November 8th, 2017

The results came back today on the second story submissions for this year’s NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. While I did much better with this one, I won’t be progressing to the next round this year.

Overall, it was another great year. I received a lot of useful feedback on both stories, from both the judges and some of the other competitors over on the site’s forums. It’s a great experience, having to come up with an idea, write it, and refine it, all over the course of 48 hours. It really pushes you to just write and put something out there, which is often the problem. It’s much less intimidating than NaNoWriMo (which is started again and which I am trying, but am not holding my breath, haha) but gets the creative juices flowing just the same. Part of that may be that you actually have to pay to officially participate, as opposed to NaNo, which is free, but I digress.

For those who are curious, I’ll add links to both of this year’s entries at the end of this post. Looking back I’m happy with them both, especially the second one, which scored better with the judges. Neither of them were in my wheelhouse – the first genre was action/adventure, the second historical fiction – but I think I learned a lot from completing them both.

Onward and upward, as they say. 🙂

Story 1: Better Than Nothing

Story 2: Us And Them

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July 10th, 2017

July 10th, 2017

I’m writing this from my hotel room in Austin, Texas, where it’s currently 36C outside and I’m betting it’s not that warm back home. A quick check online says it’s 27C in St. John’s, so hey, that’s not that bad actually, but still.

I came here for RTX, the annual Rooster Teeth convention. It did not disappoint, with the exception of Friday (we’ll get to that in a bit). While I know I’m looking at a small slice of the city through the lens of someone on vacation, I really had a great time here.

The trip started off on my arrival Thursday afternoon, following a slight delay from the Houston to Austin short hop connection flight. The heat smacked me in the face as soon as I walked outside, and, rather than mess with apps such as Uber or Lyft that were new to me, I just took a regular cab to my hotel. It was a little more than $25 USD, which I’ll compare to the Lyft ride I’m going to take back now in a little bit.

It was a laid back day, as I simply just checked into the hotel, went and got my badge at pre-reg in the Austin Convention Centre, then picked up a few things for the next few days – bottled water and granola bars for long days at the con – and had some of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken for supper, which was easily the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. It was an early night then for me, especially because of the 2.5 hour time difference.

Friday started out with a good lunch at Whataburger, which I’d heard about and tracked down one with the help of Lyft – seriously, this app made travel very easy and inexpensive during my stay here, and I highly recommend it. The meal was pretty good, and then it was off to the con.

Friday was the most frustrating day con-wise, because they had to add metal detectors for people to go through in order to enter the exhibition hall. This, sadly, is for a good reason, given what happened in Phoenix back in May this year, but the problem was they only had 2 detectors at each entrance. This made for incredibly long lines to get in, which was bad enough, but this was also the first full day of the con. This meant anyone who couldn’t get to pre-reg on Thursday also had to line up in a humongous line just to get their badge to get in period, let alone into other things.

I was lucky enough to get here on Thursday so that was one less long line – it took me about 2 hours to get mine on Thursday, some people reported waits of 3-4+ hours on Friday – but then it took me well over an hour to get into the exhibition hall when I tried at around 4pm. The exhibition hall closed every day at 6pm, mind you, and on Friday the con started at 12pm, though registration lines started at 8am. Still, not a lot of time. Some people who only opted for a Friday pass were unable to attend many panels and the exhibition hall because of this, which really sucks.  The same went for weekend pass people if they didn’t get their pass on Thursday, so they could’ve missed out on autograph sessions as well.

I had the weekend pass, so it didn’t affect me nearly as much, long wait aside, but I can see why so many people were and still are pretty upset. I was still able to catch a few panels, get my autographs in with the Kinda Funny people – I posted the video they made for me here, fyi! – and get in to pick up some swag, but others weren’t so lucky.

The good news is Rooster Teeth listened and fixed it for the rest of the con, adding several more metal detectors and putting them all in one hall with several lanes for people to line up in instead of one huge line with only two. This made my entry time to the hall on Saturday less than 5 minutes or so, and likewise yesterday. Too little too late for those poor Friday folk, but they did fix it and unfortunately that’s all they could do.

Friday night’s supper was a good feed at PF Chang’s before heading back to the hotel with a headache. Not sure what caused it as every day I prepped myself with sunscreen, drank lots of water, made sure to eat, etcetera, but there you have it. It was a nice, quiet night in at any case so it’s all good.

