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Here we are, the final month of what has been a very interesting and heartbreaking year. I know I didn't post anything at all last month. Between NaNo, the election, and work, I was quite not into conversing much, and I was finding political discussions eating up more time than what I really needed to give to them.

So here are my NaNo results.

I ended NaNo with 38,501 words instead of the 50,000 needed to win. That's with everything from Ravensrealm typed up, transcribed, and added to. I did push myself as hard as I could to try and make the 50k mark. However, actually winning NaNo would have been just a nice bonus for me as I've won NaNo in the past. The challenge this year was to write while working 4-6 days a week and not get discouraged that I wasn't making goal.

My actual goal was to write every day. NaNo had participation badges, ones that I could assign for myself (rebel, caffeine addict, etc . . .), but they also doled out badges as well for hitting particular milestones - 1667 words, 5k, 10k, 25k, 40k, 50k and for writing X number of days in a row. I wasn't writing nearly as often as I wanted. NaNo helped to get me back on track, and that was the important thing for me.

Overall, NaNo was a win for me. I got what was on paper typed up, I've furthererd the story and connected what was on paper with what I had on Word, and the writing is going smoother now for it. Camp NaNo is coming up in April and in July. Depending on what I have lined up at those points, I may participate in them as well to get some other stories completed.

The word count isn't quite so important to me right this moment as it is getting the story completed. Ravensrealm is the third book in Arc of Fantasy, and, because of different main characters, I had to go back to the beginning, and these two characters, Alethea and Jordan, have been just as much fun to work with as Fen and the twins have been. To use the current McDonald's slogan, I'm lovin' it.

And that's a good thing. I have a strong sense of what I want to write as an author, and I've been sticking with it. I know some people are not as fortunate as I am when it comes to wanting to write but not having an idea of what to write. Some want to know who to target, what's actually selling, and so on.

My advice to these people who want to write but don't know what to write is this: analyze yourself. Are you an avid reader? What sections of the library and bookstore do you browse the most? Which authors do you type into Amazon? What kind of movies do you like? Crime thriller? Erotica? Romance? Science-fiction and fantasy? Action and adventure?

In my personal opinion, you cannot target a genre or a demographic (like audience) until you know what it is that you like to read. You are basically writing the types of books and stories that you would want to find on a bookshelf or on Amazon. Know yourself. Once you better understand what it is that you like to read and that you want to read, you can proceed from there.

I prefer science-fiction and fantasy as an author. The ages of the main characters isn't necessarily a deterrent from reading. I love the Harry Potter series, after all, and many of the works by Rick Riordan, and those are books targeted for middle grade and young adult. I will step outside of my preferred genre on occasion. The back of the book really has to snag me to get me to do that. But I prefer science-fiction and fantasy mixed with geek culture and Norse paganism. I'm writing the stories that appeal to me, that I would want to read, and that I would buy.
I'm not into riding a trend. If that were the case, I'd be writing erotic gay vampire romance stories where the vampires are at war with either zombies or young wizard children.

So analyze yourself. Know yourself as a reader first and foremost.

If you're looking to write a story to make a quick buck, well, play the lottery. You'll have a better chance of winning that than making a quick fortune writing a novel.

Happy Thursday to all!
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I have to leave in about an hour for work - I volunteered since the place I work for offers a free Scary Face pancake for kids twelve and under - so I'm squeezing this in real quick.  I still need some coffee, too.

Happy Halloween to all of my writer friends and to my readers! I know who you are.

Free ebook copies of Sigyn's Flowers are still going out. Thanks to everyone who is getting a copy. It truly is all very much appreciated.

For some reason, NaNoWriMo is really calling out to me this year. I'm currently poking around the site some as well.

I "retired" from NaNo a few years ago because I'd gotten really good at starting novels but not finishing them. And I wasn't using the prizes at all, either, because I wasn't finishing my novels.

I'm up for a challenge. I'm working. I have a few novels I need to finish. It isn't so much about getting started anymore, it's about finishing.

So I'm participating. Ravensrealm is my novel for this year.

I will post more tomorrow or later this evening.

Happy Halloween, my friends!

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I so want to go to YoumaCon this year. Unfortunately, due to finances, I will not be able to go.

It's also not due to just finances. It's wanting to have things on hand (business cards, postcards, bookmarks, ink pens, etc . . .) on hand when finding people to talk to about my published works. Two conventions this year, and I'm writing my information out by hand. Don't get me wrong, I love writing by hand. It helps to slow the brain down some when actually cranking out a novel but to write by hand after working? The brain just doesn't want to function! I did better at Tokyo in Tulsa for writing by hand than I did at Comic Con!

But! I still had fun. There were a few panels I wish I could have attended - they're hosted by Genese Davis, a very kind, compassionate, and kindred soul; she's written The Holder's Dominion, which I purchased (and she signed for me), and she was telling another person who stopped by her booth that they're talking about turning her novel into a movie - but my costs were still offset by the fact that I did what I'd set out to do by attending the convention in the first place. Promoting myself and connecting with others. I hung out in the Exhibition Hall for the time I was there, but that was quite all right. I got to wave to Kimberly J. Brown (Halloweentown fame, Rose Red) and saw Lou Farrigno (from a small distance - all in the autograph, no unauthorized photos area). I got some new books to read, all autographed personally to me, and more ideas on how to do this whole promotion thing.

It was also another learning experience . . . well, more like reminder. There is more to do and experience at a convention, and my next convention I want to truly experience. I don't want to be rushed, and I would be rushed for YoumaCon. I know I would because it would also be the trip I make to retrieve the rest of my belongings from my dad's place, and I'd have to rush back in order to be back to work so I don't fall behind on my car payment or my rent. It's frustrating for me in that I also want to have my cosplay ready for the next convention I attend, and the ideas are rolling in for that as well.

So a Youmacon visit is off the table at this point. Given it's just a wee bit under two weeks away, trying to save up the money I need for all of my bills and expenses would stress me out further than what I need to be. I'll still be making my trip to Michigan at some point, hopefully before the snow gets too bad or even arrives there (with Michigan, it's always hard to say), but, for the sake of my sanity and lower stress levels, I'm just taking Youma off the table. There will be another time for it.

I'm not taking conventions off of the table completely. More like, I'm now planning them with a bit more care and precision, like I used to do back in the day.

That said, I'm announcing I will be attending Anime St. Louis this upcoming May. I've applied for a booth in their artist alley, and, due to their process, I won't know until the end of next month. Either way, once I know, I'll be gearing up for it. I'm also aiming for ShutoCon and a few others.

Beyond that, I'm working on Arc of Fantasy. I really need to get the next three books written so I know how to proceed on the final installation. I don't even have a title for that yet!

Until the next time!
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Recently, a fellow writer and friend of mine read a book that left her completely unsatisfied as a reader. The writer in her couldn't suspend the disbelief of the plot of the story nor could she understand why the reviews were so favorable.

