Category Archives: goals

Updatey #ROW80

Haven’t finished up working through those story threads yet. This week I’ve been busy with Girl Scout stuff, and have been getting my house ready for company and much writerly goodness.

Kait will get here sometime tomorrow and we’re going to have some girlfriend time. Lauralynn is coming to join us for lunch on Saturday. Then Andrew and his wife, Tracey, are coming Saturday afternoon and will be here a few days. I’m VERY excited about this.

Speaking of parties, I have another Thirty-One Gifts party open with my friend Kristy. If you missed my last post about Kristy and these products, you can find it here. The post shows some great Thirty-One things that I’ve bought and how I use them. Just like last time, I’ll be doing a drawing from those who place orders for a prize: paperback copies of both my books.

Please remember to choose to have your order shipped to you (not to me) and use this current shopping link.

And, speaking of paperback, I’m expecting the proof copy of Heroes ‘Til Curfew at the end of this week. If it checks out, the paperback version should be available next week. I’ll probably mention when I have a link.

That’s all the news I’ve got today. Thanks for stopping by!


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#ROW80, Write Hard

It’s my turn to make the inspiration post of the week for the ROW80 crowd, so you’ll find me over there today, talking about writing with passion in a post titled Write Hard.

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Filed under ROW80, writing

Remarkable Amounts of Productivity, Heroes ‘Til Curfew Available, #ROW80

Partly because Heroes ‘Til Curfew went live on Amazon, and partly just because, I went out today with my IRL friend, Kristy. Had celebratory lunch and avoided refreshing Amazon to check rank, KDP to check sales, etc. Very attractive waiter who made us totally forget what we were talking about every time he came to the table. Good times.

The initial uploads are done. I’m still waiting for a buy link for the NOOK peeps, and then I can be more announce-y and send out my newsletter to the email list.

I’m having some problems with the print version, so that’s going to take a while longer.

So the ROW80 update is that I’ve been working on all this STUFF. I’m still getting new ideas for the next book and the series and jotting those done, but nothing like actual writing right now. But that’s okay. I know that I’m a one thing at a time person and didn’t put that kind of pressure/goal on myself. I hope to be able to put this stuff behind me by the end of the week.


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It’s Party Time

I just like the indie thing. You guys know that before self-publishing, I was, and still am, an Etsy shop owner. Running your own little business takes time, work, and love, no matter what it is. Home party businesses come with their own challenges, but also their own rewards that often center around getting women together to share time, fun, and support.

My friend Kristy and her three children

Kristy and her kids

This is my friend, Kristy. No, really, in real life. Sometimes we even meet up at the local indie coffee shop for beverages. I met her when our daughters were in Girl Scout Daisies last year. Kristy moved to the area during the school year and immediately took on the role of co-leader in the troop. Like me, Kristy is a stay-at-home, work-from-home mom who, unlike me, has three–count ’em–THREE children. In addition to her work as a Thirty-One Gifts consultant, she also cleans homes and businesses, and always manages to look great and act positive. And some how I manage not to hate her for it.

A 31 party display

Here’s what a party at Kristy’s looks like.

So here we are at my Thirty-One Gifts online party. Thirty-One is a bag business. Purses, tote bags, wallets, orgainzers… And I was like, “Kristttyyyy, I carry a ratty backpack and I like it. Can’t you be a comic book or video game consultant?” But being all about the sisterhood, I dragged myself out of the house and sucked up the social event trauma of going to her party. And ended up buying a whole bunch of stuff for my seven-year-old daughter, Briar.

A collection of new Fall 2011 stuff.

A collection of new stuff from the Fall 2011 catalog.

Something you may not know about me? I’m totally a sucker for things that match.

So I thought I’d show you some pictures of things that I’ve bought from Kristy and how they make life better.

Some of the stuff I've bought for Briar

Briar Gear

That’s Buzz Lighthorse sticking out of the Cinch Sac backpack. This is one of those bags that’s really nice to throw kids stuff in for daycamp, daycare, dance class, the pool, whatever.

