Category Archives: Video Game

Writing Rituals & More Reading

Hello Happy Readers (aka Mom and P),

It’s time for an update.  I stayed up too late last night finishing a book and didn’t have the energy to get up and head to the gym at 5:20.  Therefore, I’m writing a blog entry (and if I finish in time I’ll start on a bit of a novel overhaul).

We are two weeks into our third quarter at the University of Washington’s Popular Fiction 1 course.  During this quarter we are discussing the finer points of getting published with our novels and writing the ‘end’.   In our first few classes we’ve learned about how to and are writing a Query Letter for our books, as well as perfecting our elevator pitches.  Mine is still a little weak (e.g. P and I were chatting a week ago and I was telling him about class and he asked me what my elevator pitch was and I had to look up what I wrote in class…).  The fact that I’m struggling so much to get my story into a couple of sentences and a page (for the synopsis) makes me think I need to give the draft another edit and perhaps pull out the parallel story and just focus on my one protagonist for this go.  But need to noodle on that.

The other thing we have talked about in class are writing rituals and how folks who are serious about being professional authors all have them.  This writing ritual is something you do that helps you get into a regular writing groove; go to a coffee shop around the same time each day and order a drink and sit and start writing, wake up at 4am and writer for two hours before work, walk around greenlake to get your thoughts together then write for a couple of hours.  I personally do not have a ritual yet.  I am a morning person – and should set up my writing ritual in the AM before work.  I have to work out a few challenges 1) I like to go to the gym (I NEED TO GO TO THE GYM) M/W/F at 5:30.  2) T/Th present day I’ve been getting up and playing video games… which while part of my job, I could forgo to write if I really WANTED to… I am feeling inspired though, and our latest game (Elder Scrolls) has been a little lame so perhaps now is the time to start a new writing ritual.

The reading challenge is still ON like Donkey Kong!  I’m actually a couple of books ahead right now in part due to a nice plane ride down the west coast and a short little book of poems written by a dog… 🙂  I’ve read eight books since my last post on March 2nd, even some from the list I said I was going to read next!  ha!  Here are some quick notes in the order that I personally liked them:

1) A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron I agree with another reviewer- this W. Bruce probably is a dog.  The book, written from a dog’s POV, is one of the best I’ve read this year.  Touching, funny, and an interesting exercise in point of view.  AND since my two loyal blog readers are reading now I won’t give away any spoilers – but it’s good.  GET reading!

2) Carrie by Stephen King – yup, Stephen King.  That’s right folks.  My second Stephen King book, though not sure we should count his autobio/writing book, as it was all non-fiction.  I really liked Carrie.  I’ve never had the urge to read Stephen King.  His stories and movies always seem so overwrought.  But after reading the story of how Carrie came to be (his wife pulled a draft out of the garbage and loved the flawed, SERIOUSLY flawed main protagonist, encouraged Stephen to finish it and turn it into his publisher – and it became his first published book).  It was pretty fantastic.  All over the place from a POV and setting perspective as it jumps from Carrie’s story, to a bystanders story, to telekinesis researchers articles, to newspaper clippings and interviews of ‘the incident’.  Short book – must read if you’ve never read a Stephen King book.  I may actually read another of his… 🙂

3) Scarlet (the Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer.  First, Marissa is my hero. I know I’ve written a review about her already.  She’s in her 20’s, wrote both Cinder (her first published book) and Scarlet during NaNoWriMo and lives just south of me in Tacoma Washington (plus she wrote me back when I sent her a note through her blog.  :))  I love that she’s taken fairy tales  (Cinder is about a young borg servant who works for a mean lady and her two step daughters, and it culminates at the prince’s ball… and Scarlet is about a young French woman with lovely red hair who meets up with a gruff young man who’s in a gang called a wolf pack while investigating her grand-mere’s disappearance) and turned them on their head in her Lunar Chronicles series.  I also love that her protagonists are kick ass young women.  I’ve already downloaded Cress which is the third in the series.

4). I Could Chew On This: and Other Poems by Dogs by Francesco Marciuliano.  This is a sweet little book of poems written by dogs.  Super fun to read these out loud to friends and family members who also appreciate a good poem by a dog.

