I don't know. Hopefully I'll have at least the fight scene done by next week so that I can get some input from my group.

Hubby seems to like where I went with it, so maybe I am on the right track.

Now for the reason the weekend was shot. It's kind of another love-hate sort of thing. A distraction that could potentially be a source of inspiration.

I pretty much unintentionally dedicated my entire weekend to a cartoon.

About a year ago - right around when the show was translated from its original French - my feeds were filled with fanart and cosplay of this character Cat Noir. I thought it was in reference to the famous cabaret poster that virtually every college student owns:
Seriously, if you were an American college student
either this was in your room
or you knew someone who did.
The images were of a male superhero dressed as a black cat, though, so I was determined to figure out who the heck this superhero Cat Noir/Chat Noir was. Turned out that he was from the French cartoon "Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir" or "Miraculous Ladybug" or tens of other different translation versions of the show's title....
Watching some sample visuals via FMVs, the animation screamed out Disney Channel. Funny enough, although the English translation was picked up by Nickelodeon in The States, over in the UK it was indeed Disney who bought the syndication rights. Either way, it was on a channel I didn't have with my pathetically small service package.

Then, around Valentine's day this year, Netflix bought the airing rights for the show. I had meant for a while to watch it, but it didn't seem like something Hubby would be interested in, so it sat in our queue. Then, Friday, when I was feeling kind of "meh" for whatever reason, I figured I'd finally give the show a chance. Hubby was out, and it was either this or more episodes of "Frasier" while eating dinner. For whatever reason, I decided it was a good time to give the cartoon a shot.

Holy mackerel was this thing over-the-top cheese! The animation gesturing was abrupt and over-exaggerated. One of the reasons I thought it was Disney Channel was because the character design, beautiful graphics, but excessive and abrupt gesturing was about par with the Disney Channel shorts "Wicked World." The villain of Miraculous - Hawk Moth - was about on par with Rita Repulsa from the Power Rangers franchise, or, frankly, any Sailor Moon villain. The creators of the show credited Magical Girl anime as an inspiration, and boy could you tell if you know the genre.

Yet, under the cheesiness and cliche Magical Girl tropes, the characters were enduring, and there was a bizarre love.... triangle.... square.... thing going on that I had to know more about. Plus, I still had some dinner left, so I watched the second episode. And just sort of binged from there, now hooked on the weird romance thing going on.

See, the main character is Marinette, a 10th grade girl who transforms into the superhero Ladybug whenever Paris is in danger. While Ladybug, she protects her city with the help of her partner Chat Noir, or just Cat Noir in the American version... because we like the sound of the French word for black but not for cat??? Anyway, Cat Noir is head-over-heels for Ladybug and constantly flirts with her, and it's adorable. Problem is, Ladybug, as Marinette, is already in love with her classmate Adrien. But, Adrien only thinks of Marinette as a dear friend, mostly because he's a 15yr old idiot who can't pick up on her crushing vibes, and also because poor Mari turns into a blubbering idiot whenever around him. So, awkward love triangle there: Cat Noir loves Ladybug who loves Adrien who only thinks of Marinette as a friend. Where does the confusing possible square come from? Well.... Ladybug and Cat Noir promised to keep their identities a secret, even from each other, and Cat Noir happens to be none-other than Adrien. So...... Adrien only likes Mari because he doesn't realize she's actually his love Ladybug, meanwhile Marinette loves Adrien, but since he allows himself to cut loose as Cat Noir, she doesn't realize they're the same guy and actually gets a bit annoyed with her superhero partner!

So. Many. Fanfics! There's even four different shipping pairs based on these two just due to the weird square they find themselves in. But I'll get to that.

The animation grows on you, as anyone who loves the anime One Piece will tell you. The over-the-top corniness of the puns - OH! So many puns between Cat Noir and Hawk Moth! - and the laughable nature of the Villains of the Week become a guilty pleasure. Then you're left with an enduring cast of characters and a curiosity of will they/won't they between Marinette and Adrien/Ladybug and Cat Noir. Plus, the voice acting is actually sooooo good, but what can you expect when such renowned voice actors are involved?

First up is Marinette's voice actress Cristina Valenzuela, or, as she's professionally known, Cristina Vee. This girl is CONSTANTLY popping up in animes and video games that I watch/play. Which reminds me:
Happy 30th Cristina Vee!
Yeah, I feel like I've been hearing this woman's name for ages now, and she's JUST turning 30 today - according to IMDB, at least. So far she's done 182 different projects, again, according to IMDB. Mad props for the great voice acting career while so young!

