The Important Stuff

A Beginning

A story has to begin somewhere. If you've ever played a RPG then you know that many stories start in taverns. How else are you to gather...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Writing to Invoke Emotions

The other day I was writing a scene for episode 3 and I cried. It wasn’t the first time I’ve written something emotional, nor the first time I’ve cried while writing, or even role playing. Though I do think it was the longest I felt those emotions while creating. I didn’t completely recover until I had finished the scene. Took a well deserved facebook break when I was done.

I can only hope that the emotions I felt came across in my writing. I want my readers to have a visceral reaction to things that are frightening, sad, horrifying, disturbing, and more. I want them to feel some of the emotions I felt while writing.

In the past I have been told I made people tear up, and at least one person said I gave them shivers. That I think is a bigger compliment than just someone saying they enjoyed what I wrote. I want my words on the page to invoke emotions. That is just as important as simply telling an entertaining story.

As some may know a lot of my characters have been role play characters. A lot of them show up in multiple scenarios as I toyed with their personalities and what worked for them and what didn’t. Last year I wrote a villain for a good friend’s forum. Unfortunately I was unable to keep up with my commitments due to various issues, primarily depression. I am on an upswing finally and able to be productive again. At the moment though I’m focusing on my novel characters than my Role Play characters. I am looking forward to taking a small break when I’ve finished this first novel of Lucas’s adventures. I miss role playing.

That said the story line for that particular villain and his accomplices is being wrapped up. I provided some help with dialogue and then wrote some letters from his perspective to two of those he felt he hurt the most.

Small spoiler warning for The Empire of Shenendril. Joseph, Joanna, and Roderick are characters that will feature prominently in the series and will share some plot points that are mentioned in the two letters. Reginald was created only for this forum and will not be in Shenendril.

Here are two of the letters from Reginald Abernathy to those he hurt as he faces the eve of his execution.:

**********

The hand that wrote the letters shook. At times the words were nearly illegible as ink smeared. Spots of wetness, now dry, dotted the letter addressed to his son. Reginald included his signet ring with that letter. The last two letters he had better control of his emotion if not his hand.

My son.

I know not what you have been told of my crimes. If the word came from your Uncle then you should know them to be true. I failed you. I failed the family name. I failed the Kingdom. I do not write this letter to ask you to forgive me. It is too late for that. I write this to tell you all the things I should have said before.

I am proud of you son. I know I never said that enough. From the time you were born. To the first time you road your pony Jack. To your first win in the practice ring. The first time you struck the center with your arrow. To now. You grow into a better man than I could ever be. When the time comes I know you will lead the House with wisdom and humility. Your Uncle’s teachings will see to that.

Listen well to your Uncle. He can teach you things I never could. He will teach you how to be brave in the face of adversity. He will teach you patience. He will teach you how to be humble. He will teach you how to be kind. He will teach you how to be gentle while still strong. From him you will learn all you need to know to lead the House. To be a good man. In time a good father.

My son. I wish I had been the father you deserved. All of my failings are made right in you. You will go where I cannot. A time of darkness comes. Forces that wish nothing more than to extinguish the light gather now in preparation. But know you carry that light within you. No matter how dark the day, no matter how fraught the battle. As long as you live there will be light in the world. Share that light with others. Let them know that love and light can win against the darkness. I know you can do this. Your light has always been so very bright it hurt my eyes to look upon you. Carry that with you always and the forces of life will never be conquered.

Roderick. My son. I love you. I always loved you. My greatest regret is that I did not tell you this when we had the opportunity to see and touch one another. If only I could see your eyes one more time. Your Mother’s eyes. I can now see how much better it was that you were always more like her than I. I regret I was so blind for so long.

My fervent hope for you my son is that in time you forget me. Do not honor my name. Cross it from the family histories. Do not think upon me fondly. I was callous. I was cruel. I squandered all that was good and pure in my life. I will go to my death knowing that this is what I deserve. Forget me my son. You are now Joseph’s son. He always was the better Father to you. It was he who kissed your brow when you fell and hurt yourself. It was he who sat you in his lap and read tales of daring and adventure to make your eyes alight with joy. It was he who comforted you when your Mother died.

He deserves your love, not I.

Farewell Roderick. I wish I were worthy of you.

With fondest regards.

Reginald Abernathy

**********

Joseph,

I have always been a damn fool. I hated you for all the wrong reasons. I blamed you for Mother’s passing, though she had always been weak of body. I blamed you when Grandfather chose you over me as his heir, though it was my cowardice which he spurned. You have always been the wiser of us. I wish I had listened to you when you tried to counsel me against foolish actions.

Please take care of Roderick. Raise him to be a better man than I. Raise him to know right from wrong. Do not allow him to imagine me a better man than I ever was. Always give him the unvarnished truth about me, let him see all of my evils so that he won’t follow me down this path. Please keep him from making the same mistakes I did. You are the better Father than I was ever capable of being.

