Thursday, December 27, 2018

Doctor Who Series 11

So, with this season of Doctor Who over and done with, I thought I'd write out what I thought of it.  First of all, I thought Jodie Whittaker did a pretty good job as the Doctor.  She played it a lot like David Tennant's 10th Doctor, just a little more scatter-brained.  David Tennant was my favorite of the new Doctors, and Jodie Whittaker is a close second for me.  I also like how they handled the Doctor being a woman.  She wasn't constantly commenting on it, she only really said anything when she was faced with something sexist that brought her up short.

The writing, for the most part, was a hell of a lot better than anything out of the Moffat years.  The worst of Chibnall's first season was better than the best Moffat ever achieved.  Mostly, because Chibnall knows how to structure a story, where Moffat doesn't know the first thing about it. 

Most of the episodes were a little mediocre.  They would start out good, and then they'd just get a little dumb once the villain was revealed, and kind of grating when it came time for the moral of the story.  There were some extremely good eiposdes in there,  The Demons of Punjab was probably my favorite, with Witchfinder being second.  But, overall the season was more mediocre than good.  But, again, Chibnall's mediocre is lightyears better than Moffat's best.

Previous show runners on the new series have limited historical episodes to one per season.  Which has been more than fine with me, because the historical episodes were some of the worst episodes of the season.  There were three in this season, and two of them were my two favorite episodes of the season.  The third was the aboslute worst of the season.  Not because it was really all that bad, but, more because it was extraordinarily lazy.  It was the laziest episode of the entire season.  That would be Rosa.  Look, Rosa Parks is an American hero.  She deserves a better tribute than a  terrible Doctor Who episode.  It was like the writers were all together, brainstorming ideas, and someone said, hey, let's do Rosa Parks.  Everyone said, yeah, that's great.  And that was all the thought an effort that went into it.  The thing is, though, that Chibnall was EXTREMELY proud of this episode.  In every interview he gave, this was the episode he brought up.  And it was just awful.  It was boring.  It was badly written.  It wasn't exactly all that historically accurate.  And, kind of worst of all, is that Rosa Parks only succeeded in taking her stand, because of the efforts of a white woman. 

Another problem that this season had, was that it wanted to have a message.  The problem was that the messages were usually extremely heavy handed, and they weren't very well incorporated into the stories.  What you basically got was a five minute or so stretch in almost every episode where the canst would pretty much look at the camera and say, and this is today's moral of the story... GET IT!?!?!?!  It's really kind of distracting, and it makes episodes that would, otherwise, have been decent, possibly good, kind of not all that great.  I have no problem whatsoever with social justice messages.  What I have a problem with is when the entire story grinds to a screeching halt so that we can address the moral of the story.  It should be integrated into the story in such a way that it's not popping out in your face.  The characters shouldn't take time out of the story to tell you , hey, look, this is the moral or the story.  It should be woven seamlessly into the story, and it just wasn't.

So, all in all, it was an okay season.  It's the best season since Russell T. Davies left by a very long shot, but it did have it's problems.  While a few of the episodes were excellent, most of them were just sort of mediocre and okay.  If I could give Chibnall one piece of advice for the next season, it would be to tone down the social justice a notch or two, and better integrate it into the story.  It's really jarring when all action and forward motion in the story comes to a halt so that we can discuss the moral of the story.  It needs to be better woven in than that.  I get that it was kind of his schtick when it took over, but there's for more compentent ways to do it than the way it was done here.  It was an okay season, with a great new Doctor, some very good new companions, but it really needed some work on the writing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

NaNo day 20

Woohooo!!!  I hit 50k.  Now the rest of this moth can be a stressful miserable horror without the added bonus of feeling like I have to spend every waking moment home from work writing.  I'm a little over 95k words on the first draft of Shadows of What Might Have Been.  I'm somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way done.   I'm expecting the full first draft to end up around 130k words at the moment, unless something drastic changes and I need to add more in.  BUT with my day job, and the Christmas season, it's probably going to have to wait until after the new year to get finished up.  We're more shorthanded than we ever have been in all the 15 years I've worked for the Post Office this Christmas, so it's looking like a heck of a lot of really, really long, gruelling hours and little time else to do anything but eat and sleep.  So yay for that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

NaNo day 13.

13 days in and I just hit 30k.  It's my day off, so I haven't seen the horrors which work has in store for me this Christmas season yet, but if past years are anything to go by, it's going to be ugly.  I think my supervisor tried to call me in to work today, but I wasn't about to answer.  The day after Veteran's Day is the absolute worst day for mail out of the whole year, and there's no way I'm giving up my day off to work it.  I like my job, but I don't like it that much.  Just 20k left to go, and 17 days left in the month.  I only need about 1100 words a day to finish.  Hopefully I'll be able to find the time between work and everything else to get at least that much done for the rest of the month.

Friday, November 9, 2018

NaNo day 9

9 days in and I just passed 21k.  I'm doing ok.  Work has been better these last few days since the election, but, unfortuantely, the Christmas season officially starts at Veteran's Day for the Post Office.  So I don't expect to have a whole lot of time to write after that.  That's why I usually try to power through the whole 50k before the day after Veteran's Day, but that's not looking like it's going to happen this year with my slow start.  We'll see if I'm able to pull through.  I'm ahead of schedule.  I only need about 1300 words a day to finish by the 30th, which seems doable, but Christmas seems like it gets worse every year as more and more people do their shopping online, so, we'll see.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

NaNo Day 4

Uhg, I'm usually so much faster than this during NaNo, but work is just wearing me out this year with all of the extra election mail.  It's literally adding 2-3 hours to my every day of work.  It's freaking horrible.  I did still hit 10k today, which isn't bad for a 4 day total.  I'm still averaging about 2500 words a day so far, which is well above the 1667 NaNo daily goal.  So, yay, I guess.  Hopefully I'll be able to get a lot more done a lot faster once the election is over.

