Tag Archives: writing

Once more unto the breach…

Making a habit out of this is harder than I ever give it credit. I want to write. I have the ambition to. I even have the motivation. But then other things distract me, like video games, or… working out. So I end up… not. It does give me good fodder for updates though.

So it’s been… nearly five months since my last post. Since then I’ve dropped “several” pounds (30 or so), played some video games, written some stuff and, in general, been a very busy boy. I proposed to my then girlfriend, now fiancee, and Christmas has occurred. A busy time for all, and no time for anything.

This, of course, doesn’t make me special, or stand out from any of the hundreds of thousands of other people who did probably much of the same over that time period. However, it does mark several momentous occasions in my life – notably the proposal. Of course, it would have been far more interesting if I had updated here around the time that had happened (Halloween, for reference), but again – busy.

So the question is… why am I updating now?
Good question.

The answer, I guess, is because I want to. I want to write more, I really do. I just always get sidetracked. I sit here waiting for a scheduled Google+ Hangout with a group of friends from an online forum and I was thinking “Hey, now’s a good time to knock out a blog post.” And I was right, it is. But what to say…

I recently beat Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which was an excellent game. I’m looking forward to picking up the… third in the series? Lords of Shadow 2 when it comes out next month (Note: I probably won’t get it next month). Yes, “2” is the third in the series. A Nintendo 3DS game, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, is the direct sequel to the first title, and it was released for the Xbox Arcade in October. So I’ll play that next.

The game relaunches the Castlevania franchise with a new storyline and approach to the classic series. I appreciated what was changed with the game, what was kept, and how subtle nuances that made it feel like a Castlevania game were worked in. The biggest change… “feel-wise” for me was the music. The Castlevania games have always had amazing soundtracks, and this title was no exception, but none of the classic songs were there, like “Vampire Killer” or “Bloody Tears.” They were missed, but I enjoyed the game’s soundtrack nonetheless. Mechanically, it felt much like playing the Playstation 2 Castlevania titles, but more polished. Overall I’d give the game a solid 8/10.

Since then, I’ve started playing Dishonored, which is fantastic so far.

Other than that (and the proposal) life has been… normal. Work, food, gym. I just got over debilitating illness – my first in a year – and my stomach is still touchy about what I put in it, but all in all things are looking good. Band stuff has been steady, the Call of Cthulhu game I run has been good. All in all times are good. And I’m not even waiting for the other shoe to drop… what has become of me?

Look for another update this weekend, hopefully… and more time in the future. For now, I go to listen to music, prepare for the Hangout and dream of dark skies and madness.


Returning to Arkham…

Or at least Somerville.

NecronomiCon-Providence ended Sunday, late afternoon, as the stars came out of alignment, and we made our return to the northern Boston area. Now… yes I could have posted Sunday evening, or even Monday – but truth be told I was exhausted and worked Tuesday so I decided to push this off for a day or two.

So let’s start by talking about the convention. First off, it was amazing. A huge thank you and shoutout to Niels Hobbs, Anthony Teth, Carmen Marusich and the rest of the The Lovecraft Arts and Sciences Council. You gents and ladies did an amazing job bringing everything together, despite running around like chickens with your heads cut off throughout the entire weekend. 2015!

Highlights! Well gaming was certainly up there. For those that don’t know, I run a Call of Cthulhu game every other week, and have been running games in general for years. However, I rarely get to play in them and I have, in fact, never played Call of Cthulhu (before this weekend). So that was an amazing part of the weekend. Playing in Jeff Carey’s and Mark Morrison’s games was a unique experience, especially with Mark, who came up with a one-of-a-kind scene on the fly and ran it for the group of us playing with him Sunday morning. We even walked up to Prospect Park up on College Hill to play – a site were Lovecraft used to sit and write.

Beyond the gaming, there were a lot of other amazing things that happened over the course of the weekend. The Emerging Scholarship Symposium panels were unique and interesting (although a bit deep for 9 a.m. And of course, listening to S.T. Joshi speak was a fun experience, especially considering how powerful of a speaker he is.

I also got a chance to talk with some major players in the CoC tabletop universe, like Scott Glancy, Mark Morrison, Tom Lynch and a few others. Oh, and Sandy Peterson was there. Of course, those conversations took a turn toward writing for the most part, and I may have some more interesting news related to that in the future.

For anyone interested in catching up on more information on the convention, Mike Davis of The Lovecraft eZine has been posting videos on his YouTube page, and one attendee, “Steve Ahlquist,” has posted some videos on his own page as well.

Moving on from the convention though… we’re back in the thick of Lovecraft Country, and happy to be home with our cats. Stay tuned for more, soon.


Oh hey look at that…

So yeah, it’s been well over a year since last time I posted. Life has been hectic. Work, play, more work, less play, some lifestyle changes, etc. But I’m back! Here’s what has been going on.

I’m in a band now – Origin of Inertia. We do nerd metal, it’s a thing.

I started changing my diet and eating Paleo – which is basically the removal of heavily processed food, most simple carbs and grains and legumes from your diet.  Basically, I don’t eat bread, pasta, sugar, baked goods, potatoes (often), rice (often), cereal or beans (often). It’s interesting, and I definitely feel healthier and like I have more energy.  Plus it’s an awesome excuse to eat steak. Every. Night.