However, the voice acting that just pulls me in and hooks me is the voice of Adrien: Bryce Papenbrook. I love this man's voice. It's sweet and playful and commanding all at the same time. No wonder he's constantly given roles such as Cat Noir, Eren in "Attack on Titan," Kirito in "Sword Art Online," and the part I love him the most in Meliodas from "Seven Deadly Sins." He's basically been the lead in every anime Hubby and I have watched over the past couple of years. And this man's voice makes me swoon. I love my husband, and my husband's voice makes me melt, but there are a few voice actors that also make me swoon.

In the 90s it was Vince Corazza, mostly for his role as Darien from Sailor Moon, as well as Kevin Conroy's Batman, and Keith David, largely due to his role in Gargoyles. Then, while I could still listen to any of those men read me the phone book, in the early 2000s I added Richard Ian Cox to the mix thanks to InuYasha. Kirby Morrow was a close second from the same show. Fast forward to the past five years or so and the latest add-ons are Yuri Lowenthal because of too many roles for me to list - although Sasuke from Naruto is not one of the reasons... - and good old Bryce Papenbrook.

On top of the great voice actor choice, just the character of Cat Noir is friggen adorable! He's playful, flirty, makes so-bad-they're-kinda-good puns, he's vulnerable, a little cocky, and just has the most squishable face. I want to glomp this kid. How Marinette prefers his more reserved, put-together, slightly bashful Adrien side is beyond me. I totally get all the fanart/cosplaying of Cat Noir last year.

So, circling back to topic, I was hooked on this new guilty pleasure of mine. I spent Friday evening binge watching, and, since Hubby had his own thing all Saturday and I had the house to myself, I continued to binge. I was in kind of a funk emotionally, and the goofiness of the storylines and the sweetness of the crushes between the characters made me laugh, made my heart race a little, and perked me up. It was a needed "me time" procrastination weekend.

I even had insomnia this weekend, and I managed to calm it a bit by getting back out of bed and watching more Miraculous. After finishing the series Sunday morning, I figured I could refocus when I got home from work. Instead, I again attempted to catch up on sleep, which still eluded me, so I spent most of Sunday in bed watching more Miraculous FMVs and reading fancomics.

Then, yesterday, feeling guilty about not reading in a while, instead of trying to push through more of "Atlas Shrugged" I switched over to a Miraculous fanfic I stumbled upon. First, I found a voice actor who practices his craft by dubbing fancomics and posting them on YouTube. The best ones for Miraculous he has grouped together here. From there, I followed more of his channel as well as linked channels to find fancomics I really loved so I could track them back to their artist. From there I stumbled upon this comic by Rchavakiah Melchiori AKA australet789. It's a bit of a spoiler, but it's drawn sooooo well! Anyway, seems the artist drew a comic version of a late chapter to the story "Smoulder" by midnightstarlightwrites. Now that I traced the story all the way to the source, I started reading it. There is some polishing that needs to be done, and a weird subplot that seems out-of-place, but otherwise I'm completely drawn in.

Smoulder is basically a story envisioning Adrien realizing he's falling for Marinette and feeling guilty that if he's true to his constant love confessions to Ladybug, then how the heck could he even BEGIN to fall for another girl? Meanwhile, Marinette is starting to compare Adrien to Cat Noir and realizing that in doing so, she's starting to fall in love with Cat and fears she's just projecting.

So both are torn about their conflicting feelings without realizing that they're just falling for the complete picture of the same person! These poor two.
Hacker Girl Facebook sticker
by Birdman Inc
Yeeeeeaaaaaah, so I may have become a bit obsessed with this show and its characters, but the dynamics are so great, and you want to see them unfold. Ladybug and Cat Noir are the strongest superheros within a group called the Miraculous Bearers. The duo represents Ying and Yang and always work as a pair: creation and destruction. There are five other Miraculous, and Hawk Moth has corrupted one of them. The man who secretly gifted Marinette and Adrien their powers has one himself. We still don't know about the other three, but Adrien's dad has one hidden in a safe. So, there are fantheories about the other three bearers. There is an almost-given assumption that Hawk Moth is Adrien's absent father, but speculation that he's a "villain of circumstance" as he tries to get the means to resurrect/find/rescue Adrien's mom who has been simply called "missing" for the past year. Then, there's the speculation of how and why Adrien's mom went MIA, and how it's tied into the Miraculous within the safe. Then the idea of Adrien discovering his father is his arch rival, and/or Marinette discovering it and wrestling with whether or not to tell Adrien. Don't forget the all-important fanfic fodder: Cat Noir and Ladybug discovering each other's secret identities.

As I mentioned a ways before, there are now four different shippings for this pair: 
There's the obvious LadyNoir where Marinette as Ladybug falls for Cat Noir's true boyish charm, giving Adrien the woman of his dreams while being his true self, and Marinette, unknowingly, has the man of her dreams while being her confident self as a Superheroine.

