• Category Archives Blog
  • Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans pt1

    A good place to start explaining my love for L5R is the factions that exist within the setting. Originally, there were 7 Great Clans (although when the game first launched one of these had been “destroyed” and was reintroduced later in the story). Every clan tends to revolve around particular themes, although individuals within that clan may deviate from the norm.

    Obviously, this was done mostly for gameplay reasons. By having every clan wear a unique hat (so to speak), it makes it easier for prospective players to understand what mechanics each clan is most interested in interacting with. It is actually something I do like. For one, this means that every clan ends up representing different aspects of Asian cultures. Also, while the game does take this specialization to an unrealistic extreme, it isn’t entirely unheard of (the English and Longbows, French and Knights, Swiss and Pikes, etc).

    For the time being, I am going to focus on a few of the 7 Great Clans, and cover the others in Part 2. I may also go over some of the other factions (three or four in particular), but do not want to get bogged down. These background posts are supposed to be an overview, not a setting sourcebook. Also, these clan summaries obviously give my perspective of the different clans. As such, they highlight the things I find most interesting about them.

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  • Legend of the Five Rings: Introduction

    This was originally going to be something for my newsletter (for this month even) before other events overtook it and I realized this probably makes more sense as a series of blog posts anyway. Before I begin, allow a brief explanation about what Legend of the Five Rings is:

    The Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) is a fictional fantasy setting that focuses on the empire of Rokugan, which borrows heavily from various feudal Asian cultures and (Japan in particular). It was originally associated with a Collectible Card game, however, this expanded over time to include a large amount of official fiction, a tabletop RPG system, and now a Living Card Game.

    So all of that is nice, but why bring this up on a blog about my writing? Because it was probably the thing that introduced me to Asian culture and has undoubtedly had a strong influence on my writing as a result. Although there are a number of criticisms that can be leveled at L5R, notably that it westernizes the subject matter to fit the audience and portrays things in a (generally) idealized manner, it is a property that I have enjoyed throughout a significant portion of my life. That being the case, it seems worthwhile to discuss the setting and what I liked about it. Consider this an overview.

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  • Reading List, January to April

    This year I am trying to be more aware of how I read. It isn’t really a resolution so much as a desire to break a very bad habit I know I have. The problem is that I really enjoy reading to the point where I tend to binge read if I find a book I like. To really understand the problem, you need to realize that when I say binge read I mean that I tend to read to the exclusion of everything. Work, eating, sleeping. It isn’t unusual for me to start a book and read it straight through over the course of a day or two (depending on the length) while taking minimal breaks. Honestly, I don’t know anyone else who behaves the same way.

    I think I developed the habit in high school, but while this was fine in the past it can be a huge problem when I am in the middle of a project something. This is especially true if the book happens to be part of a series. Often, I will immediately dive into the sequel if I enjoyed a book, possibly leading to multiple days of inactivity. Really counterproductive when I’m busy with a project. Continue reading  Post ID 994

  • By Duty Bound Book Launch Post Mortum

    In-depth looks at my writing are something I try to avoid here, as I want this blog to be about more than just the craft of writing, however, I’ve got this New Year’s Resolution to keep my blog up more than I have been and only a few ideas for content. Ended up asking around for topic ideas, and this one came up as something that may be interesting to people (or at the very least other writers in of anthro fiction). Continue reading  Post ID 994

  • Draft 3 of By Duty Bound Complete

    Last Saturday I finished Draft 3 of By Duty Bound, which is a lot of progress. I’ve taken a short “break” in the interim, both to unwind from the grueling pace I set and to compile materials I know will help me with the next step: Proof Reading. I keep a checklist of common grammar and spelling mistakes, and a list of common issues I’ve noticed crop up in my writing. For instance, during my last editing pass I noticed that I am using the words “just”, “really”, “simply”, “immediately”, and “actually” far too often. Obviously I tried to fix that during my last edit, however this checklist reminds me to do a very through check by using common word-processing functions like Find and Replace, allowing me to locate every instance of these sorts of mistakes and be sure I fix them.