Roderick is already your heir. Make him your son. All I want is for my name to be forgotten, unless it is as a lesson of what not to do. If there is one thing I have always been good at my brother, it is being a good example of how not to act. Teach my son the things I refused to learn because of my selfishness and vanity.

These weeks of my confinement have given me great lengths of time to look back on my life. I have inspected every mistake I have made. All of the problems I had which I foisted off onto the backs of others to relieve me of their burden. They were my mistakes. My faults. I know that now.

Facing my mortality has shown me truths I never dared acknowledge before. I regret I only now learn these things when it is too late.

And one more thing. Joanna is a good match for you. You should openly acknowledge your marriage. Haven’t you kept that secret long enough? Of course I knew. I could see the way you looked at her. The love in your eyes when you thought no one was looking. The timber of your voice changed when you spoke her name, even if it was only to talk about military matters. You’re the High Seat of House Abernathy. You can obviously marry whoever you damn well please. Acknowledge your love. Let everyone see the light that shines between the two of you. The world is going to need that light very soon.

With warmest regards

Reginald

If you would like to check out the forum where this is taking place then drop on by:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Stop Shooting One Another!

I was slowly working on a blog post about my creative process and why I prefer to write in worlds not our own. Then… idiot shoots at Congressmen and Staffers playing baseball. And the police have released his identity. The man has a Facebook page, and if it is to be believed he is Anti-Trump, Anti-Clinton, and a big supporter of Sanders. A liberal in name at least.

This is going to become such a shit show.

I am first disgusted by the man’s actions. This is not how we solve our political dilemmas people! This solves absolutely nothing and is only going to make things worse. Before the shooting there were already completely different idiots who want civil war. They are salivating at the idea of taking down their perceived enemies so they can have their perfect country full of people who look and think like them. This idiot has just given them more fuel for their fire.

Our country is divided. You can say it is just political, but it comes down to morals and beliefs. How you wish to be treated, and how you wish to treat others. This divide is whipped up into a froth thanks to our 24/7 news cycle where everything is a breaking story, and when bad things do happen that will be all you see and hear about until the next bad thing happens. The big cable news channels are purveyors in what I call Disaster Porn. It is grotesque, exploitative, and never shares the truth.

Our current President sure as hell doesn’t help the situation. He ran his campaign on division. Us vs Them. Insiders vs Outsiders. “True” Americans vs Traitors. At least he hasn't gone off the rails about today's insanity, yet.

It is all bullshit. There is no us versus them. We are all in this together. We share this nation, this planet, and while we don’t always have to agree with one another. We should not resort to shooting one another because of those differences. If we all agreed the world would be a very boring place.

I don’t have the answer for solving the political and moral divide in this country. Though I think a lot of it could be assuaged by just respecting one another, and more importantly loving one another. I promise I am not about to sing kumbaya. But nothing is solved by hate. Hate only destroys. Hate is incapable of being used to fix what is broken. Hate only breeds more division.

Don’t hate someone because of who or how they love. Don’t hate someone because of their gender expression. Don’t hate someone because of what god they worship. Don't hate someone if they don't worship any god. Don’t hate someone because of the color of their skin. Don’t hate someone because of the country where they or their ancestors were born. Don’t hate someone because of how much or little money they have in the bank. Don’t hate.

Oh, you can still be angry. You can be upset. You can be disappointed. You can disagree. You are under no obligation to be tolerant of intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or any other way people try to divide us. But don’t hate, and don’t act on that hate. And for all that you hold holy and dear, Don’t Shoot People!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Of Mice, Men, and Medications

I’m old. Not like retirement old, but Get Off My Lawn! old. Why are songs from my youth on the oldies station old! When did my knees start to make that noise old. Kids today don’t get all my cultural references old. I’m no spring chicken is what I am trying to say.

There are times when I look back on my life and wonder where the hell it all went. Wasn’t I just going dancing at The Chamber last week? What the hell do you mean it was almost twenty years ago? Get outta town! Didn’t I once have a plan? A wish to fulfill? Wasn’t I supposed to be doing X by Y year?

Well life has a way of getting in the way of the best laid plans of mice and men.

One of the ways that life has of throwing curveballs at you is mental illness. Thanks to the internet I now have the vocabulary and knowledge to look back at my life and say, “Oh yeah… that’s why I did that.” My primary demons are depression and anxiety. There may be a few more things thrown in for flavor but those were more a matter of nurture rather than nature.

First time I ever had real honest to goodness therapy, by the time I finished describing my life to the therapist she said I handled it remarkably well. As in other people might have broken long before I finally reached out for help. I wish I’d been able to continue with that, but the program through work I used only gave me so many visits and I didn’t have the money to pay for any more out of pocket.

