Author Archive for Kaine Andrews



17
Nov
19

NaNoWriMo – Halfway Mark

Well, we’ve just passed the halfway point in NaNoWriMo. How’s everyone holding up? Have you managed the 25k words that are supposed to be in place at this point? Far ahead? Already done? Or are you, like me, dragging behind and wallowing in it?

I’m just about to break 10k. Yeah, not even close to the target, and I fall farther behind every day. Mainly because I can’t manage more than 800 words in a session, and usually closer to 400. But I still don’t feel too bad about it. I mean, I feel bad – I always do, isn’t being a bipolar schizophrenic depressive fun? – but I look at it in a slightly more positive light. I wrote something, and I have continued to manage to write something every day for the last 17 days. It may take me six months to finish Chrysanthemum Graves instead of the one month it’s supposed to, but at least I’ll finish the damn thing, and that’s an accomplishment for me. I haven’t managed to complete any writing material except a short piece called “Layers” in literal years, and maintaining any kind of consistent progress has been completely impossible for me.

So, whether I meet the 50k goal or not (spoilers: almost certainly not), NaNoWriMo did that much at least. Got me writing daily, and made me do something.

What about the rest of you? How goes your NaNo progress? Will you make it? Does it matter? Let us know down below!

KA Spiral no signature

16
Nov
19

Updates

Not about fiction, writing, or anything that’s actually relevant. Just going to rant for a second.

I use a Mac. I know that makes some of your eyes bleed, your brains boil, your blood pressure rise; I have a reason for it. In the dim dark days of my youth, I worked in video production and television broadcasting. If you wanted to do that sort of thing, or graphic design, or audio editing, or any creative field, really, you used a Mac. They were the workhorses in that department, and though they were pretty expensive for “just a computer,” they frequently ended up being more bang for the buck when you were doing those things because that’s what they had been built for and the software was built around it.

That isn’t necessarily the case, anymore – FCPX is a damned embarrassment, most of the rest of the Apple Creative Suite has been killed off, rolled into gimped features of FCPX or hasn’t bothered to be updated or functional for any recent systems, and the hardware inside is functionally identical to most Windows PCs – but 20 years ago, that was the way. Since I did a lot of work from home and had to do some edit jobs on location, my home computer and laptop were Macs, too; everything talked to each other, the same software was on all of them, got the job done.

I’ve kept with it primarily to keep that “everything talks to each other” ability and because for the most part, it does what I want it to. There’s the occasional roadblock (not having a Mac executable for games or certain software, mostly), sometimes circumvented by a VM or a Wine wrapper, but nothing major. When it does become a major issue, there’s the wonders of BootCamp. I have Windows 10 on my machine (unwillingly; they removed support for Windows 7, unfortunately.), and lately I’ve been spending more time in there than on macOS, since I’ve been diddling with RPG Maker and streaming software that don’t like running under macOS.

That’s fine. I’m not entirely happy about it, but I have it configured how I want it and it does the damned job. Until the 15th. Windows arbitrarily decided to update. Which it does without warning, and frequently just decides to reboot when I’m in the middle of something. Doesn’t ask, just does. Charming little trick, that. But this last update completely borked my network adapter.

My internet is supposed to be 200 down, 5 up (why the disparity, I dunno; my old service was 40 down, 20 up, and I liked it just fine, but that carrier isn’t available in my new neighborhood.) Now, my computer is upstairs (though it’s an open loft, not strictly a second floor) and I’m connecting via WiFi, so I don’t expect it to be perfect, but since that update, I get an average of .4 down. Still get 5 up, for some reason, but the upload speed doesn’t mean dick when you can’t even open WordPress or your cloud-based manuscripts and Twitter is acting like an old school AOL message board.

Reset the router/modem. Tested every other device on WiFi sitting next to the computer. Split the network and force connected to 5ghz. Nothing helps. Reboot to macOS, getting 70-120 down, 5 up (which is an acceptable degradation, given circumstances, and not unexpected… but at least it’s functional.)

