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The Division down for maintenance today, not Tuesday? And NinjaBike messenger bag.

I was going through a legendary mission at the Times Square event on world tier 5, and we were doing really good on it, up until I was suddenly kicked out of the game and a message popped up when I tried to log back in that says:

The Division services are not available at
this time. Please try again later.
DELTA                                             C-1-200

On the sign in screen there is a message that says:

Scheduled Server Maintenance
This Tuesday at 09:00 CET, 03:00 AM EDT, 12:00 AM PDT. Estimated down time: 3h

Hopping over to the Twitter account for The Division and I find:

The Division – 13m
Heads up, Agents! The in-game maintenance message accidentally says “Tuesday” instead of “Thursday”. You did not time travel. We are sorry for any confusion caused!

So… argh… I have a few hours to spend on things not Division when I was all comfy and settled in to do some good runs on a few places before everyone doing the event things went to bed for the night.

The next few days are going to be really busy for me, so I was looking forward to gaming tonight, but, ah well… I got some nice things, including The Pakhan exotic light machine gun with a score of 264, The Urban MDG exotic with a score of 266, and… drumroll please?… the NinjaBike messenger bag exotic, score of 273, but the best part about the NinjaBike messenger bag is that it can take the slot for any of the Gear Set items. This means that I can equip one of give different Gear Set items into my gear slots for everything other than the backpack, then put the NinjaBike messenger bag in the backpack slot, and it acts like I have two pieces of all the rest of the gear equipped. I am currently running it with three pieces of the Alpha Bridge to get the the benefit of not worrying about where my mods ago, so I can increase the firearms more, then adding a couple of other pieces to help with my Dark Zone funds (20% boost to them), and a Gear Set that lets me do a bit more damage.

I am so delighted to get to add the NinjaBike messenger bag to my gear collection. I had heard about it earlier this evening from another player, and I never dreamed I might actually get it during the event.


The Dark Zone in The Division needs a non-combatant status

Ubisode has made revised the Dark Zone area in their game The Division, however, their revision is one that encourages more rogue agents in the Dark Zone, making the game more difficult for the casual player.

Update 1.8 has redefined the mechanics in the Dark Zone so that the high risk/high reward area with possible PvP encounters no longer has accidental Rogue Agents, however, those seeking to just explore the Dark Zone are given no protection of their own from these encounters.

Players who want to go Rogue now need to actually select an option to go Rogue, removing the dangers of accidental friendly fire. Unfortunately, this means that the players who lack decent gear or are not quite as quick on the trigger as the Rogue Agents are helpless prey to these Agent killers when they encounter them in the Dark Zone.

My build is as a long distance sniper, to back up my team in PvE matches and provide a last line of safety with my Recovery Link skill, a skill that instantly revives my team mates when they are downed. This means that my toughness and close range combat skills are… miserable at best. I have a double barreled sawed off shotgun, for those “Oh shit! Kill it FAST!” moves when things get up close and personal, but the shotgun is two shots then a slow reload. Great when it is one, maybe two enemies in close quarters, but not so great when that enemy is decked out to the max in tank gear and it takes four shots from my shotgun to take them down.

I have a lot of fun in the Dark Zone when there are no Rogue Agents deciding that my squishy sniper is their favorite target, but it gets rather old to have Rogue Agents kill off my character then blast some kind of annoying music about killing people over their mics while I am waiting to respawn.

I would like the ability to either block people or to be able to set my status to non-combatant so that I can enjoy that part of the game, without the people who think it is fun to sneak up behind their fellow players and open fire on their back. I get that the Dark Zone is a high risk / high reward area, but there should not be forced PvP in the area where players are trying to get good gear to let them play the game. Rather than making players have to opt-in for going Rogue, how about players have to opt-in on PvP completely, both Rogue Agents and their prey. There are plenty of times I enjoy a bit of tag in the Dark Zone, but there are other times, like this week when I am under HIGH stress from having lost both one of my nephews and my job in the same week, when all I want is to relax and play the game as a game, not as a competition between me and better geared players.

Please, Ubisoft – add in a need to opt-in for PvP in general, not just a need to opt-in to go Rogue. Give the non-Rogues a chance to enjoy the Dark Zone part of the game too. Thank you.

