Map Madness and 101 Challenge 14

Maps are a very useful thing

Whether it be for wandering streets in reality or the depths of the mind. As children, many of us were taught to use various methods of planning. One such method? Mind maps.

However, even for an auditory learner like me, visual maps are somewhat essential. I’ve come to find making even simple maps in Paint just to name the roads in a story’s town handy- and marking off where places are can be a real aid. It’s like making my own (albeit crappy quality) GPS!

SoS City Map

I’ve also been enjoying mapping in my game development works. In fact, I made a fair few maps recently and taped a playtest of the first couple minutes of the game (which, obviously, is still a work in progress). It showed me there were bugs, but it also made me feel pride for my maps- and my sense of humor. Please feel free to take a look!

And finally…A little about mind mapping itself, and how it can help you learn more about your own person:

I’m the type that gets confused easily. My own mind often feels clouded, and I’m often dreading trying to make sense when I speak. For me, I’ve always been better writing my thoughts on paper or the computer rather than speaking them. I know I’m not the only one whose ever felt that way.

Do you ever feel like the words coming from your mouth just don’t make the point like they did in your head? Sometimes, even if just for yourself, writing it down can help. Writing helps me with a lot of things, actually. If I’m stuck on a decision, I make a chart sometimes of the good and bad of both sides- sometimes as a Venn Diagram, sometimes as a list, and sometimes just as a stream of consciousness. Whatever helps you strive is a good tool- and mapping the mind is surely good for your heart and sanity (if such a thing exists in you).

I’ll write more about things like more use of charts and stream of consciousness later. 🙂

Today’s Challenge: A list of your favorite industry blogs

To be totally honest, I’m still finding and catching up on blogs that fit my niche…And by niche, I mean literally anything and everything. I love blogs about lots of things: about plants, about people’s daily lives, about writing…I even love blogs about blogs sometimes! However, because it’s usually just mild surfing, I don’t honestly pay that much attention. Today’s real challenge is to start paying a better look at the blogs I visit, and keep a closer eye on them!

I hope you’ll keep a close eye on me too…
Maybe even nudge me with recommendations or reminders!
Wouldn’t it be fun to share?
Like a book club for blogs!

Internet Changes, Future Posts and Return of the 101 Challenge (Day 13!)

It’s been a while, but I swear I’m alive! I went a few weeks without internet due to lack of funds and having trouble with a company I was working with to GET internet for my home. The modem they said would take only a few days to a week took at least two or more weeks to get here, and then it wasn’t quite working right brand new out of the package. However, after some great help from a lovely lady at Sprint (my internet is a specialty program for low income, which uses a Sprint cellular modem with unlimited data). We thought it was strange how bad our throughput was, and she agreed, and we figured out the bugs over time. So while originally today was going to be a day to call and complain…It’s working pretty well, now!

That said, it’s been a rough month or two. I couldn’t handle living with my grandma after a while and we had a bit of a blow out. We still spend time together sometimes, but we aren’t on the best of terms as of late due to it- but we’re working on patching it up, and dad still helps her from home the best he can.

My bruise is gone from my surgery, sadly. Yes, I’m sad about that. I’m weird. But you know what isn’t gone? All the ideas of posts I wanted to make this past month! I’ve been working on various projects at once as usual, and some of it you’ll definitely get to see in future posts. I felt like sharing a list of things I plan to post about in the near future, as well as changes I hope to make on the site (as I get more into the swing of the net again).

  1. Maps (Mind-Maps, Atlases and more!)
  2. General updates to my works.
  3. A ton of links added to the Sites to See page.
  4. Regular prompts for fun.
  5. More ways to deal with writer’s block (see my examples below in the challenge)
  6. WAY MORE CHALLENGES
  7. Ideas for more interaction with my lovely readers
  8. And tons more!

Well, while I’m working on all that, though…Here’s today’s challenge: Overcoming writer’s block

I was sure I’d done this one before, but I remembered being on this number, and either way, this is a concept that’s a major deal for most writers….naturally, myself included! And writer’s block isn’t as simple as it may sound, in my opinion. It’s not simply a moment where you don’t feel inspired or hit a plot hole you can’t figure out how to fill (though those are the most  common ones for me…) Writer’s block can also have to do with general interest in a project, general energy to work on things, and even can be caused by racing thoughts!

For me, the way I fix my writer’s block depends a lot on the kind of writer’s block I have, but the best method in general taht usually helps me is this…

“If I have no ideas on how to continue this project right now, work on one I have an interest/idea for and come back to this one when it clears.”