Friday, November 2, 2018

NaNo Day 2: The slightly further along than day 1ening

So NaNo is happening, and I'm working on Shadows of What Might Have Been, book 2 to Memories of What Never Was.  Thanks to next week's election I've been completely buried at work this week, and haven't been able to get home with much time to spend writing.  Hopefully that will change after Tuesday next week.  But I am still overachieving a bit by NaNo standards.  You're supposed to get at least 1667 words per day to hit the 50k by the end of the month, and I've gotten a little over 3000 these first two days.  Also, this story is a little more complex than the ones I usually write, which takes a bit more time to write, so not only do I have less time this year to write in (so far) I'm also writing slower because there's a lot more elements that have to go into the story.  It's all good though.  I'm still way ahead of the goal for day 2 with 6086 words.  To be honest, though, I doubt I can finish the first draft of this book in 50k words.  I already had 45k written, but I think this one is going to end up somewhere between 150k and 170k when it's done.  Anyway, expect more pointless posts this month about me saying how awesome I'm doing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

So, there I was, at Walmart...

So, there I was, at Walmart, refilling my prescription for anti-anxiety pills, and low and behold, I saw, sitting atop the $10 bin of crap movies and video games that no one wants: Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition.  I've avoided Final Fantasy XV until now for a few reasons.  First, the trailers and the playable demo that I got with another game, just didn't interest me.  I don't really care about dudebros on road trips, and that's what the game was made out to be in literally ALL of the advertising.  I could practically smell the toxic fumes of axe body spray coming off of the ads.  Second, I had the misfortune to spend money on, and play, Final Fantasy XII and XIII.  Both of which were kind of crap in comparison to what the series used to be.  Of the two, I preferred XIII, but that's like saying, "of two hot pokers in the eye, one of them burned a little less."  Third, I didn't like the whole season pass thing.  They released an unfinished game, and then expected me to pay more to fill in what should have already been part of the game at release.  And last, I don't really care for action RPGs.  I'm kind of more old-school.  I prefer the old turned based RPGs to the new stuff that's more about graphics and fast paced action, than it is about story or thoughtful game play.

But there it was, for 10 bucks, the edition that included all of the season pass stuff.  I figured I might as well.  So, let me first say, that the royal edition is very, VERY lazy.  It's just the base game with a download code for all of the extras and updates that were part of the season pass.  This was a 50GB download.  That shows you how unfinished the game was at launch.  I was annoyed that I had to wait overnight for the updates to download and install before I could play it.  But the next day I sat down after work and tried it out.  The story of the game isn't really all that central to playing it.  It seems like it's more vaguely happening in the background, rather than being an active part of the game.  I play games for the story.  It is literally the only thing I will play a game for.  I don't care about difficulty.  I don't care about playing dress up.  I don't care about the challenge.  I don't care ab out pointless side content, or multiplayer online battles.  I do have preferences on game play, but if the story is good, I don't really care if the game play is crap.  All I really care about is the story.  And, well, the story of this game might as well be non-existent. 

And yet, I find myself oddly still playing it.  It's weird.  The game really does not fit what I like in a game, and yet, here I am, still running side quests that I would normally skip completely in any other game, and running out to do monster hunt quests.  I even found myself getting annoyed when I was pulled into story sections of the game.  The combat is kind of mind-numbing.  All you do is hold down R1+Triangle, and your guy will warp around and murder every enemy.  You don't even have to look at the screen.  The characters are either boring, douchey, or annoying.  And god forbid one of them actually be a girl, or anything.  I don't get it.  I should hate this game, but I don't.  It is weirdly addictive, and I don't know why.  I just keep scouring the map for new side quest markers, or new diners to pick up more kill quests.  I'm like lvl 65 just off of all of the side quests I've done and I haven't even finished chapter 3 of the story.  Maybe it's my history with MMOs that's pulling me in, because all the running around, side-questing, and hunting down specific monsters feels like a single-player version of a MMO.  They tried doing that with Final Fantasy XII, and it didn't really work for me, but here, it kind of is.

I dunno, I only spent $10 on it, and it's kept me entertained for a couple of weeks.  It's definitely not the best game ever.  It's not especially well made or written.  The characters are kind of unlikable.  But for what it is, it's weirdly engrossing.  If you can find it as cheap as I did, maybe give it a try.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Back from vacation

So, for the last two weeks I was at Lake Tahoe for a family reuinion.  I spent my days lying on a beach trying to pretend that the rest of my family doesn't exist.  I spent much of that time playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2, (I have a solar charger that I use at work to charge my phone and speakers that I brought with me to keep all my gadgets running) but I also started work on Shadows of What Might Have Been, the next book to Memories of What Never Was, on my tablet.  Mostly I started on this book because the thought of spending one more minute editing instead of writing something new had me looking for a proverbial basket full of kittens to punch.  I wrote a little over 30k words of the first draft while out on the beach.  I have a long way to go, but I got pretty much all of the set up for the story finished.  This book is going to be a bit less dark than the first one (until the end, anyway) and it's going to have a bit more action in it.  Looking back, the first book has a big chase scene to cap out the first act, and a largely undescribed battle scene at the end (because the story was about the characters overcoming their demons rather than things exploding and armies clashing)  and that was about it for action.   But now that the characters have overcome their demons (outwardly, anyway) there's room in the story for more exciting things to be happening.

I'm not sure how much time I'm going to be able to devote to writing this in the next few months.  The Christmas meat grinder is about the drop on my job, yes, even now at the end of August, but we'll see.  I have plans to finish it up for NaNo this year if I haven't gotten a first draft completed by then.

Why start on it at all when I've yet to finish the first book, much less sell it to a publisher?  Well, because I need to be working on something, because I've kind of forgotten what to do with my time when I'm not spending it writing or editing, and I need a break from editing.   And, you know, writing the story is the fun part for me.  I don't really care if no one ever reads it, or if I never get it published.  Creating the story, and the world, and the characters is what I enjoy.  And I figure the first book will be a bit easier to sell if I have work on the second and/or third one I can say, look, see, I've got progress on the rest of the story.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

So, a few years ago, my favorite video game writer, Tetsuya Takahashi, released his latest game.  Xenoblade Chronicles.  He's the guy responsible for Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 7 and 10, Xenogears, and the Xenosaga trilogy.  It almost didn't make it to the USA because Nintendo of America were idiots that didn't think there was any interest in the game.  But luckily Nintendo of Europe took the initiative, translating and dubbing it into English.  And when they saw how well it was selling over there, Nintendo of America ported over the EU version for us.  I wrote a blog post a while back after I played through that game and fanboyed all over it.  It was an amazing game with an amazing story.  I loved every minute of it.  I actually bought a Wii just so that I could play it.

