Letter N

A to Z 2017: NIECES & NEPHEWS

A to Z 2017: NIECES & NEPHEWS

This year for the A to Z Challenge 2017 I'm trying something completely different... vlogging! That's right, I'll be putting myself out there on YouTube, talking about who knows what for who knows how long! Come join in the conversation as I talk about a variety of topics throughout April.

Let the rambling begin!

A to Z 2016 : NANOWRIMO

A to Z 2016 : NANOWRIMO

Welcome to the 2016 A to Z Challenge on I, Jak! This year's theme is 2016 Highlights, where I will be blogging about things I have been looking forward to this year, whether people, places, or things. Some have already occurred, some are currently happening, and others are yet on the way.

Some topics may be a bit generic (occurring annually), while others will be specific to 2016, so come take a look!

A to Z 2015 : NO THANKS!

A to Z 2015 : NO THANKS!

This next entry is a card game that I played for the first time this Winter. It is both a Gateway and Filler game. I think it's listed play time is 20 min, and that is pretty accurate even with first-timers. It's really simple to teach and to learn.

Let's take a quick look at a game where you collect cards or pass on them declaring...

A to Z 2014 : NANOWRIMO

(An A to Z 2014 Challenge Entry)

I have spoken about NaNoWriMo many times in the past. NaNoWriMo 2012 was full of very important, emotional moments and essentially launched me back into writing again. I reached the 50k word goal, began blogging, and in the process met many new people. It was incredibly successful.

NaNoWriMo 2013, however, was not.

It barely scratched the surface of what the previous year had delivered in terms of positive experiences. It was almost the opposite. Perhaps after having such an amazing first run in 2012 I had my expectation bar set too high? I feel it was the lack of people involved. This past NaNoWriMo barely anyone I had met the year before engaged in many gatherings together to write. When they did, it didn’t involve me (save for one). I felt these connections were the heart of NaNo for me. Without that, it was pointless.

Maybe if I had completed my first NaNo as a solo act, it would have been a lot easier for me. That just wasn’t the case, and so the lack of those connection greatly affected me. My ability to write, to want to participate, to give a damn. Sure, I still wrote (between 12-15k words I believe), but the entirety of the event was lackluster. The excitement was gone.

Most of my pieces haven’t been touched since, which is a shame. I hear this is pretty common. I don’t want to become part of this statistic. I would rather return to writing, editing, and finishing my projects. I decided to revisit some of the atrocious works, and thought I would share one from each NaNoWriMo I participated in. Each in their original, unedited form.

NaNoWriMo 2012

This first year I attempted to tackle a story that has been in my head for over ten years. I hadn’t written in over twelve. I remember becoming so frustrated with how shitty my writing was, and how all of the characters sounded alike. Eventually, things began to smooth out and characters stood out on their own from one another.

The specific piece (Fantasy/Adventure/Horror) I’m sharing is brief and from the perspective of one of the main characters in the novel. I feel it gives good insight into their state of mind, at that time, and hints at their storyline and the world they are involved in. I already have a fairly good idea of how this will be edited. Whether or not it will ever be used in the finalized version remains unknown.
JOURNAL ENTRY ONE
  
Empty.
That is all I feel at any given moment, on any given day. There is nothing out there in the world for me, with the exception of death. Continually hunted, continually misunderstood. This world is coming to an awakening it cannot even begin to comprehend. They are out there. Not only in the night, but also among us in the daylight. Camouflaged. Hiding within the skin of the living. Using them as hosts to partake in their ploys and whims.
There is a bigger picture. I’ve made mistakes thinking I understood it all. It runs deeper than I imagined, deeper than I could have ever dreamed. How long have they walked the world, manipulating it, controlling every aspect of our lives? Centuries? Since the First Dawn? Birthed with the fall of Heaven’s Star?
Who currently in power is not who they seem? Their grip on our destiny is too tight. We can choose to live as we want, but any opposition to their ideal is crushed. Eliminated. Hunted down and destroyed. That is what I am now viewed as. An opposition to their ideal. A threat.
My own warnings to the people I fought to save, falling on deaf ears. The masses blind to their own herding. Those remotely aware sit on still tongues.
Instead I am repaid with fear and ignorance.
I don’t seek recognition; fame. I’ve already paid my way in blood to show where my loyalties stand in this world. The sacrifices, all for naught.
Mankind has abandoned me. Demonkind hunt me. The dead haunt me.
There is no place to call home anymore, yet I keep going. Why do I continue on? What point is there to this all? Do I fear death so much? No, it isn’t that. These scars upon my my hand and chest are forever proof that not even death will embrace me.
A constant limbo.
There is an end, though. It is there somewhere off in the distance. A pinprick of hope. I can sense it. Feel it in the very center of my core, of my being. Some link connecting me to the realm of obliteration. I name it The Great Emptiness, because I know once it consumes me that is all that will remain. It just has to make its way to me. So I wait, and move. Patient. Silent. My day with death will come again soon enough. This time I will not fight it.
It is all I pray for.
All I know.