5). The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.  This is an acclaimed story written from the POV of an autistic teenager.  V. interesting but a little frustrating to read.  This was recommended during class by the same person who recommended The Fault in Our Stars.  I didn’t like it nearly as much as the Fault – but it was still a well written story.  Not much about the dead dog – I don’t want you readers to think all I read are books about dogs… not true! 🙂

6). ttyl (Internet Girls #1) by Lauren Myracle.  I picked up this book after the AWP conference.  An excellent exercise in point of view, this YA book is written entirely with text messages between three best friends.  The author actually gets away with using pink font in this best seller to differentiate one of the texters.  I liked a couple of things in this book 1) that it is completely in text and therefore there is practically NO setting in this book at all (I struggle with setting!) and 2) that you can actually see the story progress through a normal story path, even while written entirely in text messages.  Brilliant.  I didn’t like it enough to read the next one in the series though.

7). The Boyfriend List:  15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (#1) by E. Lockhart.  This was another AWP find.  I went to a panel with the author on it.  This one I didn’t really enjoy, mainly because the protagonist was so annoying.

8).  Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment by Suzanne Morrison.  Another AWP find.  Went to a reading of this and a few other humorous memoirs.  Loved the writer and her reading of the memoir, but upon reading the book myself found that I wasn’t a big fan of memoirs or yoga and was a little bored.

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Kathy has
read 17 books toward her goal of 52 books.
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Reading, reading and more reading…

Okay – class(es) are in full swing. I think taking the writing class and the anthro class that P wanted to take online MIGHT have been biting off more than I can chew. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the writing class. So fun and interesting and I’m really learning a lot. I fear that my interest in writing and the writing class have overshadowed the Anthro class. I’m trying to keep up – but if I don’t get my homework done with P then I fall really far behind. And – since it is a real college course, they have a lot of homework.

Sigh. I wish I had enough energy for both. It is fun taking a class with P. With NANO and launch around the corner, something will have to give.

That said – still on a reading tear. A little bit at a time, and still 5 books behind making my goal of 52 in 52.  I have a quick flight tonight to LA and then back Sunday  – on which I won’t be bringing my surface so no tv/movie distractions!  I currently have 4 books rolling.  Ender’s Game  by Orson Scott Card) – I know, I know, controversy – Orson Scott – not a nice dude.  But I can’t continue to have my scifi geek card if I don’t read this one), Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, A Memoir on Writing by Stephen King (recommended by my prof), and Strunk and White’s Element of Style (again, and this was recommended by Stephen King).   The latter 3 are all actual books, the first is on my kindle.  I’ll bring two with me on this trip so I can read during take off and landing too! 🙂  Let’s see if I can get through two in three days.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Kathy has
read 38 books toward her goal of 52 books.
hide

I just finished reading my favorite book of the year – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. He wrote a magical, nerdy, nostalgic book about a geeky gamer who is trying to find the ultimate ‘easter egg’ (gaming term for a hidden code in a video game that gives the player a prize) within a massive open world/mmo video game and win a multibillion dollar fortune. All the 80’s references were AWESOME. And gave me an opportunity to reach out to the author and asked him how he obtained permission for all of the lyrics and other references in the book. It was insane. And written in first person – very fun. I have recommended it to about 20 people as required reading if you are in the gaming industry. 🙂

So on top of all this reading (to hone my ‘craft’ don’t you know…) I also am writing for class and getting ready for NanoWriMo starting November 1st.   This week we got our first homework back – and the prof said after two additional days of lecture and learning that she wanted us all to rewrite our openings taking her feedback in mind.  PHEW.  Having read my piece out loud to P, I wanted to rewrite a bunch of things too.  So that is our homework this week.

One of the things I love about class is that we write each week.  She gives us a topic (week two – write an interview with your main character to learn more about him/her) and we write for about 20 minutes then she asks for volunteers to read out loud for critiques.   She also taught us how to properly critique constructively and positively.  This week’s writing exercise was to write about the catalyst (the point in the story where the ‘hero’ decides to go willingly or unwillingly on their ‘journey’ – think when Luke Skywalker first meets the droids and there is a message for ObiWan that needs to be delivered, then his farm and aunt/uncle are killed forcing him to go on this journey).

