Bored Gen Xer – Graveyard Keeper.

Graveyard Keeper is a fun, incredibly complex sandbox game that, despite the horrible U.I (user interface) becomes addictive very easily. It has limited tutorials (if you want to call them that), but at its heart, it’s a quest-based game with no set structure and a limited skills tree, but you find yourself spending hours upon hours playing, but the best part, you can create zombies and put them to work! Maybe that’s the beauty of it? I don’t know, but it’s popular enough that it’s spawned three DLC packs.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to take care of a graveyard? Well, there’s more to it than you think, especially when you have people constantly asking you for favours, and not just the living either.

I uploaded screenshots HERE.

The down side is your character goes only so fast so it takes FOREVER to go anywhere. I think there’s an amulet you can buy so you can instantly be transported, but I’m having too much fun walking everywhere.

The Green Side of Life: Devil’s Ivy.

Despite the name of this plant, the Devil’s Ivy is one of the easiest plants to grow, and despite it being a tropical, it can withstand just about anything, including long periods without water. A vine plant, each ‘branch’ can grow to an excessive length. The first one we had grew branches eighteen feet long. We had to string it up along the walls in the living room. When this plant is happy, little drops of water will collect on the tips of the leaves and drop on unsuspecting people when they get too close. One friend of ours used to say the plant was spitting at people.

See pictures HERE.

Because it’s a jungle plant and found on the trunk of trees, it prefers defused light. I have our sitting a good ten feet back from a west-facing window. I water more in the summer and trail off to once every two weeks in the late autumn/winter/spring. I feed every two weeks during the growing season with liquid fertilizer and do a cleaning (remove dead leaves, wipe down leaves) when needed.

This plant is still young, so I probably won’t have to transplant it for another year or two, but I’ll keep an eye on the rootball just to be safe. The branches of this one are down to the floor, so hanging it up will allow it to expand and as you can see from the second picture, it’s getting close to that time or maybe in another year when more of the vines reach the floor.   

Of Writers and Prose: Has Discord Become the New Proboards?

Do you remember Proboards? The wildly popular forum website that swept through the internet in the early 2000s. Released on January 1st, 2000, it ushered in a new age of online social communication. Everyone had a Proboard forum. Hell, I started three and was a part of three more. It was one of the earliest forms of community on the web (yes, I remember the old Yahoo chat rooms), and over 3.5 million forums were at their peak. There was a Proboard for just about everything. Sadly, that has dropped to roughly 1.2 million that are still active and garner the occasional page view. I’m surprised there are any still active at all.

What was so appealing about Proboards? The same thing drives people to Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media sites; a sense of community and interaction with like-minded people, and the upgrades allowed for that interaction to grow, but it also had its problems. Maybe it was just a flash in the pan, or people got bored, I don’t know, but it’s not as popular as it once was. A new forum God has taken over, and it’s called Discord.

Launched in 2015, it was created for the gamer world as a means of a better form of communication. The Wikipedia for the site is HERE. You should give it a read. It’s really interesting. Discord doesn’t have karma points or fancy mods to make it appealing. You get the basic text and communicate via voice. Plain and simple. Maybe that’s why it’s become the go-to forum? Plain and straightforward always wins out in the end.

While both websites have advantages and disadvantages, I would go with Discord if I had to choose. People want to engage with others and talk about their interests, and real-time texting is easier to carry a conversation than the post-by-post forum. The program is designed for voice and text and is more suited to the mobile world, and I think that’s where it wins out over Proboards. You can also download the program to your computer and get instant notification of when someone replies or posts. Again, it’s that real-time communication that makes it so popular.

Are you on Discord? You should be.

Writing Update: September 2022

It’s been an interesting month for me. Blog posts, revisions to older stories, new podcast interviews, and my web novel. I’ve been busy, and I don’t see it easing up any time soon. This is a good thing. I procrastinated for so long that I let things get behind, and I have so many projects that I’m working on I get a little overwhelmed. Another reason why I write an update at the end of the month; is to keep things in order.

I’ve been a lot more active on the Writing Community hashtag too, but it’s so full of spam and questions going out into the void. I mute all the spam and book promos. I’m sorry, I just find that fucking annoying, and it drowns out all the other members who actually want to connect, which is the reason the damn hashtag was created.

Okay, so let’s get to it, shall we?  

The Quiet Dead.

I’ve decided, after the second book, I’m going to put it away for now. There are three more stories in the series, but I have so many poking at me that I have to let some go. The first draft of book 2 is already done, so it’s a simple matter of revising, which I can start in the new year, and the only reason I’m finishing it is that I included a bit of the first chapter and a release date at the end of the novel. I do plan to work on the remaining stories, and I know where I want to take them, but creating a strong plot for the three remaining ideas will take some time.  