Basically…Distraction! When I am working on a story, and I lose my muse for it…It doesn’t mean I’m always losing my way in general. It doesn’t always mean I don’t have any energy to write. It’s often just THAT STORY, for some reason or another. Heck, sometimes it’s just working on a specific chapter! So, I switch gears. Stuck on a chapter? Skip ahead to another one, I can always go back later. Can’t handle this story anymore? Work on a different story, get to know some new characters! Maybe they’ll give you some insight for the previous project you were working on! It doesn’t mean you give up. It just means you switch your mindset!

Basically…For me, distraction is a natural helper. Whether it’s switching projects or doing something besides write (play a game for inspiration or to beat up things, watch a movie with family, read a ton of manga…heck, sometimes I do the dishes if i’m irritated by my story!). It helps clean the mindframe that is stuck and irritated by the block, and you’ll manage to find a way around it over time. Time heals all wounds. Writer’s block is part of this…I’m sure of it!

The State of Thy Heart (Part II)

For those who may have forgotten, I was scheduling a procedure a couple weeks ago for my heart condition. As of Thursday, I’m hopefully free of it!

The procedure, called an ablation study, involves an electrophysiologist (EP) and a team of others running a thin tube (often called a catheter) and related instruments up the femoral veins from the leg, in this case to go up into the heart. With x-ray mapping and the like, they use this path to find and excite electrical pathways in the heart. Sadly, though sedated, I had to be awake for this part: feeling a harsh pain as they used electricity on me, and at one point even had me quasi-thrashing/convulsing or some other sort of bizarre spasms I can’t fully describe…let’s just say I understood at that moment why they restrained me before starting!

I was put out with anesthesia for the remainder of the procedure, mind you. Once they’d found the bad pathway (my condition involved having one that didn’t belong), they used radiation to burn it out so it can’t be used anymore. When I woke up, the first thing a nurse said to me was, “How’s it feel not to have it anymore?”

I’m about four days post op now, slowly recovering. Though it was a same day procedure, I was so stiff from being restrained even afterwards for four hours (it’s awkward that my dad basically had to feed and gimme liquid because I wasn’t allowed to move while in the recovery room prior to discharge)…I only fully recognized I was post op on Friday. Sure, I ended up with the usual fever, some heart pain (your heart’s gonna hurt when they were electrifying it so often!) and general soreness, but to be honest, the thing I think about most is the giant bruise on my leg.

It’s not that it bothers me. Quite the opposite in fact! I took pictures of it for my memory. That bruise is like a battle scar to me. I never want to forget this surgery, because even if I’d put it off for 12 years…I’m so glad it’s finally done. I’ve thought about sharing the picture I took here, but even I know that might be a little awkward.

Thank you for being here with me during my journey of recovery!
I hope to restart the 101 Challenge from challenge 13 in my next post. Please look forward to it!

A Gift After a Stressful Day (I will do more challenge later, I swear!)

For those of you unaware, May is Mental Health Awareness month, and Free Comic Book Day was about yesterday. To combine those events at work, I made a short comic that brings up the concept of happiness and sadness, and is meant to give an important message. Something this big should get its own post, right?!

You can either read it HERE or, if for some reason that doesn’t work right on your device (it hates my tablet!)…You can try this handy PDF!

Health and happiness to you all!

The State of Thy Heart [Sorry, No Challenge Today!)

It was brought to my attention in recent days that May is a very critical month to me. In the adage, “April showers bring May flowers”, it is a reminder to us all that even in the dark of times, there is light up ahead. However, this seemingly simple logic isn’t always how the world works.

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month. For those of you unaware, I have always had a strong attachment to the idea of pushing away stigma towards the concept of mental illness, partially (okay, if I’m being honest, mostly) because I suffer from a number of psychiatric and generalized mental health problems myself, along with most of my family and many of my friends.

Mental health issues aren’t always easy to spot, and while you might not like to admit it, they can come on at any age. I started needing therapy when I was around six years old. To be fair, it was because a classmate told me I should kill myself (yes, six year olds say such nice things to each other when they’re mad!). But seriously…At the time, a six year old in therapy wasn’t uncommon- however, the concept that they had a severe problem was.

I was diagnosed with severe anxiety as “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” when I was 13, but I’d been classified with social anxiety well before that. I have always been prone to panic attacks, and also have a mild delusion tendency and whatnot. Basically, my head is messed up. When they diagnosed my anxiety, the doctors told me they wanted to classify me with a personality disorder, but it was illegal to do that with a minor. So, while I wasn’t “officially” diagnosed it until 18 years of age, I was already considered Borderline Personality beforehand.

I have a LOT more to cover today, but first some helpful hints from a mental health advocate that’s lived on the system most of her life.

