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My Life As A Ghost

November 26th, 2013 by

A few days ago I was getting ready to take a bath. It was afternoon, actually, as mornings in a drafty English house are too cold for me – I’m like a cat, I hate being either cold or wet. But anyway. Phil knocked on the door and said “I lost my job.” He was sitting on the stairs as though in shock, no surprise there. I turned off the tub and we both sat on the stairs, stunned.

I still feel stunned, and it’s been difficult to work on anything or know how to move forward. We’ve been in a bizarre situation for a couple of years now and it dawns on me that I have been living very much like a ghost, drifting through the remnants of a life. After the beginning of the recession and the demise of Top Sekrit Projekt, I did take another job which turned out so badly that I still feel like someone suffering from PTSD. The environment was so toxic that I wanted to die every single day; I just wanted to go to sleep, fade into darkness and never wake up. I always had to though, even when each Sunday was ruined because my stomach was in knots knowing that Monday was coming. I was broken.

Then I went freelance, and slowly built up a book cover art business – nothing that made any real money, of course, not enough to survive on, but at least I had something that I could say that I did. But I never actually became a real person again, not in any real sense. I barely left the house. I worked through my revised bucket list: I wrote the book I’d always dreamed of writing, and did a few small things. No real dreams, as we were now poor. There was no travel to exotic destinations, no running of the bulls, no survival treks through the desert.

Are you real if no one ever sees you, talks to you? Sometimes it’s difficult to say for sure. Are you real if you don’t feel like a real girl?

NaNoWriMo was a writeoff, and I haven’t written anything since. Too empty. We’re both looking for work, and I’ve been revising our business sites in hopes of either of us picking up freelance work. My technical skills are no longer current, and the thought of competing with 25-year-old boys for development jobs fills me with dread. We’ve discussed selling the house, we’ve talked about going back to the States, but there are no good choices to be made. I just feel empty, as insubstantial as a dust kitty. Drifting.


Our Cats Are Insane

November 18th, 2013 by

I’m working at my desk when Laurence (our big, fluffy black cat) comes in and starts crying loudly behind my chair.

CAT: Come quick! Timmy fell down the well!

ME: We don’t have a well.

CAT: Come! It’s an emergency!!!

ME: Nor is there anyone here named Timmy.

CAT: Help! You have to come now!

ME: You can see the bottom of the cat food dish, can’t you?

CAT: ….

ME: Hmmn?

CAT: Fine. Yes.

NaNoWriMo: Slooooow

November 13th, 2013 by

I’ve been struggling to get back into writing, as it has been such a very long time since I’ve written anything. I’ve gone a month or so without doing a blog post, for gods’ sake. As of today, I’m under my target wordcount, but my words-per-day to finish on time is still under 2k/day, so that is entirely doable. So far, it’s been a bit painful and each target has been met after many agonised hours spent sitting at my desk, staring at Scrivener and asking why this all wasn’t more fun.

What I don’t want to do is hit that 50k and trigger that “Yaay, I’ve won!” feeling, because it is very hard to continue past that point. I’m trying to think of this as a habit that I am setting which will continue month in and month out.

I am glad that I’ve arranged a small hiatus from cover work, because if I had any pressure, much less the inhuman schedule that I had last year, I would have used it as an excuse to punk out. I know I would have.

That said, this afternoon I did some personal artwork, and it felt fantastic. Here is “Crow Girl” – click for info about stock credit.



The Secret World: Scenarios

November 13th, 2013 by

Since launch I don’t think The Secret World has ever disappointed me. The story is incredible, the game is challenging without being stupidly hard, the voice acting cutscenes are some of the best that I have ever seen in a game, and the world is engaging and immersive. I don’t do nightmare modes or endgame content, but have been content with just doing quests, playing through new issue content and generally enjoying the world. I usually play solo, and have soloed through all content in the game without much trouble.

Scenarios are the first thing that has really disappointed me. I’d been so excited about Issue 8 and new content, but after playing the the one scenario that was available to me prior to being able to purchase the content, I’ve decided not to buy this issue. And that is something that I never thought I’d say about this game.

My gear isn’t the best – mostly green QL10 stuff with a nice neck from doing dailies in Transylvania. I have a fair amount of room to play with builds, as I have 46% completion on the ability wheel. I don’t play consistently, but I have a few builds that I am satisfied with and can play decently with. I don’t think I suck…but perhaps I do.