The Organizing Shoulder Bag is nice. Lots of little pockets and a wide, adjustable strap. It wears well across the body. I got this for Briar because she likes to take her DS, its games, and little toys with her when we go out, but then she always expects someone else to carry and keep track of them. Or she sets them down randomly and forgets them. After I had to drive 30 miles out of my way one day, waste over an hour and a gallon of gas to go back to a store and retrieve a forgotten $1 but much beloved Happy Meal toy, I decided that it was time for girlfriend to start carrying a purse and learning to keep up with her own stuff. It’s going okay. I’m considering switching to this bag myself as it’s a little bigger than what I have currently.

And an umbrella that matches! Did I mention I have a thing for matching? And Briar’s got a thing for umbrellas.

Briar's pick up bag

Briar’s bag for picking up her toys reads “Briar’s Toys”

Speaking of organizing Briar and teaching her better habits that I don’t have, here’s her “pick-up” bag. This is one of the Storage Totes. She (or, let’s face it, I) can walk around the house and put all the stuff she’s left lying around in this bag. It’s amazing how much neater the house looks after this one action that takes just a few minutes. Then the bag goes to Briar’s room to be unloaded. It’s also a nice, sturdy bag to grab and pack up toys for vacation or spending time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Since I got into FlyLady, I’ve gotten really into baskets. I think they’re great for containing, organizing, hiding clutter, and dealing with stuff when you just don’t have time to, you know, actually deal with it. Thirty-One bags are great for that, especially if the fabrics suit your home and style. (And if they don’t, there are some nice baskets in the catalog too.) Eventually I’d like to have Thirty-One bags for the three FlyLady decluttering bins of doom, personalized with Keep, Toss, Donate.

31 bags in the grocery cart

Bags for cold stuff, bags for dry stuff, and everyone in the club store thinking I’m so organized!

This is one of my favorite uses for Thirty-One. Sadly, this picture looks a lot better on my phone, but since I’m not going to text it to all of you, here it is. These are my shopping bags in a cart at Sams Club. You know how you go to the club store and maybe you find some suitable boxes to put your purchases in, but more than likely you come home with bulky packages all over your trunk and have to make several trips from the car to the house to get everything in? Here I’ve got all my cold purchases in the insulated Market Tote so they stay cold (I even brought a few ice packs from home because it was 100 degrees and the store is not close to my house). Other items go into my Large Utility Totes. When I get to the check-out, I can lift the whole bag onto the belt. The checker scans the items, and packs them right back into the bag. So I can even start organizing for putting the groceries away while I’m in the store.

the insulated Market Thermal Tote

I didn’t realize just how insulate this thing is!

One thing I’ll say about the Market Tote is–it’s insulated all right. Last weekend I made yeast rolls for a family reunion. I had 4 dozen of them in two big pans. Normally I just wrap the pans in a big towel and chuck them in the car. But I remember that I have this insulated bag now. So after letting the pans cool off for a few minutes, I slid them into the bag. It took us over an hour to get to the reunion, a comedy of errors I won’t even get into. When we got there, everyone was lining up for potluck. I unzipped the bag and one of my relatives reached in–and got burned! Oops. It never occurred to me that they’d stay that hot. Fresh, hot rolls were enjoyed by all and I had nothing to bring home but dirty dishes.

We also use this tote as a pool bag because it’s big, cute, and water resistant. And you can easily wipe it out before repurposing.

Here’s the item that we use most, and of course I didn’t get my own picture of it because it’s currently in use and with Briar at school. Briar’s Thermal Tote matches her other gear and has her name embroidered on the front. Perfect for school. We pack all meals, avoid disposables, and someone doesn’t want any of her food to touch. That’s a lot of little containers and those get bulky. This roomy thermal holds Briar’s breakfast, snack, and lunch. I usually have 9 separate containers and an ice pack in here. And when it’s not packed to capacity, it easily folds in on itself and doesn’t take up as much room in the backpack.

Thirty-One in the car

Thirty-one gear to keep my backseat usable.

Any of you who have met me in person have probably peeked into my car and shrunk back in horror. It’s not good. Toys, papers, more toys and trash all over the place. Now my car desperately needs a vacuuming, but it’s looking at lot better these days, thanks to Kristy.

