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Category: Updates

Sleepless Night

Fiction Fragment Friday

No major updates this week. I have started the editing process on my NaNoWriMo Novel Ricochet and returned to working on the Skies of Glass roleplaying game beta rules. Of course I am preparing for Christmas as well.

For this week I have a brand new short work for you. This one strikes a bit closer to reality than I care to admit.


  My arms flail, desperately trying to find anything to break my fall.  There is nothing, so I hit the floor hard.  I am lying on the side of my bed, grateful that I have missed my nightstand on the way down to the floor.  There is no blood this time, only the bruises that I can feel forming.  This is the worst way to wake up, but it is far from the first time I have experienced it. 

  Looking up over the edge of the queen sized bed, I see my Labrador Jack stretched out across the entire bed.  The feet that pushed me hanging over the edge.  The loud crashing sound of my plummet to the floor seems to have woken him because his tail is smacking the bed with a rhythmic thud.  As much as I want to be mad, he is just too adorable to stay upset with.  I reach down, rub his tummy, and give him a kiss on the head. 

     I move to my living room and settle into my recliner.  It is actually fairly comfortable and I can fall asleep easily in it.  As soon as I get comfortable, I hear the telltale sound of paws hitting the floor.  I sigh as forty pounds of dog leap through the air and land on my lap.  He is too big to be a lap dog, especially on a small recliner, but no matter how many times I tell him he just does not believe it.  As he curls up into a ball on my lap, I accept that this will be one of those nights where very little sleep will happen.  I pet my dog and settle into a long night.     

A Choice

Fiction Fragment Friday

First as a quick update I successfully won NaNoWriMo. I wrote a 50,000 word novel in November with a day to spare. That leaves me a lot of editing work, but this novel will be self published in 2021. Future novels I will shop around and try for a publisher, but Richocet will always be self published.

This weeks Fiction Fragment Friday is a Flash Fiction I just wrote. I am trying to do more of these just to improve my writing. I also have purchased Pro Writing Aid Premium and am using it to improve on my editing. So far I am impressed with the tool, but I have only used it a few time including on this story.


 I pulled into the intersection, not knowing that this one act would change my life forever.  The sun was shining, and the temperature was just perfect.  It was the type of morning that makes you regret not having the day off to spend outside.  I didn’t have the day off though, so I was driving in to work like every other weekday.  The intersection was the last one before the work parking lot, and by this point I was on autopilot.  It was just a typical Monday until I glanced over and saw the large pickup truck running a red light taking up my entire driver’s side window.  It was then that time froze.  

 When I say that time froze, I don’t mean that as a metaphor or some sort of cliche about my life flashing before my eyes.  Time literally froze.  Neither the truck nor my car was moving.  I looked out the front windshield and saw that the birds in the sky were just hanging there instead of flying.  A man on the sidewalk was staring at the wreck that was about to happen with wide eyes open.  He had dropped the fountain soda he had been holding, and it was hanging in midair.  I opened my door to get out of the car and the silence was staggering.  I had never experienced a true lack of sound before.  

 A bright blue light coming from the sky blinded me.  As it lowered approaching me, I could make out a man with a flowing blue cape at the center.  He glided down and landed effortlessly on the ground in front of me.  With the glow fading, I could make out a mostly scarlet red costume with a blue belt, boots, and cape.  There was a symbol of some sort on his chest, but I couldn’t figure out what it was trying to represent.  The man was larger than life, and I could feel the energy coming off of him in waves that nearly drove me back.  I said the first thing that came to mind.  “Are you an Angel?”

 The man laughed, but it didn’t sound like a pleasant laugh.  “I am no angel.”  He pointed to the truck.  “I’m the drunk driver behind the wheel of that vehicle.”

 “I don’t understand.” 

 “Your death is something I have never forgiven myself for.  The guilt drove me to be a better person and when I gained powers, it was the action I dedicated my life to redeeming.  Now I’m left with a dilemma I don’t feel I can decide.  I can stop this and save you, but if I do, all the people I have saved since getting my powers will die.  I need you to understand.”