Look into the problem, discover this is a known issue that has happened many times before (pretty much at least once a year since Win10 hit, which just reinforces my loathing for it and desire to go back to Win7, which worked just fine, thank you.) So now I’m having BootCamp redownload its own drivers, so I can forcibly overwrite them on the Windows side. Hopefully I can find a way to disable the auto updates for the network card, so it doesn’t do that crap again. But we’ll see.

So if anyone’s wondering why there isn’t a new and exciting content today, that’s why. Fighting with goddamn updates and reinstalls all bloody day. Ugh.

KA Spiral no signature

15
Nov
19

Fantastic Races and Why To Change Them

It’s safe to say everyone has read a fantasy novel at some point, right? We know all about orcs, goblins, dwarves, elves, dragons and the like. When we read or write in the genre, we’re aware of certain tropes and styles, and by and large, we conform to them.

Why?

When one says “elf,” one tends to think “willowy, long-lived, magical, pointy ears, forests.” There’s a lot of wiggle room in there, but we almost always end up with Legolas. There are other options, other ways to fill that racial niche.

Dwarves. Mining midgets with Scottish accents seem to be the most popular. Dragon Age turning them into political schemers and less-than-scrupulous merchants was brilliant, in my opinion.

When you say “vampire” to an older person, you usually get the Dracula or Lestat motif. Sexy, predatory, dangerous, tragically romantic. When you say it to a younger person you either get the modern variant of that (like Vampire Diaries or True Blood style) or you get Twilight. Much as I hate Twilight for being garbage, the sin isn’t in “what it did to vampires.” Trying to do something different isn’t a crime. Doing it really, really, really badly is. But that’s just me.

But why aren’t there more rule-breakers out there? When I was still working on my Milefront pen-and-paper setting, I decided I didn’t want any elves and dwarves… but I knew I still needed things that fit their tropes. So instead of elves, there were blood-drinking immortals born from a tree, who preferred to hide in their heavily-canopied lairs away from the angry eye of their mother the sun goddess. They were older than other races present in the world and had once ruled the land, but things went south when they pissed off mom, so now they’re dwindling and reclusive, but still magically potent and possess arcane knowledge no one else has access to.

I’m not too down with dwarves, so instead, I had a tribe of dark-skinned giants who crawled from the bowels of the earth, fleeing chthonian horrors and digging uncountable pathways through their mountain homes to confound and capture their pursuers.

Maybe those were stupid changes. Maybe I should have just had elves and dwarves like normal people. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to do something a little different, and I don’t think that’s a sin.

I’d like to see more folks upend that applecart. I want more goblins who are actually corporate bureaucrats keeping slave labor forces forced to push technology further and further. I want dragons who are deified humans who roar with the authority of the gods of old. I want orcs to be a warlike band of lepers and freedom fighters, pushing back against aristocratic and caste-system following elvish nobility.

I want some variety. How about you?

What kind of fantasy tropes have you upended, and how and why? Any good recommendations for fantasy novels that don’t just follow the Tolkien and D&D blueprint? Let us know down below!
KA Spiral no signature

14
Nov
19

Snippet: Chrysanthemum Graves

I don’t know why I seem to like sharing the weird segments of this story that involve The Thirst, but it is what it is. Let me know what you think!

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

The thirst had returned. As before, it came first, then other sensations. Unlike before, vision wasn’t merely a red cloud. Other colors were present this time, though all of them were muted, as though being seen through a piece of murky gauze.

The sound was duller than previously, and the consciousness that hung from the thirst like some barely-glimpsed parasite found there was room for emotion: gratefulness. Things had been far too noisy during that previous period of waking, and now it seemed more normal. The bugs in the walls and the hum of every piece of electronic equipment was gone, as was the thrumming of the man’s heartbeat.

There were voices. Coming from somewhere in the house. A thought, and they drew close. Three voices, three men. Two large ones, one the man from the night before. The larger ones were speaking rapidly, angrily; the other was responding with an apparent calm that seemed to stoke the rage of the two argumentative ones.

