Weekly Update, 7/9/2018 to 7/15/2018

Brief Update

I went to Readercon this week, convinced that writing was too hard and I didn’t want to do it any more. I’m happy to report that my mind has been changed.

For my friends, who allowed me to talk about my difficulties, saw me as I was, and accepted that, thank you. Special thanks to:

  • Melissa Caruso, who painted me as someone who is determined enough to make a story work, no matter how hard it may be. Her description made me want to live up to that standard!
  • Victoria Sandbrook, who was so enthusiastic about my work, asking me to send her anything that might need beta reading.
  • My Readercon roomie Beth T, who said, “I will be very disappointed if you stop writing, you silly goose.”

For Rose Fox’s talk on “A Compassionate Approach to Writer’s Block,” which explored new ways of looking at writing — also, thank you. Some of these ideas had been percolating in the back of my head, but their talk gave me the permission I wanted to step through that door. They reminded me that writing should be fun, and if it isn’t fun, I don’t have to do it.

Other people helped, too! I spent a large portion of this con having great conversations at the bar with people who cared deeply about stuff, and I feel like that made me feel more like a part of the world than a machine for producing stuff.

  • Talking to Steen about his passion for Global Frequency made me remember my own passion for meta-narratives.
  • The (Hugo nominated!) Suzanne Palmer remains the kindest person ever, who gave up a book she had found on the free table because I expressed interest in it. I am in awe of her positive attitude about the shit she’s gone through to get to where she is now.
  • It was great to see VP17er Paul S. again and talk to him about his newfound interest in reading long-form political commentary, and what he gets out of that.
  • I also really enjoyed getting to meet his girlfriend Molly, who can talk about Edith Wharton, Twin Peaks, and her awesome Diablo tattoo with equal aplomb.
  • I feel like I barely saw Kevin R/Kellan S at all, but I enjoyed talking to him about the housing situation in San Francisco and how it compares to Boston.
  • Arkady Martine helped me learn slightly more than the zero I already knew about city planning.

Of course I saw many people who I’m not mentioning here, but let me just say: you are all awesome, and I see you, in your joys and your frustrations. You are all part of me.

Also on Friday morning I woke up to an email with the ominous subject line “GRANNY.” I had a moment of fear that it was about my surviving grandmother, but then I realized that it was from the slush reader at Galaxy’s Edge, and that she was sending my story, “Granny Hubbard vs. the Giant Slime,” up to Mike Resnick. So, that was a great thing to start the weekend with. Nothing may come of it, of course, but it helped to cement the “yes, you are a writer” feeling.

Accomplishments

Other Media
– Listened to Loreseekers #18
– Listened to The Art of Charm #711
– Listened to Stream Coach, “Your Chat is Boring”, “Dominate Your Day”, “The Best Green Screen”, “How to Promote Your Stream”
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Black Holes, Part 1: Phantom”

Games
– Did normal Hel Ra Citadel, Halls of Fabrication, and Asylum Sanctorium on Falanu with the UESP guild
– Did normal Volenfell and White Gold Tower with Anyael
– Streamed ~30m of questing on Scars-like-Lightning

Social
– Attended Readercon
– Met Jess M. for dessert/drinks/Thurs of Readercon

Health
– Had my first PT appointment
– Had a hair appointment
– Did my PT exercises x 6
– Scheduled annual eye appointment

Weekly Update, 7/2/2018 to 7/8/2018

Brief Update

Not much to report this week. The July 4th holiday falling right in the middle of the week was weird. I attempted to do a new feature on my ESO stream, “Fishing Lore”, where I read lore books while I fish. But it got very little attention, and was hard on my voice, so I had to quit after an hour. I have even greater respect for audiobook narrators now!

Over the weekend I played in Thicker than Water, a new(ish) larp by Alison and Kristen P. I played Irene Curie, who was way more interested in snogging boys than she was in winning the Nobel Prize for her synthetic blood substitute, but I managed to acquit myself rather well while looking like Clara Bow, so that was pretty neat.

I am struggling with having a lot of guilt about not writing lately, while also trying to live the conviction that I should not have to be productive to have value as a human being. I’m still working on how to reconcile those things. The best solution I’ve come up with is to allow the soft animal of my body to love what it loves, while also gently remind myself that sticking with routines and habits will make me happier in the long run. Very good advice, if I can follow it.

