Don’t Buy Video Games Before You Twitch!

No, this has nothing to do with caffeine and only a little to do with ADD (which is a serious issue in our country, and I have all the respect in the world for those suffering from this condition).

No, this has nothing to do with caffeine and only a little to do with ADD (which is a serious issue in our country, and I have all the respect in the world for those suffering from this condition). I would assume it is in fact a reference to First Person Shooters and how certain gifted gamers snipe.

Before I step any farther forward, I want to make note that Magnolia has decided to no longer be with me, so I will no longer be making references to her on here. I wish her all the best. Her loss.

Alright. There’s an epidemic of epic-demic proportions going on in the gaming industry, and I’m here to write about it. Glitchy Games. Shortened? GG. And if you’re a gamer, you know what that means. If you aren’t, ask your nerdy friend. He/she’s got the answer.

Sometime shortly after Titanfall, the gaming industry, seemingly as a whole, decided to change its selling strategy. Instead of Continue reading

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100k Words, and Why Fantasy Bites

If you don’t write HP fanfic or sexy vampires sucking blood and kicking tail, chances are you’re struggling to get published in the fantasy genre.

I’m one of those writers that doesn’t write to be published. I mean, I do. Obviously. But, like Stephen King says (in his prologue to the Dark Tower, heh), all writers fall into one of two groups: those who write to disperse information and those who write to gather. I’m one who gathers my information before trying to get it published.

That’s probably why I’m not published. I could easily write the latest vampire/werewolf romantic sexfest. I don’t care to. It’s been done. As with Tolkien’s publication of LOTR came a handful of successful mimics (Terry Brooks, for one), HP/Twilight is bringing about a handful of successful mimics (and about a thousand and one unsuccessful mimics, of course). But that genre’s saturated.

And it’s boring.

I’ve written my Dresden Files-esque Urban Fantasy (to no avail). In fact, I’ve written two books in the series before I petered out sending the stuff out and trying to get it rewritten/fixed up.

I’ve written my Lovecraft-esque fiction (definitely to no avail). Form letters all the way, if I got a reply at all, and THAT work is about two years earlier than my Urban Fantasy.

Now, I’m 100k words up on a story that I find most accessible to the general audience. Fiancee and brother both believe it’s a YA novel, albeit a little graphic at times. It’s my take on the HP craze: 13 year old boy goes to summer camp at a school of magic. He has issues. Hilarity ensues.

Yet I don’t believe I’m looking at this writing thing correctly. It’s not the genre that isn’t getting me published. It’s not the content within that genre. I think it’s the complication of the writing. David and His Shade is a relatively simple text: no florid prose, no overly complicated symbolism/metaphors, no gratuitous dream sequences that warp or mutate the story (they’re more punctuation marks to the story instead of their own stories…).

I think it’s still too complicated. My fiancee was eyeballs deep in world religions when she returned from India and Korea. She had lived the magic, and knew the magic, and in turn taught me about it. Chi, chakras, totems, Astral Projections, OBE, all that was commonplace in her study, in her life. It permeates my writing. In fact, instead of the stylized British magic incorporated in the HP universe, my writing uses complex systems that are already in place: Christian magic, Pagan magic, Hindu magic, Earth magic, Faeries and elves and demons and vetala and angels and Genius loci, and a thousand things in-between. Werewolves, and vampires, too.

I wonder if that’s a turnoff for anyone in the publishing industry: specific embracing of all religions, and positing character viewpoints that disagree with major religions (such as an anti-Christian mentality in a teacher, for instance).

It’s a touchy subject, but I don’t feel like anything, in any genre, should be censored for the sake of political correctness.

If anyone knows the overall viewpoint of the Fantasy publishing industry on this whole thing, I’d love to know.

I’m (at most) 20k off from finishing this beast. I have a lot to cut. Next chapter is the climax. I’ll be finished with a rough draft by Sunday.

Can’t wait to start getting more rejection letters. ~x

The Holy Grail of Coffee

…and how I didn’t know I was on a Crusade until I found it.

I was one of those Midwest kids that was raised to believe coffee tasted burnt. The few times my dad let me try his morning brew, I must have given him a perfect Bitter Beer face. Even after I grew older I would be tempted by the Pumpkin Spice Mocha Frappamach-whatevers from Starbucks, or the gasoline-colored frothy stuff from gas stations, and I’d be pleasantly disgusted by the telltale burned flavor.

When I was in college, I had three roommates in a single apartment. A fourth—a hipster that squatted four days a week on the couch—worked at Starbucks. Religiously, I might add. His morning prayers consisted of waking me with the tinny grinding of his Starbucks beans. Now, I had heard of the Holy Land: people telling me bitter coffee was a sign of poor construction. So I figured if a die-hard hipster (with just enough curly beard to cover the lapel of his flannel hand-me-down shirt) couldn’t tell me about the secret of good coffee, nobody could.

So I asked him why coffee beans were always burned—especially at Starbucks. His reply? “Oh they aren’t burned. They are a special blend of Bitter Bean that Starbucks uses in all its coffees.”

Okay. Suspicions confirmed. On with my life.

Then I start dating an incredible woman that grew up in Seattle on great coffee. She’d groan about how she wanted coffee, and I’d conjure images of a Green Tea frapp that tasted more of a seaweed milkshake than anything resembling coffee, and would turn my nose up.

So one day she went out, bought a $10 bag of Fair Trade certified Tanzanian coffee from the local 10,000 Villages (which, I might add, was for the price of 2 cups of Grande coffee from Starbucks) and a French Press and brewed me some.

Let me tell you. It was nearly a religious experience. She made it perfect. It tasted delicious black. It was vibrant, full of character, perfect. My throat vibrated it tasted so good. Too bad I wasn’t still in college with my hipster squatter roommate. Bitter beans. Right.

Not knocking Starbucks’ clients. I’m sure the ease of a store on every corner keeps the decision-making to a minimum: good coffee is hard to find.

And the Holy Grail of Coffee? The french press. I grew up with burned perc-O-lator coffee aftertaste in my mom’s morning cheek-kisses and back-of-the-tongue memories of soccer game Saturday mornings with dad’s sipped pick-me-up. One burned cup and every cup is burned.

People spend hundreds of dollars on their Keurig-Cup dispensory coffee. They buy boxes of “single cup” coffees from Starbucks or Folgiers or Seattle’s Best (of which my fiancee nearly cried when she found out they were ground up by Starbucks) and all that disgusting waste. A 200 buck coffee maker that can make only a single cup at a time? Wow. We’ve become dedicated to lazy.

That being said, simpler is better. The simplest, if possible. Good coffee comes from attention. Instead of buying a 200 dollar coffee machine and a 50 dollar 50pack of coffee cups, or a cup of 4.50 burnt ends Starbucks, spend the bare minimum warming (just before boiling) your own water and pouring your own cup. It’s cheaper, it’s tastier, and you get a fraction of the destructive waste of the fast-food coffee.