Sunday, July 16, 2017

The White Room Interview

Hey everyone! I was interviewed by the great Emma Hardcastle on The White Room. It's currently on Youtube! Check it out!


Legos & Life

Recently I got a promotion at work which has also involved working a lot of overtime. A lot of the plans I had for the blog are getting pushed to the side because of this. The good news is that I am going to update this blog more often, but I won't be making the switch to being a video blog as I had been planning.

With my free time I have to balance my writing and entertainment. I tend to binge watch TV shows while working on writing and editing my work. So this week I want to talk about a few shows I have been watching and also talk about the awesome that is also known as LEGOS. Also I want to announce that final edits for The Ghost are done! I'm pushing it out to beta readers now, formatting for publication, and waiting for cover art to come back.

So recently I watched the new season of Orange Is the New Black and GLOW which are put together by the same producers. Both were well done. The story of GLOW has always been an interesting one to me and this first season goes over how it got started and the struggles that almost killed the project before it ever began. OITNB was just as fantastic as the show has always been. The characters are what make the show and they always find a way to give you insight on minor and major characters alike. The development of each one in this show is fantastic and I always tear through each season. They just released 4 episodes of Castlevania animated series which takes an anime style animation mixed with actual English speaking voice actors. The result is something that fans of anime and the video games should enjoy. I was left wanting more, but I think that was the point. Next on my plate is Shooter which is a TV show based on a movie by the same name. Also Gypsy is also catching my eye, so it might be next if only so I can see Naomi Watts.

LEGOS

Now we're into the good stuff! If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I occasionally put together large sets of LEGOS and document my progress there. I like the simple building process and many of the sets are undeniably cool. Tie ins with Star Wars, Batman, and many other franchises also ramp up the cool factor.

I usually just follow the instructions within the box to build these sets, but I have built a few practical things with these magical building blocks. The one I use the most is a cellphone stand that I use nearly every day. Nearly anything you can get at OfficeMax that is a plastic placeholder can be built using LEGOS. The only drawback is that sometimes you need more weight to hold things. There are 2 ways to do this, build a wider base, or add weights to the super light blocks.

When buying LEGOS I usually follow a simple formula for figuring out if a set is worth the price on the box. Most sets will average out to $1 for every 10 pieces. That means a 500 piece set should come out to around $50 for an average deal. I will overpay for some sets that I must have like the Millennium Falcon. The two newest sets I got were a steal with over 1000 pieces each and a price of around $50. Anytime I can get some cool Batman LEGOS for half off I am going to get them! If you are interested in seeing my progress on the most recent LEGO sets follow me on instagram. The link is at the top of the blog!

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Writing Progress Updates


The Ghost Novella
5th Edit Run: Finished!
POD Formatting: Finished!
Ebook Formatting: 10% done

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Review: Ubik by Philip K Dick

UbikUbik by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you ever feel the need to read reviews before purchasing a book? Alleviate your worries with the fantastic Ubik! Just rub the pages on your skin or consume them orally. Satisfaction is almost guaranteed if used as directed. Side effects include pinching yourself, questioning reality, and confusion on whether you are dead or alive. Please use in moderation as Ubik is a strong remedy for what ails you and can be highly addictive!

This is my first venture into the land of Phillip K Dick other than the movies that have been made based off his works. The story follows Joe Chip who is everyone's favorite screw up. He can't afford the nickel cost to open the front door to his apartment. He works for Runciter and Associates as what amounts to a talent scout for anti-powers. The company he works for helps to protect corporate interests against those who have powers. Psychics, mind readers, etc. all have their powers negated by these anti-ability people who work for Runciter. Things change when Joe is brought a young woman named Pat Conley to test. Her talent is unique in that she can change the past which forcefully changes the visions that pre-cogs have. At the same time there seems to be an incoming showdown between the psychics and Runciter's company.

Ubik is one of the best written hallucinations I have read. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, but it wasn't a book I loved. The world it takes place in is an interesting futurescape that has a Libertarian influence that I had not considered before. There are many aspects of the novel that make you think about the world which I very much enjoyed. The only reasons I didn't give it 5 stars are because of the characters and the twists in the story. The characters for the most part are flat and without any humor. Everything seems to be strictly confusion and business. I did enjoy the twists, but also saw each one coming from a hundred pages away. Perhaps I am nitpicking and this novel deserves 5 stars, but I'm reviewing from my experience of the book. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys mind-bending reads or SciFi in general.

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  Writing Progress Updates


The Ghost Novella
5th Edit Run: Page 45 of 47
Also commissioned cover art! Will have release date soon!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

SWITCH!

It's been too long since I last updated here! I have some things in the works of course, but they just aren't ready yet. I do want to get back in the habit of updating this blog more regularly. The current plan is to switch over to more of a video blog format that I can update often. If I can share my desktop I can give more tutorials for building graphics as well.

Today I want to geek out on one of my favorite things, video games! Specifically, the Nintendo Switch, this game system has been nothing short of amazing since I have had it. I know there aren't a lot of games out for it in stores yet, but that is a bit deceptive. There are more games available for it online than what is currently in stores. Many of those games are Neo Geo ports of ancient games. There are some indie games available that are well worth the price of admission as well. So, let's talk about the games!