Accomplishments

Other Media
– Listened to Classic Elder Scrolls #78
– Listened to Twitch Talks episodes #1-2
– Listened to The Art of Charm, episodes 709-710
– Listened to By the Book, “Presence”

Games
– Had one session of my D&D 5E game
– Did an hour of Fishing Lore, my fishing plus Elder Scrolls lore stream
– Did normal Cloudrest (twice) and normal Cloudrest +1 with the UESP guild
– Streamed UESP dungeon help night (random normal dungeon finder dungeons, which gave us Fungal Grotto II, Crypt of Hearts I, and Blessed Crucible)
– Streamed ~1h of Clockwork City gameplay with Falanu
– Did the AD-side Imperial City sewers run hosted by UESP

LARP
– Played in Thicker than Water at Summer Larpin’

Health
– Had a therapy appointment
– Had an endocrinologist appointment
– Brought my lunch to work x 1

Habitat
– Washed the bed sheets

Biweekly Update, 6/18/2018 to 7/1/2018

Brief Update

I have few new and exciting things to report!

I recently gave into my desire to opine on everything Elder Scrolls, and started streaming my ESO gameplay on Twitch! (I also have an accompanying Twitter account, @liseplays, where you can stay up to date on all my Tamrielic wanderings).

Streaming was a totally new experience for me, and I was a little trepidatious, but all in all it’s been technically easy and tremendously rewarding. I’m already pulling in viewers who aren’t just my friends, and quite frankly it scratches an itch that my fiction writing hasn’t been fulfilling lately: to educate, to entertain, and to be heard. Look for a more detailed post on that in the near future…

I also hied myself off to Cape Ann/the Massachusetts North Shore this past weekend, with my pals EB and Alison. I saw Atlas Obscura sites, haunted restaurants, trashy wax museums, and real historical museums; I got a tour of the House of the Seven Gables given almost entirely in an Elmo voice, and discovered that the mental institution that inspired Arkham Asylum is now luxury condos. This has been on my to-do list for a while, so I’m glad I finally made it up there!

Accomplishments

Writing
– Queried Galaxy’s Edge about my submission of “Granny Hubbard” going missing

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “The Substance of Silence”
– Listened to By the Book, “You Are a Badass” and “Zero Waste Home”
– Listened to Elder Scrolls Off the Record #211
– Listened to Loreseekers #1, #17

Games
– Had one session of my D&D 5E game
– Set up @liseplays Twitter and Twitch account
– Streamed ~4h of ESO gameplay on Falanu
– Streamed UESP dungeon help night (doing vet HM Crypt of Hearts I – Darkshade I – White Gold Tower)
– Did normal Cloudrest and Hel Ra Citadel trials with UESP
– Did normal Bloodroot Forge with UESP guildies
– Streamed Falanu questing in Morrowind for ~1h30m
– Streamed UESP dungeon help night (doing normal Ruins of Mazzatun and vet HM Darkshade Caverns II)

Health
– Had a therapy appointment
– Saw an orthopedist for my ankle
– Had my annual pulmonologist appointment
– Brought my lunch x 3
– Cooked zucchini fritters

Habitat
– Did full cleanup/refill of one litterbox

Social
– Traveled to Cape Ann/North Shore area with EB and Alison, and visited the following places:

  • USS Maine Ventilation Cowl (Woburn, MA)
  • Danvers State Hospital (the model for Arkham Asylum, in Danvers, MA)
  • Endicott Pear Tree (oldest fruit tree in North America, in Danvers, MA)
  • Ruins of Dogtown/Babson Boulder Trail (Rockport, MA)
  • Paper House (Rockport, MA)
  • Hammond Castle (Gloucester, MA)
  • Salem Village Witchcraft Victims Memorial (Danvers, MA)
  • Metal Sculpture Yard (Salem, MA)
  • Statue of Elizabeth Montgomery (Salem, MA)
  • Where the witches were tried (Salem, MA)
  • Wicked Good Books (supposedly haunted bookstore, Salem, MA)
  • Witch Dungeon Museum (Salem, MA)
  • New England Pirate Museum (Salem, MA)
  • Witch History Museum (Salem, MA)
  • House of the Seven Gables (Salem, MA)
  • The Witch House of Salem (Salem, MA)
  • Turner’s Seafood (supposedly haunted restaurant; Salem, MA)

Weekly Update, 6/4/2018 to 6/17/2018

Brief Update

(Two weeks here, I can totally math).