 He touched my head and my mind filled with a lifetime of memories.  I saw the wreck from his eyes and witnessed my death.  Two years in prison filled my mind with moments of horror and moments of education.  He jumped from a bridge trying to kill himself and an alien energy bonded with him, both saving his life and turning him into the man that stood before me. His daughter had drawn the symbol he wore on his chest.  I saw ten years of lives being saved from disasters and violence, with an alien mind providing every face in crystal clarity.  I could feel their gratitude and love.  Complete understanding of the role he would play in the world was more than I could comprehend, but just what I could grasp was enough.  I felt his thoughts and knew that it had all happened because of guilt over my death.

 “Now you understand.  If you step over to the sidewalk you will live, but I will cease to be.  If you get back in the car, you will die.  The choice is yours because it is your life that would be forfeit.”

 Without hesitation, I got in my car and closed the door, pulling on my seatbelt.  My hands came up and gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to fight off the shaking.  In my mind, I heard his voice one final time.  “I knew I chose correctly.”  A bright blue glow surrounded me as time flowed again.  I felt the impact of the truck and watched as my car wrapped around the front of it.  My windshield shattered, and it filled the inside of my car with glass.  The whole time the blue light surrounded me.  As the car came to a rest, I found myself with a car twisted around me but not a single scratch.  I felt the alien presence in my mind.  “With your willingness to sacrifice yourself, you will be an even greater hero than he was.”  My perception of the world was now filled with more colors, sounds, and smells then I could have ever imagined and I knew that my life would never be the same.    

Updates, Updates, Updates

Fiction Fragment Friday

I’m so happy to report that I am currently at 31,592 words on my Ricochet NaNoWriMo project. It has been an interesting experience just pushing myself to get the story out there. There will be a lot of edits and rewrites to come, but I think this might be a new method of writing for me. Plan, Outline, and then sprint my way to a first very rough draft just to have something to work with. It is exciting times for me.

Another announcement is that a Kickstarter has just gone live for a flash fiction project that I am included in. It is called Worth 1,000 Words and my story in it is based on one of my Skies of Glass: Metropolis characters that I created when I did serial fiction for a while. It works as a purely stand alone story with no setting needed, but adds some depth if you have read that. You can find and support it at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brickcommajason/worth-1000-words-a-flash-fiction-anthology

With my announcements out of the way time for Fiction Fragment Friday. I struggled to pick something for this week. I didn’t want to just keep grabbing out of context parts of the Ricochet novel because I don’t want to share spoilers and it really will need some rewriting when it is done. So instead I’ve picked out a small section from the very first time I tried NaNoWriMo. I was in the middle of a datacenter move that year and failed miserably. The backstory here is that an event has occurred overnight that unleashed an EMP like effect killing all electronics in a small rural down.


There was only one grocery store in Silverton Missouri.  The town was far too small to attract a chain of any kind and most people didn’t mind driving the 20 miles to the next town over to shop.  Well, that isn’t entirely true, but there really wasn’t anything they could do about it so they at least accepted it.  The one store they did have was really nothing more than a convenience if you ran out of something at the last minute.  In fact, if it wasn’t for beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets it would have gone out of business years ago.  Even that couldn’t keep it open much longer.  In the entire store’s history, it had never had over five customers in it at any given time.  The middle-aged clerk certainly wasn’t ready for a line stretching down the street waiting for her to open.

“Sorry I’m late everyone, my car wouldn’t start this morning.  Just give me a few minutes to get set up and then I’ll unlock the doors.”  Jan tried to hide the fear in her voice.  She had never dealt with a crowd of this size and just kept wondering why they were all here.  The fact that the power was out in the store just made her even more nervous.  “Great, not only do I have a line from here to New York, but I have to check each one out by hand without the register.  I knew when my car didn’t start that I should have just stayed home this morning.”

