Some Assembly Required

The crib was one of those kit builds. Just twelve pieces total and all the hardware was included. Even so, John struggled with it. He was not terribly handy, at least not in the traditional sense. As he worked, sweat ran down his body, stinging the cuts and scrapes on his arms. Fatherhood was trying but rewarding. His son was his whole world now and it was all worth it.

When strangers met his boy, they always said he looked like his father. They even suggested he took after his personality, his mannerisms. John wanted it to be true, but he knew it wasn’t. The truth was the boy took after his mother. John winced as he nailed in a support. His side still hurt, but it was crucial that the crib was strong. Even with his lack of craftsmanship, he knew it needed to be made stronger.

John was not accustomed to caring for an infant, and he had never expected to do it alone. Still, he was proud of his work. He was proud of his boy. John completed the final modifications to the crib. He hoped the metal mesh would hold. It was supposed to be for chickens, but it was stronger than it looked. The full moon was coming, and he didn’t want to resort to barbed wire again.

Writing Prompt: Not For You

I’m still working on the final article for my Upping Your Game: Fallout series (turns out it’s taking more research than expected) so let’s fill the void with another writing prompt. The basic idea for these going forward is that I’ll use one of the various online writing prompt generators to create a piece of flash fiction. I won’t spend more than an hour on it and it will have minimal editing (which is why the word count isn’t perfect). Let me know if these work for filler posts. I think they are more interesting than writing about not having things done as fast as I’d hoped to.

So without further adieu, here is the prompt: Write a 150 word story in the romance genre. It’s about a struggling musician and should include a pencil. Also use the sentence ‘Not for you.’ Bonus prompt: There is a great storm.

 

Not For you

Brian stared at the blank page before him. He needed new song for his set. Something that would really bring the crowd in. Something real.

Chewing on the end of his pencil, he thinks about her. Stephanie. 

His pencil found purchase in those memories.

When I am caught inside your gaze

I’d let my life fall in a blaze

Into your eyes that cut and pierce through me.

And though the world may find them cold

That fiery passion makes me bold

and you become the only thing I see.

“Is that too saccharine?” Brian thought to himself. “Not for you.” He chewed a bit harder on his pencil, suddenly lost in the heat of his most recent memories of her. The smell of sweat, those terrible motel sheets, her soft dark skin.

He was jolted from those pleasant thoughts by the chime of his cell phone.  He had received a text from his wife.

“Who is Stephanie?”

Writing Prompt: Fixing the Hole

I took this evening off to relax and try to figure out what my writing plans will be for the rest of the month. I didn’t get very far with that, so I decided to do some practice work then call it a night. So I went to one of those writing prompt generators.

I didn’t follow the prompt fully. I could have spend more time getting the length right or better matching the genre, but I chose to just go with my first idea and see where it took me. I wanted to capture the first draft of what was a spontaneous half hour of writing.

Here are the results:

Prompt: Write a 650 word story in the suspense genre. It’s about a soulless man and should include a wrench. Also use the sentence ‘It is required of you.’ Bonus prompt: There seems to be no one left on the planet.

Fixing the Hole

The gears turn.

Empty eyes stare at an ocean of stars. The Milky Way rises like a phantasm in the dark night sky. In centuries past, the old ones drove the stars away. They paled before the brilliance of progress.

Grease flows through copper channels.

After they finished killing God, they turned to the planet and then finally upon themselves. Turning from all that they were, they receded into a new violent ignorance. They no longer outshone the heavens. The fire faded. They froze to death.

Tension builds, wires pulling taut.

Glimmering in the starlight, the remnant looks down. Its arm isn’t responding. The outer plating had long ago corroded revealing the metal cored and plastic stoppers that imitated muscle. One of the stoppers has snapped, letting the corded metal loosen, leaving a hole in the intricate fibrous structure.

Elastics react to the shifting air pressure. The remnant sighs.

“I’m going to run out of these if this keeps happening.”

