Shortly, Simply, and Sweetly

All right. Maybe you couldn’t tell, but I’m having a writer’s complex thingy or whatever you want to call it. I don’t really know what my life is doing to me right now. I’ve got a part time job that I’m saving using to save money for college, I’m trying to get ready for college (if that ever happens), I love to write, and I get stressed out majorly with the thought of having to market a book as soon as I have the outline done. Maybe that’s not the right wording for that idea, but I don’t really think I can keep saying “I have a blog” and blog as avidly as I do.

So, to put it shortly, simply, and sweetly: this will be my last post for several years. I’m going to write for the sheer fun of it and just have fun writing for the sheer joy of it when I have free time. Bruce Wayne is leaving Gotham. Good luck!

And as always (or most of the time), remember to stay j-LARGE.

Your Life As a Writer

For many, being a writer is merely a hobby, the biggest secret of their lives, and if people do know they write, then it’s just kind of a weird thing only one in every thousand people do. If you find yourself in this category and you find satisfaction in that, be my guest. There is no need to go around proclaiming yourself a writer as Gospel Truth.

For those of you who aren’t satisfied with being the weird person in the room, here is a little suggestion from another unpublished author. Think of yourself as a superhero. I’m sure there are plenty of similarities you could find by yourself with many superheroes, but for this post Batman will be our hero of interest.

Think of yourself as Batman. And Bruce Wayne. You are both. Bruce Wayne goes out and is just another face in the crowd. He even presents himself as anything but a hero — a flirting, drinking, fun-loving billionaire. Bruce Wayne comes home and gets on his computer and researches people, events, places, things. He exercises his mind and his body. He gets wise counsel from Alfred. Batman goes out and with the data he’s collected on his prey, hunts and takes down his prey, leaving them for the authorities.

Writers are just like Batman. You are just like Batman. You are an individual with your own identity that everyone sees just like anybody else they see. You are just another face in the crowd. A nobody. But the great part is they only get to see what you choose to let them see.

All the while that they are just seeing a face in the crowd (not even that really, because they aren’t even noticing you), you are observing everything and everyone, the way people laugh, scowl, drink, talk, smile, shake hands, say goodbye, approach the buffet table, leave conversations, and much, much more. You come home after putting on a show with your extrovert side as a front. You record things in your journal, put ideas into the computer, maybe a little research on writing or a particular setting or personality type. You exercise your mind and your body with assorted writing prompts, breaks from writing related projects, and relaxing walks. Then the time comes and in a moment’s notice, you’re out the door and headed straight for the problem – the mental thugs depriving those blank pages of yours of the justice they deserve – and you write.

So for those of you, like myself, who need a little more mental encouragement with what you are doing with your life as a writer, liken yourself to Batman and put on an extrovert front for the world to see, while secretly doing amazing things on the page down in the secret depths of your writer’s cave.

Red Ink

I recently looked at an old, forgotten draft of a book I said I was going to publish in November, and then in June. Maybe you remember it. It was covered in red ink and to be honest, I don’t remember why I stopped working on it. Oh, right. Yeah…

Anyway.

While I was looking at that draft, I realized I wanted to make changes to it (on top of the ones already inked out on the page). I got deeper into it and found myself enjoying getting back into it. Maybe that’s why they say let something sit awhile after you’ve finished a complete first draft.

So, if you’re stuck, I really hope I can help you by throwing this tidbit out there: try editing something you haven’t looked at in awhile. Try rewriting a scene in Alice in Wonderland, or Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings, or something you’ve written yourself. And try this as well, don’t look for a better way to write something. Look for how bad the piece is already. Or at least be negative about it.

Consider this post a writing prompt (or even a writing command, if I may be so bold)!

How about you? Have you already tried this before? Let me know down below and perhaps we can make each other’s day? Hey, that would be awesome. Why don’t you? Go ahead, make my day.

The Absolute Best Advice on Creating Characters

Who is this guy? Why should I be taking this kind of advice from a nobody? Those are the questions that may very well have gone through your mind since you read this post’s title.