Jan unlocked the door, and a flood of people came rushing in.  She was knocked back into a pyramid of soda cases and hit her shoulder on the way down.  “This morning just keeps getting better and better.”  The swarm of people continued to enter the store until there was barely enough room to turn around.  People were bumping into each other and the tensions just seemed to be growing.

“Everyone please just calm down!  I don’t know what is going on here, but this is still my store and I won’t have this kind of behavior in it.”  Jan rubbed her sore shoulder.  “We have seen our share of power outages around here before and you’ve never acted like this.”

One of the customers came over to help Jan up.  “You don’t understand.  All those times we were able to drive into Augustus and get supplies.  None of our cars are working this time.  Well, I have seen a few old, rusted trucks and Luke’s 69 Charger go by, but other than them nothing is on the road.  I don’t even know how that’s possible.” 

A young girl came over with her cell phone in her hand.  “Even weirder than that, everyone I’ve talked to has a dead cell phone.  Not like it isn’t picking up a signal, but like the batteries are dead.  It’s really weird and everyone is all freaked out.”  Suddenly a loud crash came from the bottled water isle.  “No way, Principal Anderson just decked Mr. Brown.”

Jan’s face had a look of fear as she watched what was unfolding in front of her.  “The police office is two blocks down; somebody get the sheriff now!”  She screamed as loudly as she could, but no one seemed to be listening.  Even if she would have been willing to leave her store the front door was blocked and the crowd was between her and the back door.  The screaming and shoving seemed to be intensifying by the second.  Jan turned to the man and the teen girl that had come over to help her.  “Look you two seem to be the only sane people around here right now.  If we don’t do something quickly to calm this crowd down that fight is going to turn into a riot and people are going to get hurt.”

The man who had helped Jan rushed behind the counter and grabbed the fire extinguisher from the wall.  Before Jan realized what was happening, he had unleashed a burst of it above the heads of the unruly crowd.  The deafening sound and falling white cloud shocked the crowd into attention.  “Look at yourselves.   We have been without power for less than a day and you are already going crazy.  Principal Anderson, how would you treat your students if they were behaving like this?  How would all of you treat your kids?  I know there are some strange things happening here, but this is unacceptable.  Look we don’t even know how widespread this is.  Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m going to head over to City Hall and try to come up with a plan to find out just what is going on and how far it reaches.” 

The crowd parted as he walked towards the doors.  He paused only long enough to hand Jan back her fire extinguisher and then he was on his way.   Jan watched in shock as half the crowd followed the stranger out the door and down the street.  She certainly didn’t envy the mayor, but at least he had the police force in the same building.  The remaining crowd rushed in to fill the vacuum created by those that left.  Jan realized that the crowd was far more than she could handle by herself.  She turned to the teenage girl still standing besides her.  “So what is your name?”

“Samantha”

“Hi Samantha, I’m Jan Williams.  How would you like a part time job?”

Fountain Drink

Fiction Fragment Friday

Hey everyone. Today will be day 13 of NaNoWriMo and I am currently at approximately 20,000 words. I have no doubt I will hit my word count today and continue to be on track to complete the challenge. I have been very happy with the story as it has developed and I can’t wait to get rewriting and editing. I’m sure some of these snippets I share for Fiction Fragment Friday will be shared again in an edited form months down the line. I wanted to share a scene today that is a bit more action oriented.


               I sat perched on the corner of a building looking down a convenience store.  I really wanted a fountain drink but this costume didn’t have pockets for money.  I was just about to give up on the idea when I saw a man step out of the alley and pull on a ski mask.  He was heading right for the front door of the store.  I smiled under my mask.  “Time to get to work.”

               The man stepped into the store and pulled his gun out of his pocket.  He aimed it right at the clerk.  “Empty the register now and if you reach for anything else I’ll blow your brains out.”