Scrivener settings out of whack

While I was asleep earlier my critters did… something, to Scrivener. I had not intended to nap, but had sort of passed out when I leaned back for a bit, and the cat and or dogs knocked my keyboard onto the floor and hit some kind of button combination that told every text file in Scrivener to set it’s margins at 32 inches and scroll out to show that whole huge margin space.

I can not figure out how they messed it up, so I can not actually fix it. The best I have been able to do so far has been to manually reset the margin in each of the text documents I have in the program.

Cold Alaska mornings without coffee

Last night, for the first time in several days, I turned the heater in my trailer on and set it to low because it just felt like it was going to be a cold night. It has been warm enough for several days now that I have stayed warm at night with just the heater in the small wooden Quonset that my trailer is connected to. This morning, however, when I woke around 7 a.m. to get back to work on my series, it was cold. I turned the heater in my trailer up to hi and am sitting here with my old battered sleeping bag wrapped around me and my critters curled up against my side. The worst part… no coffee. I made the last of the coffee yesterday and am pondering if the old grounds might squeeze out one more cup or if I’d just end up with barely flavored hot water.

Anyone looking to get me a holiday gift? Coffee is a lovely gift. And with that in mind I decided to poke around Amazon a little for coffee themed holiday gift ideas and picked out a few that caught my eye.

Strong Coffee Tee

Folks that know me know I love comfy tee’s with interesting designs, so it should be no surprise that this caught my eye. Although I am not sure about their commentary of “If you can’t stand it when your friends offer you Folgers or Maxwell house, you need this shirt!“, I happen to love both Folgers and Maxwell House coffee.

And, this brings me to…

The 12 Coffees of Christmas

A selection of 12 1oz packets of festive flavors that, according to the Amazon listing, includes: amaretto, peppermint, French vanilla, mocha, cinnamon, chocolate, spicy orange, Italian roast, hazelnut, Irish cream, a holiday blend, and a breakfast blend.

or, how about this sampler pack?

The Coffee Sampler Pack from The Swiss Colony, which comes in 1 1/2 oz packs of flavors that, again based on the Amazon listing, includes:

Chocolate Raspberry
Colombian Supreme
Morning Blend
Special Blend
French Vanilla
Holiday Blend
Cinnamon Streusel

So many coffees, so little time. Still, I am an old fashioned sort of gal, so for me just the basic Classic Roast Folgers coffee is my favorite blend of coffee. Add a little C&H granulated sugar and some whole milk… makes a very nice brew to get me going on cold mornings. Unfortunately, I did not see very many plain coffee gift packs on Amazon, so I guess that is something that is best a handmade gift basket.

So, I went to look for supplies for making a gift basket and this was one of the top results in the search…

Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut Chocolates, oh, yes please! These and the Lindt Lindor Chocolate Truffles, seen below, are two of my favorite chocolates along with the gold old Hershey’s Kiss (milk or dark chocolate varieties). So I can not at all argue at the Ferrero Rocher being a top entry on the search as something that someone might put into a gift basket, in particularly a coffee themed gift basket, as I can think of few things that go better with coffee than chocolate and hazelnuts.

I suppose to me the perfect coffee gift basket would be a small can of coffee such as Folgers or Maxwell House, classic roast medium or dark blend settled into a basket with a pack of Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates, and some dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses and a variety of Lindt’s truffles sprinkled around them. Add in a few basket fillers such as some coffee flavors or perhaps a bit of Baily’s Irish Creme or other coffee companion liquors, or maybe a small box of C&H sugar to fill in the basket under the coffees. Why C&H? Because I have found over the years that it takes at least twice the amount of generic brands to get the same sweetness as C&H, making the C&H cheaper and better for you in the long run in my humble opinion.

So… perfect holiday gift basket? Anything coffee to warm up the cold mornings!

You might notice that I did not include a gift basket staple the cup in my description and linked images? Well, in my experience people that drink coffee enough to appreciate a coffee themed gift basket already have a favorite cup to enjoy their warm ambrosia from, so any mugs would most likely just be novelty items to be tucked into a cabinet in favor of the preferred cup they already own. I actually own a few coffee mugs, including a pretty little white ceramic coffee mug with pink floral hearts and ribbons on it. Possibly once a Mother’s Day gift or something, I do not know, I think I got it in a second hand store. The other is a large clear mug that my sister-in-law gave me that makes wonderful mugs of tea and lets me see the slow swirling mix of milk into coffee when I add the milk to my coffee. And finally, a mug with eagles on it that was my father’s coffee mug for many years, having been bought for him by me as a birthday gift long before he had the stroke that left him half paralyzed. It was my father who got me to drinking coffee. I would smell coffee in the house every morning growing up, learned to brew coffee for him and my mom, then learned how to make his coffee for him how he liked it, which often meant I would take a sip of it to be sure I had the right amount of sugar in it. Those sips eventually lead to me getting a taste for coffee when I was in my mid 30’s.