NaNoWriMo 2013

I honestly thought I would continue on my NaNo 2012 story, especially because it holds great importance to me. Instead, I went in a (almost) completely different direction, with a more modern story. There are supernatural elements involved, and it may tie in with another WiP, meaning a Post-Apocalyptic setting. The idea for this story came to me randomly about two weeks before November, so I decided to use it as my focus for NaNo.
DEAD ISN’T DEAD

“The body is in here.”
Brock took the cue and stepped past the door threshold. The bedroom was simple. Unmade bed, sheets thrown every which way. An oak dresser, some drawers opened halfway. Clothes strewn across the span of floor space available. There wasn’t much room, it was a smaller efficiency apartment.
Laying on the floor between the bed and doorway was a young male who appeared to be in his mid-twenties. He was half-dressed, body twisted slightly with an arm reaching towards the door as though beckoning for the strength to leave his mundane apartment, to die somewhere more worthy, and less embarrassing. More like begging. Definitely begging.
Brock took notice of a man fingering some random possessions on the dresser with a gloved hand. Detective Harris. “Detective Harris.” The man turned and locked eyes with him. Cold and devoid of humor, which matched his expression. He thought the brown in them would soften his gaze ever so slightly, but didn’t. He figured their past interaction may dictate some of the disposition.
“Why so glum, Harris? I thought you’d be thrilled to see me, it’s been so long.”
He didn’t catch Harris’s scoff, but he was certain it was there. “Not long enough, Lorraine. It could never be long enough.”
Brock continued, as though not hearing him. “Been almost a full two years, hasn’t it? Since the attempted Jack the Ripper copycat made his spree along the dock district? What a miserable sap that guy was. Feels like it was yesterday.”
Detective Harris’s gaze shifted to a third individual in the room. “Speaking of which. Imagine my enthusiasm when your pet project barged onto the scene with her ever charming greater-than-thou attitude. Could shrivel a viagra-induced hard-on in a heartbeat.”
A soft, sultry voice pulled both of their attention. “That’s to say I gave you a heartbeat before I knocked you flat on your ass, not caring which direction your prick lands, but secretly hoping down.”
Brock’s partner stood over the body, examining it with her hair dangling down in front of her as she partly bent over to get a better look. She tucked back a portion of her hair behind her right ear and gave him a glance. Those innocent-looking soft, blue eyes. He knew better.
“What do you think, Sasha?”
She flashed him a devious smile. There it was. “What I think is that this is one handsome guy. I’d give him a ride for his money.”
He could sense her anticipation in drawing out a reaction from him. He didn’t give her the satisfaction. He scanned the room some more and replied casually, “I have no doubt. He sure lived a less than glamorous life. I have my concerns about his ability to afford you.”
“True that… perhaps he would have deserved a freebee?”
“Would have?” he heard her give an exasperated sigh. “We are here, because of you, Sasha.” Brock attempted to avoid allowing his slight irritation to bleed into his words. “He’s still here, isn’t he? I need to know we aren’t wasting our time.”
“Right.” Sasha patted the dead man on his bare chest and straightened out. He caught her rolling her eyes at him. “Because we have so many more important things that demand our immediate attention.” He watched her take a step back to better survey the scene. “I definitely could feel the pull of this one as the process was taking place. Considering the distance, I was pretty sure this one was strong enough during Cross Over, almost instantly, whether in control or not. But,” she put her arm up to her forehead, feigning confusing, and finished with a valley-girl impression, “but like, now I’m like, not really sure, like, you know?”
“Sasha…”
“Yeah, yeah, he’s here. Jesus, just try to relax once in a while.”
“When I have time.” Brock ignored his partner’s disdainful mockery. “Speaking of time, time to leave, Mr. Harris. You know I’m not much for audiences.” He didn’t bother looking over at the detective.
“I’ll be outside.”
After the room was cleared, Brock asked, “Where?” Sasha gave a quick gesture, signifying the back corner of the ceiling. “Right, makes sense.” With a casual gait, he approached the body. Hmm, Sasha wasn’t being facetious. The young man was indeed healthy — aside from the dead factor. He definitely took care of himself, at least from outward appearances. Looks could always be deceiving. “Victim’s name?”
“Jordan Schopp.”
“And how aware is he?”
“Aware enough.”
“Alright then.” Brock gave the corpse one last look-over and took a step back. “Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?”
Sasha moved back and positioned herself in front of the door. “The floor is all yours, Boss.”
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, how many and how were your experiences? Have you ever completed a Work in Progress (WiP)? Have you ever completely abandoned a WiP? How do you re-engage a project you’ve been away from for a long period of time?