  • If you aren’t sure a sound or sight is real, ask someone. Don’t be afraid to seem crazy! If a sound is scary, or a sight that might not be more than glare…Still make sure to ask someone if it’s there to them too. You might be hearing things, but you might also be hearing a real sound. It’s okay to ask for someone else to chime in. If they don’t hear it, it means you should try to talk yourself down about it…Or ask them to help find something to relax you.
  • Know what triggers not just you, but your friends. If you know you’re a very sympathetic person and tend to react to how other’s feel heavily, try not to bring up something that could cause them a panic attack- it’s better for both of you!
  • Medicine helps, but it’s not the full solution. While I have medicine for my anxiety and to help lessen my hallucinations and whatnot, it’s not a cure. My anxiety still exists. Try to remember that it’s just a part of you, not who you are- and that you need more than one tool in the toolbox to finish a job, such as taking care of your health.

I’ll try to post some helpful practices on a later date. Today, I’m actually in the middle of an anxiety attack as I write this…And I want to share why, because it’s actually kind of amazing.

If you weren’t aware until now, I have a heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White. This means my heart has an extra electrical pathway that does not belong there at all. Some people with WPW have medicine help plenty, or at least use it. However, WPW can be a problem in more than one way:

  1. If you have anxiety, your heart naturally beating out of sorts can make it worse, and vice versa.
  2. You have a higher risk of atrial fibrillation
  3. You cannot take a lot of medicines due to how they affect the heart (in particular note today, many for psychiatric purposes!).

While there is medicine, there’s one way to possibly eradicate the offending pathway all together: Ablation. It’s not a surefire method (there are some variables) but it’s fairly risk-free and minor surgery as surgery goes. I was told over a decade ago I should get it done…But I was too scared, and chickened out. I’ve been pushing it off far too long, and my heart has not been doing well with all the stress from my grandmother’s situation lately. So, I went to my EP (electrophysiologist, who would be doing the procedure)…And we scheduled my ablation. For next week.

While I’m an adult, I’m childish on many levels. One is that I am TERRIFIED of needles. I was proud of myself for making the appointment and even more so for not needing to death-grip my father’s hand when I got some blood drawn. However, I think what scares me the most about the surgery is the anesthesia and the fact that I’ll have tubes going up my femoral veins (the ones in your inner-thigh near your privates). I have to get pricked, obviously, to get them in- and it might not be just one vein either. It has a lot of variables, again. But…I won’t have dad to squeeze in the operating room even for the anesthesia, most likely. I can only hope the nurse will help me. Apparently, I will only be partially knocked out- it’ll be a conscious anesthesia. Hopefully, dad gets to videotape me afterwards to see my insanity? :’D

I plan to use my anxiety the next few days to do a lot more writing and to expand on mental health chatter. Books and Quills will be doing a lot of stuff focusing on mental health as well, and I plan to make a comic based on it along with tying in an old classic. I’ll tell you more as days go by. Because this is already long enough, I’m skipping the 101 Challenge for today at least. I won’t forget it, I swear.

To all of you, I wish you the best of health and happiness!

Questions, Research and 101 Challenge 12

In recent days, I’ve been doing my best working on Star of Satseiya. In this story, there are more than one language used, and I really wanted to actually try my hand at /making/ the languages and using them. So, I made a note in my project for the demonic language (that I should really call something less obvious and blah). I’ve used a sentence of it in a chapter by referring to the note…And as I think of words that might be useful to blend in, I add to it.

Still, there’s a lot I don’t know or understand about language- even as a writer or an editor. Today, I’m going to work hard on researching the use of fictional languages…And ask you, my lovely friends, for input.

1. For those of you that love to read, how do you feel when there’s a created language used at points in the story you’re reading? Is there a specific way you like it used, and a way you find it easy to understand what’s being portrayed in the verses?
2. For those of you that write with languages you’ve made on your own…What was your process in making the language? How do you separate different words used? Do you make an index/glossary for yourself? I want all the little details in your head that help you figure out the language and how it works.

I’m not only planning to make this demonic language, you see. I plan to alter current languages that exist in reality (thanks to translator programs on the internet) to adjust them into not-so-real languages to exist in my world, since I know that English isn’t the only language…And to be fair, I don’t know how they got English in the first place. It might be good to look deeper into that.

So, as usual, I’m sidetracked with research…But I’m still working hard on writing when my muse kicks me! Sometimes I make simple images for characters too. I might have to make a better page for that….Or just shove them in excerpts.