I still recall how both of my parents took their coffee. Dad liked one spoon of sugar, rounded, and just enough milk or creamer to bring the coffee to a rich light tan color. My mom liked the same amount of creamer, no sugar. She could not stand even a grain of sugar in her coffee, even though she liked sweetened tea. Me… I have learned to drink coffee in many ways, how they drank it, or black with a bit of sugar, or just straight up black coffee, coffee with flavored powders, syrups, or liquors added… pretty much any coffee is good coffee to me. Just please, keep the caffeine in it. I can get withdrawal headaches if I do not get my caffeine in my coffee.

And I leave you with…



And yes, okay.. ONE mug… No, two… the Death Wish mug is sold out…

I saw them when I looked at the novelty coffees and just had to include them, they’re awesome!

Dunluce Castle in Ireland… real world Wyvern’s Crest?

I was working on my series this morning and, as part of that, I was contemplating the place where I expect most of the series will take place. The city that, for now, bears the name Wyvern’s Crest. I was noting down what kinds of things the city has that make it such a vital focal point to my planned series and came up with…

What does Wyvern’s Crest do for my story? (Aside from providing an enclosed area within which at least 60% of the actual story arc will take place – why will so much of the story happen THERE?)

  1. It is the seat of leadership for not only the Crown, but many of the religious sects, including the Justicars

  2. It is an OLD city built upon the bones of older cities that rose and fell at that location (some literally falling off the cliff), this gives plenty of hiding spots for the thieves of the city as well as focused looks at the long history of both the city and the country – dating back to the very beginnings of the kingdom and somewhere in the mess and rubble of the old cities is the royal family’s first castle

  3. It is a place where both brothers will feel drawn back to no matter where else the story takes them

  4. It is perhaps the only place in the kingdom where the poor live in such very close proximity to the wealthy, making it a focused look at the extreme differences between the two classes

  5. It is where (I removed this point, because I am keeping it secret for now).

  6. It is a port city despite being built high upon a cliff. Stairwells and ladders and lifts go from the upper level down to the shipping port at the base of the cliff.

And I suddenly realized that I had seen a picture recently that was very close to the city I have had in my mind for what this place looks like. A few days back a friend shared an image of Dunluce Castle in Ireland on Facebook.

It even has the cave I had been envisioning to lead to a port hidden underneath the city. That area needs a bit of work to make it safe for ships to go in and out, but overall… this is I think as close as I can get in the real world to a frame of reference for what Wyvern’s Crest looks like. I look forward to doing some work in Blender someday to recreate this magnificent castle with the needed adjustments to make it look like the one I have been imagining.

FFXIV RP escape

Earlier this evening I recalled that a group of people on Balmung server of Final Fantasy XIV were going to get together to do some roleplaying. I considered not going, then decided I would try, then messed up the time and thought it started several hours later than it actually did start, was almost an hour late to attending so almost blew it off since I really am not in a mood to socialize even online at the moment… and yet, I went head and went to the event and let the others know that I was most likely only going to stay back and quietly listen to what they were doing. Be a silent presence to the event.

It ended up I did a bit of RP with them all and for a brief time was starting to feel like my old self again. The troubles of the world were still heavy on my mind, but I allowed myself a brief respite from worrying on things I can not change and tried to let my mind escape as much as it could into the role of my character.

It reminded me of why it is I scrounged the cost of subscribing to the game together each month and why, if I can at all manage it, I should try to keep my subscription. The people I am hanging out with on Final Fantasy are some of the good ones, who will offer encouragement and comfort and do what they can to make things a bit easier on one another when life is hard. It is a group of folks I looked for for a long while on the game, and spending a hour or so with them a couple of times a month is a lot cheaper than seeing a therapist would be. And, besides that, it is nice to get the chance to roleplay from time to time and create stories within the setting of the game with others who see it, and our characters, as more than just what the base game provided.