So who am I and why should you be taking advice from me? Well, check out my social media and the rest of this blog and you’ll see who I am — an unpublished author pulling up hard on his wheels on the runway of life.

And why should you listen to me? You don’t have to listen. I’m just another blog on the world wide web.

So from one unpublished author to another, I really want to give you some of the absolute best advice I have ever received on creating characters. Specifically, your main character.

If you’ve ever read John Truby’s ‘The Anatomy of Story’, then you probably know what I’m going to say with this post with its title in mind.

This is going to be as short a post as possible, so here are the six best things you could consider in architecting your characters.

  1. Beliefs and Values
    This one, I feel, is the one I see everywhere. The reason we watch movies, read books, or engage in any form of storytelling is because the beliefs and values of the story are the ones we want to see discussed. It’s more than just another question on the character questionnaire chart. It’s key to the purpose of the whole story in the first place.
  2. Moral Weakness
    This, I believe, is referred to by Truby as “the Character’s Lie”. Their weakness is that they believe something to be true (revenge solves everything, being mean will get you anywhere, etc…) and that lie manifests as the…
  3. Moral Flaw
    This one is where it gets interesting. I see many stories where the protagonist, antagonist and/or side characters have problems in the external to solve, but nothing too emotional or beneath the surface. But deep inside every character, there should be a sword of some emotional kind stabbing everyone the character interacts with.
  4. Psychological Flaw
    Pride, arrogance, moral blindness, inability to make a love interest show love back. These are just some idea cards on the table to show that stories are more about “interesting” characters in the middle of a super, uber, epic, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat external plot. Stories are about seeing characters solve their inner problems, because after all, those are the only things worth fixing.
  5. Moral Need
    This is the aspect of the character we desperately wish to see solved by the end of the story. Even if the Death Star was blown up without the help of Han Solo, it wouldn’t nearly be as satisfactory if Han hadn’t changed inside. This is closely related to the Psychological Flaw and it might be different in a unique way, but I don’t want to run the risk of just copying Truby’s book onto here. I just know these terms are in his book.
  6. External Goal
    Stop the bad guy. Save/win the girl. Destroy the Death Star. Lift a curse. Carry out revenge. These are the goals that make up the interesting plot that make up the trailer moments that make us want to go see a film or read a book. This absolutely useless unless it stems from the character and his/her flaws, needs, beliefs, and values. This is the manifestation of a human being’s feeling of purpose.

That may have been extensive, that may have been not enough, but Truby’s book is the gold mine for all your story needs and so I cannot possibly tell you everything there is to know about what John Truby says about character.

But I invite you to buy the book and bathe in its creative truth and what I, personally, have found most helpful in the creation of the stories I plan to start self-publishing before the year 2017 is over.

I’m Trying to Ooze Here

I did something annoying last night. I went to bed late. Abnormally late. 1 AM. But in the process, I discovered something.

Although I don’t agree with the reasons for the rating of the movie ‘Mortdecai’ with Johnny Depp, the whole concept of the film enthralls me. Heists, globe-trotting, art dealing, detective work, and Johnny Depp humor plastered throughout.

It’s a nice call back to the oldies that made one of these at least once a year (that’s without going to look it up).

Aside from all that, I discovered something. I already said that.

It was not a discovery so much as it was a revelation. It was already uncovered. I just had to see it. Although staying up late most likely will intrude on my free time for the next day, the best ideas that I have tend to come out when my left brain has clocked out for the day, leaving my right brain in the office by himself.

I couldn’t believe it. Within a matter of fewer than thirty minutes, I had a character specific flaws and goals to push an idea into a story.

So, now I implore you to do this heinous thing of staying up way past your bed time with some hot chocolate, tea, and/or coffee, and to get into the mood that you know allows your right brain to kick the left brain out and say, “I’m trying to ooze here”.

