Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Excelsior!

On his very special Easter Sunday Idolatry, I thought I'd start with my favorite savior, Mr. Stan Lee.  For some reason, I can't get the image out of my head of eleven-or-twelve-year-old me sitting on the school bus looking at my Marvel Comics Activity Book.  There was a maze with a tagline that said something to the effect of "is it a bowl of spaghetti or Stan Lee's brain?"  It kind of looked like both.

I don't remember if it was a difficult maze.  I tried to find it; but all I came up with was Zombie Stan.  This isn't that picture; but I liked it.

I'm a Marvel Comics fan through and through.  Sure Batman is great, and Superman can be awesome when his story's told right, and Aquaman beats the pants off Namor in terms of potential; but Stan Lee created Spider-Man.  My all-time favorite super hero.  If that was all he'd ever done, it would have been enough.  But it wasn't enough for Stan "the Man."  He had a hand in creating the X-Men (arguably the greatest super-hero team in the history of comics - even though their movies are, so often, so lackluster), The Hulk (strongest hero in the Marvel Universe and - like Superman over at DC - Incredible when he's handled right), The Fantastic Four (sorry Stan, everyone's got to miss one), Thor (Vikings are just awesome), Iron Man and a plethora of others.

But Stan Lee writes comics, he makes movies, he's the Face of an Empire.  With things like Stan's Rants on YouTube, he ought to come off as this curmudgeonly old man, but he's just so lovable and fun.  I sometimes wonder how much of that is just because I've felt like I've known him for so long.  Stan Lee is like one of the family - an estranged Uncle you only get to see in old home movies and letters.   The one you want to be when you grow up.

When I'm not fantasizing that I'm going to be this great writer one day, I'm fantasizing that I'm going to create great comic books, and while Stephen King has probably influenced me more than any other creator, it's Stan Lee who I want to be in 30 or 40 years.

I'm starting late.  Best cut this shit out and get to work.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

B-Movie Comic

First, I promise, I'm not only linking to comics with a Star Wars Theme.  It just happened that way this time.

I discovered B-Movie Comic during one of the many days lost to TVTropes (don't go there unless you have time to kill... I did you enough of a favor by not linking to any specific trope - you have been warned and I wash my hands of the whole thing).

I was talking about B-Movie Comic.  It's not one that you can fully understand without starting at the beginning, but it's written well enough that the jokes come across if you haven't, and like almost all good webcomics, the art really has improved (despite not being all that bad in the beginning).

The artists comments below the strip really make for a fun dissection of b-movie art and sometimes comics, the internet, or life in general; and the comic itself is fun for anyone with an appreciation for bad movie-making. I've even gone to watch old movies lampooned in the strip, just because its mention piqued my interesr. Check it out.

If you want to start at the beginning of
Earth vs Uranus Act 3: Assault on Uranus,  that'd be where I started.  Or you can read The Revenge of Rutentuten, which I'm only about half-way through.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mirror Soul 1 - The Woman is a Virus


I don't really understand people.  They're too messy, too unpredictable.  With people, you put in all the data - time, effort, direction - and you have no clue how they're going to react.


Take this jerk, ringing my door buzzer.  I tell everyone I know not to bother me when I'm in my workshop.  Don't bug me in my workshop, I tell them.  There's even a sign on the door.  It says "go away, we don't fucking want any."

Bzzt! Bzzt!

It seems like a simple command.  But with people, you lock yourself away with your work and some asshole won't -


"Stop ringing the fucking doorbell, and go away!"


My shop is dimly lit at the best of times, with the blinds shut and a handful of desk lights and magnifying lamps sticking out of the wall wherever I've set up a workbench.  A dozen unfinished projects line the shelves along with stacks of ideas in the making.  Right now I'm working on trying to recalibrate the IO connection on my highly illegal-


Son of a bitch.

Women are even worse than people.  At least with some guy, you can be reasonably sure he won't start crying at you or yelling about you all the ways you never listen.  One day everything's great - you're having a nice talk and then - BAM!

Out of nowhere, here come the wetworks, and a fourteen-thousand dollar peripheral flying at your head.

