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Map Building

PeyllenI’ve always enjoyed building maps, and world building in general. I have a few dozen of them stashed among the pages of old hand written story ideas, their edges smudged over time, and words sometimes faded out WSsmltill it’s illegible. But the concept, the idea of the map is still there.

The journey of Peyllen started with a young girl leaving home for the first time. That was the first book that I wrote in the series, the first book I finished in the series. But it won’t be released for a long time. There are many stories that come before that one, and it will have to be rewritten in its entirety before it ever sees the light of day. But the idea behind it, the world and the magic, remain. You might have already taken a peak at it. It is the same world that my Witch’s Trilogy came from.

map2The very first iteration of Peyllen was a scratchy pencil drawing on a spare piece of paper.

I scanned and copied it into Gimp and started adding outlines, colors, adjusting the land masses, and giving it more definition. I added “The Sea of Tears” since it did not appear on the original maps (though the idea was always there).

peylinPeyllan has grown, taken shape and mass of it’s own in my thoughts. And the stories have grown as well.

I’m getting to the end of book three in the trilogy. I think I’ll take a short break from Peyllan after that to work on a few other projects, but eventually I’ll be back. There are ten more novels in this world waiting to be told. And I bet by the time I’ve finished some of them I’ll find more stories lurking in the world. Maybe some from areas yet uncharted on the far side of the world.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in On Writing, Stories

 

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Nerdiest convo at work ever.

A customer came in looking to pack his games and game consoles because he’s flying cross country. I suggested shipping as its safer and you can get insurance. He said it was cheaper to take it with him, but he’s worried about his consoles.

Me: see, that’s why all my games are on Steam. If my PC gets hurt I just re-download it to a new pc.

Him: ya, but I gotta have a controller.

Me: but you can use a controller, and there’s the Steam sales.

Him: ya, that’s the only thing that pisses me off. All the games I pay $60 you all get for 2.

Me, with two thumps up: yep, pc gaming all the way!

Him, laughing and smiling: ah, man, don’t give me any of that pc master race shit.

Truth be told I have a bunch of consoles too, and hundreds of games spread between them. But I love my pc. We had a great, if short, chat and I wished him good luck on getting his games across the country.

Mostly this was the geekyest convo I’ve had outside of a convention. I love games, and I wish I could talk about them all the time.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Commentary

 

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Medical insurance…

And now for a small rant on the failure of our medical payment system.

The current poverty line for a single mother with one child in Washington state is 54,000. I made 28,000 last year. That seems to be below the poverty line,  to me. That’s because health care is based on national poverty levels, and the National poverty line is 15,000 for a family of two.

To top that off the lowest insurance that I qualify for was $80 a month since I no longer qualify for a subsidy. All because my daughter’s are now over 19 (even though they still live with me and one doesn’t have a job yet.)

The penalty for not having insurance for a single adult is $350. Or I could pay $960 to have insurance that I won’t use anyway since it doesn’t even cover the one thing I do need (dental).

I’m taking the penalty, and I’m voting Bernie Sanders, and fighting for a one payer health system, because there are too many people like me who fall through that little space where health insurance is too expensive, and going to the doctor isn’t an option unless you’re desperate.

The USA needs to join the rest of the world in this.

And I’m lucky. Gregg moved in and is helping pay rent (which just increased for the year). If he hadn’t moved in I would be trying to move to a low rent part of town by now just to survive. So glad I don’t have to do that. As it is I still pay half my pay just to rent every month. How the heck does anyone survive on 15,000 a year? That’s INSANE!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Mapping it out!

Ipeylin‘m starting to put together a map of the entire world of Peyllen, and how the Sea of Tears (from the “Witch’s Trilogy”) fits into the greater world. You can see the Sea of Tears in the middle with land on either side. Oddly the islands in the Sea of Tears do not appear on any maps of the various kingdoms because any ship who traveled there never returned. They assume there’s a sea monster, or some large whirlpool there.

I love having maps in Gimp because I can do various layers that include roads, trade routes, and even a map just to lay out which character goes where in the world. Then you can just make the layers that you want visible. It’s fantastic for story planning, and keeping everything in order. Plus it’s just awesome to look at.

