In which Kris supports supporting characters

 

Kris here,

Tina’s been pressuring me to write some stuff recently because she thinks I’m “lazy” even though playing Minecraft is technically writing I’m just saying. We’ve also had Zack down for a few weeks to visit, and between hanging out with the kids, working and keeping the house tidy, I’ve done basically zero writing in the last six weeks. So she’s probably right. Tina also recently said “hey Kris there’s this thing where a bunch of people want to write 52 short stories in 52 weeks let’s go!” and I spit my coffee all over myself. A short story a week?!

So I’ve been setting the backbones for a bunch of short stories recently and in doing so, I notice my protagonists generally seem to be non-heroic or not the main character if you will. It’s a bit interesting so I actually got sidetracked for a while just looking at other stories to see if it’s just because that’s what I’ve read or if I’m subconsciously modeling my writing after someone, but I don’t think so. I’ve got the world I started out of boredom about a year ago that’s stuck with me because I love it (and my wife wrote a 60,000 word novel in it that she almost finished because she doesn’t care about my mental well-being) so naturally my stories are based there – but even when I’m thinking of other ideas, the only type of story that I write the main character as the important person is in horror stories. Nobody is going to be scared if you write:

“and then she received a phone call. It was the police! They said her *related person* was in a car accident and there were ghostly scrapes on the car door!”

That’s..not spooky.

Well maybe those types of stories aren’t interesting and that’s why nobody writes them, but I know I can’t be the only one! I’m thinking of famous big sellers like The Hunger Games (face of a revolution) or Harry Potter (he killed the bad guy as a baby AND an adult); but also the lesser known books too, like one I’ve mentioned previously the Enchanted Forest series (smart princess who’s amazing.) I know a lot of protagonists start as the underdog and then are the hero by the end, but that counts too. I added a story a month or two ago about an innkeeper who was assailed by a bad wizard dude – he’s just a dude trying to get by, then the two magic dudes come fight it out in his inn and burn it to the ground. By the end of the story, he’s still just an innkeeper.

I probably won’t ever make a full-length project out of a supporting character – it would be incredibly frustrating. Even in the story I just mentioned, I was thinking “maybe I should write about this wizard he seems awesome” – I think this sort of thing would be good only as supporting stories or something to tease an audience about how super great the main character for your actual novel is going to be. Each time I set up a short story, it’s a side-person: a kid who needs help with a curse seeking out a witch doctor, an innkeeper getting dragged into an evil wizard plot. This probably stems from the fact that writers are usually notorious for only worldbuilding as much as they actually have to, so I’m always finishing up books like “No! Go back to the swamp why were the snakes on fire! Teell meee!” I’m pretty drawn into side details and background information and I think side-characters are a good way to explore these without detracting from some grand quest to save the world.

Oh man, I got distracted again, there’s no way I’m going to be able to fit 52 short stories in 52 weeks DO THESE PEOPLE NOT HAVE CHILDREN!

Flavoring your life

Tina Here.

 

When you are sick or broken as often as me. You start to loose hope in things quickly. Goals that once seemed doable are now far out of reach. You loose the motivation to push on for the things you care about. You loose a large part of what you feel makes you. I push and push when it comes to dealing with just everyday life. I am so sick of my personal daily grind of just convincing myself that getting out of bed is worth the effort.

When you have to push to get every little bit you can, finding the drive to do the things you want to do becomes nearly impossible. However, When you find people to support you and understand you, you can make a sucky outlook seem like the past.

I just got done working at RTX for my 3rd year. I love working at conventions because they show you how much a group of strangers can come togeather like a family to support a cause they love. I enjoyed every second of my time at RTX this year and even with my limitations I knew that I could rely on my RTX family to have my back.