The thirst knew they were speaking, and could taste the flavor of the emotions contained in the words, but was unable to make out the words themselves. It might have thought this was odd, if it were capable of thinking as such. As it was, it was only interested in the flares of color and scent that burst around each of the men as they threw their words at each other like weapons.

There. The one with the longer hair. A splash of black across his torso, as though ink had been spilled. A rotten scent, the stench of sewers and backed up disposal units. Something wrong with him.

Cancer, maybe? The consciousness that piggybacked on the thirst asked, with the tentative voice of a little girl raising her hand for the first time in class, prepared to give an answer she was unsure of. The thirst didn’t know, and didn’t care. All it knew is that the one with the long hair would be foul tasting and unlikely to provide much in the way of sustenance.

The other one, who seemed to prefer being quiet except to punctuate his apparent friend’s statements, had no similar blemishes. He was surrounded by a faint green glow, and smelled of fresh grass.

Not here, the mind behind the thirst cautioned. Not now.

The thirst pulsed with rage for a moment, but subsided. That inner voice was right. It wasn’t entirely able to resist its urges, however; the thirst blinked, and found itself tangled around the long-haired man, breathing in that scent and relishing the smell that was underneath it. Something red, thick, metallic. What the thirst really wanted, what it needed. Something about this one was almost as appealing as the man from the other night, scratching an itch that the thirst didn’t understand it had.

There was a gap in the man, something missing from him in a fundamental way that the thirst could see but not explain. It knew what to do, how it would get what it wanted. Slipping into that metaphysical hole in his being, merging into it and settling in like a bear into a den, the thirst waited.

It didn’t know what it was waiting for, only that it would know, given time. This was what it was supposed to do. Something inside said so, just as it had said to wrap around the man from last night’s throat, just as it had whispered to awaken and see this man here. Something was guiding the actions of the thirst, something beyond or above the faint traces of a mind that it still possessed. Whatever guidance was being provided was nearly of the highest importance, second only to the thirst itself. The thirst, having been sated previously, chose to follow direction.

Curling within the man, the thirst saw a multitude of images flickering by, mostly of violent actions. Again and again this man had abused, broken and stolen people and things. That mattered little to the thirst; it was a slave to its own nature, and understood. What puzzled it was the apparent pleasure the man took from it. He did those things not because he had to, but because he wanted to.

Then one image froze. The mind behind the thirst gasped. Red began to seep back into everything, fury driving out other concerns.

It saw, just for a moment, the man standing above a bathtub in a tiled room that was both alien and somehow familiar. In the tub, eyes bulging, arms hanging limply over the sides, gouges torn into the wrists that turned them into lipless mouths that grinned death and spoke blood, was a woman.

Something about this woman fueled the thirst’s anger, made it determined to kill the man it found itself hiding within. In the image, the wrists of his red sport coat were wet. His fingers were pruny. In his left hand he held a pocketknife stained with rust and fresh blood. The sense of satisfaction in the image was almost a physical thing. The thirst could practically hear the man muttering to himself about a job well done. He had killed this woman, and had enjoyed it.

The red haze grew stronger, overtaking the image and leaving nothing but a crimson void. The thirst wailed, wanting more, but knowing it was powerless against the forced slumber that was coming.

But, as before, there would be a period of waking to follow. Retribution would follow that. The thirst demanded it.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

KA Spiral no signature

14
Nov
19

NaNoWriMo, Week 2 — Ham ‘N Eggs

The diary of someone else’s NaNaWriMo journey; stop by and show some support, eh? (Comments are disabled here; please visit the original post.)

Friday started out pretty rough. I only got 800 words, and since I have been pounding out over 1000 a day typically, I was feeling discouraged. I sensed a wall coming, one I wouldn’t be able to break through, and then came Saturday and my kiddos. I was concerned not much writing would get done […]

via NaNoWriMo, Week 2 — Ham ‘N Eggs

13
Nov
19

Doctor Drama

Nothing much to report today; work continues on Chrysanthemum Graves, though at a snail’s pace. I think I’ll have a chunk I feel like sharing tomorrow, or maybe Friday, so if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to check back then.

