Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

Christmas 2012 020

I’ve been blessed this Christmas, but I’ve also been blessed throughout the year by some pretty amazing friends. Friends that have encouraged me without saying a word, friends who have inundated me with kindness and laughter,  and friends that are so special I know I could search the world over and not find their like in ten thousand years. They are the kinds of people who are difficult to shop for and so this year I decided to “make merry” instead of buying them something for Christmas.  First up, my friends from work.

There, I’ve a friend who has inspired me to both search harder for the grace-moments even when everything goes wrong (it seems) and to respond quickly with gratitude to Christ and to others when I receive it.

She’s had  many amazing things happen this year, and she’s also weathered some devastating events. She makes me want to be not more like her, but more like Jesus.

I’m reminded of a story I read recently of a homeless man who recently got saved and prayed each day that the Lord would make him more like Mike, the man who worked in the mission and helped the others who had no place to go. Someone asked him ‘Hey, why don’t you pray that the Lord make you more like Jesus’ and the man piped back “Oh, is Jesus like Mike?”

Replace Mike with her name, and you’ve got the idea of how she lives. Is she perfect? Nope, but she makes me hungry to ‘be like Jesus’ with the same kind of transparency and grace she possesses.

I wanted to give her a really special Christmas present. She’s a journal keeper  so I knew right away I wanted to give her a journal. But not just any journal would do. I scoured Tuesday Morning(TM) for a C.R. Gibson(C) blank book (picked it up for just $3.99 shh don’t tell her) and found a black bonded leather one that was just perfect.  Then I started thinking about what I was going to do with it to alter it, just for her. My friend’s life is a mosaic of places and people, nations and neighbors, family and friends and  she  really likes word games like Words With Friends(TM) and Scrabble(TM).  I decided to  incorporate the gypsy/bohemian feel of her life with her love of word games and that pulled the theme together.

I ransacked my altered letter stash and slowly started putting the words I wanted on the cover using superglue. It’s perfect for this kind of project where I’m bonding all kinds of materials to each other and I want them to stay put.

After the words were in place, I  wanted to add some flash and fire to the layout, a look of gems scattered here and there against a dark background because she’s always finding precious things in the middle of a trial.

Oh, to have her sight when I go though my own hard times.

Finally, I wanted to put on a wing  on the journal because she waits on the Lord and mounts up over the hard places with wing of eagles, and also because I have often prayed that she find rest in the shadow of His wings.


All the planning and cogitating paid off, I gave her the journal for Christmas,  and she loved it.


That was the first journal I altered to give as a Christmas present, and it kinda opened the flood gates.

So for my second friend from work, I went with a Mead College Ruled Composition Book.  She’s a writer, and a gamer, and just all together way cool. We’ve hung out once for coffee and to ‘talk writer talk’ and intend in the new year to do that way more often.  She got me a fantastic Loki necklace since he’s my favorite hero.

Wait, what do you mean he isn’t a hero? Yes he is! He’s a tragic hero! His dad betrays him, his brother doesn’t understand him, he’s manipulated and played and.. .oh fine go ahead and believe the Avengers propaganda.

Anyway, I wanted to give her something just as cool as what she gave me and that meant, making something.  She’s currently playing through the Mass Effect games (she started with Mass Effect, and then Mass Effect 2, and then Mass Effect 3 but had trouble importing her Shepherd so she’s toggling between playing a new Shepherd and working through ME2  as well as Knights of the Old Republic and other games)

Since I had little understanding of the mythos of the game, I was delighted to find there was a Mass Effect Wiki. That helped me pick the color red, and the metal plating as the game relies heavily on heroic sacrifices  and there is a philosophical pondering throughout the universe about what does it mean to be sentient. Can inorganic be sentient? Can a hive-mentality created artificial life possess a soul?  The game is much deeper than a simple ‘run through the universe and destroy enemies’ and it has solidified some thoughts  I’ve had  about story-telling in video game format. That is definitely another post.

For now, back to the journal.

After I laid down the kick-plate silver paper, I ‘ripped’ the red against itself and set that on top using UHU sticks. If anyone wants to cover notebooks like I do, invest in UHU glue sticks. They’re readily available at any craft store in the glue isle and come in two sizes. They come either colored (to help you see where you’re putting the glue and will dry clear) and clear. I used the colored.   They work so much better than mod podge, they are not nearly as wet, and they bond BETTER to cardboard with less paper warping that any mod podge I’ve used. I learned this trick from a lady who makes books for a living, when I took a class on book making. (Yeah I can do that too but it requires WAY more prep time).