I return now to work on my novels, having taken a little time to relax and share in an escape from the troubles of the world with my fellow roleplayers from Final Fantasy.

Elizabeth I: War on Terror

I watched this on Amazon’s video service a little while ago and I could not help but think that the information on Elizabeth’s spymaster and security chief, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the things he did would be something that I can quite easily see being a basis for some sort of similar events in my series. I am going to be dealing with a situation where people are trying to alter the rule of a kingdom, and so it would only make sense to me that there would be things such as the events outlined in this documentary going on in the world I am building. I will be watching Elizabeth I: War on Terror again later on with a pen and paper handy so I can make some notes on the things that the documentary covered and see what ways I can find to translate the situation into something that will fit my created world.

Deciding on a genera for my series

This morning I have been working on deciding what genre my series could best be defined by. For this I have taken a list of ten basic genre types, ones that stories can be broken down and classified as belonging to, and done a bit of thinking through what one best defined the widest scope of the stories I want to write about in my series. What one of those ten genres had, within it, elements that I could see appearing in not just one or two of my books in the series, but in every book written in this series.

I know that the series will be about two princes whose birthright was stolen by their uncle, so, keeping that in mind, as well as my desire to place it in a setting that is a “what if…” of an alternate history where both steam power and magic were a part of the world, I went through my list of genres and determined which actually fit my series’ core type.

The following list is from my Series Bible workbook in Scrivener, where I listed each of the ten genre types and then wrote whatever came to mind on why that particular story type might, or might not, fit with the overall series type I wanted to write:

Action & Adventure would require that the heroes face different dangerous and exciting events in each story, things they undertake because they are trying to save someone, and/or seeking to find treasure, and instead are encountering something around every turn that sets a fast pace to the story. While I want my heroes to be kept moving, and one of them could definitely fall into the role of an adventurer, the series is not like Indiana Jones or Uncharted; both of which are examples of this genre.

Crime would focus the story on the events of some kind of crime and how that crime affects the characters in the story. With the king being murdered and the throne stolen, it might seem that those would be the focus; but I am not looking to focus on the mystery of the king’s death, nor to make reclaiming the throne the only end goal of the series. There is most certainly an element of crime to the series, but this genre is not at its core.

Fantasy is a strong element in the series, since I have made the decision that I want to include some element of magic, and to pull it into a historical alternate reality from the 1400’s. The series, however, is not going to be focused on the fantasy elements, they are simply a part of the world in a way that makes them no more fantastical to the characters than the color of the sky or the wetness of water. There is a subplot about the Church of the One God seeking to control magic and make it a crime for anyone not of their priesthood to use, but this is a subplot, not the actual focus of the series.

Horror is definitely not the core of the series. There will be moments in the stories where there will be really scary things going on, but the series is never going to be something that any horror fan would count as being a horror series.

Mystery is like crime, there is a possibility to make mystery a part of the series, but it is not going to be a major part of it. At best it will be the core of one or two stories within the series, but as a whole the series is not going to be one that could be classified as a mystery series in any way.

Paranormal might someday play a small role in the series, if I decide that it needs a Hamlet style scene of the dead king speaking to someone or something like that, but… no. Just… no. While it is possible that ghosts might be something that the characters talk about in the same way that the paranormal is talked about in our world, I am never going to make a ghost such a significant part of the series that it would pull the series, as a whole, into the realm of being a paranormal series. It is just not at all a proper fit for what I want to tell.

Romance / Relationships are going to be a part of the series, in particular the relationships shared by friends and relatives, but the series as a whole is not going to be focused on the relationship or romance of any of the characters. At best, this would be subplots running through the series and having impacts on the events of the series. Such impacts, however, would never be the focus of the series as a whole.

Science Fiction would only apply in terms of things like medieval sciences of astronomy, steam power, and other things that would help keep the magic believable and draw the world setting from what became our industrial revolution and toward a future that would be reliant on steam power. No one that reads science fiction would ever classify the series as being Sci Fi.

Suspense / Thriller is another genre type that would be found within a subplot or two, but not something that would define the series as a whole.

War Stories, ah, here at the end of the list, I think I have found what I have been looking for. War stories ask us to look at a world in conflict. The Lord of the Rings, one of the most beloved of fantasy stories and one that has had strong influence on the fantasy genre, is, at its core, a war story. It is the story of the war that is tearing apart the world and the small band of heroes who hold the One Ring and seek to end the war by destroying that ring. Everywhere the group goes they are caught between sides in this overarching story of war. While my series is not going to show an active war, the motivations of the characters will be strongly guided by the threat of war and how precariously close to the horrors of all out war their world is. The main motivation to the heroes not reclaiming the throne is going to be the knowledge what doing so could plummet their kingdom into war.