Down Finnigan’s Hollow.

Do you know I’m STILL finding evidence of the original plot in this story? I thought I’d scrub that completely from the manuscript, but I found one sentence halfway through the book, and I’m like, you’re not supposed to be there. I’m in a final revision now before I send it out to my beta, and I may have to do some more revisions and edits once I get it back from her. I may submit it to small press, I’m not sure. I think I need more ghost happenings in it.

Magical Hair Solution.

This is still out with my beta. I keep thinking it’s a weak plot, and I don’t know why. Maybe because of the era it’s set in? I don’t know. I really like this story, and I’ve got a good chunk of the second novel written. The tone is different for this one. Much darker. Kind of like how Harry Potter was all fun and excitement in the first book and then serious and dark in the second. Once it’s all set up, I plan to publish it myself. It’s one of those that just needs to get out there. I can promote it and The Quiet Dead while I figure out what the hell I’m going to do with my ghost book. If things go as my new revised self-publishing schedule, I may release it alongside the second Quiet Dead book or shortly around the same time.

Malice Web Novel.

The web novel is proceeding along. There are over twenty parts up on Wattpad now. Chapter One is entitled In Malice We Trust, and the second is called The Road to Malice. This has been a good challenge for me. Making sure I have a new part ready every Wednesday and Saturday morning is forcing me to keep a deadline. I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that before.  

The Watchtower.

It’s been eleven years since I published this novel. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that it’s been that long. If you’ve read my other updates, I’ve toyed with the idea of taking the whole series down, but I decided instead that I’ll revise the first book and offer it free to 1st Tier subscribers, and when I say revise, I mean revise. I’ve completed the first chapter so far, and I’ve added so much more content to it. This won’t be uploaded to any marketplace, and I will be offering the first chapter only on BookSweep in the near future. 

Last but not least, you can read what happens to the world I destroyed with a zombie plague on WATTPAD or ROYAL ROAD. I have a web novel there, and it’s a continuation of sorts to the novel. Click the sites to start reading.

One last thing, I’ve created a Patreon page that has insights into my stories, videos, audio reads and more. If you’re interested, you can check it out HERE.

I’m also on BookSprout! If you’d like to review my book, you can find it HERE.

And as always, you can subscribe to my newsletter HERE

What’s on the eReader: The Prophetess, by Reed Blitzerman (Book 1).

Tait Gonzales is unemployable. Her parents are gone, and her college loans are due. Fortunately, she’s also a psychic. When a dark-haired stranger shows up for a reading with a bad vibe and a dead brother, she sees a chance for a different life.

