jump to navigation

New art: Garrick July 17, 2018

Posted by thejinx in art, enduring chaos.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Awfully late with this one, but I wanted to share this fantastic drawing of Garrick from Enduring Chaos by Stephen Peterson of TriCity Studios!

Advertisements

Scenes from the mountains June 19, 2018

Posted by thejinx in photography.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Sharing some shots from a recent trip to Colorado and Taos, New Mexico. Among the outings were a ride on the Royal Gorge train, a visit to the Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. A few of these were taken with my phone, but most were using my camera. In my usual way, no editing of any kind was done on any of these pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Finding light out of darkness June 9, 2018

Posted by thejinx in life.
Tags: , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Once again, mental health is on our collective consciousness. The reasoning is tragic, but I’m glad that it is, because sometimes, those still fighting need to hear that others are thinking about them, that there is help available. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain show us, once again, that depression doesn’t care how successful or inspiring one is. Even people who seem like they should have nothing to complain about can suffer from it, and I guarantee you that those so afflicted berate themselves for feeling so miserable.

We need to talk about it. We need to hear that there are so many people out there – friends, family, and strangers – who care and who want to see sufferers improve. We need to tell the un-afflicted that sometimes it’s not enough just to say you’re there, that you need to actively reach out when someone withdraws. And we need to share our stories, especially the stories of success, so that those in the deepest pits know that there is a way out.

With that in mind, I just wanted to add a few things to the conversation, based on my personal experience:

1. Get help if you’re hurting. You go to the doctor when you’re sick, so go when your mental health is suffering. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But there’s a wealth of reasons why the afflicted don’t seek help when they should. I waited entirely too long to seek help for my anxiety, probably mainly due to pride. But I’ve been on medication for a couple months now and it has made all the difference. And don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately make a difference; I got lucky this time, but when I was fighting depression in high school, I went through at least half a dozen different medications before I found one that worked for me.

If you don’t have a family doctor or you live in the U.S. and don’t have health insurance, Google is your friend. Search for mental health resources; they are out there. You deserve to go through your life without hurting. The search may be exhausting but you are worth the effort. You would do this for someone else, wouldn’t you? So put in the work for yourself. Look for what you need to get better, whether that’s medication, therapy, support groups, or just getting out more.

2. If physically possible, get some exercise. I have neglected this one much more recently and managed to forget that it is a crucial part of my treatment. Medication alone just isn’t enough for me, and it’s an easy way to work on feeling better while working out other treatment options. You don’t need any special equipment to do it. Couch to 5K is a free smartphone app and is an easy, gradual way to start jogging. Wii Fit and dancing games can be done from the comfort of your home and offer rewards and incentives for continuing. Do twenty minutes of jumping jacks if you have to. I know that when you’re in the throes of depression it’s extremely hard to do, but force yourself to do it.

3. Repeat after me: it is okay to take care of yourself. This is something I frequently have to remind myself. It doesn’t matter how much I truly believe it, I still have to convince myself that I’m allowed to take a break from work. Your health, and your mental health, are a priority. So go ahead. Cancel that event if you have to. Buy that blended coffee drink. Take the long way home and take a drive out into the country. Go to that local attraction you’ve always wanted to see. Go to the movie theatre alone. You take care of you. I know it can be hard, particularly if you work retail (hat’s off to you folks), but sometimes you need it, and you definitely deserve it. Mentally ill people are some of the hardest working and most caring and giving of themselves, because they tend to be so concerned with others. You deserve a break, in whatever form that may take.

I was there. I remember those days, and occasionally still have them, when I feel worthless and unlovable and ugly and a waste of resources. Frankly, it hurts a little just to write those words. But I’ve been fighting it long enough and I’ve learned enough to know that it isn’t true. So if you don’t believe it yourself, then take it from me, someone’s who’s gone through it and (mostly) made it through to the other side:

You are worth the effort.

You deserve to be happy.

You are allowed to help yourself.

The world is better with you in it.

Your friends and many others want to see you feel better.

You are not alone.

New art: Thunder Vale Huntress June 8, 2018

Posted by thejinx in art.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

On the topic of badly delayed posts, it’s time I shared some art I did only a full month ago. For Christmas, we got ourselves a box set of Super Dungeon Explore. As soon as I saw the Thunder Vale Huntress figure, I wanted to paint her.

1432026293841

However, I wasn’t crazy about her in-game colour scheme.

daab173819e9f636aca98959dd2d9c73_original

I saw her differently, so I decided to paint her my own way.

IMG_0688

Then, for some reason, the night I finished painting her, I was overcome with a desire to draw her as well. My muse, ADHD as it is, decided to devote my weekend to it. Not only that, but I broke out art supplies I haven’t touched in years, such as my 11″ x 14″ Bristol board (now possibly my favourite paper for markers, which I hadn’t tried before) and the brush pen I had yet to seriously try. I even went and attempted some serious comic inking, as well as more detailed horse anatomy than I’ve ever tried drawing before.

