Friday, December 31, 2010

End of 2010

With this post I will tie the second most prolific blogging year I've had (2007 and 2010 had 74 posts and 2006, my first had 92 posts). I also gained the most visits. In 2009 Illini6 reached 7,000 visits, and today we have over 16,000! Ok, there are some blogs out there with over 16,000 a day, but I'm pretty happy that I'm still growing.

This was a good year in that I started commuting by bike to work. I do like it a lot and I can't wait for Spring so I can start again.

My middle daughter and youngest changed schools and are doing very well, so that's good.

I won NaNoWriMo again. I spent a lot of time developing two Con-Worlds, which I really liked. I'm going to continue so I hope you all liked it.

Two very bad things happened this year though, we lost my Father, and in November I had a health screening that wasn't so good. I've had hypertension for over 10 years, but this was the first time my cholesterol and triglycerides were out of whack. They aren't insurmountable, but I will have to make some very serious efforts to keep myself healthy.

I can't find my 2009 New Year's Resolutions, so I can't measure how I did, but I doubt I did very well, because they were made before my Dad took started on his last adventure.

I really don't know what happened to the second half of 2010. The individual parts went at a normal rate, even paced, but as a group they passed without my noticing.

Here are my 2008 Resolutions, of which I didn't accomplish any:

Make >$1000 Writing
Communicate with extended family once a weekSubmit 12 Novel Queries
Complete Level 1 of Rosetta Stone Greek
Swim 100 miles
Join a band

In my last post of 2009 I talked about things I was thinking about. One of them was a family resolution. I remember that we had a long talk in the car on the way to my parents' house. We came up with some things we wanted to do, but I also remember that we didn't stick to them long enough for me to even remember what they were.

I do have some resolutions I'm working on, but this year, I WILL post them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas Presents

Merry Christmas everybody!  I wanted to share a couple of the gifts I got.

I got a ukulele and bag.  I've been practicing since Christmas and still can't play a tune, but I am getting better and it is less annoying to practice than say, a violin or drums.


You know what else is fun?

The Chicago Bears and I are sharing a gift.  The Philadelphia Eagles gave us this gift, and we are loving it.  I just can't believe they were so generous.

 Thank you Michael Vick.

Can you believe how lucky the Bears have been this year?

I think they should change their uniforms.  They resemble this Bear more I think:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Yule!

Me last night:  "Stay down old man and learn your name!"

Go Bears!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Seekretya Excerpt

Per Spockgirl's request, I've decided to relent and post the first chapter of Seekretya, my latest NaNoWriMo effort.  I hope you all like it and leave many many nice comments (please, please be gentle):


Chapter 1: “School’s out for summer.  School’s out completely.”

“Good bye everyone, have a great summer.”

“Good bye Miss Chantal.”  Most of the first grade class cheered as they filed out of the classroom in an orderly fashion.  Adela Chantal stood behind her desk smiling as they went by.  Then she felt a presence at her right hip.  She turned to see Jacquee Kraepper looking up at her with those big brown eyes.

“Yes Jacquee, may I help you?”

“You look so pretty in your blue dress Miss Chantal.”

“Thank you.  You look pretty in your bows,” she blushed and replied honestly.  Jacquee sighed.

“I hope you and that man have a nice summer.”

“Do you mean Mr. Fisher?”

“Yes, he seems like a nice man and you are such a nice lady.  You should have a nice man.”

“Well, thank you Jacquee.  I do like him a lot.”

Jacquee sighed again, this time with an enormous smile.  “Well, I gotta go.”  And with that she ran out of the classroom.

Adela sighed herself and sat down at her desk.

“Adela are you coming to the happy hour later?”  Debbie Carrie stuck her head in Adela’s classroom.

“No, I have some work to do yet and then I have my second job to get to.”

Monica Olg walked up beside Debbie and asked her in a mumble if Adela were coming.  Debbie shook her head and mouthed the word, “modeling.”

“Do you have a photo-shoot today?”  Monica asked.