I also started working out – then stopped – then started again more recently with more motivational support. It has been great. I feel stronger and I have more energy (again).

I’m drinking less. What?

I’m running a biweekly Call of Cthulhu game, woo creativity!

So what does that mean for Aberro Specus? Well, with all the “lifestyle” changes I’ve been making the primary goal is, kinda obviously, to be happier. And non-work-related writing makes me happy, so my goal is to start posting here again, and stick with it (the hard part). I’m going to make it easy on myself with some sub-goals.

  • Post once a week.
  • Post quality content.
  • Talk about shit that is actually going on in my life as well as random musings.

That’s it. The Nerd Fitness community takes a gaming approach to fitness and setting goals, so I’m going to incorporate this into mine. So hopefully that will keep my posting. There are several new types of posts that will show up then, in order to keep myself organized and motivated:

  • Workout related stuff (sorry if you don’t care)/weekly journal of fitness and nutrition.
  • New life goals
  • Home improvement projects

That last one might have thrown you – but the idea is that I’m funneling money saved from drinking less and some other things into getting some new furniture, and more importantly, building new furniture – as well as some other things for the house. So stay tuned there.

That’s it for now – Stay tuned for the first weekly fit/nut update on Monday.


Hello, again

*blink, blink* AH!!!! The sunlight… it burns the retinas.

But seriously, “what the hell!?” you might be thinking. I’d be thinking it too. Too be fair, I did complete Nano, so I did a lot of writing… I’m also working AS a writer. So I spend 90% of my day typing away… I generally don’t want to come home and do more of it.

The problem is that I have to in order to complete personal projects… right?

Right. So we come full circle, returning to, well, here. I’ve always been a prolific writer… just not steady prolific. I go frequent stints without outputting anything, then in a flurry of activity do too much, and burn out the creative synapses. I hear that it’s a common issue, actually… with many creative types. Only when you rely on that creativity for profit, it’s generally a bad idea, no? So to work around that we practice moderation.

Moderation in all things.

Some of you may know, and many may not know, that I’m a Buddhist. More in nature than in practice. I do believe in 98.7% of the tenets of Buddhism, from Enlightenment to moderation. I also don’t give a rat’s ass about the organized “sit here and recite koans till your mouth bleeds and your hands have become fused into a claw-like shape. Fuck that nonsense. There’s a certain level of… un-authenticity behind anyone who says that I can’t reach enlightenment without zazen practice 4 times a day. To you I say “And?”

Brad Warner, of punk rock fame and Zen obscurity… wait… strike that, reverse it… recently made a bit of a kerfuffle in this area. What is authenticity, and who decides what is authentic, and what is wrong? Without going into detail, because Master Warner (is that right… Priest? Awesome-dude-who-does-the-meditation-thing? Meh…) says it better than I would anyway, plus you should visit his site, I think he’s dead on here. I think that there’s a bit too much focus on who the person is, and not what they do. Who cares if I think The Beatles are overrated? Which I do (their early stuff anyway). Yes, it’s been some of the most influential music ever made… but that doesn’t mean it’s good.

My point is that there’s not enough moderation in thought and action going around these days… so I should make an extra effort to bring more into my own life.

So… the goal here is to steadily post again… also finish a few projects that I’ve been sitting on for far too long. From The Cult of Done manifesto… I should abandon those… but again, all things in moderation – I agree with some of the points of The Cult of Done, not all of it.

So look forward to seeing new and interesting things here in the near future… and scream at me if you don’t.

~Ian


NaNo – Day 1

TypewriterDay 1 of NaNoWriMo is officially over, and I have to say, went very well.

Most of the people I know met their word counts, and those that didn’t are planning on catching up at the first official Boston write-in tonight. My word count? Not as high as a few of the fellow Boston WriMo’s that I know, but 2002 isn’t too shabby I think. I’m happy at any rate.

Brandon informed me that I should have a quote of the day from each day of writing, so here was last nights. And I will preface it by saying yes, I am writing a horror novel.

I don’t bother telling her that my dream that night had centered around a man wearing her face as a mask slicing slivers of my skin off and feeding them to dogs with the heads of infants.

And that, ladies and gents, was my first day of NaNoWriMo. Expect more soon!


NaNoing Time!

TyperwriterIn just a few short days I will be undertaking, for the fourth time, NaNoWriMo. This time it’s different, this time it’s grander… this time… maybe I won’t fail. Haha.

I do have to apologize for the lack of updates lately. Things have been a bit hectic here. Job interviews and birthday celebrations and Halloween parties… etc, etc. And now I’m gearing up for NaNo. I can’t promise you regular updates through the month of November, but I can promise you this… you will get far too many posts about what I’m working on, excerpts, word counts… and the like. Far more than you’ll want to read.

But things will go back to normal in December… maybe. Chuck Wendig doesn’t call it “National Edit Your Shit Month” (NaEdYoShiMo) for nothing… Although if you need a break after the insanity of November, you could always wait for March and NaNoEdMo

So why do NaNoWriMo? I know I covered this before, but in an attempt to make my insanity understandable, as well as perhaps draw you, my faithful reader-s- into the insanity with me, I will address it one more time.