My story (for class anyway) has a willing hero going to college, so figuring out the catalyst has been challenging my brain a bit.  In class this week, I wrote the below dialog to help determine what my catalyst is (the protagonist wants to go to college, but does she know where she wants to live yet?  Having spent the past 8 years living on a studio lot, keeping her real identity a secret – would living amongst 50k students be a) overwhelming and/or b) ruin her cover?  Anywhoo – I didn’t have enough time to finish the thought, but I DID volunteer to read out loud in class.  My content is so simple and happy compared to the rest of the epic saga’s  I wanted to get some feedback early.  I did get some good feedback – none really negative though.  This probably means that the story is SO simple they don’t know how to actually say that.  ha!

Oh well – I’m having a good time.

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane & Stardust

Ocean_at_the_End_of_the_Lane_US_CoverFinished the book The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman last night. It is a small little book, so was a pretty fast read. I’ve had this on my reading list for a while and finally had the opportunity to get into it. Now that I’ve finished, I’m still not sure I understand what happened or what was supposed to be happening in the book, but I enjoyed the story quite a bit. It was mystical, magical and strange, but enjoyable. I think this might be the most creative book I’ve read this year, so I’m giving it a five star rating.

The story is told in flashback mode with a now adult remembering a terrifying period in his childhood. You forget that you’re in flashback mode, because the majority of the story is told in this mode, rather than flipping back and forth. The main character is a 7 year old boy and meets an 11 year old neighbor after one of their house guests commits suicide near her house.

I honestly, didn’t know what was going on for the first fourth of the book, but finally suspended reality and went with it and it became much more enjoyable. It was very descriptive, and considering many of the characters in the book were mystical, he’s done a great job of taking the English countryside in the 1960s and turning it on it’s ear.

After finishing the book, I went to see if Neil Gaiman had any other stories I could read and noticed that he was also the author of the book ‘Stardust’ which was made into a fun movie a few years back with Claire Danes (she was a falling star). I picked up another one of his books to see if I’d like that story as well.  I think I might want to read Stardust as well, even though I’ve already seen the movie.  I read in another review that the Hempstock ladies (the little girl’s family) show up in that book too.  I liked those kooky ladies.

I think now that I’ve finished I should read it again and try to discern a bit more of what was happening. Especially after discovering that Mr Gaiman is the same character that wrote a love story where one of the characters was a ‘falling star’. 🙂 This would be an excellent book for a book club, allowing everyone to debate what the heck is going on and if there are supposed to be parallel storylines going on etc.  Mom – time to pick this book up so we can discuss.

That said – I will not be rereading this book this year – I just completed 32 of the 52 books I want to read this year, and am 4 books behind where I need to be at this point in the year to make my goal. Good news in this, on Monday I’m on a plane for 11.5 hours heading to Tokyo – so that should help me catch up (as long as I don’t get distracted by the video games I just loaded on my lap top, the tv shows I loaded on my surface and the giant fall Vogue I am bringing!) 🙂

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Kathy has
read 32 books toward her goal of 52 books.
hide

 

Candy Crush Detox Day 3

nocandycrush

Okay – I’m on day 3 of no Candy Crush. Made it through the three day weekend. Made it through a couple days at work (but have been pretty busy, so that’s not really a surprise…I do get to play games at work, but this type of game isn’t really what I’m paid to know about). So far so good.

The next few hours will certainly be another test. We are settled in watching the opening NFL game and both of us are on our computers while watching (multitasking of course) – go Wes Welker (fantasy team WR) and Justin Tucker (fantasy kicker)!  Usually though we’re watching Red Zone so the action is non-stop.  Watching just one game can get a little boring when it’s not your team (Go HAWKS!), so I must come up with things to do to occupy my time that don’t have the words Candy or Crush in their title.

Here is my proposed list:
1) Watch the game (of course)
2) clean out my work inbox (almost done with that already – actually taking a break to write this blog – ha!)
3) read some of the other blogs and Writer’s Digest mails I have in my Hotmail account.
4) Book a hotel in NYC for our visit with friends upcoming in October (fun!)
5) Play Small World with P so he can redeem himself from last time
6) Write a book review on City of Bones: Mortal Instruments #1
7) Read these the-30-most-hilarious-autocorrect-struggles-ever (http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/the-30-most-hilarious-autocorrect-struggles-ever)  because they are hilarious!
8) Avoid the Sugar Rush…

Wish me luck!

