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Scorpius Port


29716 of 50000 words

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On Clearing Nidhog Extreme, and other fights, in Final Fantasy XIV

In Final Fantasy XIV there is a fight against a dragon named Nidhog, when you do the extreme version of the fight you get a chance to get a bird mount or a scale from the dragon that is used to craft things. I joined a Nidhog Scale Farm on Tuesday because in the Party Finder it said that they were carrying one of their FreeCompany mates, so I figured that I had cleared it enough that I could help them out (I cleared that one on the first day it came out even).

The party finder had a minimum gear level of I think 380, so I had to switch to my raiding character (Krys’a) to join the party. No problem, I have been taking Krys into much higher end places and he has a 383 gear score. The base item level for Nidhog Extreme is 280. Sounds like it would be a easy quick run to clear, right?

It was very painful.

One of the core group of people that was doing the runs was being excessively toxic to people that joined to help. We had multiple fails on the first try, finally managed to get through the fight after a lot of death and a lot of people needing revived, a few folks left the party and the guy said “I was going to kick them anyway.”

The same person made it a point to correct everything I said about the fight, even though I was right on things I said. (I will admit I had not known you could get a scale in an unsynced run, but that was my only point of misinformation.) The toxic person insisted at one point that me and another player had a mechanic known as blue chains when I know for a fact I had red ones. The person also complained that the DPS was not good enough… and yet they put us into the fight with 6 out of 8 people, one of those 6 a stated carry. The toxic player complained that the DPS sucked and bragged that they had cleared the fight in under a minute twenty with only three people: one tank, one healer, and one DPS.

Now, I am not saying you can not clear the fight with only three people, you can, but it is not something you can do in under a minute twenty, at least I have never heard of anyone doing it that fast. I’m fairly certain the toxic person was just being toxic and trying to make others feel like they were failing to do their best.

It was no surprise to me that we failed multiple times on each attempt and only cleared I think 3 times. We did manage to get the carried person a first time clear, though, and were trying to get that person a bird as well.

Unfortunately I just could not take the toxicity of the one that was complaining about everything. I finally told the person being carried that I wished them the best of luck on getting the bird they wanted, apologized that I could not take the other person’s toxicity any longer, and left the party.

I made my own group and set it as a [Practice] group, with no ilvl requirement, stated that new players were welcome to join, and made the comment something along the lines of “Killing time, so fun run to farm some scales and birds. Who cares if we fail? Let’s have fun and learn the fight.”

We cleared not just the first time, we cleared on the first try on every run. And this was with new people that did not know anything about the fight, and people who were rusty and scared they did not remember it well enough to run it.

We laughed, we chatted about the fight, we supported one another and we got 4 people their birds and someone got one of Nidhog’s scales. Most importantly, we all had a lot of fun and new players learned how to do the fight.

The moral of this long post… If folks stop stressing about “MUST FIND BEST DPS!!!!” they clear more content and have a LOT more fun all around. Slow down, take the time to explain not just what new players need to do, but why they need to do it, and have fun playing the game.

Outlining Novels Using Chocolate

If this sounds like the ideal means by which to outline your novels, then you are probably as big a chocoholic as I am. I use chocolate to combat high levels of stress caused by social anxiety. My roommate buys me those large bags of around 145 assorted miniature Hershey candy bars. The ones with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, almonds and toffee in them.

Each little candy bar is wrapped up inside of a 2.5 x 3 inch square of paper-backed wrapper. A month or so ago I started dropping those little wrappers into a small cardboard box beside my trash can instead of into the trash can.

Last night, while trying to sort out how to proceed with my novel, I dug into the box and counted out 70 wrappers, flattened them out, and stacked them up. I then wrote brief blurbs for the scenes I have so far, one scene per wrapper.

This morning I grabbed some old thumb tacks and started pinning the wrappers to a 2’x3′ bullitain board I had kicking around. Once the board was covered in all 70 wrappers I started writing on the blank wrappers, adding what scenes I know I will need, adding in scenes that will bridge the gaps between other scenes, and just filling in what was missing from the story I want to tell.