Then there's Ladrien, where Cat Noir's love for Ladybug is expressed via Adrien and Ladybug becoming a couple, which allows Marinette to also keep the confidence she's discovered while hiding behind the mask. This seems to be the least-popular combo, though, even though Ladrien shippers believe this to be the only true win-win. Adrien/Cat Noir wins over his Ladybug, and Marienette/Ladybug gets the man of her dreams: Adrien. Actually, seeing this combo on screen is just adorable.

Anyway, then there's good old Adrienette, where they fall for each other in their everyday lives, proving that it's not necessarily the Superhero Thing that draws one to the other.

The most popular combination, though, is Marichat. A lot of shippers - it seems mostly the Ladrien ones - consider this a full 180 and/or a lose-lose. Cat Noir doesn't get Ladybug, and Marinette doesn't get Adrien. And yet both do at the same time. Adrien notices how amazing Marinette truly is out of costume, and Marinette falls for the "true" Adrien as Cat Noir. I think that's why it's the most popular. Plus, Cat Noir is just too cute.

There's also some other side-character romances as well that could take center-stage. Including one I didn't even think of until I saw it, and now I ship it hard. The Miraculous Bearers get their powers from mythical beings called Kwamis that inhabit jewelry that the bearer wears. When the Kwamis inhabit the jewelry, the bearer transforms into their superhero persona. Well, as I mentioned before, Ladybug and Cat Noir are always a pair representing Ying and Yang. So, now I ship their Kwamis Tikki - for Ladybug - and Plagg - for Cat Noir.
Since Ladybug and Cat Noir don't know who the other is, and they're keeping their identities a secret, their Kwamis must stay hidden. This means Tikki and Plagg can't interact. Even when Cat Noir and Ladybug interact, therefore they both know of the existence of kwamis, so Tikki and Plagg could be exposed, the two creatures still can't see each other because they're in the jewelry powering their chosen bearers. So sad!!!!

Such a gold mine for potential fanfic ideas, and boy am I ever overflowing with possibilities already. But I promised myself that I would finish the Devon/Trish story during Camp NaNo, so I'll have to put the Miraculous stories on pause until at least August. Still, it's great to be so passionate about something again. To be drawn into the characters so much. Yes, I was beyond lazy and gave into mild depression this weekend. Yes, I accomplished nothing for about 72 hours. But it may have inspired me in the long run, so.... win?

Okay, enough fangirling. I need to get on with my day, but I will leave you with another writing practice from a little while ago. A short about a little boy and the garden he planted with his mother.

"The Guardian Giant"

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I'm A Camper!

Is it weird that it sounds weird to call it "Independence Day"?
Sorry for the day-late update. Took a lazy day, so I slept in a bit. It was an American holiday - THE American holiday - it was the first week in months that we have enough people at work for us to have TWO days off a week, I got today off as well, creating a rare "weekend" for me, plus, I actually wrote this week. I think I earned my delayed post. Plus, we had Shadow surprise us late yesterday morning - Hubby had invited him over for festivities, but we were expecting around 1pm - and then we took an impromptu trip to Ronoxym and Cyhyr's home for a grill-out get-together. Yesterday just didn't offer itself to be a good "stop and write something" day.

But let's talk about the day I DID write. It's not much, and I slacked off the rest of the week thus far, but on Sunday I buckled down and wrote out the startings of a story.

Well, technically I started out on the ending of a story. I'll get to that later. First, how I FINALLY got out of my slump.

Mouse commented on Facebook about a week or two ago how she was prepping for a month-long challenge she put forth to herself. She then mentioned that coincidentally it's the same month as Camp NaNoWriMo. She was also a bit shocked because she didn't know that Camp NaNoWriMo is a thing.

It was created in 2011 and was, I believe, originally designed as a way to encourage young writers to keep writing during the summer months outside of school. There were two monthly sessions: July and August. The following year it was June and August. Then, in 2013, they decided to spread out the NaNo months to November being the main event, then Camp in April and July. This was partially to fill the void in April left behind by the not-as-successful Script Frenzy event while still having one Camp in the summer.

Thing is, I was still stuck in the mindset of the first two years where Camp NaNoWriMo was in August, so I didn't even realize Camp time was upon us.

Much like NaNo, I have known of their Camp version for years, but I've never actually participated. So, when Mouse commented that it would occur in July, coinciding with her own private month-long writing challenge, I was tempted to give it a whirl.

Maybe a challenge would be my push to get me back into writing? It's always helped when Ali Luke ran challenges over at Writers’ Huddle. I wasn't sure I was ready for a NaNo challenge, though, because I really had no clue what to write. I had no new story idea to start. No desire to continue an existing one. Yes, Camp was a much simpler version of NaNo. It's sometimes considered "NaNo Lite" because there are no forums - although there are mini-forums called "cabins" where 19 participants are gathered as "cabin mates" and can talk among themselves - and there isn't that 50,000 word goal. Participants set their own writing goals, be it the normal 50,000 or as little as 31 - one word a day just to get yourself writing ANYTHING.