Izzy was a huge help and loved by everyone. She alerted not only to my anxiety and things but also when someone else would come in and they were battling things too. She just looked at each person and seemed to give more attention to those who later told me they had been having a really hard time until they saw Izzy. That warmed my heart more than anything. My service dog was not just a service to me, but to my extended family as well. She never barked at another dog or person. She waited for me to tell her to say hello before she walked over to people. She was the most amazing 5-month-old Great Dane puppy that I could have ever asked for. She set a standard that I was proud to see was so much more than I could have hoped. We educated, we loved, and we took care of everyone. Those are the things I love doing the most. So because of Izzy, I had the best RTX ever and I can’t wait for next year.

Things like RTX and PAXSouth are events I look forward to every year. I push myself to go to them despite how my body is feeling or how many things I think will go wrong. I use it to push myself past my limits and show myself that I am capable of working with my environment.

Now to start working on my book… Oh man. I just opened a can on myself there. Well, time to get writing on that.

Dang Ultimate Media Browsing (D.U.M…)

Kris here,

Sorry for the late release – some of us weren’t feeling well today and some others weren’t aware that we were feeling that way so the post gets written after we put the kiddo to bed. The youngest, we actually have two right now but only one is lucky enough to get to sleep around 8. Today I’m doing another installment of Dang Ultimate Media Browsing featuring the things I watch all day! A lot of people pick up T.V shows and binge watch seasons of something or another and go on to tell me alllll about why it’s hilarious and heart wrenching; unfortunately, I’m a stone hearted hunk of rock and I just can’t do any of these new-fangled cable televisions! So instead, I turn to YouTube to entertain me and teach me things in a hilarious manner. I think I’m partly drawn to it because the creators themselves are getting paid from the content they’re putting out there, and partly because they’re all so dang charasmatic how can I even stay mad at those cheeks!  I know a gigantic number of people spend even more serious numbers of hours on YouTube each and every second of every day so I know I’m definitely not alone – let me know if anyone has some fabulous channels I can check out and I’ll definitely do so. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorites —

Minecraft:  Okay so I know billions of hours of minecraft are floating around and everyone is sick of it, but hear me out. Quit being sick of it. Now that the air between us has been aired, I was never actually a fan of watching Minecraft videos on youtube until I started picking up all the guys living their days out on the Hermitcraft server. I picked it up in season 4 last year, but they’re on to season 5 now. Every one of these guys are genuinely hilarious and animated in their own ways and I’m pretty sure there’s someone making something for everyone – they’re also super geniuses and make the most amazing things. Since this is more of a group of people, I’ll just link the official website – http://hermitcraft.com.

Of course, if you don’t already like Minecraft it probably won’t make you start, but if you do, well you’ll love it! Here’s a video from a few weeks ago with two of the guys setting up an aerial sheep service – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UVnLJLB4Fc

Game Theory: Game theory is my YouTube spirit animal. Just a guy spending way too much time using math and history to solve complex and artificial problems with the lore and consistency of your favorite video games. He’s also started up a film theory channel to do the same for movies, and has a streaming channel called GTLive. These videos are more fun than serious, but I can’t help but think he’s probably right a lot of the time. Here’s a theory about why Mario Kart 8 is Mario’s deadliest game – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWnCLXT9uMU

Good Mythical Morning: I’m relatively sure at least 50% of anyone reading my blogs is familiar with GMM, but just in case – it’s a long running weekly ‘show’ essentially featuring Rhett and Link. Also, it’s hilarious, they’re hilarious, their crew is hilarious and these guys have been going at this for a long dang time. My favorites of theirs to watch are generally the ‘will it’ series because I’m a sadist, but if they didn’t want me to laugh at them, they wouldn’t have sucked down an eggnog made of Cheez-wiz. “Will it eggnog” is an old episode from 2015 but it’s honestly made me laugh every one of the 5 or 6 times I’ve watched it for various reasons – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YhjDv1ipMY

Nerdy Nummies: Rosanna Pancino is an adorably energetic person bouncing around baking “nerdy” stuff like spider man cakes, video game cupcakes, and also doing some guest appearances with a lot of other YouTubers I watch. Her videos are usually pretty quick but always make me laugh, check out her making cookies with cookie monster last November – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YhjDv1ipMY