Throw the ideas out onto the page. Get an internal goal, and external goal, a psychological flaw, and a moral flaw for your main character at least. Get your set pieces in. Throw ideas for things you know you want to have in your piece of writing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: brainstorm in the middle of the night, preferably much later than you’re used to being up. Or at least, give it a try anyway.

You often hear people tell you to get up from a good night’s rest and start writing then. Well, why not try doing it the opposite? Fall asleep throwing ideas out onto that page, screen, whatever.

And remember to make it j/LARGE.

Coming Full Circle to the 10 Steps of the Writing Process

They have filled a mountain range the length of the Rocky Mountains with books on how to write a story. I cannot possibly relay to you all the best information. At best, the barest yet most marrow-crammed bones are all I can give you. These bones are the ones my OCD self had to punch out in order to keep my own self on track. These helped me, and hopefully, they won’t just help me.

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  1. Brainstorm.
    Sift through all your ideas and go by instinct with the ones that seem most connected. These ideas can’t be just random ideas. They could be world building details, a theme you’d like to explore with an interesting backstory to tell it with, or perhaps, your own take on a story you would like to write differently. Start making connections and making a web.
  2. Decide.
    You could really spend forever building a story with all the coolest little plot twists, revelations, set pieces, and deep, dark character relationships that change at least a quarter of a dozen times. If that’s really all you want to do, then by all means, enjoy yourself. But if you want to write a story, you must decide on the ideas that best tell your story with the theme (point) you wish to get across. Just decide.
  3. Outline.
    You now have a collective board of ideas that you somehow want to piece together into a beautiful tapestry. Any good story centers around characters and the themes they stand for. So, find your theme. Find the anti-theme. Stick them together into the plot points (Initial Condition, Inciting Incident, Big Event, Pinch [Midpoint], Darkest Point, Lesson, Finale, and Resolution), and escalate the stakes as the story progresses.
    Outline the major events and lines of dialogue you know (at least, at this point) you want to have happen and put them in sequential order. Figure out the best and quickest battle plans for both your protagonist and antagonist and throw them at each other. There is quite a bit of information I am so excited to give you, but digression would inherently follow.
  4. Draft.
    As you outline, fill in the gaps of the story with all the stepping stones between plot points and the points between the plot points. Using all the dialogue, scenes, cool ideas, and story points to craft your masterpiece, you now pretty much have a rough draft going. Wow. That was easy. The outline just… turns into your rough draft.
    No intimidating, towering Chapter One pages staring you out of town. Just slowly building up your outline until one day, you just wake and find a rough draft in progress before your very eyes.
  5. Edit a few times. This part’s tough.
    Now, the next step, most people would say, is to just let your draft sit for a few months, even weeks. But think about the grammatical, spelling, messed up mess you’re coming back to a few months later. My advice? Fix all the grammar, spelling, and “how, in the name of Pete, did I write that into this masterpiece?” parts of your rough draft. Make sure it’s as pretty as possible without getting too deep into it. Then… the hard part.
  6. Let simmer.
    Go live your life and work out some other story ideas you had (if you had any of those). Spend more time with your family. Go to a ballgame. Read, instead of write, for a change. Do something and don’t think about your draft. A good way to not think about something, is not think to not think about it. Just focus entirely on something else. Don’t tell yourself why you’re focusing on something else and not focusing on your writing. Your writing, at this point, is none of your business.
  7. Return to your draft after your set period of time, read, and mark any changes you’d like to make as you go.
    Nuff said. Print your rough draft out, grab your iced tea, or whatever, a highlighter, a pen (it doesn’t have to be red), and read it through using the highlighter and pen to mark anything about character, dialogue, story, anything that doesn’t make sense, anything, and everything that you deem worth marking for later attention.
    After the read, go back and apply all your corrections. This step (which it’s probably not the first nor only one to do this) will take time. Like, perhaps… months. It should be treated as fun and creative process of making your story ten times better!
  8. Read for fun. Analyze your reaction.
    Upon arriving at a seemingly satisfactory draft eight or nine, read your manuscript for the pure joy of it. And I know it’s tempting, but don’t heed the voice inside your head wanting to fix every line of dialogue and prose that just doesn’t sit right with you. Unless, of course, there is a real spelling or grammatical error, you must press on and enjoy reading what you’ve written.
  9. Edit accordingly.
    After reading, ask yourself why you did or didn’t like different parts of your manuscript. Or if you liked it at all. Analyze your reaction and edit accordingly. Hence, the number nine bullet point.
  10. Enjoy.
    You’re on your own from here.