It turns away from the light and moves towards small a shed. This tiny building lies in the middle of a barren landscape, sheltered from the drifting snow by an outcrop of jagged stone. Entering the shack, the remnant is aware of the darkness, but has no need for further light. Its glassy optics find a drawer in the darkness and, with mismatched iron digits, it carefully pulls a small plastic stopper from what may be the last bit of cardboard in existence. It grabs a wrench and wanders back out into the glorious night.

Gyros spin, balancing a heap of rusted metal.

The remnant sits down on the ground and examines its arm. With its working hand it pulls the wires back together, placing the new stopper in place. Using the wrench it tightens the plastic and metal. Without feeling, it knows that it is regaining control of its functions. Without understanding, it knows satisfaction.

“You can’t stop now. It is required of you.”

The remnant turns back to the sky. It scrutinizes the stars. If there are more out there, it can not know. If another is staring at that same sky, it cannot say. If it had the capacity for loneliness, it would want to believe so. But it only knows the odds.

“If you stop now, no one will be left to see this.”

Writing Partner: Mythic Goals Sometimes Require An Army

AGE OF SIGMAR FEAST OF BONES

A new weekend has come, bringing with it new opportunities to spend long hours on a new project. For the next couple of weeks I will be working on entries for a horror publication doing a special issue on the theme of mythology. for this I plan to write one short story (somewhere between 2500 and 3000 words) one flash fiction story (roughly 500 words max) and a poem (likely a Shakespearean sonnet as that’s my preferred format). None of these are daunting tasks but getting them all done before the end of the month will take some discipline.

For this task I knew it would be hard to pick a writing partner. I’m going to be writing multiple pieces with only the genre of horror and the theme of myth connecting them. No one miniature would do. Some tasks need an army. This one needed two.

AGE OF SIGMAR FEAST OF BONES

I’ve had this box on my shelf since it came out. It is the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Feast of Bones set which contains a small army for both the Ogors Mawtribes and Ossiarch Bonereapers. It is a big set with a ton of really fun minis in it. As my side project I hope to have this box constructed and primed before the end of the month.

As I have mentioned before I don’t play a lot of Warhammer and tend to use the minis more for RPGs. So for this project we’re aiming for variety, both in writing and in miniatures. I’m not a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Ossiarch Bonereaver Army

The skellington army has a lot of variety that requires very little effort on my part to bring out. This is true for both construction and how I would use them in games. For example: the main leader unit would make a very nice lich in any game. He is the one in the front carrying around his crumbling tomb.

The Mortarchs (the flying bois) work as either strange gods or undead angels. They come with two different weapon options, two single hand weapons or the large glaives. I can make one of each option without it costing me any extra time or effort.

The three Necropolis Stalkers (those weird skeletal constructs) can work as advanced bone golems or a variety of other constructs with a bit of imagination. They come in three very distinct configurations and plan to build one of each. In games I can see them guarding ancient treasure, being the discovered life’s work of a mad mage, or as the main event in some twisted black market auction. Great stuff.

Last but not least there are ten basic Mortek Guard. These guys are a bit fancy to be basic skeletons but I’m a big fan of skeletal champions and more advanced undead. I imagine them guarding a really powerful necromancer or a lich. There is a lot of variety in this kit; spears, sword and board, banner bearers etc. I plan to build at least one of each variable over the ten minis.

The straightforwardness of these kits really matches my ideas for the poem and flash fiction. Variety out of the box, easy to create, should be no problem. It gets more complicated with the short story and our second army.

Warhammer Age Of Sigmar Ogor Mawtribes

The ogors are tricky. With fewer minis and lots of options I need to either make some hard choices are do some time consuming kit-bashing. For the uninitiated, kit-bashing is when you take pieces from different minis and use them to construct something new. I usually do it to make interesting leaders and heroes out of basic infantry units.

The leader, the Ogor Tyrant, is a great miniature. I’m uncertain as to how he fights with both a spear and a hammer, but I’d love to write about it. I imagine I would use him as the final boss for a short mid level campaigns. He’s unsophisticated but deadly in close combat and commands loyalty through fear in his forces. He also requires no extra work which is nice.