Candy Crush Detox Day 1

I mentioned yesterday that today I was going to NOT play candy crush.  Full day – no crush!  We have loads of stuff planned for the day; 4m race this am at 9a, grocery shop after that, dog park after that, clean up yard after that, fantasy football research… etc.  Busy, busy this labor day.

That said – waking up at 5:30a is a real test.  This is our normal week day wake up time, mainly because that is when the dogs want their breakfast and when we get up to hit the gym m,w,f. But, on a day like today where we don’t have to leave the house until about 8a to get to the race down at Marymoor park, it leaves me with a little free time.

Here is the plan 1) read some email (I’m getting these great mails from writer’s digest that have little nuggets in them) 2) check out facebook – but NOT Candy Crush.  3) have breakfast and 4) start up Skyrim again.

pax2

PAX Critter no.1

P and I went to the Penny Arcade Expo yesterday (PAX for those in the know) and besides coming away with a new Star Trek Catan game (!!), and once again longing for some very expensive gaming tables, we watched the demo for Bethesda’s upcoming Elder Scrolls Online and feel we need to try and complete more of the Elder Scroll’s Skyrim before it comes out.  That’s saying something – Skyrim has over 100 hours of content and the UI is a little jenky (why we stopped playing before).

pax1

PAX Critter no. 2

You may ask yourself, as I ask myself, why not use this time to ‘write’… well first, I AM writing.  See: ‘blog’ writing.  Next, I haven’t gotten into the groove of writing or forming real thoughts this early in the morning.  I know a few published authors who use this time (some get up even earlier than me) to crank out a couple thousand words.  Not me.   I usually use this time to drink a protein shake, listen to the news (on the radio *gasp* how old school) and catch up on games I need to try out for work, whilst my brain wakes up.  That nasty nasty Candy Crush has really sidelined ‘real’ game playing.  So today – as part of the Candy Crush detox, I will play SOMETHING else this AM.

 

Candy Crush and other ‘mundane’ distractions

I’ll admit, I have a bit of an addictive personality. I usually dive head first into something that interests me. Take the ‘writing bug’ that I currently have (and have had for a while). I’m in love with the idea of it. I took the novel writing class this summer, participate in NaNoWriMo each year, and now have signed up for the 9 month course on writing popular fiction. I went out and purchased a bunch of tools (The Write Brain, Story Forge cards etc.) to help spur me on. I started this blog to encourage regular writing (knowing my mom is reading it. ).

candy crush

And then, an intern of ours at work did a presentation on ‘free to play video games’ and introduced me to Candy Crush. Candy Crush is this Bejeweled like hybrid that lives on Facebook and mobile devices. Apparently in Korea this ‘free’ game makes $40M a day… Anywhoo, in addition to having this addictive personality, I also can easily get distracted, and Candy Crush is bright and shiny and has been taking up a bit of my free time lately – when I should be writing. (No, I haven’t spent any money, I just used my ‘free turns’ and wait for friends to send me more. Apparently everyone I know is wasting time on this game too.). I must stop playing that stupid game. I’ve been stuck on a level for a week now and it is beyond frustrating. So many things I could be spending my time on besides this.

Writing for one. I actually have an idea that I want to flesh out before class starts in October. Figuring out my fantasy football draft choices (I’m picking fourth on Wednesday this week and that puts me in a weird spot – Jamaal Charles?! Really?) for two. Trying to finish this City of Bones: Mortal Instruments YA crapola I’m reading (hence the ‘mundane’ comment in the title – that’s what this author calls regular humans – but more on this book later in a review when I finish). How about playing a ‘real’ game – I just picked up copies of Saints Row IV, Splinter Cell, Disney Infinity and Madden 25 at work… those are fun, REAL games I could be wasting time on. Or gosh, cleaning up my garden (the tomatos are growing like mad out there)… but no, Candy Crush keeps sucking me back in. ARGH.

Perhaps tomorrow (Monday, Labor Day, day of no labor) I will set a goal not to play Candy Crush at all. That is the goal. Why not set that goal for today you ask? Well, I’ve already played five turns and am about to give it another go as soon as I hit publish. (it’s a sickness I tell you – don’t start playing!).