I en’t dead. But I have been playing a lot of ESO, which means I’m kind of dead to anyone who doesn’t play πŸ˜‰

(That’s not the whole truth, though — as you can see, I’ve done some social stuff as well. But I have been laser-focused on ESO the past two weeks).

I went up to ye olde hometown this weekend to visit my mom, and on the way I finished listening to The Cruel Prince, a YA fantasy which I highly recommend! The basic premise is of a human girl who is raised in Faerie and has to learn her way around fae politics. The title is kind of an interesting conundrum; at the beginning and the end it’s pretty clear to whom it refers, but the middle it seems like there are several princes it could be. There’s a cool twist at the end, but I think what I most loved about it was watching the protagonist become powerful and terrible as she is surrounded by literal monsters. I wasn’t entirely sure she wasn’t trying to turn into her own cruel prince, by the end. And yet, it’s still hopeful, somehow!

If you wanted something novel-length that encapsulates the feeling behind “A Guide for Young Ladies Entering the Service of the Fairies,” this is pretty close!

If I have any complaints, it’s that the middle felt a little slow and directionless. But that could also just be that my mind was in Tamriel for so much of the past two weeks…

Also relevant: I haven’t been running lately, because in my training for the 5k in May, I seem to have fucked up my right ankle. A preliminary investigation shows that it has some arthritis in it (thanks to a bad injury when I was younger); there also seems to be something going on in the soft tissue that my GP was unsure about. I’m seeing an orthopedist next week. Really hoping I can get back to it soon!

Accomplishments

Writing
– Wrote blog post, “Seventeen days in Tamriel”

Reading
– Read The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

Other Media
– Listened to Sword and Scale, episodes 114-116
– Listened to The Art of Charm 706-707
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Sleep and Creativity”
– Listened to Elder Scrolls Off the Record 209-210

Social
– Did a tasting at Revival Brewing Company/dinner at Brutopia in Cranston, RI with EB
– Saw the RiffTrax Live of Space Mutiny with Adina and Brian
– Visited my mom in Plattsburgh, NY

Health
– Had a therapy appointment x 2
– Had a massage
– Did a short 30-min walk

Picture of the Week


Enjoying the fruits of my trip to Revival Brewing — their delightful Berliner Weisse, Pinky Swear.

Seventeen days in Tamriel

Nearly two years ago now, I quit playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO). Due to some balance changes, Matt wasn’t interested in playing any more, and the game was decidedly less fun without him. I canceled my membership not long after, leaving behind a game that still had a lot of content for me, and an awesome community in the UESP guild. It felt awful, almost like a breakup, at the time.

Of course, I haven’t been idle. I picked up WoW again in September 2016, and I’ve been enjoying that. Legion was a pretty great expansion, and I’ve had fun with my heroic raiding guild. But things have slowed down, my guild has cleared all the content it can clear, and the next expansion’s not until August.

Recently Matt mentioned he was getting back into ESO, at least for the single-player content. Neither of us had ever had problems with that. Even at his most disillusioned, he admitted it was a beautiful game with some really great quests and NPCs, full of the lore of the Elder Scrolls that we so love. It was just… group content that was unbalanced.

It didn’t take long of watching him play it to be like, “I miss this game so much!” and plop down my hard earned $29.99 to get the Summerset pre-order/early access (complete with the Morrowind chapter, too!) I also ponied up the $40 for three months of ESO Plus membership, too, because I heart those limitless crafting bags.

It’s been seventeen days since that fateful dive back in, and that’s an auspicious number in Tamriel (seventeen daedric princes!), so here’s a log of my adventures along the way….

ESO Summerset Box Art. Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net

Days 1-2

Similar to when I returned to WoW, I knew there was going to be a good amount of I-Have-No-Idea-What-I’m-Doing-Dog. While it hasn’t exactly been the 7+ years I was away from WoW, it was still twenty months. A lot can change in that time!

I quit right after the Dark Brotherhood DLC came out, shortly before One Tamriel became a reality, so in the meantime they’ve added a new class (the Warden), a new crafting skill (jewelry crafting), player housing, and two big world expansions, Morrowind and Summerset (the latter of which just came out for early access). Oh, and they added battlegrounds, because the world PvP of Cyrodiil was, well, not everyone’s cuppa. They’ve also raised the champion point (CP) cap to 750. And of course, with One Tamriel, all the zones scale to your level, and you can do the content in any order.