               Leaping from the roof my mind was racing trying to come up with something witty to say to announce myself.  I slipped in the door trying to be as quiet as possible.  I wanted to and make a memorable entrance.  It didn’t matter if there were only two people to witness it I needed the practice if I was going to be a big time hero.  What I didn’t know was that the door had one of those chimes on it so the moment it opened the robber spun around and leveled his gun on me.  I leapt on instinct and just barely missed being shot as the bullet shattered the glass front door.  I did a twisting somersault and landed behind the gunman facing his back.  As he turned I grabbed his gun arm with my left hand to keep it facing away and then punched him in the face with my right fist.  He flew through the air and smashed into a spinning rack of potato chips destroying it.  His gun clattered on the floor next to me.

               It was hard to make out his words when he spoke,  “You bastard.  I think you broke my nose.”  He went to get up, but I did a spinning kick and hit him in the stomach.  Grabbing the chip rack I bent it around him as a restraint. 

               I looked back at the clerk who was wide eyed.  “Uhm thanks, but did you have to break the door and rack?  Do you know how much that will cost?”

               “Oh come on insurance has to cover that and the door is totally his fault.”

               “Yeah but I bet they will raise the premiums.  Still he could have shot me so I guess I do owe you.  Any way I can say thanks?”

               “Oh yeah, a 32oz Dr. Pepper would be the perfect thank you.”

               “Oh, uhm sure go ahead.  You do know that’s just something people say to be polite.  They don’t actually expect you to take them up on it.”

        I grabbed a cup and started filling it with the crushed ice.  I moved it to the Dr. Pepper spout.  “Hey you offered.  Don’t go offering if you don’t mean it.”  I stuck the straw in and pulled the cup up to take a drink.  The straw poked into my mask instead of going in my mouth.  “Aw damn.  Ok, I think you got this from here,  I gotta bounce.”

               “You are just going to leave me here with him until the police get here?”

               “What can I say,  I’m thirsty.”  I stepped through the broken front door without opening it and leapt up to the roof.  I found my perch on the corner, lifted my mask so I could drink, and kept a watch over the store until the police got there.  As they were loading him into the car my straw started making the annoying slurping sound of an empty cup.  “Ahhh.  A drink well earned.”  I tossed the cup off the roof at a trashcan and was kind of surprised when it actually went in on the first try.  “Oh yeah three point shot.”  I jumped around making cheering sounds.   

               As I started home I found myself singing.  The theme song from the Gummi Bears, or at least it’s chorus, had somehow gotten into my head so I made a theme song for myself out of it.   

“Ricochet
Bouncing here and there and everywhere
Super hero beyond compare
He is the Ricochet”

NaNoWriMo Day 2

I got a late start to writing today and when I actually sat down to do it I found myself staring at the blank screen and not being able to think of anything. I wrote and deleted the first two sentences for the day at least four times. I kept thinking about doing something else and coming back to it, but I knew that if I did I would not come back to it. Writing needs to be something I do regularly and if I’m working on a project with a deadline I need to do so whether I am feeling it or not.

So I sat there staring at the screen and made a decision. I was going to just start and that is what I did. I wrote two horrible sentences and then I kept going and started to get in the groove. I went back and deleted those sentences once I was and replaced them with something I am happier with. I just had to get over that hurdle and start writing something.

I am happy to say that I surpassed the word goal now for the second day in a row. I am currently at 3853 words which puts me 500 words above the goal for day 2. I have in my scrivener for the project been creating character profile sections for each character as they are introduced, but I do need to fill those profiles out still.

NaNoWriMo Day 1

I started my National Novel Writing Month project today and I am happy to report that as of writing this I am over 2,000 words in which exceeds the daily goal they set. I know that I won’t reach the goal every day so the more days I can go over the goal the better.

For a project this year I am writing a novel about my Knights of Reignsborough character Ricochet. Specifically I am doing his origin story and I outlined the novel using the “Save the Cat” method. I wanted to talk a bit about that because I am not usually an outliner. I had three projects I was debating on doing. Each of them are novels that I want to write, but I couldn’t make up my mind. I found by working through the outline it made me think about the story as a whole and not just my concepts for the stories.