A Large Utility Tote, personalized with “Briar’s Stuff” holds all the toys she brings out and then leaves in the car. Plus the Happy Meal toys. OMG, the Happy Meal toys!! Now someone can actually sit back there with her. Plus it’s easy for us to pull the bag in every once in a while and put stuff away.

Also in that tote is the About Town Blanket. It’s fleece on one-side, wipe-able nylon on the other, and easily rolls into a neat little velcro-closing package with a handle. I’ve used this thing so many times, not only for a car blanket, but for throwing down on the ground at the park, taking into the movie theater, stuff like that.

Here's my Thirty-One stuff.

My new purse, and my grab and go stuff.

This is my new purse. So I can act like a grown woman. The Pop Crossbody has an adjustable strap so herself the elf doesn’t have a purse hanging to her knees, cute plaid accents, and more pockets than I know what to do with.

This Mini Zipper Pouch is in one of the new, fall fabrics that coordinates with the plaid. It’s a makeup bag, clutch sized pouch that’s got my DS, charger, and games in it. I’m going to get one for Briar’s DS gear too. I think it would hold most of the handhelds I’ve seen, if you need to accessorize like an adult while playing games.

The rest of that stuff is all attached. Essentials Zip Wallet, cell phone, and keys are all attached to the Wristlet Key Fob. I won that as a door prize at my first Thirty-One party and didn’t think much of it. It is the most useful damned thing! The likelihood of me dropping my keys on the seat and then locking the car door (my car is old school) have decreased dramatically. Hanging from my wrist, my keys are near to hand, but I’m still hands-free. When you think about how many short trips you make between the car and anywhere with your kid and a bunch of other stuff and you just don’t need your whole purse full of life… It’s stupid to gush over a ribbon on a keyring, but I really like it.

Hey, did someone say door prize? Yeah, it’s a party, there should be a prize. I’ll draw a name from one of the people who places an order at my party, and I’ll get the winner a copy of Heroes ‘Til Curfew in some format. Maybe I’ll even come up with more prizes by the end of the month, but I definitely want to do that one. ETA: Now that I know the indie thing is a go and I’ve got the print version already in the works, the door prize will be signed copies of Hush Money and Heroes ‘Til Curfew. And maybe some other goodies.

So yeah, this party runs through August 30th. The reason for that end date is that currently, all items are on sale for 15% off until the end of the month and I want to make sure Kristy has an extra day to get everything submitted on time. You can start shopping by clicking here. There’s a Shop Now button below the event details which will take you into the shopping. There’s a tab at the top of the screen to view the catalog. When you see something you like, just go back to the shopping, search the item number, and add to cart. The 15% discount will show automatically.

Many items can be personalized. Personalization is an additional $7 per item and is not discounted. Items that can be personalized are marked in the catalog with various codes like E, Ws, and Le. Pages 46-47 of the catalog explain the codes–whether you can get one line, two lines, or just initials on that item–as well as show fonts, thread colors, and swatches of the fabrics.

If you are not local to me here in the Knoxville, TN area, please be sure you choose the option to have your items shipped to YOU. Otherwise they will ship to me and it will be a big mess. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I’ll do my best and we’ll drag Kristy in to help.

It’s never too early to start putting things aside for Christmas, and a lot of these bags make great gift basket containers for showers, house/dormroom/apartment-warmings, office send-offs, and just about any other gift occasion you can think of. I hope you find something you like and thanks for coming to my party!

PS. It’s ROW80 day! I’m keeping up and working hard this week. Putting this together was a nice little break in all the work I’ve been doing for the Talent Chronicles news I hope to break on Friday. Hope everyone else is keeping up with their goals and having a great week.


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#ROW80 and Recommended Reading

Things are going well for me. In my measurable goals, I’ve managed to participate a little on Twitter and to post to my FB page every day this week, and I’ve kept up with my blog schedule, including scheduling posts at least a day in advance to be sure I don’t forget.

In writing, I’m continuing to work on my blueprint for HEROES UNDER SIEGE. I’m at the stage now where I’m gathering up the list of things that need to happen, things that need to be planted and shown along the way, and trying to come up with a list of specific scenes to write. Kind of the real getting down to outlining business part of the process. But next is actually writing.