10 Ways to Be Creative

Now some of you might be thinking after that last post… Why is a writer posting about being active? I thought this was a writing blog. Well, I’ll tell you.

Being a writer, a creative person, has an awful lot to do with being active. Sorry to say it. But I’m not. Both at the same time. I know. Confusing. I’m not sorry because without being active, writing becomes approximately 99.99% harder.

As a writer going into the adolescence of his journey – six years and counting – I have come to the conclusion that writers before me and sometimes I myself find it tempting to do what early writers do – ask far more than enough questions about ideas and how to get them and which ones are good and all that jazz.

Want ideas? Get creative. Don’t know how? Get active. If you already know about being active (see last post), then read this post. It’s about creativity.

  1. Do something ridiculous.
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    For me, whenever I do something goofy, ridiculous, or anything that falls under the thesaurus listings of those words, I find myself mentally free of being practical. To be clear, I’ll just say that I feel a whole lot more open to crazy ideas if I do something crazy myself.
  2. Do something easy.
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    I know my last post had this one in it as well, but it’s a beautiful web of interconnectivity. It’s just a creative and simple way to let go of the grip your left brain has on your right brain.
  3. Get away from screens.
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    Seriously. Those things kill creativity. Get real. Get moving. Get active. Seeing the beautiful interconnectivity?
  4. Play a game.
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    Is there an element in the game that is related to an idea your rolling over in your mind? Is there a story in one of the elements of the game? Do players make moves and strategies that you aren’t expecting (most likely)? Is there a character in there? A motive? A goal?
  5. Let your mind wander.
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    Stare out the window and just think. Think about anything. Create a mental mind map, literally, and just jump around from idea pad to idea pad. Think of ways you would change your life and turn into a story form. Or something. Go somewhere in your mind and then try to bring it back to your writing.
  6. Engage in wordless entertainment.
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    Being a writer, an individual of words, a communicator, can make it exhausting to have to listen to more words and the like when away from the work. No wonder a lot of us writers are introverted weirdos.
  7. Delve into your notebook of ideas and recordings.
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    Assuming you already have one. Any ideas in your journal will work. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be an “idea journal” with stickers all over the outside. It can be a roll of paper towels (I tried it and for some reason, it really messes with your brain and things are easier to say on paper towels). Hey, a paper towel is still paper. Just let it all out and then let it simmer between the covers. Then come back a few weeks later and let the aromas of your life after having written all those thoughts and ideas down soak it all back up.
  8. Don’t worry about rules or getting your ideas right or make them have to make sense.
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    You can always, if you think you can, brainstorm the idea more and combine it with another idea and build, shape, and morph the not-so-awesome ideas into characters, plot points, settings, set-piece scenes, or whatever.
    Are you seeing that picture? The one with the sofa? The absolute ridiculousness of it? Well, it’s not ridiculous. It’s pretty funny. But it’s not ridiculous. To some, it’s not ridiculous. To others, it’s the epitome of stupid. Or to others, it’s just “cute”. Do you have any ideas like this? Perhaps in that journal of yours?
  9. Obtain ecstasy.
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Serve others. Go out of your way to make someone’s day. The smiles and the love bring about more love and the creative juices just start flowing. Writing is creating. Creation is an act of love. So, when we spread love around in ways besides writing, it doesn’t matter how the effect turns out with the preliminary love – we still get giddy and we want to write and now we have a wonderful experience to write about. At least, that’ll get us going in the right direction if we’re stuck. Whether it be in the creative process, or an actual piece of writing.