Standing up from my workbench, I realize I'm not ready for this.  I can't handle it.  I take a few paces around the room.  It's too cluttered; but there's no time to clean up.

Alright, Decker...  Stretch.  Breathe.

I open the door and there she is.  Marlene Bara.  Curly blonde hair and a tan wrapped in five feet of curves that just won't quit.  Even tired and disheveled in last night's work clothes, she looks amazing.

The tracks on her face and the cellphone clutched in her hand (it's only an iPhone - why wouldn't she at least... nevermind).  Things are probably bad.

"He's gone," she says.

"Who's gone?"  The concern in my voice is real, and that shakes me out of it.  I'm not getting sucked up in her bullshit again.  No.  "Wait.  Marli? What the shit are you doing here?  Go away, I'm working."

She pushes past me into the grey light of the shop, and for some reason, I don't stop her.  Things must be worse than I imagined.  She hates it in here.

"Christian," she says, hugging her cellphone in her arms wrapped tight around her waist.  He was supposed to pick me up from work last night, and he never showed up.  I took a taxi home and he wasn't there.  He isn't returning my texts or answering his phone."

"He's probably just sleeping off another bender."

"No, he's missing, I know it.  We have to go to the police."

Why am I getting dragged into this?  "That's a good idea," I tell her.  "Why don't you go to the police and let them deal with it.  Why are you even here?"

She's put that damn lost puppy face.  "I can't go alone," she whines. "You had that thing that one time.  You know how to talk to the police."

That thing.  She means that time her boyfriend and his minions broke in here and stole twelve thousand dollars worth of computer equipment.  The police couldn't make a case because half of what was stolen was my surveilance gear.

"He doesn't have minions," she says.

"Sure he does," I'm getting pissed.  "Four of 'em.  Rich, privileged frat-boy douchebags.  You know them.  You gave them their alibi.  I lost everything."

"I wasn't the only one," she says.  Those damn pouty lips pulling at something in me I've always tried to suppress.  "And they didn't take your stuff.  We were all at the Crash House playing beer pong - celebrating Brett's promotion.  Come on, that was forever ago," it's been three years,

"I really need your help!"

I try to make a stand, but she collapses into my arms, crying again.  She came here because she knows I can't say no to her.  It doesn't matter if she fucks me over a hundred times, I have to go with her.  She needs my help.

She needs me.

How can you possibly expect me to turn that down?

I hold her away from me a minute, then grab my jacket from its place in the "jacket area" on the floor.  At the bench, I close up the outer casing on my deck and slip it into my breast pocket.

"Is that the new Galaxy?"

I laugh despite myself.  "You know, there's more computing power in your average smartphone than what was taken into space on the early shuttle missions."  I hold up the deck - it's hard plastic, about the size of large phone, with no screen.  Black, and I laid in a bunch of copper circuitry designs on the cover to make it look as cool as it really is.

"This," I tell her.  "This little baby could tell you how to build a ship that would take you to Mars.  Then you could use it to fly the thing.  You'd be dead from radiation exposure before you got half-way, but it would get you there."

As I'm bragging, I see the look of disgust spring up on her face when I "jack in" - plugging two small wires into the port hidden behind my right ear.  I forgot that she was already gone when I installed that upgrade.

"what the fuck are you doing?"

I installed a few highly sensitive electrodes in my head that let me interface remotely with the deck.  The small wireless transmitter in the collar I wear around my neck, then transmits the signals from those electrodes and connects them with the glasses and the phone.

"You're not wearing those," she says, as I slip on the mirrored shades and smile at her.

"The hell I'm not.  These are my lifeline."  They've figured out a way to use contact lenses, but they only do basic LED displays so far.  Also, I don't have the equipment to make them receive the carrier signal.

She's still looking at me.  "What?  Okay,"  I hand her the glasses.  "Put them on."

Uncertain, she puts on the glasses.  It's alot like Google's design, built into a cool pair of mirrored aviators.  "Don't worry, I reassure her.  Just hang on.  It's not easy to do this without looking."

It's like trying to type an text message without knowing where the keyboard is.

I have to close my eyes and imagine the app screen she sees in the glasses. Imagine myself opening Facebook, typing in the letters "". I know her password and I picture it typing itself in the right spot, ********* appearing where Christian's pet name would be.