Adela shrugged and kept her head down to hide the blush, but her ears turned visibly red and gave her away, “Yes, I have a job later this afternoon.”

Debbie sneered, but Monica stood a bit straighter and tightened her core as best she could.   Debbie nudged her in the ribs and motioned for them to leave.  “Ok then, bye.”


Monica stayed at the door and wondered at Adela’s hair and her delicate arms and perfect skin.  Debbie hooked her arm with her elbow and pulled.  “Com’on,” she said.

“She seems lonely.”   Monica said when they had stepped away.

“She’s a model, she’s gorgeous.  She’s got all the men she can handle.  Let’s go get a drink.”

Adela arranged the things on her desk and then looked up at the classroom.  She would be teaching summer school in that room so she didn’t have to clean it out, but she and the children had taken down all of their things and they had packed away most of the student materials.  The room looked dead.  The weather wasn’t making her feel any better, outside the sky was filled with clouds and they had decided to be mysterious as to where and when they would rain.  It wasn’t raining on her windows when she looked up, but she could see the other half of the school was getting wet again.

Her phone rang.  It was Jude.  She brightened enough for the whole sky.

“Hi Jude.”

“Hello Adela.  How are you?”

“I’m fine,” she crossed her legs and relaxed at her desk, “How are you?”

“Uh, okay.  I’m okay, I was wondering if you’re free this afternoon after work.”

“Well, I have a bit more paperwork to do, but then I have another job.”

“Where is it?”

“At the studio on Narragansett Avenue.”


“Hey, why don’t you meet me there?”

“I don’t know.”

“You could see me work and then we could get something to eat.  How does that sound?”

“If you’re there it sounds terrific,” he laughed lightly.

She smiled, “Good, you know where the studio is, right?”

“Sure, sure.”

“Then I’ll see you around five thirty?”

“Yes I think I can make it.”

“You’d better,” she said playfully, but immediately she dropped her smile, “I mean, I hope you do.  I’m looking forward to it.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“Thank you.  See you later Jude.”

“Bye.”  He went silent, but didn’t hang up until he heard her hang up.  He always did that.  She smiled, said, “Later” under her breath and clicked the phone off.

After completing her paperwork Adela took her VW Beetle to the studio, nervous as usual.  She didn’t listen to any music and kept drumming her fingers on the wheels.  They would have her clothes there waiting, with the camera and the lights.  Her head started to hurt.

The studio was a storefront operation, with the parking in the rear.  It was always quite busy with people going in and out almost constantly, but you could only get back to the parking lot by going through a narrow opening between the buildings.  Adela parked her car and locked the doors.

“Miss Chantal?”

She jumped, she was so startled.  By an over large, black SUV stood a tall, well-built and well-dressed man in his much later middle ages.  He had a tight beard that was entirely white, white hair in an attractive style and he wore a well-tailored suit, and expensive shoes; and carried a platinum handled cane.

“May I help you?   Do I know you?”  She put her hand in her purse to reach for her phone and her pepper spray.

“There is no need for that,” he said with a clipped British accent, “We do not know each other.  At least, you don’t know me, but I know of you, and I’m here to pick up you.”  He smiled, but it was more like a tiger bearing his teeth than a show of friendship.

“Who are you, what do you mean?”

He took a step toward her, away from his vehicle and stood like he was preparing for a fight, legs widely spaced and on the balls of his feet.  From behind him, four shorter men appeared through the SUV doors. 
They were all about four feet tall with none over four and a half, but they were broader than the older gentleman.  They too all had beards, but theirs were black or dark brown.  They had heavy brows and dark, hairy skin.  They wore dark hoodies that hid their eyes and jeans over heavy boots.  The shorter men moved in to surround her car and Adela.

“We can do this the hard way or the easy way.”

She tried to pull out her cell phone, but a huge, strong hand shot out and pinned her hand before she could get it out.  She followed the hand up the arm to the dark, serious face of the short man.  He snarled at her, but she was glad he made no attempt to get the phone out of her hand.  Though her wrist and arm were immobile she could still move her fingers on the phone.