The first thing I’ll say is this: they made it super easy to jump right back in. With 2 level 50s and some 480 CP on my account, I knew it was going to be hard to pick up where I left off, so I decided to make a new character. And why not a Warden, since that’s new? Thus: Anyael Dulaerion, an Altmer magicka warden.

So I load up the game, and hey, I’m in an introductory/tutorial sequence. (Actually, they give me the option to skip it, since I’ve already played through the vanilla intro once, but I decide to do it anyway). Blessedly, I don’t have to rescue Lyris from Coldharbour yet again; it seems each full expansion has added its own tutorial. So instead I follow a spirit named Oriandra through a “mind prison”, fight some creatures called yaghra, destroyed something called an abyssal pearl, and lo and behold, I find myself near Shimmerene in Summerset, talking to our old pal Razum-dar, from the Aldmeri Dominion quests in the vanilla game.

Raz! Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net
I’d say, “Raz, don’t you recognize your old friend?” but you’ve never met my strange new banana elf before.

And I can just continue on from here, because Summerset levels to me. Hooray!

The level-up dialogue has changed HUGELY since I’ve been gone. Each time I level, I’m presented with “rewards” I need to claim — which include experience scrolls, furniture for rooms, etc as well as the standard attribute and skill points. The Skills dialogue has changed, too; they’ve added a Skill Advisor that recommends what skills and morphs to take based on a role you pick. But Matt reminds me of the importance of leveling each class line by having skills on your bar, and so I try a little of everything.

I very quickly learn that as a Warden, my first skill in the Animal Companions line, Dive, is literally throwing a cliff racer at my foes, and I wonder why no one told me this before. I would have been back earlier!!

Since I pinged the GM of the UESP guild before I even signed on for the first time, I have a guild invite waiting for me, and I… pick up where I left off, really. I recognize a full 80% of the names on the roster. Immediately I’m joking with them as if I’d never been gone.

One of the first quests I do involves a murder at the Russafeld vineyard of a racist Altmer who the local population kinda hates. And no spoilers, but this quest is intense. I have gone from WoW quests — which tend to be “lol bring Dadgar 1000 pieces of poop” (and all text) — to a fully-voiced murder investigation, which touches on fantasy racism, romantic obsession, and old wounds, both personal and cultural. And this is just a side quest, folks. Meanwhile Raz is still waiting back at Shimmerene for me to do the main quest.

The worldbuilding, of course, is exquisite. The Altmer aren’t my particular area of interest in the ES world, but now that we’re visiting with them, I’m enjoying seeing their different cultural mores and linguistic peculiarities. (Noted is the usage of “cerum, ceruval” to address you — some honorific?)

So far, so good.

Day 10

My new character, my warden, is now level 18. I continue to throw cliff racers at things while tooling around Summerset and Artaeum (the Brigadoon of the ES world). In addition to the Russafeld vineyard murder investigation I mentioned loving, I also really liked the Insatiable quest, and of course the lore nerd in me is thrilled by the importance of the Crystal Tower in the main plot. Oh, oh, and I like that you get to learn more about Vanus Galerion and Mannimarco’s friendship when they were both Psijics, before the latter got all necromancer-y.

(I ship it).

Yaghra release metal riffs when they die. Fascinating.

If anyone didn’t know that sloads have been part of the lore since at least TESIII, possibly earlier, you’d think they’d decided to transplant the Hutts to Tamriel to be the villains of this expansion.

(To be fair, the original Star Wars movies pre-date all the ES games, so the argument could be made either way. But how many ways can you do giant sentient slugs?)

I’ve start dipping my toes into the housing system; I now own two free inn rooms — one in Vivec City and one in Alinor — and have no idea what to put in them. So far I’ve bought some storage boxes from the Crown Store, put them in there, and filled them with my ginormous collection of 100+ monster helms and Wrothgar dailies sets, so that I don’t accidentally deconstruct them. I still have no idea what the meta is any more, but since the gear cap hasn’t changed, there’s still the possibility this is all good stuff. Also the Julianos crafted set still seems to be good, so I’m running around in that.