A couple years later, they released Xenoblade Chronicles X.  I was looking forward to it as the sequel to the best game I'd played all freaking decade.  I bought a Wii-U just so that I could play it.  And I was completely and utterly disappointed with it.  Instead of a deep and rich story around amazingly well developed characters, we got a silent protagonist (one of the things I absolutely hate in story based video games like this) no character, no personality, nada.  And the game itself was just boring, and not very well put together.  It tried to incorprate a lot of MMORPG aspects, and Skyrim-esque open world crap that just didn't work.  Plus they got a new music guy that just blew it to an epic degree.  To this day, I still haven't finished it, and I really have no desire to either.

But then I started seeing articles about Xenoblade Chronicles 2.  A game that, aparently, was pretending the X never even existed.  And Good riddance to it.  I've been a little poor over the last year or so, trying to pay down my student loans and car ASAP to get myself out of debt and buy a house.  So I haven't really had much money to spend on grabbing myself a Nintendo Switch.  But I just recieved a very large payout from work over being underpaid for a year a few years back, and I figured I might as well grab one while I have the chance.  Because I really, REALLY wanted to play Xenoblade 2.  The reviews for the game have been absolutely spectacular.  It seems like NO ONE doesn't like this game.

So I finally got my hands on a Switch, and a copy of Xenoblade 2.  And now, 90 hours of gameplay later, I have emerged from my cave to shout to the world how much I loved it.  It was even better than the first game.  It's a classic tale of by meets girl.  Girl turns out to be ancient superweapon that destroyed an entire continent.  Boy fights off entire world to keep girl from being used as a weapon again, because girl has all kinds of feels.  I mean, who hasn't heard that story before?  The character design is a litle more cartoony than the first game, but that didn't annoy me too much.  The characters are great.  The English translation and acting is surprisingly good.  They got the music guy from the first game back, and he delivered a soundtrack that was even better than that of the first game.  A soundtrack that I had to go buy, even though it was $45 due to being like 5 discs long.  Yasunori Mitsuda, composer of the Xenogears soundtrack, and writer of the theme songs for all of the Xeno games came back for the theme song to this one, and as the music supervisor with a few tracks that he composed personally here and there, and it's just as good as the others (and a big part of some real tear jerker scenes at the end).  The battle system is complicated and challenging without being too complicated to figure out.  There is a huge world to explore, and many secrets to find.  But the thing that stands out most is the story.  The story is very engrossing, and the characters are all very likeable and loveable.  It's got some really amazing action cutscenes, and some real tear jerker scenes near the end.  That's how you can tell they told the story well, when you start getting choked up when bad things happen to the characters you care about.  When I finished it, I just kind of sat around for a few days in complete awe over how great a game it was.  I did not hesitate for one second to shell out another $30 for the game's expansion pass, which comes with what is basically an entire prequel game that releases next month.  If the story and characters are even half the quality that I saw in the base game, it will be worth the extra money to play it.

If you have the means to grab a Nintendo Switch and a copy of this game, I highly recommend it.  It was even better than the first game.  It's probably the best game I've played since the turn of the freaking century.  If you don't have the means, you can watch all of the story scenes on youtube.  The way they did the story cutscenes is that there are only a few spots where it skips over fights that you fight in the game, but otherwise, it's like watching a 15 hour long movie.  You miss none of the story, and very little of the action by just watching the cutscenes.  But, I mean, get the game.  Give money to these people for their work.  They deserve it.  This game was amazing.  It seems that games like this are a dying breed, and that is a very sad thing to me.  I grew up playing story based RPGs, and though I don't have as much time and money to devote to the hobby these days, I still really enjoy a good RPG when they come along.  This one is one of the best of the best, and I can't recommend it enough.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Memories of What Never Was - Draft 5 done

So, I finished up the fifth draft of Memories of What Never Was, and you can read it at the bottom of this page if you are so inclined. 

And yes, it has only been a week since I finished the 4th draft.  This draft was basically just a read through out loud to see if all of the writing sounded natural.  I tweaked a few things here and there to make the writing flow better so I wouldn't get tongue tied reading it aloud.  I added in a few lines here and there to clarify things I thought might have been a bit too vague.  I also came across an instance where Brand acted wildly out of character for a page or so just to create a bit of momentary drama.  I kind of can't believe it took me 5 whole drafts to even notice the problem.  A character should always act like himself, no matter what.  No amount of momentary drama will ever make up for breaking a character like that.  If you can't think of another way to create the drama while also being true to the character (which I did) maybe the drama just wasn't meant to be.

Anyway, I think maybe just one more draft should finish this one up.  I'm going to head over and work on the final draft of Spires of Inifinty before I get to it.  If anyone out there of the two or three people who actually read my blog would like to play beta reader for me, I'll be happy to e-mail a copy of it to you so you don't have to read it off of my craptastic website.  Mostly, what I'm looking for, is not people who will tell me how good they think it is.  I can get all that I want of that from my mom.  What I need is someone to tell me what they don't like about it.  What they think I'm doing wrong.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Memories of What Never Was Draft 4 done

So, finished the 4th draft of Memories of What Never Was, and you can read it at the bottom of this page if you are so inclined.

So with this draft mostly what I did was just smoothed out the writing a bit more, removed some unnecessary words here and there, and I added in a new idea or three that came to me as I was working on it. I also did a little more work on Kriss' character, and now I think I finally have her exactly where I want her to be.  I mean, she's only the hero of the story.  She, of all characters, kind of has to be done as close to perfectly as possible.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Memories of What Never Was Draft 3 complete

So I took a bit of time off, because I was kind of burnt out, but now I'm back to work on Memories of What Never Was, and I've finished up Draft 3.  You can find it at the bottom of this page if you are so inclined.  Blah.  Blah.  Manuscript format.  Blah.  Blah.