NaNoWriMo isn’t about winning. It isn’t about losing. It’s about writing. Whether or not you’re a seasoned writer, maybe even a published writer, or an amateur with maybe 500 words of fiction written down since your birth… NaNoWriMo can be for you. No one there really cares how many words you write, or how many times your main character magically comes back from the dead… or magically avoids an oncoming train… they care about writing. Getting words on paper. Making them mean something (at least to you)… and having fun doing it. The point of this exercise, if for nothing else, is to have fun.

NaNoBoston2011Now, there are people who would tell you that the point is to write a novel… yeah, sure… that can be a point. But some people really just can’t write 50,000 words in 30 days. Hell, some people don’t even consider 50,000 words a novel. But that’s up to you. Maybe you just want to add another 50,000 words to an already existing 60,000 word novel you’re working on. Maybe you want to write a series of short stories that happen to fit together in a cohesive manner. Maybe you just want a good excuse to take the time to write. Whatever helps you, let it help you. And most importantly, let it matter to you.

I think my final point, really, is that NaNoWriMo isn’t about meeting a word goal, it’s not about writing a novel (well, it is, but…), it’s about challenging yourself and having fun doing it. And it doesn’t hurt to meet other people who are insane about a similar interest at the same time – wrimo’s unite! haha.

So as November 1st rolls around, if you really aren’t the novel writing type… challenge yourself in another way. Start a blog on your favorite topic and try to write 50,000 words worth of posts by the end of the month. Start a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to try but have been scared of failing at… Hell, READ 50,000 novels in a month (okay… maybe not that many). But the point is, challenge yourself, and as always, have fun.


An Interview with Chuck Wendig

Freelance Penmonkey logo care of Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.Update: The Critical Table isn’t dead, Courtney informed me today that he has been having trouble with his hosting, and lost a lot of data, but he’s redesigning the site and it should be up “in the next month or so.” Good to hear!

Seeing as The Critical Table appears to now be… defunct, I decided to repost this interview I did with Chuck Wendig over there on here. His answers are quite insightful and interesting.

The theme of the interview is gaming, and writing for a gaming company (in this case, White Wolf Publishing). Chuck Wendig has worked on a variety of their World of Darkness books, specifically as the main developer for Hunter: the Vigil. You can visit Wendig’s site at terribleminds, or pre-order his new book Double Dead which comes out November 15th. I appreciate Wendig taking time out of his busy schedule of writing, blogging, and slavery to his new overlord baby, to do this interview. Originally posted in August, 2011, at The Critical Table.

IEM: How did you get into writing for White-Wolf Publishing? I know you worked on the Hunter series, as well as others in the World of Darkness game, but did you start on Hunter, or did you start off on another project?
CW: A long time ago, in a double-wide trailer far away… I read on the Internet about a writer’s all-call they were putting out for Hunter: The Reckoning. They meaning, Ken Cliffe and Bruce Baugh. I answered with a pretentious 1000-word essay on the loci of fear. Somehow, my bullshit got in their eyes and convinced them to hire me.

IEM: How much work really goes into putting together a source book? As the Developer on the Hunter: The Vigil book, how much time did you spend going over all the material other people put into it, vs. working on the material you wrote for the book?
Chuck WendigCW: Quite a lot of work, though a lot more work for a core like H:tV. Bibles and outlines and hiring writers and tons of emails and first drafts and second drafts and art notes and so forth. The material I wrote for the book came after the other material hit my inbox — I filled in gaps at the end of the process. I don’t know how long, exactly — with some writers, minimal work, with others, a lot of work.

IEM: How much time do you spend re-writing material after it goes to the play testers? Is it kind of a back and forth “This doesn’t work? – Okay try it now” thing, or is it more of a “Here’s everything we found that we think needs improvement. – Okay it’s fixed, book is done” thing?
CW: In H:tV’s case, not a ton of rewriting was necessary. Lots of tweaking, but nothing severe. No hacked chapters or lost systems or anything. Mostly it’s just a case of red flags going up.

IEM: In “Old” World of Darkness each game was more or less standalone. Mage’s didn’t mix well with Vampires, etc. etc. Can you give us any insight into why that was changed in “New” World of Darkness? It seems like an effort was made to make it possible to play any type of character in any game – balancing out the abilities of all the different types, and making them work better together – as opposed to being enemies (I’m thinking of Vampires and Werewolves from oWoD specifically).
CW: I don’t know if the goal was really to balance them against one another, exactly. But I do think the goal was to make a more unified world, and certainly a more unified system.

IEM: Are you yourself a gamer, or do you just work on awesome games? And if you do play any, which tabletop games do you play? World of Darkness?
CW: I’ve been a gamer for a long time, though regrettably the last year or so has seen my gaming drop to essentially non-existent levels. I’ll play anything put in front of me, though I’ll usually only run WOD stuff.

IEM: As the developer for Hunter: The Vigil, were some of your ideas the driving force behind the game and it’s mechanics, or was your role more as a writer than mechanics designer?
CW: With Hunter I definitely helped lay the brickwork for the mechanics — mechanics are kind of added that way, one brick at a time, I think. Writers are instrumental in that, too, not just developers.