Today is a medical day, though. Three different doctors in two different cities who are going to poke and prod me and likely leave me exactly as I entered with the exception of less room on the credit card after paying the three different $80 co-pays. Getting really sick of going to these. But if I don’t go, my employer and the folks at disability assume “oh, he’s fine now, no need to worry.” Never mind the back pay they should have dealt out months ago, but they’ll definitely put a hold on anything forthcoming. So I keep going to the doctors, who keep telling me the same thing, and they keep dragging their heels.

I am so utterly sick of dealing with medical personnel and all the associated extensions it requires. This should be very simple. Send one human with a brain to my house and watch me try to do chores for an hour or two. Do a two-hour phone call. Discover “wow, he’s fucked up!” Sign off on form that says “Wow, he’s fucked up!” Send a second person to echo that sentiment. Be done.

But no. Six doctors, a year, and having to call every single day because they can’t be bothered or trusted to return my calls or call me back. The latest on that one is my employer called me yesterday to ask if I had my original rejection letter. This is the first I’ve heard from them since two weeks ago when I finally got through to a third-tier supervisor and manually sent all the info to him. I told them “Um. No. I’ve had to move, and I have roughly a crate’s worth of medical records, so I’m not sure where that would be at the moment.” They inform me they’re going to have to pull it from their records, then.

They’re damn fast about finding paperwork when it’s something that supports them telling me to go pound sand, but apparently, it’ll take them a week to find a document they sent to me, that should be in my damn file. Ugh.

Anyway. Off to the doctor’s. Send chicken. Or drug money. If you feel like doing either, you can stop by my Patreon or GoFundMe. Everything helps.

Until next time, folks.

KA Spiral no signature

 

12
Nov
19

Trophy Hunt – 11/12

Gaming_Cave.jpg

The hunt continues (and will likely never end, unless they dispose of them when PS5 hits… which will make me very sad.) This last week, we assaulted Catherine, claiming all the story-based, ending-based and miscellaneous trophies. All that remains there is getting a gold rank on everything (halfway down; Easy’s done, Normal’s almost done. All that’s left is a couple more Normal and then Hard), completing Babel mode (which is a goddamn nightmare and not something I’m looking forward to) and doing the Rapunzel minigame. The enjoyment has passed… now it’s time for the slog. I still think the game is great, though, and people need to play it.

Code: Realize – Wintertide Miracles was devoured, though I was unimpressed. With VNs, I try to actually read them, but if the game doesn’t grab me within the first chunk, I will put that sucker on fast-forward and just blitz the rest. I don’t know who was responsible for this, but it read more like bad fan-fiction than a proper entry in the series. I liked the original, but all the sequels and additional material have been garbage. Still, another Platinum for the pile.

Sekiro hovers with just the first couple of trophies done; I got sidelined by deciding I wanted to do something mindless, so went and got Saint’s Row: Gat Out of Hell dusted off, and went to town. I’m missing one more collectible (can’t for the life of me find Gat’s last commentary) and then just have to rack up 20 hours played and one minigame trophy. I accept that I won’t get the Platinum (there’s a trophy for playing 3 hours in online co-op, and no one seems interested in this game anymore), but I am confident I can at least park it at 90%, which is good enough.

Last of the major progress this week was Code: Vein. Only two bosses down, but I have a good smattering of the miscellaneous trophies and have been making good progress. Love the game, especially given that it is much faster paced than I was expecting (given as it is frequently billed as anime Dark Souls), though it’s another one that’s never going to see a Platinum due to online requirements.

There was some other random picking; picked up a trophy or two in Rack ‘n’ Ruin and Indigo Prophecy, both of which I really should just go and finish. (And in the same vein as Indigo Prophecy, I still have Detroit: Become Human and Beyond: Two Souls rotting on my hard drive and hovering at around 20% complete, which should also be dealt with.)

What about the rest of you? Working on any particularly nasty trophies, or have some suggestions for my cabinet? Let me know down below!

KA Spiral no signature




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