So, in this draft I mostly just worked on the writing itself, as I think I've got all of the story and character elements pretty much where I want them to be.  I removed a lot of repetitious writing, and filler words, as well as a truckload of adverbs, because as Stephen King says, the road to hell is paved with adverbs.  I reworded things so they sounded better, or more professional, and made a few small tweaks that still needed to be made to the characters, but not by much. 

One other thing I changed was the Infinity War to the Empyrean War, for obvious reasons.  I first started putting this story and world together about 15-20 years ago.  At that time, I had not read any Avenger's comics, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was but a glint in the milkman's eye.  I was more into Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and Batman at the time.  I must have heard "Infinity War" while geeking out somewhere, and thought it sounded cool enough to use.  But now, it's not appropriate to use anymore, because, well, everyone and their dog will think I'm copying Marvel.  Which, I probably was all along, but eh, who knows where I came up with the name.  I kind of like the sound of Empyrean War a bit more.  It has a bit of a ring to it, and its meaning is a bit more in line with what the war actuall was.

Anyway, this book still needs a lot of work, but it is definitely coming along.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Han Solo Movie

So, the Han Solo movie is the Star Wars movie that no one really cared about.  Honestly, I wasn't expecting much out of it.  It was not a movie I really needed to see.  In my opinion, there are far more interesting Star Wars characters to make a prequel movie about, far more interesting Star Wars stories to tell, and all kinds of new and original movies they could be making with the Star Wars name and universe.  And I was somewhat following the troubles with production of the movie with mild amusement as well.  My expectations for this movie were so unbelievably low, that when it turned out to be ok-ish, I was pleasantly surprised.  Is it a great movie.  Not really.  Is it a movie that needed to be made?  Nope.  Is it a story that needed to be told?  No, especially since there are several books/comics that already exist, telling the Han Solo origin story.  Did it entertain me for a couple hours?  Yeah.  There were a few pretty good jokes.  A few good action scenes.  The train heist and the Kessel Run are probably the best.  Did it add anything to the character, show any new sides, give us something new or interesting to think about while watching Han Solo in the movies that take place after this one?  Not really.  They played it very safe, and that was kind of boring, really.  Why tell a Han Solo origin story, if you're not going to add any new dimensions to his character?

My biggest problem with the movie was that it never did anything unexpected.  The Force Awakens, that did some pretty unexpected things.  Rogue One, that did some pretty unexpected things.  The Last Jedi, love it or hate it, did some pretty unexpected things.  Solo... Solo was a pretty by the numbers heist movie that took no risks, and didn't try to be anything new or original.  It's a movie I've seen a thousand times before with different titles.  Honestly, heist movies are so done to death that you kind of really need a bit more than Han Solo, and a Star Wars setting to make me care much about it.

Through most of the movie I was thinking, well, this is okay, I guess, but why does it exist?  Money.  that's why it exists.  Just so Disney can get more of my money.  But, judging by the box office performance for its opening weekend, that is sort of backfiring in their face.  No one is really going to see the movie.  There are several reasons why this could be, but I think the biggest is that Disney REALLY overestimated how much people were going to care about seeing a Han Solo movie.  They didn't really do their research and just sort of assumed that everyone was going to be lining up to see this one, when, as the box office numbers are reflecting, no one really cared to begin with, and would probably have preferred a different Star Wars movie.  The trailers didn't really do this movie justice.  If you look back at Rogue One, a lot of people, myself included, were pumped to see that movie.  The marketing for that movie showed off all of the things I was hoping to see in a Star Wars movie.  This one, the marketing was pretty subdued, and never really showed off much that looked very interesting in the movie.  Solo is a lot better a movie than it looks, going by the marketing alone, but still, I just don't think there was enough audience interest to begin with to justify making the movie in the first place.

That being said, I did enjoy it.  Donald Glover is PERFECT as Lando, he even gets the voice down eerily well.  Guy whose name I couldn't spell to save my life as Han Solo was okay.  I mean, there are better actors out there.  I think the problem with his performance is that he is supposed to be the center of the movie, but he is surrounded by people who steal every scene from him, because they just have more presence as actors than he does.  Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover pretty much steal every single scene they're in, which leaves very little for Han Solo to shine through in his own movie.  The movie has a lot of cool action scenes that are really well shot.  But the love story is pretty weak, because, well, Amelia Clark is kind of a terrible actress.  She's definitely the weakest link in the cast, and her character just doesn't have much going for her other than generic love interest because reasons.

Anyway, going back to my post on Star Wars movie rankings, I'd probably put this one at about equal to Return of the Jedi or The Last Jedi.  It's not great.  It's not horrible.  It's just kind of average as far as Star Wars movies go.  It's maybe a little bit better than The Last Jedi, if anything, but by such a miniscule amout that it doesn't really matter.  It could have been MUCH worse, but it also could have been better too.   I hope Disney learns from this experience, and starts making some more original Star Wars movies, and maybe listens to fans when they collectively say "meh" at the announcement of your next big thing.  Star Wars has a pretty large built in audience, BUT you still have to make movies that the fans want to see, and, well, they kind of didn't with this one.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Spires of Infinity rewrite Draft 4 done

Yes, it has only been two days.  I'm on vacation this week.  So, yeah, I finished up the fourth draft of my Spires of Infinite rewrite.  If you feel the overwhelming urge, you can find it at the bottom of this page.  Blah blah blah manuscript format blah blah.

Mostly this draft was just a read through aloud to make sure all of hte wording feels natural.  I also made sure all of my capitalization, spelling, and hyphenation was uniform throughout the entire manuscript.  There were a few very minor edits I made when I ran across something that tongue tied me while I was reading it aloud, which is a clear sign to me that it needs a bit of work put into it to polish it off.  There were also some very minor dialog additions I made, and a few small details that I missed adding in on previous drafts.  I ended up adding about 400 words to this draft, still keeping in just under 100k total.  By this point I've probably read through this book about 15 times since I wrote the first draft back in November.  Sometimes it's easy to miss minor things like capitalization, spellings on words you made up, and other such stuff in the tedium of reading a book 15 times in 7 months.