WoD Hunter: the Vigil

IEM: Do you play video games, and did you work on any of the Vampire PC games that were produced? And if so, in what capacity?
CW: I do play video games. I am right now getting so much pleasure from Borderlands it should be made illegal. That said, I did not work on any WW PC games. I did do some writing work for the WOD MMO, though I don’t know how much of that writing will survive the years-long process of bringing an MMO to the world.

IEM: Many Storytellers will take systems like World of Darkness and pull strongly from other influences (such as H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos) to alter the world and sometimes the mechanics of the system. Have you ever tried anything like that, and do you have any advice for people who want to experiment but may not want to design their own system from the ground up?
CW: I don’t generally do too much major world-shifting with the WOD — my advice to any who want to play with the system and the setting is to look into a book called WOD: Mirrors. I developed that and you just nailed the whole purpose behind that book.

IEM: On the other hand, do you think there is a point where a Storyteller changes a system so much that they should just design their own? Do you have any words of advice or caution for people interested in taking this plunge? (Not necessarily trying to publish it, but simply designing their own system at all)
CW: That’s up to each Storyteller — designing a system from the ground up is tough stuff, but also incredibly fun. Just make sure they have the time and the energy for it.

IEM: How difficult is it to contribute new ideas when writing supplements for these books, while balancing the fact that there is 20 or so years of work in the same “world,” as well as not trampling on the creative process for the Storytellers making up their own stories for their games?
CW: I don’t know that it’s so important to bring “new” to the table as it is to seek new arrangements of old ideas. Everything is a remix in its own weird way.

IEM: When watching movies (like say… Underworld) that get accused of “ripping off” World of Darkness, do you see similarities to the work you’ve done, and does it bother you?
CW: I didn’t do any work that would’ve made its way into Underworld, so, at present I don’t feel particularly ripped off. 🙂

WoD Logo

IEM: What ideas, either in film, fiction, music, or anything else really, influence/inspire you in your work with World of Darkness?
CW: The world around us is inspiration enough. From banking crises to serial murderers to WWII code-crackers, you have no end of horror and weirdness to choose from.


A-NaNoing We Will Go

TyperwriterSo in about 21 days all hell breaks loose. All across the country – nay, the world perhaps – mad people try their hand at writing a 50,000 word novel. Insanity, I know, but it’s a valiant effort. Here in Boston, there is a very strong community who attempts, and from what I have seen, usually succeeds at this task. I have heard amazing and fantastic things about this group of people from Brandon for a couple years now, but now that I have moved back to this fantastic city I will get to meet them firsthand. That’s right… I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo again this year… and with a little luck, and hopefully some help from new friends, actually succeeding at it.

So for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNo started in 1999 (in July, not November) in San Francisco with 21 people. The next year they moved NaNo to November, and it started growing to the 200,500 participants last year. Today, in fact, they are launching a new website for NaNoWriMo, so look for that soon!

The idea, really, for those of us who write outside of the month of November, is to really motivate ourselves. As a writer I rarely have a chance to say “I’m going to write for the hell of it.” Nine times out of 10 I’m writing for a paycheck, and therefore not only does that writing have to be good, but it also has to meet a certain standard; namely, that of the person I’m writing for. With NaNo, though, I’m writing purely for myself, and in general for NaNo – who cares about the quality? The point is to get 50,000 words written in just 30 days, and that is no easy task in and of itself!

Different people have different approaches to NaNo. There are some contestants who feel that in all fairness of the concept, they should start with a blank slate on November 1st, with nothing planned. I tried this my first year and wrote exactly 3 pages. That’s it. I had NOTHING. It was kind of sad, and almost pathetic.

Then there is another frame of mind, which creates not a one month event, but a three month event. Chuck Wendig (who wrote an interesting post on NaNoWriMo here) calls October NaStoPlaMo, or National Story Planning Month. And he calls December NaEdYoShiMo… National Edit Your Shit Month. His suggestion? Plan your novel through October, figure out your plot, characters, hell, etc. Then you hit November and you write like a madman (or woman) and knock out 50,000 words. Now, here’s the important part. Those 50,000 words. They don’t have to be perfect. You don’t write the next “Great American Novel” in one month. Hell, the story doesn’t even have to be good. Just written. Then you use December to edit. Turn that pile of crap into the next great American novel. Or if that’s not your thing… just turn it into something decent you’d let your friends read.

Chuck Wendig’s most important point about NaNo is something I am taking to heart this year, though.

“NaNoWriMo has a lot of rules: you’re supposed to “start fresh,” you’re not really meant to work on non-fiction, blah blah blah. This is all just made-up stuff. It’s not government mandated. This isn’t taxes, for fuck’s sake. Do what you like. Even better: do what the story needs. Hell with the rules. Fuck the police. Write. Write endlessly. Don’t be constrained by this program. It’s just a springboard: use it to launch your way to awesomeness. Anything you don’t like about it, toss it out the window. That certificate you get at the end doesn’t mean dog dick. The only thing that matters is you and your writing.”

Who cares if you start early? Who cares if you simply use the enjoyment of NaNo to work on the novel you started in August? This is about writing, not rules. So guess what? My NaNo novel? I already have a few thousand words written. Hopefully I’ll write an additional 50,000 in November, but if I don’t? If I only write 50,000 total? Tough shit. I’ll be satisfied, and that’s what matters.

