I crashed on Piggy Island…

May 3, 2014

So, friends and followers, you may ask what I’ve been up to since the A to Z challenge and Camp Nanowrimo wrapped up this year.

The plan was to dive into critiques for the TNEO workshop and short story revisions.

Instead, I’ve been spending a lot of time gaming on my iPhone. 😉

Back in March, I downloaded Angry Birds Epic. It’s currently in an iOS soft launch for the Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand App Stores only, so you might not be able to get it on your own mobile device until the wider release later this year.

But I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, and losing a lot of time to it. Instead of the usual Angry Birds slingshot game format, this is a turn-based adventure game. You start as the Red bird, a level 1 warrior, in the bird’s nest on South Beach, as the pigs have carried off all his friends and their eggs. Gradually you explore the map, which is full of locations where you can fight pigs – generally referred to as ‘dungeons’ even though they’re not underground.

During the first fights, you have only a few choices each turn – attack a pig, (by dragging your finger from Red to the pig you want to attack,) or defend (by tapping on Red.) Each pig gets their own chance every turn, either to attack you or maybe use a special power.

During the fight, a chili icon at the bottom of the screen gradually fills up with red light until it’s full to bursting, letting out steam. Then you can use the chili with Red during his turn, unleashing a super-power attack on the toughest pig left standing.

As you proceed through the map, you can rescue the other birds, who join the group with their own special skills; Chuck the yellow bird is a sorcerer, Matilda the white bird a cleric, Bomb the black bird a pirate, the three inseperable Blue birds are thieves. Once you have more than three birds in the party, you have to pick which three go into any particular fight.

There’s a lot more going on in the game; tracking resources, weapons and other gear, treasure, wave battles and so on, but I think this gives you an idea of why it’s kinduv compelling. Hopefully while the phone is charging, I can actually get some real work done this afternoon!

My first brush with Rejectomancy

March 21, 2014

I’ve heard a lot about rejectomancy, the practice of puzzling over a rejection letter and trying to figure out what it means. I even critiqued a very fun story where the term was taken literally and the MC could always tell what was on somebody’s mind from any sort of rejection, be it verbal, electronic, or printed. But I guess I’ve never really gotten into the act until today, where I sorta tripped over it backwards.

I’m not going to share the market with you all, but it’s a pro market that takes science fiction and fantasy. I submitted ‘Tough Love’ to them a week ago, and got an email back this morning saying no thanks, it didn’t push enough boundaries for them, and actually suggesting that I read what they publish to get a better feel for it. (D’oh!) I did read a few stories from this market before I submitted, but I guess I didn’t pick up on how much they liked really weird stuff, or I put it out of my mind because I thought ‘well, I can’t tell how weird my own stories are.’ Maybe that’s true to a certain extent, but now that I’m really thinking about it, I have to admit that Tough Love is not particularly weird.

One of my Odyssey friends suggested that I should write something weirder next time, but I’m not sure if I can be weird on command. My natural inclination is just to not bother submitting to this market again until one of two things happens: either somebody else suggests them to me as a market for a particular story, or I spontaneously think, “Oh wow, this story is so weird I have to submit it to [Market]!”


How do you cook the books?

February 1, 2013

Today’s post idea is courtesy of Strands of Pattern. I’m pretty sure Jeff won’t mind me taking his idea and running with it.

I loved Jeff’s metaphor of cooking for the writing process, and some of the analogies that friends and followers came up with in the comments to his post. Thinking about it, I’ve decided that my writing process has a lot in common with the way I make one of my favorite meals – spaghetti and meat sauce.

First, I take a big lump of slightly slimy hamburger out of the fridge, slap it in a pan, turn up the heat, and start stirring like crazy as the meat browns and gets crispy. This is the heedless first draft composition stage – often set to Nanowrimo or some other crazy deadline event.

Once the meat is browned, I add some other ingredients – tomatoes, vegetables, herbs and spices, and let it simmer for a long time, stirring occasionally, tasting now and then. This would be the no-pressure editing, letting the story sit on the back burner of my brain while I’m doing other things, occasionally sitting down to try rewriting a scene or polish some of the prose.

And finally, there’s the slightly less frantic activity as I boil a pot of water and toss in the dry spaghetti – or set myself a deadline for finishing revisions and get myself into hot water. 🙂

Is it a perfect analogy? No, probably not. But I had fun with that notion. There are probably ways that my creative process is like whipping up crepes, or roasting a turkey, or microwaving some soup, but I’m not gonna think about them just now.

What culinary process is your writing style like?

My Top Ten Canadian Singles

August 20, 2012

Well, the Vinyl Cafe had a show on this weekend where the host, Stuart McLean, picked his top ten Canadian singles. Turns out it was a summer repeat and has already been covered in the blogosphere, but I was inspired to choose my favorite ten songs from Canadian artists too. (I didn’t limit myself to radio singles, as it’s been a while since that’s been relevant for me in terms of music I enjoy.) I graded high for songs that were co-written by Canadians, and included a slight bias against the Canadian songs I already talked about in my ‘Top 10 songs’ blogfest entry, which knocked all of them out of the running and brought up other great music, often by the same artists. (Many of the artists appear in my ‘Desert Island Discs’ playlist.)

