Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tumblin' Dice

"I must consult the bones..."

No, this post has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones song , but everything to do with a neat little bit of coolness that I picked up at the store today.

It's called Rory's Story Cubes and comes with nine, six sided, dice with various pictures on each side, a small 'rules' (though they're more like guidelines) sheet, and an orange drawstring bag.

Described as a "pocket sized creative story generator"  the instructions guidelines suggest the following uses:

  • Party game or ice breaker
  • Problem solving
  • Creative inspiration
  • Speaking and listening skills
  • Mental workout
  • Literacy development

The flip-side of the sheet describes three styles of play, whether solo or with friends, and those are only scratching the surface. I thought they'd be neat for doing some flash fiction or even giving the old creative juices a jump start when stuck for a scene in an even longer story.

I always like coming across these nifty little surprises in helping foster creativity. For about $8.00, I didn't think I could go wrong.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Story Cubes check out their site, here.

The above picture is a roll I did prior to typing this up and, since this is a 'writing' blog and all, I figured I'd try a little flash fiction for an inaugural run

Once upon a time there was a very unsuccessful actor [twin masks] who wasn't sure what his life would be like if he wasn't able to do the thing he loved most....acting. Time and time again, he was told "Look kid, you're just no good." Laying in bed one night, he made a decision. Not wanting to give up his dream, yet knowing he had to make money, he decided to try his hand at being a private investigator [magnifying glass]. There he could make his own hours and still try to land acting jobs.

Getting his license was easy enough, getting paying clients....well, that was another story. He printed up business cards and began spreading the word that he was available for work. The main problem being that people in town all knew him as 'that bad actor fellow'. A break came his way when a young woman, from the nearby Dakota Indian reservation [wigwam] arrived wanting to hire him for a mysterious case. You see, the reservation was remote enough that, while word had gotten out about a new investigator in town, the fact that he had also been a failed actor had not. She told the tale of how she was the guardian of the last bit of the "Tree of Life" [tree]. This mystical tree had been under her tribe's protection for centuries, each protector being a member of her bloodline. The tree had many amazing qualities. It could cure the sick, make the old young, extend one's life, and even raise the dead. Thieves, war, and the ravages of time itself had taken it's toll on the tree, reducing the once proud object to a mere leaf. When the detective expressed his skepticism, the woman implored him to help her. The police were of no use and every other investigator had laughed her out of their offices.

He was her last hope.

Knowing a little bit what it was like to have your hopes and dreams dashed he, reluctantly, took the case. Though he wasn't the best actor out there, he had determination and decided that if it was the last thing he'd do, he'd find that Leaf of Life.

The case started off easy, at first, then things began to get tougher. Trails cooled and the weeks began turning into months. The months into years....many moons, as the Indians would say [moon]. The case took him all over the world [planet] and it affected his health. His determination never wavered, though, and he finally did find the Leaf....but, the toll it took on his body was evident [cane]as he came back to the Dakota woman battered and broken, but with a new found gleam in his eye.

She smiled and thanked the detective as he handed over the leaf, noting his new demeanor, while feeling bad for his sorry physical condition.

"Aww...don't feel bad, sweetheart", he told her with a wry grin, "this was the best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me something I had been missing all those years while I was trying to become an actor. It gave me new insight into gave me character. One could say it gave me a more magnetic personality." [magnet]

"My tribe is grateful to you." she said.

"Not for returning the leaf, anyone could have done that, but for doing what no one else was willing to do for us."


The detective smiled as she took his hand and placed the leaf in it.

"Take this", she said, "eat it and it will cure you. As the Tree's protector it is not only my right.....but my honor to give this to you. Take this and follow your dream. You are ready now."

Not knowing what to say, he simply ate the leaf. The change was almost immediate as his broken body began healing itself. Old wounds were healed as old skin was made young again. The gleam in his eye became even brighter and he stood proud and tall. He now knew he could do anything he set his mind to...his confidence and resolve seemed to be made from the finest tempered steel. There was absolutely nothing he couldn't accomplish.

Then, he woke up. He had, it seemed, dreamed the whole thing.

Still in his old bed, in his old apartment, still a failed actor.

Or was he?

He shook his head and smiled. No, he wasn't a failure....he was only untapped potential. He somehow knew that life was his oyster. All he had to do was find the right knife to pry open the shell.

The years he dreamed, the experiences, the things he had learned....they couldn't be real could they?

