Happy National Donut Day

Been a long week . . . month . . . year.  So, I just wanted to find a fun post for today.  Can’t go wrong with donuts.  HAPPY NATIONAL DONUT DAY!

Homer Simpson

Swedish Chef


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Point of View (POV) #2: Structuring

If you missed part one, find it here: “Point of View (POV) #1: Conventions” Structuring POV The number of POVs used in a story is limited only by the…

Point of View (POV) #2: Structuring
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Poetry Day: Every Family Has a B-Word

Sun Ce, Sun Jian, Sun Quan

(The actual title had the full curse word.  Definitely wrote this one when I was angry and feeling underappreciated.  Still, you can see this in many families.  There’s a hierarchy, which means someone is going to be at the bottom.  Not the way things should go, but you still see it happen.)

One in every family

Sitting at the bottom rank

Ordered every waking hour

To toil with no compliant

False rewards are given

Simple thanks at most

Lashed out at if seen idle

Whether tired or caught sick

Told to work instead of rest

As the others watch a show

All complaints are met with guilt

You are told that family comes first

But you know you come in last

The treatment sours all your moods

Making you pray to move away

To get some peace and distance

And live your life for you

Nobody wants to be the bitch

For there is no escape once there

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Pros and Cons of the Battle Fiend


My son and I watch a lot of anime.  These tend to have a very big combat component, which got me thinking about characters who love to fight.  It’s not a bad thing, but there are those that reach a point where it’s all they do.  Take Goku from Dragon Ball Z up there as an example.  He’s a father, friend, and husband, which barely matters because he just loves to battle.  Truthfully, he gets away with it because he comes from long ago when you didn’t see many battle fiends.  He might be the template now that I think about it.  Doesn’t make things any better.

So, what exactly is a battle fiend?  As stated, this is a character who loves fighting.  It’s what they crave and their main goal.  Most times, it’s their first response to issues, so don’t expect them to be big talkers.  They also cross a line where they are consciously hunting down enemies who will give them a big fight.  Their desire is the fight and everything else is extra.  In fact, the rest of the cast may need to be pushing for the real goal to allow the battle fiend to focus.  For example, the other characters will be openly concerned about saving the planet while Goku just wants to fight.  He’ll talk about saving everyone, but it kind of falls flat, especially when you read that the author wanted him to be interested only in becoming stronger.

Let’s look at some pros and cons with the understanding that this isn’t a character that everyone will want to read about or write:

Pro–  Battle fiends can help in making plots progress quickly.  They aren’t very patient and will push events into conflict.  Talking and sneaking around won’t be factors since the big battle has begun.  So, you can use these characters as a way to avoid stagnation or get out of mental pitfalls.

Con–  They will be a hindrance to any plots that require non-violent solutions.  Not that they will try to kill everyone like a psychopath.  It’s just that they want to fight, so they’re going to try to get what they want.  This is their personality and you have to keep them true to what they are.  So, a battle fiend wouldn’t work very well in a diplomatic situation unless part of the tension comes from keeping them in check.

Pro– Battle fiends come with a high degree of action.  For a story that needs an action component, these characters will always provide.  An author can just have them stir up some trouble even on a basic level.  Maybe things have been quiet for too long, so the battle fiend picks a fight in a bar.  It could seem random, but it fits the character and can lead to other subplots.

Con– People can get bored with these characters fairly quickly.  They turn into ‘one trick ponies’ after a while.  So, a lengthy series would be hurt by their presence unless you make it built entirely around them fighting.  This works best with comics because of the visual aspects.  Novels depend too much on imagination and descriptive text, which can get repetitive.

Pro–  The stronger a battle fiend, the stronger the villains.  This character can force you to put some major effort into the bad guys.  You would need them to be strong enough to be a threat and survive the encounters.  This will also give the battle fiend a powerful enemy for them to target.  This gives them more of a goal and would explain why they keep wanting to get stronger.