NaNo2011

Not a big fan of this years badges...

So the point of NaNoWriMo? Write. The idea of NaNoWriMo? Write. Why should you do NaNoWriMo? To write. So if you want to write… want to write a lot… and want a motivational tool to get you going with it, join us for NaNoWriMo next month. And remember… don’t worry about the rules, just write.


Writing, an Adventure in Itself

TyperwriterAs a writer, in particular a freelance writer, one has to occasionally turn a blind eye to certain things. Editors making changes to your work you don’t agree with, being paid far less than you think you are worth for certain jobs… etc. But you also get to do something you love – write. Because honestly, who would choose to be a writer if they didn’t love to write. It’s a trade-off. But how do you really get into the writing process? And how do you deal with those little things I mentioned?

As with most creative work, I think it would a fair assessment to say that a lot of people give up after a few attempts at becoming a writer. You get maybe one or two stories/articles published, and then there’s a dry spell, and you go looking for a 9 to 5 job again, and never come back. But then… some of us are stupid crazy enough to keep writing… The ones who end up crazy, broke, or both. So again, how do you deal with this? Drinking is an option, though your liver might decide it doesn’t want to continue its lease at the end of the year… And of course there’s smoking. But are there healthier ways?

I don’t know, tell me if you find one please.

Furthermore, what’s the point of dwelling on it? If you fail, no big deal, lots of people fail. If you succeed, you’re lucky. Just go for it, right? But how do you balance striving for your dream… and starving? At what point do you say “This wall of whiskey bottles and peanut butter jars can be my fortress of solitude no longer?” Well, if you really love it, you don’t. And they find you full of whiskey, with peanut butter smeared all over your face in a frenzied attempt to stave off the purple weasels living in your underwear (which you aren’t wearing).  Or you say “The hell with it, I’m going to sell my soul and get this published…” and make a few bucks off of an article you really only spent 10 minutes on Wikipedia researching. But hey, it sounds good, and they’re willing to give you 25 cents a word for it… right?

Will Write For Food

So really, how do you take away all the bullshit and get to what you really want to do, get paid to write? You don’t. I guess that’s the sad bottom line. You deal with it, or you find something else. Because in the end, if you actually want to make money doing this… you deal with it. And you hope that one day you’ll be lucky enough to be half as rich and famous as Stephen King. But until then, you deal with it to pay the bills.

So what’s the point of this rant? I’m not sure. Part self-motivation to stick with it. Part inspiration for you, my loyal reader (note the singular – hi mom). And maybe part explanation. I write because I love it. I write because there’s nothing else I can think of doing and still be happy. Perhaps I write because there is a problem in my brain… either way I know I’m nuts, but this is what I want to do. And by Cthulhu… it’s what I’m going to do.


Obsession, a new scent, by the Blogenning…

ObsessionOkay, before I go any further, I can guarantee that I wouldn’t wear a cologne invented by these psychos… But anyway! Obsessions. We all have them. Even if you think you don’t… you do. Some people have unhealthy ones (heroin and booze!) and others have productive ones (knitting, writing…) but we all have them. Some of us *cough* have a lot of them.

One thing that has been both my triumph and downfall for most of my life is my wide variety of interests. I act, I sing, I play piano (and guitar, sax, trombone, etc..), I rock climb, I write, I remodel houses, I play D&D, I philosophize, I play around with computers and techy gadgets… and that list barely breaks the surface. I have a lot of interests, and only so much time to spend on them. So I improvise – I focus on one for a while, then switch. The problem with this is that it gets summed up by the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” very well. So how does one get around this?

Jack of All Trades

Bruce Campbell is obviously the exception to the rule...

Focus – Focus on a few interests despite your interest in many. This lets you spend a lot of time on a few… but then you start to feel bad because you’re not stretching your interests. You feel shallow, because you’re not well rounded and exploring new things. This works for some, but not everyone, and certainly not me.

Timeshare – Rotate your interests, as Brandon suggests. Spend a few months on one, then switch. Spend a few months on the new one, and switch to a new one. This works well also, for a number of interests. But when you have “too many,” it falls apart. You end up spending 3 months on one, and then never returning to it.

So how does someone with that many interests handle it? I don’t know… I haven’t figured it out yet :). But what I do know is that I love everything I do. And some of them I would consider myself a “master” of… as much as I believe someone can master anything (which is not at all). So it’s not all bad. The real key is to enjoy what you do, I think. I used to play World of Warcraft – a game that many people call addicting, or an “obsession.” And I used to play it a lot. But when I got bored with the game, I simply stopped playing… and trust me, there are a lot of aspects of it to be bored with. It’s a matter of knowing what you enjoy, and doing what you enjoy.

World of Warcrack

Lovingly dubbed "World of Warcrack..."

In time, many obsessions can be “relaxed.” We call those “hobbies.” But is there really a difference? I’d say no. If it’s something you enjoy doing, and do with some frequency, it can be called an obsession. And on the other side, you can be obsessed with disliking something. I despise a few things… but there are some I’m obsessed with despising. I make sure I know everything about them so I can tear them down. This might not necessarily be healthy… but it sure is fun to come across someone who supports one of those things… heh heh. Yes, I’m evil.

