I put on a lot of faces, silly, smart, funny, unfunny. I hide behind masks, some being parts of myself, some being parts of who people want me to be. Deep down, I’m sad. I’m sadder than I’ve ever been, and every day I get sadder. The weight of sadness crushes down upon me till it feels like I can’t move, I can’t breathe, I don’t want to move….I don’t want to breathe. There’s not a good reason for it, though there are reasons for some of it. I do not want pity, or attention, or to be told it’ll be okay. I put this out here because it’s me, and because I want more people to know me, though I’ll never give anybody a good chance. People scare me, and they probably will as long as I wake up. I hide in games, I hold them up as a great medium because they help me get through my days, they offer me false strength I don’t have, because if I can hide inside them
I am not a poet, or an artist, or a philosopher. I can only write my feelings down as they are, pure. I throw myself so hard into anything I do, and it’s never good enough. I am sorry you are hearing me whine about this world, but if I can’t put it here, on my corner of the internet, pouring my heart out so people might know some part of me, where can I? I’m not special. I’m not someone interesting. I’m me, and I’m sorry.
1.) First, in any interview I do I like to just start with the basics in case someone doesn’t know who you are, can you tell who you are, what you do, and where people can find your work?
2.) Now that that’s out of the way, what got you into writing franchise books?
I wrote a full-length manuscript and shopped it around for seven years. It never did sell, but I started getting “good” rejection letters. And because of connections I had made through my efforts, I got on an audition list for TSR. No publishers do this any more that I know of, but it was a good break for me and led to the publication of VAMPIRE OF THE MISTS
3.) What franchise series (star trek, starcraft, world of warcraft etc. . .) do you enjoy writing most for, and why?
Aww, now that’s just asking me which of my children is my favorite. I’ve enjoyed participating in each one of the shared universes. I can’t really narrow it down. I will say that I have a tremendous working with Blizzard, that has been extremely rewarding and creatively inspiring.
4.) Do you think it’s more of a challenge to write within the constraint of characters that have established history, lore, and expectations (ie: Sylvanas from Warcraft universe) than to create your own?
For me, absolutely. I don’t look as tie-in works as “lesser” creations. So for my own self-respect, I have to make sure that I’m as proud of them as I would be for my original work. That means that all the things that I would put into an original novel (strong characters, good pacing, clear writing, a solid plot, interesting dialogue etc.) I need to make sure appear in my tie-in fiction. Then on top of all that, I have to make sure that I have captured characters that other people have created–and that those creators are happy with my work. So yes, I think it’s much more of a challenge to get that right.
5.) If you could complete rewrite a character (change their personality/history/etc. . .) from any of your franchise novels, who would you pick and what would you like to do to them?
Fun fact: When I was younger, between the Star Wars movies THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI, I mused on who Yoda meant when he said “There is another.” I came up with a story about the Emperor’s daughter, who was sent to kill Luke, and who fell in love with him instead. Someone else had the same idea–enter the famous Mara Jade, not the Emperor’s daughter but the Emperor’s Hand. So if I could wave a magic wand, I’d have my storyline. But Mara is an amazing character too!
6.) To aspiring franchise writers, how did your relationship with blizzard come about, did you contact them or did they contact you? How would you suggest getting into this?
The best advice I can give you is to work hard on your own, original fiction. Editors of tie-in work, are looking for professionals who often have to work under tight deadlines. (See my above comments about the challenges of this work!) Very, very, very rarely will they publish a first time novelist. Your odds of selling are much better with your own work already out there. These days, some publishers/franchises do story contests, like Blizzard does; that could be another way to get a foot in the door. Do your research about who owns the rights to the franchise, and what your options are.
7.) What was your most challenging character to write? Why?
Initially, it was a toss-up between Luke Skywalker and Captain James T. Kirk, because they are such pop culture icons. However, my “ear”served me well, and once I got over my “stage fright” I found them to be wonderfully fun and fulfilling characters to write.
8.) Do you see yourself sticking to franchises or do you see yourself creating your own intellectual properties someday?
Actually, I’ve had several original short stories and half a dozen original novels published. I’d love to delve more into that. I’m actually working on reviving a fantasy series called THE FINAL DANCE, which was cancelled without the last book(s) being written. Wish me luck on that, and I’ll let readers know how that goes!
9.) A bit of a running joke with my online interviews as well (that my readers would shoot me if I didn’t include) what do you have in your pocket at this moment?