Now, I normally don't read reviews of other books. I really don't, and it's basically because what one person loves, I tend to not love. Or what one person tends to dislike, I tend to love. Case in point, the reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise. Many people disliked it, including my boss, whereas I actually loved it, and I was one of the ones who grew up with the originals.As such, when it comes to favorite pasttimes such as reading, listening to music, and watching movies, I prefer to go in blind.

Reading my fellow writer's review is actually making me glad I read her review of the story because, not only was it humorous (the memes absolutely made my day), but she raised valid points about the plot. I read her review, both through her blog and on Goodreads, and then I read the other reviews, which baffled her as much as the extremely shaky plot points did.

Four and five star reviews of nothing but praise for the relationship. Mainly. And my fellow writer and friend has wondered why.

This morning, I told her what it was.

It's the relationship angle. Yeah, it might be a story about survival in a YA, sci-fi, dystopia, the plot points might be irreverently weak, but a good portion of the readers will not care because they have a relationship to focus upon. It's something I've noticed as a fanfiction writer playing in some of the biggest sandboxes out there and reading some of the writer responses to reader reviews.

It's all about the relationship. It's about Character A being with Character B (established) or Character C (not established and extremely unlikely due to Factors H, J, or even P). It doesn't matter if Character C or even Character D or B is guilty of raping Character A in a graphic sexual assault scene, all that matters is that somehow the two beloved Characters have made it to the sack and eventually the relationship forms.

Now I'm one for going against the grain, the mainstream whenever and wherever I can, but even I have my boundaries on what I would consider hot and sexy, and I do not consider rape scenes to be sexy. I can explain the line between rape and dubious consent because I know what those boundaries, for me, are.

All of this can go against what the writer is actually trying to do, and it can actually mortify the writer when someone starts praising what amounts to be a rape scene or some form of psychological, emotional, or physical abuse scene. From what I read in this review, the FMC is quite abusive and selfish to the MMC in a survival situation, and the MMC takes it. If I had been the writers of this story, to see such reviews praising a "loving" relationship in a survival situation would, in fact, alarm me. It amounts to "just because we're writing about it doesn't make it okay". However, the relationship trap has been sprung at this point. For better and for worse, a good portion of readers are going to be about the relationship.

It happens to every author. From what I've observed in conversations about The Hunger Games and Twilight, it's about the relationships. Even fanfiction based on The Lord of Rings can be quite pairing-oriented. It doesn't necessarily become about overcoming obstacles anymore, or facing an extreme conflict. It becomes about kissing and sex because we've been denied that. And I have noticed that it's primarily women who focus on the relationship aspect. Reading is an outlet. Writing is an outlet, and, once we're being denied something in our real lives, we tend to try and make up for it in what we watch, what we read, and, for those who take up the cause, what we write. It's the Bella effect, or, even, the Juliet effect. Must . . . have . . . happy ending . . . must have . . . sex! Or something to that effect.

As a writer, it's frustrating. I don't want to spend chapter after chapter focusing on whether or not Fen Willows is going to find a new boyfriend and get laid. That isn't part of his journey. That isn't even a remote part of his journey. He's 19 and insecure about himself, his life, and needs to undergo some serious changes. For himself and no one else. The same thing goes for Daniel and Wolfgang Evans, Alethea Light, Jordan Taylor, and any other character I happen to create or, in the case of fanfiction, choose to focus on as a subject. For me, there is more to writing, and to life, than being focused solely on relationships and sex.

But that's just my personal take as an author who got caught in the whole relationship trap in her fanfiction heydays. And I learned after it was all said and done, it's not a good way to build a writing career, that there are other things to focus on as well. Does that mean to say my characters won't find love? Love is inevitable. But they need to know how strong, and weak, they are first.

Like I said, I'm all for breaking the norms when it comes to my writing.

Reminder, Tulsa Comic Con is this weekend! Huzzah!!!
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I'm excited, and I'm anxious about this. I'm just reminding myself at this point to keep chugging forward, be positive and optimistic and all will work out.

My cosplay will not be 100% complete. I will have the necessary blue hair. This particular Fayt Leingod cosplay is . . . is going to be very special to me, not only because it's Fayt Leingod, one of my favorite heroes from a video game, but because I can turn Fayt Leingod into Fen Willows with this particular costume, should I choose to do so. It's going to be an ongoing project for at least another few months as I solidify the types of weapons Fayt will be using in the fanfiction I'm working on where he becomes the Captain of the Dragon Brigade and the types of weapons Fen will have access to as his journey in New Atlantis progresses and in the final book of my Arc of Fantasy series. (I seriously need to come up with a title for that novel at some point.) So, at this point, my Fayt Leingod, Captain of the Dragon Brigade cosplay will be interchangeable with my own character, Fen Willows.

That's . . . rather exciting for me.

So, I hope to see people at Comic Con. Should something come up that keeps me from attending (I will be paying at the door), I will announce it, but, like I said, I'm maintaining a positive attitude about the whole week. Look for a short, blue-haired person wearing a green coat and black pants!

The Tulsa Comic Con runs from October 21-23. While in attendance, I will be more than happy to answer questions regarding my books, my characters, what I'm currently working on, and what I've read.

YoumaCon is also a potential stop for me next month. Again, this is all going to be financed based and me paying at the door. Other conventions will be announced, along with writers conferences, book shows (getting ideas from others now), and other events, and will be confirmed upon pre-registration for the event. Currently, Comic Con and YoumaCon are the only conventions I have my sights set upon for the rest of 2016. I will be hosting a coffee and book exchange for one day the week before Thanksgiving. I will announce the date and venue at a later time.

That's it for the moment! Hope to see people at Comic Con!
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In my twenties, I used to go to the movies.

By myself.

I used to go to sit down restaurants and eat.

By myself.

It stopped, mostly because I couldn't afford it. I still can't always afford it, and I don't always like to go by myself anymore. There's something to be said for having someone to talk to while you wait for your food and while you're enjoying your food. It doesn't need to be a boyfriend for me, just a really good friend.

I used to be fearless and not care that I was eating alone or enjoying a movie alone.

Yeah, I'm not going to stop doing things by myself. I'm used to doing things on my own. Schedules with friends and family either don't mesh with mine or, well, they live further away than what I can drive in a day.

That's okay.

I don't mind eating alone because I'm not really alone. If anything, I consider it a treat for myself, to myself to go to Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse and have a nice meal. I'm not being stood up, I'm not feeling sad or pathetic. If I'm feeling anything, it's hunger. I want to eat something, and such places are what I'm wanting to eat.

And movies? I go to the ones I want to see, it doesn't have to be a compromise with someone who has different interests than me - though I will admit, I've yet to go to a movie I haven't wanted to watch with anyone just yet. Most of my friends happen to be into the same things that I am when it comes to movies.

For that, I'm extremely grateful.