By the time it’s over, she’ll either get rich or die trying.

~~~

(DISCLAIMER; I received this ebook via Booksprout but could not post anything due to severe restrictions from Amazon and Bookbub.)

The Prophetess follows Tait Gonzales, a young woman who has fallen on hard times. Tait is a scruffy, borderline alcoholic with a broken past and a psychic gift she wishes she didn’t have, but it comes in handy when she needs money fast. It’s a dark tale with a bit of humour and some interesting ghost characters. It’s an imaginative story that brings the reader along when she uses her gift. Tait comes across as being her own worse enemy, a character trying to make a better life for herself, despite herself.

That’s all I can say about it, as it’s only 63 pages long. I finished it within two days. You can probably do it in one sitting if you’re a fast reader.

I didn’t give this story a higher ranking because, to be honest, I felt cheated. The length of the story didn’t give me enough time to truly feel for the character; understand her, her life, and her abilities. There were too many questions I felt the author didn’t answer; most had to do with her past, especially regarding her mother, as the gift was inherited from her. All of this was just touched on, and then it ended. This ‘taste’ was not enough to tempt me to purchase more books in the series.

3 stars.   

From the Recipe Box: My Year with Noom.

No recipe today. This is, in part a continuation from my last post a year ago. You can find it HERE.

Like many people, I gained weight with the covid lockdowns. Just about everyone I talked to has, so I don’t feel bad about it. My problem was trying to get it off.

Once you hit a certain age, weight loss becomes a bit more complicated. Your body changes and things start to slow down; I get that, but what was frustrating for me was, just as I found the right balance of work and exercise and had managed to drop 20lbs, covid struck and all that went to hell. I gained most of the weight back, especially as my anxiety expressed itself as bad eating habits. A little background about me and my weight: I have been a skinny beanpole most of my life, but over the last thirty years, that’s increased, and now I’m in a stage of life where losing weight is not only more complex but more urgently needed.

So, I joined Noom.

This isn’t an ad for the program. It’s expensive for one year, but it does help you change your mindset about food and how factors in your life can sabotage the best intentions. If you don’t know anything about the program, research it online. There are plenty of blogs dedicated to how it works, program structure, and that sort of thing. I did well for the first few months, then stress from work took over, and it all went downhill because the program became the problem.

The key to success in the program is reading. Each day you have a few short articles to read, but as the stress in my life increased, I was less compelled to read them and keep track of the daily information. It was a small slip at first, not adding my water intake and food. It didn’t take me long to stop using the program altogether. I’m not going to get into it because it did work in the end. Albeit, just not for any extended period of time. At least not for me, and credit to the program for sending me reminders to do things, but in the end, with my mindset, it wasn’t the way forward for me anymore.

So, I quit, but it wasn’t a complete failure. It gave me the tools I need to keep going, and I’m slowly getting back on track. I have a better understanding of my eating habits and what I can do to reduce my weight, and for me, that’s a big step forward than before I started the program.  

Five Things Every Writer Should Know About TikTok.

Welcome to the new social media Golden Child. Easier to use than YouTube, you can upload short videos by phone or from your computer. I like this platform over YouTube because the videos have to be short, which means you don’t need a lot of prep work ahead of time to create an interesting post. Like all other social media platforms, you can easily use this to promote yourself or your work. I use this in the same way that I use all my accounts; snippets of daily life and things that are of interest to me. It was intimidating at first, now I can’t decide what to put up. In the meantime, here are five things you should know about TikTok.   

1. Upload 3-minute videos:

When originally introduced, the maximum length of a video was one minute, but with the popularity of the site, they increased that to three minutes. This allows you to get a little more creative or in-depth with your content. NOTE: you can only do longer videos if you upload them from your computer. There is a time limit when using the app through your phone. There is a huge library of filters and effects to mess around with and add a personal touch to your content. These filters and effects make using the app fun, and it’s good to be silly every now and then.

2. Connect to other users:

Just like Twitter and IG, you can connect to communities or topics with hashtags. They also have a feature where you can duet with another creator; simply put, a duet is where you either show your reaction to a video alongside the original, or you can repost a short bit (a few seconds) and have your video comment afterward. There’s a limit on how much text for both describing your content and replies. For description, I recommend using one or two hashtags to connect, along with a brief comment. One drawback is that anything you put in your description box will be overlayed at the bottom of the video, so most of the text you post won’t be visible unless the viewer expands. I found there was a slight learning curve to editing on the platform through your phone. It’s great if you just want to film and post, but if you want to get creative, I recommend an editing program and uploading. 

3. Creator tools and make money:

There is an extensive list of tutorials for users to watch and learn from. Analytics and other features to help you create the best content you can. There are marketing tools as well as monetization. If you have an account, you can switch your profile from personal to business and link your webpage or any other page to this account. Unfortunately, you can’t monetize until you’ve hit ten-thousand followers.

4. Be prepared to start at the bottom. Again:

Building a following is just as hard here as on any other social media platform, especially if you’re not politically active or don’t already have a following from other places. Building a following is always a marathon, and as long as you create content on a regular basis, say once a week, it should start to grow. If you have a good following on other sites, invite them to TikTok. Trust me; it is NOT a site just for Gen Z or millennials.     

5. Sensitive algorithms.

