I just paid the bill on the website for another year so I figure I should post at least something to mark that.
I think it goes without saying that I have struggled mightily as of late to write. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. It’s just that when I sit down, the blank page is intimidating. Classic problem amongst writers and you’d think for as long as I’ve been doing this plus grad school, I’d be over it. But nope.
Still, I haven’t been entirely quiet on the keyboard. Let’s see …
I wrote three encounters/adventures for Dungeons and Dragons that were self-published on the DMsGuild:
- https://www.dmsguild.com/product/367419/Collective-Encounters-Vol-II : An encounter under the name of M.A. Hughes
- https://www.dmsguild.com/product/366294/The-Lakelit-Tower : A one shot based off something done during a D&D campaign I ran with friends a couple of years ago.
- https://www.dmsguild.com/product/379729/The-Night-Before-Winters-Fest : A winter themed one-shot that was fun to create and write.
Made a few bucks off off of those and they were fun. Not published was me building a world guide for my next D&D campaign which was a fun way to stretch my brain and do some world building. Sometime in the future that might see the light of day but right now, that’s just for me.
None of this compares to writing another novel though. I’ve started and stopped a few different stories since graduating from Seton Hill with my MFA. One was about an assassin who could speak with the dead and utilize their powers to accomplish his goals. I thought it had promise but I think it needs to marinate a little longer in this brain.
On the page right now in front of me though is one that has my interest (don’t they all?). It’s about a group of adventurers who made a name for themselves by defeated a Big Bad Evil Guy. As a result, they are hailed as heroes and showered with rewards. Fast forward fifteen or so years and the BBEG returns and our heroes are exposed as frauds. What comes of that is the story. I like the concept and I’ve even started putting some words on the page, albeit slowly. Here’s hoping I get more, right?
Been a while, hasn’t it? *checks notes*
Time to share with you all the excitement and the great adventures we’ve had since I last posted!
We got a new furnace. That was exciting. And a new dishwasher. That was less exciting.
Um … we built a garden shed behind the garage. Quite handy for storing stuff.
I fulfilled a life ambition and wrote a module for Dungeons and Dragons that I self published (https://www.dmsguild.com/product/366294/The-Lakelit-Tower). It’s made a few bucks which is nice. I have a couple of others that I’m working on so we’ll see how well those do.
Uh … oh yeah, we got yet another cat. Say hi to Millie.
Steph had seen her repeatedly at the Humane Society and described her as a quiet, calm cat that got along with everyone else. Since being introduced into our house, she has gotten along with our other cats just great. Except she’s no longer quiet and calm. She sounds like a dinosaur when she meows and she tears through the house like she’s on a mission. Overall though she’s been a nice addition to the family.
In a couple of months, we are planning on going to Mexico. Our first real vacation in nearly five years! Holy crap. I’m looking forward to just sitting in the sun and reading and relaxing. Assuming Covid plays nice and doesn’t develop yet another strain because humanity has proven that we’re a bunch of morons.
That’s about all I can think of. Hopefully I’ll stop being a dork and remember to update the blog more often than once every six months. Haha … yeah. Let’s see how that goes.
Yup – we’ve been shot. Twice actually.
A month ago Steph was able to secure us some shots in a rural town about 30 minutes south of us. Decorah wasn’t getting much in the way of shots but apparently the rural parts of Iowa were seeing an excess. Not sure if it was people not wanting to get shots or if they were getting too many or what. Either way, Steph got us in and yesterday was the second one.
And boy, has it been a doozy. We got the shots at 2:30pm and aside from some muscle soreness in the shot location, we were doing pretty good. Then came the night … I woke up at 3am with a headache, complete body aches, and chills. Steph was fine except that neither of us slept well. Our entire bodies were sensitive to the touch which made getting comfortable hard. Throughout the day, I alternated between fevers and chills, headaches, feeling like I’d run a couple of marathons, and just complete tiredness. Steph did a little better than me thankfully.
It was weird as in we’d be suffering, take a short nap or rest, and then be perfectly fine for an hour. Then get smacked again. Steph could barely focus on the computer screen (she chose to work today; I took the day off) and eventually just took a long nap. I think I took like six naps throughout the day.
It’s now 7pm and I’m feeling human. From what all my friends say, we should be on the mend now. Probably going to be sore tomorrow or tired. But hey, it’s a step towards normalcy and getting things back on track. So well worth it for now. Let’s hope we don’t have to go through this again.
Today we said goodbye to our Big Kitty, Skye.