If I have to say anything to any man or woman out there, it would be this.

Don't be afraid to treat yourself to something more than McDonald's for a meal. Do tip your waiter/waitress generously, but don't be afraid to treat yourself to a nice meal. Don't be afraid to walk into the movie theater by yourself.

Most of all, don't be afraid to take chances on yourself. If there is anyone in your corner when it comes to learning how to be you, it's me.

You are loved. I may never see your faces or even know your names, but you are loved by me.

Peace. <3
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just keep writing dory

It's a bit of a gloomy day here in Tulsa, or at least my part of Tulsa. I even hear some thunder as I write this, even though I'm in the basement. I've made myself a cup of coffee, will be lighting up some incense here shortly - debating on one of the Wildberry sticks - and some candles, snagging some cards ouf some decks for inspiration and motivation, along with some runes, and I'll be on my way.

I'll be getting my cosplay underway this Friday. I want tracing paper so I'm not cutting up the patterns. I know that's what they're for, but that's still not what I want to do. Plus, I need interfacing for the shirt and pants as well as the material for the pants, and I don't work again until Friday.

I'm excited to do this. I haven't gotten to cosplay as Fayt Leingod yet, despite an ill-fated, ill-timed attempt for Otakon 2013. I'm being quite optismistic here. I don't think it'll take me that long to knock the majority of the cosplay out. And I say the majority of the cosplay because the rest needs to be purchased. I'm not a shoemaker. And the shoes/boots I want will take me some saving to get but only because I'll be going through a company that does custom-made boots and shoes. Since I'll be the one dropping the money on shoes, they're going to be the way that I want them, and they're going to be built to last.

With all of that said, I'm immersing myself into my writing. And as often as I can. I'm too excited about my future to not do so.

Like Dory is singing, "just keep writing, just keep writing!"

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I originally had a long-winded rant underway, but I changed my mind. I needed to get a few things out of my system.

Anyway, that aside, I want to talk about something I've done in my work in progress, Frost Giants.

I started the first chapter out with Loki observing the human race in a distant future. I have a thing for distant future. It's so intriguing, along with old-fashioned epic fantasy. So amazing.

In Chapter One, Loki's visiting the place of my birth - Marquette, Michigan - and he's watched a particular science-fiction/action/adventure flick many people are familiar with and loving; the first Avengers movie.

This chapter is a bit of a social commentary, how we could possibly progress as a society but at the same time remain stalled as a society. Domestic violence, Bible Thumpers proclaiming what they do at people who go to movies and/or cosplay, athletes still picking on the geeks and nerds and the like. One critiquer at Scribophile commented that geek culture is more socially acceptable now. At the time, I considered it was possible this person could be right. Comic book movies have certainly increased in popularity and not just with the geek culture that's sustained comic books but with outsiders as well.

The past year has proven this critiquer's comments to be quite wrong on quite a few levels.

I've seen a video of a voice actor standing up to a Christian couple protesting an anime convention. The couple wore signs condemning the convention goers for being there, for being different and trying to find a group of like-minded individuals. I've seen memes defending Pokemon Go players because I happen to be friends and family with Pokemon Go players. I'm friends with people older and younger than me. I have seen condescension from a near thirty-year-old on a few things, too. And I've seen a post or two on facebook shaming the readers of 50 Shades of Grey for protesting against a presidential candidate.

Mind you, 50 Shades is not embraced by geek culture, not by any means. Not to say we don't like erotica, but we like it better with our favorite characters, even when the couple in question isn't cannon. Here's the thing, though: I'm seeing a few geeks defending the readers of 50 Shades. Hell, even I'm defending the readers of 50 Shades.


Because there's nothing more disheartening and infuriating as being shamed for reading a book. Seriously! There is nothing more aggravating than someone trying to give you false information about a book when you're the one who has read the book but not them. A little over two years ago, my brother and I were both telling my grandmother that Harry Potter does not teach witchcraft to children, and she insisted that it did! He and I have read the books, she hadn't. How the hell can you tell someone about a book that you haven't read and judge them for it when they point out that they've read it and that you're wrong? Seriously!

Mind you, I will never touch 50 Shades of Grey. I've seen a quick excerpt from the story, and the prose, the metaphor just makes me cringe (while at the same time has me laughing because I've owned a few hamsters in my time and I've seen how they nibble). I've heard too many reviews about how poorly written the story is, and I know the backstory to the story. I am not impressed. However, I will not shame a person for simply reading a book. Period.

However, knowing that there are people out there shaming others for reading a book makes me question just how accepted geek culture and reading culture really are at this point. There's this notion existing out there that, once you get a job and graduate high school, you have to start behaving like an adult, and, apparently, behaving like an adult means ridiculing someone else for basically being true to thine own self. There is a HUGE difference between trying to educate someone and holding a healthy debate, be it over politics or whether or not Tony Stark is a better superhero than Bruce Wayne, and riducling someone for something as simple as reading a book or embracing geek culture.

I, quite honestly, do not see geek culture being 100% accepted in either the near future or the distant future. Not as long as there are people out there who are willing to teach their children that it's okay to shame someone for something simple.

Like reading a book.

When did it become so uncool to read a book? When did reading become an activity to be mocked and scorned?

To me, these questions are obstacles many writers now have to overcome. It isn't just about making geek culture more socially acceptable, putting it on par with sports culture. It's about making reading in general acceptable again, and, with the reactions I've been seeing about 50 Shades of Grey, I do feel like reading is something people are starting to look down upon.

And that saddens me greatly.

Life Is

6/10/16 13:29
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This is for Annaka, Kami, Erika, Ashley, Grover, and anyone else feeling dragged down by . . . everything.

Life is taking three steps forward then being dragged back ten. Life is going to work when you want to sit at home and either play video games or write. Life is getting out of bed when all you want to do is just sleep the rest of it away because of all the ugliness and hideousness that's making up our current reality. Life is dealing with the drama of others, knowing you have to shoulder your own burdens as well.

Life isn't perfect. It's one step at a time, one day at a time. We can't measure how "together" we are based on someone else's measuring stick. We can only measure how "together" we are by how we feel. If today was better than yesterday, then you're more together today than what you were yesterday.

It's like we're stuck on this little hamster wheel - running, running, running because we have so much to do, and we just feel like we're running out of time, running out of breath, and just failing miserably in this horrid notion of just trying to catch up.

Even the hamster gets off the wheel once it's tired.

Life is finding the beauty in others when the ugliness rears its head so prominently. LIfe is remembering it isn't always bad, that there is some good out there, that there's someone out there who would do anything to put a smile on your face. It may only last five minutes, but it was worth those five minutes. Life is knowing you have a big heart, knowing it'll get trampled on, but you still love anyway.

Life is remembering that there's magic within you and surrounding you. Life is being yourself when society thinks and dictates otherwise.

Life is about going for that second cup of coffee. Life is what's happening around you and through you.