Watching other videos is almost impossible not to do, and the longer you stay on one video, the more that type of content will show up on your #ForYouPage (#fyp). This is how their algorithms work. If you don’t like a video or the content, swipe up, and it’s gone, but you have just a few seconds to decide this. Linger too long, and more of the same will show up in your feed, so if you like funny animal videos, only watch those. The #ForYouPage is the de facto page that loads when you open the program. You can find the creators you follow by swiping right. I’ve noticed ads showing up the moment I open the program on my phone, BUT I swipe up, and it’s gone. I don’t have to watch it for so many seconds before I’m ‘allowed’ to swipe it away. This is a far cry from YouTube where you have to watch so many seconds of an ad.

So, have I tempted you to try out the site? It’s worth it, for the funny animal videos alone.

The Crystal Realm: Navigating the seasonal change with crystals.

It’s that time of year, folks! Autumn is upon us, and with it comes the battle between the summer heat and the winter cold. I love everything about autumn; the food, cooler temperatures, the colours but the one thing that gets me every year is how I feel with so much turbulence in the atmosphere. It sounds kookie, but the changing weather patterns really take a toll on me. Emotionally, I’m all over the place, so I’m going to put my stones to work and use their healing abilities.

I did some research online to figure out which stones would work best, and I got about as many different answers as there are web pages. A few were consistent, but I use them for other things as all crystals and stones have several metaphysical properties. It’s why I have so many of them. They all do many things, but I don’t like using the same stone over and over for different things. I could, but that’s just me.

The top three crystals for calming during the autumn are Blue Lace Agate, Blue Calcite, Black Tourmaline, and Howlite. All four invoke calming energy, and I use two for the season, Blue Calcite and Black Tourmaline. I wear Black Tourmaline to work every day but incorporating Blue Calcite will be new. You can see them HERE.

I don’t feel the turmoil while I’m at work (or maybe because there’s so much there it just blends in), but at home, where I’m away from all that mayhem, it really affects me. I can’t focus, I’m anxious, and I feel like I should be doing something. I get the same way when a storm is coming. If I start cleaning the kitchen at 10 pm at night, something’s up.

Do the changing seasons affect you as well? What do you do to relieve the symptoms? I’d love to know. If it works for you then maybe I will add it to my de-stressing routine.   

A Wiccan Journey: New Mabon Ritual – Reflecting on the past year.

Autumn begins in a week, and I can’t be more excited. Not only for the end of the heat and humidity, but because of what the new season brings; cooler weather, heavier clothing (all black, of course), and COMFORT FOOD! Seriously, I’ve been waiting all summer to make comfort food.

I’m creating new rituals to celebrate each changing of the Wheel. Most of it will deal with food (because food, duh), but I want to connect more with my spirituality and focusing on the Solstices to start off will do that. Hell, I’m even booking time off from work to do this.

Traditionally, Mabon is about the second harvest, a time when the daylight and night-time are equal, so it’s a good time to reflect on all that’s happened in the last year and note the balance I’ve brought to my life (or tried), and letting go of things that did not work in the past, like unhealthy habits or self-destructive mindset. I want this to be an all-day thing, but it’ll mostly happen at night as the time for the official start is 9 pm. I made my own incense from a recipe I found online too. It’s pretty simple, and I had most of the ingredients already.

Most of what I note when I look back was my procrastination. I did get a lot done; raised gardens, one book out, basement cleaned, but I think I could have done more had I not been so distracted. Lack of focus is my downfall. If I know I have to do something (whether or not I want to do it), all it takes is one stray thought, and it’s not done. Exercise and other creative endeavours fell by the wayside this year because I just lacked the focus. My Mabon ritual this year will force me to look at that and hopefully banish the habit once and for all.

For this ritual, I will need two candles (orange and brown) and two cauldrons to burn my incense. I will stand facing West, the direction associated with the Autumn Solstice (according to several beliefs), with the candles in front and behind me (West and East). I will put the cauldrons to the North and South. While I burn the incense and candles, I will say a little prayer and then meditate on my accomplishments of the last year. I will meditate on my success and visualize myself forming new habits.

As I will, so it shall be.

Bored Gen X’er: Settlement Survival.

Welcome to a new hobby blog post! I’ve wanted to talk about video games I play for a while but never really got around to doing it until now.

This is the one I’m playing now. It’s called Settlement Survivor. A medieval city-building game, this is just building, no warfare. I like these types of games because the stress of losing battles doesn’t help me relax. It’s very similar to Banished, which is a beautiful game; too bad the developers abandoned it. The creators of Settlement Survivor do credit Banished as being the inspiration. It’s still in early release, but there’s a lot to it.

So, most of you know I’m a gamer. I’m not a die-hard online MMORP player or anything like that. I like easy games that don’t get my heart racing. I play them to relax and unwind after a long day or de-stress when the world gets to be too much. Okay, so there can be a little action and fighting, but I prefer sandbox games. Not to say I haven’t played any of those games. CofD Modern Warfare, Fable, and Path of Exiles are some of my favourites, but I prefer world-building games.

I tried to do a video of it, but it didn’t work out, so I posted some pictures to IG HERE.

One of the main reasons I like this game, other than building and micro-managing the town, is the music. I am drawn to games that have a medieval soundtrack. I find it relaxing, and with my headphones on, I manage to blot out the world around me, and the stress disappears. There is a bit of a learning curve to the game, but it’s easy enough to understand how it works, and the best thing is you can turn on and off the disasters.

As much as I like this game, there are limited decorations and the algorithm that determines health and happiness needs tweaking, and it’s limited on what can make your townsfolk happy. They are working on it, but I think something small like pubs could go a long way, especially when you start playing. The skills tree is pretty simple too. Overall, it’s a good game, but as I said, it is limited on what you can do.

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