Friday, February 22, 2013

It's the Simple Things

Day Job was really busy this week, and I didn't have time after work to do any editing, either. So I have nothing ready for you. Mah bad.

I did write this article over on my secret public journal today. Perhaps it's worth a read. I'm waxing a bit philosophical about the "simple" things in life and how they apply to me and my current goals. When life gives you lemons, maybe first you need to work on remembering how to squeeze the lemons and worry about making a full refreshing beverage later. Or something like that.

See y'all next week.
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Nobody Calls Me Chicken

Damian is not Marty McFly, obviously. There's not much here to discuss. This scene represents the end of what one might call the second chapter (which I organize this all into an ebook), so it sort of just ties things up and sets up where we start in the next scene. It's also sort of the launching of the adventure. It's fun to begin things in a very mundane way, and make it fantastical. Perhaps I just wish my similar experiences at the Day Job resulted in adventures...
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The hand on the clock assaulted gravity once more, pulling itself upward with a tired, trembling arm. Damian imagined he could see the hidden gears flexing like muscles beneath the smooth, white exterior. The hashes marking the passing seconds were teeth, poised to chomp down on his neck and trap him here, forever.

“I was only on the phone for a mo-” Damian blurted, stopping when his boss raised a meaty hand.

“That's not why you're here,” his boss said, fingers steepled. “I’m going to have to ask something of you.”

Damian's eyes darted around the small office, searching for an escape. If the denizens of the world were strictly divided into “fight” or “flight,” he was most assuredly a bird. Even now, Damian found himself envious of a crow taking wing outside.

A thin glass pane surrounded by wood paneling hemmed him in as effectively as any metal cage, however. The menacing fluorescent tubes above chased away all trace of friendly shadow. Behind him, the closed door might as well have been a heavy bank vault.

“Um, sir?” he stammered.

The leather executive chair protested his boss’s shifting weight. “Our customer has requested your presence in an off-site meeting.” The sentence seemed to leave a sour taste in his mouth. His lips smacked before he continued. “So, I'll need you to go ahead and drive yourself to the airport tomorrow night. See my secretary on your way out. She's already made arrangements.”

“Did you say tomorrow, sir?” Damian asked.

“Yes.” Jowls trembled with a nod. “The first flight we could book you on is early. You should consider yourself lucky; the ungodly hour qualifies you for an overnight stay. Hotels are not cheap.”

Damian found it easy to contain his enthusiasm. The “first” flight was likely cheapest, more than offsetting the cost of the flea-ridden hotel. Still, this was behavior he’d grown to expect from his employer. What caused Damian to frown was the implication of the stay.

“Overnight?” Damian squeaked.

His boss shrugged. “I don't make the rules. Have a nice flight.”

And then he turned around and began pounding away at his keyboard. Damian stood to leave. He had obviously been dismissed.

You already have made plans! Inigo reminded him. Tell this thing to your boss. He cannot simply expect you to be available whenever he requires it.

Yes, he can, Damian replied. That's sort of how it works.

You do not even try, Inigo said.

Fine. Damian turned back, one finger raised.

As Damian opened his mouth, the phone rang. His boss revolved and made a shooing motion.

“Hello? Yes, Sherry. Put him through.”

Damian closed his mouth. Who was he kidding? He draped himself in defeat and left.

Coward, Inigo heaped on.

I'll just have to reschedule, Damian replied. Surely, she'll understand.

She would have to, wouldn't she?
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Memory of Story

This is a direct re-posting of the article I wrote today on my gaming blog. I think it fits both here and there for obvious reasons, and my love for the story definitely merits a double posting. So, if you're subscribed both places, I apologize for the redundancy in advance...

During the last few days, the entirety of my gaming time has been devoted to finishing a book. I finally finished late last night, having burned my candle at both ends quite a bit. Even though I don't have much to say about gaming (just waiting on 5.2 for WoW), I figured A Memory of Light was worth mentioning. Several of you are probably Wheel of Time fans as well.

I won't say too much. I know I'm probably the last one finished, but I still don't want to spoil anything for anyone. No alerts here. Just wanted to do a bit of cheering.

What an awesome series! I was introduced to the Wheel of Time series by a good friend only about 4 or so years ago. Many of you have probably been living with these stories for much, much longer. 14 books (15 if you count the Prequel), over 4 million words, almost 12,000 pages. Wikipedia tells me that the audio would run 419 hours and 30 minutes. That's a lot of story.

For folks that do not know, here's a quick intro to the series. The Wheel of Time is epic, epic fantasy. Yes, that's two epics. Long, involved, with loads of plot threads and characters, it is not for the faint of heart. Due to scope alone, it may not be for everyone, but what it does, it does well. It's not pretending to be a thriller, it is epic fantasy. There is magic. And battles. And different races. And very, very human emotions.

