(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

Day 2 and letter B is on the docket. Instead of one topic, I thought I would highlight two. Supposedly there was an email sent out (before I registered) expressing shorter blogs yielding a higher likelihood that people will read the posts. It makes sense. Well, those that have been following along from the beginning know that really isn’t my forte.

It is what it is. Let’s begin today’s topics, shall we?

Once Upon a Time...
...in a lifestyle far far away...

Okay, more like 5 years ago... I was heavily involved in MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, for those less familiar). No not World of Warcraft. Specifically one called Final Fantasy XI Online. The MMO is based on the long running, and highly popular, Final Fantasy game series.

I was the leader of a Linkshell (the game's equivalent to a guild) named The Black Omen. For a while I even owned a domain and forums for the group. It was a lot of fun, but extremely stressful at times. My job allowed me an abundance of free time to play, and I undoubtedly took full advantage. I became lost in the gaming world of Vana’diel; my escape from the real world which was ironically full of the same drama.

While playing FFXI, I was continually inspired to write, but my block remained persistent. Eventually, though, I broke free briefly and began a fanfict titled: The Black Omen: Betrayals. I only completed a very short prologue, and part of the first chapter.

Compared to my other projects like After Armageddon, Betrayals was a lot easier to write. The world, settings, economy, races, etc. were already established. This access to an abundance of resources allowed for a more casual approach. The block won in the end. I decided to post the prologue on my fiction blog, and soon plan to place up the first chapter. The hope is that I'm inspired to continue it. I have none of my old notes, but I feel it’s still very viable. It would possibly make for another good blog series.

The Black Omen: Betrayals

Betrayals is a fanfict spanning the course of the Linkshell’s timespan. From it’s fictionalized beginnings to it’s eventual end. Throughout the story would be actual in-game events and intermixed storylines. The characters involved would have been those that I met, joined and/or associated with the group while playing.

The main storyline revolves around an individual named Jak becoming the leader of The Black Omen linkshell, due to the sudden disappearance of it’s original. Thrust into this position, he struggles with maintaining balance amongst its members, finding out what happened to Drake — the linkshell’s founder — and continuing Drake’s quest of uncovering the truth behind the return of an ancient evil: Bahamut.

Some don’t agree with Jak’s new leadership, compounding hardships the group faces as a whole. Friends becoming enemies, enemies becoming friends, conspiracies, lost love, and tragedy abound.

Sprinkled throughout were various adventures and quests The Black Omen would undertake, leading up to the conclusion of the story. These incorporate some of the games actual quests, locations, and cast of characters.

It would be great to finally write this fanfict. Remembering the names of some of the individuals I played with would be hard. That aspect, keeping true to an individual's character name (if ever playing an MMO/online game, you know how said names can make no sense sometimes), may prove distracting for those reading. Never know unless you try, though. If need be I can always change them.

Nerdlings Read

Aside from writing, I’m a pretty avid reader. I like a variety of authors, but the majority of them tend to be Fantasy/Adventure novelists. Jordan/Brooks/Goodkind/etc. etc. I dabble in Dean Koontz and Stephen King as well. With King I've found I stick to short story/novella compilations. For a long time I was uncertain I actually liked his writing style enough to endure it on an epic scale. This may come off as sacrilegious to some, but The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger solidified that thought with me.

That was years ago, though, and I’d very much like to reread the first book and finally read through the series. There are various mechanics and techniques he uses that ring true to my own style. One being the interconnectedness of a handful of his other novels to that series in some fashion. Now that I've read more King, I think I would better appreciate his larger work. Who am I to judge, anyhow?

This year some friends created a book club, and designed a simple voting system in which one or two books are chosen to be read per quarter; each quarter consisting of a different genre. The first two books were The Neverending Story and Merlin: The Lost Years. I’d never heard of the Merlin series and could care less about it, but The Neverending Story — being one of my favorite childhood movies — greatly appealed to me.

I’d even recently looked up information about the book after hearing talk about remaking the film. Finding out that the book was split between the first two movies intrigued me. I don’t fully recall the second movie, short of a few characters and the actor playing Sebastian. The fact that the book club had chosen this to be one of the first books to read was exciting.

There was an issue, though. Since beginning to write again last November, during NaNoWriMo, my overall intake of literature has severely plummeted. Actually, it's been almost completely nonexistent. I’ve read a handful of blogs and articles, but nothing in terms of novels (and I’ve quite the handful borrowed out from friends I need to read).

So time went on, and I never got around to reading either selection for the book club. I made an attempt to have The Neverending Story sent to my local library, but forgot the number associated with my account was no longer in service. By the time I got around to remembering that, the book had already been sent back. After that, I just conceded.

I contemplated just dropping from the book club. Why be in it if I wasn’t able to read any of the selections offered and attend meetings to discuss? I kind of felt like a failure. I have so far stuck with the group (it does consist of a good handful of my friends, after all) and hope to be better about being involved with reading the chosen books and discussion group.

This next quarter’s selections are: The Last of the Mohicans and The Count of Monte Cristo. I’ve never seen the movie adaptation(s) of either, and plan to refrain until after reading the books. If I can find the time to read them. It would be nice to discuss both the books and movies with everyone, this time around.

It will be a miracle, between the A to Z Challenge; Camp NaNoWriMo; and my fiction, to get any reading done this month at all!

Ever written or read any fanfiction? If so, what was it based on? Anyone participate in book clubs? Still go to the discussions if failing to read the selections (if for no other reason than they serve good pizza)? For those who write, do you find that once you begin writing regularly your reading decreases, or the opposite?