gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Atheism - God)
Had a fun assignment for my writing group. Everyone was to write a short piece, not more than a page and a half, all using the title "Angels in Hell." As expected, about half changed the title or put their names on their work. The works were read at random and we had to guess who wrote what. I was surprised that so few people identified my work, I thought my style was distinctive. Anyway, here it is:

Angels in Hell

“I remember being killed. Is that weird? I was walking off stage at the Indiana State Fair. Posing for pictures, shaking hands. Then I get punched in the back, fall off the stage into the mud. All I remember after that is the press of people and all of them screaming for someone to call 9-1-1.”

The man behind the desk, the one who had greeted me when I woke up in this nice office, smiled. “Not at all, Colby! Those who die when awake usually remember their last moments in the flesh. It’s the people who die in their sleep that drive us here in Receiving and Orientation nuts; usually takes hours to convince them that they aren’t dreaming.”

Sam - he had told me his name when I showed up - laughed at some joke only he was getting. I pressed on. “Just to be clear here, and meaning no offense, did you say I’m in Hell? Not quite what I was expecting. I’m not sure if I should even be here! I led a life of public service!”

Sam was leafing through a thick file that hadn’t been there before. “Oh, you belong here. Colby Garrand, junior United States Senator for Michigan, former Governor of Michigan, former Deputy DA for Oakland County. At the time of your death, you were on your way to the Republican nomination for President. Seems you lied, backstabbed, and cheated your way to the top.” Sam peered at me over the top of the file folder. He had very dark eyes. “A man after my own heart, really. Know what you haven’t asked?”

I shook my head.

“You haven’t asked who shot you. It was Miles Matthews, nephew of Frank Matthews, the man you railroaded into prison and death.”

I shot to my feet. “Now you hold on one darn minute. . .”

Sam also lept out of his chair. He was very big. “No, YOU wait. You withheld evidence from the defense, you intimidated witnesses and you bribed a judge. Then, as Governor, you manipulated the parole board. Frank Matthews was innocent, and he died in an attack in a prison workshop. That alone gets you into Hell.” Suddenly this wasn’t funny. My mouth got very dry. I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat.

Sam noticed my distress and produced a couple of beers. “Now, let’s talk eternal punishment! Since both your exes are in Heaven, you’ll be assigned a bachelor pad. You’ll be close to the library - which has everything ever written - and a rec center. Oh, I’ve taken the liberty in enrolling you in the Infernal Bar Association. Lawyers in Hell, who knew, right?” Sam laughed at his joke. “Mostly it’s a debate forum and drinking society. Now what else do we have here. . .”

“Bar Association? Rec center? What kind of punishment is this?” I couldn’t help myself.
Sam looked up. “Oh, that. Excuse me for a moment.” He stood up and left the room.
Before I could wonder where he had gone, I was suddenly enveloped in a blanket of pure love and protection. Infinite love, freely given, as old as creation. Then it stopped. I fell to the floor as Sam reentered. “Please!” I babbled, “Please do that again! I’ll pay anything! Anything!”

Sam considered me from the edge of his desk. “No, that was your one shot. That was what you gave up; that was the presence of God. You could have had that for eternity.” He pulled me back into my chair. “Know why we Fallen hate you so much? You’ll get over this. You’ll heal. It’s the gift that we fought the Throne for, the Free Will denied to us. We won the war, did you know that? But in the peace we were exiled to watch you termites build a new nest. What you just felt is our birthright, and you cast it off in pursuit of temporal power and pleasure.” Behind me a door swung open. “This entry interview is over. Get out. Take your reception packet and leave.”

I hurried out the door, clutching the thick envelope of papers that had popped into my hands. Behind me, before the door could close, I could faintly hear Sam sobbing.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Bosch)
Trying to write this morning. This is what I got.

The lad fancies himself a poet )

gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)

This is a bit that was sparked by a discussion at my writing group. I'm not going to try to sell it, because I've read any number of similar stories in the past. I'm just trying to get into the habit of always writing when a story idea hits me. Comments and criticism welcome. As I was checking for typos I realized that the Shade itself was inspired by the Domination win video from Civilization IV.

The Shade )

gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
... and seem to be fond of alliteration.

I recently dredged up a story fragment I wrote several years ago for a fresh look. I rewrote it to take it out of the Warhammer40K universe, and expanded it a bit. At which point, Kollin, my view point character, started speaking like a Brit.