Oh, and I bought myself a Tythis Andromo (the banking assistant), so I suppose I can stick him in my empty rooms.

Falanu Dren, my former main (a Dunmer magicka templar, often a healer, Mephala worshipper, Vivec fangirl, poisoner, and House Hlaalu retainer), finished off the Orsinium quest (which she was in the middle of when I quit), and moved on to Vvardenfell.

Of course, I’m adoring Morrowind — it’s a fine mixture of TESIII nostalgia and delightful new lore. Like:

Nostalgia: the Vivec City cantons are still impossible to navigate.

Nostalgia: cliff racers, flying so high!

New: Cliff striders, cousins to cliff racers! And bards singing songs about them, too.

Nostalgia: silt striders, those giant sand fleas of Vvardenfell transportation.

New: nix-oxes, the compact sedan version of the silt strider.

Completely new: Shroom beetles, a type of shalk that grow mushrooms on their backs. Vvardvarks, which look like they were inspired by this comic.

Nostalgia: the Morag Tong! (And old old friend Naryu Virian, from the Ebonheart Pact main quest, and Fungal Grotto).

New: sexily-voiced Morag Tong assassins outside of Balmora! (Hi, Ashur).

New AND nostalgia: In the archcanon’s office in Vivec City you find a document explaining why Ebonheart is in a different location in ESO (on the Morrowind mainland) than it was in TESIII. Vivec wanted it moved, apparently! I mean, I guess “because a living god says so” is a good reason.

Nostalgia: the Camonna Tong, and their being involved with skooma trafficking.

New: Pamphlets warning you away from the Camonna Tong.

Nostalgia: Magister Therana of House Telvanni!

New: a quest that will teach you how Therana ended up a) alive ~800 years from now, and b) quite so… addled. (Oh, and help an Argonian rise through the ranks of House Telvanni in the process. Of course, I was reminded of my own Nerevarine).

Oh, and the first quest you do for Vivec as part of the main storyline? Has you go to one of the most famous crypts of TESIII to ask questions of an ancestor spirit. Questions which a lore-enthusiast will instantly realize are about the Heart of Lorkhan and Dagoth Ur, even though the answers that are given point to a more immediate threat.

But really, this is all just to say: I missed getting the vvardvark loyalty pet by a day. Boo. But I did win a UESP guild trivia contest, so that was a nice consolation prize.

Vvardvark! Half guar, half aardvark, all madness. Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net
Who wouldn’t want their very own magical experiment gone wrong?

Day 17

My knowledge of the game and the meta is accelerating fast! I will probably do one of the trials (small 12-person raids, basically) tonight with the UESP guild. (And how great is it that I can jump into endgame content so quickly after a two-year hiatus?)

My warden is now up to 28. I’ve done a lot of the side quests on Summerset, and I think it’s mostly the main quest that remains to me. Been doing some of the world boss dailies, too, since there’s always someone killing one of them. This character is going to be my jeweler, I think, so I got certified for that so I can do daily writs.

Falanu is still working through Morrowind — if I want to buy the Amaya Lake Lodge (which I do), I need to finish the main quest here. (Not that that will be a hardship!) In the meantime I’ve made the Saint Delyn Penthouse as comfortable I can with my allotted fifteen furnishings.

(I did go through and acquire every single free inn room I could. I figure I can make them comfortable in different ways, according to my characters, i.e. Imperial furnishings in the Rosy Lion for my Imperial who’s DC-side. This is somewhat stymied by the fact that the non-DLC inn rooms are basically broom closets).

The UESP guild hosted a “dungeon help night” on Sunday, and I took Falanu along. I didn’t need help with any specific dungeons; I just wanted to see some of the ones I’d missed while I’d been gone. So I logged onto TeamSpeak (0ld sk00l!), grouped up my our old pals @baratron, @Sedrethi, and @Mauin, and did normal Fang Lair and Falkreath Hold, two of the DLC dungeons. I healed, because I wanted to get some practice with it again.

In the process, I learned how the Undaunted pledge system had changed. There are now three quest givers, not two! You can do each chapter of multi-chapter dungeons as normal or vet! You get one key for completing the pledge on normal and two for doing it on veteran hard-mode; it’s not worth doing it vet if you can’t do it hardmode, because you’ll still only get one key. (Much as it used to be with Imperial City Prison and White Gold Tower). The keys are all the same, and you use them in whichever chest has the monster set you want. (There’s a helpful sign telling you which).