I’ve also been researching low-cost internet- this time, it’s because I just need it. My neighbors, who have been graciously letting me use their wifi for the past year with a guest account, are moving in the next week or so (I just found out yesterday). I’m able to use the internet if I’m at my grandmothers, but that won’t help when I finally get to go back to my apartment. That said, I think I’ve found a solution- but we have to ask her help to afford it, because it’s about a hundred bucks as a downpayment for a year. That said, even if it’ll be weaker than I’m used to…I’d have portable internet with it, and at least at my house, this service has pretty good reception. It uses a cellular modem- and I live right near a cell tower!

Anyway…That’s my main blabbering for today. Just wanted to give you some insight into my recent projects, as usual. I also can’t wait to show off some pictures of a new character showing up, Saye. I can’t remember if I posted about this, but I recently found legal papers that showed me the name I’d always heard my great-grandmother referred to as WASN’T her legal name. My guess is it was her Hebrew name…But anyway. I LOVE her real name just as much if not more. Sure, I thought Abraham and Sarah as a couple was stupidly cute, but I really love her real name, Saye, so much. I don’t really know much about her aside from that, but…I love her anyway. And so, I made a character named after her. And already, Saye has a big role in my brain. I couldn’t find what the name means, however…But I’ll figure it out!

Since her role is an Angel, like Takumi, I need to figure out her human form still…Oh well.

Anywho…

Time for today’s challenge: What novelists can learn from screenplays?

I’ve met a screenwriter or two in my day, and I took a class in it when I was in high school (er, before being expelled and whatnot). I once took part in what was called “Script Frenzy” (now basically a part of CampNaNo) and was shocked at how beautifully I felt the particular writing method fit one story I was working on. Screenwriting may look simple if you look at a play’s script for school or such, but it’s actually really hard to write. There are a lot of little things you need to keep in mind, whether it be what’s available for the play to be made, whether it’s even for a play (it’s often used to plot out comics!) and the like. There’s also the way you really have to figure out how to show expressions and such through the words in dialogue more. I had a lot of fun learning how to write one as a kid…And one of my role models as a writer, my local ML for NaNo, is a published screenwriter of some great plays!

As for what writers learn? Well, I think that depends on the novelist or writer in general. Like a reader may take different things out of a book compared to their friend who read the same one, learning how screenwriting works can be great for outlining a scene for some or better for making you think about how dialogue flows further than usual. What I learned? The fact that there are many ways to write…I think what it teaches, overall, is just how many different kinds of people there can be, don’t you think?

Paradoxes in my Head, Making of a Language and 101 Challenge 11

My camp project’s a flop. I just can’t keep my head in the game lately (the fever I have today doesn’t help, but still!) and I ended up having my muse tugged away from it and back to an older project, Star of Satseiya. You can see a sample on the Excerpt page, and I added it to the WIP area too. It’s a very complicated story to describe for me, honestly…But it was a story I wrote many years ago originally as a short story, which I want to expand. It’s filled with symbols and a fight against the black and white views of good and bad, in many ways. In a way, it’s a way I hope to learn to fight against my borderline thinking. The angels and demons have very unique traits to me, but at the same time, I have tried to humanize them. Hopefully I’m doing a good job.

Originally, I started making a gibberish language for a writing prompt I was doing, but I ended up using it to give the demons a way to interact more uniquely. I’m writing a dictionary of sorts for myself to translate, so that as I go I can write out sentences in it and still know what I’m saying. The issue is going to be making sure the reader does! But after using it just for one brief moment in a chapter, I found that it really helped bring the demons to life, and added another layer of depth and culture that’s hidden from the world so far. I’ve been doing a lot of planning on the races recently because of this…But the language is the biggest challenge yet.

Still, I’m having fun with all the paradoxes and language work! I’m also trying to learn a few languages on Duolingo, which will help me make up other words soon enough. I’ve done some lessons in Italian, Russian and Norwegian so far. Since I can’t quite read half the letters well yet, some are harder than others….But it’s still worth it! 🙂

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: What you’ve learned through blogging

What I’ve learned is that moderation really is the key to many things, even a blog. When I was looking for input on the blog early on, a few people told me one thing they like is that my posts aren’t every day like some other blogs are- it keeps it less stressful for them to keep up. To be honest, that’s part of why I do it myself. I just don’t have the energy!

I’ve also been learning about readability more, or rather net readability. WordPress happens to have a plugin of some sort that tells me what makes my blog less readable, as well as separate pages. So far, I’m not doing well with certain issues like adding more pictures and links…But hopefully, it’s not totally boring you all. I just can’t think of what to link to or add images for. I mean, it’s a writing blog. Naturally the goal is to write, right?