This was not planned. He just got written that way without my really intending it. Works for me.

Then I was writing what will be the second half of chapter 1. At some point, I swear Kollin looked at me and said, quite distinctly, "you know I'm lying about all of this, right? I'm a con man, a liar. Congrats, me boy, you have your first Unreliable Narrator." Which means I'm free to take Kollin on a twisted tale, and reveal at the end he made the whole thing up to amuse himself while being interviewed by a historian.

I've already done a first draft of the final chapter.

Does this happen to other writers?
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

  • Completely fallen off the habit of writing here.

  • The "Goals & Accomplishments" thing has been stopped because it was just making me angry.

  • Too many Fails, not enough being done.

  • Plus, bronchitis really kicked me in the ass.

  • But life does move on.

  • Seeing new doctors.

  • Back to the Y on a regular basis.

  • Been trying to write more.

  • Gearing for upcoming events.

  • It's that wonderful time of the year here in Santa Clara where you can put almost anything out to the curb for pick-up.

  • As a result, our street looks like a disaster area.

  • We also have pickers coming through in advance of the official pick-up.

  • Normally an annoyance (They double park, block our narrow street, and drive at 5mph while scanning the piles) this year they worked in our favor.

  • We had a few things to put out. All the old dishes and glasses we're dumping, an old stereo, some other stuff.

  • I was really worried what would happen with all the breakable stuff in the street.

  • But yesterday [personal profile] kshandra was shaving my head in the carport (easier to clean up) and we saw a nice older gentleman looking over the pile across the street.

  • Got his attention, and he happily took all our crap.

  • Got to watch lifeguard training at the YMCA today. Really interesting.

  • Now I need lunch.

  • The Giants are struggling. We've dealt with a lot of injuries early in the season.

  • Today's game was rained out. Boo!

  • But we did sweep the hated Dodgers in SF, and our next three are against LA in Chavez Gulch.

  • BEAT L.A.!

gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)

This is something that came to me while noodling around with my "Dwarf Empire in Egypt" concept. I'm currently reading a history of Egypt, and the idea of extremely long-lived great houses and ancient blood feuds entranced me. [personal profile] kshandra says that Hekaib reminds her of Tyrion Lannister. Not intentional at all.

Family Ties )

I like these characters. I may do more with them.

There is an unintentional pun. Hekaib has very poor eyesight and is known as Grayeyes. His antagonist is from the House of the First Cataract.

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - Glare of Sarcasm)

  • My apologies for mostly vanishing over the last week or so.

  • The letter from the government telling me that I can work again and all my benefits were going away just kicked my butt.

  • I was seriously non-functional for eight hours after reading that, and barely able to operate as an adult for the rest of the week.

  • But things have been done.

  • We filed all the paperwork for a reconsideration.

  • We've contacted a legal group for assistance.

  • We've spoken with my doctor.

  • Which also led to another melt-down when it turned out that none of my referrals had gone through.

  • Which should be fixed now.

  • But we did enjoy FogCon.

  • Remember FogCon? We went to FogCon before all this started.

  • Nice, relaxing event.

  • I got the entire Mars series autographed by Kim Stanley Robinson.

  • The non-awards banquet was good.

  • Saw some old friends we haven't encountered in too long.

  • Next up, BayCon, where I will be a panelist.

  • We've learned that we need to get a room on site so I can retreat and rest.

  • This drama has also played merry hell with my workout schedule.

  • I either forget to go to the Y, or am too stressed to go.

  • That changes now.

  • The YMCA is now on my calender. Three visits a week minimum. Monday night aqua-aerobics with [personal profile] kshandra.

  • The change in my energy level since I started working out has been amazing.

  • My writing continues to improve gradually.

  • Working on a couple of things I might submit for publication.

  • The writing group I attend through Santa Clara Adult Ed has been amazingly helpful.

  • I'll probably self-publish my novel through Amazon, just so I can saw I wrote a novel.

  • Y'all are buying it. yes?

  • Still want to get back into gaming.

  • Thought I had a couple of leads on a group, but they fell through.

  • Anybody interested in a regular gaming night in the South Bay?

  • 20 days to Opening Day for your 2014 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants!