It would be another five years before I reached out for help again. That time I was a student again as I was finally in college. Community college. I loved it. I sure as hell appreciated it more than I would have in my late teens. Not to mention it was through my college that I had access to therapists again. And this time I was on medication for the first time.

Prozac was good in that I didn’t feel like my head was going to explode in some cartoonish nuclear mushroom cloud when I stumbled into another of life’s roadblocks. Unfortunately, I went from a technicolor life to beige. Everything was beige. I had just enough give a damn to do my school work. But not enough to get into my creative writing and role playing which had been my go to stress reliever for years. I let a few friends down because I was just incapable of creating for any length of time. The rage was gone, but the fire which fueled my existence was down to a candle flame. It would be almost two years before I could create again.

I went off Prozac after a while. The crisis point had passed, I was sick of everything in shades of beige, and when I was no longer in school couldn’t afford another therapist, much less medication.

It would be another five or so years before I was able to vocalize my needs again. It was also the closest I ever got to self-harm. But thankfully there are things like crisis lines and social workers who show up at your door at the crack of dawn. Could have done without the sheriff deputies in my yard. But other than looking at my spouse with suspicion they were nice and polite.

I had my foot in the door of a program that works with us flat broke folks. I now have a therapist who has a sense of humor and is just enough of a geek that he gets my cultural references. I also have access to affordable medication. Wellbutrin has become my very dear friend. Vistaril is also really nice for making bad head noises pipe down so I can concentrate. It took a few months to get the right dosage but at this moment I feel the most human that I have felt in years. Or ever.

You may ask yourself. What the hell is the point of this? Well let me tell you Becky. In a matter of just under three weeks I wrote nearly thirty thousand words on my current project, and another few thousand on a side project. Which doesn’t count the countless political posts and rants I’ve done on Facebook or some rather detailed role-plays I’ve enjoyed. Compare that with the twenty thousand words it took me over a year to write on the previous section of that project. Or my inability to write any damn thing after the election where I left another of my stories just sitting at about six thousand words. I am giddy. I am fucking productive! This kicks ass.

There is a culture online and in meat space that scoffs at medications. Why medicate when you can take a walk in the woods? Well I live on nearly 20 acres of woods, complete with paths to explore, downright ancient trees to gaze upon, and a historical marker that makes me think we might have ghosts. I have gone on many walks in the woods with my dogs. They never helped as much as finding the right dose of Wellbutrin has.

Why medicate when there are running shoes? Honey, if I’m running, then something is chasing me. And I don’t need to outrun them, just you. I will put a cap in your knee and leave you for the Walkers. Besides. I learned back in my LARPing days that if you run you only attract the eye, and there’s always some young fast fuck who can run you down no matter how big of a head start you have. Act like there’s nothing wrong and you can get away with just about anything.

Ahem! So, where was I? Ah yes. Being productive.

While I still have some ways to go in fixing what is broken, or at least getting to a point where it won’t all fall down at a light breeze. If my brain can’t produce the right neurochemicals to keep me chugging along, then store bought are fine. Then maybe, just maybe, this wild and crazy idea I have about becoming an author and actually self-publishing won’t be so crazy after all.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Beginning

A story has to begin somewhere. If you've ever played a RPG then you know that many stories start in taverns. How else are you to gather a diverse collection of characters in one place at one time to send them off on an adventure? But what if a story started in a brothel? Not just any brothel though. This one only serves the rich and powerful. Those who work the brothel aren't just warm bodies to offer for carnal delight. Oh no, these are courtesans. Highly skilled, pleasing to the eye, and with a wide array of talents to keep the attention of those with the kind of money to buy anything they desire.

Welcome to the Empire of Shenendril. Over a thousand years ago an enemy rose to power who wished nothing more than the destruction of all humanity and their allies. It took one man, Shenendril, the son of the Gold Dragon Aurovath and a human woman, to unite the three human kingdoms into an alliance that could defeat their enemy. From that alliance the Empire arose. Now centuries have passed and the alliance is no longer as strong as it once was. The aristocrats grow greedy and decadent. The Guilds grow more powerful and sneer at the extravagant lifestyles of the nobility. While the common people of the Empire just try to survive.

Enter Lucas Leander. Orphan. Beggar. Thief. Plucked from the desperate poverty of the Gulch, cleaned up, educated, and now one of the most desired Courtesans in the House of Sighing Shadows. This is his story. His hero's journey. This, which I share now is an introduction. A peek into the life of a courtesan before his life changes forever. You will meet Lucas as the pampered whore. Lucas the pawn of his powerful criminal Mistress, the Empress of Shadows. Lucas the spy. Come and take a peek into the Empire, get drawn into the web of intrigue. Though be mindful of the shadows, who knows what is listening.


Sapphire Chronicles 0 and other short stories are also available on my Patreon and Wattpad.