“What do you want?”  She asked loudly.   “What do you want?”

The tall man smiled, but showed less teeth.  “I told you, we came for you.”

She tried to free her hand, but the hand that held it, though not painful, was immovable, as if she had been locked in handcuffs.  She moved her fingers on the phone inside her purse, unseen from her captors.  If she dialed 911 they would hear the answer, but she could text.  She quickly, blindly texted Jude.  She had never been good at texting and she hoped he got the message.

“Please don’t make it the, ‘hard way.’  I really don’t want to hurt you.”

“I don’t mind,” a grumbly voice on her right said.  She glanced to see that it was her captor, still smiling a sneer that made him more hideous than he really was.  His eyes still hidden in shadow.

The tall man stepped up next to her and bent forward slightly.  "My name is Giles.  You are going to get in the vehicle and we are going to the airport."

Giles' breath was fresh and he has a very slight scent of a nice cologne on him.  He smiled.  "You will go with us, I assure you."  He nodded and a second short man grasped her free arm.  Giles stood up and took a step back.  The short men on either side of Adela grasped tighter and lifted her by her arms.

She kicked and twisted; she shouted and looked around to try to get someone's attention, but despite the fact that it was still daylight, there was not a soul around.   The only entrance on the parking lot side was an emergency exit.

The short but heavy men moved her to the vehicle, but she made it as difficult as possible, using everything she had learned in her self-defense class.  The hand that wasn’t holding the phone was out and she tried to dig her nails in the man’s arm.  He didn’t seem to notice.  She kicked at them and hit several times, but they made no sign on pain.

Giles opened the back passenger door.  Adela put one foot on each side of the door frame and pushed away.  With normal men this sudden and violent move would have at least knocked them back; loosening their grip, but these men had a much lower center of gravity and didn’t even rock back.  She did manage to keep from going in, but it was a stalemate.

Giles leaned forward and shook his head.  “This is indeed the hard way.  Now, we have two choices, to push you hard enough to break your legs and put you in the vehicle, or to strike,” he swung his cane with lightning speed stopping only a hair’s breadth from her kneecap, “Thusly.  You have two choices as well.  You can relax your legs and get in the vehicle, or you can pass the decision on,” he lifted his cane, she flinched, “to us.”

Adela struggled with her arms, trying to free them to claw at Giles or her detainers.  The struggle was short lived, and before Giles could nod again to his companions, she relaxed.  Giles smiled, “Very sensible of you.”

“I’ll find some other way to get away.”  She stood on her own feet again.

“No, you won’t.”

She breathed deeply and nodded.  “Alright, I’ll get in.” The short men with the iron grip released her.  She smoothed her dress and looked up at Giles, “Where are we going?”

Giles took a breath to answer, but before he could get a single word out, she twisted, jumped and darted from between the two men who had been holding her.  She ran for the exit of the parking lot, but she had forgotten that four short men had gotten out of the black SUV.  The other two were blocking the narrow parking lot exit.  She ran at them anyway, darting like a broken field running back.  The men didn’t follow her moves with anything but their eyes.  When she dove to try to get past them by going over, they managed to maneuver so the they caught her in mid-air.

She struggled and twisted.  She shouted again, trying to see out of the parking lot to see if anyone was walking or driving past.  She was getting hot and tired from the struggling, her skin was raw from being held and she was bruised.  These men were tougher than any she had ever had in her kick-boxing class.

She relaxed a moment to try to catch her breath.  Giles was next to her.

“You are fighting admirably, and I can empathize with your determination since we are in fact strangers who are abducting you.  I really wish you would do this the easy way; it really wouldn’t be that bad.  We really aren’t bad, people.”

“I’m not going with you.  You can break my legs if you want,” she snarled.

Giles put his hand to his chest and looked sincerely pained to hear her.  “I really didn’t mean to cause you any harm.  I did forget though, that we had a third option besides violence to your lovely legs.” 

She wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but her mind raced to see what other option she might have.  She still, after all the struggles had her hand on her phone in her purse, she tapped a few more commands.  Jude had done something to her phone the last time they were together, some tracker thing or a link to her GPS.

Giles withdrew his handkerchief from within his coat.

Adela had thought the phone thing had been creepy at the time, but she tried desperately to remember how to start it, if she actually needed to do anything.  Could he follow her?

Giles moved closer and held his handkerchief up to Adela’s face.  Too late she realized that it was drugged with Chloroform to make her sleep.  She was breathing heavily to begin with so when he put the handkerchief to her face she took a lung-full and began feeling the effect immediately.

“No,” she whispered, but it was no use.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Woo Hoo NaNoWriMo 2010 - Done That!

Using my mad ninja writing skills I done it again.  I actually finished earlier than any previous year.
2005 - Win  - Reach Out
2006 - Win  - Guya Principal
2007 - Did Not Win - Cryptaria
2008 - Did not participate
2009 - Did Not Win - Boys of St. Leonard's
2010 - WIN!!!!! - Seekretya

Once again I had to tack on a truncated ending because it will take more like 60k words to actually finish it right, but at least it has an ending and it is 50k words.

Monday, November 01, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 Begins

Speaking of madness (and I was if you see my last post), I've officially signed up for NaNoWriMo 2010.  I am writing a (somewhat children's) fantasy I'm calling Seekretya (as a working title, but I think the name of the novel is going to end up being something else, even if the name of the land stays Seekretya).

Wish me luck everybody, here I go again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Cthulhu Halloween Everybody

Happy Halloween!  I went against the poll and on Friday I went to work as a wizard (mainly because Mrs. Prop bought me a wizard hat and I had to wear it).

I'll be taking the kids round trick or treating as a wizard too, AND I'm going to wear the hat as I write my NaNoWriMo novel this month to get me in the mood.

I'll go as a Blues Brother next year after I've shaved, or maybe I'll work out a lot, let my beard grow and go as a Spartan.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 17 – Seekretya – Moody Review

1.  Pull out the list of adjectives you wrote down that set the mood for your novel...Read them out loud.
2.  Take out your notes on your speculative element. Read your rules out loud.
3.  Try describing how your speculative element works in your novel. How do you feel when you describe it?
4.  Look at what you decided to name your speculative element. Say the name out loud and decide if you feel the way you want to feel when you read your novel.
5.  Rename and rework your speculative elements and their rules if you need to.

1.  ADJECTIVES: Lush, rich, inviting, homey, difficult, anxious, attainable.  I recently added a few: humble, beautiful, love
glittering, glorious, secret
darkest, most forbidding and foreboding
delightful and magical
unknown and impediments. 
tricky, sneaky and treacherous,

There is absolutely no way this would only take 15 minutes.  I think it would short change the readers of this blog to rehash all of this again.  Rather than going through this again, let me ask you:  what I’ve done so far, does it match the adjectives I’ve listed?  Give me some feedback, please.

Day 16 – Seekretya - More Speculation


"Well, today is another day to nail down the rules for how your magic… work[s] in your story."

I boiled the exercise down to three bulleted question and two bulleted instructions:

1.  What are the limits of your speculative element?
2.  What is that cost? If there's no cost, then what's the trade-off?
3.  What keeps it from being used all the time, for everything, or is it used that much after all?

A.  Write down your rules, specifically focusing on what's impossible…
B.  Establish the limits and boundaries of your spec element today.

The first thing of note is I was thinking about who can do magic and I think it would be silly to have repulsor bolts, at least the way I described.  If only Wizards can do magic and everybody else just dabbles then where are the factories making magical instruments of war?  Who runs them?  I would guess that under this system only Wizards could make real magical weapons.  But if they did then those would be tremendously expensive.  That’s fine for a suit of armor or maybe Excalibur, but you would never go throwing them at the enemy as arrows, would you?