Vlog Brothers: John and Hank Green are fabulous guys with a huge reach in the YouTube community after a long, illustrious career. I started out watching them just because they were funny guys vlogging back and forth, but they’ve really put out some immensely insightful and considerate videos over the years and I appreciate what they do. John is also a young adult author with some extremely good books Tina and I read to each other a while back, while Hank plays music and does some touring to drop some smooth education on the nerdfighters of the world. I basically spent my 20’s watching these guys, and John’s inspired me a lot to really stick to writing when it started feeling like a waste of time a few years back. Not to mention the crash course series they created and the founding of Vidcon! Here’s a short video about Cheyenne, Wyoming – the one in your mind, not the actual place, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7XppUsqiEs

There are of course about 15,000 other channels on YouTube I’ve watched over the years, but these are definitely the top 5 in terms of watch time aside from the countless hours I’ve spent watching Pewdiepie, Markiplier and Jacksepticeye play horror games on youtube. But since one of these recently broke 50 million subscribers and the other two are hanging around 20 million, they sure as heck don’t need MY introductions D=

Self Instruction

bite-size todo lists!

Kris here,

Recently I’ve been struggling with giving Nikolai instructions around the house. On one hand, he’s a bright guy and can usually pick up things like “hey Nik  go upstairs and grab the heating pad next to mom’s side of the bed” without any problems. On the other hand…he struggles a bit when the instructions start getting modular. “Hey Nik, go ahead and clean out your room by putting all the toys in their crates and then pick up your garbage, and then once you’re done you should be good to put the laundry in the hamper and feed Sting.” He tries hard, but I’m relatively sure I’d forget that even faster than him.

I’ve also found myself trying to follow these vague mental outlines I set up for my own schedule and it usually flops onto my face like an old, angry Durian fruit. I’ve been investigating myself and my methods and I’ve found that just writing up a quick instructional is a huge focusing tool and it’s like a 20 second project. Want to get the downstairs clean? Numbered list:

  1. Trash
  2. Toys
  3. Dog Toys
  4. The toys that were dragged downstairs while I was picking up dog toys
  5. The dog toys that were dragged out while I was picking up human toys

You get the idea – just structure your next hour or something and things seem to get done a lot faster than they normally would. While writing up a brief checklist recently I thought of that hilarious writing exercise we all do as kids where someone says ‘write out instructions for an alien who’s never been to earth but who has a translator to explain the English words’ – anybody remember that? The skits were hilarious,

“put your shoes on and then cross the strings, fold one side over the other and make a loop” *person places shoe on top of his foot, winds up the laces like a madhouse*

I’ve noticed this helping my communication skills with some of my peers as well – I work in a technical environment and sometimes I get questions from people who might go outside or something during their off-time. Sometimes I accidentally jump into rocket science explanations and let them stare at me for a while until they just pull up google and say “okay thanks, one more time but real slow.” Getting your brain to break tasks into micro-transactions  is like my goal post from a while back but in a micro-scale – apparently I’m really bad at translating my advice from different scales until months later.

Anyone who finds themselves running out of time should give it a shot – next time you look a project in the eye, spend 60 seconds on a rough-but-concise outline and follow it. No really follow it, you don’t get to stray from instructions just because they’re yours! You might just find that investing 45 seconds before starting saves you a bunch of time later, and you can whip up that chocolate cake you’ve been craving.

When sickness comes

Tina Here,

Feeling pretty under the weather today. So much so that the first sentence sat alone on this page for no less than 15 mins. The biggest obstacle in becoming sick is that I just don’t have the time for it. With a 5-month-old puppy, a 5-year-old boy and my 11-year-old visiting for the summer, I am expected to entertain and be present for the day. No lounging in the bed all day to recover for me.

However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sick as I feel it stinks that I can’t be more energetic for them and let them run around like the crazy people they are, but I am just in the dumps. I can’t take anything that would help me feel better because I can’t point to one thing and say, “Yes, that is what is wrong with me.” I have to just get up, get dressed and put it all in my brain.