As I write this I have 14 blanks left to fill in. I also have four extra wrappers pinned to the bottom of the board where I have wrote the name of each of my three point of view characters in a different color of felt pen, as well as small blurbs in pencil for what situation the character shoud be in at the end of their arc in this book. The fourth extra wrapper is where I wrote what I realised is my novel’s theme (one I had no planned, but suddenly realized is there.)

And that is how, if you are a stress chocoholic like I am, you can ouline your novel using chocolate.

Why I enjoy revising my novels, and how you can too!

I’ve been a writer for many years now, but I’ve always just written. It sounds strange, I know, but writing has always been such a relaxing activity for me that I have just wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more.

I have several books that are about the same characters, but told in slightly different manners to see if I prefer telling my story one way or another. I have wrote a lot.

Unfortunately for me, either life has hit me with something that derailed my ability to keep writing, or I have hit a point where I listened to those who told me I could never make it as a fantasy writer, and I have set my work aside for months at a time.

This time I have steadfastly ignored those who ridicule me for wanting to write fantasy stories and have only been slowed in my dream by the hard blows life deals me. Through perserverence, however, I have made it to having a story that is 59,329 words long… and I stopped like I ran into a brick wall.

I am not going to say that writer’s block hit me, because I am starting to understand that Neil Gaiman is right, there is no such thing as ‘writer’s block’. There are points where you can not get the story to move, but that is a story problem, not an inability of the writer to create words. A writer when faced with a problem in a story that makes it come to a stop will often work on another story – which clearly means the problem is not with the writer, it is with the story.

So, armed with Neil Gaiman’s perspective on the situation, I looked again at my story. This time I was not looking for how to keep moving it forward, instead I was looking at why it would not move forward.

I had written in a direction I had not intended to go, and this had caused me to write myself into a corner where I could no longer find a clear path through the story to where I wanted it to end. Nor could I see an ending that worked better than the one that I had wanted to end at. I was stuck, but it was not a block in the writing, at least not in the traditional sense of the term.

So, I began to dismantle the block.

I started revising my story. Starting at the beginning I looked at it as a reader and have began to mark all the places where it works, where it fails, to identify what will move it toward the kind of ending I want, and most importatly, I am looking for those areas where the story starts to stray off into the corner. I want to keep it out of that corner and have found that it is a lot like herding cattle as a kid. (Not my cattle, the neighbor’s 200 head of cattle that kept coming onto our land to graze, so my pony and I would go herd them off and on up the valley.)

What I also discovered is that I love revising my story. I did not want to stop last night, and was eager to get back to it this morning. I am getting to read the kind of story that I like, but I’m still distanced from it. I don’t have that full “reader” mindset as I am doing it. I am adjusting the story, here I have a story I love and when I come to a point where I would normally stop for a few moments and grumble at how the writer had done something, I am able to actually make a note of how *I* would do it better. I have direct feedback to the writer to tell them, “Fix this, you can do it better if you do it this way…” and … the writer will actually hear me and might make the suggested change. It’s awesome and not something I had considered in all the years I had heard others talk about dreading having to revise their story.

So, I guess if I had to say one thing to wrap this post up I would say – don’t be intimidated by revising your work. You hold the power to actually tell the author (YOU) where the story can be made better, and then you have the power to take all the feedback from your ideal reader (yourself) and make the story onto one that you cannot put down.

Division 2 has an Easter Egg for Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld series

In the Space Administration Headquarters building there is a secret room where fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld can find a very special Easter Egg.

To get to this wonderful treat is not easy, but it is well worth if for true Sci Fi fans.

To reach the secret room you need to access some office equipment, solve a bit of a puzzle, and do some quick acrobatics, but it is well worth the effort to see this wonderful tribute for yourself.

The quest begins on the second floor of the Space Administration Headquarters building, where you will find a room with prototype models. Make your way through to a computer terminal that you can access tucked in a corner. Interact with the computer to get the code for the secret room’s door, then go out and take the stairs on up to the third floor.