I took a day off from that yesterday to map out something completely different. I don’t usually think of anything else except the Talents, but sometimes your brain needs to do something else just to remember that it can. I came up with a world, problem, and character list for a new YA trilogy. I also came up with general ideas for all three books and a plot skeleton for the first one. I have a lot of Talent work to do and I don’t know when I’d ever get to such a thing, but I wrote it all up and sent it to Jane to see what she thinks of the idea. Now so I got that out of my system for a bit and it’s back to work on the Talents.

Speaking of Jane, I think I might be interrupting Friday’s regularly scheduled post to bring you some news about HEROES ‘TIL CURFEW. Maybe. Ack.

While you’re waiting you can check out this week’s

Recommended Reading

Superman, like Shrek, has layers
I know, as soon as I said that we all started thinking of parfait. Or maybe that’s just those of us with a sweet tooth who didn’t have breakfast. Well anyway, I found What Does Superman Stand For? to be a very thought-provoking article on Superman’s motto Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Recommended for Superman fans and general malcontents. (via Twitter @slackerheroes)

Writing: a force for good in the world
No matter what your level in the writing thing, you need to read every word of Holly Lisle’s Money From Nothing: The Economic Value of Writing Original Fiction. It will explain to you how, even if you kinda suck right now, you’re adding awesome to the world. And as you improve, your contribution of awesome seems to increase exponentially. A joyful read for all of us who scribble. (via subscription to Holly’s newsletter which should be mandatory)

Don’t make me send you back to the kids’ table
This is a bit old and has probably made the rounds because it’s pretty awesome. But if you haven’t read Self-publishers Need To Start Minding Their Manners, I suggest you check it out. Catherine Ryan Howard reminds us of just how good we have it–so don’t screw it up. (via Twitter @Belinda_Pollard #MyWANA)

This is neat
That was just my reaction to seeing this blog by the awesome Vicki Lieske. If you’re wondering “Why is my book not selling?” you can submit it to this blog and she’ll go through your listing, give her reactions to the cover, blurb, writing, etc., and make some suggestions. She’s not tearing these listings apart. I found the posts to be very polite and professional, and very much in the spirit of being helpful. No surprise there. (via Twitter @VictorineLieske)

She’s 94 years old!
Piper Bayard runs a regular feature on her blog called “The End Is Near–and we deserve it!” It’s a spotlight on…the foibles of humanity? Okay, really, on people who must be smoking crack. This week’s clip is a crack up. It’s just over a minute so get over there and click it. She’s also got a list of recommendations for you. The apocalypse is freaking nigh, people. Nigh! Get a move on. (via subscription)


Filed under Recs and Links, ROW80

#ROW80 and Sunday Recs

Well, a bit of an oops on the ROW80. The goals I’ve been working on this week are blog, Twitter, Facebook, and email. On email, to clear my inbox every day. On Twitter to put in at least one period a day in which I scan everything, clear all my columns, respond to my @s. On Facebook, to make one update to my page every day. And when I see every day on this stuff, I mean weekday because I give weekends to my family and sometimes am not online at all. On the blog, my goal has been to stick to my blog schedule, writing posts ahead and scheduling them at least the day before. Which I’ve done all week, except for today’s which is why you’re getting it so late. I totally forgot about it–which is the reason for the scheduling thing. But all in all I think I’m doing really well on the social media stuff.

On the writing stuff it’s going great. I’ve done some really good work on the planning phase for HEROES UNDER SIEGE. I absolutely love this phase of the planning process when everything is fluid and I can pull up threads and weave them around, wallow in the stuff I love like backstory and theme. I said on Twitter this week that it’s like that beginning part of a puzzle where you’re just pulling out the edge pieces and setting them aside. Fitting some together if you happen to see the connections. Totally not like the work of actual putting the whole puzzle together or, you know, writing the book.