I get slaughtered on Hotel solo normal mode. I haven’t finished successfully even once. I’ve switched builds, I’ve researched and tried builds from the forums (I think the one that I presently have active is one of those frankenbuilds – normally I go with a solo/survival AR/fist build that I am comfortable with). Nothing works. As the encounter ramps up, I can’t take the roving packs down quickly enough, people start dying off, and the whole thing turns into a huge monsterfest. Not a hope.

I don’t want easy games, I do like challenge…but I would expect that a “normal” setting could be accomplised by any reasonably capable player in normal gear. I’m not loaded with purplez, I don’t raid or run nightmare modes…am I no longer the type of player that base-level challenges are tuned for? Very disheartening, as I genuinely love this game.

The worst thing is that successfully running the scenarios is a prerequisite for having access to Tokyo, and I very much wanted to experience that content – and with that, I move from disappointment to outright pissed-offness. I really, truly hope that the TSW devs re-think and re-tune at least the normal mode for scenarios. I would hate to be locked out of the rest of the game because I simply cannot get past this gate.

Fingers crossed…

What I Dreamt Last Night

November 7th, 2013 by

I had a horrible dream last night. Before going to bed I’d watched The Birdcage for something light and fluffy before sleep. In the dream, I wasn’t myself but someone similar to the Robin Williams character, an older gay man. I was travelling with a younger companion and had checked into a very plush hotel room for the night. Strange, but ok so far.

I opened the door to the bathroom and stepped through. Something very different from the gold taps and posh baskets of soap and lotion that I’d expected awaited me – I was suddenly in a filthy public restroom with rows of stalls, most with doors hanging sideways or missing, graffittied over and absolutely encrusted with filth. The toilets were full to overflowing with material that made my throat close up, even in a dream state, crusted down the sides and pooling on the floors. And then there were the dead girls.

Some of them were sitting on the floor of their stall like dropped rag dolls, heads lolling to one side with empty eyesockets. They’d all died horribly, and some of them were still moving.

I stepped into one of the stalls that still had a working door, locked it, and through the cracks I could see figures moving and hear them scratching at the door with jagged nails. They whispered.

After I finally woke I stayed awake for ages, snuggled into Phil’s back for safety and comfort. Besides, I really, really had to go to the bathroom and there was no damned way that I was going to get up in the dark, walk through the dark hallway with the stairs going up and down into the blackness, and walk into a bathroom. Hey, I’m an adult…I know that the dead girls probably wouldn’t be there. Probably.

I finally went and I did survive the experience. And I refrained from waking Phil up and asking him to accompany me and sit outside the bathroom door while I was in there. As a result, I am still married. Dreams about dead girls are the worst.

NaNoWriMo Jitters

October 30th, 2013 by

NaNoWriMo starts in (eeeeek!!!) two days. Am I ready? Not in the slightest, but I’m going to do it anyway. I am almost finished with covers, and the two that I am still finishing came in after I’d said that I was taking a break, so I was almost successful in clearing the time. However, I am in a much better space than I was last year, when I had too much work and stress and had a NaNo meltdown.

I don’t have as complete an outline as I had the first time. There are a lot of plot holes and areas where I haven’t the slightest idea how I need to get from Point A to Point B…and that does worry me a bit. Being new to this writing thing, I attributed the relatively pain-free experience the first time due to the fact that I had a full chapter-by-chapter and scene-by-scene outline to work from. This time, I don’t. What I do have is:

1. A general idea of what is going to happen – all main and secondary characters and their arcs from start to beginning to end. I have an environment that I am really excited about. I know at least some of the fairy tales that I will be twisting this time: The Goose Girl, The Red Shoes, and even a bit of Hellraiser (since when do really iconic fairy tales have to be old?). It wasn’t a coincidence that the family name is Lemarchand, by the way. ;)

2. I have my place ready. We have the loan of a laptop from some very good friends and I bought a lap desk so I can work on the couch if I want, although when it arrived today I realised that the legs are much too tall. Scrivener has been installed and my project outline transferred over.

3. I will have my energy drinks and breakfast food ready. Again, that was something that worked for me the first time – I am most creative in the early mornings, so I would get up by 6:00, have a proper breakfast with some protein, and then get to work. I have this OCD thing about drinking coffee that means I have to brush my teeth after drinking any (hey, it stains your teeth!) so I will live on Red Bull instead.

4. I’ve been reading. Yeah, I always read, that’s what I do…but I’ve been reading writing books, good steampunk and middle grade novels, as well as some that I read for pure writing style (Anne Hoffman and Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman). Every year I re-read On Writing by Stephen King, which is kind of a ritual for me.

Fingers crossed…

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