Along the way you will want to be on the lookout for any printers you can interact with. Find one and look at the page it prints out. There are a few different pages that get printed, but you just need to find a number on the printout and make a note of it. One of the printouts is about the arrest of a Flat Earther, and some have said you need that printout, but I got my number off a different one and still got the door open.

You will want to keep going through the mission until you descend down an elevator shaft on a rope. When you get down the rope in the elevator shaft there will be a door to your left that is marked laboratory. You should be able to interact with the panel next to the door to open it.

Inside the lab are four computers. Puzzle solvers will quickly note that there is a specific number of items on three of the desks, and a notepad with a number on it on the fourth desk. The items on the desks indicate the computer’s number. Interact with the computers to match your number. So if you have 2122 you want to interact with the second computer, then the first, then interact with the second computer two more times.

Done properly the door will open, but… we’re not done yet. One more nearly insurmountable task remains before we can have an audience with the Great A’tuin.

At this time there is an invisible wall that blocks the door that will open. If that has not been fixed in a patch, then you need to problem solve your way past the barrier much the way the early astrozoologists overcame their own obstacle to gaze upon the Great A’tuin for themselves.

To get past that barrier you need to “take cover” beside the door near computer number one, then do a roll into the room. (It worked both times I tried it.) To get back out just take cover near the door and try rolling out of the room. If that fails (did for me on my second try) then you can teleport to a party member or to the mission start point. (I suggest, if you are alone, you save entering the room until the mission is finished. Just in case something goes wrong and teleporting out restarts the mission.)

As for the Easter Egg you’ll find in there…

If you are curious about why some folks (like me) shrieked with delight to see that, and will go through all of that just to see it in person, you can find out at the Astronomy and Space Physics site of Uppsala University in Sweden. (Or just Google “The Great A’tuin”.)

Now, I must go and gaze upon the glorious sight of the Great A’tuin some more. Take care and enjoy whatever game you’re playing.

The Man in the Iron Mask

A few days ago I discovered that YouTube had one of my favorite movies available. It has ads in it, but they are not obtrusive (banners that can be closed when they appear a few times during the movie).

When I was a young girl two my favorite books were The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask, both by Alexander Dumas. YouTube has the 1998 Man in the Iron Mask available to watch for free (with ads).

Why do I write?

I was looking over Twitter a few minutes ago and someone that I began following this morning asked a question that simply cannot be summed up in the small space that Twitter allows, so, I have decided to answer in brief there, and to actually answer the question here on my website.

What I started to respond with was…

I write because I do not know how to stop. It’s part of my soul and has been since I was a child, it was not until years into my life, however, that I began to make money writing. I no longer make money, but desperately want to get back to where my writing pays the bills.

That was only the “pretty” answer and I know it. My reason for writing is deeper and far more complex than I could ever define in so few words.

So, taking the advice of Henry David Thoreau, and many others, I shall endeavor to find the short answer by first writing it as it needs to be written.

I got a love for writing at a very young age, but it was not until I was older before I began to make money at it. By 2008 I was living my dream of being a paid writer, and of that writing actually paying the bills. Then two things happened that devastated my life. The economic collapse that sent my income from over $2,000 a month to zero in a matter of days. At the same time my biggest supporter passed away. I recall these events together because on the day that my mother died one of my sisters purchased the newspaper and the headline was on the collapse of the national economy. It had always been my mom who had made sure the bills were paid and found the money in the budget to get the things anyone needed.

I had a crisis on my hands. I had gone from full-time writer and part-time care provider to my father to full-time care provider trying to make ends meet on no money. I’m not sure what would have happened had my father not had retirement income from the Army.

Approximately two years later my father passed away and after two years of struggling to meet the ever changing requests of the bank to try to save my home I lost the house I had lived in with my parents for some 20 years. Homeless and broke I turned to family… and only a few precious few of my family stepped up rather than turn their backs on me.

The was the hardest part I think, to lose my father and have those I had always depended on turn their backs on me and whisper (or shout) how they were glad I was losing the house. To say that I fell into depression would be a terrible injustice to the severity of the kind of mental depression I felt at that time in my life.