The slow feeling that has invaded me seems to be infesting other parts of my life as well. My once tidy little kitchen has dishes piled high. My living room is a picture of chaos. The poor puppy is also running out of places to poo because I haven’t had a chance to clean up!

My amazing husband does the best he can to take care of me.  Unfortunately, he is at work for 11 hours of the day. However, I am holding out hope that tomorrow I can sleep in a bit. Maybe go to bed early tonight.

Izzy -Week 5

Posting from the road! This week Izzy got her final round of shots and is now fully ready to play with other pups. 


We discovered a fun new game where we put the sprinkler under the trampoline and Nik and Izzy have fun for hours. Which is nice in this Texas heat. 


Nik has also taken up more responsibility with Izzy and is in charge of her feeding. Helping to establish the house hold respect and flow. 

He is even getting up with me to let her out to potty. 

Now we are on the road as I said before. We picked up Zack and are headed back home. 


Also Izzy weighted in at 37lbs this week!

Some Light Reading

In which Kris describes his latest distraction to help you, too, not get housework done.

Kris here,

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of light novels. For those of you who don’t know what they are, they’re basically just really small novels which glow much brighter than regular novels. I kid I kid. Essentially, authors from different countries – the ones I’m reading are fairly exclusively Korean with a few others sprinkled in – write books or novels online and release a chapter at a time. I’m not actually fluent in Korean, so I seek out the cool guys who are and that translate them into English for the rest of us crazies. Tina’s been reading them too, and while we both read a few before just recently, it was actually our roommate who turned us on to the site we use that makes it super easy to find more.

Because of the translation, the wording can be a bit silly but I honestly think that’s part of its charm. The language used is often a bit more crude than the stories I’m used to reading – but again, part of the charm. I’m an adult I can say heck whenever I want to as long as my wife is asleep okay.

In case anyone out there is like me and enjoys reading hilarious stories that go a bit overboard with the overpowered protagonist, I’ll list a few I’m reading offhand.
(Also the site we use to find them: http://www.novelupdates.com/)

Everyone Else is a Returnee: http://www.novelupdates.com/series/everyone-else-is-a-returnee/
Easily the most hilarious story I’m reading at this time. The main character has been alone his whole life, almost like he’s invisible to everyone around him. One day God sends everyone on Earth to other planets to get acclimated to mana except him, since his loner ability is so strong God couldn’t even find him. He’s stranded a bit longer than expected and ends up mastering most skills available on Earth before they get back and has to take care of them all because dangit can’t everyone just stay saved for a minute!

Seoul Station’s Necromancer: http://www.novelupdates.com/series/seoul-stations-necromancer/
I’ve always been a huge fan of Necromancers in say, video and tabletop games that I play and I never actually knew I was missing out in reading about them too. This story is about a guy who finally made it back to Earth after 20 years of fighting for survival on another planet as a necromancer. The main character and a lot of the supporting characters are pretty 1-dimensional, but they’re also hilarious and I’m not here for character developement I really just want this guy to raise ten thousand skeletons to wash over his enemies like an undead tsunami

Master Hunter K: http://www.novelupdates.com/series/master-hunter-k/
Humanity is put through a series of progressively more difficult 5 and 10 man raids in which they have to kill a bunch of monsters and a boss-type monster. The main character here is the last of humanity and finally dies only to be awakened in the past immediately before everyone was pulled into the raids. I’ll admit that I probably like this story because I’m a huge fan of video games and I like sometimes reading about a guy just murderating the heck out of everything.

I definitely realize these stories aren’t for everyone. I’ve been studying a few different languages for quite some time and it definitely helps me forgive the little mistakes usually mixed in to the translations and understand different nuances used. They’re also a lot different from a lot of western stories in that in some of these stories, the protagonist just dominates the battlefields and is a force of nature whipping through his enemies like a greased steak knife. Sometimes though, I find I really like to pick something up knowing the main character is about to lay the smack down on some jerk monsters and probably set them on fire.

 

Alas, the wait for these chapters to be translated and released is horrendous and I’m THIS close to learning Korean so I don’t have to wait anymore (plus they make like $35 a chapter holy cow!)