31 Dec 2021

Wrapping up 2021

The blog's been quiet this year.  Even quieter than last year.  Things both happened and didn't happen.

The year started off on a bad footing with catching COVID-19.  No hospitalization needed, but even a mild to moderate case isn't fun.  I wound up unable to eat for a week and a half because of a lack of energy.  I lost weight, and not in a healthy way.  I was able to turn myself around, but it was through soup and juices before moving to something solid.

Once past the quarantine period, I still couldn't breathe.  Fortunately, the public health nurse gave me a number to call if the problem continues.  I got in, explained what was going on to the doctor, and got sent for X-rays.  Diagnosis: pneumonia.  Easily dealt with; hospital-grade antibiotics and another month of coughing to clear the gunk from my lungs.  But the X-rays found another issue.  One of the side effects of COVID-19 is a hole in the lung.  I had a pneumothorax, an air bubble outside the lung and in the chest cavity.  However, the bubble wasn't large enough for the doctor to worry about, so no need to sit and have the air removed.

Fortunately, my work was willing to give me the time I needed to get healthy again.  Even better, I was being moved to another team as help/backup.  It took me a little longer than I wanted to adjust to the move, but COVID brain fog is a thing and a symptom of long COVID.  Things got better as I used my brain more.

Health-wise, I felt better once I was able to get out to the laundromat to do laundry again.  Getting there without stopping to catch my breath was an amazing feeling, and leads me to believe that I may have had pneumonia prior to COVID.  Stubbornness was what kept me getting out and back, once I got out.  I figure that I was over most of the side effects by May at the latest.

Work, which I seldom talk about here since I believe in a work/life separation, is still good.  I've been working from home since March 2020.  I don't miss the commute.  I don't miss the rush to catch buses and, especially, transfers.  And while the employer is wanting to get people back to the office, by immediate supervisor doesn't care if we go back.  As long as we get the work done, it doesn't matter where we work.

What this means is that I'm not losing up to two hours a day travelling.  I'm not paying for a monthly bus pass.  I'm not dealing with half-assed sidewalk plowing in the winter and the heat and humidity of the summer.  I can understand why some people may need to be in the office, but until then, remote work is great.

The flip side is that all my socializing has been online.  It's enough, most of the time.  No one ever accused me of being an extrovert.  But even I start needing human interaction.  Grocery runs don't count.  Cabin fever isn't fun.

The year is ending on an upbeat, far better than how it started.  Things are going well, with Jewel finally adapting to being around me and starting to be in control.  She's allowing for longer cuddling and she will get demanding when she wants something.  It's not good when she demands under the covers and wakes me up so I can get her settled.

When history looks back, 2020 and 2021 are going to be seen as the longest decades on the 21st Century.  But things are looking better for me.  That helps with dealing with all the crap being thrown about.

Over at Psycho Drive-in, looking ahead to 2022.

Tomorrow, over at The Seventh Sanctum, wrapping up 2021.

A profile in Jewel



24 Dec 2021

NaNo 2021 - Wrapping Up

NaNoWriMo ended November 30th.  I meant to update during the month, but I got into the flow of writing.  I managed to get Lost in Translation out during this time as well, with a post every weekend.  How did I feel afterwards?

First, at the end, I had a complete story, the first in a while.  Typically, I either have a serial, thus no planned ending, or I have a story that has reached the word count but not an end.  Not this year; the story, On Thin IC, wrapped up around 50 000 words.  It needs editing, of course, and there may be more details added in to break up the dialogue, but it is a complete story.  With days to go, I also got a start on a second story, The Courier, letting me get a start on a story idea I've been playing with for a while.

Next, I didn't feel drained.  I had completed a marathon with creative energy to spare.  I credit writing Lost in Translation weekly (or close to it) for allowing me to get words out and be able to recharge again for the next day.  Daily word counts were fairly steady; I didn't have any days over 5000 words, but I could sustain over 1667 words per day for multiple days in a row.  This came in handy when I fell behind in the early days.  The first Saturday of Noivember, I was a clinic to get me to get my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, and that left me out of sorts for the rest of the afternoon.  Perseverance is something I picked up during NaNo, so getting back up to speed and ahead wasn't a problem.

Helping was not having to commute.  Taking the bus is exhausting in Ottawa.  The system is unreliable; buses do not shot up when scheduled and can go missing completely, and this isn't taking into account the lemon of an LRT Ottawa has.  Working from home means the commute is fast with the only traffic being Jewel wanting her morning treats.  With zero mental energy being used by the commute and having the commute time available to relax after work before diving into writing, getting into the writing flow wasn't a problem.

Did I have an idea of what I was doing?  About the same as previous years, meaning I had characters, a general plot, and a direction with no planned ending.  This time, though, I could see when the story wanted to wrap up.  What helped was an antagonist who wasn't willing to be shoved aside early in the narrative.  Too bad I wasn't expecting him; he could have used a name.  But without this nameless blood mage, I wouldn't have had a more personal ending.  The characters are available for a sequel if I want, but their first story is done.

NaNo 2021 was fun, and getting my sixteenth win felt great.  Give it a try!