I know her Facebook feed pops up because she says, "hey!  Wait, what are you doing?"

"I've been a real shit to Decker, and I really should start treating him better," I think-type into her status update.

"How are you doing that?"

Her password sucks, and I tell her to get a better one; I post the update and, with a handswipe, I close down facebook to show her what my deck is really good at.

Since she's looking at me, I command the Deckersphere (shut up), to search my name.

"Anytime I meet someone," I tell her, "if they have any kind of internet presence, I'll know about it."  She's seeing a list of the sites I belong to, recent public posts to Tumblr and my Twitter feed.  If I'd been in the news lately it would bring that up.  Also my birthday, favorite foods, shit like that.  I could probably tell you exactly what it says, because I can't stop searching my own name when I'm bored - just to see if anyone's talking about me; but Marli's anxious to go.

"Okay," she says, removing the bulky frames, "that's kind of cool, but do they have to look so stupid?"

We leave the workshop together and climb into her car.  It's a dinky little hybrid, with onboard computers running all through it.

"Did you say you put wires in your brain?"

"That's putting it pretty simply, but yeah.  Basically."

"But why?"

"It was an experiment, really."  The tech is based on work done at Brown University, with quadriplegics.  I improved on the basic theory and designed my own rig to allow me to run my deck without taking it out of my pocket.

"You're fucking weird," she says.  We ride the rest of the way to the Police Station in silence.  I do a few quick searches for Christian online, but

there's nothing for the last 18 hours.  I spend the remainder of the drive hacking her car.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happi Easter Bunni

I learned something about myself.  I am not a furry.  I've drawn sexy women, sexy dwarves (the fantasy variety - with a beard... so you have something to grab hold of, I'm not discounting the personhood of little people), sexy halflings and elves (lots of those), and even sexy furry super heroines like Tigra and Wolfsbane, but I have little to no interest or ability in drawing sexy animals.

This simple black and white drawing took me almost two days to finish. Trying to find a suggestive pose while keeping it "clean" then trying to figure out how to make her look like a rabbit.  This was a pain in my ass. And I had to finish, because so much that I've uploaded here hasn't been (hoping to finish the Aiori pic from last week in time to post Thursday - then I think I might deducate this to Teenage Queens for awhile).

The specific challenge given me here was, "a dirty bunny in a sexy pose... using carrots in a suggestive way."  This is what I came up with.  Happy Eostre.

I also learned that Cam Scanner, the document scanner I use on my Android, no longer supports jpg output.  It's a wonderful app for pdf files, but W.T.F.?  Had to snap this with my camera and use photoshop express to clean it up (sorta).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Farging ice hole

I am really bad at this blogging thing. Case in point: I've been freaking out all day today trying to draw something, to post up here that doesn't suck and isn't half-finished.

Nevermind that Thursdays are when I'm trying to upload new art and today is Wednesday.  Yeah, I'm an ass.

Today I want to talk about drawing from what you know.  Whether your writing or drawing or making up some lame excuse on the fly, you're going to do your best work, working from experience.

That's what they tell me, anyway.

Mostly I'm talking about writing here, because I'm trying to sift through my process to clear the chaff and find some way to spur myself on to more productive things.  Part of what keeps me from doing the work is my lack of faith in my ability to do so.  So I'm trying to become a better writer by analyzing how I write.  I'm doing it here just in case it can help someone else.

For instance, I find it hard to "write what I know," unless I make the focus of my fiction the characters and not the story.  None of this stuff I write about ever happened to me.  It's not even stuff I'd want to happen to me.  Even so, when I try to focus on the characters, I often find myself in over my head.

Take this vampire story I'm writing.  The original idea was to write a vampire novel that would kill the vampire fiction genre.  Yes, I am often just that full of myself.  It won't be hard to see that original thread in the overarching plot of the finished book.

As the story progressed, however, it became less and less about killing vampires and more about addiction.  But what the fuck do I know about addiction?  I smoked cigarettes for a few years and quit.  I drank copious amounts of alcohol in the Navy (it's a requirement for advancement), and quit.  I'm not addicted to drugs or sex or anything, really.  I often wonder if I can't be a great writer because I'm content with a glass of Scotch in the evening, and I don't need to get shit-housed to put pen to paper.

