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!

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!)

Izzy – Week 3

This week saw a lot of growth. We got ready to go to OKC (Oklahoma City) to pick up my oldest child and my sweet cousin, I took Izzy to get a full check up and to make sure she would be okay to travel. The vet let us know that she did have a blatter infection and that she was all set to travel. We knew that we would have to make frequent stops and allow her time to try to go potty as many times as she needed. I also found she had grown another whopping 4lbs, bringing her total up to 28.6. With a nearly 30lb puppy, I knew she had to be restrained in the car so we could keep her safe and everyone happy on the road. I got a seat cover, and harness seatbelt latching system for her. I laid down her bed since she understands that as a place to relax.

Well, it worked well enough. I ended up with two sleepy heads on our way into town.

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Nik having decided to color on himself and the dog ended up with the markers revoked but they still had a fun time togeather. When we got into town, Kris took out her playpen and set it up into a travel kennel, since her’s was too big to fit in the car. She wasn’t so sure about it at first, so Zac and Nik climbed in and hung out in there to show her it was a nice place to go. Being the puppy that loves everyone that she is, she walked right in with them. I was tempted to leave them all there and go see a movie but, my mother guilt kicked in.

We packed everyone up and moved Izzy to the back with a blanket blocking the back window to help keep her shaded. We checked on her several times but she seemed to enjoy being able to sit up and check on her boys at any time. This lead to several very cute moments where the boys had their arms stretched behind them as they loved on her or played tug over the seat. But as I was the driver of our trip I couldn’t get all the cuteness in pictures. I did manage, however, to get Kris to snag this cute one.

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We met with our Service Dog trainer and she gave me a few things to work on with her. The biggest thing is controlling her boundaries with only my voice. Making invisible lines around the house and keeping her under control when opening the door. Also her general manners. Learning how to great people. Now with a house full of three very different boys, it will make her week so much more interesting.

 

Izzy – Week 1

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So as Izzy joined our house we got her all the needed things. Tons of treats for training, things to chew on, a bed and crate, and a vet appointment for her first set of puppy shots.

We were all excited! Nik was so happy to have a little puppy he could play with until she nipped him. Yes, my amazing find of a pup had a big problem with using her mouth correctly. Not a great trait for a service dog to have. The risk of biting someone when upset or startled is too high if left unchecked. So, our laundry list of things to work on with her grew. Walking on a leash (for everyone, not just Tina), Not peeing in the house (or submissively to Kris, cause he is so scary!), and not using our mouth to show how happy and excited we are to play with or meet people.

 

I can say that this week we have seen a slow change of understanding that we prefer to be licked not bit and a clear understanding that she doesn’t want to leave my side for any reason. Which I guess is good but also a bit much with a 5-year-old and a puppy.

I have been up and about around the house more often. I am getting up when my husband goes downstairs so I can take care of Izzy and I have been using muscles that had been neglected and are sharing that via the soreness and pain I feel each night.

But I mean, really, look at this girl!

Also here is a little picture of the schedule that I have been trying with her. I am sure I will end up adjusting this as we get farther along.

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And a cute little gif of my pup learning toys are for mouth not hands.

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Well, that is all for this week, I will post a new Izzy weekly update next Saturday!

In which Kris does some idea… borrowing

Kris here,

Don’t tell my wife, but I’m super jealous she gets her own segment on our site with an acronym and everything. So in my own creative way, I’ve decided to…well copy her exactly. We’re married so it’s basically my idea already anyway right? I’ve decided to name my segment… let’s see “Kris’s really awesome project,” K.R.A-. Waaait a second. Let’s just call it a work in progress.

This week I’d like to discuss a small book series I read hundreds of years ago when I was just a lad, The Enchanted Forest chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. A series of 4 books that are each pretty small, only 2-300 pages each, but is by far a favorite series of mine to be re-read at least every 2-3 years in its entirety. I’m relatively sure Patricia Wrede single-handedly sparked my interest in both humor and reading when I was about 7 or 8. The target audience here is definitely children to young adults but..well listen, don’t pretend you didn’t expect it knowing who’s writing the blog okay.