Recommended Reading

Save the Darlings!
“Kill your darlings” is one of those pieces of writer advice that makes me cringe. Yeah, no one likes to read someone else’s novelized D&D adventure, complete with inside jokes that didn’t quite translate, and that sort of writerly self-indulgence. But some of those darlings are what make it yours. And awesome. So when I saw this float by on Twitter, I had to click and check it out. Plenty of good advice here. (via Twitter @annerallen #MyWANA)

Being a teenager sucks!
Okay, yeah, I’m having another Happy Harry Hard-On moment, but this Pump Up the Volume fan moment is brought to you by this article by the AMAZING Chuck Wendig, Adolescence Sucks, Which Is Why YA Rocks which made me want to dig in and writer harder. It’s funny because I had been concerned that with Heroes ‘Til Curfew I was starting to get too ugly for my age range, and now Chuck’s making me wonder if I need to go put in some more fucked up shit. If you read or write YA, or if you gave up YA as a child because it was boring, give this a read. (via Twitter)

Life Amongst Pen-Muggles
Speaking of Chuck, you can’t get enough Chuck. I sort of hope that if I read enough his crazed brilliance will start to rub off. What It’s Like Being A Writer (via @shilohwalker on Twitter)

Stop the Buy My Book DMs!!!
If you read this post by Kristen Lamb, you probably wish everyone would read it and take it to heart. And so I link to it in hopes that we may all live in perfect harmony. (via subscription, but everyone’s all aTwitter about it)

Characters as messed up as we are
From the site that brought us the insightful facts about why we will probably all die at the hands (and teeth) of zombies comes 6 Beloved Characters That Had Undiagnosed Mental Illnesses over at (got this one from @techsurgeons)

You can see I’m back to getting a lot of my reading from Twitter and I’ve noticed something. Teaser tweets don’t work on me. Tweets that are like: I enjoyed this post about blah blah blah, here’s the link– that works. Because I like some stuff you like and if you say you got something out of it, I want to check it out too. But I don’t have time to follow every vague teaser. If you don’t tell me what it’s about, then I don’t click.

What about you? What kinds of tweets do you find yourself clicking more often?


Filed under ROW80, writing

#ROW80 Getting back on track

It’s the week before school, so my goals lately have been more about getting ready to get back to NORMAL. I’ve been trying to gather the back to school stuff, work out our new schedule, and get the house back in order so that when school starts (a week from today!) I can really go back to giving the writing stuff the attention it needs.

I’m having a very productive week on that score. Sunday I did massive list-making, under the direction of Kait, and assigned myself daily tasks. Those are going really well. I’m trying to ease back into Twitter and even be more active on Facebook (thanks to TweetDeck). Monday was an especially productive day for me and I feel like I’m really taking back control over things.

This is the shortest post evar. How’s everyone else doing this week?


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#ROW80 and Sunday Reading Recs

So, to further confound my ROW80 efforts at getting back on track with writing and the online stuff, I went to Florida where I’m almost never online at all. Hence when I checked my file for recommendations this week, I found it a bit old. But if they’re things you missed when they were knew, I hope they’re still interesting.

Meanwhile, though I at least posted a few times on the blog this week, I didn’t keep my schedule, my email is still a mess and I’m pretending I don’t know where Twitter is. Not doing great. Still, we’re hoping for better things after school starts.

I’m  still working on my blueprint for the next book, just not as much as I should be. And though Joss and Dylan were all over each other in the car last night on my way home from seeing Harry Potter, I don’t have a whole lot written down. I need to get on brainstorming for that while Kait’s brain is freeing itself on Red and before she gets on to the next thing.

Recommended Reading

Superhero Romance
Ooh, a post about superhero romances! Always good reading. (via Twitter @AMhairi_Simpson)

Ebook Vending Machines
An article on an ebook vending machine unveiled in Japan. It’s about time. I don’t get why this didn’t happen right away. I don’t get why the big chains didn’t set up ebook buying and put kiosks in their stores with self-checkout and point of sale displays of SD cards and other portable storage devices to encourage impulse buying from all book readers. Being in the bookstore makes you want to buy books, and if you’re an e-only convert, you have to go home and order it? Impulse sale fail. Anyway, interesting news item. (via Twitter @aeTyree)