In the end, it didn't matter. He knew what he should do. He gave up his pursuit of acting and dedicated his life to helping others find their dreams. While the man never became famous, he did become fulfilled. He married, had a family....children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren [house].

To some, he had been a failed actor but, in their eyes, he was the biggest star in the world.

The End

(Trivia Question: Which movie is the picture caption from?) 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Roughly seven months ago, I made a pretty significant foray into the world of writing. I attempted my very first National Novel Writing Month or, as it's known in some circles, NaNoWriMo.

And, amazingly enough, I won....actually finishing two hundred and twenty-three words over the required 50k minimum.

This is pretty much old news to almost anyone who's even glanced at this jumbled mess I call a blog. It is relevant, though, in that I'm going to try something coming this July.

For me, July will be known as July Novel Editing Month. Yeah, I know it should probably be NaNoEdMo (which is already established), but cut me some slack here....I'm 'marching to the beat of my own drum'...or something like that. Besides, I think JuNoEdMo is sort of catchy. To quote Dr. Peter Venkman:

"The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams."

Or something like that....

Not that I can franchise anything connected to NaNoWriMo shut up...I just wanted to use that quote.

Anyway, I'm going to dedicate July to re-reading my (NaNoWriMo) award winning story, The T.E.M.P. Agency and editing it, thus.

I saw a pretty helpful looking article over at LifeHacker that was making the rounds last December, and it looks like a decent starting point.

So, cross your fingers, rub a horseshoe, throw some salt over your shoulder, and wish me luck....

....I'm gonna need it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Over on uber-author Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog  he has this little exercise called The Insecure Writer's Support Group where, on the first Wednesday of the month, you're supposed to post your thoughts, feelings, and insecurities about all things writing.

Since today is the first Wednesday of June (06-06-12), that's exactly what I'll be doing here.

As a fairly new writer, one of the  biggest and most ambitious things I've done, so far, was attempting to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last November. Maybe you've heard of it? It's where you write a 50,000 word novel in a month's time...coming out to around 1,666 words a day.

 Now I'm going to be honest in stating the following.

I never believed I could finish.

Sure, I figured I'd give it a decent try. I had signed up in 2010 and thought, very briefly, about trying it then, but procrastination (as well as talking myself out of doing it) got the best of me and, before I knew it, it was mid-November and I knew I'd never catch up, not 'win', and decided to leave it for 2011.

So, last November (2011) I made the decision to give it a shot. Then I started thinking about having to write over a thousand words a day. Before that, I had written some (very) short stories, sometimes taking days to finish them. Writing over 1k words a day seemed very daunting at that point. I sighed and shrugged as I do with certain things and resigned myself to fail before I even got out of the gate.

Then, a strange thing happened. I filled out a profile on a fairly new 'social media' site called Google Plus. I don't even remember how, but I ran across some people talking about doing NaNo and slowly began building my circles, adding people, and talking about the upcoming event in November.

The more I talked to the people in my circles, the more confident I became that, yeah, I could really do it.

I could 'win' NaNoWriMo.

We would share when we would meet or exceed our word count goals for the day and lend support for those who didn't. The accountability and encouragement really helped get me through that month and I'm still convinced, to this day, that I couldn't have done it without G+.  I had quite a few days where I didn't think I'd make my word count but, my G+ buddies gave me a nice prod in the right direction.

I had gone total 180 degrees from "I can't." to "I can."

The best feeling was when I got to say "I did."

I had "won" NaNo and I put 'won' in quotes because you really don't get anything from doing it, besides a certificate that you print out and the satisfaction of knowing you can start something and see it through.

For me, though, the satisfaction was the best and most important part of the whole thing.

The lesson learned from doing NaNoWriMo was that, like the Nike commercial tells us, all we really need to do is 'Just Do It.'

Sit down.
Do it.

I did just that and, now, I need to apply those 'rules' to finishing my story and editing it.

Maybe by this November?  We'll see....

Monday, June 4, 2012

And, the winner is...

So, I get this comment on my previous post from Jennifer, over at A Creative Exercise blog, telling me she's awarding me The Versatile Blogger honor.

I always knew I was versatile, I just didn't want to brag...*ahem*.

Anyway, a big 'thank you' to Jennifer and go check out her blog. It's pretty versatile, as well.