One more draft should do it on this one, and then I start trying to sell it.  I have a bit of editing software that I usually use on my final drafts, but it does cost a $30 a month subscription fee to use it, so I'm going to get Memories of What never was all ironed out and ready for a final draft first so that I can cram running both of them through the software  into the same month and only have to pay for one month of use.  Which means I'm not going to finish off the final draft of this one for a couple months or so while I work on that.  At the moment, though,  it's pretty close to being finished.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spires of Infinity rewrite Draft 3 done.

Soooooo, I've finally finished up the third draft of my Spires of Infinity rewrite, and if you feel the great urge, you can read it at the bottom of this page.  Like other recent projects I've posted, this is written in manuscript format, because converting it to something more normal looking to post on my website takes way too much time and effort.  This means 12 point font, double spaces, all itallics are underlined instead of itallicized, and all blank lines are marked with a #.

Anyway, my goal with this draft was to tighten up the writing, remove any unneeded repetition, fill in a few plot holes, and shave the word count down to about 90k words.  I have to say, that this draft was pretty mind-numbing.  I had to reread every single chapter in this story 5-6 times, going over every single little word and thinking to myself, hmmmmmm, is there any way I can say this in fewer words until I was satisfied I'd done as much as I could.  There were a few instances of repetition that I removed, a bunch of adverbs, because as Stephen King so aptly says, the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I did my best to shave the word count down as much as possible, without hurting the integrity of the story, or the characters.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to cut the word count down as much as I wanted to.  I was hoping for 90k, and ended up at 99k.  The writing was actually pretty tight to begin with, and there wasn't much I could shave off, plus filling in some plot holes required adding text.  Things are about as tight as I can get them now, and it IS still 4k words shorter than it was, so I feel like I did well with this draft, if I didn't quite end up with exactly what I wanted.

I've got to say, this story has come a LONG way from the story I first envisioned 6 or 7 years ago.  I basically threw out the entire premise the entire story was revolving around, and that turned out to be exactly what it needed to be a better story.  I'm really happy with how it's turning out.  I think I'll probably only need another quick draft or two before it's done, and I start trying to sell it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

My Star Wars Movie Rankings:

So, the Han Solo movie comes out in 2 weeks, so I figured I'd do a post giving my rankings of Star Wars movies.  Because I'm bored, and I need a break from editing Spires of Infinity.  Just a little up front, I'm not exactly looking forward to the Han Solo movie.  I feel that there are far more interesting stories in the Star Wars universe to tell.  Han has never been my favorite character, and I've always felt that he was the least interesting of the three main characters.  I'm also a little apprehensive, having heard some of the troubles there have been with production, and with the lead actor's complete inability to do anything resembling acting.  The first trailer was kinda meh, but the second one looked better.  I hope it doesn't suck, but I'm not going to be hugely disappointed if it does, because, like I said, I never really cared all that much about this movie to begin with.

These are ranked best to worst.

1.) The Empire Strikes Back
No real surprise there, I guess.  I love this movie.  It's my all time favorite movie.  It is the first movie I can remember ever seeing in a theater.  I remember when I first saw Star Wars.  The opening scene blew me away.  The rebel ship being chased by this massive behemoth that flew over the camera and jsut kept going, and going and going.  Then I saw Empire on the big screen, and one of those ships was flying along, and this huge shadow falls over it.  I was like OMFG, HOW BIG IS THAT SHIP!!!  The acting is the best out of the original trilogy.  It improves upon the mythology of the Force in a meaningful way.  It has a very epic battle at the beginning, which is amazing considering the limitations of special effects technology at the time.  They basically invented the special effects required to do all of the effects shots on a white background, something thought to be impossible at the time.  And it still looks amazing even today, almost 40 years later.  Plus, that climax, man.  The duel, the plot twist, and the escape from Cloud City are all really great.  On a general filmmaking, storytelling, character development, technical/special effects, and acting level, this movie is by far the best of the bunch.  I feel, however, that , of the original trilogy, this movie suffers the most from the Special Edition.  It completely removes the tension at the beginning with the snow monster, and it utterly ruins the entire pacing of the escape from Cloud City at the end, by adding in extra Vader scenes.

2.) Rogue One
Okay, I realize that the characters are a bit flat, and the movie does jump around a bit before things get going.  But I don't care.  The last hour of this movie is exactly what I've been wanting to see in a Star Wars movie my entire life.  The space/ground battle, with the Death Star plans as stakes were just awesome.  It reminded me a lot of old war movies, which I used to watch with my dad.  And Darth Vader's 3 minutes of screen time made Darth Vader great again, after three prequel movies of him being a whiney, angsty teenager.  I saw this movie opening night, and the moment Darth Vader turned on his lightsaber, practically the entire sold out theater was on their feet cheering.  It was so loud you couldn't hear the movie over it.  I also like a lot of the music, even though it wasn't John Williams.  It blended a lot of the old Star Wars music themes with new themes that I quite enjoyed.  And the special effects were kind of mind-blowing.

3.) Star Wars
When I was growing up, this movie was not called A New Hope.  It was called Star Wars.  I'm not calling it anything else.  This is the first movie I can remember ever seeing.  My parents rented it, and a VCR because we didn't own one at the time, for my birthday.  I was three or four, maybe five, but probably not.  I was blown away by it.  Some kids have that favorite Disney movie they watch over, and over again.  Or some other movie or show that just drives every adult crazy.  Mine was Star Wars.  Whenever we rented movies, we had to get Star Wars.  I watched it 73 times before it had to go back, and then the next time, we had to get Star Wars again.  It's just a really good movie, and for the time, the special effects are pretty awesome.  It basically changed the way movies are made forevermore.  In general, I feel that most of the changes made in the Star Wars special editions make the movies worse, not better.  But the addition of the scene with Biggs, and the completely redone Death Star battle really do make the movie better, in my opinion.  If only I could pick and choose which Special Edition changes I could keep and toss.