Lately, I’ve finally gotten a breakthrough as a writer. And this is good, because writing is something I’ve never gotten bored with. Sure I’ve taken breaks from it (sadly…) but I’ve always come back around to writing. And now it’s my profession. This I like. I can get comfortable with this. But am I going to sit by contentedly now? No! I’m going to write more! I’m going to challenge myself! Because that’s the other side of the coin for me… an obsession isn’t something you just “do,” it’s something that you constantly strive to be better at.

So what does it mean to be obsessed? A lot of different things… but the trick is to handle your obsessions healthily… and enjoy what you do.


Changes!

Movie ReviewsI expect there to be a few changes around here! I expect this place to be kept tidy! I expect you to stop jumping on the bed! I… wait… no.. wrong context. Sorry… Sorry everyone.

So yeah, I know I mentioned changes, and obviously one of them was revealed yesterday, and you’ll get more information on that later. The next change is much less impressive. I’m going to do a little format changing on Aberro Specus here. This includes getting some more regularity in post topics, as well as a higher standard of material. Which hopefully you’ll see less posts with Colbert facedesking, and more posts with lengthy editorials on the Google+ nym wars. I have intentionally had little real content in my posts this week, because A: I’ve been busy, and B: I was working up to this post. Not that this one has much real content in it either, but it’s an announcement for real content coming soon. I guess that counts, right?

So – this is this the first change you’ll see coming to Aberro Specus – movie reviews.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to review a movie every Sunday. I love watching movies, usually horror, and I might as well put that to good use. Lately I haven’t been watching many movies, so I figure now is as good a time to start as any. There are no specifics in this, they might not be new movies. I like watching old movies. But, for example, I’ve never even seen Citizen Kane. Some would consider that blasphemy. I just haven’t gotten around to it… Hell, if you look at Time Magazine’s list of the All-Time 100 Movies, I’ve only seen… 27 of them. That number goes up on most other lists of “Greatest Movies of All Time” so… Time magazine probably just likes boring movies… but you get my point. I watch a lot of B-Horror, a lot of crappy action movies. I also watch a lot of classics and a lot of thought-provoking films. I also watch a lot of trippy stuff… So it’s not that I don’t watch a lot of movies, I just don’t watch a lot of what most people consider to be “the best.”

So what does this mean for you, the reader (all five of you)? Well, you get to read potentially entertaining reviews. You get to learn about a movie you might never have heard of. And you even get to give input! That’s right. Every Sunday, I’ll be taking recommendations/requests for the next week’s movie. So tomorrow, when I post my review (I haven’t even decided what movie yet), you can make recommendations in the comments as to what you’d like to see my review for next week. This comment thread will be open until the following Saturday, when I’ll make my decision, and watch that weekend’s movie. And hey, maybe I’ll watch Citizen Kane for tomorrow.

Clapping

I approve! Watch me!

So! Get to thinking. I’ll get to watching, and writing. And let the games begin.


In Other News…

Writer's BlockI now have a paying job. Well, as much as a writer can have a paying job.

A pitch I wrote for an online magazine was accepted, so now I have a freelance position with them. I’ll release more information if the story is put out and whatnot (still a chance they will kill the story…)

I am very excited though. This is a great opportunity for me.

In other writing news – The Critical Table is doing well. I should have an exciting new post up on there soon, waiting for someone to get back to me for it though… You’ll see!

Anything else… anything else… Oh. Yeah.

Working on short stories is odd. Right now I have two written, one in the mid-stages of it’s first cut (re-writing an entire page because I just didn’t like the flow of it), and the other in a final edit, waiting for me to be happy enough with the last changes I made.

Why all the edits? I’m trying to get both of them published in magazines, so I want them to be extra-awesome. So stay tuned for news on that.

The movie script is finalized. Working on other things and waiting on scheduling conflicts right now. Also, lazy actors.

One thing that I’m gearing up for is NaNoWriMo this year. Every year I sit down to start it… and then get about 5k words in and die. I think it’s my insistence on perfection, which I’m trying to break. It’s also my “crap, what do I put in here” feeling, which I’m trying to fix. One of the ways I’m trying to fix that is writing on here every day. I figure if I can make myself come up with something at least vaguely interesting for you… I can write 1k words a day in a story I actually care about in November. 😉

Another thing that might help are Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fridays. He does a week long contest every week, winner getting something randomly cool. Just for writing a flash fiction piece on a different topic (he picks) each week. This week is a genre mashup, which I’m considering. If I do it I will probably start doing it every week, just for something new. Besides I pop out 1k word stories like they’re candy… so yay candy!

That’s all for today, if you get the hint from the post… I have writing to do :).


Projects: A Current Look

The Cult of Done ManifestoA fancy title for a simple post. Now that I’m not working I actually have a lot more going on than before in my life. Quite a few projects have fallen at my feet since then, plus I’ve reinstated a few that had been tossed aside when I started the overnight hell of Walmart employment. One of those tossed aside ones that I have rebooted is of course the Blogenning. However there are others. So, this is just a list of projects that I’m currently working on/involved in.. kind of to give an update of what is going on in my life.