“String, or nothing!” Actually, nothing, but usually it’s my cell phone.
10.) And lastly, is there anything you’d like to say or get out there that I may not have necessarily asked or you don’t think someone would think to ask?
If you have enjoyed my work, post reviews! Try out my original fiction, many of my books are available now as e-books or from audible.com. And email me with what you’d like to see–I can’t always reply but I always read them. Also….thank you to all who have purchased my work. You make it possible for me to do something I love, and I hope to entertain you all for many years to come!
Games do not have to be fun. I have believed this with my heart ever since the first game touched mine. To believe that hinders the entire medium, doesn’t allow us to explore dark or troubling aspects. It only allows us to make fictional playgrounds, be they for silly fantasies, or violent fantasies, or happy, peaceful fantasies. What it lacks then is the ability to be real, or to make you truly feel the spectrum of emotions we as humans have; horror, bliss, despair, anger, love. I’m not sure why we’re so afraid of games tackling difficult subjects. Do we want to preserve the innocence of our medium?
My birthday (April 14th) I received a present, a copy of a game called ‘To The Moon’ and it’s soundtrack. With the express note from a friend who usually doesn’t recommend this ‘I want you to try it.’ Please note it says I want you to try it, not, ‘I think you’ll enjoy it.’ I put off playing it the day of my birthday, and that night they asked if I’d played it. Now, this friend never recommends anything, and to insist twice is a rarity I can’t say I’ve seen from them before. The last game they even requested I play was Cave Story, and well, I fell in love with that game.
So I sat down yesterday at 8:30 A.M. ready to play for a little while, I’d seen from a brief boot up the night before to see if it worked it had a save feature. At about 1:30 I sent a message to my most important person, telling them I love them and I never ever want to lose them. My eyes were filled with tears, and they were convinced something was wrong. What I’d just experienced was a deep emotional connection I hadn’t expected, not with the adorable low-res graphics, or the title ‘To The Moon.’ It all speaks hope, happiness, exploration. What I got was a beautiful story, a love story. One that at a few points literally brought me to having to stop.
This ‘game’ certainly isn’t for everybody. There’s not a lot of gameplay to it, but there is a story, a very real story, with real characters, and you do learn to care about them. Soft piano music accompanies you through much of the game, and I’m very glad my friend got me the soundtrack edition.
Expect a full review of this game later this week after a couple more playthroughs. Also expect spoilers.
Thanks for not giving up on me,
So long, and thanks for all the fish.Read More
This is a post that’s needed writing for a long time, and with me offering it up to many people recently, like Tauren Think Tank, and Convert to Raid, it’s time for me to finally start putting off this difficult to write post, and get on with it. The issue is I’m not sure that I’m good enough to do the topic justice, I usually try to be passionate but lighthearted about things like this, to be optimistic, and to say ‘this will get better.’ I can’t do that as well with this, it doesn’t ‘get better’ you learn to cope and deal, and to try not to hurt when it does affect you. You grow into understanding your limitations and sometimes you can’t make things better.
I’m agoraphobic, to those who don’t know what that is, it applies to almost two entirely separate phobias in my head, but that I can understand what links them, the fear of open or particularly public spaces. I have a lot of issues handling more than 3 or 4 people at once, and even things like trying to stay involved in guild chat can cause panic spikes, uncomfortableness and pain. Vent and mumble are also rough, and while I -know- it’s stupid, and psychological, and the panic is entirely irrational, I can’t stop it, or my mind literally shutting down from it at times.
It’s rough, and even my own situation I feel is unique, talking to others it’s hit or miss at whether they get triggered by online stuff, particularly text chats. It really comes down to the perception I think, in my head chat rooms have always been a group of real people in my head, I picture them chatting to me from the same room. Anybody that’s met me in real life from online comments that I’m exactly the same person because I see people as people no matter where they are or the medium we’re meeting in. To those that are affected in the same way I am, I understand and some people just can’t get it.
I primarily limit myself to whispers and limited exposure to guild chat, I started a running joke about the GM putting me back in my cage because letting me out for long times is a bad idea. While she’s never responded to the joke, I hope she knows how grateful I am she lets me do it to kind of have an out when the nervousness overwhelms me. Skolnick from Warcraft Less Traveled and Darkmoon Herald has been flooded quite recently by me of things I’ve discovered out in Pandaria, primarily trying to occupy myself and find some alone time away from daily hubs and the crowds. I’ve always tried to make the best of what I have and focus my fear into while not a good thing, at least find enjoyment when I do have to step away from the crowd, less I suffer a panic attack and alienate them.