4.) The Force Awakens
Yes, this movie is a remake of the original.  So what?  It was still great.  It also has my favorite lightsaber fight in the entire series.  It's the only lightsaber fight in all of Star Wars that looks like the characters were actually trying to kill each other, which the exception of maybe the part at the end of Jedi where Luke loses his temper, and even then, it seems more about him hitting Vader's lightsaber, rather than hitting Vader himself.  Old Han Solo steals every single scene he's in.  Chewie actually seems to have a personality for the first time.  I really liked the new characters, Finn, Rey, Poe, and Kylo Ren.  Finn, especially, because he's an actual, likable character, not just the token black guy.   And it has a very, very well shot death scene at the end, which, in case someone hasn't seen it, I'll not ruin.  A lot of people seemed to think Rey was a Mary Sue, but, I mean, they establish in the movie WHY she can speak so many languages, WHY she knows how to fight, and WHY she's good at fixing things.  And people complain about how she's perfect at flying the Millenium Falcon.  Uh, seriously, count how many things she crashes it into.  I just really enjoyed it, and felt that it was a great continuation of the story into a new generation of heros and villains.

 Okay, #5 is a tie

5.) The Last Jedi
No, this is not the best Star Wars movie ever.  No, this is not the worst Star Wars movie ever.  In my opinion, it's just average.  Right in the middle.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't really love it either.  I liked it.  I'll watch it again in my life, but it's not one of my favorites.  What I do like about this movie is the development of Kylo Ren's character.  This movie is REALLY brutal to him as a character.  And he becomes a really, really terrifying villain by the end, with no hope of redemption.  I also relaly liked the protrayal of Luke in this movie.  To me, where his character is at the beginning of the movie is a logical and interesting progression.  A lot of people seem horrified by it, because he's not book Luke.  Well, here's the thing about book Luke... HE'S FREAKING BORING!!!  And Mark Hamill just NAILS his performance, too.  It is a great pity he was not recognized for it at the Academy Awards.  This movie also brings up some interesting questions about the Star Wars universe.  I also really liked the visuals and music on the end battle, even if it felt too much like a rip off of the Hoth battle in Empire.  The desperate charge against overwhelming odds across a pristine white battlefield that turns the color of blood as they fight, all with John Williams' March of the Resistance playing over it, and the return of the Millenium Falcon, with the Millenium Falcon's theme music, which was suspiciously absent from The Force Awakens, depite the perfect opportunity to use it.  All in all, it was a decent movie, but there are better movies in the series.

5.) Return of the Jedi
This movie has some problems.  I'm not gonna lie.  I felt like the Han Solo rescue at the beginning was boring and dragged on forever.  I will also admit that I had a picture of golden bikini Leia on my bedroom wall for years as a teen.  And the Ewoks man, the Ewoks.  Just, FU Ewoks.  I do really like the Death Star space battle.  It is really awesome, the wall of tie fighters, the Death Star firing on the rebel fleet, flying into the Death Star.  That's all really, really fun and awesome, with great visuals for the time it was made, that still hold up today.  The ground battle is not very good, in my opinion.  The special effects are a little lacking on the ATSTs and, again, the freaking Ewoks.   Plus, I really like the Luke/Vader/Emperor confrontation.  It's not about the lightsabers.  It's about the characters, the emotion, and the temptation.  Luke wins the lightsaber fight, but he LOSES the confrontation.  Vader's redmption DOES seem like it comes a bit out of nowhere, even after having seen the prequels, but it fits in with the schlockyness of the rest of the movie.  This movie probably suffers the least from the Special Edition, but man, that Jedi Rocks musical number, that is fast forwarded EVERY time I watch it.  Again, all in all, it was a decent movie, but there are better movies in the series.

7.) The Clone Wars
Yes, that's right, I actually went to see The Clone Wars in the theater.  Was it a good movie?  Well, no, not really.  It was basically just the first four episodes of the TV series edited together to make a movie, at George Lucas' wallet's behest.   But it's not exactly a bad movie either.  Despite pacing issues due to the fact that it wasn't meant to be a movie, and the fact that the story is a little more kiddie than the rest of the Star Wars movies, it was still fun to watch.  Mostly, I like The Clone Wars because it gives a look at what the charactesr COULD HAVE BEEN in the prequel trilogy.  You know, likable, well written, given logical character progression without winking at the audience too much.  This is something that continued on into the TV series.  They took the prequels, and said, okay, we're going to fix this.  And they did.  They made real, sympathetic, likeable characters out of boring, wooden, unlikable characters.  There are some REALLY stupid and boring episodes, but a lot of them are really good.  They take something that was boring and laughable in the movies, the Clone Wars, and make them the horrifying, destructive war that shaped the characters' lives that Obi-Wan makes them out to be in the first movie.

8.) Revenge of the Sith
This movie is the best of the Prequels.  Some might say that of three hot pokers in the eye, this one burns a little less, but, eh, it's not terrible.  The acting is bad, the way dialog scenes are shot is boring.  But at the same time, the opening battle and lightsaber fight are great.  The drama between Anakin and Padme is competant, especially when you compare it to Attack of the Clones.  It has some fun action scenes in the middle, to break up the monotony of characters boringly talking in shot/reverse shot, and the ending, despite having some very bad pacing and editing issues, and dragging on a little too long, is pretty good too.  When Obi-Wan wins the lightsaber fight, we're treated to the only scene in the entire trilogy between Obi-Wan and Anakin that actually has any real emotion in it.  Also, Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor is just plain awesome.  He's evil and he freaking loves it.  Him and Jimmy Smitts are really the only actors in this entire prequel trilogy that seem to be having any fun, or actually be trying to elevate the material.  This one is fun for what it is, but I would literally watch seven other Star Wars movies first before picking it up.