Now, when you get this award, you're supposed to do a few things....and they are:

  1. Thank the person who gave it to you, which is only the courteous thing to do, and link back to their blog (see above for Jennifer's link).
  2. Write seven random facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate seven other bloggers for the award

Seven Random Facts:
  1. Everyone always tells me I have an amazing recall of actor's names and roles they've played.
  2. As a child, my dad tried to keep me from being left handed so he'd take things out of my left and put them in my right hand. The effect was, I now do some things with my left (write, eat, bowl, play tennis) and some with my right (throw, swing a bat). See, told you I was versatile...
  3. My mom says I taught myself to read, before I entered kindergarten, by watching Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.
  4. I once did a L.A.R.P. (Live Action Role Play) at a game convention with Bruce Campbell, where he reprised his role as Brisco County Jr.
  5. To this day, I'll swear I saw President Gerald Ford at La Guardia Airport, when we returned from overseas. I was seven at the time.
  6. I started drinking coffee when I was around 10 years old.
  7. I was 42 when I got married for the first, it's true, 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life. 
The Seven Bloggers

All very worthy and versatile blogs to check out.

Once again, a big 'thank you' to Jennifer for the consideration and, everyone out there,.....keep writing.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Saturday (more or less) Shorts

I spent a little time going through my Google Docs via Drive, tonight, and found this little write up. It was a back story, of sorts, for a character I had planned on making for the DCU MMO.

Unfortunately, the game pretty much sucked and I never got around to making this western themed character but, I got a semi-decent story from it though.

          The first time I heard the story of The Nightranger, I was just a kid. Something my parents would tell me around the campfire on our yearly camping vacations.  They said he was the Eternal Law of the Old West….a spirit of vengeance that couldn’t die.  They said he rode the badlands of the Old West, dispensing justice to all manner of nasty hombre.
            Little did I know they were right….and then some.
            It seems that, back in around 1850, the sheriff of a small mining town in Colorado called ‘Calamity’ was gunned down by the Jeremiah Hazard gang.  About a week later, that very gang was found strung up on a big oak tree just outside of town.  The leader, Jeremiah Hazard, had a note pinned to his chest.
“The Law never dies.”
More and more vigilante justice was found dispensed in the outlying area, but who was doing it was still a mystery.  Until that fateful evening when a telegraph operator named Milo Stewart saw a dark figure, on a dark horse against the full moon of the autumn night.  His eyes glowed an eerie white as did his horses.  The horse also snorted a white fire through his nose and his hooves seemed to spark a white will o’ the wisp with each step.  A shaken Stewart sent a telegram to a friend at the nearest big city newspaper who, in turn, sent a reporter out to see if there was really a story here or just an ‘urban legend’.  As it turned out, more and more sightings were reported and the word spread.  The crooks and hucksters got scared and scattered.  Things settled down in Calamity and the Nightranger began showing up less and less.  Time marched on and the Old West settled down.  From time to time you’d hear of the “Eternal Law” showing up to dispense some justice, but they became few and far between.  Oh, and by the way, the sheriff who was thought to have been gunned down by the Hazard gang….his last name was Walker…same as mine.
You see, apparently, a very long time ago, a distant relative of mine ran afoul of a group of ‘wanderers’ as he travelled through Russia.  I’m still not sure what he did to incur the wrath of these ‘wanderers’, but a curse was placed on my relative to ‘forever make amends’ for his transgressions....whatever they may have been.  Now the curse is passed down through the generations and the first born male inherits the mantle, compelled to fight crime and right wrongs whenever he can.  The curse has taken on many names over the centuries….”Wayward Soldier”, “Dark Rider”, “Hell’s Highwayman”,  even the famous “Headless Horseman” story is based (loosely) on the exploits of a relative helping to keep  New England save from brigands. I’ve recently discovered that my father used to patrol the highways and byways as the “Phantom Trooper”, which fits I suppose, he being a police officer and all.  When my father died, three years ago, the curse was passed down….we all knew it was coming so I was prepared. A strange twist to the curse, maybe it’s starting to relax after over three hundred years, is that we can manipulate the force a tiny bit.  My father used to appear as a large motorcycle cop, dressed in black leather with a black helmet and a black energy field surrounding him. He rode a souped up Harley which he created from the dark energies we can tap into.  Being an Old West buff, I’ve gone back to the “Nightranger” moniker, my appearance much like the one who rode the badlands of Colorado but with a large, flowing, cape and a dark, energy created, horse.  As for what I can do with my cursed powers…..pray you never have to find out.
See ya ‘round Gotham…..pardner.


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