A to Z 2013 : NOSTALGIA

(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

Childhood. I always remembered the phrase: “as a kid you always want to grow up, but when you do you wish you could be a kid again.” Okay, I’m not completely certain that is exact, but you know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes kids try to grow up too fast. I think some don’t get to fully experience being young, whether by choice or forced (forced makes me think of those children beauty pageants that make me incredibly sick to my stomach). They can’t wait to have this profession or that (usually a cowboy or princess), can’t wait to drive, can’t wait to have a family; the aspirations changing through the years.

I can’t recall if I wanted to grow up fast or not. I know I wanted to be a cowboy, a cop, a private detective, and then a bounty hunter (are you seeing a theme here?). Then dreams of being an artist/writer of comic books and novels came about. I don’t think this meant I wanted to grow up any faster, but like I said I can’t recall my state of mind. My family would, but I haven’t asked them previously.

One thing I do know is that I can’t recall a lot of my childhood; just little blips. I see pictures my relatives will post, and I’ve absolutely no recollection of the event/time frame. We aren’t talking only pictures of when an infant to three years old, but where I seem to be ten or older. Not exactly sure why I can’t remember these events. People have tried to hypothesis a handful of reasons, most usually involving trauma.

Resistance is Futile

A good chunk of what I do remember, however, are times I wish I could revisit/relive. Some of my favorite memories revolve around my creativity. For example, I would make games for my brothers and I to play together. These games could involve paper, cardboard bricks, or whatever else I had access to.

The main building block... to many of these creations were Legos. I would use our coffee table to build an entire street of a town. Sometimes I would enact a movie for them, but other times we would play a game. The game had no real name really (that I recall), and it was a variant of one I made with G.I. Joes (we were all boys, so yeah).

I guess it was called Friday the 13th after the movies, because that was my premise. You had a character and you decided which location/house you wanted to be at in town. I’d then use cards, which were shuffled (every day I’m shufflin’), and lay them out face down in front of the locations. I think I sometimes allowed for a character move now and again, but once everyone was ready I would then flip up the cards one by one. Those that were inside the Lego house marked by a face card died. What killed them? You know... ghosts. It was a haunted Lego city no one moved out of... just moved a lot on the same street.

We all loved playing that game. Even the G.I. Joe version it originated from which used books as “cabins” and an “outhouse” was popular among them; the killing being dished out by a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-esque Jason Voorhees.

Eventually the games got a bit more complicated; dice were added to the mix. One of my favorite games consisted of constructing a Lego base that was besieged by the Borg (of Star Trek origin, if you weren’t geeky enough). You had a limited amount of space you could move, and if you were engaged by a Borg you would “battle” by rolling the dice. Our characters got 2 or 3 lives before being assimilated. The other characters (I guess Red Shirts by all accounts) would only have one. It all played out like an epic movie. Trust me. I know. I was there!

The Brothers, The Brothers

Through the years, after (and during) all the sibling rivalry/fights, the four of us have gamed together; Magic: the Gathering, board/card games, but mainly video games. Once we all got our own places/families/lives we had a weekly designated Game Night (generally Tuesday evenings). My brothers would come over — their TVs and game systems in tow — and we would spend the entire night gaming together. This was usually the highlight of my week, and I’d like to think it was for them too. If someone couldn’t make it, we would get pretty huffy.

Like with all things losing its appeal, eventually attendance dwindled as life dictated, and eventually we all chose one system (Xbox) to play on. Soon everyone had the internet, were online, and could game together from home. Game Night was reborn!

Again, that too began to flux, to the point where now I may game with one of my brothers every few weeks. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t game as much, and two of my brothers don’t play on Xbox anymore. I’ve just recently made up for it some by seeing those two brothers on Monday’s and playing with them on the horrid PS3. The third brother I see often on Xbox still and we play when able.

I long for a monthly (being weekly may be unrealistic) Game Night where we can all get together and game again. It spawned from our holiday tradition of playing video games at family gatherings — like Thanksgiving — while the rest of the family watched football, and I am a creature of habit.

Touched

What I miss the most, though, is that creativity. I guess it makes sense that I would have aspirations to be a writer; writer’s can create entire worlds, people, etc. A game designer was also high on my list. I even began to create a card game, but eventually almost all of that — along with most of my writing — was lost in multiple hard drive crashes.

I like creating things for people, but mostly for those I love and cherish. Over the last few years, I feel as though I’ve lost that creative spark. I get little surges of inspiration, but I never end up following through and finishing any projects. This is where the lack of motivation comes into play. I never have the lack of ideas, just the lack of drive.

I wish I could channel that ability I had when I was a child growing up. To be continually active in creating new things for myself and those I care about; for the world. For anyone and everyone to enjoy if they saw fit. To see or hear about how something I brought into the world touched someone in a very positive way. Touched their heart.

Even if just producing one more additional smile or laugh in this stream of life.

What did you want to grow up to be as a child? What games would you play with your siblings? Any sibling traditions? What are you most nostalgic about?