So, now that I know that my story is, at its core, a story about the specter of war, I can narrow that down even more and define the basic building blocks that will be seen from story to story as I write the books in the series.

And that is where I am in my planning so far. I will make another post when I have more progress to report on the development of the world I am creating and the kinds of stories that will be included in it.

Please, feel free to ask any questions that you might have about my progress and to discuss with me the points I have made here about my series. And if you would like to see the story as it is being written, then visit my Patreon page and become a patron of the arts for as little as $1 a month.


Come along as I create a series

In the past I have made posts about my efforts to write a book on a pair of princes whose uncle stole their birthright. It seems like something always brings the story to a standstill and, more often than not, I end up starting it all over from the beginning. And yet, it is a story that I go back to time after time when I try to get back to writing for a living.

Well, now I have no choice. I need to make writing my full-time job now, or it never will be. I no longer have the ability to say, I’ll do it when I am older, because I am older. I am almost fifty. I also no longer have the ability to say that I will focus more on my writing when life has slowed down, because life is going to do nothing but speed up from here on out. I need to earn a full time income that can pay the bills, and that means either I find some way to get past my anthropophobia and be able to keep calm around a bunch of strangers, or I find a way to make writing pay the bills.

Part of my goal in earning an income as a writer is to start up, or rather make use of, a Patreon account. I’ve had the account for a while now, tried to do something with it a while back with my writing and the 3D models I make, but the computer has made creating 3D models something that is not cost effective – it takes far too long to make a model, so I could never make ends meet if I tried to make my living as a 3D modeler. This leave me, for the moment, with writing as my main focus, with the 3D models being something of a relaxing bonus art form I share with my Patreon audience as I create them. I could not think of how to make a Patron reward for my writing, however, so it kind of fizzled out without actually being launched. Another “I’ll do this when I have more time to work on it”.

I considered putting all of my writing work on Patreon, locking it all away behind a donation of $1 or more per month. Both the writing and the process of creating the story. As I started to make the first of the ‘nuts and bolts’ posts, however, I realized; Patreon is not the best place for the ‘how did I build my story’ posts, it is more suited to be a place where those who want to read the stories can have a chance to see what I am writing as I write it. To even have a say in how the stories are written.

So, I am altering my Patreon to be a place where readers can gain immediate access to the story as I writer it, even talk with me about what I am doing, and I am returning to posting the ‘nuts and bolts’ posts to my website, here, as I have in the past.

If you like what you see about what I am building, if you want to keep me moving forward, if you would like to read the story that is being written based on the ‘nuts and bolts’ world building you see here on this site, then please, consider visiting my Patreon page and supporting me as a Patron for as little as $1 a month. I will also be adding additional ways that support can be offered in the days ahead, so keep an eye on the sidebars and the menu below the website title above.

Thank you for your interest in, and support of, my efforts to make my living by doing something I love.

The Division free weekend: December 7th thru 10th

Ubisoft is having a free play weekend for The Division and its DLC as part of the celebration of their launch of 1.8. During the weekend of December 7th through December 10th you can access both the base game and all DLC, including the new  will be free to play, with significant savings on both the base game and the DLC.

The Division places the players in the role of specialized agents that have been called on to take action when all else has failed in the wake of a devastating pandemic that has left the city of New York crippled and besieged by gangs, rioters and a group known as the Cleaners determined to burn away the pandemic at any cost.

The game offers a wide range of player experiences from open world player versus environment (PvE) that covers multiple districts in New York city, to player versus player (PvP) combat, including an area known as the Dark Zone at the heart of the city where Division agents might go rogue and open fire on their fellow agents.

Those who only enjoy a good PvE experience can have plenty of fun in the game, as the Dark Zone requires passing through a pair of doors to access, preventing players from accidentally wandering into the PvP possible area.

Progress made in The Division during this free weekend event will carry over to the game if it is purchased, so players can level up their character without fear that they would lose that progress.

Should players decide to purchase the game during the free trial weekend, they will get 70% off on the standard edition of The Division, and 60% off of the Season Pass.