Over the years I have picked up my writing and seen it fall through my fingers time and again, and yet… I must write. I feel it as deeply as I feel the need to breathe. Writing is the core within my existence that keeps me moving forward.

In 1998 I spent a wild month creating a roughly 65,000 word novel in 30 days, well before NaNoWriMo was even conceived of.

Around 1993 I was maintaining a diary online while I attended the local community college… I had a “blog” before such a term was coined.

In my youth, around age 12 I want to say, I recall laying on the living room carpet with the stock pages from the local newspaper spread out around me as I worked in my notebook on how to create a Hardy Boys Mystery novel where the clues were hidden in the financial section of their local newspaper.

But before all of that, I remember sitting in a corner at the base of the stairs around age 10 and reading an article in something. I do not recall if it was a National Geographic, a checkout stand tabloid, or any of a multitude of other possibilities where I found it, but it touched something deep in me even at such a young age.

It was the story of Twelve-year-old Edward V, and nine-year-old Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, sons of Edward IV, King of England and Elizabeth Woodville, who were taken to the Tower of London and… vanished.

I do not recall much about the story, only that it was on the discovery of two children’s skeletons that had been found under the staircase leading to the chapel of the White Tower in 1674. I assume it had been in one of my mother’s many copies of past issues of National Geographic, but time has eroded the actual source. What has not been eroded is the intense draw I felt that day to find some way to make history right. To by some means give those two young boys a better fate than the one their lives held for them. I began to work on a story that would become a lifetime work.

I do not recall when I settled on the working title of Heir to Magic, but I think it was in the early 1990’s. Over the years I have also changed the names of the boys in my story, for a time Edward has been named Henry instead, but I may change that back. Or …. This is all off the topic of WHY I write, though, so let’s get back to that.

A few years before she passed away my mom and I were watching a sitcom called Momma’s Family late one evening and she told me that she loved to watch it because the family was more messed up than hers. It was a means of escape for her into a world of amusement at the troubles that the characters faced in each episode. It was a way for her to, for half an hour a week, see things could have been hilariously worse than they were in her own life.

It was only days before my father passed away that I happened to ask him why he read science fiction and he replied that when he was young and doing guard duty in the Army he had found a copy of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction laying on the railing of the guard tower. He took it home, read every story in it, and returned it to where he had found it the next day. The simple act of someone leaving a magazine of short stories laying on a railing had made him a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy.

Both my mother and father encouraged reading for me, I recall many times as a young girl when my father would seek me out to give me a novel, telling me that he thought that I would really enjoy the book. Through him I found so many wonderful worlds and stories and became an avid reader of all things Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Life has a way of making things like reading luxuries that one cannot partake in, however, and as I grew older it came to be more and more difficult to set aside my worries and stress and vanish into a book. It took exceptional books to keep my attention long enough for me to escape my worries, and that became the kind of book I wanted to write. Escapes, stories that drew the reader in and let them forget that their life was in turmoil. If only for a brief few moments as they read the words I had written.

And at the core of that dream still resides two small princes who died centuries ago. I write because I want to make the world a better place, even in fiction, for those who life has abused too much. And I suppose that is the short answer that I have been seeking, so I will end this now and stop rambling.

Why do you write? Share your reason in the comments, on your own blog, on Twitter… maybe just write them down in your own private journal that no one else will ever read, but write it out. Explore the question and reconnect with the part of yourself that understands why you spend so much time on something that you know will never pay back what you have put into it. Why do you write?

Nora Roberts vs Plagiarism

I came across something on Twitter this evening that caught my attention.

I went looking for what was up and made my way to Nora Roberts’ website where I found that she had made not a rant, but a promise a few days ago.

Writers are aware of the dangers of others plagiarizing their work, and it is hard hard work to write a book. It takes a lot of hours of not just writing the story, but then rereading it and adjusting it and fixing places so that all the parts work as a whole and assuring that all of the lose ends are brought to a neat and satisfying conclusion at the end of the story.