And here we go!

1. When I think about first getting interested in truly Canadian music, Lisa Brokop immediately comes to mind. I loved music when I was young, but whether it was church music, borrowed pop, or Christian rock, Canadian content didn’t figure for me. But when I started my country phase in the winter of 1995, shortly before heading off to University, I was getting my fix from the New Country Network video channel on cable, (which later became CMT Canada,) and then local radio stations like CISS-FM in Toronto and CHAM AM in Hamilton. And I really loved the sound of some of the singers from north of the border, like Lisa. ‘Take That’ was one of the first videos that I loved so much that I recorded it onto a VHS tape so I could enjoy it over and over again.

There’s a story that I heard years later that I really love, that Lisa was on tour opening for a big-name band, (Little Texas?) around that time, and didn’t even realize that one of her own songs was hitting it big on the radio until the day that she started ‘Take That’ at a show and realized, to her amazement, that the crowd was singing the first verse along with her. 🙂

But I’m not putting ‘Take That’ on the list, partly because it was written by a couple of American Nashville songwriters. Instead, I’m going to name a song that I really love because it makes me think about writing and Nanowrimo and all of that cool stuff whenever I listen to it: “Write a Book About Me.” It’s off the album “Hey, do you know me” and was written by Lisa Brokop and Kim McLean.

2. “No Change in me”, sung by the Ennis Sisters, written by Murray McLauchlan and Ron Hynes. This is a bit of a two-fer, because I had to get the Ennis Sisters into this list. Murray’s version of the song is also amazing, but the only cut I could find on youtube is this slideshow with rather rough, half-spoken vocals by Ron. But I’ll get back to Ron Hynes later in this list.

Read the rest of this entry »

Stringing Words Day 2: Word Game threads

December 9, 2011

Sometimes you just need to relax and have a little bit of fun before going back to writing. That’s what word games are for.

There are two long-running word games on the Stringing Words forum. One is fairly simple, a word association game where you type in the first word that comes to your mind in response to the previous word:

Read the rest of this entry »

Narratives from the real world.

September 19, 2011

I was listening to a Storywonk podcast today, more than a month behind as usual. This time, Lani and Alastair were talking about reality television, and some of the ways producers set up the shows so that no matter what the participants do or who wins, some kind of a natural narrative will flow naturally. They also mentioned that professional sports are set up in somewhat the same way, which naturally made me think of this cartoon:

Original Alt text by Randall Munroe: Also, all financial analysis. And, more directly, D&D.

Read the rest of this entry »

Searchers in the Files

July 22, 2011

Okay, following a meme from Elizabeth Twist and LG Smith, I’ll share some of the most popular and strange search terms I’ve found on my blog statistics. I hope that you find them interesting. We’ll start with the popular ones.

  1. ‘short dialog’ is easily the most popular search term for my blog ever, and I’m not quite sure why so many people are searching for short dialog instead of long dialog. But they end up here: A short dialog exercise.
  2. ‘extra post’. Again, I find this a bit puzzling. Are these people trying to figure out how to squeeze an extra post into their own blogs, or looking for extra posts that have been added to other blogs? But I do love A-Z extra post by request: The Umbrella rant, and I hope that the searchers like it too.
  3. ‘elizabeth twist’. This might be for people who are searching for Elizabeth’s own blog, but on wordpress.com instead of her home at blogspot. At least I include a link to her, as well as sing her praises, here: E is for Elizabeth Twist
  4. ‘small wallpapers’. I hope that they enjoy all the fandom-y goodness here: Fanart 10: Lots of small wallpapers.
  5. ‘summer glau’. Any Summer Glau fans will hopefully love the story of my meeting her: Fan Expo Diary – Part Two
  6. ‘serenity analysis’. Beat sheet for the win! Beat sheet analysis for ‘Serenity’ (spoiler warning.)
  7. ‘iphone riddle’. The answer is… An iPhone riddle…
  8. ‘diane duane’. There’s a lot that this could lead to, but maybe they’ll start with A Wizard of Mars – Chapter One
  9. ‘save the cat chapter 2’. Hopefully, this will help explain it without giving away too many of Blake Snyder’s secrets: Blog the Cat, Chapter 2 – Story Genres
  10. ‘alphasmart dana’. I’ve talked about my Dana in several places, but dedicated this post to it: Dana by Alphasmart
  11. ‘tess harding’. An interesting search term, but it could lead to my tribute to R is for Roswell or Fanfiction flashback: Not Written Yet
  12. ‘firefly fan art’. Well, I shared some here: Fanart 9: Two Firefly Banners

And, for the stranger search terms:

  • “that’s what i did and you came back to me”
  • buffy/lindsey fanfiction
  • davis smallville chloe nanowrimo
  • faith hill & roswell
  • games on alphasmart dana
  • glau fan expo brown guy
  • how busy is the go transit bus from hamilton on saturday nights?
  • mike kelworth
  • roswell liz swaps with tess
  • screenwriting on the dana alphasmart
  • stringing in writing
  • the louvre sweater
  • viable paradise waiting list
  • where i made my passport im in herkimer
  • yahoo game where you put characters in which room
  • you can’t go home again billy joel

If you’ve got a blog that lets you see search terms that led readers to you, share your favorites and comment here to let me go look!