Next I’ll be adding various features like large forests, major cities, and the mountain ranges.

Also, I should note that because of the way Peyllen was created this map isn’t based on normal geological features, as in plate tectonics and shifting like that. Other things like weather, and where deserts and swamps might occur, are effected naturally but the underlying structure of the world was created by the movement of the trolls, not plate tectonics. (More on that in another post.)

I have lots of books planned in this world, spanning centuries, so look for updates of that after I’m finished with the Witch’s Trilogy.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Almost done, and scared

I’m close to finishing book three in my Witch’s Trilogy. This has taken me almost a year and a half to complete. What started as a simple 80,000 word stand alone novel has become a 230,000 word trilogy, something I never thought I could write. I mean the first novel I wrote (which was terrible) took five years. This took 18 months for all three! That’s crazy.

And yet as I get closer to the end I find myself getting scared. Scared to finish. Scared to succeed. But mostly terrified that it will fail. It makes it difficult to write sometimes, but I do it anyway. A few words here, a few sentences there, trying to get to the end even though a big part of me is afraid of doing so. And I know it’s stupid to be afraid.

For the last couple of years I’ve made some great friends, watched them write novels and make a small (or sometimes big) following for themselves. And they’ve done well. I’m happy for them, and I’ve tried to learn from their examples but it all seems to come back to “write more good books. Eventually something will get through.”

Oh, they do other things like ads on facebook and book bub, but mostly they just write good books and keep putting them out there. No wonder they have lots of readers.

So I’ve been telling myself that with the third book I can finally have a trilogy out, three complete novels, and I might be able to do a bit of advertising. But as the time gets closer I realize that… it doesn’t work like that. Oh sure, I could do some advertising (and I will) but really, in the end it might not even matter. Sometimes getting people to pay attention to what you made is just a matter of the right time at the right place.

So I’m afraid that I’ll put up the third book and I won’t sell a single copy. I shouldn’t be afraid of that, not if I really just want to write. But there it is. That gnawing fear.

Here’s the truth: whether I sell a thousand books, or one, or even zero…I’m going to keep writing. I love telling stories, and building worlds. I love seeing what happens to my characters. So I know I shouldn’t care if this book sells anything since I’m going to keep doing it anyway.

But I also know it’s nice to have some validation that what I say matters to someone. And I don’t know where to get that validation. I suppose I should figure that out soon, because it probably won’t come from sales any time soon.

After this last book in the trilogy I’m going to go back to making my own covers, and probably shorter works because editing can get expensive, but I will continue to write. And I won’t feel the pressure to finish them like I do with this one because I won’t have invested so much money into them… just time, and me. I think I’d rather invest myself in my books then money anyway.

Anyway, time to get back to the writing. Fear or not, I want to finish it. Even if no one ever reads it I need to say that I finished it.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Commentary

 

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Are My Little Pony’s for girls?

thingIf I said “Transformers and Superheroes are for boys and your little girl is weird if she watches it” you’d probably be pissed. I know I would. As a little girl I watched tons of X-men, Batman, Spiderman, and Transformers. Heck, anything with a -man at the end was okay with me. I also watched some She-ra and a few other cartoons that were specifically for girls and the boys would shun. But not a lot of them.

Honestly, I have to admit that a part of me thought “if this isn’t good enough for boys then why am I watching it. They think it’s gross, so maybe it is.” Even today there is a small hint of shame when I say I liked She-ra as a little girl.

The dilemma: Programs are still marketed for girls or boys. They still encourage a specific gender norm. Boys like cars and superheroes. Girls like make up and fashion. But what if they don’t? Is that wrong?

I could care less about fashion and makeup, the things that are marketed to girls. I like the way I look without those things, and I buy my clothes off the discount racks because I’m not spending $300 for a pair of shoes or a dress. I like to look pretty like any other girl, but I don’t like wasting my money on “fashion”. Does that make me less of a woman? Hell no!