  1. Try not to “have” or “get” ideas.
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    The best ideas come when you’re just driving along the road, reading the paper, waking up, clocking out of work, letting a mad customer fume at about how good of a job you’re doing, watching the dog sniff in all the air. It is in those moments, when we least expect it, that the best ideas come. Because the best ideas don’t start out as “ideas”. They start out as feelings. As emotions. As viewpoints. Don’t write a character to be funny because they gripe about their job all the time just because you can. Experience what people, places, or situations are like. Live!

10 Ways to Stay Active

 

 

I know what you’re thinking. Why should I be taking advice about staying active from a guy who can’t keep up with his own posting schedule? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because I’ve been giving it some thought recently.

  1. Go outside.

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How does this help you? Let me count the ways. Never mind. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few ways and I’ll just let this article fill you on them.

And no, you don’t have to go where this picture was taken to go outside. That’s no excuse to not go outside.

2.   Drink water.

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You’d be surprised about what sticking to water as your go-to beverage will do to you. There is too much to know about water to put it all on this page. So here’s this article instead.

3.   Breathe in and out for one minute straight.

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I took vision therapy for about a six-month period recently. Whenever I found myself unable to focus, I simply remembered or had to be told to breathe. And you know what? It worked. Things cleared up. I was able to see. Sometimes this whole ADHD society gets too far into our minds and puts even our breathing at bay just so we can move on to the next thing. Just breathe next time. Breathe right now.

4.   Don’t start shutting down before the 90 – 120-minute cushion before bedtime.

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When I get home from work, the first thing my body wants to do is just find the nearest screen and scroll. But, seriously, that’s rolling the dice and going to jail on purpose. There is a time for everything, but your day could have so much more in it if you put the device down and picked your butt up.

5.   Get on your feet.

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I read an article once about how sitting is the new smoking. Your body automatically starts powering down and letting up on all those bodily fluids that get you through your day. If you were on your feet enough, your productivity would boost past just being healthy by standing more often.

6.  Challenge yourself.

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Of course, this whole staying active thing is a challenge to begin with but these are only a few areas I am personally challenging you in. What are some more subjective ways you can challenge yourself? Or others?

7.   Do something easy.

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I’m not talking about a video game. Compile a list of super easy to-do’s and one by one, knock ‘em dead. You’ll build momentum and you will have, hopefully, served others in the process. Which is a way better feeling than just knowing that you’re staying active. Or getting active so you say tomorrow that you’re staying active.

8.  Take the dog/s out for a walk or something.

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Not only when you do this will you be getting outside and getting all that Vitamin C, but you’ll be bonding more with your pet/s. Plus it compiles just about every single one of the previous ways I’ve just listed for you into one. There’s a flock of birds just waiting to get hit by this one little rock.

9.   Or just, you know, work out.

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You could fill a book, a lot of books, with how working out helps you out. In ways, more than one. And they have.

10.   Stop reading this post.

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And don’t get sucked into another one! Too many times I find myself trying to improve myself and find ways to save time and all that jazz. The one piece of advice I almost never see is the one that says to stop reading about how to save time.

 

So, until next time. This is j/LARGE.

Guns Are So Important

Happy Independence Day!

Today, Americans celebrate the ideals and values that this country was founded on. We are not celebrating the selfish human beings that merely hold the titles in this our government of the United States of America.

We are not celebrating those selfish human beings because they will die. The ideals and the values live on. They are eternal. They are of our almighty Creator and God.

I watched the Lone Ranger. I started it yesterday afternoon and finished it this morning. I know full well there are plenty of people who could say some pretty nasty things about that movie, but I loved it. I also know that there is a good handful of people who would join me in watching it this 4th of July.

The movie shows us some of America’s most breathtaking scenery and it’s a movie in favor of guns!

Guns are so important. You have no idea. Unless you agree with me, then you have more than the idea.

If Hillary the Hag gets elected, we probably should disarm her whole freaking Secret Service.

Just saying.