Life is painful, but life is also kind and giving.

I know you're feeling down in the dumps, like nothing you do matters, but I'm writing this right now to tell you that it does matter. I've had a bad history of encouraging people to keep going, to never give up, even when that person wasn't worthy or interested in what I had to say. If you've ever had to sleep in your car or in a shelter but you're not any more, remember, you're one step up from where you were before.

You measure your togetherness by where you are compared to where you've been, not to where I am and where I've been. Our journeys may be similar, but it's how we see things that make us wonderful and unique.

If you're ever feeling down and like no one cares, remember this entry and remember that someone out there does love you and believes in you.

Life is heaven, and life is hell and everything else in between.

But always remember you are loved.
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While I still toil away at the next three books in the Arc of Fantasy series (yes, three; each has a different set of characters to follow), I thought I'd share some upcoming plans, both for publishing and for author events.

As I've said on facebook, my next convention, for sure, will be the Tulsa Comic-Con, which runs from October 21 through the 23rd. I will be in attendance, for sure, Friday and Saturday. Sunday is the wild card day. I'm pretty sure I'll be working in the morning hours, and, if Tokyo in Tulsa taught me anything, it is that I will be dead-dog tired by Sunday afternoon. Sunday will be the up in the air day. As I also mentioned on facebook, I will be in costume at least one of those days, if not every day of the convention. I still have one more pattern to purchase and then it's time to get measurements, buy material and get sewing.

I will also have copies of all four of my publications on hand. I am still running the cosplay giveaway where Loki and Star Ocean cosplayers get a free, signed copy of my books. One per cosplayer. At conventions, said cosplayers will get to pick. Send me photos of your cosplays in the last nine months, and, depending on the cosplay, the person receives either a copy of Sigyn's Flowers (Loki) or Portal to Gaming (Star Ocean) for free, and that includes shipping.

Sometime in the next month, I will need to make a return to Michigan. Some family drama that doesn't need to be drama has occurred, and I have belongings that I need to retreive. I'm trying to plan this trip so I can at least attend one day of Youmacon, which is the first weekend in November (3-6).Right now, this is very much tentative. Youma would be a one day only attendance for me since I would need to hurry back to Tulsa in time for a day of rest and to resume work. I've got to work the details out at this point, but, if I swing it, I will announce it, and I will be in costume for at least half of the day I attend. Youma attendance will either be Friday or Saturday.

I'm also looking to attend Anime St. Louis 2017. In fact, I'm looking at registering for the artist's alley (based on what I was told in an email), ShutoCon, Otakon, Gen-Con, and Tokyo in Tulsa as well as a few conventions in Colorado.

Those are the events, for sure, that I want to attend for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. I do want to host another meet and greet at a different venue and in the later evening hours.

My current writing plans are as follows: getting Ravensrealm, New Atlantis, and The Intergalactic Chase ready for publiction. Each is in various stages of drafting. My goal is here, upon releasing The Intergalactic Chase as an ebook, making Portal to Gaming as an ebook free for download. With each subsequent release for Arc of Fantasy, starting with Ravensrealm, the price of Portal to Gaming will drop. It's currently priced at $3.99 and is available for Kindle, NOOK, and through Smashwords and Draft2Digital for all other platforms.

I had thought of participating in NaNo this year. Make a return, as it were, but I've ultimately decided against it. Right now, NaNo is great for me in terms of starting projects but not necessarily finishing them. I still have Dragon's Rain, The White Owl, and Frost Giants to complete at this point so, in the event I change my mind, any return to NaNo will be utilized for completing a particular project, not starting a new one.

Changes will be made, once again, to this journal. I liked my idea of specific days being dedicated to specific things but, well, I haven't read anything lately due to the fact I've been writing and working. I'm also trying to motivate myself into seeking secondary work and or a new job to replace my current one. I love my job, it's one of the places where I see the best in people, but it's also where I'm on the receiving end in the worst of people. It's this wonderful Catch-22 right this moment. I need to pay my bills, and I need the time to write. The time I need for writing is spent on the time trying to pay my bills.

In the meantime, I'm going to get back to writing. Books do not complete themselves.

One final thing: I am announcing my cosplays for the forseeable future. In terms of actual fandom, it's pretty much going to be Fayt Leingod from Star Ocean and America for Hetalia. In fact, for the Tulsa Comic Con, I will be dressed as Fayt in a variant costume for a fanfic idea I have running around in my head. I wll Fayt Leingod, Captain of the Dragon Brigade. Any other cosplays will be characters from my own stories.

And my silence is now broken.

Enjoy your Wednesdays, peeps!
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For those of you who don't get the reference, My Next Thirty Years is a song performed by Tim McGraw. I'm not sure who the songwriting credits belong to; I also honestly don't care. There's something about that song that's kind of resonating within me at this moment.

I'm not quite forty years old. Not yet. Not for another year. My birthday, as most people already know by now, is October 1, this upcoming Saturday. I will be at work for this. The joys and disadvantages of being one of the strongest workers your boss has - you get to work weekends, the busiest times of the week, even when it's your birthday.

As I said, I'm not quite forty years old yet. I have another year for that. My age doesn't bother me. Most people are surprised to hear that I'm in my late thirties. They tend to put me in my mid to late twenties. Part of this is I have some really good genetics going on from my mom's side of the family, I don't drink excessively, I don't smoke, and I've never abused other substances, be it prescription drugs or illegal substances. I'm almost thirty-nine years old, and I've never smoked pot.

It also helps, I guess, in that I act like myself, and I don't feel old. Not truly. Yes, sometimes I move around like a seventy-year-old with bad arthritis thanks to pain and muscle stiffness in my knees and ankles, but otherwise . . . I don't feel old. I don't feel any different at thirty-nine than what I did at twenty-five. Yeah, a few years ago, I had like a mini mid-life crisis because I hadn't done anything I'd wanted (writing career, start a family, and all that). I still panic a little about when I'll have my children - I'm not getting any younger - but all is well in my life. I feel a confidence in me as I draw near to my thirty-ninth birthday that I haven't felt in a very, very long time. I don't care about people knowing my age. I don't care if people think I'm odd or a weirdo or even a little insane (that would be the writer trait).

I never once expected to be homeless when that minor freak out happened for me.

I never expected to decide on self-publishing.

I never expected to actually fulfill my dream of becoming a server. I know. It probably sounds strange to some people, to have that type of a dream, but it's true. And being a server has afforded me ways to budget and save my money in the ways that I knew it would.

It doesn't truly take anything drastici to make a positive change in life.

I'm still learning to take baby steps. I have a tendency to be all or nothing, but I'm beginning to temper it. My writing career is only getting started and needs to be nurtured, much like how an infant needs to be nurtured and cared for in order to grow into childhood.

I'm definitely a lot stronger now for the people I've met, for the ones I've added to my life and for the ones I've cut out of my life. I love who I'm becoming because who I'm becoming is the beautiful, kind, generous person I was always meant to be.

