December 1st, 2007


Another NaNo I Didn't Do

Although I've written three kinda-sorta novels already, so I don't feel too bad about it. If 2008 goes the way I hope, I'll have at least one more done by next November, anyway.

My first "novel" was only something like 30,000 words long, written in an obsessive burst right around the time laurie_robey and I were getting married. It was a space opera potboiler with all the bad clichés, right down to the cat-headed aliens that drive editors nuts, essentially "Shogun in space". But it was not written for publication, so I felt free to just write what I liked, not what would please editors, and I like space opera potboilers with bad clichés. It was instead written just to prove to myself that I could actually write -- and finish -- something longer than 15,000 words or so. Unfortunately, I've long since lost the data file, so unless I've got a paper copy in one of those boxes of miscellaneous manuscripts, it's probably lost to history. Still, just imagine Shogun, with postapocalyptic cat-headed aliens in place of Japan, and Brigid as a spacer captain in place of Richard Chamberlain, and you'll be on the right track.

My second novel was a cozy whodunit, in which a writer staying at a cozy bed-and-breakfast to research a historical romance discovers a murder and goes all Jessica Fletcher on it. ;) This one involved doing some actual research myself (bugging the Loudoun County sheriff's department for procedural details mostly). Not realizing that Truman Capote had already nicked the title, I called it in In Cold Blood because it was set in February and the isolation of an ice storm was a plot element. This one reached 50,000 words I think (I don't remember exactly), and I sent it off to the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York. I got back a very nice letter from a lady on their staff who said, "I'm familiar with your work for White Wolf Games -- I'm not really interested in this book, but write me again when you've written a fantasy or SF book."

I was simultaneously dismayed and encouraged by this; dismayed, because at the time I wanted to write mysteries (and would still like to if I could find the right formula). Encouraged, because a real professional in the book industry had said they were familiar with my work (o.0) and wanted to hear from me again. So after a little bit of a break, I wrote my third novel, basically a beefed up retelling of the opening of my first Fantasy Hero campaign in Richmond, with a new group of my own characters in place of the players' characters. This one (called various different things but currently titled Revenge of the Ghost-King) broke 60,000 words and was certainly my best novel yet. I sent this one off to various beta readers, whose opinions ranged from glowing ("I couldn't put it down!") to enigmatically lukewarm ("Not bad. You're in your twenties, aren't you?").

However, I wasn't satisfied with it, for various reasons, so I put it aside to simmer and started working on NeverNever -- only to have comics take over my life! And that's where I've been ever since.

-The Gneech
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Kero Power Tie

Visiting Hour

We stopped in to Clocktower Veterinary Hospital to visit Buddha this morning. When we got there, he was asleep smooshed into the back of his little cage, in typical Buddha "I'm scared of strangers!" fashion. He had a little kitty I.V. taped over his front left paw, and of course a tube coming out of somewhere you generally don't want a tube coming out of ... but other than that was clean and in good condition.

We woke him up with skritches behind the ear, around his face and under his chin; he was a little groggy at first, but quickly woke up when he realized it was laurie_robey and me. It was very clear that he recognized us and was very happy to see us -- he perked up and pressed his head into the skritching, and came forward to the front of his cage, stretching out in a way he only does when he's comfortable and feels safe.

We stayed there for 20-30 minutes, giving him all kinds of pettin' and skritchin' and attention, and talked to the various vets and assistants about his condition, and the peculiarities of Buddha's history and medical requirements. He is doing quite well; he still has a bit of blood in his urine, which requires watching, but the vet said that compared to many other cats he's had to treat Buddha was doing very well for his stage of recovery. He also complimented Buddha on his sweet nature and described him as "a champ". :)

Buddha had not shown any interest in the food they were giving him, so we advised them on types we have given him in the past that he would be more likely to respond to. They had some of his favored brand ("Wellness") on hand, so they're going to try giving him some of that if he continues not to eat their standard "hospital food".

By the time we left, Buddha was perked up, purring, and alert. He was clearly relieved to see us, as his prior loss of owner (however it went down) has left him with a persistent worry of abandonment. I think he was a little bummed to see us leave, but hopefully the fact that we came to visit reassured him that he wasn't just being handed off to these big, scary strangers with their pointy metal implements. He was definitely more at ease and able to move more comfortably than he was when we dropped him off Friday morning. At this point, it looks like he'll probably come home Monday, but we'll go back and visit him tomorrow in any case.

FWIW, the visit was the highlight of our day, too. :) We miss the lil' guy!

-The Gneech
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Rastan Kill Monsters

I Used to Be a Thief and a Murderer -- Otherwise, I Could Not Survive In Such Difficult Times...

The icon you see here, while it looks like Conan, is actually from a version of the '80s arcade game Rastan, which was known for three things. 1) Being pretty much a Conan game except without the license, 2) having awesome music, and 3) being completely impossible to play past the first level.

Rastan was a side-scroller, in which you control your bastard-sword wielding barbarian through hordes of monsters and timed jump puzzles, and where touching anything other than the ground or a power-up is instantly fatal. Bump a monster? Dead. Touch water? Dead. It's also a world where blocks of cement randomly float up and down in pools of lava that spit out random fireballs. You can pick up armor, shields, potions, and cloaks of various kinds, but none of them really have any effect to speak of. The only thing really worth the trouble to pick up is weapons, which can extend your reach or, in the case of the flaming sword, give you a ranged attack for as long as the weapon does, which is something like thirty seconds.

As mentioned, there are hordes of monsters, and timed jump puzzles. The thing is, with the timed jump puzzles, you can't pause to get your timing right, because if you stand still for more than 10 seconds, a swarm of bats instantly appears and kills you.

Did I mention it had awesome music?

Anyway, somebody played it with an invulnerability cheat, which is actually the only way to get anywhere in it, and posted the whole thing to YouTube, so now all you '80s children like me who wanted more than anything to see past the first level of Rastan but never could, finally can! :D It doesn't include the intro movie, only included in some versions, where the premise of the game is explained (Rastan has to slay a dragon to get permission to marry the king's daughter or some such), but really who needs it? He's a barbarian with a sword, they're monsters. I'm good.

Some unknown person, apparently named "Glyn R. Brown," later made an awesome "orchestral remix" of the theme, as well, which I snagged from an old Rastan fansite.


-The Gneech