Mouse poked me a couple of times the last few days of June. With her encouragement, I bit the bullet and signed up. I had no clue what to write, and I still had no desire for anything. Still, I went with a modest 10,000 words this month. It's not much, but it's a heck of a lot more than what I've written the entirety of spring. The trick then was to figure out what to write this month. All I knew was that, regardless what I decided on, I had committed myself to 10,000 words.

I started off with the idea of getting back into world building. I've been kind of stalled with "Glitches" so maybe go back to Gyateara? I haven't done much with The Divine Legends in years. Maybe I could do another legend per day throughout the month. Thirty-one new deity myths each running only about 300 words each. Heck, I knew I wouldn't be able to write that succinctly, so why not make it 15 deities at about 600 words each?  Or 10 at 1000 words? Then the world-build stall settled in. I still had no clue what to even come up with for the legends. Creation of the world? The reason certain laws are in place? What happened when the deities didn't keep their truce about staying isolated within the realms they created? The possibilities were so endless I was overwhelmed. Then I thought "I should probably work backwards: create the world first and come up with the legends when needed."

So, Legends wasn't really an option. It was closing in on midnight on June 30th; I didn't have the time to figure out my map or any of the other stuff in order to have enough to build legends around.

I was signed up. It was July 1st. I still had no desire to write anything. My one idea quickly petered out. What was I going to do?

Then I remembered Mouse's challenge to me. I had told her that I'm becoming more and more like my Wonder Twin Ronoxym; I was distracted by shiny new story ideas and never seemed to END any story. Even with my short stories, they were always scenes. Completed scenes, but not ones with "endings." More story could be told about any of these tales.

So, now back to what I started this update with: "Well, technically I started out on the ending of a story."

This is thanks to Mouse's encouragement again. I was commenting about how I was on the edge about joining Camp NaNo, but my wavering was because didn't know what to write. My inner editor was stopping each idea I had.

Mouse: You should try! Keep the goal realistic based off your schedule! Maybe it would spark something. And punch your inner critic in the face. If this is what you want and what you love, then you just gotta run forward! Even if you give yourself like....a five page goal for the month, I bet you would feel a little better....
I have a challenge then. Write backwards! Start with some kind of conclusion first. 

So, now that I am signed up and couldn't think of a story, I went back to her challenge. Start with the ending. What did I want for an ending, though? I ended up missing July 1st because I still didn't know.

Then, as I was falling asleep after dropping Hubby off at work I had my idea. Apparently my muse only shows up after midnight....

And apparently the muse comes in the shape of Devon....

A few years back - late 2012/early 2013 - Hubby came up with a time skip on the X-Future board to try to jumpstart the game again. At the time, Ron wasn't very active, and so, since it seemed he was done playing, Hubby actually "killed off" Devon to sort of thin out the character list. After the fact, Ron stated he was still interested in the game. So, Hubby revived Devon, however, he still "died" first. It was an epic battle between Devon and his hated enemy Trish. I was supposed to write the actual story, but slacked off at the time. I've tried multiple times over the years to write the showdown, but nothing seemed quite right. I then paused to see if Ron wanted to co-write with me, and that never came to fruition. In the meantime, Hubby just had a generic "Devon and Nyssa went to this place, and presumably met their demise. Two Brotherhood members that appeared to be Lighter and Agony were seen fleeing the scene." He then also had a scene with the revived Devon where his throat was cut, he nearly died, he collapsed due to loss of blood, and was found by the mutant Kira, and became an amnesiac.

I think this challenge is the perfect time for me to finish this story, or rather, write it in the first place. I know where it ends: Devon's throat slit, Nyssa stuck inside a burning building, Trish thinking she's victorious in her defeat of her rival, and Agony there as back-up. Now, to work backwards.

I only wrote on the 2nd, but I'm already almost 1000 words in. Ron seems excited to see how things turn out. I might have him beta and edit for me before posting though, we'll see how it goes.

While I'm working on that this month, though, I promised you two writing practices to make up for me not finding my journal last week. I probably should have added a third story to also make up for the day-late update, but I didn't want to postpone any longer so I could type up and edit one more piece. Next week, guys!

This first story is under 500 words. It was when I first fell into my writing funk this spring. I went outside to re-embrace sunshine, listened to my wind chimes, and jotted this down. You could tell I was rusty. Whoo-boy, you should have seen the misspellings and "typos" in the journal. There were a couple of sentences there where I had no clue what I was trying to say. It was like my mind was trying to write three sentences at the same time! Hopefully I managed to clean it up to something readable though.