9.) The Phantom Menace
No, this is not my least favorite movie in the series.  I recently rewatched the entire Star Wars movie series, leading up to the release of The Last Jedi.  I was surprised to find that I didn't really hate 2 out of 3 of the prequel movies as much as I remembered hating them.  Revenge of the Sith, and The Phantom Menace are not good movies, but they're definitely not as bad as I rememeber them being.  My biggest problem with this movie is that there is too much Jar Jar in it, otherwise, I probably would have swapped it places on this list with Revenge of the Sith.  Every character in this movie is flat and boring, save Qui-Gon Jinn, mostly due to Liam Neeson being the only actor in the movie trying to give a decent performance.  The CG has not aged well, unfortunately, but there isn't as much of it as I remember there being in this movie.  Unlike Revenge of the Sith and Attack of the Clones, they actually built real sets for this movie, instead of CGing all of it.   Anakin is annoying, and he wins completely by accident, but that lightsaber fight, despite being obviously choreographed within an inch of its life is pretty sweet, and the Dual of the Fates music is the perfect accompaniment for it.  but again, there are 8 Star Wars movies I would rather watch before this one.

10.) Attack of the Clones
I do not like this movie.  There is nothing in it that I enjoy.  The acting is terrible.  The chemistry between LUKE AND LEIA'S FREAKING PARENTS is non-existent.  It's boring.  It drags on forever.  There is WAY too much CGI that has not aged well at all.  The dialog is painful to listen to.  And, I mean, come on.  These are Luke and Leia's parents, and they look at each other like they can't stand to be in the same room.  I hated this movie just as much as I remembered hating it.  The end battle is just way too cartoony.  Yoda fighting with a lightsaber, really?  REALLY?  Just, no.  The entire love story plotline is a chore to watch.  The entire Obi-Wan investigation plotline is a chore to watch.  It's just a very boring, not very well made, terribly written and acted mess of a movie.  Although, Obi-Wan vs Jango was pretty cool.  But that's what, 3 mins of a movie that's over 2 hrs long?  Jimmy Smitts seems to get a lot of hate as an actor, but I don't really know why.  I want you to watch this movie, and really pay attention to Jimmy Smitts' performance.  He is the ONE AND ONLY actor in this ENTIRE movie that gives a genuinely good performance.  Especially, watch the scene in Palpatine's office where they're debating creating an army.  If he can take the script and direction on Attack of the Clones, and put out THAT GOOD of a performance, he's okay in my book.

So, there it is, my Star Wars movie Ranking, and why I chose to rank them as such.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Memories of What Never Was - Draft 2 completed

So, after 2 months of working myself to death, I've finished the second draft of Memories of What Never Was.  If you're so inclined, you can read it by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.  Again, I write in manuscript format, which is double spaced, 12 point courier font, all itallicsare underlined rather than italicized, and there's a # to mark any blank lines.  I used to take the time to convert it to something that's a bit easier on the eye to read off my site, but it takes a considerable amount of time to do that, and when I realized how much time I was spending doing that in which I could be writing more, I just sort of stopped doing it.

Holy crap was that a lot of work.  I spent probably about 35-50 hours a week for the last 2 months working on this thing.  That's probably more time than I spent at my full time day job most weeks.  (for which I'm paid on salary, and which I get to go home after my work is done, no matter what time it is, so I get paid the same if I finish in 5 hours as I do if I finish in the 9 and a half I'm getting paid for, which gives me a pretty high incentive to get done as quickly as possible.) The first draft was really kind of a mess, and there were some rather big changes that I wanted to make to one of the characters, which then required a lot of changes being made to pretty much every chapter that she played more than a minor role in, because it changed her motivations as a character almost completely, which is not something I expected to happen when I first got the idea to make the change.  The reason I've been putting off doing this draft for so long, was because I was sort of dreading all of the work it was going to take to add these changes in, after I got the first chapter down and realized just how much work it was really going to be.  Large sections of text have either been added completely, completely replaced with other large sections of text, and many other small changes had to be made throughout literally every single interaction this character had with every single other character.  Figuring it all out is enough to drive someone insane.

In addition to changes to that particular character there were quite a few infuriatingly long run-on sentences, and quite a few ridiculously long paragraphs that all had to be broken up to reasonable sizes.  I usually use my second draft to fill in descriptive elements that are missing, some character personality elements, and to remove as many adverbs as I can.  I had so much other work that needed to be done that I didn't really get to a lot of that in this draft, and I mostly just focused on retructuring things, and getting the characters ironed out.  There are still a lot of things I need to work on with this one, mostly ironing out transitions between the changes I made in the second draft and the existing text left over from the first draft, and ironing out some more kinks in the writing.  It's still, very much, and unfinished product, but I feel that it's a big step closer to being done than it was when I finished the first draft.

And now, back to my Spires of Infinity rewrite.  It's been two months, which is probably enough to give me a bit of distance and help me find more problems that need to be fixed.  And I definitely need some time before I come back to Memories of What Never Was.  Going through that thing was pretty mentally exhausting.

Friday, March 16, 2018


So I'm working on my second draft of Memories of What Never Was.  Boy does this book need a lot of work.  There are so many ridiculously long run on sentences, and over sized paragraphs.  Plus I made what I thought would be a small change to one of the characters, which is turning out to be a rather large change that is requiring quite of bit of either a.) rewritten text, or b.) huge chunks of added text.  It's kind of a lot of work.  This story is a lot more complex than Spires of Infinity where I got things pretty much right the first time through on the rewrite.  It is very slow going, and I can see now why I was putting it off for so long while I was overburdened at work.  This is going to take months of 4-5 hours a night after work to sort through and fix.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Spires of Infinite rewrite draft 2

So I've been working hard the last month or so on editing my Spires of Infinity rewrite, and I've finished my second draft.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but the first draft was pretty solid.  I didn't have a lot of grammar mistakes to fix up, or descriptions to add.  Mostly what went into this draft were more character building moments.  As I was reading through I realized that Gabriel was a pretty weak protagonist in the early parts of the story, and needed to have a more firm and sympathetic goal.  I also added a few explanations of things that I felt were a little too vague, and clarified some of the wording here and there.  I'm up to 103,000 words with this draft and this is 13k over what I want it to be, so on my next draft I'm going to be looking really close at the wording of everything and seeing if I can condense it down to lose those 13k words without cutting any scenes.  I usually do this with every book that I write.  Making the prose tighter and more streamlined to shed a few thousand words.  In my opinion it makes it easier to read, and looks a bit more professional after I'm done doing it.  But since I've been doing nothing but Spires of Infinity for the last 6 months or so, I need a small break from it, so I'm going to be working on my second draft of Memories what never was next before coming back for the next draft of Spires.  Just to sort of distance myself from it for a bit so I can come back at it with a fresh perspective.

