Friday, December 1, 2017

Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire Review

If you want to get an MMORPG player passionately riled up, all you have to do is ask their opinion of one of three subjects (or all three—and be prepared to sit there for a bit): microtransactions, automated group finder tools, and mounts. Anyone who’s played any modern MMORPG for a length of time will have strong feelings about all three subjects.

It’s easy to understand why. All three are major game changers and can either dismantle or upgrade the worlds we’re comfortably immersed in. Let’s break it down:

Microtransactions: Let’s see. Do I want to click a couple buttons in a UI window and instantly pay real money to get a super cool item, appearance, or boost that could have been added to the game through other means (thus potentially taking away from the base game’s obtainable items and/or assets)?

Automated group finder tools: How about clicking a couple buttons to not have to communicate with players and instead be instantly and automatically paired with them to do this group activity that was initially created to encourage communication?

Mounts: Mounts look badass and make us feel badass as we’re romping through piles of bad guys on our way to Named Quest Mob #45, but they also act as a highway, letting us pass over and consequently ignore 75% of the world we’re invested in. Flying mounts are an even worse offender.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Year End Review and a Bright Start to 2017

Once-a-year blogs are totally okay, right? Sure, why not!

2017 is newly dawning, but I wanted to take the time to talk about 2016 first. 2016 in a lot of regards wasn't a fantastic year for my family-- especially the first half-- but the last half took a far better turn I'm happy to say.

2017 is looking to be an excellent year. I'm not big on resolutions, but I do have some definite goals I'm planning on achieving in the coming year. First, I wanted to talk about what I accomplished in 2016. Focusing on the positives is essential for looking and planning forward. Despite 2016 having a rough start, I achieved quite a bit.

I was hired for a position that's starting to open a whole lot of doors for me. I'm a digital marketing specialist for Legal InSites. We're a startup company that's had an extraordinary 2016 and have plenty of big plans for the future. I get to be creative, write, manage content, help clients get the word out about their legal practices, and take on some really interesting and challenging projects.

Here's one project I had the pleasure of working on which involved interviewing legal technology vendors and writing a fun article about artificial intelligence. Here's another where I babbled a whole lot about legal writing and the power of storytelling. I love diving into deep projects like these. I also love helping small practice lawyers get to do what they love-- help those in need have a voice.

I'm more confident than I've ever been regarding my writing skills, editing skills, project management skills, and leadership skills. Some projects I take on challenge me like nothing has in the past, and I find myself excited to take on new challenges each and every day. It's awesome.

I've also had my first professional rate short story fiction sale in 2016. It's one of my earlier stories (Trail of Stars) and one of my favorites. It's due to be published in an upcoming POC anthology that will be available in January on Amazon. It's science fiction and space opera-y and all kinds of fun.

I've written more fiction in 2016 than I have in the past couple of years. I haven't written as much as I would have liked to, but I'm happy to say I at least finished one new, large story, started a couple others, and continued submitting stories on a regular basis to professional-paying markets.

I started submitting Captive by the Fog to new markets as well. I've received two rejections thus far, but they've both been near miss rejections and include personal notes. That tells me that I will be able to find a permanent home for the novel if I keep trying. And I will. I'm getting very close.

On a more hobby-related note, I've taken up the reins of raid leader in World of Warcraft this past year. I've been a part of raid teams for years, but I've never actually tried leading. Leading lets me form the type of group I really want to form, plus it lets me bring together friends both new and old (shout out to Ben for the awesome pic edit above-- that's my bear!). We have fun, enjoy a truly cooperative, laid-back atmosphere, and we kick butt without taking the game super seriously. It's win-win for everyone.

It's also satisfying on a personal level. I never thought I could lead, but with the right company, a bit of help from my trusted friends (shout outs to Chantra, Megan, and Chris!), and a bit of courage, I find I do fairly well. Leading vocally also helps me feel less anxious speaking to others which helps in other aspects of my life.

Micah, Jeremy, and I have also started seriously creating indie 8-bit RPGs that we're aiming to place on the market. We're working on our first game with a few friends now. It's called Mender's Strife and will be available for PC and mobile platforms. I'm writing the story/script. I still sometimes wonder why the hell they trust me to write this stuff, but I just have to trust them. Writing a game script has always been one of my bucket list goals. It's awesome getting to see it through.

On that note, I've also made some decent strides in 2016 towards being "unapologetically me" so to speak. I've aimed to surround myself with those who support and care about me for who I already am-- not for some silly umbrella they think I fit under or want me to fit under. No one in the world is like me. I may as well be the best version of myself I can. That's the trend I plan on continuing in 2017.

Good things are to come. I can feel it.