And this has all been in the first third of my next thirty years.
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Magic is a wondrous, wondrous thing. Many writers employ magic in one way or another. I don't care what the genre is, magic is an essential aspect to the story-crafting process. What we writers do could very well be considered magic. In this context, magic is simply the act of creation, weavnig a tale so fascinating and enticing, the reader cannot put it down.

Also, in this context, since the spell components are words and the right combinations must be found in order to ensnare the intrepid reader, magic takes time. Magic comes at a cost. There are plenty of other things we writers can be doing with our time than sitting at a desk with some writing implement in hand and crafting these stories. Yet it's something we choose to do. We balance our great magical acts with the mundane - caring for children or disabled loved ones, the laundry, cooking, keeping the house maintained, work, and so on.

Magic, at some point, will demand release. That's where we authors decide on the next course of action. Do we query an agent? Not all publishing houses accept unagented manuscripts. Do we forgo finding an agent and submit directly to a publishing house? Some publishing houses do accept unagented authors. Do we forgo both of those steps and self-publish? Amazon has certainly made that easy.

Whatever the decision, know that the results will not be instantaneous. Even self-publishing doesn't yield overnight success. In fact, many times, taking the risk will lead to so-so sales and rejection.

It happens.

But you won't know what will happen if you don't take the risk, if you don't even bother to weave that spell of writing, to improve it, to nurture it, to . . . let it take form and fly. You won't know. If it scares you to even take that risk, to either send out that query letter or to self-publish, then I have to say this.

Congratulations. You've just found something worth trying because it scares you. If it doesn't scare you, the magic isn't worth doing.

Don't let your writing, your magic become something comfortable and complacent. Don't tuck it away in a corner, and don't let anyone kill your desire to do something you love, like writing or even drawing. That's your magic. Don't let anyone steal it.
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First up, the information on Sigyn's Flowers. On NOOK, it will be available for free download within the next 24 hours. Gotta wait for the changes to go into effect. With NOOK and Amazon, they're not always immediate. The same is going to be said of Smashwords and Draft2Digital. I've set the price to zero. Once the price change is in effect at least through NOOK, I'll be reporting the price change to Amazon via find this cheaper somewhere else link they have. (That's how I got the story knocked down from $2.99 to $1.29 after publication.)

It's something kind of spur of the moment for me, but it's also something I'm very excited to do.

In other news, well, I recently purchased a new car. It's not "new" new, but she's new to me. She's a 2003 Ford Escape, a particular vehicle I've been wanting for a few years now. Thanks to some really hard work and some saving, plus the need for a vehicle before the month of August ended, I was able to make this particular dream a reality. I've had her for a month now, and I've named her Sigyn, after the Norse Goddess of Fidelity and Devotion (also the third wife of Loki). She was named during the test drive. I knew I wanted to keep her.

Initially, I wasn't going to purchase a car, at least not this soon. However, timing and knowing I was going to be helping my best friend move pushed that decision forward. Every day, because of the route my mom and stepdad would take to get me to my job at Ihop, we went by several car dealerships, and I do mean several! Memorial Drive here in Tulsa is like car dealership heaven! (Or nightmare, depending on your perspective.)

Normally, we'd go by, and I wouldn't think a thing of it. No money and all that but that one Saturday had gotten me to thinking because I'd told my best friend I'd get the rental car to help her move. Well, the thinking got to be that was going to be a nightmare. Deposit and initial cost already known, it didn't necessarily account for insurance and mileage overages since she lived in Flagstaff at the time and was moving to North Carolina. Two weeks out before this move needed to happen, and I took the plunge on buying a car. I wasn't expecting to be financed so I'd kept another option open. I stopped at the one dealership after work, looked at two Rangers (I love Ford Rangers) and two Escapes, a 2006 and the one I currently drive.

I asked about no other car. I happened to choose the cheapest car on the lot along with the one with the lowest mileage (she's under 100,000 miles at this point). The universe aligned things just perfectly for me on this. I do wish I'd had more money saved up for the down payment and to cover the insurance (which I haven't had since, you know, I haven't had a car in a few years), but I'm forging ahead.

And, as I mentioned, I helped my best friend move from Arizona to North Carolina. That was a lot of fun. Yeah, some minor bad things happened, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. It was our first time hanging out together, and it was on the road, in a very cramped and confined space. We both survived it.

Some days are harder than others. Some days I'm just so exhausted I don't want to do anything, not even write. It's a daily struggle anymore, but the only one who can pull me out of it is me. So that's what I'm doing. I had hoped to have Ravensrealm ready for publication by now, but I don't. And that's okay with me at this moment since I want my storeis to be the best that they can be. I don't care if it's fanfiction or original. I know the path I'm taking.

And that alone is enough to make me happy.

That's what's happened with me. Hope everyone has been doing well, been writing and simply enjoying life.

Until the next time!
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My last living grandparent passed away last night. It isn't that it's so much of a shock - when a person gets to be her age and gets the diagnosis she did and makes the decisions that she did - as it hurts. I've rationalized a lot of it, I'm okay with her death - it's hard to begrudge someone who lived a happy life - but it still hurts. And, due to when the funeral is, I will not be able to attend it. Most of my family resides in Northern Michigan, and I'm here in Oklahoma.

I will be continuing to work on the Arc of Fantasy series, but I need to decompress and allow everything to process.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
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I have some new ebooks to add to my ever expansive reading list. Two are David Farland stories, and the others I picked up during a free fantasy novel shoecase. I have like five or six titles here that I'll get around to reading. Eventually.

Oh, and I also have The Age of Aztec by James. We're getting there, I promise!

In the meantime, to finally get to The Age of Shiva by James Lovegrove.
Read more... )

By far, of the three books I've read in the Pantheon series, this is the best one. Each has an amazing plot twist. I definitely recommend this story.
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I love it when inspiration for something not only comes from within but from out of nowhere.

I'm giving a big shout of thanks to the Star Ocean players who compiled the cutscenes from the games and put them up on youtube. I don't own a television, a PS3, or a PS4, so playing the games I love is relatively difficult. Being able to watch them on my laptop has been a great help for a lot of different things.

Watching the opening sequence for Till the End of Time has been absolutely amazing for me. Fayt Leingod is still one of my most favorite and beloved characters and the inspiration behind Fen Willows, and being able to watch the opening sequence puts a great longing in my heart. I would love to visit new and strange worlds in addition to creating them. I would love to meet beings from other planets and sit down to have discussions with them. Yes, I realize not all alien races are going to be friendly towards others and that humans aren't always going to be friendly to them, either, which makes writing science-fiction all the more fun, complex, and fascinating.

It's also helped me to move forward with Ravensrealm and to give me ideas for the expanded edition for Portal to Gaming, which, yes, The Expansion Pack Edition is still a go! I just need to finish the originals first!