SDE centaur

Admittedly, I am pretty happy with this drawing (even if most of my shading on the horse body disappeared when I added the brown). I just wish my muse would get this excited about the projects I’m actually supposed to be working on.

Sisters of Chaos book 2 update June 5, 2018

Posted by thejinx in conventions, enduring chaos, writing.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

book-proofreading.jpg

I haven’t said anything about the progress of the sequel to Enduring Chaos in a long time. It’s intentional, though I’m not exactly sure why. Some nonsensical, subconscious mix of not wanting to get anyone’s hopes up, feeling like people would just be frustrated with me posting about what I’m doing while still not having the book ready, feeling like I’m making too big a deal of it, still taking blog posts too seriously to just sit down and write one, or perhaps some straight-up pride (or guilt). But, it’s coming up on five years since the first book was released, which makes me groan, and I owe you, the readers, if nothing else, an explanation.

If you’ve been waiting for book two, all I can say is I’m sorry.

I have been working on it. After making a push last year and in late 2016, I finally finished the final first draft last summer. I then spent the next few months doing my preliminary edits before sending it off to beta readers in late fall. My beta readers gave me fantastic feedback, which came back in winter. Unfortunately, they made it clear that the story still needed some significant editing.

The editing has been a slog for the last few months. Just trying to figure out how to portray what I was trying to show instead of the less favourable impression the readers got, on one scene alone, held me up for a month or more. This has proven to be a very challenging book to write, and subsequently edit. There are particularly complex conflicts and character interactions, a whole wealth of new characters with their own cultures and histories to introduce, struggles not to bog down readers with too many characters or too much info in a notably bigger story than the first book*, dealing with all the backstory that a sequel entails (which I have never written before), remnants of earlier drafts that more often than not end up mucking up the works and have to be reworked, even hints of character development that the characters themselves aren’t aware of. Getting everything to align properly has also been tricky, because unlike every other book I’ve written, I wrote consecutively occurring storylines one POV at a time, and balancing timelines and spreading out scenes from different characters when I put it all together has required a lot of tweaking. It’s a lot of work and a lot of aspects that are difficult to handle.

* Spoiler alert: I completely failed at that one. Still working on some scenes there.

However, the beta readers are in agreement that it is a much better book than the first. Even though it’s not where I want it to be yet, I am quite pleased with it so far and have high hopes for it when it’s finished. The manuscript has already been through a lot of changes over the years and it has become a much stronger book for all the work I’ve put into it. I briefly considered trying to push it out for Gen Con this year, but I don’t want to rush it just to get it done. I want this book to be as good as it can be before I release it, particularly because it’s already better than the first book.

I have vowed not to write any other novel until I’ve finished this trilogy. I will, though, have a new short story related to the series in this year’s Missing Pieces volume at Gen Con. (It features a minor character introduced in book 2.) I do have at least a soft goal of having the book ready by next year’s Gen Con, if for no other reason than that the short story I have planned for next year’s Missing Pieces will contain a major spoiler for the book. I will admit that a couple years ago, I wrote a mostly unrelated novella that was intended to be for an earlier volume of Missing Pieces, but after finding that it needed much more editing than I could reasonably accomplish within the time frame for the anthology, it has been entirely back-burnered. Aside from that, and despite my muse occasionally (*cough* since last weekend) giving me a massive burst of inspiration for some other story, I have not written anything else.

I have a working title for the book which might end up being the final title, but I don’t want to share it yet because I’m not 100% satisfied with it.

For those who have been waiting for the book, thank you for your patience and I apologize again for the lengthy wait. If there’s anything you want to know about the book or any hints you’d like to see to hold you over until it’s ready, please don’t hesitate to comment here or send me a message through my contact form.

Meanwhile, I hope to see you at any of the Brain Lag events coming up this summer:

June 17: Brampton ComiCon – Brampton, ON
July 13-15: Ad Astra – Richmond Hill, ON
August 2-5: Gen Con – Indianapolis, IN
September 22: Forest City Comicon – London, ON

Worlds in miniature December 2, 2017

Posted by thejinx in art.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

I’ve recently discovered the joy of (gaming) miniature painting. So, I thought I’d share my progress here. Most of these figures are from Star Wars: Imperial Assault. For those who aren’t familiar with it, these minis are about 1.5″ tall.

Gaarkhan

Loku

Imperial officers

Verena Talos

Imperial probe droids

IMG_0157

Medical droid MHD-19

IMG_0158

Gideon Argus

And my latest, R2-D2 (I used a wash for the first time on him, to give him that “seen a lot of action” look)

I also painted an expansion mini for Super Dungeon Explore, ninja Cola (I did not paint the base on this one)

Words left behind October 16, 2017

Posted by thejinx in enduring chaos, writing.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

It takes a lot of work to write a novel.

All authors say that, but how can a reader understand what that means? Some authors throw out numbers like it took X hours of work, or X months or years. And yet, as a reader, one might look at one author who releases one book every five years, and another who releases a dozen in the same time, and wonder why the first can’t match the second. Especially with series. The world and characters are already established, right? Shouldn’t it be easier?