Con– A battle fiend can skew the power levels to obscene levels.  As I said, they force enemies to become stronger.  This can result in their allies either growing in power or fading away.  They can become so weak that it’s hard to see how they would survive the fights unless they are always kept away from them.  That makes them seem even weaker and gives more spotlight to the battle fiend, who steals the show.  If you boost everyone to higher levels, they can survive, but it can lead to a story that is focused entirely on fighting.  That’s a bad thing if it wasn’t your original intention.

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Who Do You Write Like, and What Does That Mean?

Ciao, SEers! I hope those of you in the US had a safe and happy holiday. I thought we’d have a little fun today. I recently came across a site that …

Who Do You Write Like, and What Does That Mean?
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Revisiting Origins: Delvin Cunningham

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

(Delvin Cunningham had a similar path as Timoran Wrath.  After a cameo, he officially debuted in Family of the Tri-Rune.  He showed up rather close to the end of that book, but proved himself going forward.  This would result in him getting a book that focused primarily on him, which would be The Mercenary Prince.  Did this change up his path?  Maybe.  Definitely have to add to the older post here.)

Delvin Cunningham is a scourge to my spellchecker because Word refuses to believe it’s a name.  This really cements a part of this character where people don’t always pay attention to him.  When teamed up with acrobatic Luke, fire-hurling Nyx, seductive Sari, and powerful Timoran, the ‘standard’ warrior gets overshadowed in terms of combat potential.  Too bad that’s a wrong move with him.

Delvin is the protege of Selenia Hamilton and demonstrates some amazing physical resilience, but his strength is that he’s a thinker.  While Luke is spontaneous, Delvin is a tactician and a quick-witted one at that.  This is why the two of them will typically fight to a draw.  Yet, the sword and shield is rather common, which is why people see Delvin as uninteresting.  This goes for characters and readers. His laid back nature doesn’t help even though that gets cracked a few times in the tenser situations.  Especially when Nyx is involved, which neither confirms nor denies what you’re thinking.

Now, Delvin was played by a friend in the D&D game that the series is based on.  The player dove into the role and was a solid part of the group within one session.  Not much resistance since he was a warrior looking for adventure.  Sadly, we never got to explore much of his background, but the origin of ‘Book Delvin’ is very similar to that of ‘Game Delvin’.  Abandoned on a chunk of ice as a child, miraculously stayed alive, and eventually became Selenia’s prized pupil.  The mercenary thing came when I needed to play around with his origin to give him experience and some characterization meat.  Again, I was never told what the original plan was.

The biggest change between game and book is his personality.  Delvin and Luke were very similar in that they were noble and loyal heroes.  In the game, I couldn’t play Luke with stunts because die rolls aren’t controllable.  So, he was a lot more strategic like Delvin, but I left that trait more with the latter when I wrote the book.  This has turned him into a cautious fighter, so his actions scenes are a lot more block and counter heavy.  He is very precise in most of what he does and has adopted a high sense of responsibility.  Yet, he rarely lets his more intense emotions out, which is different than most of the others.  Timoran does have him beat, but Delvin is quick to find a rational explanation.  In fact, I’ve come to find that he can figure out several scenarios in the time it takes others to think of one.  Most of the character conversations with him, you can get the feeling that he lets everyone else contribute even though he could plan it all himself.  This is why I see him as more of a leader than the others.  He wants everyone to feel like they’re part of a team and tries his best to foster friendships.

A final note with Delvin is that he spent a lot of time as a main/side character.  I never investigated his origins, which led to him being the only hero without a past.  Every other character has something interesting that they face or that built them up.  Delvin had nothing aside from a tale of abandonment, which is what sparked the idea for Book 9 of Legends of Windemere.  I felt bad that he had moments to shine, but was the one hero to never get his own book to shine.  So I get to really explore his mentality, evolution, and past in the next book.  Personally, I can’t wait because it will also reveal the true power behind him.

2023 Update– Delvin definitely mellowed out and become more reactive as the series progressed.  He was still the tactician and thinker of the group, but he adopted a little more of Luke’s impulsiveness than I expected.  Not enough to make them the same type of character, but it loosened Delvin up.  Of course, the big thing for him was the romance with Nyx, which was never hidden.  No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t make it a mystery.  I think this helped with making Delvin a fairly open and honest person because he simply didn’t bother keeping things a secret.  He was an open book for the most part, which was a change of pace.  It also helped make him the leader of the champions even though he didn’t claim the title or act like he was in charge.  Overall, I like how Delvin’s path came about and ended.