Someone might think that it is not that big of a deal to just lift a small set of words out of tens of thousands of words. But trust me, writers put a lot of real work into those few words that someone decided were so great they wanted to claim credit for them.

I’ll write a scene, then go back and adjust how it reads to make it better. Then adjust it again so that it better conveys what I want to say, then adjust it again so that it touches the perfect emotion in the reader. Add in about 200 more adjustments and minor re-phrasings to get the passage to fit with the tone and mood and overall atmosphere of the story… there is a lot of hard hard work that goes into creating a piece of fiction that someone will possibly never read. Don’t even get me started on the work that is added if I decide to redo the scene with another character as the viewpoint.

I might never see any payment for my hard work, and if I do see any money from it it will quite likely never equal how much work I put into creating that passage.

And yet… there are people out there that think nothing of taking that passage and claiming that it was written by them and selling a book they put no real effort into. A book that was ghost written from bits and pieces of other books.

Those are the thieves that have been brought to my attention by Ms. Roberts’ experience and her writing about them. I doubt there is much that I can do, but I thank those, like Ms. Roberts, who have taken on the battle to try to stop the theft of writing. Hopefully one day my writing is to a point where others can read it, and while I understand that imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, and would be open to the option of fans writing stories set in my worlds, I would not want others to profit off of the words I have struggled so hard to create. Especially through the claim of having been the crafter of those passages and scenes.

Thank you, Ms. Roberts, for standing up for writers. I’ll stand up with you as best I am able and help support the real artists in the writing community.

Found old manuscript from 1998

Many eons ago, back in June 1998, I spent the month typing away on a computer that I had borrowed from my sister. As my parents and my sister sat out in the dining room playing pinochle, I sat in my bedroom typing away on a story that would have the working title The Shadowlord’s Gambit.

I remember going to the library that year and pouring over books that listed published novels so I could be sure that no one else had yet published a story under that title.

In August I printed the entire manuscript out on a dot matrix printer, diligently pulled the edges with the holes off the pages, and set to work rereading it. That fall I pulled the sheets all apart, punched holes in them, affixed little paper re-enforcement things to them, and put it all into a rather large three-ring binder that I took with me when me and my parents went for a road trip from Alaska to the Mexican border and back up through Utah, with time taken to show me things like where my dad grew up in Prescott, Arizona and stuff.

I remember reading that novel I had written and thinking it was really great.

Then I remember misplacing it for a few years, finding it a few years later and realizing that what I had wrote was best hidden in the bottom of a box and lost in the shed.

It was bad. Dreadful. Horrible. I had wrote nothing less than a narration of a bad Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

And now… I’ve found it again. I was looking through some things that had come out of the old house and there it was, beside an early version of Heir to Magic. I’m currently stuck on the ending of The Queen’s Champion, so I have this wild and crazy idea of reading what is probably the worst thing I’ve ever finished to get myself back to working on the story I am supposed to be working on.

Can I make The Shadowlord’s Gambit into a book worth publishing? I dunno, but I am going to try. It’ll be a self-published book I am sure. I’m thinking I might use it as the bonus for my Patreon supporters. Go through and type back in the story as it is now and share it with my Patreon supporters as I work on the Heir to Magic series. We’ll see how it goes when I read a few pages of it, if I share it or scream in terror and throw it into a fire.

New Division 2 video.. unlocking Archive Safe house at level 6

A new video of The Division 2 to kick off my effort to get back into uploading game play videos. This is some footage of me roaming around in the game world and setting off at level 6 to unlock the Archive safehouse, which is in an area where the enemies are much higher than my level.

Why can’t the NPCs run when you save them in The Division 2?

Going along in the Division 2 and there are missions to save people that are going to be publicly executed. This is all well and good for a mission type, but I really wish that after I saved them the NPCs would either run their little backsides off away from the area or at the very least would take cover when they grab a gun. I keep ending up with them dying because they are either going after the enemy with a baseball bat or standing in the open firing with a pistol as someone opens up on them with an assault rifle.



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