I also learned about how my abilities had changed. I learned how powerful and expensive Ritual of Rebirth — the “Templar clap heal” — had become, edging out Breath of Life for certain uses. I learned how useless Restoring Aura is these days, since now it only restores stamina, and doesn’t stack with other stamina buffs.

As usual, my groupmates mostly let me run through the dungeon at my own pace, showing me things I might otherwise miss (like what one boss in Falkreath Hold does if you cleanse his corpse), and trying not to kill things so quickly we couldn’t see mechanics. It was hard to pay attention to the story and also banter with them like we always do, even with subtitles. So all I gathered is that Fang Lair used to be a Dwemer city and now it’s full of necromancers, and that Falkreath Hold is a Nord citIy (yes, Falkreath from TESV) overrun with Reachmen and minotaurs.

After we finished, I stayed up probably later than I should have just talking with my group mates. I’ve missed these dorks so much! This was how I was convinced to come to trials; I told them, “I sure have a bunch of CP, but I don’t necessarily know how to use them yet!” and they said, “We’ll teach you!”

Br’ihnassi, my Khajiit stamina nightblade, is also playable again. I’ve been doing Thieves Guild tip board quests to raise her Legerdemain, progressing through the Dark Brotherhood storyline (which she was in the midst of when I quit), and occasionally working through Cadwell’s Gold, which she never completed (and which has left her desperately short of skill points).

I haven’t gotten any of my other characters playable yet, so mostly I’ve just been logging in for riding lessons.

I joined a casual trading guild (their usual trader is in Shornhelm), and have been selling some stuff with my designated trader character. The house I want is either 7000 crowns or 1.3M gold, so I’ve got to get saving, if only for furniture.

Amaya Lake Lodge, the Hlaalu-est of dwellings. Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net
You will be mine. Someday.

Having come right from WoW, I both miss and don’t miss having a centralized auction house. While it’s sometimes less convenient, I love the feeling of wandering up to a random trader in the middle of the wilderness and finding a great deal on something or other. I check them wherever I go!

Oh, right, and that’s when I installed Awesome Guild Store and Master Merchant, along with a slew of other addons. I guess that means I’m here for the duration…

Day 17 aftermath

I survived my first trial post-return! We did normal Cloudrest and Asylum Sanctorium; with my husband and I rounding out the roster, we had a full team of twelve. The actual fights were mostly easy, but I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I hadn’t really practiced my rotation at all beforehand (which was basically just a cookie-cutter Alcast Beamplar build), and I was literally making new gear and enchants right up until the scheduled start time.

I needn’t have worried, because things were not well organized. While many of us were ready to go right at 9:15pm, many were not, and so we didn’t enter Cloudrest until maybe 9:45pm? Luckily, each of these trials can be finished in 15-20 minutes; there’s no trash, and it’s much much easier than a normal WoW raid.

Even though we were doing the bosses in their normal configuration, along the way I learned about the whole +1, +2, +3 system, where you can make stuff more challenging by fighting the final boss at the same time as one, two, or three other bosses. It’s not quite mythic keystones, but it’s something for upping the challenge, at least. I’m not sure if that gets you better gear, but it probably gets you achievs/titles/dye colors.

I was glad to see that dungeon and trial loot is now tradeable to others in your party; that makes farming a lot more bearable than it was before. (You also have transmutation, which allows you to change the traits on an item — each trial boss awarded a number of transmutation crystals, the currency for this). Thanks to the new trading policy, I got the famous Asylum Sanctorium resto staff, beloved of meta everywhere, from groupmate @Kiryen_Thunderbow. I also ended up with a piece each of Olorime and Siroria, respectively the in-demand healer and magicka dps sets.

The only fight that was a real mess, mechanics-wise, was Saint Olms in AS; without Raid Notifier (the ESO equivalent of Deadly Boss Mods, I guess), I had no sign that the boss was about to do his “jump in the air and kill you all with lightning” maneuver. I think I died six times, but I lost count. I’ve been informed the number of deaths to beat is 81 πŸ˜‰

I also managed to go the entire night without realizing that my role was set to “healer” in the group dialogue, causing some confusion. Derp. I had completely forgotten that dialogue was a thing!