Jewel is waiting.


8 Nov 2021

NaNoWriMo 2021 – End of Week 1

NaNo has begun and I am now in the early chapters of a story that I have no idea where it's going. Som business as usual here. The first week went well, except for a snag on Day 4, where I messed up my own tracking spreadsheet. I wound up thinking I was a on target instead of being a day behind, both in terms of writing and in terms of the days on the spreadsheet. Saturday was spent running a crucial errand, so that cost me some time as well. However, I managed to fight back to where I should be on Sunday.

The early scenes I had in mind are now written. That's both good and bad. It's good because over 11k words were written for them. It's bad because now I have no idea where I'm going. I have vague idea for scenes, but scenes are no substitute for plot. (Hollywood, are you listening?) Fortunately, the characters are solidifying enough that any one of them could produce a plot line on their own. It's handy when characters do that.

The original concept was to jump focus to the different characters. However, locking the point of view to Skater means that I have to work out what the others are doing, at least generally. I don't need to write a chapter that won't be published about Hudson's quest for to watch the Habs in a city on the opposite side of the continent. He's just going to complain about it bitterly when he next joins the action.

Coming up, well, laundry needs to be done which will eat at the time I have after work. But if that is out of the way Monday and I can get a couple hundred words Tuesday and Friday before gaming, I should be in a position to strike forward next weekend. I've done it before, I can do it again.

1 Nov 2021

Happy November 1st!

It's that time of year again.  NaNoWriMo has begun!  Back in September, I listed a number of possibilities.  In order to start writing, I had to actually choose one.  The winner is...

On Thin IC

with The Courier waiting in the wings in case I run out of story.

Now, you might be wondering where On Thin IC is on the list.  It's the untitled Shadowrun story, now with a title.  Progress can be followed on my NaNo profile.

Jewel will be keeping me honest and making sure I take writing breaks.
Treats don't serve themselves after all.


9 Sept 2021

Test Run - Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game - The Villain

Back again with Greater Than Games' Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game.  This time around, the villain creation method.  Villains in the game get a streamlined approach, making it easier for the GM to prep.  Villainous henchmen and minions are even easier, but, for now, just the villain.

27 Aug 2021

Brace Yourself!

November is coming!

Yep, NaNoWriMo is just over two months away.  I should at least start figuring out what I want to write.  I have a few possibilities right now, but nothing certain.  I'd create a poll, but I'm not likely to stick to the results.  Maybe if there's a request and it's not binding.  Let me know.

I do have a few possibilities already.  I'll present them in no particular order, with the parts I have figured out and the parts that I need to fill in before November.

Shadows of Tukayyid A BattleTech story, most likely done as a series of novels and novellas.  I've been in the mood for giant stompy mecha action thanks to reviewing Pacific Rim: The BlackBattleTech is based on giant stompy mecha shooting and stomping each other.  The story will happen after the Clan Invasion is stopped after the Battle of Tukayyid and features two veterans of the fight.  The first is former ComStar Adept Joanna Kirk, pilot of a Black Knight, and Rebecca, a former Clan Ghost Bear freeborn MechWarrior, as they join a Free Worlds League mercenary unit that is looking to expand with pilots with experience fighting the Clans.  The first mission is forming in my head, and other missions are starting to come together.  I need to figure out other pilots in the lance and the mercenary company, though they are supporting cast.

The Courier  Initially conceived as a gender-flipped version of The Transporter, because why not, it's starting to get inspirations from Gunpowder Milkshake.  Maybe not the sisterhood of assassins based in a library, but the creation of connections between family who haven't really spoken to each other.  The main characters are Courtney, the courier, and her niece, Amy, who lives with her aunt after the death of her parents a few years prior.  The base plot is worked out, as is the rough map of where they're going.  The story should be a novel and could lead into a series if wanted.

Streetwise Valkyries I've mentioned the Valkyries before.  There's two possibilities to go with.  One is working on a few stories in the same vein as Subject 13 and I do have a few plots in mind for that.  The other potential is a crossover with Subject 13, turning Nasty into the Spider-Man or the Wolverine of the setting.  I have ideas for the crossover, so time will tell here.

Untitled Shadowrun story  I have a character idea for Shadowrun that dates back to the first edition, an elven decker who lost her parents during the Night of Rage and was subsequently taken into safety in the Ork Underground.  I've updated the character with each edition, but I never rebooted her.  Instead, I've aged her with the setting.  A recent edition, fifth, I think, had me realize that her career arc and mine were similar.  Ignoring that Skater's career has been mostly illegal and mine has been strictly legal, we've both gone through a number of major tech changes during our careers.  This gives me the hook I needed for an idea I've been playing with, and I do have the rest of the team worked out.  The first story might be novel length; follow ups could be serialized.

This isn't all the ideas, just the most prominent.  There's always a chance that a different story pops up and demands my attention, like The Elf's Prisoner had.  However, chances are good one of these will be chosen.

Mandatory cat photo (model is Jewel, photo by author)

Friday, Lost in Translation continues at Psycho Drive-In.

Saturday, Lost in Translation can be found at The Seventh Sanctum.