Happy New Year, folks!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Update

I suppose I'm overdue for an update (maybe, possibly!). Thanksgiving seemed like a good time to turn some of the thoughts in my head into words as I summarize the past year in my usual list sorta way. The year's not over with, of course, but despite a bit of a slow start and some frustrations in the earlier half, the second half of 2015 has been, well... pretty damn good. Thanks to everyone who's close to me that's made this possible. Most of you know who you are already, but here's a rundown of who and what I'm thankful for this year:

I'm thankful for Debbie and Nana who support me in my writerly endeavors and always have my back even when my freelance jobs don't pay the best or turn out as expected. We ran into a few rough months this year money-wise, but we made it through just like we always do. I'm thankful for the patience you have with me, the strength you both show, and the support you offer in regards to me finding my happiness in all aspects of life. I know I'm not always easy to live with, haha.

I'm thankful for Amber, who's shown me sides of myself I hadn't even realized existed. You've given me the extra boost I've needed, babe, to keep moving forward at times and keep my fiction goals centered in front of my vision. You help ground me. You help remind me that I'm worth fighting for, that my future's worth fighting for, and that my voice deserves to be heard. You give me hope-- in us, and in myself. Thank you so much for making your way into my life.

I'm thankful for all my close friends and family members who continue to be supportive of me and my endeavors. Those who read my short stories and offer feedback, those who are just there to lend an ear when I get kinda mopey at 1 a.m. for no particular good reason (hey, tanking annoyances are srs business at 1 a.m... lol). Special shoutouts to Micah and Cav.

I'm also thankful to my more distant friends and family members who I may not speak to that often, but who I know are still there, always supportive, always keeping an eye on me. Yes, Angel, you'll always be protective of me and love me even with our distance. That fact's a comfort to me. 

I'm grateful to Ryan, Keith, and the rest of the guys at LogicForce Consulting who've given me a pretty great opportunity this year to become the company's person-who-writes-all-the-things even though I don't have a legal degree or tech degree. I'm also thankful for John, my Den of Geek editor, who gives me the opportunity to write about gaming stuff on the weekends and dive into MMOs that I still love even though I don't quite have the time for them I used to.

I'm grateful for my past which has fueled me into the person I am today as well as my future which I hope holds bright things. I'm grateful for hope. I'm grateful for having loved ones to depend on in times of need. I'm grateful for my memories, my health, and for having the opportunity to make each day as meaningful as I can. I'm grateful for continued brave moments and for watching others around me succeed in their dreams.

In short, if you're reading this, there's probably a good chance I'm grateful for you. Thank you. <3 

Oh, and yes, some of you might recognize the header image. That's indeed Ely lake. ;) I stole the pic from Aunt Sandy on Facebook one day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and may the rest of 2015 and 2016 dawn bright for us all. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Looking Toward the Sky

It's been a while since I've updated again, but I'm happy to say these past few months have led to a few truly awesome opportunities in my career. We decided to relaunch Junkies Nation last month and I was brought in as the Editor-in-Chief. It's been a while since I've been asked to spread my leadership wings of sorts, but I find I enjoy it immensely. My team of writers is fantastic and I've had the chance to reach out to various game developers which is a new learning experience for me-- but one I'm extremely grateful for.

I'm also able to write my big, long editorials again! I've missed that so. Here's the first I've published. All about WildStar, World of Warcraft, and the need for risk taking in MMORPG development. I have a couple more in the planning stages as well as another editorial that's due to be published in a couple of days (more on that soon!).

I find these long-winded projects tend to be the most satisfying for me. They allow me to dig deep and really sink my teeth into subjects that are near and dear to my heart. I'm still a gamer, obviously, but being able to blend together gaming, thinking about gaming in critical/objective ways, and sharing my thoughts with the community is super satisfying in a way I didn't really imagine was possible.

Here's to life, and all the strange, wonderful turns it takes.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Moving Forward

I know-- this blog has been overdue of an update for a while now. My career's taken a few sharp turns in recent months, and truth be told, I wasn't sure where these bumpy roads would take me. I'm still not sure, but most days I find comfort in the fact that I'm moving forward bit by bit and take it from there. I think that's all we can do at times.

I'm still writing for Rift Junkies and Junkies Nation when I get a chance to do so, but as some of you may have noticed, those chances haven't been that frequently lately. I've been having to spend a great deal of my time looking for copywriting/freelance work wherever I can find it. The good news is that I may have some good news regarding a new client (and a cool site) in a couple of weeks. For now, I'm trying to keep on keepin' on. I did finally add my portfolio link to this site, though!

In the realm of fiction writing, I've actually had a bit of a breakthrough in a side project I recently started. The piece I'm working on will probably end up a novel, but for now it's kind of taking the shape of an erotica-based series of stories. Yeah. Me, erotica, right? My protagonist's kind of like a female version of Indiana Jones but with a bumbling, goofy side. It's an adventure story, but also one embedded in romance and erotic elements. We'll see how it turns out. ;) For now, I'm content with the fact that working on that project soothes me like nothing else quite can.