Anyway, the second draft of Spires of Inifinity is up on my website And if you plan to read this story, I definitely prefer that you read the new version, even though it isn't complete.  Even though its still being worked on, the new version is a far cry better than the old one.  And, like the first draft, I didn't bother taking the time to convert it from manuscript format to regular format.  That means it's courier font, 12 point, double spaced, and all italics are underlined instead of italicized. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Man from Medan

A month or so ago I wrote a short story called The Man from Medan.  I was bored this weekend so i recorded myself reading it and posted it on youtube.  If you feel the great urge to listen to my doofy voice badly narrating this story you can find the playlist here.

The Man from Medan is a sci-fi horror short story that is based on the Ourang Medan incident that may or may not have happened in the late 1940s.  It's a pretty cool urban legend if you haven't ever heard of it.  The story is a little under one hour in length and broken up into three parts.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

And done. Whoohoo!!!

I finished my first draft of my rewrite of Spires of Infinity today, and if you feel the great urge to read it, you can find it at the bottom of this page.

I've left the final draft of the original version of this story up, but if you plan to read it, I would definitely prefer that you read the new version.  Though it is only a first draft, and has much editing work left before it is complete, I still feel that it is far superior to the original version.  About 90% of the text has been completely rewritten from scratch.  Very little of the original text made it into the new version. The new version ended up just under 100,000 words, which is almost 30% down from the original version's 140,000 .  There was a lot of crap in that book that really didn't need to be there.  I cut it out, and added in character and world development in its place.  I'm, personally, pretty happy with how it all turned out, and now I've got two books in dire need of editing instead of one.  Hurray.  If you couldn't tell, editing is not my favorite thing in the universe to do.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Gettin' there

Got another 5k words down on my Spires of Infinity rewrite today.  All I have left is one fight scene and the resolution left to write.  I should be done with it this week.  I have to say, I'm pretty proud of the work I've done fixing this book.  In my opinion, it's such a better book than the original version.  And I've had a lot of fun revisiting it and fixing the mistakes I made writing it the first time.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Tale of 2 Video Games.

So Christmas came and passed, and I got 2 video games as gifts.  Star Wars Battlefront II and Horizon Zero Dawn.

Now, I’ve been following the whole EA Battlefront 2 exploding in their faces drama with great amusement.  Why?  Because I don’t want to play online.  I don’t want to play with other people.  I want a freaking Star Wars game that I can sit down after work, relax for an hour or so, and not be bothered by anyone.  I do not find online shooting galleries fun in the slightest bit.  I find them boring as sin.  And what really pisses me off is that EA has exclusive rights to Star Wars games now, and that is the only game they are making.  I played through the single player story mode.  I was done in less than 5 hours of gameplay.  It was very boring, very disappointing, had TERRIBLE controls, awful characters, and the story was so lazily told that you wonder why you even bothered once you’re finished.  What happened to stuff like the Rogue Squadron games?  Shadows of the Empire?  Dark Forces?  The Force Unleased?  Freaking Knights of the Old Republic?  Excellent games all that told amazing stories in the Star Wars universe, with actual gameplay, likeable characters, a story that takes more than four freaking minutes to play through.  Nope.  That’s all gone for free for all FPS arena battles.  Yeah, I played around with those for about an hour, got bored, and took the game to gamestop for a $20 credit in disgust.  I didn’t bother downloading the story DLC patch.  I was so bored to death by the story what’s even the freaking point of playing more of it.  I don’t like the gameplay either.

And then I popped in Horizon Zero Dawn.  Hey EA.  This is the type of Game I am looking for.  Do this with Star Wars and I will play it through to the end, and I will even pay for more story DLC.  This game is amazing.  It has great characters, a very interesting world with cool visuals, the controls are great, the story is fantastic, and it really feels almost like a Bioware RPG, like Knights of the Old Republic, which is probably my favorite Star Wars game.  I sat down to play this game, and I looked over at the clock, and it was seven hours later.  I got so pulled into it.  I was only planning to play for an hour.  I was so drawn into this game, and I enjoy it so much, that I bought the $20 story DLC before I even finished the game, because I know that I will want more when I’m done.  I may be getting old, but gaming just isn’t as engrossing to me as it used to be.  I’ve bought several games over the last ten years or so, but I’ve finished very few of them.  Or maybe it’s the games themselves, they’re just not as good as the used to be.  Xenoblade 1&2, Tales of Xillia and Berseria, The Last Story.  I think those are the only ones I’ve actually played through to the end.  If every game was as good as Horizon Zero Dawn is, I think I would play a lot more, and finish a lot more games.

Just, seriously, 4 and a half hours of garbage story missions, EA?  That’s what you think people were asking for when they said they wanted a single player campaign?  Seriously?  Well, you can go suck Guerrilla/Sony’s dick, because the game they produced is so superior to the one you did it’s not even a comparison at all.  I wish Star Wars games could be like this again, but so long as EA holds the liscence, that will never happen, it seems.  I’m glad they took a huge hit over Battlefront 2.  And I hope Disney realizes that this garbage is not what gamers want out of Star Wars games and open it up for other companies.  I mean, Battlefront 2 just isn’t even worth the time to play, because I play games for story.  I do not play games for online shooters, because that doesn’t interest me.  I find it boring.

And in other news I also wrote 7500ish words on my Spires of Infinity rewrite today before I sat down to try out Horizon Zero Dawn, so I don’t have to feel guilty over wasting the whole day on playing video games and getting nothing else done.  Also, it’s 4:30 in the morning.  I feel like I’m rambling because I’m half asleep.  Probably because I’m rambling because I’m half asleep.