  • Who have the Best Commercial Ever.


gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
An exercise I enjoy doing when I’m not feeling particularly creative is to come up with a simple scene and rewrite it from multiple perspectives. This both keeps me writing and also forces me to use different narrative styles. In this example, we have a nearly empty bar. Only the bartender and one regular are there at the beginning. Then a strange man enters, orders a drink, pours it over his head, pays, and leaves.
Read more... )
gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
You get home from work, and there, sitting on the dining room table, is a buff envelope from the Selective Service. Your heart drops. You knew it was a possibility, but you never thought it was going to be you, right? You grab a beer and sit down to read it.

"Greetings. Having submitted yourself to a Local Board composed of your neighbors for the purpose of determining your availability for training and service . . ." You scan down to see the induction date. Two weeks. Two weeks of freedom.

Dad is thrilled, all he can talk about is his two years, story after story at dinner. Mom is worried about you. Will you handle the stress? You've never been so far from home before. She wonders out loud if this will change you forever, and, more quietly, if you'll even come home. At work the next day, you get handshakes and backslaps from the older guys in the warehouse, and sympathetic looks from the younger ones. They know that only fate kept their number from coming up. Your boss cheerfully assures you that your job will be waiting when you get back. If you come back. Your girlfriend takes it hard. She's heard the stories; everyone has. You swear you'll be true to her and write everyday, but she points out that you'll be under incredible pressure in a strange place. Who knows what will happen? Inevitably, the day comes. Nursing an epic hangover from your farewell party, you board your flight to the training base.

Training is another world. The instructors are hard men; they've been there and know what you will be facing. Long days of constant drilling, learning every detail of your duties, forever on the run. At night in your bunk you despair of ever being good enough. But you are making friends with your fellow trainees. You all work together, conquering the arcane arts you are expected to master. Everyone needs help with something, and as the weeks fly by, you begin to believe in yourself and your mission. Finally, graduation day arrives. All the hard work has paid off. Out of your class of 150, only 4 failed to pass, and one of those was a medical discharge. With flags snapping in the wind and the band playing, you take your final oath. Then, with almost no time to breathe, you and your friends are packed onto a chartered transport to your final destination.

The mood on the plane changes from celebration to somber contemplation of what will be required in the coming days. Again, the doubts creep in. It gets worse when you land. Shouting men with clipboards herd you to the waiting buses. Overhead, military jets streak by. The air is thick and muggy. So different from home. After a short ride through the packed city center, you finally reach your new home. More shouting men call out each newbie by name, directing them off the bus towards waiting groups of veterans of this place. Your name gets called. Clutching your papers, your legs turn to jelly. The guy waiting for you looks fearsome. But his smile when he sees you is genuine, and his handshake firm.

"Welcome to the Capitol, Congressman; I'm your Chief of Staff." He waves towards the dome looming over the scene. "Want the tour now, or would you like to see your office first?"
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - Thoughtful)
So after a brief break, I'm back in my writing group. Doing our weekly assignments and working out longer pieces has led me to a rather startling revelation.

I write fantasy.

If you were to peruse my bookshelves, you'd find tons of hard SF, the kind of books that are written by PhD holders and have technical appendixes. Alastair Reynolds, Hal Clement, Robert L. Forward... these luminaries and others are well represented and I devour anything with a good crunchy tech base and a strong story.

But when I write, I can't really do it. It's not lack of knowledge, I can do research with the best of them, but I find that my style just isn't suited to the genre. Even when I try less rigorous SF, my stories still wander off towards fantasy tropes without my wanting them to do so. The only things I've felt comfortable sharing (and trying to sell) are my fantasy works.

So I'm going to stick with what works for me. I've been thinking of doing a series of "Road" stories. Two heroes with a plot concerning going from A to B by way of the charming town of Hijinks Ensue. One is fairly straight forward man at arms, who carries his family's ancient ancestral sword. Problem is, none of those ancestors wrote down how to invoke the sword's powers. That's why he's wandering the world. The other is a former mage's apprentice who just wasn't disciplined enough for the trade. He knows a few minor spells, is decent with a sword and bow, but his real power (and curse) is his charm. Possibly add a recurring female character, who shows up mysteriously to move things along then is gone by the end of the tale.

Have to start plotting out the first tale once I've gotten some sleep. I'm on day three of not sleeping well at all.
gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
I created this story in honor of one of my Pathfinder characters. Have fun, and please give feedback!