Saturday was a great day for a number of reasons. I didn’t want to see anything until after lunch so I took a Lyft to a nearby mall for the morning, which was a nice break from having nothing accessible near the hotel and no little stores or pharmacies near the convention centre really. I was there for lunch and then went back to the con.

It was mainly great, however, because I got to meet two years-long friends in person for the first time, Alex and Sam. Alex and her boyfriend went to RTX as well, and Sam currently lives here. I got to attend some of the panels with Alex and her partner, and it was a great day in general, especially with the Kinda Funny panel and the RT Podcast being amazing. After that I got to hang out with Sam, and we had fun playing board games at a local spot called the Emerald Tavern Games & Cafe, which was such a cool place. We have something similar to that in St. John’s now I think but I wish we had more places like it, or that I’d had access to that kind of place when I was a kid, wow.

Sunday was the last day of the con sadly, but it was great. The RWBY panel kicked ass, and even though there was a long wait before it started there was an energetic crowd and a lot of fun was had in the waiting. I took a video of a Bohemian Rhapsody singalong but Facebook made me take it down for copyright reasons, bah. I saw that with Alex as well, then her and her boyfriend left to go home. I stuck around for another panel and then the hall for a bit before going to try some bbq at Cooper’s, which was great (I tried using a fork and knife at first before a worker encourage me to just dig in and yum!) then picked up snacks and went back to the hotel.

I capped off Sunday night with a trip to the Alamo Drafthouse to see Spiderman: Homecoming, which was great by the by, and while waiting for the doors to open I went to a neat comic book store named the Dragon’s Lair nearby that was also awesome and had people playing games in the back too. They were the only people who knew where Newfoundland was when I told them where I was from, haha.

And today I only ventured out for lunch, having some In-N-Out Burger to see what it’s all about. It was ok, but gotta say Jack in the Box was better – I had that at the Houston airport during the wait to get here.

And now it’s almost check out time, whoops! So off I go, a whirlwind end to a whirlwind weekend in Austin. So much fun, I’m going to miss it, but I can’t wait to see my wife and cat again. 🙂

June 11th, 2017

Oh hey, I still have this thing.

I could’ve sworn I’d used it since January, but I’d have been wrong. I certainly thought about using it, to be sure, but I never updated it until now.

What’s changed since then? Well, nothing and everything, I suppose.

Work is still as stressful as ever (which I won’t go into here), writing remains just as difficult, and I still have far too many movies, books, games, etc. to enjoy.

In the everything column, I realize as I write this that my nephew wasn’t born when I last updated. That’s kind of a big deal; his middle name is mine (poor kid). I’ve also been meeting regularly with a cousin of mine to discuss how our writing is coming along, which is definitely helpful inspiring even if I haven’t accomplished all that much; I have ideas. No, wait, sorry: ideas. Ahem. And I’ve been reading more as of late, which sort of ties into the inspiring column too, but it also means I’m getting through some of the backlog, one page turn at a time.

So things aren’t all that bad. This is what I focus on and tell myself, at any rate.

Perhaps remembering I have this outlet and actually using it will help too. If nothing else it’ll help me remember how to use italics, yes? Yes.

January 12th, 2017

2016 is done and behind us. Good riddance too, for a number of reasons; I was at my heaviest ever at one point last year, work (the four-lettered work I try not to mention on here, whoops) got far too chaotic, NaNo ended up being a complete disaster, and a bevy of other reasons that I’d rather not linger on any longer than necessary.

I’m trying to focus on the positive from last year, instead of just the negative, however. I ended up losing a lot of that weight and continue to do so, which is taking time but I’m heading in the right direction. I also managed to advance to the third round of a writing competition I’ve done the last few years, which was encouraging. I met my goal of reading 25 books in the year, even if I finished the last one on New Year’s Eve.

I’ve renewed those challenges, both official (reading 25 books again, trying to write 150k) and unofficial (keeping up with weight loss), and even if last year wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, there’s no reason to not try again this year.

So yeah, bring it on, 2017. I’m sure it’ll end up being a similar mix of personal hits and misses, but the main thing is to keep trying, right?

On that front, today while driving back home from the city after work I listened to a recent episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast featuring Bruce Springsteen, which you can find here. In the beginning, before starting his interview, Marc muses about the difference between being hard on one’s self and beating the $#!& out of one’s self, which really rings true to me as I look back to last year and forward to this one. Some wise words there, and it’s a great inteview, though of course I’m a little bit biased.