After I glued down the papers front and back it was time to put my wood cutting blade to improper use in cutting out  the characters for her book. They’re  from Mass Effect 3 Playing Cards I found at  Think Geek  and worked perfectly because they’re all ready printed and laminated. The only difficulty was their somewhat odd and incomplete poses. But I think they work. I had to pick who to put on the front (there are more on the back too) but I picked the ones that I liked the best, as well as some of the ones that I’d heard her mention at work. The gears are held on with superglue (really the altered book go-to adhesive) as is the game spinner, and the firey swarovski sequin.

The characters are stuck in place by UHU glue and they are bonded to that paper, really bonded. I always test their adhesion by using the element as a handle to open the book. If nothing moves, then I know it’s good for travels and adventures. The words are the only bit I wish I had done differently. I just stuck them down using their own adhesive and am all ready regretting it–several lifted and I had to ‘reglue’ with the  UHU stick. Hopefully, the others will behave. I can repair for her, however, if they come off. The phase ties in both to writing and the game, as anyone who has played Mass Effect 3 will know, the Crucible is a device/ship/element that Shepherd has to decide to use, or not use. It’s also a “ceramic container where metals or other materials may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures”  which makes the play on words that much more fun.

Here’s the front:

Cati 1
And here’s the back (sorry it’s a bit blurry)

Cati 2
It reads “Friends walk beside you into the flames” continuing the thought on the front, and showing off several of the most endearing companions you can have in the game. The little metal disk says “journey”
I gave it to her for Christmas and, she loves it!


I know she’ll fill it up with some amazing words of her own, and hopefully get lots of compliments on it.

Whew, this is turning into a long-winded post, and I’ve two more to show you. I think I’ll stop here, and then post again.

So, watch for the second part and tell me in the comments below, what do you make and give away? Or what “made” gift did you get this year the blew YOU away?

Coriam Deo, Scribes


I’m sitting here, typing this post on my  BRAND NEW LAP TOP. That’s right. Let those words sink in and then maybe you can convince me I’m not dreaming.  BRAND NEW LAP TOP. He’s so knew, the keys make a really loud clicking sound was I type!  He’s so new, I keep having to peel off protective plastic from bits of him!  He’s running Windows 8 and while I’m adjusting to the new look and interface, it’s not as horrible as I was thinking it was going to be. Yes, there’s the ‘start’ screen with its apps but once you get used to navigating to the desk top, there’s not a lot of visual changes (other than where the power off command is located) to adjust to. Today, I’m spending most of the time moving files from Davin TO Rea JaHani.

Yup, I name my laptops after my protagonists. Davin is a Regent, and Rea’s his more sardonic world-wise uncle who spends the majority of Davin’s story raising and protecting him working as  his personal guard. Davin doesn’t know that Rea’s his uncle, and there’s a long and rather complicated reason as to why he doesn’t know that.  Rea’s always been a favorite, though until recently I didn’t know much about him simply because I didn’t need to know a whole lot about him. That’s changing. With all the other changes this year that have happened, I thought that it would be a good idea to switch names and start new with this  BRAND NEW LAPTOP. So yes, best present ever.  He is the best Christmas present, but not the ONLY amazing thing I’ve received this year. Check out the very close runners up for BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER, below.

From my brother, Dave, I received this  fantasticness which can not be contained! Lookit! Lookit!

Dave Game

It would be one thing if he somehow had connections to get it signed like this but the truth of the matter is he has worked on X-COM Enemy Unknown for years. I have a SIGNED COPY OF MY BROTHER’S GAME, Y’ALL.  And he didn’t sign it, he got his WHOLE team to sign it for me.  Better yet, he’s going to bring over his PS3 sometime, and I’m going to have some characters die in horrible ways as we play it together! I’m all ready aware of some of the worst deaths an X-COM can experience and am psyching myself up to be happy when they’re zombified or converted or impaled. *Sigh* It’s not going to work, I’m such a softie I’ll be really upset and want to reset every chance I get, I know.  But! I will be able to play the game he worked on making with him and that is going to be worth the price of all of those pixel people’s horrible deaths.

From Megan, I received fantasticness that’s hard to contain.  Lookit!

PosterIt’s the entire story of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which is the dark text you see there, and the silhouettes are of course the Nautilus and the great sea squid. There are not words for the fantasticness of this poster. Just____________. I love it so much!  If you want the fantasticness you CAN get one yourself or check out the other amazing works of art at

Lest you think that all I did this year at Christmas was get, get, get (though I won’t deny that did happen) I did give some too. Check back tomorrow for a look at some of the things I made, and gave away.