I’m going to modify that and keep it in mind as I go through today’s exercise.

1. The limits, simply put are:
a. That there is almost no enchanting of people.  The nature of magic is that it is an energy flow, at times sentient and personified (different Ley lines vary in that respect as well as in respect to how much power they carry).
b. Magic draws its power from another dimension of the multiverse, so it doesn’t tax our normal world’s energy or distort it.  It could draw on the power of that entire universe, but it is limited by the Dragons and how much they can be or that they can channel.  The limits will not be strained or reached in this story.  They will not be a factor.
c. How powerful are Wizards; is another question.  The most powerful Wizards are probably on a par with some of the Dragons themselves.  The limits are the same, but there are some exceedingly rare superstars.  Although there was only one Da Vinci and only one Michael Jordan, and only one Alexander the Great, when you put them all together you get a list, probably similar to the power list of Wizards.  Wizards are not only more powerful than ordinary folks; they are specifically practitioners of magic.  A wizard, in addition to being a type of Ranger of Magic, he is a Wizard.  He’s not a wiz at baking a cake (maybe employing magic in the baking) but an actual Wizard of Magic.

2.  The cost of using magic, for non-Dragons and non-Magic Trees, is study, practice, some inherent skill, dedication and lots of time.  Those are the overall costs.  What I was talking about before with who builds magic weapons can be answered here.  All highly skilled artisans in Seekretya employ some magic in their craft or art.  That little thing a highly skilled electrician in the real world might do.  In the real world we say, “How did you do that?!”  and they may answer, “magic” either because they themselves don’t consciously know how they did it, or they don’t want to tell you.  In Seekretya those situations ARE magic.  Any truly skilled bowyer and a highly trained archer can impart some magic on arrows to give them extra punch.  These arrows could be described as magical, but what they do is hit unnaturally hard.  This is actually how I’m going to use them.  For more magical effects the combatants will use less, disposable weapons.

3.  What keeps it being used for everything all the time?  It’s hard to do correctly and for most applications it isn’t really needed.  You don’t need Da Vinci to paint your house ceiling, but he sure came in handy for the really important jobs.

A.  I think that the rules are all here; my 15 minute alarm has gone off so I don’t have time to recap.
B.  The limits and boundaries?  The only thing I didn’t talk about today is the boundaries.  I have mentioned them time and again; they are the boundaries of Seekretya.  These boundaries do not keep you from crossing into or out of Seekretya except if you get caught in a very specific angle in relation to the Ley lines.  It might be possible to be tangled in them in a airplane if your plane’s ability to fly and the Ley web’s nullifying effect on technology came into an exact balance, the plane may be stuck in mid-air.  Normally though, you could just walk right through.  When you aren’t surrounded by the magic providing Ley lines you can’t do magic (duh) but otherwise that is no barrier.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 14 – Seekretya – Education

This will be an easy day.  Education is really not that important in this story.  The different Races and Ethnogroups all school their children differently.  Wizarding is a higher level of education that starts after all other levels of training are done.  

For the humans the Wizards are chosen for their desire and aptitude by the leaders of the community.  A banquet is held in their honor and they leave that night for training in a group.

For the Stoentrols they have a big bonfire and the chosen are taken by Wizards to their surprise, like an OA tapout.

For Dwarfs their choosing and calling out is entirely secret.  One night a person will be there and the next morning they’re gone.

Training for Wizards begins in the end of Summer and takes years.  Wizards are taught in small groups.  As a Wizard learns some things from one instructor he/she is sent on to another.  Wizards tend to stay with one instructor for a year at a time, and travel widely.  Instructors teach 3-4 students, with larger groups formed for large group activity on a bi-monthly basis in general.

There are no universities per se, but there are guild schools.  The social Races all have primary and trade schools.  Magic is not taught at any level other than Wizard training, though there are many groups that have Magic Clubs for amaeturs.

Non-social races all have apprenticeships.  Some have small groups taught in primary school for a few years.  Mentoring is very big for them.