Coca-cola. I'm addicted to sodas; but that's a helluva lame thing to base a novel on.

I keep writing anyway, however, because I believe in the story.  I know it can be good; and the farther into it I get, the more I realize that its all metaphor.  Its not about addiction at all. No more than it's about vampires or teenaged angst. I'm getting pretentious again, but now I understand my characters better.  I have some idea where they're all going and why.

I've been writing what I know without really knowing it.  Or - more likely - my experience has shaped the story and my perception of it.  Someone else might read a story about killing vampires, it might still be about addiction or depression or any of a number of different things.  I'm actually happy with that.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't worry about trying to only write what you know.  I write mostly fantasy and sci-fi; but I've never encountered a vampire, or a talking frog, or the ruins left behind by an extinct race of interstellar humans from before the dawn of history.

Write the story you'll want to read and let your natural inclinations guide you through to great storytelling.  Drawing from what you know doesn't mean writing only what's happened to you or around you - but it informs your work with the experiences you've shared in.

Adding in the "what you know" helps bring your characters to life and adds believability to your plot. At least I hope so. I guess we'll find out when the book's done.

Now if I could only work out how to do characterization and plot, I'd be on my way.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Oh, Regina

I fall in and out of love with Regina Spektor.  No.  That's not right.  I never fall out of love with her, I just get distracted and lose track of her for awhile.  Then I come back (I always come back), and remember how much I missed her while she was out of my life.  You'd think I'd be smart enough to put a few of her albums (or her entire discography) on my phone so I could take her with me wherever I go.

Right now, I'm playing Skyrim (right now, I'm actually blogging, but prior to this, I was playing Skyrim), with Regina singing "What we Saw from the Cheap Seats."  I ought to be writing, but I'm not.  I ought to be drawing, but there's this kid in Windhelm who needs help.  I guess he wants someone to kill the matron at Honorhall, but I'm hoping there's a peaceful solution to all this, that doesn't end up with the kid behind bars.

Also, I wish it was as easy to run around the block as it is to run to Windhelm (minus the murderous cold and the random dragon attacks).  I'm stuck at -14 pounds still, and I know I need to exercise - I often set time out in the day to do so - but I just as often find myself back in Tamriel or I just wake up a few hours later and realize I went to bed.

I'm not writing.  I knocked out the rewrite of my first book, but I cut so much out of it, I turned it from a 50,000+ word short novel into a 20,000 word novella.  I think I'll be going ahead with writing the rest of the stories I'd planned as sequels and see if trimming them down doesn't turn it all into one big novel.

Anyway...  I was talking about Regina Spektor.  I used to listen to Regina Spektor's live stuff (found online - mostly bootleg recordings of performances in New York) while I was riding my bike to or from work.  Sometimes I'd listen to Soviet Kitsch when I was exercising.  I normally listen to Jimi Hendrix or 80's Metallica or Tool when I'm writing, but for some reason, every refrain on What we Saw from the Cheap Seats keeps egging me on to get back to work.

It's like the lovely Ms. Spektor is sitting behind me in the easy chair that once belonged to my stepfather, quietly judging me and guilting me into getting off my ass and doing something.  Maybe I ought to get on it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Hate Mondays...

But I'm at Hurricane Patty's eating a nice dinner and listening to the Hackers tune up and get ready.

This pirate chick.  I've been here twice, but we always sat on her other side and I had no idea she wasn't a he.  I feel really dumb about that.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Aging into Infinity

Neil deGrasse Tyson
I fancy myself something of an armchair astrophysicist.   Like my footballer counterparts, I know nothing about what it takes to play the game, but I know a little about the rules, I dabbled a bit in high school, and I really like to watch the pros and imagine myself doing great things.  Plus, I like the pretty colors.

I've wanted to go into space ever since I found out I couldn't be Luke Skywalker.  Our closest equivalent to the Force is an easily debunked con game with a bunch of spiritual mumbo-jumbo tacked on, and I lack the dedication to achieve Jedi-levels in meditation and relaxation.