So, I don’t have much to say right now. This post was just because I wanted to make sure I got another post up. 🙂

Plus, why not post something on the 4th of July?

On the subject of the writer’s life, I haven’t done much reading. I have started the speech by Samuel West called, ‘On the Right to Rebel’. Appropriate for the holiday and these times.

I have written a few things. But not enough to inspire others wallowing at the bottom of the writer’s block.

I haven’t really moved on from my trilogy to something big. I sort of had a brainstorm to write about my family’s story within the past twenty years with an Avengers feel to it. Multi-layered and several subplots with backstories and interweaving and all that.

I don’t know if I talked about it in my last post, but I have a ‘gangsta’ screenplay in the works. Just the outline and some character labs, but other than that – nothing.

I want to have a lot of vignettes of the 1930s in this screenplay. I just want a simple, yet powerful story with a fun story set in a suspenseful world. I want to get back to the way movies used to be made.

So, anyway… I’ll get back to you in a day or so. Definitely not after a week.

Happy Independence Day!

Here I Am

So. Here I am. A writer. I am a writer. Hence the name of this blog.

So…

Having tons of free time, now that I am not working on a trilogy screenplay that took me six years from idea conception to the final draft where I could leave it alone for awhile with a peace of mind, I psychologically have more time to blog.

I say ‘psychologically’ because, in the writer’s mind, I cannot keep up a blog if I’m “working” on a trilogy. Believe me, there were plenty of times when I wasn’t working on my trilogy.

So the way I’m writing this is I just type whatever comes to mind in the domino line of ideas. There is a general connection between everything I’ve said already.

Right now, my little sister is having a photoshoot with the camera and her main subject is me. So, I’m having a little problem with thinking. It’s funny, but kind of annoying.

I just decided that since I don’t really use the camera that much, except for making home films and videos, that she and I can use the camera. It will be our camera.

Oh! Yes!

I remember what I was going to say. Back when I was working on my trilogy and trying to start up a blog, I “prepared myself” by Googling “how to blog”, “how to start a blog”, and the like. I put “prepared myself” in quotation marks because I thought I was getting ready. But it was really just a rather mild, yet stifling form of procrastination.

So I decided to just start writing a blog post. I will also be trying to not worry about the number of views or likes, let alone comments, on any of my posts.

I will try to come up with around three, maybe four posts a week. If anyone is actually reading this and has come this far (I’m already sounding doubtful), then I hope you can direct me to other blogs.

That sounded terrible.

In its wording, that is.

Before the parentheses statement about my doubtfulness, I knew what I was going to say. But it just flew out my left ear.

Ug.

So, yes. I am a writer. Not a published author. I guess I am an author. Just not published. These posts will be as you have read already, rather journalesque in rhythm and kind of like freewriting.

Almost like a way to make sure I keep on writing. My job at the Dollar Tree since last August has seriously turned to powder my fear of talking to strangers and almost not caring about being kind of ridiculous at times.

Wow. I’ve already this much. That’s exciting. Makes me want to write a whole bunch more!

In closing, I went running this morning. I decided to finally do it. No matter how weird it was for me to run by complete strangers that are my neighors. I just finally did it. I’ve been studying creativity and the writing life recently. One of the keyest keys to ideas and the ability to pour words out onto the page as I have done here, is wordless activity.

No movies, although they do help me, no music with lyrics, that sometimes helps me with passion about things I care about, and no reading. Although reading as  a writer is very important, it is draining to the creative mind. Actually, I’m no expert. So I shouldn’t be saying that it drains the creative mind. I just know that watching movies sometimes helps, listening to music (I listen to the theme from the HBO miniseries, John Adams when I want to feel empowered about freedom, our God-given unalienable rights, and all that, I listen to Star WarsLord of the Rings, sometimes The Hobbit, Pirates of the Caribbean, and maybe some other things when I want to think about epic stories and sagas), and playing games helps with my writing.

So I don’t want to bore you or make you want to scroll to the bottom to see how much is left. So without further ado… see ya’round.

Y’all come back now, y’hear?