Guest Post: Introduction to fun for the Adventure Inclined!

July 12, 2011

Greetings all!

For those of you who are wondering, my name is Mark Allen and I’m doing a guest post for Chris today as I was originally supposed to write up something while he was out in Kansas saving the Kingdom of Oz under the guise of attending a Con there (er, that is to say the Con is in Kansas not Oz) but was delayed due to RL asserting itself at the worst possible time so naturally I’m finally ready to post this now that Chris is back from his trip!

Now for all those of you wondering just who the hey I am, let me give you a bit of background about myself:

I’m an American (since I’m admitting that up front, kindly refrain from spitting on me as much as you can) I grew up just outside of the DC area but have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the vast majority of my life and currently live in the Tri-Valley area of the San Francisco East Bay, and have been working in IT related fields just prior to graduating High School in 2002!

I met Chris several years ago now (I’m really trying not to think of exactly how many given how old that makes us both now) due to our mutual interest in Roswell fic (because Opie deserves his threesome and us Stargazers have to stick together, damn it) after PMing him regarding a fic of his he IM’d me and we’ve been chatting pretty much ever since!

In fact, one of the highlights of my life occurred last year after I finally got the opportunity to meet up with him face to face for the first time when he made in to my neck of the woods and because he’s far too modest to admit this, just so everyone knows, he’s actually a lot thinner than you might expect (of course, I wish he could say the same about me)!

Anyhoo, a few weeks ago I was chatting with him on IM recommending he look at some great adventure game titles to play on Frotz for his new iPhone and I thought it would be neat to post a quick feature on a few of my favorites so hopefully they would sound appealing enough to where he might look at them sooner than later!  Read the rest of this entry »

It’s all fun & games until somebody starts a Blogfest!

June 6, 2011

It’s Blog-festing time!

Now, I had a fairly hard time picking just three games to feature here, and there’s entire categories that didn’t get represented. I’ll give a brief list of honorable mentions at the end of my post. But I’ve picked three games that have particular meaning to me, and that you might not be familiar with. Counting up to the top spot:

3) Heroes Unlimited.

I had to include a dice and paper RPG, and Heroes Unlimited may not be the best in any practical terms, but it’s the one that I have the fondest memories of playing, usually with my brother and his friends in one of their apartments. There’s something to be said for a game that allows you to become any of:

  • An alien
  • A bionic cyborg
  • A robot
  • A mutant
  • Somebody who got super-human powers from a scientific experiment
  • A wizard
  • The lucky owner of a magic weapon or artifact
  • Somebody who owns or operates a robotic exoskeleton
  • A weapons collector
  • An elite vehicles gearhead
  • A mutated animal.
  • A martial arts specialist
  • A super-detective

And probably a handful of other character classes that I’ve forgotten off the top of my head! The details may be a bit fuzzy now, but I can’t forget those crazy interdimensional adventures we dreamed up, with brave but somewhat morally challenged heroes battling to stop the Master Programmer!

2) Inspector Parker

A fairly simple computer game in scope, but one that I’ve loved for years and keep going back to when I want to while away a few minutes training up my brain. I discovered it while looking through the online yahoo games site, and ended up buying a licence for the desktop version. Read the rest of this entry »


April 8, 2011

G is for…

I’m a big fan of a lot of games. Not so much the active sporty type games, and I’ve never really got into hard-core computer gaming, but card games, some board games, and a lot of other types of games. I’ve tried making my own text adventure computer games several times.

If I’m pantsing a story, (as in writing it by the seat of said pants,) having my characters play a game is one of my standard stock tricks. Often, the resulting scene isn’t something that should survive the first draft, but a lot of the time it helps me figure out something new about the characters. For instance, in Children of the Molecule, I had a game of alien hide and seek as one of the events at the Prince’s naming-day party. I was really just going through the motions, as were some of the characters, because they couldn’t leave that planet and go on to the climax of the story until the party was over. But after that game, in the final concert stage of the party, I realized that Aunt Shelda seemed to be fixated on her niece marrying the Prince, and that was a plot thread that I’m really glad I picked up.

“It’s just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge.  The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better.  It’s like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are.  It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that’s now been taken away and hidden.  The graphite’s not important.  It’s just the means of revealing their indentations.  It’s just to do with people thinking about people.” Read the rest of this entry »

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