Archive for the ‘Web Goodies’ Category

Go ahead. Watch it. I’ll wait the two and a half minutes it’ll take you to do so, and then we can talk.

Other than the fact that the mere concept of Teddy Bears doing battle with the monsters under the bed is fantastic beyond belief, what I like most about it is that there is a lot of story told in a minimal amount of time. It was both self-contained, and part of a greater unknown story.

When the short film is done I find myself thinking about the world where the story takes place. I can imagine that what I’ve just seen is just a small part of a greater struggle. It isn’t just the story of this boy and his bear, the latter of which who has been triumphant in his most recent duties, but the story of all Teddy Bears. My mind wanders to the bear heads on spikes at the beginning. What happened to those children?

A story well-told is the kind that has a life beyond the page. Or in this case, beyond the screen.

People tend to put stock in the full-length feature films, the novels, the five-act plays. Heck, I’m as guilty of this tendency as the next person. I overlook the little things in life, and then something like this pops up that reminds me that great things come in small packages.

Makes me want to grab my collections of short stories and one-act plays off the shelf so I can sit back and enjoy stories that I can get start to finish in less than an hour but will stick in my mind for far longer.

What’s your favorite short story or video? I’d love some recommendations.



So I’m behind on word count. What else is new?

However, there are a lot of people who are NOT behind on word count and doing a fantastic job putting their writing where their mouth is.

For instance, lets take a look at Alex Grover who is writing a novel. He is not only participating in NaNoWriMo but also No-Shave November. Every day he’s been putting up a post detailing how his beard is growing in as well as the ups and downs of his word count. Last I saw he was kicking his novel’s ass. I wish I had the time to keep up with it day to day because he’s posting pictures, word counts, anecdotes, and snippets from his novel in progress.

The Daily 400 just had a charming post about the things authors research even though they aren’t serial killers. He’s also been updating his blog with his word counts and doing a phenomenal job.

Spilled Ink recently reported skipping three days of writing, no big though because she was already so far ahead she was still ahead by 1,000 words at the end of her hiatus.

They have skills.

I’m telling you, there are some motivated, dedicated people out there, and many of them are detailing their writing journeys on their blogs. Some people say they do it because it keeps them honest and accountable. Others maybe just get caught up in the craziness of a month and want to detail their journey for posterity. For those people looking to procrastinate, or live vicariously through other people there is lots of fun to be had by just seeing what other people are doing.

Me? I need to put my big girl pants on and start writing on weekends. I had plans to get it done weekdays only and having my weekends free to fraternize. Then I got sick and my word counts took a dive. I’m 10,000 words behind and if I keep to my original schedule I need to put in 4,000 word days. That is not happening, because today was supposed to be one of them, and the brain is not able to work that hard.

In order to pull ahead and win I’m going to have to write like the wind. If I pretend I’m George R. R. Martin I have a theme song to spur me onward.

In fact, I could also pretend I’m fellow Wisconsinite Patrick Rothfuss.

Now if only I could grow me an epic beard…

There’s something strangely satisfying about creating something from nothing. You sit down with a handful of dice and a short while later you have something that was not there before: a character. Not right away, of course. It takes time to decide who you are, who you are going to be.

Sometimes this process is easy. Something about the game setting speaks to you, or perhaps it is an idea that has been worming its way through your subconscious for a long time, waiting for the opportunity to put it into practice. Other times you have a concept for what a character is, but the question of who the character is is a mystery. For example: The character is a gnome barbarian. According to the dice rolls the gnome is tall for its species. It is middle aged. It is also a level one character and therefore is a novice in the world of adventuring. That is all you know. And then the DM speaks, setting the scene for yourself and the other players gathered around the table, and in a few short moments you will learn who your character is.