"Mountain Man"

And for another treat, I'm back again with X-Future, and another Lia story at that. When I wrote this Lia put herself up on the roof of the mansion, and the story flowed fairly well, although Ripley seemed a touch out-of-character. Problem is, canonically speaking, Lia probably wouldn't run away to the roof because she gets sick the further she is from the ground.... soooooo, I had to figure out a new venue for the story. In doing so, I also had to rework how I introduced that they were at the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. I also reworked Ripley a touch. When all was said and done, I basically rewrote the entire opening and ending to this story.
"Late Night"

Alright, well, again, a day belated, but to all Americans who read my blog:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Oooo, Look At The Pretty Paints

I finally did it. I finally got my hourly-break-down calendar for the rest of the year. Ended up being one of those "academic calendars" so it goes from May through to August the following year. So it should hold me for quite a while.

Jotting down each main activity I do and roughly how long it took me is an awkward habit to try to build. I still have an hour or two each day this past week where I don't remember what I did since I forgot to write it down when I was done. Man, my memory is BAD. Either that, or my hour was filled with a whole bunch of little things - a phone call to a customer, looking something up, chit-chatting with my coworker, organizing my desk, etc - and I couldn't fathom after the fact that those little things all added up to an hour.

Either way, I have the majority of what I've been doing down for the week. There is both not much and a whole lot of wiggle room at work in regards to writing/reading time. I just feel guilty now if I'm not working round the clock. I'm coming up with projects that don't need to be done. Organizing things no one even thinks about. Creating databases no one asked for. Even my manager tells me to chill most days. When I was on commissions I was fine spending the day writing or reading. If there were no customers in the store it wasn't my fault I wasn't bringing in money. Read? Inventory fabric samples? It was all the same. I was either going to make minimum wage with my sales, or I was going to get paid out of draw.

Now that I'm hourly again, I feel guilty. They're paying me to help around the store. They're paying me to make things easier on the sales associates so they have an easier time closing sales. So if I'm reading instead of creating another database to simplify searches, then I feel guilty that I'm getting paid to sit around.


I blame my mom on that one....

So, yeah, definitely have more than enough time to read and write while at work, but now I feel guilty about it, so who knows if I'll do more than my half-hour lunch break?

Speaking of, I did start up a new book finally. I meant to do so shortly after finishing "Half Bad" in order to get a jump on next month, maybe even sneak two books in one month. Instead I went on a two-week hiatus from reading in an attempt to force myself to write instead of escape into a book. Clearly that didn't work.

Anyway, I'm now attempting my father-in-law's favorite book. He even lent me his "loan out" copy. Yes, he has multiple copies. I'm only about 20pages in, and I already had to stop, go back, and re-read some passages as I'm reading because of the flowery language. But at least I have the gist of the plot so far. I'm also a bit curious why every main character has to have his/her full name - first and last - written out each time. It's a bit unnecessary to me for "Eddie Willers" to be written out nearly every sentence instead of just "Eddie." Stranger still that there ARE a few sentences that just have "Eddie" instead of his full name. It's a weird ratio of three-pages where he's "Eddie Willers" then a paragraph where he's just "Eddie" and then another two-pages of "Eddie Willers" and then a full page of just "Eddie." I don't think Ayn Rand could make up her mind.

For those who might not know just based on my above paragraph, I'm now attempting "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. I haven't been loving the classics such as "1984" or "Dante's The Inferno," and "Atlas Shrugged" seems to be in the same vein for my tastes, but I made it through the other two, so I'm going to make it through this one. The other two I at least enjoyed the overall concept and plot, even if I didn't enjoy the writing or connected with the characters. So, here's hoping I at least enjoy the overall plot of "Atlas Shrugged." If nothing else, it's another classic I can check off the list.

But back to my hourly calendar.

I do and don't have time at work, but I definitely have time after work. I've just been spending my four hours doing a completely different hobby. I'm kind of proud of it, and it is soothing - same concept as adult coloring books - but it still isn't writing.

As I mentioned last week, Hubby and I have a game where miniatures could be painted to give them character and help distinguish between them. Well, last Wednesday Hubby was taught the basic techniques to painting minis. Ours are - as I expected them to be - a bit flat compared to the professionally painted ones I posted last week, mostly because we weren't shown yet how to do highlights and shadows on our minis. The closest thing we have is a paint that sort of does the shading for you as you coat the whole mini.

Anyway, Wednesday through Saturday I spent probably about four hours a night painting a starter squad from the core game in an attempt to get decent enough with the hobby to feel confident in painting my main clan.

The results aren't the prettiest, but they're still not bad either:
Just a reminder of what they look like unpainted.
I decided to start with the core-game's blue clan
They still need some touching up, but they're mostly done now.
This is the clan mystic: a madoushi
Clan fighters: kaiken
Archers, also known as yajiri
Specialized female ninjas: kunoichi
And finally the unit leader: the chunin
Like I said, not as polished and defined as the professional ones, but that's why they're the professionals. Painting minis is not easy. It is fun and relaxing, but it's not easy. Plus, I tend to overdo the paint which is why mine is a bit gloppy, especially with the skin tones....