I wonder what kind of alien races will live on Earth in the future. It seems like most science-fiction writers will write about humans colonizing the moon and other planets but, with perhaps the exception of Star Trek (and that feels iffy to me, too), no one ever ponders about aliens living on Earth. If they are coming here, it swings one of two ways - idle curiosity with the intent to leave or colonization/invasion.

The idea of aliens living on Earth has helped me to move forward with Ravensrealm. I love it.

I also feel very good about the direction of my life. I've realized a lot of things about myself over this past weekend, when I was able to drive myself to work and in near silence (ie, no music). I'm confident, and I'm heading in the right direction.

Now to get back to writing. I still plan on querying a series out to a major traditional publishing house but I do expect to be a self-publisher as well.

Life is quite beautiful right now.
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Here we are, Themecraft Thursday! As stated in a previous entry, I meant to start this last week, but work life got in the way.

As authors of genre writing, we tend to find ourselves facing similar themes as our predecessors. Each genre is different but not entirely able to stand on its own, given the amount of crossover that happens, but there are no doubts each genre has a theme many writers tend to follow. For Romance, it's Characters A and B struggling to stay together. For crime thrillers, there's usually a crime involved, either theft or murder (mainly).

For fantasy, it's often some kind of threat that will bring down death and destruction upon the inhabitants of said world, an imitation of war in real life. There's also the epic quest aspect to either obtain or be rid of some mystical artifact.

For science-fiction, the biggest catalyst for what the future could be like is World War III. Star Trek used it, Star Ocean has used, and I have used it (Arc of Fantasy is set in a distant future with World War III and IV having been fought long before the main characters were born). These are only a few examples of speculative fiction where World War III has taken place and brought about a much brighter future. If I recall Star Trek: First Contact correctly, the Earth didn't sustain a lot of environmental damage during the War - if it did, my apologies. It's been years since I've watched the movie - but, in Star Ocean, the damage to Earth's environment was quite extensive. A lack of resources, humans living in cities deep underground, and serious damage to the land, air, and oceans. Arc of Fantasy follows a very similar vein in that respect.

So what is it about World War III that science-fiction authors find fascinating? I once saw a meme that said speculative fiction writers aren't always trying to predict the future. We're trying to prevent it, and there's something inherently terrifying about World War III. It's the one World War in which the powers that be have access to nuclear weapons. World War II prompted their invention and their usage but on a smaller scale. We know firsthand what the first atom bombs did to cities like Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan.

And those bombs were nothing compared to what's been created in the years since. They're stronger. They're more powerful, more concentrated. We know their negative effects from the testing done in Arizona and from power plants going critical in Chernobyl and Fukushima. Chernobyl, even twenty-some years later, is still inhabitable for humans.

It's the idea that loss of life on a massive scale and the destruction of the very land we need to survive is in the hands of people drunk on their own power and, sometimes, with no regards to the lives of others. Yes, in the United States, there are checks and balances put into place to keep such a thing from happening, but that wouldn't stop an enemy from initiating such a war.

Now, personally, I feel quite certain that weapons of mass desctruction would only be used as a last resort if/when World War III takes place. It all depends on who is in power and where.

There's also another aspect to this, one I think that tends to enamor science-fiction authors more than anything else.

After each event of World War III, the advancement of technology just explodes. The Earth is often in a dire enough situation that sitting back and relaxing just isn't an option. Space flight would not only be resumed, but space exploration would be hot on the heels of man heading back into space.

That's what truly enamors us the most. Space exploration and what other planets will look like when we visit them. What kind of life will we encounter? It's the idea that, in the aftermath of World War III, we will encounter aliens and be ready to accept them, that we're going to be able to accept ourselves and others for the differences that reside amongst us but be able to celebrate and acknowledge those diversities. It's my personal belief that, when we speculate on the aftermath of World War III, we're hoping for a better future than what we currently have for our real lives, where it's going to be okay and accepted to be a woman, to be a person of color, and to be gay or transgender. We hope that we're no longer going to be ruled by politics and greed.

This is just the hopeful aspect of World War III, the distant and shining future we dream about, though we never truly touch upon the immediate aftermath of the fallout of World War III. (Expect bumpy roads and a toss back in time, quite honestly.)

And not all science-fiction writers use World War III as a catalyst for technological advances. It isn't the only vehicle used when writing speculative fiction. There are no doubts, however, that it is an interesting once.
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Don't give up.

I'm sure this has been said before, not just by me, but by every writing meme and group that even exists out there.

Don't give up.

The journey is always going to be filled with agony and torment: getting those first words down; turning that sentence into a paragraph, that paragraph into a page, and that page into a chapter. Taking all of the tangled, confusing ideas from the grey matter in your brain and turning them into something coherent will undoubtedly scare you from time to time. You might even have an idea you think is great but others will tell you that won't sell.

Don't give up. Write those first lines, write that first draft, and do the editing. Don't become mired in a single idea on how to obtain your success. Amazon has revolutionized the publishing industry. Ideas that wouldn't be accepted twenty-years ago by unknown authors are often what helps the unknown author become known.

The path to success is daunting. It is not going to be easy. You, me, and everyone who decides to take those steps, to begin the process, to be an author, faces rejection. Published authors face rejection many times, and they face failure. Not everything will be a success.

But don't give up.
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Well, Thursday's Themecraft entry is temporarily delayed. Only because it's Monday, and I worked a fourteen-hour shift on Thursday. As a result, ThemeCraft Thursday will start this upcoming Thursday, and I will be exploring the theme of World War III and its impact on the science-fiction genre. It's very fascinating, and, if I could skip the whole living through World War III and witness the space exploration aftermath, I totally would do that.

Anyway, that's for Thursday. Onwards with Monday!

Yesterday, one of my former co-workers and a very good and dear friend of mine (I call her my "child" because I'm old enough to be her mother) turned 21. (Yay!! Happy birthday, again, Erika! Woohoo!!) I went to the first part of the celebration at Osaka, where I sampled sake for the first time ever. Not bad. Now I want fruit-flavored sake.

I got to meet some of the people that have played a major part in Erika's life. Good friends, family, co-workers - we took up two hibachi tables, and it's been a long time since I've been to a hibachi steakhouse. (Thank you for inviting me, Erika!)

One of Erika's friends, a young man named Cody, was asking me questions about myself. For once in my life, I wasn't stumbling or deflecting. We'd just met, we had someone in common, and we were sitting at the same table. Always good to chat with people when at a restaurant birthday party.

Cody asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and my reply was, I'm already doing it. His curiosity was sparked, and I got to talking about my writing career, the books I've published.

I spent a lot of time talking about Portal to Gaming and my source of inspiration for that story. (For those of you who aren't aware yet, it's inspired by the PlayStation 2 game, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time).