I've liked reading about space (and watching it on TV) ever since I gave up on the whole astronaut thing because I can't see shit without my glasses.

My space hero then, is Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Even though I couldn't spell his name. He's a modern day Carl Sagan or Bill Nye...

I guess Bill Nye is the modern day Bill Nye; but you get the point.  Mr. Tyson knows his shit.  He breaks it down simply enough that a layman like me can at least pretend to understand it, and he's passionate about what he does (at least, he comes off that way in interviews and debates).

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a hero of mine.  I don't wish I could be him, or have his job; but I'm immensely grateful he's out there.  I didn't even mind the while Pluto thing.

Aubrey de Grey
The guy whose job I would kinda like to have is a gerontologist.  I've given serious thought to going back to school to chase the dream of prolonging life and ending the threat of old age.

Like Tyson, de Grey is passionate about his field (even - or especially - in the face of his detractors).  I first heard of gerontology through Mr. de Grey's TED talk, and after a week's link-tripping around the net, I was fascinated - as much by the science of aging as by the possibilities.

Aubrey de Grey isn't even the man behind the biggest strides in anti-aging science; but his Rip Van Winkled beard has kinda become the spokeperson for the field (in my mind).  The voice of a generation that doesn't want to grow old and - for the first time in history - might attain that goal (or something very like it).

Given that becoming a gerontologist this late in the game would be a major life-altering change (and a little silly), Mr de Grey has become almost as big an influence on my life as Mrs. Brown, my softmore English teacher.  Even if I choose not to follow him into the field, I will always remain as fascinated about the study of the aging process and how to fight it, as I am about the stars in the sky and everything between them.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Darths and Droids

What the hell did happen to Threepio in this scene?

Episode 860: Fly by Wire

Anyway, Darths and Droids is my favorite webcomic right now.  Mostly because it combines my two favorite geek pastimes: star wars and roleplaying.  Also, it manages to be pretty clever most of the time.

If you haven't read it, here's the link to Episode One.  Start there.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Elves of Panton

Third Tel gripped the reigns of his mount. The loose scarves that marked him as an emissary of White Bone blew around him in the strong easterly wind.

“What's wrong with the horses,” the boy asked. He yanked hard on the reigns of his Moenian steed, larger than his companion's mount; though not as large as the brown behemoths of the Orucan. The beast whuffed and stomped its hooves on the dirt road beneath them.

His Pajens companion crossed himself with the local ward of evil and spit. “This is the Silva,” the round, little man said, reigning in his round, little horse. “There are elves in these woods.”

Everything that was jovial and pleasant in Third Tel went out of him. He wondered if he would ever feel safe again. Elves! Alchemer Darrow had said nothing about elves. “Futui,” he cursed. “You lie.” Even as he said the words, though, his eyes darted around and through the surrounding trees. The Pajens at least believed what he said was true.

“No,” the elder man, Kentir said, sneering. “They don't come to the road. Not when there's decent folk about; but they leave sign.” He pointed across Tel's still unruly mount at one of the low and twisted trees. Marks were carved into the bark – a chaotic, looping kind of scripted pictograph that Tel had no hope of reading.

“What does it say,” he asked.

Kentir shrugged and spurred his horse onward. “Who knows,” he said. “Probably just 'stay the fuut out.”

Tel laughed, despite himself. He didn't have to spur the Moenian on. It followed the smaller horse on its own.

“Have you ever seen one?”

“What, an elf?” Kentir snorted. “Likely the last thing you'll see, ser. 'Les your soul gets stuck and you get to watch him eat you.”

Tel went white. He'd heard rumors that elves ate the flesh of men; but...

Kentir watched him, then burst out laughing. “I am sorry. Sore sorry, indeed. Them elves eat flesh, sure; but mostly rodents and birds and the like.” He reached across and pat the messenger on his shoulder. “I've never heard tell of anyone eaten by elves.”

It was little comfort to Tel, who had heard of whole tribes slaughtered for trespassing into elvish lands. One life, the saying went, for every twig trampled under foot. It was all rumor and conjecture, of course. No human, whether from White Bone or the Pajens or any of the lesser kingdoms had ever seen an elf and lived.