A little late, I know, but Happy New Year to all. Hope 2017 is good to you and yours.

December 6th, 2016

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Frisson: a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill. Described better on Wikipedia here.

What songs or passages of music cause you to experience this?

For me, such passages create a ‘tingle’ in my brain, or something to that effect. It’s hard to describe, but very noticeable.

I was just listening to the song Wayne by Chantal Kreviazuk, which causes that very sensation for me around 2:35 into the video (2:55 into song on iTunes oddly enough) with the little piano riff and the strings kicking in (after the “under these rocks and stones” line). That’s what prompted me to ask this question.

Another instance is with the song M79 by Vampire Weekend, which happens at about 3:50 of the song when the strings kick into overdrive for the last few lines of the song. It’s strings again, which is maybe a theme for me, hmm.

There are other songs that don’t immediately leap to mind, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to both make a post and find out what causes this for other people. So please feel free to comment if you feel like sharing. 🙂

September 19th, 2016

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Last year was my first crack at the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction challenge. It went well enough, though I didn’t advance past the second round, which everyone gets to attempt. You score points based on each of the first two rounds, the total of which determines who goes on to round three. I believe last year I scored 2 points in the first round and 7 in the second.

This year I’m off to a better start, having scored 9 points in my first story. The second round just ended yesterday and I won’t know how I did until early November, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get to round three this time. At that stage, they reshuffle us into new groups (there were 60 of about 35 people each initially) and the best four in round three go to the final round.

I don’t harbour any illusions that I might make it to the last round (or even further) but I really do hope I get to the third. You’re given just 48 hours (11:59pm EST on Friday night until 11:59pm EST on Sunday night) to write a maximum of 1,000 words on a given genre, location, and prompt, and while last year I actually went into St. John’s both weekends, I made sure I stayed home and focused this year. It’s made a big difference, I think so anyway, and I’m very happy with what I’ve done this far.

So in that vein, for those who may be curious here’s my first round entry and my second round entry, shared as read only docs on Google Drive. The first round’s genre was romance, with the location being a money wiring office and the object being a highlighter, and for round two it was comedy / a principal’s office / a metal whistle.

That’s what I’ve been up to lately, along with trying to eat better and be healthier overall. That’s been going well too, thankfully, and while at first blush the two – writing and weight loss – may not seem to have all that much in common, they do. For me, at least, I suppose. They’ve both required a lot of determination and will power for me, and will only work if I focus on the goals at hand and just get through it.

Of course one results in me winning (hopefully) and the other with me losing (again, hopefully), but hey, they’re both worth trying, right?

March 27th, 2016

My cousin Terry and I saw Batman v. Superman today. I’ll say right at the beginning that I’ve always been a bigger fan of Marvel than I am of DC. I’ll also say that I state it that way because in my eyes it’s not one or the other; you can be a fan of both and enjoy one without hating the other. I just happened to like more of the Marvel characters growing up, and when I got into writing / roleplaying there were way more Marvel options out there, so it stuck.

Anyway, all that being said, I really enjoyed the movie. I’ll be honest, my expectations were fairly low given previous DC movies (Green Lantern was just… yeah) and the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but it more than exceeded them. I’m honestly a little perplexed as to how it’s scoring just 29% with critics and 73% with audiences. I’m definitely in the latter group and that score sounds about right to me.

I won’t go into the plot or anything in depth for fear of spoiling people, but I’ll just say I’m glad I went before I got spoiled myself. There was definitely a lot more going on than I’d expected, in a good way, and while I wish there’d been more Wonder Woman the mere fact that she was there at all was awesome. I’m looking forward to her own solo movie, which is another one up for DC on Marvel.

I’m excited to see more from DC now, and while I was already interested in seeing Suicide Squad I want to see it now, darn it, not to mention some of the other projects hinted at in the movie. And then there’s the already scheduled Justice League movies, which I wasn’t sure would even get made let alone released at one point but now I’m really looking forward to them and the lead up films.

It made me pretty happy to walk out with a smile on my face, because I really wasn’t sure if that’d be the case or not. My cousin is a huge Superman fan so I was in for that fact alone, and our trips to town to see movies is always a great time regardless of the movie’s calibre, but it’s that much better when we both enjoy what we saw. That was definitely the case today.

Kudos, DC, and here’s to keeping it up, up, and away in the future. (Sorry.)