Category Archives: writing

The Warlock’s Wake

(first draft)

The Warlock’s Wake
the minions huddled together crooked  spines with scales sipping their kerosene cocktails
the old lady down the lane told the news to one and all
heretical harpy, that one
the last to arrive silent as graves were the Minutiae twins bringing their only recipe no one ate

entrails untouched, desecrated faire
all agreed: the way she died felt undeserved
though her life spent unclean
dirtied hands and lying lips
the good deed finally met punishment (simple as that)

no rhythm or rhyme sewed the stitch
at the warlock’s wake

the crones and maids
kept their distances, wisely
for each knew they could catch the other’s
disease of time and beauty
and the sting would hurt
one would have a mirror break
(but the old woman down the lane covered them all with black crepe, for she respected the dead: and coddled the living)

the pretty ones and the ugly ones would not compete today: the warlock showed them that

you never think it will happen to you
you never listen you never learn
the imps danced outside and smoked
flirted with the fairies
and the demons sat sulking

the moon lobbed juicy blood orange sweet dripping embarrassed moon felt swollen engorged hidden behind smoked veils of clouds revealing the show one at a time

the stars prickled like wet wool on thin wrists
uncomfortable in the evening
but at the warlock’s wake

demons
imp
genie
the bugbears and the grim
ate suspicious scraps from the tables

(finishing the twins’ feast)
the Dwarf sang a dirge
while the small ones cried
(the only ones who seemed to grieve)
at the warlock’s wake
rumors said she died of fright
and some said she had no friends
others knew the truth must be
that she died of lust
but the coffin weighted with coins and fur
fooled the bearers six
she was not where they thought she’d be

six feet underground
but dancing under the moon
with a new moon face
and a new moon witch
the warlock’s wake
the drunken demons danced
to false beats and strings
it sounded a lot like this:
and this:

the batter head drums
and hear that?

heartbeats stopping

all

fall

down

 

Tiny Poetry Time: The Wall

 

 

ulduar face

 

 

Do you think I’m pretty?

I asked the Wall

A great gearing creak of stone and oil took in a breath

rebar skeleton shifted fanged mouth sliding open to reply

And answered

silent

Do you love me? 

I asked the Wall

rusty streak eyes carved art groves of pear tree tears open to see

And envisioned

blind

Do you hear me? 

I asked the Wall

drumming vibrato earth shaking quake friction pitch perfect to hear

And listened

deaf

I left a copper in the relief:

and went through the gate

 

 

Strength in numbers

Saw this list in Writer’s Write this morning, so thought I would share. Now, the distinction between female and male protagonists could be argued – these are defining traits for any strong protagonist. But if female leads are 10-11% but represent 50% of the population, we writers have some work to do. (And stop calling Jaina a bitch: but Blizz writers – give her some more of these please):

  1. She has a story goal that defines the narrative arc. She has to get possession of something, or relief from something. There have to be important consequences if she does not achieve her story goal. 
  1. She is flawed. She is not perfect, and her flaws could change the course of the story. She has to make choices, and she has to deal with the consequences of her choices. There is nothing more frustrating than reading a story where the protagonist fails to make choices. Even if this is how we behave in real life, we want our fictional heroes to be a better version of ourselves. We want them to take action. We want to them to go after what they want. Reactive characters are annoying and we perceive them as weak.
  1. She captures our attention. She has that special ‘something’ that captivates us as readers. A strong character has a personality trait that mesmerises readers. Readers want to believe they could be that character if they were put in that situation. They may even want to be that character. She could be brave, loyal, self-confident, intelligent, focused, charming, or compassionate. She should be able to engage our minds, win our hearts and get us to root for her until the end.
  1. She changes over the course of the story. She discovers her strengths and weaknesses. She surprises herself and she surprises us as she grows and learns. There should not be a sudden epiphany at the end of the story. We are not watching a Disney movie. Her change should be gradual and believable.
  1. She does not exist as a support for another character. Other characters exist to support her. Her supporting cast are there to help her achieve her story goal and complete the narrative arc of her story. The antagonist is there to thwart her, and to show her how strong or weak she is. Her love interest is there to distract her from her story goal, and to show us her insecurities and vulnerabilities. (Remember that a love interest is not necessarily a romantic interest.) Her friends are there to support her, and to show us who she really is, how strong she can be – even if she can’t see it.
  1. She has the ability to stand up to the antagonist. She is a strong character who is made stronger by her interaction with the antagonist. She has to have the intelligence, bravery, charisma, and will-power to make the story her own and come out on top at the end of the book.
CD Rogue spent his evening watching the Weeds series. I couldn’t stand watching the main character, Nancy, played by Mary-Louise Parker. First of all Mary-Louise is a shitty actress, but the Nancy character — in the words of CD Rogue – never changes. She is, in literary terms, a static character. When one watches a show like that back-to-back, you realize even if a female is in the lead, the world circles around her. She mostly just looks befuddled and confused all the time, a “Why is this happening to little ol’ me?” victim look. Yuck. How much different and far more interesting would that series have been with someone funny and smart. And she’s a really bad mom. (So says Judgy McJudgy Pants over here.)