For one of them I realized that my science was bad and a lot had changed since I first thought up the concept. The world I created just didn’t work and I needed to spend a lot more time working out how the technology should function, how the political dynamics should work, and basically world build before I could truly tell the story. I had started that novel once before and got 10,000 words into it before I realized I had lost my way. Outlining it helped flesh out the story and while it gave me a path I am not completely happy with that path yet and the flaws are now glaring.

I found that my outline for the Richocet novel was very detailed and realized that I had put more thought into it than the other two concepts. I knew this character already and I had no problem outlining the book. I’m not completely happy with the outline, but I don’t need to be. I can change things as I go. It is just a framework to keep me from getting stuck like I so frequently do.

My third concept is the first book in a series. I have a real desire to write this series but as I look at my work I don’t think I am ready to take that on yet. I want to improve my writing more, research more, and generally take more time. It is not a good project to write in a month if I want it to be hard Sci-Fi. I also have doubts if the series will be sellable. It is about a generation ship and each book would focus on a different generation. I don’t know that new characters for each book is something that would sell or not.

With my project decided I started writing today. I was struck with the desire to go back and edit or to pad things to fit some artificial idea of what a chapter size should be. I had to keep reminding myself that editing and formating comes later. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to just write it and to achieve the goal I need to turn off my inner editor for now. That doesn’t mean I can’t make minor fixes or maybe add a new paragraph later in the month, but if I want to complete it I can’t get into the editing loop.

I really feel like this is my year to complete NaNoWriMo. Please wish me luck.

NaNoWriMo 2020

I have never succeeded at NaNoWriMo. For anyone who does not know there is a website called NaNoWriMo.org that is dedicated to encouraging writers to write a novel in the month of November. They treat it as a contest, provide tools, and a community to help you reach your goal. I have tried this goal multiple times without success.

It always seems like something major is happening in November for me and usually it is work related. I have tried to participate while doing datacenter moves, builds, and disaster recovery exercises. I do not blame these things for my own personal failure at completing the challenge, but they did make things harder.

I know I can write a novel length work because I have done it. Still I have not done this and it is something I want to have achieved. So this year I will be trying once again to complete NaNoWriMo. I do not have anything yet that conflicts with this so if I fail I have no excuse other than I did not motivate myself to do it. That is actually the biggest reason I have not completed it.

I have not decided if I want to start something brand new or take one of my Fiction Fragment Fridays and develop it. I do have multiple chapters of most of them so that would go against the spirit of writing the entire work in November unless I rewrote it all.

Throughout November I will be blogging about this whether I am successful or not. I will be sharing challenges, successes, inspiration, and setbacks. I find that I do better when I hold myself accountable by setting expectations with others. That was how I finished my Skies of Glass Serial fiction years ago. Perhaps 2021 needs a weekly serial fiction story. A year long story is novel length.

September 2020 Update

                I had a lot of ideas for both this website and projects when the year started.  I was going to do regular flash fiction here, share story concepts to get feedback, and generally blog about topics related to writing and geek culture.  There are two other domain names I have purchased, and I was hoping to launch projects related to them by the end of the year.  As it turns out none of that happened.  When Covid struck one of the projects I had in mind became impossible with the lockdowns, but the other creative endeavors could have occurred.  I just found myself drawn into the events of the world and struggling with motivation.  Going forward I will try to do more regular updates on what I am working on and what to expect. 

Podcasts

                I have made guest appearances on GamersTable and Gaming with Gage.  I am still a regular host on both Fear the Boot and Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie.  These are generally weekly shows but have not been quite as consistent this year as they both have been in the past.  These shows have had to adapt to the changing world.  For example, the Skies of Glass Actual Play went from being recorded with everyone around a table to being recorded online.  I’m not certain what this has done for the quality of the recordings, but it has certainly changed the dynamics of the game.  In the case of Funnybooks there was over a month with no new comics being released.   