Playing any tabletop role playing game is an adventure not just in the literal sense of game mechanics, but also in regard to being able to be what your are not for the span of an evening. Losing yourself in a character, however,  is not always something easily achieved. Recently my gaming group has been working through Pathfinder’s Jade Regent and while the little goblin gunslinger I’ve been allowed to play is fantastic on paper pinning him down as a character has been a bit more rough. The first session we sat down was pained, every move or comment he made never seemed right. My vision of what he was conflicted with who he was.

It seems weird to say that. This character is something I created. I should know who and what he is without a second thought. And yet, I didn’t. You’ll hear authors talk about similar problems as they work their way through a story, realizing later that something doesn’t fit and needing to go back to repair or recast. Playing an RPG isn’t so different, only I find the indecision that much more painful. You are the character and the character is you and yet…there’s no connection. It takes time.

Other characters seem to jump off the page fully formed. This past Friday my group played a one-shot with pre-made characters, which means I had very little decision making to do in the way of what the character was. The papers were laid out on the table, each with a picture and all the pertinent stats and a name. This leaves a player in a precarious position. Often the “who” portion of the character is slowly formed along with the “what”. Being given the “what” means snap decisions have to be made based on the information already given. Its a lot like playing an improv game in the theatre. They give you the body and you provide the heart. Much to my surprise the character leaped out at me and made it very clear who and what he was. A pretty face, yes, but also a huge foul-up. Within two rounds I knew who he was and had the greatest fun playing an elf Indiana Jones/Han Solo type.

The DM mentioned, “Wow, you have that likeable a-hole down pat.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “And it’s so much fun.”

It truly was a fantastic experience. When something is right, it’s right.

For those curious about DnD and how it works or if you’re nerdy like me and enjoy listening/watching other people play might I suggest The Nerdgasm Podcast Episode 41. The crew over there actually invited my own DM to run them through a beginning game. If you’ve never played before this will give you a general feel for what goes on, or bring a smile to the face of anyone who likes to see new players enjoying themselves for the first time.

I would also suggest the star-studded Author D&D that happened at Legendary ConFusion this year. Run by Peter V. Brett and Howard Taylor the whole session was probably one of the most enjoyable I’ve seen. (Acquisitions Inc with Pat Rothfuss from PAX Prime was pretty good as well.) Author Players include: Kelley Armstrong, Myke Cole, Wesley Chu, Brian McClellan, Rich Morris, Cherie Priest, Michael Sullivan, and Sam Sykes


Posted: June 4, 2014 in Web Goodies
Tags: , ,

Wandering around the internet, as I tend to do, I came upon a clip about John Green and his book-turned-movie-coming-out-soon The Fault In Our Stars. This clip did not put me in mind of the charming book detailing the romance of two cancer kids that touches the heart of all who read it. Admittedly, I have not picked it up yet. Something about two teens with cancer mixed with a title based on a line from Julius Caesar  does not make me think it’s going to end well. In fact, the book would probably cause tears to gush forth from my eyes. I’m all for cathartic moments through art…I just don’t go looking for them. For example: I picked up The Time Traveler’s Wife the other summer, read it, bawled my heart out for the last quarter of the book and at the end of all things loved it to pieces. However, I don’t typically go looking for things that make me sad. I’m very sensitive when it comes to death in general, so I’m not a fan of picking up a book knowing someone is going to die and I’m going to get all upset about it.

Anyways, I digress. The point is, the clip made me think of something else John Green is famous for: his youtube channel vlogbrothers. For those of you who have yet to stumble upon this little gem the basic premise that started this channel was that for one year John and his brother Hank would communicate with each other only via their youtube channel. That’s over simplifying it. They were allowed to see each other face-to-face, they could call each other…it was more a voluntary vow of foregoing text-based communication. No texts, no IMs(back when AIM was a thing), and no e-mails. Maybe texting wasn’t so big back then…let me think back to 2007 and what I was doing…yeah, texting was still kind of new, like “50 characters per text that’s all you get” kind of new. Anyways, they would take turns, starting on January 1st, posting vlogs to each other. They called it Brotherhood 2.0. (more…)