My Azerothian characters – sheesh do they have their work cut out for them when Warlords comes out. So much testosterone! So much things-go-boom! So many big messes left for others to clean up! Booo! Oh well. Have more to say, but now I’m off to be the hero of my own story today…see you soon!

Mr. Snerguls, HALP!

Mistakes, errors, grammatical blunders (undistinguishable, Matty, not INDISTINGUISHABLE? For the love of Strunk & White!)
Mr. Snerguls, or Snergulllsss, or Snergggles, recently went on an ill-timed trip to Chicago to see some relatives in the Field Museum (okay, so they stuffed taxidermic displays of some relatives, but still,

FIELD TRIP! FIELD TRIP!

he showed me where the spell check button is, the little green check mark with the ABC icon, the little icon which at least picks up most grammatical typos, if not homophones. The other day I even typed “no” for “know.” What the hell, Matty? Seriously? This is the one thing you’re good at, or at least you tell yourself that, and yet you can’t slow down enough, not hit the publish button long enough to read and edit thyself?

Poor Mr. Snerguls. He’s in a deep-freeze, stuck at O’Hare airport: he wanted to help me during Flex raiding last night. Finally, FINALLY- “we” (aka I) got to Garrosh. For some reason, maybe it’s my bad memory, our Tuesday Flex nights when I’ve been able to be there we (I) haven’t gotten up to that point. Mataoka’s gear is sub-par, her loot drop RNG luck as been as cold as a craps table during a Mid-Atlantic storm, and she just can’t seem to get it together. Let me be clear: the guild and normal raid team (I’m not on it, but that’s cool) has gotten through it just fine. Flex is for new players, etc., and those alts gearing up. On Garrosh, during the “sucked up into the yuck” I and another shaman died 3x in a row. I finally just ran under his skirts (Garrosh’s, not the other shaman’s) and survived. I let out a private cheer in my house. Small victories, small victories. My buddy Turk said some of my problem may have been due to a slow computer: I appreciate that but no, it’s slow fingers and reflexes by the computer’s operator (cough). We got him down to 1% twice, but of course, overwhelmed by the MC and other nonsense. But we’ll get him (I hope) next Tuesday. I saved one of my coins for loot I need, and alas, gold and more gold. Oh, and really glad to know hunters got a 10% buff, cause you know, hunters were so weak and frail. (No one loves shamans. No. One.)

Oh, and it was CD Rogue’s birthday last night too, so that’s making me feel pretty good about myself, (insert sarcasm font), that I abandoned him for a date with Garrosh (who stood me up, the bastard), and a plate full of sugar-free chocolate cupcakes and homemade chicken pot-pie (seriously, if you have a box of Bisquick, cream of mushroom soup, chicken thighs and mixed frozen vegetables, everything is going to work out).

So, how did I end up with a mish-mash post such as this? These are all the things on my mind. I hate the story I started about the druid, am embarrassed I can’t seem to get my grammar sharper, and I am redundant, and I can’t kill Garrosh, and and and…is it wrong to eat a cupcake for breakfast?

I think I’ll just go fly around on my pretty dragon and pretend I know what I’m doing.

Dear Matty: So You Want to be a Writer Edition

One day, lad, all this will be yours!
What, the curtains?