I'm also in the groundwork phases of a new collaborative fiction project with a friend. It's shaping up pretty nicely. I'll toss out one hint: Outer space!

Oh, one last thing. If anyone's going to be playing The Elder Scrolls Online, lemme know. I'll be playing and writing a few guides along the way.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks... and an Update!

Turns out I'm still pretty awful about this whole "update the blog" thing. Whoops. In hindsight, I also realize that I mentioned writing goals back in January and never actually returned to those goals. Whoops again. 2013 isn't over yet, however, so I'm not going to make this a goal update just yet. You never know what awesome things December will bring! At least, that's my hope.

Instead, I will take a moment to offer out some thanks, because, well, Thanksgiving and all.

First and foremost, I'm thankful for my friends and family members who encourage me, put up with me, and put up with my "3 AM = writing time" oddities. I know I don't quite make it easy. Ever.

I'm thankful to the two dudes behind Junkies Nation/Rift Junkies who gave me a chance what, 3 years ago, now? Time passes so quickly. I was promoted to Senior Editor this year, and we also launched a main portal site that encompasses MMORPGs, console games, and all things lovingly geeky. I get to write lots of editorials and opinion-related columns that dig a little deeper now, and I love it so.

Speaking of which, I'm ever-so-thankful to my friends and family members who have shared and read my articles and short stories. I've had a few brave moments this past year and am discovering that I do have courage in me, after all. I did my first in-person developer interview earlier in the year. It was pretty awesome to come home and have a handful of groupies eagerly awaiting my article. I also got to help an indie game developer create a crafting system for a new browser game we'll be able to play one day.

This year's been pretty monumental in the fact that I've earned roughly three-quarters of my yearly income from writing alone. No, it hasn't always been easy. There were months where I had to write about silly things like rice cookers and party tableware and other odd marketing content to pay the bills, but for the most part I can say I wrote about things I loved and was passionate about (yay for video games!). I haven't wrote nearly as much fiction as I would have liked to this past year, but at the end of the day I can say I earn most of my living doing something I love, and that's something I'm immensely proud of. And no, I have not abandoned my latest fantasy novel project. I will make time for fiction.

I'm also thankful for quite a few poetical-sounding things like the sky above, the ground below, a beautiful dusk, and the chance to begin each day anew. I'm thankful to my parents who raised me to be me, even if that me is sometimes timid and not-too-graceful. My mom and dad live on in me and I'm grateful for that.

I'm thankful for brave moments. I've finally been brave enough this past year to begin making progress toward ending this period of eternally-single-for-seven-plus-years that's a part of me I don't like to admit often. I guess I felt I needed to stabilize my own footwork before getting someone else intertwined and causing the two of us to go toppling over. That's not to say I've made a ton of progress-- yep, I'm still single-- but I'm enjoying getting to know new women, having a few brave moments, and learning more about myself in return.

And last but not least, I'm thankful for hope. Life wouldn't be possible without it.

Happy holidays, everyone! May your days and nights be filled with joy, hope, and a few brave moments.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm Penumbra's Rising Talent! Free Short Story - Currents

I have another treat for you all! As most of you know, I've been writing short stories for the past couple of years or so. I've always enjoyed writing short pieces, but since my rediscovery of the Writers of the Future contest and my hop back into the writing world fo' realz™, I decided I needed to seriously sit down and write a new speculative fiction short story every three months in order to submit to the contest every quarter. After all, what did I have to lose? 

Short stories are tough, man. My first couple of stories weren't the best. I was a bit rusty. Plus, you know, I've always been kinda wordy when it comes to writing (hence Captive by the Fog), so writing stuff that was, um, not wordy was hard

But I stuck with it, and I'm super glad to say that I've made progress! I've received two Honorable Mentions from the Writers of the Future contest now, which is pretty awesome. The contest is friggen' huge. Aside from submitting the stories to the contest, I've also been slowly getting in the swing of submitting my stories to other professional markets. I haven't had a professional sale yet, but I have had a near-miss, if you will. With benefits!

One of my favorite short stories, "Currents", was picked up by Penumbra as May's Rising Talent story. This is the same story I had quite a bit of help on from fellow WotFers, so I'm happy to have found a home for it. It also was thoroughly enjoyable to write and features one of my favorite things ever to write about-- descriptions of nature. Yep-- it's in the Oceans issue of Penumbra! Water's pretty awesome to describe. 

Okay, enough babbling. Go check the story out for yourself! "Currents" isn't in the May issue of Penumbra, but it is a free read on Penumbra's website. That means you're free to share it with all of your friends if you enjoy the piece.

Go take a look and tell me your thoughts! I start off the story with a brief, uh, babble-fest essay of sorts, as a warning. Just in case you haven't read enough yet. Or something like that.