Brummig der Sieben )
gridlore: One of the "Madagascar" penguins with a checklist: [x] cute [x] cuddly [x] psychotic (Penguin - Checklist)

  • Been a while since I've done one of these.

  • Recovery is proceeding apace.

  • Aphasia is still a major bitch.

  • I've now added peripheral neuropathy to my woes.

  • Mostly in my left leg.

  • Been given lidocane cream for that.

  • Spent this morning at the DMV renewing my license.

  • Yeah, that sucked.

  • But it's done.

  • In other news, I'm really enjoying my writing class.

  • See previous entry for my first attempt at a short story.

  • I'm cutting way back on beer for financial reasons.

  • It's a luxury, frankly.

  • Had to let my Anticoagulation Nurse know, since changes like affect how I absorb the Warfarin.

  • But this will work well with my other big change.

  • If I get a story idea, no matter when, start writing.

  • The story I just posted came to me as I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep.

  • Still twitchy about Burning Man.

  • The Giants are currently sucking badly.

  • Pull out of it, guys!

gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
Do the Rite Thing )
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Keep Calm)
Just finished a game of Civilization. At one point, Hammurabi declared war on me declaring "Die, you gravy-sucking pig." Bad move on his part, as I quickly overwhelmed his force, and took Babylon as the final prize. That's when I got creative...

No Room for Just Desserts. )
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Penguin - Wobble)
To quote [personal profile] kshandra:

Good news: [personal profile] gridlore's supplemental Medicare insurance was approved while we were gone last weekend.
Better news: The policy is retroactive to 10/01.

Bad news: We now have to come up with $524 for them by 11/01.

And I'm getting daily phone calls about our outstanding cable and internet bill - which they've already reduced for me once, but is still $200.

And we're starting to get phone calls about the imaging bills from Doug's hospital stay in August.

And the rent is due in a week.

I am fresh out of cope...and out of shame.

The PayPal address is purplekoosh at gmail. I know money is shit for everyone right now, so I certainly don't expect anything, but even just a dollar will help. And if you haven't got a ha'penny, boosting the signal is welcome.

I'm waiting to hear if I qualify for food stamps. And if you've never seen a $210,000 hospital bill, lucky you (Medicare cut that way down, but still...) We are once again at the end of the ropes.

I figure five grand gets us clear. Pays all the outstanding medical and insurances bills and keeps us alive. So, I'm making you an offer and making an announcement.

I'm writing my first novel. And I'm selling characters. Drop $100 and I name a character after you. Drop a grand, and you get the horrible death of your choice. Dump that five grand that's been burning a hole in your pocket, and you get the best death I can think of. A death that will make George R.R. Martin sit up and exclaim "why didn't I think of that." A death that takes five paragraphs to describe and ends with other characters trying to decide if that chunk is a foot or maybe some ribs.

No idea if this will ever get published, but still.. gift us money so I may stay alive and murder y'all (fictionally, of course.)
gridlore: The Imperial Sunburst from the Traveller role-playing game (Gaming - Sunburst)
Finally was inspired enough to start my first world write up for the book. 1500 words, and the draft is up for peer review.

I rewarded myself with a game of Civilization, which went badly. But given the date, I really want a copy of Sid Meier's Gettysburg. Be a good week to refight the battle with different levels of difficulty and tactics. Need to see if I can find a copy that will work on our box.

In other news, The South Bay has become close, close friends with the sun. 93° here in Santa Clara and climbing. About to take an ice-cold shower.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Penguin - Carpe)
I'm starting a small business. I'm also experiencing stress and the need for More Beer, but I understand this is a common reaction.

Gridlore Design Studios, Inc. (There's nothing there right now, but still... I have a domain!)

We've received permission from Marc Miller to do subsector books for the latest version of the game, Traveller5. The initial proposal was nixed, but he gave me a list of subsectors he'd like to see done in support of the ongoing metaplot.

So, now I just have to complete the stuff on LegalZoom, pay for that, see if I need a County or city business license, talk to the bank about setting up a corporate account, lasso writers and artists, figure out the formatting of the book, set up a production schedule and deadlines, start working my contacts in the industry for advice, not to mention doing my share an then some of the writing and editing. Thank Halford I have no art skills or I'd be stressing about that as well. Oh, and we need to determine compensation rates

About that last bit... I've done more than my share of work for credit. I will be damned if anyone who works for me works for free. It may be a t-shirt and a coupon for pizza, but I will pay everyone who does work for me. If I'm going to do this professionally, I am going to be professional from the start.