The series revolves around the Enchanted Forest in a world of her own, but with multiple (and hilarious) references to fairy tales that were pretty prevalent while I was growing up. I don’t want to spell the books out and ruin the fun or spoil it for anyone Googling the series, although to be honest, I think after 27 years your right to spoiler warnings is dissolved come on now.

Cimorene the princess would love to learn Latin, sword fighting and magic, but since she’s a princess, she gets to learn dancing and manners and embroidery. After running away to ask a dragon to capture her, she lives a good life chasing off princes and melting wizards with her dragon Kazul who likes having someone around to clean and make cherry’s jubilee. Some story happens and she goes on an adventure meeting a witch who keeps everything very clean and has a painted sign indicating that she’ll have none of your nonsense, a king of the Enchanted Forest and a poor dwarf who keeps spinning straw into gold in return for firstborns unless their parents can discover his name. Only no one ever guesses his name, so he keeps accumulating children, he even changed his name to Herman to be easier to guess and moved way out away from civilization but they keep finding him.

In short, if you ever get the chance – read these books. They’re relatively short, they’re light-hearted and the characters are hilarious and I love them. I’ve also read these to Nik as bedtime stories and hopefully one day…he’ll forget and I can read them to him again.

A podcast a day…

Kris here,

I’m going to start out my blog this week with a pretty controversial, I think highly contested topic – so try to grit through it. Housework and yard work is terrible. I said it! I would almost rather pay bills than I would fill up a bucket with hot water to make my floor stop being dirty. To a lesser extent, I can kind of feel the same about commute time – driving, walking, running, boating, the time it takes to travel from where you’re at to where you want to be gets pretty tedious, pretty fast. Luckily for all of you, there’s a quick and easy solution as long as you have some sort of listening apparatus.

So last year sometime I hopped on Google Play and noticed there was an entry for podcasts. I’ve never cared about podcasts or wanted podcasts or listened to podcasts or podcasts podcasts, but I was bored so I figured I’d give it a check anyway. There are so many niche interests that you just don’t go around online finding people talking about that you can dig up in podcasts though, I think everyone should spend some time looking around for something random you like – it’s fabulous how fast my house gets cleaned and how surprisingly not dead I am afterward when I just get a couple hours of episodes lined up and plow through ’em. I know I touched on The Worldbuilder’s Anvil a few weeks briefly, but I figured I’d list a few of my own personal listening library a little more in detail to provide a taste of the things you can find and so you can all judge me to make yourselves feel better today.

* Side note: I’m an infuriating person to read or watch things with because I can’t not talk about plot holes, incorrect science and bad grammar- but after starting podcasts, I think I speak for at least nobody in saying that I’m much more tolerable now that I have an outlet.

Startalk Radio
Neil Degrasse-Tyson has a podcast series, did you all know that? Apparently he has for years and years – his soothing scientist voice mixed with science-y topics is the best.

The Worldbuilder’s Anvil
The guys I plugged in one of my last posts, but they’re pretty hilarious and have a few days’ worth of content, all of which is fabulous if you’re a creative type who likes making up stories, worlds, or lies.
http://gardul.com/category/podcast/worldbuilders-anvil/

Writing Excuses
I honestly didn’t really expect to like this one as much as I actually do – these guys are hilarious and cover a huge array of topics which are fascinating if you’re into story telling and writing. Also, the hosts are authors and some of their stories are REALLY GOOD AND AUDIOBOOKED FOR DRIVING.
http://www.writingexcuses.com/

Grammar Girl
Discussions about correct usage of words and grammar in context? I can’t be the only person interesting in these things…right!?

A Way with Words
You’re all probably getting the gist of a pattern here I’m assuming – most of what I’m interested in is literally language, words, grammar and storytelling with a little science mixed in. These guys are less ‘everyday’ use and more of a ‘ohhhh THAT’S what it means and where it comes from’ type of listen – but it’s relaxing and I like the hosts!

I’ve got a few more I personally listen to, but the point of this post was more about the idea of podcasts and getting deeper into your own interesting hobbies, even while you’re stuck doing something as amazing as sorting through 15,000 boxes that have been stacked in your garage since you were 6. They’re also really good for just filling in the quiet when you’re doing the things you enjoy but don’t make noise, say crocheting or running.

Already listening to podcasts? Let me know what you’ve got on your list and I’ll check it out!
Stay curious out there,