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Let's face it, if you get a Nintendo:Switch this is a game you must have. I'm not the biggest fan of RPGs that put you in an open world to roam around without any kind of objective. Fortunately you do have a vague initial quest that sets you in the direction you need to go. The game has a lot of side quests. Most of which will reveal hidden shrines. Zelda like its many previous iterations is amazing.

There are a couple of things that are annoying to no end with this game. The first is cooking. You can't get around it. You have to hunt and cook. Hunting is not a big deal as you come across plenty of animals during your travels that become drumsticks or steaks without much trouble. The problem arises when you have 32849237923 things to cook and you can only cook them 5 at a time. It's annoying, repetitive, and also very necessary. Travelling by horse is also extremely annoying, at least initially. It seems like every 5 steps the horse gets spooked by something and you have to calm it. While you are calming it the horse pulls you off in a direction you don't want to go. It's a constant struggle. I gave up. To travel in certain areas you can't take the horse with you. It seems like it is more trouble than it is worth.

Mario Kart 8: Deluxe

This is also a must have game for anyone with a Nintendo Switch. Mario Kart is Mario Kart. It is the pinnacle of kart race gaming as it has been for many years. The biggest addition to Mario Kart 8 is online play. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent on this game playing online. It adds another dimension to the game. If you have the WiiU version then it might not be as big of a deal as the Deluxe version only adds a few extras, but if the last version you played was on the Wii or prior to that then this game is enough to consider buying the Switch on its own.

Other Available Games

While MarioKart and Zelda are the only must have games on the system there are a few other games to consider out of what is available. Fans of JRPGs and puzzle games will find the Switch worth picking up right now. Disgaea 5 Complete is a JRPG in the same vein of other tactics games like Final Fantasy Tactics (which needs a sequel). I am Setsuna is a JRPG made by Squaresoft in the vein of their older RPGs and is supposed to be similar to Chrono Trigger in gameplay. Isaac: Afterbirth is a dungeon crawler RPG that has multiple endings for maximum replay value. The makers of World of Goo have 2 other games and World of Goo available on the Switch. Puyo puyo/Tetris is another puzzle game that is another battle/tetris style game with a twist. Outside of a few indie games, old Neo Geo game ports, and the new/old Street Fighter 2 rehash there isn't much else available right now.

Testfire!

One of the things that has been interesting for early adopters of the Switch has been the global testfires they have had for Splatoon 2 and ARMS. These early demos of the online version of these games has been a lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed Splatoon 2 and cannot wait for that game to come out. Fans of fighting games should love ARMS which I thought was fun, but I am not a big fan of fighting games. I was surprised at the amount of strategy needed to play the arm bending fighter. The team up boss battles were my favorite. Hopefully Nintendo will continue to make these free online limited time demos available going forward for upcoming games. It's one of the ways they can mitigate the issue of having a massive lack of available games.

Conclusion

If you enjoy JRPGs and puzzle games or simply cannot live without the latest Zelda/Mario Kart then you should snag the Nintendo Switch right now. Otherwise you might want to wait until there are more games available. I'm hoping that by the end of the year there will be more games available especially from 3rd party developers. As it is now the cabinet is bare. I know there will be Splatoon 2, ARMS, and a new Mario game by the end of the year. For now I'm spending a lot of time playing MarioKart online.

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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count:42,136
The Ghost Season 1
5th Edit Run: Page 35 of 47

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review of Armada by Ernest Cline

ArmadaArmada by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Armada follows Zachary Lightman who is your average teenaged nerd who has an unusual love for older video games. If you read Ready Player One then this sounds familiar right? This time Cline's main character is a prodigy at a game called Armada which is a star fighter simulator and his father is gone in a freak accident. He works at a dead end job at a video game store that is hemorrhaging money due to his boss not caring about his clientele. It turns out he's being recruited for something bigger and the fate of the world rests on his shoulders.

This second novel by Ernest Cline suffers from some of the same problems as Ready Player One, but they are magnified in this novel. All of the characters are, for the most part, too agreeable. The dialogue is filled with statements that show perfect empathy and consideration for how everyone else feels. In situations where there should be conflict, all of the characters do their best to avoid it. All of the characters essentially acting the same can be annoying. Armada fails to detract from this weakness where Ready Player One was able to minimize it.

Armada is also quite a bit more predictable than it's predecessor. While it provides a unique story and ups the ante quite a bit, the novel falls a few notches short of Ready Player One. The main difference in the stories is that one focuses on what is happening and the quest for something that seems impossible and the other focuses on the relationships of its characters. Cline does better when he pushes the characters through the story rather than crafting the story around the edges of the characters.

Armada is still an enjoyable read in the same vein of Ready Player One. Both are thick with video game and pop culture references that will give you a heavy dose of nostalgia for the 80's if you remember that era. I was solidly stuck between rating this 3 or 4. I rounded it up since I couldn't give it a 3.5 star rating.

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  Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count:42,136
The Ghost Season 1
5th Edit Run: Page 18 of 47
The Witch (Working title)
Outline: 100% Complete!