Thursday, November 24, 2011

Steam Sale!

Unreal Tournament and Dragon Age, here I come! There's a huge list of great games in Steam's autumn sale that lasts until November 27. These include some greats including Portal, Mass Effect, and Left 4 Dead. Get 'em while they're inexpensive! Oh, how I love Steam.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo Advice

Don't stop. Don't look back. Keep plowing forward.

That nagging voice in your head telling you that a character needs renaming, a sentence needs fixing, or a scene needs rewriting? Drown it out by concentrating on what comes next. This not a casual walk where you pause to take in the scenery, this is a full-out sprint!

I am frustrated the story that sounds so wonderful in my head is coming out onto the page as a sloppy, disorganized mess. But as I am writing and trying to ignore that voice, I keep telling myself that first drafts are supposed to be bad. This is a time of getting to know my characters, skipping sections and leaving them to be written later, and writing out plot lines as they jump into my head. I can go back and fix everything later.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


"What, you're the Fullmetal Alchemist?! Sorry, I had no idea you'd be so..." -- Maes Hughes
"Go on, say 'little.' I dare you." -- Edward Elric

First, let me begin by writing to those of you who avoid watching anime at all costs. I used to be one of you, until I watched this show. I'm not sure if I thought that anime was mostly for kids or that the shows just weren't as interesting because they use drawing and voice acting instead of "real" sets and actors on screen. But boy, was I wrong.

"Oh, you can't really have disliked anime, not like I do," you say? Well I dare you to watch the first few episodes of this show, and then tell me you don't like it.

The show is about two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, whose father is not around and whose mother has recently died. They try to bring her back using alchemy, which is the science of changing and manipulating matter by using energy (seems like magic to me, but they call it science, and it certainly does seem to require a lot of studying and an understanding of the physical structure of whatever you are trying to manipulate). Their attempt results in disaster, as Ed loses an arm and a leg and Al loses his entire body, though Ed manages to attach his soul to a nearby suit of armour. The show centers on their journey to try and find the philosopher's stone to regain their original bodies, and the numerous adventures they have on the way.

This is one of those shows where I have trouble picking a favourite character, because they are all so awesome. Even the villains whom you are supposed to hate are fun to watch (especially Greed and Gluttony--they're my favourite bad guys). The supporting characters are incredible (and I don't mean "perfect" by any means, because that would be boring. They all have appropriate flaws along with their better traits), and I won't go into detail about them because I will get carried away and make this post way too long.

Alphonse is not my favourite because I just find him whiny sometimes, but he is sweet and a good pairing for Ed. Ed, of course, is awesome. He is a kid who is put through incredible challenges and pain at a young age and who rises to the challenge. He's smart, fiery, and easily angered. I never get tired of watching him explode when he gets called "little." This show has some hilarious moments.

Just to clarify, there is also a show called "Fullmetal Alchemist" that aired before this one which I saw first, and still have warm feelings for (especially for a couple episodes whose contents don't make it into Brotherhood but are from the manga, episodes #5 and #37), but the writers got a bit carried away and took it to strange places at the end. "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" follows the manga much more closely than the other series, the storyline is much tighter and the ending so much more wonderful, so if you're only going to watch one, I'd recommend it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. I am participating for the first time this year. Last year I did the 3-Day Novel Contest, which was incredibly challenging, and this time I am going for a bit of a longer commitment. For anyone who is unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it is an annual challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a mere 30 days. It's coordinated by a non-profit organization, and you can check out their website here. It's not a contest so you don't win anything if you complete your project, but it is a wonderful way to kick-start the novel that's been sitting in your head gathering dust for years. So why am I putting myself through 30 grueling days of writing, writing, writing? Here's why:

1. I've been plotting a novel for quite some time now. About ten years, in fact. I've been afraid to put words to the page because I'm not sure if I can do it justice, but gosh darn it, I'm going to try, and NaNo is going to help me start!

2. The buddies feature on the NaNoWriMo website allows me to watch the progress of friends also participating in this adventure. This also means that they are watching me and rooting for me, so I feel accountable. (And when someone else is at 15,000 words when I am only at 6,000, I am encouraged to work harder!)

3. As the goal is to get out 50,000 words in a month, I can write without the restraints of going back and editing all the time. The point is to get the first draft out, no matter how rough it may be.

4. Every time I work on a writing project, I get better at writing ("well, duh," you say!).

So there's my list. Right now, I am having a lot of fun taking the time to write every day, exploring the vast science fiction world of my imagination. Of course, my tune may change by the end of the month. We'll see. Now, back to my novel...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top 10 TV Countdown - #8: MERLIN

"Could somebody tell me what happened?" -- Uther
"Well..." -- Merlin
"Someone with a brain." -- Uther

This series is a wonderful take on the Arthurian mythology, focusing on Merlin and Arthur as young men. The first season was good, and the next ones just get better and better. The interesting twist to this version is that magic is outlawed in Camelot by Arthur's father Uther, so Merlin has to hide his particular talents right under the nose of the ruler, as he is Arthur's personal servant.

This show is often funny, and the chemistry between Arthur and Merlin is entertaining to watch, as they like to insult each other frequently. Every episode is an adventure in itself, which I appreciate because I don't like cliffhangers (though there are a few two-part episodes that are the exception to this).

I do have a few problems with the show; firstly, the writers really like to drag things out. For example, Merlin's secret of being able to do magic. I can't wait until this is unveiled to everyone, particularly to Arthur, and I hope it is not at the very end of the series that they do so. Secondly, the plot is often predictable, but I can live with that.

What I love about this show is how clean it is. There's no sex or swearing. That is hard to find these days. I can watch this show with a young teenager (maybe not younger because there is a bit of violence) or my parents, and not have to zip through uncomfortable parts. And it's just so darn entertaining. BBC, you've done it again.