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How Do Elementals Work?

Google Image Search

Not sure how much steam this topic has since it’s rather niche.  Just something that popped into my head and I felt like writing about.  You see elementals in fantasy stories a lot, especially as summons.  So, maybe there is something to consider here.

Elementals are rather simple to figure out.  They are creatures composed of, born from, and/or controllers of a single element.  Typically, they are powerful beings that can be friend or foe.  Sometimes there are multiples of an elemental while other times there is a single one for each category.  The whole thing is rather flexible outside of them needing to be connected to one element.  If they have more than one then they are something else, which can be a unique monster or a special elemental.  Maybe find out what happens when you combine things.

I do find it interesting that people divide the elements differently depending on their personal taste.  You can have:

  1. Western Classic– Earth, Air, Water, Fire
  2. Chinese Classic– Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water
  3. Japanese Classic– Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Void
  4. Whatever You Need– Elementals of all kinds including slime, acid, etc.

That really covers everything you can think of.  Mostly because of that final ‘catch all’ category that authors will use to turn anything into an element.  If it’s a natural, non-animal piece of matter then it gets turned into an elemental.  Even that’s not entirely true since I’ve read stories with bone and blood elementals.  They still are composed of the single element, which is how they tend to be.

There are ways to make them look like combinations though.  The broader the category, the more versatility they can have in attacks and forms.  For example, a Fire Elemental in four element system would also have abilities connected to heat, lava, and sometimes even electricity.  You might be scratching your head, but lightning and lava turn into crossover components.  If they can be connected to fire then that’s where they go.  They might be part of an Earth Elemental too.  It really depends on if you can rationalize what they are doing while maintaining the concept of an elemental.

Is there any consistency here?  No . . . Now that I think about it, people seem to go off and do whatever they want here.  You have monstrous elementals composed entirely of their element.  You have humanoids that simply have that element’s power and maybe a few odd physical traits.  Ethereal spirits that can conjure the element is another one.  The only consistency might be that they work with one category.  I keep coming back to that, which is another reason why I knew I couldn’t make this a week-long topic.

Personally, I don’t use elementals that often.  I find them to be overdone and a little too restrictive for what I’ve written so far.  That isn’t to say that I won’t use them when I have to.  I lean towards elementals that are creatures and not humanoid too, so I can’t have them around all the time.  Windemere does have elemental planes where these creatures can be found and mortals can’t survive too.  A rather common thing done in fantasy stories, I might add.  It does mean that they would be rare and usually summoned by a caster.  So, I don’t give them much attention unless I need a creature in that type of situation.

Well, that’s all I’ve got.  Maybe I’ll come up with something better for Wednesday.

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Happy International Hamburger Day!

As if I would pass up on this day once I stumbled onto it.  So:

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Goal Post: Three Day Weekend is Totally Needed!

I don’t even want to take a peek at the goals I made for this week.  Pretty sure I hit survival mode on Tuesday and everything else became a blur.  Last weekend was fun with quality father/son time, which included ‘Gremlins 2’ and video games.  Once Monday hit, things started to get dicey.  What happened exactly?

Well, the first thing I can tell you is that I didn’t get any writing done.  I think I got maybe 2 September blog posts done.  I stared at a notebook once before I decided that I was more likely to drool on the pages than write.  It wasn’t that there were no ideas in my head.  Just couldn’t muster the focus and energy to get them on paper.  I plan on writing up the outline for Darwin & the Beast Collector this weekend though.  It’s right next to me in the correct notebook as I write this post.  I can even lazily flick at it while I try to remember where I put my outlining paper pad.  These are really personalized pads that I got when I worked my first office job in 2003-2005.  They’ve lasted this long because I only use them for outlining.  Determined to get this done, so I can start in on writing the book once school is over.