Like with the two dungeons I did earlier, I was so focused on other things that I didn’t follow the story super well. For Cloudrest, it was something about the sload attacking and corrupting these ginormous gryphons? Are those the Welkynar? I have no idea. AS seemed a lot more my thing; I think the plot was like “the souls of these Dunmer saints have been put into these giant automatons; you have to destroy the automatons to free their souls.” (Imprisoned by who? Sotha Sil?)

And lemme tell you, for all that I didn’t entirely grasp what was going on, it was still uncanny and vaguely obscene to have these automatons with the names of cherished saints staring you down.

Saint Llothis. Credit: Zenimax Online Studios, via uesp.net
This greeted me. I wonder how Falanu, endlessly devout, felt about this…

Oh, and a funny quote from last night that was pure UESP:

(Sedrethi is expressing his character’s hatred of the Tribunal)
“Don’t worry,” says Kiryen, “in 800 years or so some random Redguard is going to destroy them.”
“I heard it was an Argonian,” I replied.

Verdict

This game is still so, so good, and I am so, so glad to be back. There are so many quality of life things that make this a way better game for me than WoW, even if group content is still iffy. (I’m not sure on that verdict; I haven’t played enough to really judge). Still not sure what I’m going to do when the next WoW expansion comes out in August, but right now I can’t imagine letting my subscription lapse again. Even if I’m just collecting crowns and logging in to get daily rewards πŸ˜‰

Also, if anyone has a vvardvark they pet they don’t want, my game handle is @captainecchi πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

(All images in this are sourced from uesp.net, of course. I give the same disclaimer they do for images: all content belongs to ZOS; I am only borrowing it here for non-commercial purposes).

Weekly Update, 5/21/2018 to 6/3/2018

Brief Update

Two weeks here. I have gotten sucked back into playing ESO and, gotta admit, that has taken up a lot of my time. I have also been hashing out some really intense stuff in therapy, which has made me feel emotionally raw, so I think it’s been a bit of the old escapism, eh? At the moment, I am okay with this. I ended up skipping Madrigal this weekend to deal with some of those uncomfortable feelings, and I think it helped — I definitely feel more human this week.

Re: ESO. I quit about two years ago, but I am so thrilled to be back. I feel like I picked up with the UESP guild where I left off. But game-wise, I’m already kicking myself for everything I’ve missed while I’ve been gone. The Summerset quests are brilliant, the Morrowind quests are amazing, and I’m just sad I missed getting my vvardvark loyalty pet by, like, a day. I may post more of what I’m up to later…

If anyone feels inclined to join me, now is a great time to start; I found it super easy to jump in and just start playing through Summerset with a new character. The game is buy-to-play, and right now you can get the base game + Morrowind + Summerset for like $80, or just the base game for even cheaper. There is an optional monthly membership, ESO Plus, which I think is worth it just for the limitless craft bags.

I have a tiny guild which right now is just a few of my larp friends; I’m also involved with the UESP guild — founded by the builders of uesp.net, the best and most famous wiki for the Elder Scrolls — which is an amazing group of lore-loving nerds, and to which I can also get you an invite, if you are so inclined.

Still not sure what I am going to do when WoW’s next expansion rolls out, in August. I’m feeling very uninvested in the faction conflict aspect of that, although the raids will be sound. And I suspect that while I love almost everything about ESO, the trials (12-man raid-like content) are probably going to be disappointing to me. So, who knows…

Accomplishments

Writing
– Did an hour of brainstorming/free-writing on Built Up Fairyland
– Did ~15m of revision on Lioness

LARP
– PCed Shadowvale event 4

Other Media
– Watched episodes 1-2 of Explained (a Netflix documentary series)
– Listened to The Art of Charm, #702 and #704
– Listened to Larpcast #109
– Listened to Writing Excuses 13.12
– Started up my ESO account again and did a bunch of stuff

Health
– Did 2 x 1.4mi walk
– Did a Zombies Run supply run (2.38mi in 38:28)
– Ran the Metrowest Corporate 5K! (42:22)
– Had 2 x therapy appointments

Habitat
– Cleaned both upstairs and downstairs toilets
– Patched and put a second coat of paint on one wall in the guest room
– Cleaned up the folding tables post-SV

Rejection Log

– 17 day form R from Strange Horizons for “Mirrors”

Picture of the Week

Weekly Update, 5/14/2018 to 5/20/2018

Brief Update

This has been a bad brain week for me. I’ve been working with my new therapist on my insecurities, and it has brought a lot of painful stuff to the surface for me. It’s good and necessary, and I think I will be better for it in the end, but right now I just feel like this deep pit of hurt.