A Wild Week and 101 Challenge 10

I’ve been getting NO writing done this week. There’s been constant chaos since coming to my grandmother’s house. With her constant complaints about going to the place she paid to go for a month and then constantly calling to ask the same question every few minutes after she got there, it’s been a rough day and the past few days weren’t much easier. Finally, though, there’s some peace and quiet…Though I can’t guarantee how long it’ll stay.

My work on Camp has been kinda bad. I have a general concept and all, but for some reason I just can’t keep a pace going, and the current scene is just nothing for me to work with even though I know what’s supposed to be happening. I’m skipping around a lot just to get through things and get words down. It’s not like I plan to publish this anyway, at least not this particular project…But it means a lot to me, so I want to get it done. I might switch to something else until I can get it done right.

Well, for now…It’s time for the challenge.

This Week’s Challenge: Creative prompts for other writers

This is something I could probably do regularly, but I’ll share the most recent one I personally love that someone shared with me instead…Because to be honest, I find it amazing:

“A child is kidnapped. Outraged, the monsters that live under their bed and in their closet vow to find them.”

Add in the monster in the closet and other places just to give it some more characters if you’d like. Heck, you can add in the unpaired socks in their laundry basket. If you ever use it, share what you write in the comments (if you want to, of course). I’d love to read it! If/when I use it, I’ll share it in a new post as well.

Camping Out and 101 Challenge 9

For most people, whether online or offline, April 1st is a day for pranking people you know and care about for the fun of it. For many writers, however, April is a time to go into a frenzy and practice the art of focusing on your project without your inner editor going nuts. That’s right! It’s already time for Camp NaNoWriMo!

I told you in a previous post that I’d sharing a cabin with the lovely people from Writer’s Haven on Discord, hosted by Books and Quills (who I need to submit more poems to for fun). Recently we began having fun as a group with Habitica as well, which has helped me start to challenge myself and work on my habits, both good and bad. I can use it as a to-do list, I can use it to remind myself of daily things I need to do…And it all becomes a game with Habitica. I’ve actually used it a long time ago…But having my boss and friends reminding me to look at it helps a lot.

However, “camp” is going to be even more like my youth than I thought it’d be. Over the next month, my grandmother is going to test out an assisted living center…And she’s asked my dad and me to stay at her house to use up her food while she’s gone. We can’t actually leave our own apartment for such a long time (we have inspection later this month, and don’t know quite when it is)…But for the next month, we’ll be staying over there on and off for days or maybe even a week at a time.

To me, this is a mixed blessing. I’m used to my home…But I grew up in this house. Add in free food, TV and internet, free laundry and then some…It’s a pretty sweet deal, really. It’s like a nearby vacation! And you know what? That’s good for writing. There are many who will tell you that when you’re in a rut with your writing, change of scenery can be a great help.

That said, I do have personal qualms about staying there for long periods. Yes, I love the house and it has many memories…But it’s gonna be awkward when my uncle, who is overseas visiting family, returns since he lives there too. I don’t even know if he knows she’s going to this thing.

Anyhow…That’s the lively writing update from me. But man, can you believe this post is already way more words than what I have in my camp project so far, and I’ve had all day!?

Today’s Challenge: Writers in your life and how they’ve inspired you

I could possibly write a novel just about the writers in my life. After his becoming disabled, my father began writing sci-fi novels at home, and would often try to get me to read them (which I just couldn’t get into because, at least at the time, sci-fi was the hardest genre for me to enjoy even a wee bit. Ironic since I usually write it!). He’s had family and friends read the drafts, and he’s still working on perfecting them…But he hopes that I’ll join him and conspire with him so that we can both get our names on the cover. In fact, he’d probably just put it under mine knowing him!

Of course, my father isn’t the only writer in my life. I’ve been making friends with fellow writers thanks to NaNoWriMo since middle school, and I work at a literary magazine- a job which I actually got through a NaNo group! I find that my life has gotten much easier to understand thanks to the many writers I’ve met…Because they all give me such a wide variety of views of the world. Whether we’re talking about new techniques to torture characters with or about personal life problems, my friends that write alongside me are always helping me become both a better author and person.

I am part of a ton of forums nowadays, too, where writing is a major part of my time. My friend hosting Caludin itself (who is so kind as to host me too) loves to write and we often chat about it. I’ve joined RP sites and other such forums various times throughout my life, and every time I felt I grew as a writer, and my characters have grown quite a bit as well. It’s amazing, actually…Just how much they grow from interacting with outside worlds.

If you’re a writer, never be afraid to say hello to another- myself included. You never know what treasures will be discovered by mingling and mind-searching together!