Society won’t tell a girl that she is wrong for watching superheroes, but they will definitely tell a boy he is wrong for watching My Little Pony’s. Why? My Little Pony’s has catchy music, nice animation style, good morals and themes, and most of all it focuses on how important friendship is. Something many children have problems with add they are distanced from one another with computers and tech. And for boys who learn that showing emotions is “girly” and makes you weak this is even better. Finally they have a role model that lets them know it’s okay to tell people what you’re really thinking/feeling.

I think the stereotype of what girls and boys like (or rather what can be sold to their parents) has been shifting for a while, and toy companies are slowly being dragged along kicking and screaming. Take the #wheresrey hashtag that’s been going around since the release of “Force Awakens”. People were PISSED that the main character of the show was no where to be seen in any of the merchandise. Because Hasbro, who had the contact for merch on Star Wars, believes that little girls don’t buy merchandise, and little boys don’t buy toys with girl dolls in them, she was no where to be seen. And it wasn’t the first time they did this. They also left out Black Widow from the Avengers set, and Gamora was left out of the Guardians of the Galaxy set and t-shirts. The Black Widow issue is so annoying they have a whole tumbler for it.

That’s why there is a difference between dolls and action figures even if they look the same. An action figure of She-ra is a doll. A doll of GI Joe is still an action figure, even if it looks a lot like a Ken doll in camos. Girls get dolls, boys get action figures, right? That’s been how it was for decades, but we’re also breaking down that stereotype. My son had a baby doll when he was two years old. He carted it around all over the place, and he loved it. I had no issues with it. I’ve seen other little boys holding dolls as well, and there are some great reasons to let kids, boys and girls, play with baby dolls. Why wouldn’t you want a boy to grow up thinking that it’s okay for him to hold a baby? Or would you rather stick with the idea that it’s “women’s work” to take care of babies?

The biggest problem is that cartoons are made to sell merchandise, not to get kids to watch them. When the creators of My Little Pony came to Hasbro with the new format (which was geared to a more modern and slightly older generation) Hasbro would not give them the go ahead unless they made the show about fashion and makeup, two things that weren’t suppose to be in the show at all when first developed. They had to make Rarity a pony with her own fashion studio to satisfy the requirements. So imagine their surprise when teen boys became their biggest demographic.

Trying to perpetuate age old stereotypes has not helped the toy industry, which is sad. The movie industry is starting to break free with movies like Frozen and Force Awakens with women playing prominent, strong roles. Why shouldn’t it be the same for boys who are allowed to watch My Little Pony’s?

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Commentary

 

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The Mirror

Today was the second day of the new podcast, and my newsletter was just sent the first short story, “The Mirror.”

This short story is going to eventually be the Zero episode of my “Illicit Gains” series, a series of short stories revolving around items that have paranormal properties. This includes “The Ring” and “The Camera.” I will be writing a couple of the stories during the Bradbury Challenge.

I still think we’re a bit crazy for trying to write a short story every week, but at the same time it’s encouraging me to write more, and that’s awesome in and of itself. And that also means more stories for you! You just have to sign up for the newsletter to get them.

Here is a short sample of “The Mirror”.

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Judy rubbed a hand over the frame, polishing a floret in the engraved design. Aunt Tracy didn’t overlook much, but she hadn’t noticed the ladder up to the attic space, so missed the mirror. Perhaps she thought her mother had been too old to go up there, or that the crawl space wasn’t big enough to hold anything. Most of the items in the attic had been junk; old Christmas ornaments, craft magazines and a box of flower vases. Things most people would throw away or donate to a thrift store. It was likely Tracy only saw the trash, never venturing far enough into the attic to find the mirror.

It meant Judy could keep one thing of her grandmothers, even if she didn’t remember her grandmother ever having the mirror.

She stepped back admiring her handiwork…and froze. She blinked, clearing her eyes. Surely they were playing tricks on her. A shadow seemed to pass over the image in the mirror, something that twisted her own face into something

Judy squinted. What was that? A trick of the light? A shadow?

A shiver ran down her spine as she took a step back. Her mind was playing tricks on her, surely, but something did seem off about the mirror.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in On Writing

 

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