And ahead, the path curved and exited the woods, into the Ractus plains. Tel let himself breath a sigh of relief. Then a terrible thought occurred to him.

“There's another route back, yes?” He looked behind them in time to see the luminescent eyes of the Rashaim bearing silently down upon them. “I wouldn't-”

His sentence was cut off by a terrified sort of howling whimper that escaped unbidden from his throat. He was not a practised rider; he fell from his horse.

Kentir hadn't even noticed. He heard the vibratto cry of the foul beast and shouted, “ride,” whipping his horse to a gallop. Even if he had noticed Tel's horse unburdened beside him, he wouldn't be coming back without a contingent of rangers from Ager. This was the end. Tel's life was over.

The Rashaim towered over him as it approached. Rows of violet eyes traced from its tentacled head, up it's neck and over it's muscular shoulders, bordered on either side in thick, brown fur. Within those bizarre tentacles, Tel could hear the clicking of razor-sharp teeth. Something in that noise cast a spell over the young messenger.

“Alright, you hairy cania,” he growled, drawing his suddenly very small and light dagger. “Come get me!” He dropped low into the fire stance – the last resort of a cornered rat, his master had said. Aanai masters do not teach the fire stance, because the Aanai believe that you accept death with grace and a peaceful heart.

This was not the Moenian way. The White Bone did not rise from the sands of Solitu by rolling over and accepting defeat.

The rashaim paced around Tel, black claws raking the ground. It moved with feline grace, despite it's mammoth size – easily dwarfing the boy's runaway steed. Tel steeled himself for death, locking eyes with the wild monster. Dying with a weapon in your hand was the best way to die in Moenia, even if all he managed was a scratch in the thick hide of -

Casiu's Heart! Slime dripped from its open maw, coating the writhing tentacles. In response, tears stained Tel's cheeks.

“Come at me,” he shouted. Dropping lower into the water stance. Fuut this stupid beast. He gritted his teeth. It's going to try to bite, get those slimy things around his head or neck. Flow like the river. Drop prone, everything breathes. Be like the beasts. Go for the throat. He actually growled.

There was no other sound in the Silva, but the Easterly in the leaves. Tel felt cold, calm. He was young, but he'd led a good life. Now he would die a warrior. No one got to die that way anymore. Not really. Not in the city. This was a good death. He breathed a soft chuckle which triggered the Rashaim's charge.

He knew before he even began to move that it wasn't going to work. Somehow, the monster anticipated his plan; was catching him low as he fell to the ground. His dagger was going right into the rashaim's tooth-filled hole.

And then it rocked hard to the right, stumbled past him and fell to the ground.

Three tiny people-things in green and brown stood on the road, clutching the vines they'd used to throw themselves against the beast. Their strange, curved blades stuck out of a trio of eyes high on the rashaim's back. Violet puss and blood mixed together and ran into it's thick fur.
Wide eyed, Tel snapped back to the -

Oh gods.

They were inhuman. Or perhaps too human. Miniature, no taller than a man's leg (if even that), thin but strong, with chorded muscle and wild energy; but the horrible part was the mouth, that feral smile. Jagged canine teeth under keen hunter's eyes. Their oversized ears twitched and turned on their own, aimed at him and at the beast – which was stirring again behind him.

Isilwanendasonke,” one of the elves said in a growling tone. Oh gods. They talk. What did it say?

The trio of mythical beasts were circling around him, each clutching a second of those sinister, curved blades – no more than a knife, really; but menacing swords in their tiny predator's hands. For one terrifying moment, Tel was sure the Pajens hadn't been telling the truth about the elven diet; but then he heard the snarling of the rashaim and realized he was standing in between two of the most feared predators in Panton.

He didn't know what to do; but the elf had spoken to him. It wasn't much, but he clutched his knife and turned to join their advance.