               In addition, early this year I started releasing a short weakly podcast called Fear the Boot: Game Notes for the $5 a month and up Patreon backers of Fear the Boot.  This has been a consistent release with no late episodes or missed weeks.  I have found it to be both a learning experience and something good for me from a routine standpoint in an unstable world.  The podcast is focused on both sharing how myself and other rpg gamemasters prepare for games as well as sharing insecurities.  While recording I have explored my own thoughts on running games and really examined why I do the things I do.  It is a project I am truly proud of and if anything has given me a sense of accomplishment this year it is this podcast.

Streaming

                Late last year was the start of a new experience for me.  When the podcast GamersTable did a Kickstarter for their new season one of the goals was a weekly streaming show on Twitch called Big20.  It is a roundtable conversation with GMs every week on a different topic while interacting with viewers in the chat room.  I have been a host on this show many times introducing me to live streaming on camera. 

                I have been involved in actual play podcasts for years, but this year I have joined a game that streams live on twitch.  It has been very different having a live audience and being on video while roleplaying.  The game is an East Texas University game with people I met through GamersTable. 

Writing

                Most of the writing I have done is on the roleplaying game Skies of Glass.  Two beta versions have been released to Patreon backers of Fear the Boot.  My contributions are combination of transcribing rules and writing setting as well as basic layout.  The project is coming along nicely but much slower than I would like.

              I expected with working from home exclusively since the pandemic that I would have gotten quite a bit of writing done.  This has not been the case.  I am not working any less than I did when I drove into work.  I have however gained time I would have spent driving and have been using that to cook my own meals and improve my health.  I have written a flash fiction story that I have not submitted anywhere yet and done some editing on previously written works, but I have not done much writing on my own projects this year.  I hope starting with this update to turn that around for the rest of the year.      

Gaming

                I started the year running a Dresden Files campaign for my regular weekend gaming group.  When Covid first hit I lost two of my players and this game had to be put on hold.  My Dresden game was serving as a creative outlet more than I realized until it was paused.  Every week I created a newsletter for my players writing articles about game and world events as three different reporters each with their own writing style and focus.  When the game was paused, I sat down and put all the story and NPC details in a document so I could return to it someday.  Doing so I really fleshed out quite a bit including a whole food truck scene with intermingled drama. 

                With the temporarily smaller group I started running a Superhero game in the Masks system.  The game has been going very well, but all the extra out of game creative work like the newsletter is not a part of this game.  I find the mechanics and just using a lot of genre traps makes this game fairly seamless to run.  The game has been great, and I do think I have come up with some fun ideas and concepts, but it is not the creative release of the Dresden Files campaign. 

Other Hobbies

                Last September I started building Gundam models.  This initially started at the Japanese Festival when I went to an event and built my first one.  I enjoyed it enough that I started picking up kits and eventually expanded to paint pens and panel line markers.  I am still not in any way artistic and do not do much more than slightly improve the look in some cases.  I have a problem relaxing and tend to need hobbies that let me relax while keeping my mind just occupied enough that it does not wander.

                I still find Lego kits work wonders for relaxation for me.  This year I have built a Space Station, Voltron, a boat, and various small kits.  I have worked my way through most of my backlog of Lego kits. 

Going Forward

                Nothing quite gives me the sense of accomplishment that creative projects do.  With that in mind it is well past time to get back to writing.  I plan on doing quarterly updates here at the minimum and aiming for monthly.  I will start sharing some of my writing snippets and work to schedule things more regularly.  Feedback and interaction with my creative projects help keep me active and motivated.  Deadlines and expectations also work wonders in that regard.              

Welcome

I want to welcome you to my new home on the internet. I wanted to create a single place that I could direct people in order to find all my various podcasts, actual plays, and writing projects. You can follow me on social media using the links on the right bar to get more up to date information.

What you can expect from this site is regular blogs that could be anything from project updates, reviews of geek materials, my rambling thoughts, or flash fiction. This will be the first place I will mention new projects going forward and serve as the launch site for them.

This site will be a work in progress and an experiment. Things that work I will continue with and things that don’t will be phased out.

I want to thank you for spending your time here and I look forward to making 2020 the year of long standing project completion.

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