Speaking of writing, I’m still worried that I’m a hack.  Hard to shake this when I haven’t published anything for a while.  Maybe it’s a phase because I don’t get any responses to my books.  Makes it hard to really settle down and dig into an idea though.  Anyway, this isn’t really what I want this post to be about.  Pickled pear vodka is making me ramble . . . I’m writing this Friday night, so don’t think I’m starting my day with booze.  I’m starting it with lemon and honey tea, a homemade sausage/egg sandwich, and 30 minutes on the exercise bike.

Returning to the week, work was probably where the lion’s share of my energy went.  I had meetings, party prep, coverages, and a field trip.  Made a tactical error on that last thing because it was a big event for Life Skills classes around the area.  It was basically Field Day with 10 physical events, pizza, and an award ceremony.  The mistake I made was thinking some of the events would be indoors, so I didn’t bring any sunscreen to reapply.  They were all outside, so the back of my neck and . . . exposed scalp got cooked.  Still had a blast and was very proud of all of our students.  Two earned Sportsmanship medals and one took the Cup Stacking trophy.  Always happy to see these kids excel and have fun.  Going to get to see it again next week when our Unified Basketball team steps into the championship games on Tuesday and Wednesday.  They’re undefeated for the season, so they’re going to kick tuchus.

Don’t ask me what happened Thursday because that day was a . . . Oh yeah.  So, my son’ s Lego Robotics team had their tournament yesterday.  On Thursday, I got a text from my son saying that the parent who was going to get pizza wasn’t able to do it and he was giving me the email list to take over.  I took this as him volunteering me, but it was his version of asking if I could do it.  Well, I didn’t figure that out until I said I would do so, which is fine because I pulled it off.  Don’t want the kids to go hungry on their big day.  Already put in for a half work day on the tournament day, so I did my other appointment by phone while on my way to get the pizzas.  Then, off to the tournament, which was an entire afternoon of action, drama, comedy, and interacting with the ex-wife.  That last one is just in its own category at this point.

How did my son’s team and their sister team do?  His team made it into the semi-finals, but lost to get 3rd place.  That’s still very good considering the robot they made and the ones they were up against.  Thinking back, I’d definitely list them and their sister team as underdogs.  Their sister team got into the quarter-finals and won the Sportsmanship award.  Great to see both teams go home with trophies.  Kind of sad that this is my son’s last Lego Robotics tournament and we’re not sure if his high school has a robotics team or not.  Guess we’ll see what happens.  All of the pictures with him had other people in it, so I’ll put up the picture of his team’s robot:

Lego Robot

Can’t think of much else to talk about here.  This weekend is going to be outlining, puzzle work, finishing ‘White Collar’, maybe working on Phi Beta Files, and a few urgent errands.  For the most part, I want to rest and be ready for the last 18 days of the school year.  That seems easier to handle than 4 weeks since there are 2 holidays and 4 weekends in that phrase.  Home stretch of the home stretch here.  I know it’s going to be busy since my son has finals coming.  Won’t be much in the way of quiet times here.  All I can do is rest when I can and think about the finish line.

Goals of the week:

  1. Revise Darwin & the Beast Collector outline.
  2. Finish September blog posts.
  3. Tinker with Phi Beta Files.
  4. Get a surprise thing for a person this weekend.
  5. Go to at least the semi-finals for Unified Basketball.
  6. Work on this blasted puzzle that didn’t come with a clear picture.
  7. Biking and resting to get my blood pressure down.  I’m not sure how the bottom number works since it bounces from 82 to 98 throughout the week.
  8. Look into buying a new ‘meaning of names’ book.  The baby name book I’ve had for 15-16 years doesn’t do it for me any more.
  9. Continue trying to improve diet.  This past week didn’t go as smoothly as it should have, so I need to make major changes.
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Questions 3: How to Make Reading Fun?

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Here we are at the end of the week.  Been an interesting topic.  I figure it’s good to end on a highly interactive post.  For those who are teachers or have children, this might be fairly easy.  For others, maybe not.  Guess we’ll see.

  1. Has the topic of this week changed your view on getting kids to read?
  2. How would you get a hesitant child to read?
  3. As an author, what could you put in your writing to draw in non-readers?
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