The elves of Panton (the name given to the World by men), called T'sharg in their own tongue, fell to earth with the Necron and in their falling cities.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Athlandis (Pencils)

Teenage Queens of the Universe.
The planetary capitol of Aio - abandoned now for uncounted millennia.  Not even the Grelaus archeologists who brought the Human Remnant to Aio know how the architecture has remained so well preserved through eons of neglect.
Pencils only.  This was going to be a little picture, just for posting here, and I kinda' went nuts with it.  I'm not even sure what it looks like on your end (I used my phone's scanner app; and I've never done that with pencils).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On Writing

Not so much a workshop post, as a "why I keep trying."

I had a teacher once, who told me I would make a great storyteller. She was talking about stage presence and my reading voice, hearkening back to days of yore when people would get dressed up and go and see someone read a story (like we used to do when we were little kids at the library).

My ego was too big to imagine making a career out of reading to kids in the library (I personally think younger me was an idiot, and that, that would be a fine occupation); but it was a seed planted in the soft peat of my brain.

I went to my old High School in Georgia once, to wax nostalgic about my youth and visit a few Teachers i wanted to thank for a job well done. One of those teachers, I can't for the life of me remember her name - Mrs. Brown (thanks, Brian), had kept a short story I'd written and read it to her classes as an example of what she was looking for.

I would have swelled to bursting with the pride of it, if I hadn't immediately realized how many people were being subjected to something I'd written. It was about bunnies and a skull, inspired by a piece of carved ivory my step-father had owned. I don't recall anything else about it.

It was scary as shit to me that people knew - or at least had heard a story I'd made up - for whatever reason. Plus, somebody thought it was good. Mrs. Brown, had liked it well enough that she not only gave it a good grade, but she kept it and shared it. Holy shit if that wasn't a little water on the seed.

My senior year in High School, I was writing this sci-fi story inspired by the letters and notes of Bram Stoker. It detailed the correspondence between a Marine discovering the existence of extraterrestrials, and our government's complicity in their subjugation of our world.

My dad told me one day, "I have a confession to make: I saw the letters and thought they were love letters back to Georgia, but I was curious so I read them. I was a little weirded out at first, but you have the makings of a really good story there."

Now, obviously, praise from a parent can be a little suspect but the way he went about it made me take him at his word. A little more water, a little more fertilizer.

Then I discovered (or rediscovered) the wonderment that is game night.
Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire the Masquerade, Star Wars, GURPs - a half-dozen different venues with which to express my desire to tell stories (and the germination of quite a few novels floating around in piles and piles of notes and ideas).

When I left the military I had this vague notion about tending bar and writing the great American novel. Over the years I've toyed and played with the idea - written the first few chapters to a couple dozen different stories, dabbled in fan-fiction (I'm sorry, I'm so sorry), short stories and comic book and film scripts. I've been tending this garden now for a long while with no real fruit.

(You can download a copy of my short story, Chaucer at Amazon; if you can't find it anywhere else free).

It wasn't until a gamer friend of mine challenged me about what I was going to do with my life that I started thinking about writing seriously. He asked me if there wasn't some way I could turn my passion for gaming toward more lucrative ends.

I admit I am still paralyzed by that ever present enemy of the writer of fiction, doubt - but my friend was right. Of all the things I've wanted to do with my life, writing is the one thing that has consistent brought me pleasure and fulfillment. It's the primary lynchpin in gaming that holds me so tightly in its grip.

There's almost nothing I like better, creatively, than telling a story well (drawing often comes in at a close second).

It's kind of the reason I'm here. Let's hope I'm good at it.

Anyway... the thing is... what I really mean is that my reason for writing is because I feel like I have to. I have this need in me, built up over twenty years or so, to tell stories as best I can, anyway I can. It's fun, it's fulfilling, and it helps keep me in the illusion that something I do might last - or at least bring good to people around me.


"Bread - Guitar Man (1972)"
I can't eat any bread (I'm down 17 pounds), but I've been listening to the top 500 albums of all time to see what I've missed or forgotten about.  I don't think Bread is on that list, but a YouTube click-a-thon led me to them.  They're one of those bands I always liked but never heard of.  Guitar man, All outta love, make it with you, if...
Added to my music folder.

I was listening to this song when I realized I'd crossed the 20,000 word mark on my novel's rewrite (just before I realized I'd only written one part of the story in rough and I have a lot of work ahead of me).


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