Now, I could spend this week painting another starter clan to try to hone my technique, or I could write. I'm not going to lie that part of me wants to paint.

But I am starting to miss writing. I'm climbing back out of my slump, I guess, because before I was kind of "eh, I'm not writing, whatever" but now I'm back to feeling a bit guilty about it.

There are a lot of things, such as painting minis, where I'm decent at it. I'm passable. I'm not terrible. I may even be a touch better than your average novice. Crocheting is another crafting hobby where I'm mediocre. Video games, or all games in general, actually, are also fun, but I'm not exactly "great" at them. Even tedious things like creating spreadsheets for data entry. Yeah, I can get the job done and it works for people, but there's probably tricks to doing it easier or faster than I do it.

Everything I do, I'm kind of riding that mediocre middle-road. I'm not great. I'm not bad. I'm decent, or perhaps slightly above average, but nothing to make people "wow" over.

Everything I do, except writing, that is.

That is where my talent is. That is where people "wow" about me. That is where people ask for more. That is what people ask me for advice about. That is where I'm most comfortable in my talents.


I don't know. Maybe it's the fact that I have immensely loyal fans, but they number in the tens instead of the hundreds. Maybe it's because I'm afraid that if I give myself wholly to writing, find a project and stick with it, I might still come out not being published until I'm in my 60s, and I don't know if I can handle that.

I wanted to be married by the time I was 25. Kept me an extra three years.
I wanted to be in a career either within writing or video production. I managed that, but it only lasted three years and I haven't found that career path again since.
I wanted to have my own place instead of still renting by the time Hubby and I have been married 5 years. That came and went and we're still in the same apartment.
I wanted to be a mom by the time I was 30, and that clearly didn't happen. Still hasn't.
I wanted to be a published author - or a screenwriter with a movie in production - by the time I was 35, and that's not really shaping up to be a realistic goal either. Even pushing it back to 40 seems out-of-reach, and I don't know if I could handle another major life-goal milestone coming and going without being reached.

So, maybe that's it. Maybe I'm keeping my writing simply as a hobby out of fear. Maybe I'm avoiding it as a subtle white flag that I submit that it's never going to happen.

But, how COULD it happen if I don't even try!?

GAAAAH! It's so annoying to know in my head that I'm good. Know in my head that I HAVE to keep trying otherwise there's no hope in hitting my goal. Know in my head that I WILL be rejected, but that doesn't mean I won't find the right book/agent/publisher/audience combination eventually. Know in my head that even if it does take me until I'm 50 or 60 to be published that a lot of great authors had a late start.

It's so hard to KNOW all of this, and yet have my heart still not completely in it. My heart is still going "ooo, shiny" with story ideas so that I never fully commit to one. My heart is still thinking "if I don't actually try, then I never actually fail." My heart is still nervous that I'm only good within my small community - high school, college, local library - but not good enough on the grand scale of the world or even my country - as "evidenced" by my low readership on DeviantArt, FictionPress, and FanFiction.

How to combat this? How to shut off that critic that's becoming more and more vocal? How to let my head take control again?

I have to work through this. I have to figure it out. I have to toughen through it.

I have to also find my writing journals.....

Sadly, I did a lot of shuffling things around the past week or so, and I'm not entirely sure where I put my writing journal. So I don't have a "new" writing practice for you to read today. I'll post two for next week to make up for it.

In the meantime, if anyone has any advice, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Hate Creative Permanence

Another dead week. I don't know what's up with me. I've been fixated on Hubby's latest tabletop game, actually. Between that and working six days a week, I've just been too drained to think of anything creatively.

About a month ago Hubby bought the game Ninja All-Stars by Ninja Division/Soda Pop Miniatures. If you play a league within the game, then you get x-number of starter points that you use to "purchase" ninja units for your clan. There are six clans to choose from, and each one has their own allotment of minimum and maximum of any particular unit in order for you to customize your clan. Then, as you play each game, your units earn experience that you can use to purchase upgrades for them, making them even more customizable to your game play.

As of right now, including me and Hubby, we have five people playing this game. So we each have our own clan out of the six available. Hubby then went ahead and bought the unique miniatures designed for each clan. I have the wind bird tribe Clan Tanchyo.