I reside at #32 Cliche Cave


Dear Matty:
I started playing WoW about a year or so ago, and I love it. It has rekindled a long-time passion for fantasy, make-believe, and experiences I haven’t felt since I was a little girl. It’s funny, because when I was a little girl I pretended to be all kinds of things–but mostly the theme was “princess.” Yes, I know it’s not fashionable these days to only introduce little girls to ‘princess-y’ things, but in my imagination I was the start of the show. (I didn’t like to be rescued all the time, but do some of the heroic acts myself.) Now, I get to interact in a role-play situation with real, live humans on the other end, and explore, be strong, and act out several different types of characters. I know there are a lot of blogs out there for World of Warcraft, and I think I could do a good job, too, of writing some stories about WoW. The hesitation I have, Matty, is that when I read some of the circular conversations about WoW and its players it gets a little tiresome, and I don’t want to become just another nameless face. I just want to write stories and share some things about WoW with others, and hope they enjoy it. Do you have any advice for a WoW blogger?
Signed,
Pen-less in Pandaria

From Writer’s Write

Dear Pen:
I don’t blame you for being hesitant: when you read all the different opinions about writing, writers, viewpoints, and others defining what is being open-minded and what is not for us, or trying to, it’s hard to know if we’re coming or going in our own voices and convictions. And then you have goofballs like me who are constantly swimming in both directions of the tide, seeing many sides, and being as abstract as possible. Even lately writers I enjoy sometimes write things that make me go “huh?” but I just shrug and realize they’re doing nothing different than what I want to do – explore an emotion, an opinion, or a situation. That is my only advice for you. All of us beg, borrow, steal, and give to one another, whether we are creative types or not. But here’s my #6: we’re all creative types. The thing is, unless we do have a variety of voices out there, how else can we begin to question, create, challenge ourselves? I am beginning, however, to understand more and more over time why John Irving believes we don’t, or shouldn’t, write autobiographies: we are boring: static characters and lives stagnate. I want to explore all kinds of characters, with several motivations. But more importantly, when others begin to call out that those in “charge” of creating say the ’emporer isn’t wearing any clothes,’ they shouldn’t be lambasted either. Many in current media are using tired, formulaic responses, and they are in danger of losing audience. But you know what? Maybe this will spawn fresh voices, fresh insights. There is nothing wrong with classics such as the Hobbit to rely solely on the archetype of female characters being goddess/wise women, but perhaps this is a call for new writers to create other archetypes as we change and grow. Dare I say: evolve?

I got the whole princess thing figured out myself, Pen, and let me tell you that is why a new point-of-view like Shrek is so much fun, or when Colin Stokes talked about the Wizard of Oz in a different way than I had ever thought about: it truly is the grand conversation that is the joy, and the bane, of of the blogging world that is open to you. This doesn’t mean that, for example, this past week I confessed to CD Rogue that the inner voice, that little tiny girl who used to play princess, too, just like you, didn’t want some rescuing. I am not exaggerating when I say I had several dragons I had to slay on my own this week. The men in my world, young and old, all looked to me to do many hard and difficult things. But if any of the game designers were to tackle my own real-life plot line, it would bore people to death: MOM FIGHTS EVIL PRINCIPAL! Whack! Slam! MEETING TIME! WIFE takes care of SICK HUSBAND! Zoom! Whammo! Colleague gives CRAPPY SECRET SANTA GIFTS…and lives! Yeah, not so much, huh?

Now I could generalize and start to stress that male writers drift toward formulaic and angry stereotypes and archetypes. Grimmtooth’s “sausage fest” analogy made me giggle. All I could see in my mind after reading his post was a band of merry sausages, armed with axes and mounts, trying to save the world. Onward, Bratwurst! Have at thee, Chorizo!

But the thing is, (and this is what kind of surprises me about my sweet blogger buddy Effraeti, and even Bear for that matter), is that I think they would agree that really GOOD writing naturally doesn’t make the reader self-conscious about gender or stereotypes. Many deep, rich characters are portrayed, without a protest or second glance. I think of some of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird, East of Eden, Harriet the Spy, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, just about anything by Alice Hoffman, or John Updike, Neil Gaiman, etc., and not a single one of them relies solely on tropes or gender stereotypes. Not one. (This is not to say Game of Thrones isn’t full of all KINDS of archetypes, it leaves no gender archetypal image unturned – true equality!) But somehow the game industry does: to me, this just show more immaturity than anything else, that it hasn’t quite caught up with really substantive works. This was my own epiphany this morning: the more my own writing stagnates is when I depend on too much tried-and-true (read: cliche) plot lines. But that’s just me. If I write something that makes me cry, or makes me laugh, then I’m somewhat satisfied. (But writers are never satisfied.)