Lazarus – Lazarus is a movie idea that a friend, and the manager of the local gaming store, approached me with about a year ago. October 2010 he mentioned this movie idea he wanted to work on, and I told him casually “Hey, I’d love to help if you get it off the ground soon.” Well apparently that sparked his motivation, because now I’m directing, and co-wrote the movie with him. We’ve cast it, and are working on getting our location set up and getting some finances in order. It’s a short film, we’re aiming for about 45 minutes, about zombies. We’re attempting to do a different approach to the zombie phenomenon, while keeping it similar enough to the main genre to keep the zombie fanatics (like myself) happy. For more information go check out the Facebook page here.

Critical Table – Critical Table is a gaming/geek culture website that announced it was looking for writers a few weeks ago, and I hopped on board. The site is just getting off the ground, but hopefully once there is a steady stream on content rolling it will be a paying gig for me. I got my first article up the other week, and am wrapping up a second on now. The site centers around game reviews, editorials, and honest reporting. Too many game reviewers get paid to give games good reviews… and it’s ruining the landscape for a lot of gamers. That is what Critical Table hopes to fix. So go check it out!

Writing – I’ve been writing a great deal, and not just on here. I’m working on a short story that I aim to get published. I also have dusted off an old horror movie script I was working on to finish. Also, the comic I was almost done with, but stalled out on while looking for an artist to work with, and I’m pulling together ideas for this years NaNoWriMo, which I hope to actually complete this year. In addition I’m always working on shorts that I hope to do something with one day. I have about 10 completed short stories that are currently sitting on my computer, waiting for a direction. Perhaps I’ll decide what to do with them soon… working on it. And of course there is here… and the Blogenning.

Music – This is kind of a small one, but the band Far From There asked me to write and record a short, spoken word intro to the song they are currently working on. I completed this and sent it to them, and once the rest of the song is mixed and finished I’ll have a link to it on here.

Remodeling – I’ve been remodeling my parents’ house since I quit Walmart. It’s been how I’ve been making a living, so to speak. After completely gutting the bathroom I redid the shower, knocked a wall out and fixed that, painted, redid the floor, replaced some of the various hardware around the room, and over-all made it look entirely different. And they love it, so I’m happy. Since then I also painted their half-bath, and am currently working on the living room. In the living room I sanded the floors and re-coated them, and now I’m going to paint and put up french doors. An easier job. I also installed some ceiling fans and re did the garage and did a massive cleanup in the basement. Oh and cleaned the gutters… there’s more but it’s eluding me currently. So yeah, big project. Here are some photos…

I think that about wraps up the project list. I just woke up so if I forgot anything, sorry. Look forward to a more legitimate post tomorrow!

~Ian


The Blogenning! 3.0

TyperwriterLet the Blogenning begin! Those of you who are longtime readers may remember the Blogenning. For those of you who are new to here, I will explain. The Blogenning was started by Brandon Schory and I as a way to motivate each other to write on our sites more often. Then we gathered a few more victims friends for our little game. And it worked out very well, for a while. Then someone (probably me) started lagging behind. Then another person… then another. And we all just kind of quit, without really saying anything about it.

Then, shortly after I moved back to Delaware from Boston, we tried again. This time we got even more victims friends together. And it went very well for a while. Then I got a high-stress job working nights. And I stopped posting. And they kept going for quite some time… then it slowly died again. Of course, even though I had stopped writing, I was still reading most of their posts. And about four months ago I realized it had been almost a year since Brandon had posted. So I started scheming. I knew I could get Brandon to start again, but what about everyone else? The only person still posting on a semi-regular basis was Tom…

So I schemed. And I pondered. And finally I plotted to get everyone posting again. So I set myself to a rigorous “one-a-day” posting schedule. Then I e-mailed everyone asking if they were interested in starting again. Obviously, being “unemployed” gives me an advantage over everyone else… but I said that instead of the previous “post for post” rule, we’d go “three a week.” Everyone agreed… and here we are! So without further ado… I give you… the Blogenning!

Aberro Specus, Dimestore Romance, Extant Musings, Independent Thought Alarm, Jaco’s Random Writings, Rachel Ober’s Life & Times of a Female Software Engineer, Time with Tom, and last, but not least, Words, Words, Words.

And for those of you interested… here are the rules of the Blogenning.

  • The first rule of the Blogenning is that you always talk about the blogenning.
  • The second rule of the Blogenning is that you ALWAYS. TALK. ABOUT. THE BLOGENNING!…
  • *ahem* The third rule, three posts per week, minimum, is expected from all members of the Blogenning, ere they risk countless ridicule, name calling, and badgering (with sporks… arse eels, and possibly even badgers).
Angry Mob

Or these guys will be coming for you!

  • The fourth rule of the Blogenning is that of “The Rotation.” The Rotation is a thematic challenge, started every week by a rotating member* of the Blogenning. The first post of this week by the scheduled member becomes the challenge theme, and the same topic/category of post must be written by all members of the Blogenning that week. This means that if I write about rabid bunnies as my first post on my week, you all have to write about them at some point. Or if my first post of the week is a poem, you all have to post a poem by the end of the week. This post does count towards your weekly total, so it is not “extra.” The punishment for failing The Rotation is to produce an extra post the following week to make up for it (meaning that if I do not make one of my weekly posts about furries during Jaco’s week to meet his challenge post of “The Wonders and Joys of Furries” then I will owe an extra post the following week covering that topic. If I still fail to produce said post… the group shall think up an appropriate punishment.
  • And finally, rule five of the Blogenning… have fun. This is meant to be an enjoyable and inspiring project. So if it begins to feel like a chore, or even like a second job… let the group know.