The basic infantry kits (if creatures that big could be called that) can be constructed as either Ogor Gluttons (melee units) or Leadbelchers (ranged units). These minis can be used in a variety of story scenarios. They fit in anywhere where you need a stronger than average leader or as a group of heavies supporting a bigger bad. There are 8 of them and the units break down in units of 6 for the Gluttons and units of 2 for the Leadbelchers. So the math is easy right? Not entirely. Looking through each kit I found the Leadbelcher had four unique guns, all of which are pretty cool. So then I thought, “ok, I’ll just make 4 leadbenchers and kitbash them with some extra hand weapons on their backs or something.” That way if I ever do play them in Warhammer I can use them for either unit. Then I noticed how many different Gluttons were possible. They have all kinds of really neat weapons too. I could magnetize them… but that would take too long. So when I go to assemble they ogors I have some hard choices to make.

The choice for the large siege weapon is easy, the Ironblaster shown in the image above is way cooler then the alternate Gnoblar Scarplauncher (a goblin catapult). In my experience siege weapons don’t come up often in RPGs but I’m sure I’ll find a way to use it for a set piece some day. At least that’s one easy choice, right? Not really. looking over the kit I’m now wondering if there are enough bits to build the catapult as a separate mini with some creative kit-bashing. With these kinds of things I just can’t help myself. There is a phrase my friend came up with years ago while reviewing one of my scripts. He liked the ending as a concept but didn’t know how I could pull it off. He said I had to “circle square it.” This has become a common turn of phrase now in my inner circle and it essentially means making a round peg fit into a square hole. It’s possible, but extremely challenging. I like challenge, in-spite of what this will inevitably do to my time table.

Speaking of time table ruining, look at all those decorative gnoblars (goblins). You can see one of them on lookout in the awesome banner bearer shown in the full army picture above as well as a ton more in the picture below. There are a ton of them… and I’d hate to just use them as intended. So I’ve textured up another ten bases and I’m going to see how many of them I can reuse as new goblin miniatures. They are too unique to pass up, full of character and interesting gear. I can imagine them leading or supporting more standard goblins in battle. However, this means another circle to square and a whole new force to construct… with a potential centerpiece of their own if I can figure out the stupid catapult.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 99120213020_GutbustersScraplauncher01.jpg
Oh no… there is a little goblin on the front shooting a sling shot. I can’t just leave him behind.

Three forces for three projects and only two weeks to work on it. What could go wrong. Well, some of you might point out that it probably wasn’t wise to spend this much time talking out how to construct this box of plastic armymen when I should be writing. Well… maybe. But in the time it took to write this I have written outlines for all three writing projects, I textured all the bases and organized all of the kits into piles by unit and in the order I plan to tackle them. It’s only procrastination if it doesn’t help you focus. There is a method to my madness.

Wish me luck!

Why I’m Here

A mug full of pens and writing supplies.

I’ve been reading/highlighting my copy of the Writer’s Market text for the last 5 hours and I need to come up for some air. That thing is a real cinder block! I’m compiling a list of publishers to submit one of my projects to, and I’m nearly done now. This should be an easier process, but the truth is, I haven’t really done this before.

I spent the last year writing a novel, which I’m now editing, but I guess I should have started with this site. It turns out I put the cart before the horse. I wasn’t aware how much publishers rely on self promotion these days and I’ve spent the last 10 years working on my storytelling. I never learned how to sell my own works.

However, things aren’t hopeless. I have ideas on how to build up some fun content on here that will both entertain and get people acquainted with my brand. It just might take me a little bit to iron out the balancing act.

Here is my basic content plan:

  • I have a series of articles I plan to writer based on storytelling through tabletop gaming. It’s a subject I have been working on for years so I’m excited to share some of my ideas.
  • Series that will show how I incorporate my love of painting with my writing work. It’s weird but it’s something that actually does help me write more efficiently.
  • I also plan on posting regular flash fiction and poetry online. I haven’t worked out the exact delivery method yet but I’ve already started building a catalog so it’s just a matter of time.

In short, I know I need readers but I also know that no one wants to read blog post after blog post of me complaining about trying to get published. I will post topically and thematically relevant content on here and if/when people start reading this I am also open to suggestions.

Just bear with me, I’ll have something worth reading up soon!