Now, go back to #3 above: write what you want to read. If you want to write a certain way, we applaud you, and that’s awesome. We say this all the time: write what you want to write. And if you don’t get readers, that’s okay, too. You don’t need to pander, or subjugate yourself for anyone. As long as you know there may be consequences for your work, then please, please write. There is only one of you, and your point-of-view adds texture and richness, and there is room for all: see #2 and #6. Not so sure about #8. Let me know how it goes. I have to go write Christmas cards now: talk about tropes and cliches! Dios mio…

Matty

Chronicles of Glovebox Gnome: Postus interruptus

Yesterday morning before we ventured out to make the 15-hour journey from “washington???” to “wait no california,” I had this post almost completed, and then blammo! Out the power/Internet. You know, because the wind blew.

Current status is we’re in Santo Nella, California, still a few hours away.  Glovebox will be submitting his report later. Yes, we will miss ‘big announcements’ and yes, we missed WoW Insider parties last night, but from the Twitter streams, tweets went from sobriety to not. 
Australia counter-point? We Yanks would know far, far less: this geographer got it right.

Okay, so I mentioned previously the opportunity to meet one of my favorite bloggers presented itself, Akabeko of the Red Cow Rise blog fame. We met in a hip little vegetarian-themed cafe (the one place in the state of Washington that does not sell coffee: but she was impressed by my adept skill of blending ginger tea with lemonade from the self-serve fountain). We didn’t have any formal interview questions for one another, but our conversation provided rich insights organically. It was interesting to note many shared experiences in terms of writing, including acceptance (or rejection) of our creative passions by past paramours.

Ultimately, the gifts of our meeting included:

1. Acknowledgement that those in our lives who do not support our creative endeavors, but seek to sabotage them, need to be jettisoned immediately;
2. I have found some new and willing writing partners with her and Dahakha. Wait. Let me rephrase. I have found my real blogging version of Mr. Snerguls. (She volunteered you, Dah. Thanks!)

This is really big news.

Now Navimie and I do a lot of shared writing in terms of idea swapping: her stories are perfection. Mine, often, are not. I publish too fast, and have many bad writing habits. I don’t revise enough. I don’t let things “percolate.” I create unrealistic deadlines and impulsively hit the ‘go’ button. Akabeko has offered to read my sh*t before I hit the publish button. She and Dahakha have a keen editorial eye, and understand the process of story-crafting better than the average bear. It’s like having my own personal, virtual writing workshop again, but with the added bonus of writers who understand this genre. I have often been reluctant to share my Azerothian-bent tales with others for fear of the cocked-eyebrow of judgy-mcjudge-ness.

We (Azerothian reporters, bloggers, writers) hold a Smaug’s treasure trove of writing resources and inspiration. I’ve put together a list of just a few:

  • Blog Azeroth
  • Writer’s Write (South Africa)
  • Update: this is where my post dropped yesterday morning: all my links and thoughts went with it,  and are at home on the home computer. Bottom line: read. Read more. Write everything down. Keep journals, scraps, napkins, notebooks, etc.
And find some good, objective friends ready and willing to read your stuff for errors, confusion, etc.

See things a different way

Collective Creations…

I have been scribbling some collective nouns for Azeroth:

A Mortar of Death Knights
A Forage of Forsaken
A Grove of Druids
A Valor of Warriors
A Bakery of Mages
A Nirvana of Monks
A Mantra of Monks
A Lunar of Worgens
A Vault of Goblins
A Totem of Shamans
A Gloam of Warlocks
A Flagon of Dwarfs

There are more…I’m sure I wrote them down somewhere….

Freedom of Information: Headcanon

Oh, dang, I hope I have time to write all I wanted to write this morning.

First – I have to jot down this dream I had before I woke up. I was friends with a girl named Emily who moved to London to work in an office where her dad was CEO and she became engaged to a guy back in the states who was a farmer and he looked like Kip from Napolean Dynamite and he liked to date African-American women, but Emily was Caucasian and she was really getting to enjoy her life in London and I went there to see if I could talk her out of marrying Kip only because her life was becoming so amazing and life on the farm with Kip would be very limiting not to mention that he might end up having affairs because he didn’t really love Emily and I had to use the restroom and there was only a tiny paper folded blind for the door that latch on the bottom with a brass eye-hook and it was right by the secretrary’s desk so I got shy and just waited until I got to my own place and there were bars all around London and I couldn’t find Emily but after I tried to use the restroom but couldn’t I started a conversation with the secretary and she was looking at the wedding invitations for Emily and they were kind of large and ugly but we both made pleasant conversation until we were both honest and said how we both thought Emily was making a huge mistake and then I met up with Emily in the courtyard on a small berm where she was playing with her blue-eyed white kitten and then the secretary trotted by with a square-metric size of chocolate toffee bar and then the rugby team interupted us and then I woke up to the blaring alarm.