I admit. I stumbled a little bit, but it was nowhere near as agonizing as in the past when I was working on The Summer of Fireflies and Dragons (which still exists, by the way - I have to type it up and do some major revising), and I'd get those questions. It's encouraging to know that the paralyzing fear and the "Oh my gods, why did you have to ask me that?!" wasn't there last night. Maybe it's because it was a lot easier to relate Portal to Gaming and what I'm trying to accomplish with the Arc of Fantasy series due to the inspiration that's behind the series.

So, for me, this is huge. I'm excited to keep pushing forward, to getting the next three stories in the series - Ravensrealm, New Atlantis, and The Intergalactic Chase - finished and ready for publication.

I'm celebrating with coffee.

In the meantime, I'm plotting out what else I need to do. I know when Tulsa Comic-Con is taking place, and I just need to pay for the pre-registration to go to that. I do want to start a marketing/discussion group in the Tulsa area, one that meets at least once a month, for science-fiction and fantasy authors. Virtual Fantasy Con is also coming up.

I've also opened up some older novels I'd begun working on, and I'm just super excited while cringing at the same time because I know they're rough and in need of attention, finishing, and revising. But there's a lot of wonder to be had and fear to be faced when writing in the genre that I do so . . .

Moving forward!
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This all thanks to a video game that I enjoy playing. I'm something of a gamer - I don't like every game that comes out, and that includes RPGs. I'm very selective that way. I will be mentioning Star Ocean again in tomorrow's entry on themecraft. I do love the Star Ocean series, and I can point out everything each game has in common, including the "final" game in the series, Till the End of Time.

This is something that actually occurred to me when I was dissecting the character, Reimi Saionji, a character I'm not overly fond of, and realized that her training for the situations she found herself in to be somewhat inadequate and downright dangerous. I don't like Reimi, but it comes down to more of writer treatment than anything else. That will be a discussion for next week's Words of Wisdom Wednesday. It was in writing about Reimi and the poor treatment of her character, based on everything that she was trained for, that made me realize this was poor writing. Yes, there is a story to tell in The Last Hope. It's a wonderful story, but it is as they say. Hindsight is 20/20, and the only thing that can save this particular botched story is for original sci-fi writers to learn what the mistakes made here are and for fanficition writers to at least consider that a rewrite might very well be in order, at least if they want to get the character of Reimi into a better light. So please bear with me and hopefully understand where it is I'm coming from when it comes to writing about space exploration.

To start here, I love Star Ocean: The Last Hope. The Last Hope, which is the fourth game in the series (but is set a few hundred years ahead of the first game) has a running theme that's very concurrent with the basis of Star Trek and what we're actually facing in our current economic, social, and political climates. As an author, I find the themecraft of the fallout of World War III to be fascinating in what life can be like. How far south can we go, right?

I'm not going to discuss what could have led up to World War III in the Star Ocean universe. I'd rather save it for another time and a different blog entry. For this journal, that's part of tomorrow's themecraft. Instead, I want to talk about how totally screwed up the SRF was the moment it was implemented.

Here is the basic rundown of the SRF mission and status.

There are five ships total for space exploration. We know from character conversations that they're heading to worlds that are human friendly. This is not a reference to indigenous life. 

I repeat, this is not a reference to indigenous life. 

For terms of gameplay, human friendly simply means the gravity tolerable, the air breathable, and the environment hospitable. That's it. On Aeos, they get lucky in that there are no humanoid settlements that they can completely muck up with their technology. Lemuris and Roak? Yeah, not so much. 

I'm digressing.

Okay, so the goal of the super secret SRF that very few people on Earth know about is to explore planets that can host humans. Five ships with a crew of five. Seriously. Five people per ship, that's twenty-five people who have been trained not just as astronauts but as anthropologists, botanists, and whatever else they think they're going to need in order to establish a colony or at least contact with whatever local civilization. That's four crew members and one captain per ship.

No medical officers, no medical bays to treat the injured because somehow we . . . overlooked that when we were establishing the USTA and the SRF. No biologists, no physiologists, no zoologists, nothing else of great importance here. For entymology, we have Faize and eventually Arumat. For engineering and robotics and mining, we have Bacchus. For compounding/medicines, we have Myuria. Our ornithologist is Meracle, and our zoologist is Sarah.

Does anyone see the resulting issue here? We have two humans who have studied anthropology (Edge) and Reimi (botany), but everything else is going to the alien races that we're befriending. While there is nothing wrong with the game's diversity, it makes me feel like the game's writers were more interested in creating eye candy in Reimi, Meracle, and Myuria than actually applying what an actual space exploration team would need.

Let me break it down as to what every space exploration team is going to need. I base all of this on watching reruns of the original Star Trek series, the Star Trek movies, and the highly beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation.

To begin with, we have our intrepid leader, the captain of the ship. Everyone knows what his job is - delegate responsibilities to those who are most suited for the task at hand. Very self-explanatory at this point.

Second-in-command: The person who can take over in the event the captain is incapacitated or killed. 

Medical officer: The person who puts the band-aids on the scrapes and basically keeps everyone alive.

Communications/Linguistic - Not only are we sending out more than one ship on this space exploration mission, we run into the possibility of encountering an alien species, one that's either equally intelligent or more intelligent than our own. Keeping in contact with our sister ships is important. So is making sure that the aliens we've just met are friendly and not about to shoot us.

Botany - Studying the indigenous life on another planet is a bonus and comparing it to known Earth samples so we can determine what's safe and what isn't is a major bonus here

Anthropology - Studying humanoid creatures in the event they're going to attack us is a bonus because we're on a mission of, not only exploration, but survival. 

Mineralogy - Yes, this is an actual word. I googled it. Having someone who knows the chemical structure of minerals like iron and silver is a very valuable asset. 

Engineering - We need someone to keep the ship from breaking apart. Otherwise, we can't do it, Captain. We just dun have the power! (Gotta love Star Trek)

Biology - And here I'm going to break it down simply because there are many aspects to biology to be covered. There are the following sub-categories: Environmental, physiology, zoology, herpatology, microbiology, evolutionary biology, marine biology, the aforementioned anthropology, entymology, and I'm sure there's a few other things I've missed in this vast field of biology. Some people could probably cross-train, after all, because all we really need is notice similarities and do the required studying of the new life flourishing on the planet stretching out before us.

Compounding/Pharmaceutical Technology - We're aboard ships with a limited amount of resources. Eventually, we're going to run out of what we have onboard our ship in order to tend to the sick so knowing how to actually compound medicines from local resources is a MUST. Absolute MUST. 

Geologists/Seismologists - We need to determine if the land we're thinking of inhabiting is not only stable for the construction of homes and eventual businesses but for the eventual mining that we're going to need to do. We are coming from a resource-strapped planet. Having ships ferry resources to us is completely out of the realm of possibility. We'll have better luck taking everything back to Earth than we would to the new home.