I think the true measure of what’s involved in writing a novel is in all the work you don’t see. Agonizing for hours over a single word. Dialogue rewritten ten times or more. Entire backstories, enough to write short stories or even other novels, for characters who appear only in one chapter. Characters, scenes, entire plot points that an author loved that had to be scrapped. The way it’s constantly on your mind – on a bus, at a grocery store, at a party, at your day job.

For Enduring Chaos, I wrote over 300,000 words that ended up in the trash before it came to the point it is now. At this point, the tally for the series overall is at least 400,000 deleted words. The first book went through three complete, start-to-finish drafts of which nothing remained in the published book. At least two scenes in the final draft were completely rewritten four or five times.

Hours upon hours of research, probably enough to fill a full-time job for a week at least. Conversations with half a dozen different people just for information on horses – some for no other reason than to determine a particular horse’s size, merely for the sake of a single comparison in the book. Research on weaving and weather patterns and etymology and much more. An hour-long conversation with my resident expert, along with taking over a page of notes, about the behaviour of a character who has exactly one spoken line.

I have pages of notes keeping track of the timeline and the distances characters have crossed. I have my own private wiki for notes on the series – characters, locations, artifacts, and more. I have notes everywhere – on my computer, my tablet, my phone, a notebook by my bedside, the cloud. I have pages of notes written for a single scene – and I’ve done that multiple times. I have pages of notes about the backstories that inform each character’s decisions. I even have pages of notes I never kept – writing down dialogue or actions as I was working it out, only to delete it when that conversation passed, or never even happened on page.

And then there’s the unwritten work. Character sketches and maps. Planning out movement during battle scenes. Those thoughts always on my mind. Hours of conversation with my husband about aspects of the book. Hours spent in so many sessions of staring at the screen, working out in my mind how a scene will go. Determining the impact of a certain event upon a character. Thinking. So much time spent inside my own head.

How do you quantify that?

Well… you don’t. A reader only gets the finished book, and a writer has to accept that that’s all most people will see. Sure, you can discuss the writing process at conventions or meet-and-greets, bemoan the struggles of editing with other writers, friends, family, or other witting or unwitting audiences, or write how-to articles or blog posts about it, but the truth is, no one is really going to appreciate the scope of how much work went into your novel except you.

As an author, it’s just part of the job. Writing means rewriting, and it means a lot of writing that will never be seen, not necessarily because it’s not good enough, but because it’s not necessary. We do this and we suffer through deleting words we adored time and again because it’s part of the process.

Because we love writing.

But don’t mistake that for meaning it isn’t hard work.

Gen Con 50 games wrap-up part 3 August 24, 2017

Posted by thejinx in conventions, life.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

And the conclusion of my Gen Con gaming posts. Read on for Pinball Showdown, The Sword of Zaldor: A Fantasy Escape Room, and Here, Kitty, Kitty!

(more…)

Gen Con 50 games wrap-up part 2 August 22, 2017

Posted by thejinx in conventions, life.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Since my first Gen Con games wrap-up post ended up being so long, I decided to break it up into separate posts per day of gaming. So, without further ado, here is my summary of my Friday gaming.

(more…)

Gen Con 50 games wrap-up part 1 August 22, 2017

Posted by thejinx in conventions, life.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

20863249_10155060707918155_8257465401688659497_oGen Con has been my favourite convention/festival since the first time I went there seven years ago. It’s always been my best event for sales and the atmosphere is so welcoming. The tens of thousands of gamers who descend upon Indianapolis are the friendliest bunch of geeks I’ve had the pleasure to be with. And unlike even other massive fan events, the celebration of geekdom spreads well beyond the convention centre and takes over all of downtown Indianapolis. It is the most inviting place for a gamer to be.

There’s one thing I’ve been doing wrong most of the years that I’ve gone, however. I keep missing the point: the games.

Usually, the gaming I take in at Gen Con is an unplanned scramble of trying to find something to play (a rather daunting problem for someone bad at improvisation), without knowing a vast majority of the games there and often not having any company to do so (a fairly insurmountable problem for an introvert). This goes about as well as one might expect. Not to say that I haven’t done my share of gaming there, but it tends to come about more as a happy accident* than through any effort on my part.

This year, I decided to change that pattern. I thoroughly perused the event catalogue and made selections that I submitted the moment event registration opened, scheduling my Thursday through Saturday evenings full up.

It was absolutely the right idea for me. Even though I was strapped for time getting to all my events, I felt much more at ease having a set schedule and I got to try out a number of new games. I didn’t feel like I missed out on the true fun of Gen Con, as I do sometimes when I struggle to find something to play (and often don’t manage to).

In fact, I enjoyed the games I took in this weekend so much that I wanted to write up a summary of them while details are still fresh in my mind. Thursday’s results follow; Friday and Saturday will come in later posts. Due to length and the fact that this is only really of interest to me, the rest is hidden behind the cut tag.

* speaking of happy accidents, have you heard about the new Bob Ross game?
(more…)