Emily: Don’t Marry Kip

Did you see Navi’s post the other day that is a blow-by-blow account of her day? It was awesome. The point of bringing it up is I would bet most of our days are like that too. If I am at work, however, I cannot do a single thing that has to do with WoW, or it turns out, read anything about WoW. In fact, I can’t do much of any research on anything. I saw this post by Tzufit on a Blog Azeroth topic, which I missed, and then when I went to do more research on it at work, “headcannon,” every single site was blocked. Everything: from Tumblr, to Reddit, to Yahoo Answers; anything that had a forum feed of any shape, pixel or size was/is blocked by my work environment. The most I could see was that ‘headcannon’ appears to be a new-ish term in the jargon of writing fiction. Is it, Tzufit? I would say “newish” because it seems to be specifically tied in with 20th and 21st centuries media. For those who know me, my bread-and-butter is information, and access to it, in all forms that are appropriate, so you are probably thinking to yourself, “Damn, I bet that pisses Matty right off,” and you’d be right.

But okay, I’m at home now, about to go to work in a few, and I love this idea of headcannon. In fact, without knowing the term, I wrote this post back in July that I think answers most of the character’s headcannon questions: Quirky Girls.

There are of course things I would add to their narratives, but first I must go save Emily from making a terrible mistake.

PS Urban Dictionary spells it “headcanon” with one n. Must do more research.

Phantom Limb…

Momokawa reads her junk mail…

No, this is not another disturbing drabble.*

This is about something I sense, but cannot articulate. I am asking a few things:

1. Do any of you know of a word for this genre of writing I am attempting to describe?
2. If not, will you help me consider one?

Here is what got me thinking: (Easy there, haven’t had my first cup of coffee yet….)

Erinys from Harpy’s Nest posted this heartfelt story about one of her characters who had to let go of a beloved pet due to constrictions and abilities (or lack thereof) given to hunters.  It read like a tiny Where the Red Fern Grows or Old Yeller.

But–it was more heartbreaking in one aspect that–

Well, let me back up. The phenomenon of a phantom limb is when someone loses, well, a body part, and they still sense it. The nerve endings and muscle memory have set those grooves and pathways and it’s still virtually there. I recently watched a fascinating TedTalk with Vilayanur Ramachandran on his research and help for patients who experience this. When we lose something that is a part of us, we still feel it. It’s not magic, it’s certainly not mojo, it’s science. Okay, maybe a tiny bit of mojo. I’m sure Dr. Ramachandran would concede that.

So, talking with my trusty Cross-Dressing Rogue, he understood what I was asking.

Consider:

  • There are non-fiction: informational or expositional texts, that come in a multitude of genres/forms, everything from a menu to a biography, and personal anecdotal narratives (think of essayist David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell). 
  • There are fictional texts: fabricated texts, also a kaleidoscope of genres/forms, from fanfiction, pulp, graphic novels, novels, realistic fiction, science, etc. There are hundreds.

But what I am looking for is the cross-breed genre: when a personal, true anecdote of a fictional character, is told in game. Yes, it’s role playing, yes, it’s a bit of fanfiction, but if it really happened to Eriny’s hunter character, and she cries real tears over the memory and loss, and –here is the important piece–it is not a story that triggers another memory but is the memory itself--what is that?

CDR understood what I was asking, and reminded me that there may not currently be a word to describe this genre of writing, since these virtual worlds are very young in our collective consciousness in a medium of narrative/story telling, it is something new.


However, I am not so vain to think I discovered this just because I am new to MMOs.

On a coincidental tangent, Hugh from MMO Melting pot tweeted the other day a thought about “What if..(paraphrasing) the images of sexy female figures was not so much a promise of of “sex sells,” but perhaps an identity promise. I totally get that. From a writer’s standpoint, I love that I can be some fantasy female in a virtual world, somewhat control this character’s actions and reactions, and then wait for the surprise. Because the female characters I’ve created are visually appealing, and yes, even the Forsaken ones charm me, it’s easy to get caught up in their non-stop strength, health, and vigor. They can take a punch and still look good. (I have another post in mind about how characters die–they flop, they yell, they sigh wistfully, they spin, they crumble — all so interesting to me…)

So, my sweet and dear friends–what do you think? What could this genre be known as henceforth? If you know it, tell me.

MMO-ogrphies?

Auto-massive multi-ogriphies?

Virtual Veracity?

Okay. More coffee coming up.

*Although those are really fun to write. You have been warned.