We got her seven years ago. She was a stray but you could never tell that. Though she was shy at first, Skye quickly became a lover and a lap cat. She was the friendliest cat I’d ever met and none have ever purred as much as her. Simply looking in her direction was enough to set the motor going. She was also the rare cat where when she rolled over on her belly, it wasn’t a trap. She really wanted you to pet her belly and she loved every second of it.
She was Bee’s best snuggle buddy, Indy’s biggest girlfriend, and Cici’s reluctant but tolerant big sister. She loved laying about in the cat yard and letting the sun warm her belly.
Skye was taken from us far too soon but she’ll be rolling about in a field of catnip (her opium of choice) and waiting for us with a purr. Until we meet again girl.
So … 2021. Well, it can’t really be that much worse than 2020, can it?
Truth be told, 2020 did have some of it’s bright moments. I graduated with my Master of Fine Arts and I was able to keep my job throughout the pandemic, as did Steph. We both kept our health and maybe improved some due to having plenty of time to work out. So for us – hey, stuff didn’t suck terribly.
On the creative front, I finished off a D&D campaign that was 3.5 years in the making (maybe I’ll write on that sometime later) and started up a new one. It may not sound like much but it was about all I could bring forth into existence this year. Hopefully this new year will bring with it some writing. I hope to post more on the blog as well but not going to make a resolution for that. We know how those go around here (looks at last post *cringe*).
So off to a new year. May it be better. And here, have a picture of the lovely snow outside my office window.
The pandemic and the world itself makes it hard to write but at least a beautiful fall day makes for a good picture while walking across campus at work.
Huh … so much for that ‘update more often once grad school is done’ I promised myself. Let’s just start off with an update and see how things go from there.
The world is ending! But we seem to be handling that pretty well.
Luckily the town we live in is rural so we’ve had zero problems getting food of any sort. In fact, a lot of the local farmers have put things together for ease of ordering so we are getting fresh veggies and stuff on a regular basis. I think our fridge is packed more now than it usually is. We’ve also made Friday nights our ‘Order from a local joint and movie’ night. It’s been nice, as far as the world falling down around us.
The private college I work for went Work From Home a few weeks back. All our classes are online for the rest of the semester and apparently through the summer. This is a bit weird for me. I’m a tech support guy. My official title is Workstation Support Communications Administrator, which is a really fancy way of saying “I fix computers and make sure words look good”. But it’s very hard to fix computers when you aren’t on campus nor is anyone else. So I spend a lot of time these days emailing professors and troubleshooting stuff via email or the occasional remote desktop. And a lot of Google Hangout meetings.
On the plus side, my home office is now out on our four seasons porch. I’m surrounded by a ton of windows, plenty of sunlight, and lots of fresh air. It’s not bad all things considered. It’s taken me a bit of get used to the ‘at home’ discipline but I’m getting there. My at-home coworkers, however, can be a pain in the ass sometimes.
Well, it took 2.5 years but I finally found one of those diplomas with my name on it. This week (Wednesday afternoon, actually), I was awarded my Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.
To summarize up the week – tons of stress for my thesis presentation and defense on Saturday night (with Steph using FaceTime to attend), a sense of ‘well now what?’ for the rest of the week, capped off by a nice graduation ceremony. We had a wonderful speech by my classmate Kathleen Jackson but more importantly for me, Steph was able to fly out for graduation.
It’s a bit of a surreal feeling, a sentiment many of my cohort shared. The last couple of years have been nothing but this program. Writing pages to turn into critique partners. Marking up other pages to give feedback. Tons of reading, analyzing, creating lesson plans, and essays and thesis statements.
And now? Nothing.
My time is mine. No homework. No pages or critique partners. It’s all up to me.
I won’t complain. The Writing Popular Fiction program has been wonderful for me. I’ve picked up a lot, learned even more about writing, and surprised myself by being open to teaching. Maybe that’s on the horizon, maybe it’s not. But I regret nothing and would gladly do it again. Just … not right away.
So what’s my plan? Right now, it’s to take a little break. I really haven’t had time for ‘me’ since the program has started. I want to read books again for pleasure. I intend to tighten up Everest (my thesis) and then fire it off to agents to see what sort of reaction it gets. I also have plans for another novel that I’m sketching out now. So I’ve got a lot ahead of me here and I’m looking forward to it.
Rather than end with some sort of moving or encouraging or fitting words, I just have to admit I’m all out of words right now. So have some pictures from graduation.