Now, mind you, the SRF is just an exploration group. They're eventually going to pave way for more people to come once it's been determined that the planet is safe for us to inhabit. That's the whole point of the exploration group in the first place, and, like I said, some people could possibly cross-train in order to save on the numbers being sent out into deep space. Still, the lack of a decent medical bay and having a doctor onboard each ship is very disturbing. I may have to blame this one on Deputy Director Shimada being one cheap S.O.B. because the ships were ridiculously small and really could only hold upto eight people. 

A quick rundown of the SRF ships - there's the bridge/command center, the local lounging around area, a conference area with two storage rooms to either side and upper portion to the ship with a battle simulator, two bathrooms (one for guys, one for gals), and four bedrooms with two beds to each room.

That's it. 

When the ships crash, all of the injured are taken into the bedrooms while someone tries to work on the injuries, someone who, upon talking to him/her, doesn't seem to be trained for such an event. This is bad planning on the part of the SRF.

Also, all five ships are heading for the same planet. I'm going to try and break it down on the logic on this. 

Aeos is our first planetary stop on our adventure. Our command people at home have sent out unmanned drones throughout the vastness of space and have reported back on Aeos. We have the life-friendly atmosphere that we need - breathable air, tolerable gravity, temps and plantlife reminiscent of the Jurassic area, and, most importantly, no large scale life forms. We have chosen this planet as our first stop so we're sending all five ships to this planet.

One way to justify this is we have small crews to start with - 25 minimum, 40 max. They're not going to be remaining in orbit over the planet upon arrival, they're going to be landing and exploring immediately before moving on to the next planet. Thank goodness we're not reliant on fossil fuels for this endeavor. 

Five ships to one planet tells me that they're trying to cover as much ground in as little time as possible because we have other planets we want to explore. And if one ship gets in trouble, the crews from the other four can immediately lend a hand.

This is both wise and foolish. This is putting all of your eggs into one basket and hoping none of them crack. This is counting your chickens before they've hatched. You're just not going to know what you're going to get by sending that many people to one location and by having them land immediately when there may not actually be a suitable landing place.

It's also clear at this point that the crews are meant to live on the ships while they're on the planet. They have no means of constructing any type of shelters nor is there anyone aboard that has knowledge of how to construct a shelter. It's like the excitement of the exploration project overrode the basic necessities of what the crew would need. 

Again, there is a logical way to look at this - they're not meant to be there that long, but they also were not meant to crash land due to some unforeseen circumstance. Three shipps slagged, one immobilized but completely repairable, and one lost to the vastness of space. Yes. One huge muck up of a mess.

Now, I will give the SRF this - they did train the crews on defense. They have weapons in the event they do find unfriendlies, and that obviously happens when the crew is attacked by insects taller than they are. 

They just didn't train them enough. It's like no one truly expected to encounter hostiles along the way. Reimi's capture on the alternate Earth clearly tells me they didn't expect their crews to be caught and interrogated. It's a sad thing when we look at it this way: Fayt Leingod is a college student. He and Reimi, if we put them in the same timeline, are the same age. He has no military training whatsoever, but he holds up better under torture than what Reimi did upon her capture. As he told Cliff in their cell, "What could I say? It's not like they'd believe I'm from outer space" (or something to that effect). 

By contrast here, due to her training with the SRF for space exploration, Reimi should be the more calm and collected out of this particular comparison. Yeah, we can say it's apples and oranges, we can also say Reimi doesn't have the UP3 guiding her, either, but she's touted as being an intelligent woman and a "level-headed navigator" (guidebook that comes with the game). She has more training and more education than Fayt for this exploration mission. She truly needs to be on par with someone like Maria Traydor, but she's not, and that's because the SRF training program has ultimately failed her. At the beginning, one of her favorite things to do is to tell Edge "don't do anything stupid". 

Now, honestly, I don't know how long the training program for the SRF is. Edge Maverick (MMC) is 20, and Reimi (FMC) is 19. The guidebook says she was chosen at a young age, so that could put either of them anwhere from 13-14 to 15-16 to begin their intense training and education. 

The only ones who know about the fact that there are aliens in this game are the captains. The crews are told nothing until the friendly alien race, the Eldarians, show up. There is a complete lack of trust going on here. Yes, we humans are trying to do this on our own, but, hey, we're on Aeos. Giant insects who are immune to laser blasts! We need help, and we have no medical facilities.

Once more, in the defense of the SRF, things on planet Earth are not so great. We all know the atmosphere is compromised. We're in the aftermath of World War III and the massive fallout from the nuclear weapons. Our planet is dying, and we have got to do something. NOW. The fact that we've taken steps to build ships and train young people to head into the stars should be more than sufficient because we have millions of people who can't even live on the planet's surface anymore.

The rush to get into space, while doing so in secret, is the SRF's biggest downfall. No medical teams, no eventualities in place for encountering alien species, and then, the biggest thing of all is the three genetically modified humans they've sent into space.

I don't know what Crowe's genetic modifications are. He isn't a playable character for any of us so, at best, we're just speculating. Maybe he was given the same properties as Edge - superior speed and strength in a combat situation - but I highly doubt it. The ones involved - Reimi's parents and Edge's father - didn't see fit to do the same thing with Reimi, and, as an archer, being gifted with speed and the ability to calculate where an enemy is going to move to and still hitting the mark is a vastly useful trait. Of course, what they gave her is vastly useful, too, but only to Reimi herself. She's also the actual loose cannon. 

At this point, I'm going to mention I have cross-posted this to a Star Ocean fan blog that I maintain so I'm going to sound redundant to all fans who have played the game. For this, I apologize, but a bit of a refresher might help. For those who have not played the game, two of the five games (the ones I've played), genetic modification of humans in order to survive or overcome a threat is a prevailing theme.

Reimi's genetic modification is that she will never die of any type of sickness. She has a super-enhanced immune system, one that led to her survival from radiation poisoning while the same thing cost her the lives of some friends. This, in and of itself, is not a horrible thing in that, should she encounter some type of alien sickness, she won't die from it, and she'll recover faster upon given the cure (providing there is one). 

What makes this the bonehead move? No doctor to study the disease and the cure and how they interact within a human body and the great, great, GREAT potential for the disease to mutate and infect someone else, be it a member of her own crew or a member of the alien population they happen to be visiting.

The basic story behind The Last Hope is one of very hopeful adventure and survival so it doesn't really differ from any other epic fantasy adenture out there. It capitalizes on the human spirit for survival, but doesn't take into account some of the very real things that an exploration crew faces. It isn't a horrible game to play. Not in the very least. Hey, I have my favorites, and I utilize them almost all the time when I get the chance to sit down and play. It also explains how we got the UP3 and why we're not supposed to a) engage with less technologically advanced species and b) what should happen in the event we accidentally time travel. As a writer, though, and one of science fiction and fantasy, it's a cautionary tale of what to keep in mind when writing about space exploration and what a crew is actually going to need in order to‚Äč survive.


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