I love Traveller. I love creating awesome worlds to play in. Now, I have the chance to make some sort of living doing it. I'm scared as hell, but damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! I've told [personal profile] kshandra that if I can bring in more than my salary as a dispatcher for two years, I'm quitting my day job and doing this full time.

So, yeah. This thing sort of happened.

Douglas Berry, President
Gridlore Design Studios
gridlore: The word "Done!" in bold red letters. (Done!)
It all started when I swung by Jack in the Box on my way home Tuesday night. "Bad for me Tuesday" has become sort of a tradition, where I hit a drive-thru to celebrate the start of my weekend with food that I normally would avoid. [personal profile] kshandra asked for a chocolate shake.

Within hours, she was nauseous and having intestinal issues that made us think that Ensign Wheatbiscuit had jumped ships. Wednesday, I drove her over to urgent care. Yup, some sort of bacterial infection. I didn't get it (although I did have a brief bout of similar symptoms, it is nowhere near what Kiri is experiencing) so where do you think this came from? I'm contacting JitB to register a complaint.

So that killed Wednesday. Taking care of my poor Kiri and watching the Masterchef try-outs pretty much summed up the day.

Today, Kiri is still sick and I needed to run errands. First, to Costco to pick up her prescriptions and Gatorade, then to the bank to get laundry quarters, and finally I desperately needed a haircut. Money is just tight enough that rather than going to the Costco pumps to fill the tank, I used my emergency gas can and got enough to get me through the next week. Then I'll need to refuel both Darby and the can.

Now doing said laundry, and composing a "Yo, morons" letter for Jack.

In other news, I may be a small business owner soon. On the Traveller Mailing List I wrote a post about how people should focus on smaller areas for their campaigns, a single subsector (20-40 systems) so that there is more detail and vitality, along with more plots that feed into an ongoing campaign. The gauntlet was thrown, challenging me to do such a subsector, and the idea of doing it as a Kickstarter was floated. Thus, I'm now trying figure out what I need to do to make Chinstrap Books a reality. Anyone know anything about what I need to do to establish a company that would basically be me and few others? Help!
gridlore: The word "Done!" in bold red letters. (Done!)
Done today:

  • Took out a ton of garbage.

  • Bagged laundry for an Oasis run/donation (last night and tonight).

  • Cleaned our front porch area.

  • Wrote an outline.

  • Did three loads of laundry (last one in dryer currently).

To be done tomorrow

  • Take laundry in to Oasis and to the charity drop off.

  • Go by Orchard to get shelving units for Kiri

  • Go to library so Lenore can get a library card.

  • Clean and re-stack our storage boxes.

  • Drink beer.

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
... Carmen Sandiego Doug Berry?

  • Now that I've got that song stuck in your head, I can tell you that I've been fighting the worst cold/allergy attack/bronchial yuck I've had in a long time.

  • So bad that I've been using the codeine-laced cough syrup I got a while back.

  • Which is now gone. I haz a sad over this.

  • But things finally appear to be improving, slightly.

  • Other than that, been working.

  • I did get a comped membership to Baycon.

  • Unfortunately, with my work schedule and general ill-health, I was only able to make a few hours on Friday and Saturday.

  • Still good to get out and see people.

  • Niece Prime is making me feel like a slacker.

  • She puts her resume up on Craiglsit, and is getting hits immediately.

  • Already interviewed for one gig, and is out right now confirming a writing gig for a furniture shop.

  • Paid by piece, but still, getting paid to write!

  • Which only reminds me that I'm really not doing what I need to do to write.

  • So from now on, one hour - minimum! - of writing daily.

  • Even if it is complete and utter crap, get it down on paper/screen.

  • In addition I'm going to start carrying my note pad in my backpack.

  • Should I eventually sell something, I'm buying a corduroy jacket with leather patches on the arms.

  • To wear to my first Worldcon as a Hugo Nominee.

  • Also will need a bubble pipe.

  • Note to self: Make sure jacket will go well with either the Campbell Best New Writer tiara or the SIX TIME HUGO LOSER t-shirt.

  • Giants are doing.. okay. Over .500. but a lot of questions still to be answered.

  • I am out of beer. How did this happen?


gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

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