*The Rotation is alphabetical by blog title. So the order is Aberro Specus, then Dimestore Romance, then Extant Musings, etc. Also… Monday is the start of our week for The Rotation.


Bad Writer! Bad! No Royalty Check For You…

Good Writing...Lately I’ve been watching Torchwood: Miracle Day. Now… I’m a huge Torchwood fan. I’m a huge Doctor Who fan… hence the TARDIS USB hub and TARDIS heat changing mug I have (amongst other paraphernalia). I even designed a D&D character after Capt. Jack Harkness, complete with bisexuality action. But “Miracle Day” is bad. So bad in fact it’s a “Miracle it’s still on the air toDay” after the first three episodes. And it’s not just me that thinks so. A few people have commented on the watered-down writing of the new series, as well as the irritating and over-the-top acting of Mekhi Phifer. Maybe this is because the show is now taking place in the US, and Starz (the cable channel airing the show) wants US viewers to be able to relate to the show. Maybe it’s because they were forced into a 10-episode arc instead of a 6-episode one, e.g. Children of the Earth. But for whatever reason, Torchwood: Miracle Day certainly does not live up to the earlier seasons of the show.

Torchwood Miracle DayNow, don’t get me wrong. I’m still watching it. Five minutes before starting this I finished episode four (I’m a little behind in the season due to not having cable… you do the math). I still love Jack and Gwen, miss Ianto and Owen, and look forward to scenes where Gwen shoots down a helicopter with a bloody rocket launcher. But then I cringe as she says “Welcome to Torchwood” to close episode 2. Really? I mean, the line wasn’t badly delivered. It just shouldn’t have been said. No… Bad. Which brings me to my point. Can good actors save bad scripts? Well, in some cases… yes.

In the 2009 film “The Maiden Heist” Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken, and William H. Macy play museum security guards who choose to steal their favorite works of art from the museum, rather than see them shipped off to a Danish museum. Okay… I’ll buy it, sounds vaguely interesting and has three absolutely phenomenal actors in it. But no… something about this doesn’t jive right. I actually watched the movie twice to try and figure it out, and I realized it was the writing. The dialogue was… poor, and the entire thing seemed shabby… like a first year film student had managed to sell his unedited script to Sony Pictures and said “Please.” But it was still a decent movie. It was funny in parts, I enjoyed watching the three play bumbling thieves… it was actually an extremely entertaining movie. But in other cases…

“Closure” (known as “Straightheads” in the US) is a movie about a successful British business woman who gets gang raped, while her boyfriend is brutally assaulted, and rendered impotent. Later they end up moving into the woman’s deceased father’s home in the country only to discover one of the rapists is their neighbor. It’s more revenge-thriller than “Last House On The Left” horror… but it’s bad. And not just “unnecessary rape violence” bad, but “Why would anyone think to write that” or “Wait… what? Why did she say that” bad. And it stars Gillian Anderson, who I think is probably one of the better female actresses around. I mean really, would you say Scarlett Johansson or Christina Hendricks (though I did like her on Firefly…) is better? And even then, let’s not forget the second X-Files movie. A series I have recently come to adore… almost completely ruined by one 104-minute nightmare. “I Want To Believe” I never really watched that… Again, not bad acting… not bad direction. Just bad writing.

All of this strikes particularly close to home considering I just finished writing the script to my first movie. Lazarus is a collaborative effort between myself, Lawton Hughes, and Dean Cromer. I finished the final edit of the script yesterday, and I really hope I don’t pull this same mistake. Bad acting can on occasion be forgiven. Bad direction less so, but it can be saved by a good script and good actors. Bad writing? There are many examples of this, but very few that one can turn around and say “Well, it still wasn’t that bad.”

Gwen Cooper with Baby

I don't know... seems like a good mom to me...

So, to return to Torchwood: Miracle Day. Is the show bad? No. The show is entertaining. The acting (minus Mekhi Phifer) is excellent. And the plot is fairly intriguing. But the writing leaves much to be desired, and that is making many people – new comers and old fans alike – turn away from this new season. A lesson to take to heart…

Filming of Lazarus begins this month, visit the Facebook page for more information and updates.


Moving things around…

I decided to move my blog to a free wordpress site and make a different use out of the AberroSpecus.com homepage. Obviously you’ve probably figured that out if you found this site, since, well… you had to have gotten here from the old site.

If you are disturbed and angered by this move, get over it. 😛  I was having too many issues with trying to update wordpress, losing content, etc. I just finally recovered my old backup after almost a year, but after sifting through it I decided not to repost the old content. This is a revitalization of the site, and hopefully of my writing. Finally, I have decided to remove the (majority of) fiction and poetry posts from here. If I want to start submitting them to publishers, I don’t want them already floating around on the web for free, right? I might post some once in a while… or maybe excepts from them, but for the most part you can look forward to rants, philosophical musings, reviews, and general life posts here.

So why start the blog up again you might ask? Well, because it gets me writing. And because I enjoy it.

So look foward to more here in the very near future (I promise this time).

~Ian