There’s one person I really have to give a special shoutout for in Reckoning, and that’s my friend Rhysa. When I whispered her a few weeks back to really try to start my networking in the guild, she was very kind and patient, and she’s been happily willing to work with me. We primarily talked in party and whispers and quested together, and we started voicing in mumble originally, but people randomly popping in, or large crowds forming very close to us would affect my comfort level and enjoyment of the game, particularly for longer tasks like dailies, it was do-able, but uncomfortable, like a bad pair of heels, or twisting boxers, as a metaphor for females and males respectively. We finally worked out to talking over a slightly more private medium where people couldn’t join in unless invited, and that was Skype.
I’ve not found a way to make my fear less real, or less troubling. I’ve not found a way to really cure the ‘always watching the party’ feeling you get because being in the crowd will irrationally terrify you, make you nervous, make your stomache churn and bubble and hurt and if you’re really unlucky, get out of control. Cause a scene, and struggle to regain control as you shudder and shake and cry and hurt. Lonely but unable to ever to join a group hug, is how I heard someone said it once. But I have found things to help combat it, and make it more tolerable, at least in context of World of Warcraft though many of these tips could easily apply to other games.
- Make sure the people ‘in authority’ know your illness and issues. Things like guild officers or raid leaders need to know, particularly if you feel it could ever be an issue.
- Don’t be afraid to apologize and explain your situation if it gets overwhelming. Anybody worth the time will be understanding that you need a break from the Golden Lotus hub for a few, than force you to suffer through an anxiety attack just to quest with them.
- Don’t be afraid to go exploring by yourself to clear your mind and lower your panic levels. I’ve found many neat things in Pandaria doing this, listen to Warcraft Less Traveled and visit some of those spots! It can be a lot of fun to just fly around if you let it.
- On a day you know you’re going to have to be with lots of people like guild events or raiding, do your best to make the day as quiet and easy as possible, maybe skip dailies that day, or just turn off guild chat or don’t even play the game till raid time.
- Have some life lines, some people you trust you can send messages to privately in some way (realid, twitter, instant messenger phone, etc. . . ) that if you do have a panic attack and have to just shut down the game, that they can explain what’s going on and find some filler.
- Try to get to know people in whispers, small questing groups, etc. . . of people you’re likely to spend time with like the raid team. While even 9 trusted/liked people is extremely overwhelming at times, it’s leagues better than 2 trusted and 7 aquaintances/mostly strangers. Try to find a time when they’re questing and maybe looking for a distraction (dungeoning/raiding time is a bad time to whisper.) Try to find things to do together, like pug while on skype/vent/mumble.
Those are just a few of the tips I have, and while some may seem like common sense I’m putting them all up here for people that may be confused, or unsure about what’s acceptable. The best advice is to be honest, and surround yourself with people who -do- understand and that you can trust. I’m extremely grateful to my guild on Wyrmrest Accord for being so understanding, and working with me. I’m grateful to my lifelines, and my friends, new and old, and upcoming.
In many ways, my podcasts, videos, and this blog are in some ways therapy for this as well. I can talk to nobody, talk at a readership I can see as a nameless faceless blob. An audience that is a singular entity that I don’t have to think about and in a way, talk to nobody while talking to everybody. To share my thoughts and feelings and knowledge with the world. To be part of a community, a party, a group of people, and not worry about anxiety attacks. I’m grateful to everyone who enjoys what I do, because it’s my way of being with you.
Happy travels everyone, I hope to return to posting regularly, because this place -is- therapy for me, and you guys are all extremely valuable to me. Thank you for not giving up on me.
Scar tissue rests upon scar tissue,
Empty hearts, pain upon pain,
Abusing hearts feasting deeply,
Echoes of crying in my brain.
Numb, walls closing in tight,
Introversion, the world scary,
Lost in fantasy, lost in worlds,
Waitings for the dragons fairy.
Making others smile deeply,
Open up the crack a tiny bit,
Make others laugh softly,
Feel less like a complete shit.
Will I die forever alone?
Every pain makes me close,
My heart aches every day,
But I write flowery prose.
Many would say I deserve,
The bed I lay down inside,
Perhaps they are right,
Too many tears have cried.