    As I was editing Draft Three I was helped by a new beta reader who gave me some good comments (in addition to some flattery). Actually implemented most of his suggestions to some degree or another, in addition to fixing some other issues I noticed. There is only one major thing that he pointed out that I haven’t fixed, although not for lack of wanting to. The problem is that he believes (and I agree) one of my characters is underutilized. Unfortunately, correcting that would mean rewriting large swaths of the book and I am so late in the process that it would basically send me back at least 4, and likely more, since I would need to restart editing process.

    In any case, I’m not exactly sure how long it will take me to work my way through this new checklist. It is about 9 pages long, and once I reach the end of it (and do a couple other things) I can say that I am finished with drafts and move on to release candidates. Doubt I will have the book ready by May like I hoped, but am definitely going to have it out by summer. Already thinking about how I want to go about handling the launch (if I want to have it up for preorder or what have you). Those are all business-y decisions, however.

  • Pens

    This is a post I’ve been wanting to make for a while, which feels really weird to say considering this is going to be all about pens. How long you ask? Well, instead of launching into a hyperbolic story I shall answer you with a single image:

     

    Those of you with keen eyes will notice that the Last Modified date for the post was in December of 2015, nearly 2 years ago. If you have bothered to look you will also notice that it was just a few months after I first launched my blog. I have sat on this for a couple of years, mostly because I wasn’t sure I should ramble on about what I like about pens.

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  • Adventures in Vertigo

    So just as I hoped I was getting over my illness, I got struck down by new (even worse) symptoms. Not sure if this was unrelated to the initial sickness or just a sign it had moved elsewhere in my body, but if I thought constant coughing, congestion, and sore throats were bad I was about to get shown something far worse: Vertigo. Initially very intense vertigo.

    At first I assumed it was just a sign I had stared at my computer screen too long (sometimes that can disorient me), but when I took a break things didn’t improve. Instead they got far, far worse. I was effectively unable to move. Literally. I was lying in bed, and even moving my arms or legs caused the sensation to intensify, regardless of if the rest of my body remained stationary.  All I could do was lay in bed and try to keep completely still while focusing on my breathing. An hour later the dizziness had subsided enough that I was able to get up and function, but I remained disoriented until that night.

    In the days that followed things were never quite that bad, but I kept having spells of dizziness and light-headedness. These got fewer and more mild as time went on, thankfully, but kept me more or less incapacitated until recently. Obviously certain activities made everything worse (basically anything that involves me looking up and down a lot, or has me turning quickly).

    That said, it has given me some ideas for how illness can play into a story. So often sicknesses are portrayed as the usual symptoms: coughing, sneezing, fever. All that is fine, but I can imagine how something like an inner ear infection could cause bad headaches and vertigo, which would lead to different challenges for a character beyond merely feeling bad.

  • November NaNoWriMo plans, book update!

    Just a short update before I start having regular posts going up here once more (I’ve got a backlog built up that should carry me through November), but I wanted to officially say that I will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Everything is already set to go, I just need to throw the switch and start working on it.

    There is one slight caveat: because I will be traveling by car for Thanksgiving I intend to start 2 days early (tomorrow) to make up for the time I will lose driving. For a time I actually considered starting 5 days early (enough to cover the entire duration of my Thanksgiving plans), but ultimately decided that didn’t really fit the spirit of NaNoWriMo.

    To be perfectly honest, I’m a bit nervous about this undertaking. This year hasn’t been the greatest for me when it comes to writing, so I’m a bit wary of my ability to complete this. That said, I’ve found that doing the thing that keeps me feeling safe is rarely the way forward.

    For those that are interested, I am also beginning the next editing pass on my novel. This is less about major story changes, and more just cleaning up what is there, tightening the prose, and so forth. At this point I am committed to launching the book in Spring of 2018, but I am not yet ready to set down a specific date so keep an eye out.

  • Eclipse (Aug. 21st, 2017)

    So the big news today pretty much everywhere in the US is the eclipse. To be honest, I had an opportunity to drive about an hour north to see the totality region, however as I didn’t buy any viewing glasses (and was reluctant to deal with the traffic that would be caused by everyone else who had the same thought), I decided to stay home.

    Still, my area is pretty close to there. If I had to guess I would say around +90%. That still ends up being pretty bright, around sunset levels of light, but that still makes for a pretty sharp contrast. As I write this we are about 15 minutes past our darkest point.

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