The first dozen books were written by Robert Jordan. Then, unfortunately (but with a slight bit of warning), he died. The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. Obviously, Mr. Jordan wasn't able to finish the series, and fans anguished that they would never find resolution for the characters that they'd grown to love. Fortunately, the man had prepared notes. Lots and lots of notes. And Brandon Sanderson was approached (as both a fan and burgeoning fantasy author) to finish the series.

It proved a prophetic choice. I can't imagine another author doing a better job of both treasuring the story and honoring the legacy of the late Robert Jordan. These books will remain a treasured series of mine for many years, and it is not without quite a bit of sadness that I finished last night. It was not the ending, but it was an ending. And endings can be both sad and fulfilling. AMOL was both. To borrow the word of Thom Merrilin: exquisite.

To all the other WoT fans out there, /cheer. I made it. We made it. What a ride.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

Welcome to the Fourth Age.
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Friday, February 8, 2013

On Fire

Damian stalked with false purpose through the cubicle corridor. It was always best to convey a sense of business-like importance. Fewer questions that way. If you looked like you had things to do, then people were less likely to assail you with inane questions.

Did you watch the game last night? No. See the latest episode of… nope. What about that awards program? Nada.

You need a hobby, Inigo observed.

Shut up.

Damian ducked into the break room, phone halfway to his ear. Fortunately, the room was empty now, the coffee having been adequately dispersed amongst the peasantry. Damian’s thumb grazed the “send” button, and he pressed the speaker to his ear. For no reason in particular, Damian fought to appear casual. It was not like she would be able to see.

The phone rang. Once.

“Hello?” Her voice was like a host of heavenly bells ringing down the line and into his ear. In the break room, Damian shuffled from foot to foot and groped for something to say. He pulled at his collar. He hadn't expected Genny to answer. Not on the first try.

Isn't that what is supposed to happen when you employ a telephone? Inigo asked.

Of course, of course, Damian replied. Shut up and let me think.

The silence stretched.

I believe you should state your name.

Shut up!

“Hey, it's Damian,” he said in a rush.

“Hi, Damian,” she replied. He could hear the smile in her voice. His stomach danced.

“I, uh, just called to...” Shoot, what did I call for? “Ah. Do you want to do something sometime?”

“Sure,” she said brightly. “What did you have in mind?”

Crud, he though. He was hoping she'd have an idea.

“A movie?” he tried.

Terrible idea, Inigo said. You cannot converse at a theater. At least not freely. I would offer her cheese and wine under the moonlight on a beach.

We don't live near a beach, Damian fired back.

“Dinner?” He realized he hadn't waited for a response from his first question and blushed. Thankfully, no one was around to see it.

“Dinner and a movie, then,” she said. “When?”

“Ah.” More decisions!

Dinner generally happens in the evening, Inigo pointed out helpfully.

“The evening?” Damian parroted.

Genny giggled. “How about tomorrow? Say eight-ish? I'll text you my address so you can pick me up. Sound good?”

Sounds heavenly.

Text? Inigo asked.

Don’t worry about it, Inigo.

“Sounds wonderful,” Damian replied. Fortunately, his brain wasn't entirely broken. It churned out his next question. “Um, do you have a preference where we go?”

“Surprise me,” she purred.

Damian swallowed. Hard.

“Okay, then.” He cringed when his voice cracked, but, like a champ, he powered through it. “I'll pick you up at eight, then,” he said in a lower-than-normal voice.

She laughed, reminiscent of tinkling bells. Damian found himself smiling, as well.

“Good bye, Damian.”




That last voice had not been hers, his, or Inigo's. He turned and found his boss lurking in the entryway. His stomach stopped, dropped, and rolled.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” the larger man said. “My office, now.”

The smile slid off Damian’s stupid face.
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Scene Intro - Busted

I think I originally called today's scene "busted," so I went with something different today. "On Fire" is because I like my stop, drop, and roll quip near the end. If you find puns in my writing, at least 75% of the time they are intentional. Promise. I'm a sucker for cheesy puns.

I wonder if any other writers have the problem where someone picks out something you did, and you didn't even realize you'd done it. Like, "Wow, you did x and y and it was amazing." It's great when that is intentional and someone picks up on it, but almost as often it seems accidental. Do you just play it off? "Yeah, I mean to do that." Or admit that you stumbled into talent? Perhaps that's why so many writers crave approval. Half the time we're just bumbling through things.

Though, I will give some credit that, with any art, not being cognizant of something does not mean that you didn't do it intentionally. A lot of times when doing artistic stuff, the subconscious mind can assert itself in unforeseen ways. That's sort of the fun of it, right?

So, yeah, the rest of this scene was simply written by me rolling my face across my keyboard. Complete luck. Didn't plan any of it. Except for the pun. It was a planned pun. A plun.

Nailed it.
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