Pantsting is okay but…
In a recent blog post, Joe Konrath talks about writing deliberately. He writes, “But if a writer is completely aware of why they wrote what they wrote, and can explain the reason for every chapter, scene, and sentence, I’d call that deliberate, and by definition, it can’t be crap.” Discovering a story by writing by the seat of your pants is an exciting process that often feels magical. And if that’s the way you roll, great. I think a lot of stories suffer, though, by the fact that too many unrelated bits of awesome escape the editing axe. A book only needs so many bits to give it character and style and some of those just need to go. One of the reasons I prefer to plot is that it’s intentional. The awesome bits I come up with are more likely to be related to what I meant to write about just because I sat down at the keyboard knowing what I set out to do. And then I don’t have to kill as much, which no one likes doing. Anyway, the post goes on to detail a number of things that can help you decide if you’re an idiot, which is also worth reading (esp. if you’re not as ZOMG-serious as some of the commentors). (via subscription)

On Borders
Kathleen Schmidt, aka @Bookgirl96, explains what Borders’ closing will mean for non-mega-star trad published authors. (via Twitter #MyWana @Elizabeth_Aston)

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Filed under Recs and Links, ROW80

#ROW80 Susan, what the hell are you doing?

Hell, I don’t know.

I think maybe I’m a recovering stats junkie. I used to right on top of all my stuff. Checking my sales everywhere and recording that in a spreadsheet used to be the first thing I did every morning. It used to be a bit of hobby for me to watch changes in rank and to get a sense of about how many sales per day meant about what rank and how that changed with the changes in the market as a whole. (For example, at one point getting into the top 100 might have meant selling at least 100 books in 24 hours. And then at another point 100 books in 24 hours might have gotten you into the top 700 as more books and customers entered the marketplace.)

But anyway, I pretty much walked away from all that. I learned a lot. I think I needed to learn stuff, and I don’t feel like it was totally time wasted, but… I can’t control things like rank and sales. When you see those things taking even a natural downturn, even when everyone around you is reporting decreased sales, still, just looking at something makes you want to affect it. And you can’t. Not really. Not directly, I guess.

So anyway, had to stop obsessing over that stuff, and I think that’s been good for me. I just realized that Hush Money is a year old. Like, today. A year ago today it went up on Smashwords. In a few days it will be a whole year it’s been up on Amazon. I’ve sold over 20,000 copies. I’ve gotten so much love and support from readers and other writers. It’s been awesome.

You know the question I get asked most? When are we going to get Heroes ‘Til Curfew? You have no idea how I’ve struggled with this question. Because the simple answer is: I don’t know. And the rest of the answer is complicated.

Books one and two of the Talent Chronicles are currently being shopped by my agent. We’re looking for a contract for both of them. To take this step, to even seriously consider selling the rights to these to someone else and put this much control of my world into someone else hands…it’s huge.

I often wonder what the hell I’m doing.

Every other week we hear about another known author self-publishing. This week it was Holly Lisle. People I respect and admire turning away from what I’m approaching and moving toward where I’ve been.

As though I’m moving backward.

But maybe it’s not linear. Maybe there is no backward. (Maybe there is no spoon.) I understand my own reasons for seeking this out. I know what I want out of it.

But the waiting is nerve-wracking. There’s wondering. There’s dreams I’m afraid of dreaming. There’s worrying. There’s this feeling of life on hold.

And if I would just give up this whole idea I could go back to what I know. To where I’ve been successful before and hope I can do half as well with Heroes ‘Til Curfew as I did with Hush Money. And then when people asked me when book 2 is coming out I have a better answer for them!

I just feel like Hush Money and I have done so well on our own, but does that mean we should just sit back and be satisfied with that or should we see if there’s more than can be done? Now that I’ve already had thousands of readers, what might happen if I had a publisher behind me who could get me wider distribution? Where I’m, like, a new author, but not quite brand new. Maybe it could be awesomer.

Look, I may never get a TV series or a comic or a video game. Okay, yeah, I probably won’t. I get that. But I think that even if a lot of readers no longer need a publishers’ stamp on book for them to give it a try, I think the world might still be at a point where that would make it slightly less impossible to be considered for the next level. The Talent Chronicles graphic novel level.