Until then,
Coriam Deo.

H. A. Titus is the writer who had the most amazing idea, and WON the spot on Scarlet Inkwell to talk about writing, and share tips and tricks that they’ve discovered. Now, that’s not H.A. Titus there, but it’s fitting because she’s going to be talking about “Hanging out with your characters” and you know, more often than not mine are prone to do things like this!  So, without further ado, onto her thoughts!


We all notice when a book’s characters stand out. They’re amazing and unique, and we just don’t want the book to end because we love them so very much.

I don’t know about you, but a few years ago, whenever I returned to my own writing after reading a book with amazing characters, I winced. My characters felt flat and boring, and they all had the exact same nervous tics, facial expressions, and speech patterns. They were like clones that I trotted out on command, as many as needed for the story.

Since then, one of the most important things I’ve learned with character development is to spend time with them. To authors who can corral their generally well-behaved characters, this might sound a little funny. To other authors, who struggle with just getting their character to do what they want for five seconds, it might sound like an exercise in despair. Nevertheless, spending time with your characters allows you to get to know them better, to understand their reactions and desires.

Work on a story generally begins a month or two ahead of when I actually start writing the story. That time is spent working out plot ideas and just spending time with the characters; asking them questions, writing snippets of scenes in their point of view, and generally treating them like I would treat a new friend whom I’d like to get to know better.

Here are some suggestions for spending time with your characters that I often use:

*The Four D’s: These originated from Brandilyn Collins’ (author of Dark Pursuits and Deceit) writing book Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets A Novelist Can Learn From Actors. They encompass a character’s Desire, what they want most out of anything else in the world; their Distancing, which pulls them away from achieving their Desire; the Denial, which is a circumstance that pushes them so far away from the Desire that achieving it seems impossible. The character can then either discover a new Desire, or the plot continues on to the Devastation, where the hope of achieving the Desire is completely ripped away. The four D’s seem like plot points, but knowing a character’s emotional state regarding their Desire in all stages of the story has a way of adding more tension into the story.

*Building on this, Susanne (C. S.) Lakin, author of The Wolf of Tebron, The Map Across Time, and other books in the Gates of Heaven series, writes a series of blog posts about how she begins building characters. She says she determines and thinks about these three points: the character’s core need, and what they would do if they couldn’t get that need met; the character’s greatest fear; and the incident(s) that wounded them early in lie that got them believing a lie. Knowing these things are essential to creating a realistic character.

*Asking a series of character-building questions. You can find these online (a good series I’ve found is here: or another series I absolutely love is in the back of Alan Watt’s book The 90-Day Novel. I especially recommend the ones in Watt’s book because some of them tell you to write for a set amount of time (usually five minutes or so) about a character’s opinion on a certain question.

*Writing a character voice journal. James Scott Bell talks about this in his book Revision and Self-Editing. Writing a character voice journal sounds a bit strange…basically, you just write in the voice of your character and let them ramble on as long as they want. Using a couple of the character-building questions as a starting point may be useful, but don’t hold your character to answering only those—they will probably begin to ramble, and I’ve found that rambling is a good way to learn truths about your character that are often obscured.

*If you’ve done some character stuff and feel you don’t have a good handle on the character still, don’t worry. Start writing the story. Sometimes even the most reclusive character will reveal something about himself as the story progresses. I sometimes do more character building in the second draft/rewrite of the story, as I feel that I understand the character more thoroughly after sending him/her through all sorts of difficult and nasty situations.

*If you find yourself portraying emotions in the same way for each character, a great resource is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This is a list of different emotions and people’s external/internal reactions, as well as progressions of that emotion. It’s a fabulous resource.

And remember this: study favorite authors in your genre. This is a great way to learn how to write a story and characters. Take apart favorite books and see if you can identify a character’s four D’s, the core need, the greatest fear, and the lie. Look for new ways to portray character emotion.

Practice and study. It sounds a lot like schoolwork, but it is effective. Utilizing even one of these methods will help your characters become richer, deeper people.

Let me know what works for you and what doesn’t—and if you have another way of digging into your character’s psyche, please share! I’m always eager to try new things in writing.

Thank you H.A. Titus!  Those are incredible tips, tricks, and idea for fleshing out paper tigers!

Want to keep up with H.A. Titus?

Of course you do!

You’ll find her blog here

And here, is her multi-author steampunk styled ongoing story blog. Check it out!