The reason I'm obsessing, though, is that the minis come unpainted as one solid color to represent your clan. For me, that's green:
I couldn't find my camera, so I just swiped this photo from a review site.
Normally I would just go with it, but I need to differentiate between like-troops, such as the two crow-men Madoushis - monks - that are shown to the right. Or the two eagle onis - demons - towards the back. For troops like those, I've been adding a paperclip to one to tell the difference between the like-units. However, my clan also allows four yajiri - archers - and I can't really tell the difference between them with just paperclips. For the time being, I'm also using figures from the core game.
Again, can't find my camera. This one is from the game developers themselves.
Normally I use the Void Shrine, because the friend who has the actual minis for the Void clan Ijin doesn't really use archers. I then put a paperclip on one of them, and I can tell the difference: one green with paperclip, one green without, one purple with, and one purple without.

The solution works for now, but I know eventually I will have to just paint the darn things in order to help me figure out who is who. It's exciting, but also very permanent. I'm not good with permanent. It's why I bought three scrapbooks while in high school and never used any of them - this was back when you could only get one, maybe two, copies of a photo and that's it unless you could remember where you put the negatives. Permanence is also why I have a bookshelf filled with blank journals. I love them. I collect them. I almost never write in them though, because that's it. You can't use that journal for anything else than what you started to write in it. I have two different "diaries" in really nice journals, only for me to get bored with journaling and giving up about 20pgs in. I also photocopy my coloring book pages so that I can recolor them however I want.

I don't do well with creative permanence.....

Plus, I've never painted miniatures before, and I'm nervous that they'll end up beyond ugly. They're cheap compared to a lot of other miniature games, such as Warhammer, Warmachine, or old-school D&D before they came pre-painted. However, I still don't want to have to go out and buy a new clan set if I really mess up this one....

I want them looking nice like these professional ones:
Ignore that the woman with the peacock feathers in her hair - the Chunin, or clan leader - looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid.
I know I'm not going to get them this nice, though. Hence the point of professional miniature painters in the first place. My main concern is that I SUCK at shading, and that's what really makes these pop. Still, I'm trying to prepare myself for this undertaking by looking up what colors I want for each of my units.

We all unofficially decided to name our characters after anime/video game characters. I branched out a little by naming my one Madoushi Master Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and my one Oni Hugin from Stjepan Sejic's "Death Vigil":
For those who don't know, Hugin can transform into an albino T-Rex....
Anyway, my point being that I've been looking up the color schemes for the anime/video game characters I named my minis off of, so that I know how to color them so they're still obviously Green Tanchyo Tribe while also being distinguishable from each other.

This is pretty much how I've been spending my spare time this past week. Obsessing over colors for minis and learning how to properly paint them, as well as researching the best bang for my buck in regards to buying the paints. Trying to mentally master the art of painting minis has been my everything outside of work this week.

Kind of pathetic.

And at work, now that I'm hourly instead of commissions, I feel guilty if I'm not working around the clock. So I've been coming up with all sorts of busy work for myself. I barely have time to sit down anymore.

I need to get out of my head. Or, if I really can't get out of my own head, I should at least talk to one of my characters hiding up there. Get back to writing. I don't know why I'm at a complete stand-still lately.

While I'm still trying to figure out what is up with my lack of muse, you can at least enjoy another old writing practice. This one choked me up bad. One of the few times I had a hard time seeing what I was writing because I was fighting back tears. I hit a sore spot with this. Tried to get some pre-mature closure, I guess. I get emotional in my writing, but it's rare that I actually inflict an emotion on myself this severely while writing, so this practice scared me in more ways than one. I hope the emotions at least showed up in this 1000-word short.

"Find. Remember. Love Again."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reading Queen

I wrote something on Thursday.

That's it. No other writing. Not even really pondering of writing. Yet, for some reason, while sitting outside on the porch, listening to the wind chimes Hubby got me, I was inspired. I wrote another writing prompt out of "A Writer's Book of Days" until my wrist hurt and my fingers cramped up. Kept me only about forty minutes and three journal pages.

Still, it was something. I should praise that for all its worth. Especially considering how long this slump has been. I don't know what caused my love of writing to recede, but I still don't even have the drive to think about writing. I don't get my normal pain of guilt or itch of inactivity if I go without writing. On the plus side, I also haven't gotten cranky and agitated due to my lack of writing. I'd much rather sit on my porch, people watch, read my book, listen to my chimes, and enjoy the warmth. I'm just soaking it all in. Maybe I'll wring it all out of my head later, but right now, my brain is just sponging everything; hopefully.

In the meantime, Hubby did sort of decide on a new surname for Chayse. He narrowed it down to five names. He also feels that Neo-Gambit - Ryder - won't go by a last name. He'll simply be Ryder. Considering the fact that I kept Gambit's criminal background, I could see Ryder dropping his last name to avoid being tracked. So, Hubby's thinking that the couple just agreed to give Chayse his mother's surname. Right now we're really focused on Foster. However, even though Emily Foster sounds awesome and is really calling out to us, I feel it's a bit too on the money. A woman named Foster opened an orphanage?

Then again, names have meaning in literature, so maybe the nod to the connection between the name and the calling isn't so bad?