Do you get this sense that I’m deeply conflicted? I want this. I want to try this. I want to have these opportunities if I can. I want to learn shit. New shit. And I don’t want to wait. I feel so friggin’ guilty about the waiting to release this book that it’s eating me up. And I’m so worried about not having new material to release and having readers forget about me. And I’m so worried about not releasing and thence not having an income and thence not having a Christmas.

Do you know what I’ve done in this year since I released Hush Money? I’ve traded my size 14 pants for size 4. Sometimes I think it’s all from worrying.

This should be a happy birthday post. It should be chock full of awesome, and I’m sorry that it’s not. This is why I’m not around a lot. I’m just in this holding pattern that makes me crazy and crazy-angsty, and I feel like I don’t know what to say because I don’t KNOW anything anymore.

So, I don’t know what you think of that from a ROW80 standpoint. I guess it means that I’m still trying to get myself settled back in and back on track.

What the hell is up with Susan? To be continued…


Filed under ROW80, writing

#ROW80 and Stories in Video Games

For the ROW80ers, well, look, here’s another post. Which is to say that I’m doing well with my blogging goal. ETA: Plus I just did my sponsorly duty, went back to Sunday’s linky, and visited and commented on my assigned peeps (except on one Blogger blog that just wouldn’t let me comment, as Blogger blogs are wont to do). Don’t know when I’ll get around to commenting on the Wednesday blogs. There sure are a lot of people participating this round. It’s exciting!

For those who showed up just for my random Wednesday musings…

Mostly I like casual games. I try to avoid it, but I can spend serious time on things like Bejeweled and Chuzzle. And I’ll have to admit that when I got my hands on Plants vs. Zombies, it totally owned me for at least a weekend.

The Sims franchise is a problem. Of course it all started with Sim City, each successive version allowing more control, more building instead of just trying to, I don’t know, win the game? And then…then…The Sims. Virtual dolls. With dollhouses and furniture and decorations! And a money cheat to make it all possible. Expansion after expansion, new toys to play with. Sims 2, Sims 3… There are things to achieve if you want, but if you just want to make a house with roommates Bingley and Darcy, and another house with roommates Jane and Elizabeth and just play out a neighborhood romance, that works too.

I’m terribly attracted to the games with trailers that promise a story. That seem to promise to put you into a story. Now that the book’s out of my hands for a bit, I’m playing Zelda Twilight Princess. I don’t feel like I’m in the story, but I’m interested in the story and I enjoy playing the game to a certain point. I suppose it’s the point at which it just gets so hard it’s not so much like playing anymore. I don’t so much mind playing a boss battle a number of times until I get it right. Honestly I’m just glad games don’t make you start all over from the beginning like they used to. But I like figuring it out, you know? Lots of things to puzzle out. Then it gets to a point where it seems like I can’t figure out anything.

And then I’m in Zork land. I feel like I standing in the dark, words across the abyss tell me that I’m standing next to a tree. And nothing I do seems to be getting me anywhere. Then I have to go online and find a walkthrough to get me past where I’m stuck. And eventually I’m doing that every scene and then it’s hard to see the point. I’ve lost that feeling of accomplishment I had at figuring it out myself.

Yet I’m still thinking about it and still going back to it because I want to know the rest of the story. And sometimes wishing I could just read the novelized version.

At some point during the winter, I found Surviving High School while browsing DSiWare, immediately wanted it, and knew it was the kind of thing that would suck me in. So I decided that it would have to be a prize for finishing Heroes ‘Til Curfew. Well, I was right about the sucking me in part.

I love this game. It’s basically a choose your own adventure book, set in high school. In the main story you’re the new boy at school whose name and appearance you get to choose. You get to decide if you’re going to go after the cheerleader or the goth girl, and go through a story that has a lot to do with joining the football team and keeping up your GPA enough to get your dad to buy you a new car. After you get through the main story, you unlock shorter episodes that feature other characters at the school.

This game pulled me into the story in a way that no other game has. And I suppose it’s somewhat ironic that it’s so much like reading a choose your own adventure book in a why don’t you turn off the screen for a while and go read a good book or something? way.

Anyway, just wish I could find more like that.

Games, anyone? What do you like?


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