Anyway, that's the extent of my writing this week. I did read Hello to my writing group last week. Fantasy is definitely my wheel-house, because even my psuedo-supernatural, slice-of-life, slightly-exaggerated anecdote got sort of lack-luster reviews aside from "nice twist at the end." And then we talked about the paranormal for a little bit before moving on to the next person.

I never seem to get much of a reaction out of that group unless I'm writing something set in a fantasy world. Although, oddly enough, about six months ago they asked me why I only wrote fantasy and fanfiction when I could "write like that" - in reference to my heartbreaking story of a man realizing his ailing wife was slipping from him.

On the flipside of my frozen state, it seems Ronoxym is on a writing frenzy. Nearly every time I talk to him he has something new he's working on. Granted, he only gets a couple paragraphs to a couple pages in before the next shiny story idea catches his attention, but at least he's writing. More than what I'm doing. Maybe we share a Muse, which is why we work so well together. However, sharing her means that only one of us could be in the mood to write at a time. Lame.

Anyway, he even asked if I was still into reworking/finishing Please, Let Me Explain. I was kind of like "doi" so maybe that means he's going back through my edits to try to figure the rework out too. It would be cool if I could continue reading that at group.

In the meantime, I have my writing practices. And since the next two practices I have combined are still less than 1000 words, I figured I would type them both up for your reading pleasure.

This first one is largely inspired by a friend and former coworker of mine. I took some creative liberties to follow where the character was taking me, but my friend is definitely the core inspiration.

"Fire Personified"

This second one is beyond quick: about 250 words. I was stuck on another writing prompt that is a really cool phrase, but too abstract for me to come up with a story concept. I might have this issue a lot with Judy Reeves' prompts. In the end, I just wrote whatever came to mind until I had filled the page. It's more of a thought experiment than an actual tale, but it's something down on paper.

"Thought Experiment: Now"
On DeviantArt           On FictionPress

So, if I wasn't writing, what was I doing for the majority of the week? Well, as I mentioned, I've been on my porch enjoying the weather. I've also been reading like a boss. Appropriate, considering the reading challenge I'm currently undertaking.

"Half Bad" by Sally Green was definitely a slow go for me. The fact that the entire story was broken down into six parts was the first oddity. They aren't even parts. They don't seem to coincide with the typical Three-Act storyline. They were basically six giant chapters that were then broken down into smaller chapters. And the fact that some of those chapters weren't even a page long was the other oddity that threw me off. The final thing that made me wonder if I could make it through was her use of second-person narrative to make the reader Nathan. There were just too many things that seemed different about this story. Makes Green a unique author, though.

Well, I powered through because the synopsis was intriguing enough. Plus, I don't like quitting on books. I'm glad, too. Part Two is about a third of the book, and it's all Nathan's flashback on how he ended up in a cage. It's also, thankfully, in first person. I was able to really connect with Nathan then. Again, my empathy allows me to connect more with a character when THEY are telling me their story, as opposed to the reader trying to tell me this is my story.

The first chapter - and ONLY the first chapter - of Part Three was back in second, and I groaned. I didn't know if I could handle the past being in first person and the present in second. I wasn't sure I could handle jumping back and forth between "you are Nathan" and "Nathan is telling you his story." Thankfully, since that one last chapter, the rest of the story is both first-person, and present. I mean that literally, it's written in present tense. It's also written in sort of short, choppy sentences: "I don't sleep well. It's not cold. There's no wind, not a breath. The clouds are still. There's no rain."

Nathan admits that he's not intelligent at all, and he's illiterate. So his sentences are simplistic. Life is what it is. He realizes that - for the most part - he has to live in the present. He can't dwell on the past because he can't change it. He can't focus too much on the future, because he might not have one. Sally Green takes that character trait and translates it to how Nathan talks. How he tells his story. He's direct. He's to the point. He doesn't have much time to explain something with long, flowery words. He tells you what's happening while it still is.

I really, REALLY got into this story once I was in first-person narrative. A week into reading this story, and I only have 41 pages left to go. If I didn't have chores and errands to do last night, I might have finished off the book. I'm basically reading a part a day, a few chapters at a time.

When I read the first part I wondered how the heck could anyone read two more books written like this. Now that I'm almost done, I know I have to find the other two. The writing is still odd to me, but now I'm invested in Nathan. I'm even invested in his jailer. I'm loving the wizarding world that Green created. It doesn't hurt that I could try to use some of it to help me get re-inspired for "Glitches" purposes.

In fact, sorry guys, but I gotta jet. I have a couple more chapters left. I need to finish them. Then I need to find another story to finish June with. Since I have such a head-start, I think I might pick up "Atlas Shrugged" next. I think that will be my "outside comfort level" book.... Still not sure where to put "Half Bad"on the list, though....