Plus on top of that my cat Brianna had major dental surgery last week, and Matt is sick with something like strep. And I have a larp coming up this weekend. Whee!

Writing (editing) this week was a mixed bag. I integrated the mini-mission into the main body of Lioness, and that brought some uncomfortable feelings about efficacy, whether or not I was going in circles, etc. But I also had one session where I turned a meh scene into something more emotionally raw for the MC, so that was pretty cool.

Habitat-wise, I’m painting the guest bedroom, which currently is an off-white and pale blue (and has been since I moved in). I’ve literally never painted a room before, though, so I’ve already screwed up some important things — like I discovered after starting the first wall that there was a corner with crumbling drywall that I needed to spackle over.

Accomplishments

Writing
– Integrated “mini-mission” into main body of Lioness — did ~3h15m of editing

Reading
– Read “Sirius,” by Ben Peek (Clarkesworld Year Six)

Other Media
– Listened to Real Crime Profile, episode 85-88
– Listened to Writing Excuses 13.8 – 13.11

Health
– Did Zombies Run S2 E21 (2.59mi in 40:38)
– Had a therapy appointment
– Did Zombies Run S2 E22 (2.18mi in 31:01)
– Did ZR supply run (2.72mi in 42:25)
– Did a 1.4mi walk
– Did Zombies Run S2 E23 (2.57mi in 41:15)

Social/LARP
– Had dinner and Panera and worked on Tauros Express larp with EB
– Had a D&D session

Habitat
– Vacuumed downstairs
– Put the first coat of paint on one wall of the guest bedroom
– Donated old coffeepot

Picture of the Week

I was going to offer you a picture of my shitty in-progress paint job, but luckily for you I also have this picture of a flowering tree along my usual run route.

Weekly Update, 5/7/2018 to 5/13/2018

Brief Update

This week, plodding along on the “mini-mission”/new beginning of Lioness, I realized that it keeps getting longer and longer, and I’m still not ready to integrate it back into the main story. As it continues on, I’m not necessarily adding new material — there’s a lot of copying and pasting going on — but it is subsuming existing chapters and expanding them, like some sort of literary katamari.

At that point, I think, maaaaybe this is really a rewrite?

That thought was so depressing, though, that I’m not completely resigned to it. I’m going to try getting this back into Scrivener, and see where that leaves me. That said, at this point I’ve made so many changes to the beginning of the novel that I will need some serious time and effort to rethread those echoes throughout the entire work.

I just hope this is actually important work I’m doing, and not vamping. It’s easy to keep editing endlessly to avoid the fear of rejection. But it’s also easy to submit something too soon, something that’s not “ready.” I don’t know which this is.

Writing is hard. Let’s do math.

Let’s see, what else is new? I’ve been running a lot more this week, in preparation for the 5k I’m doing next week (eep!) I would like to beat last year’s time, but at my current pace that will be hard. To be fair, “my current pace” is measured using a lot of hills that I can’t just run up.

My audiobook of the moment is Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince, which I am really enjoying, both on an emotional and a craftsmanship level. (Executive summary: human child raised in Faerie has to learn to make alliances and navigate fey politics). It’s really interesting to see what she does with voice, with chapter breaks, with making the fey utterly and completely alien. At the same time, it’s often heart-wrenching — I don’t think I’ve ever had a book invoke a feeling of powerlessness quite so well.

Also I finally know how to pronounce “geas” (/Ι‘Ι›Κƒ/), so that’s neat. I guess that makes sense, given that its etymology is Irish; gotta love those lenited final consonants.

Links

My dear author-larper-friend Melissa Caruso wrote Let’s Talk Agency about that bugaboo of, well, my entire writing life. It’s a hopeful post, though, because I learned that agency is often something she has to fix in subsequent drafts, not something that comes naturally. Here’s hoping third time is the charm for this MS of mine…

Accomplishments

Writing
– Wrote 3253 words on new Lioness beginning or whatever it is

Reading
– Read The Farthest Shore, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Health
– Did Zombies Run supply run (2.28mi in 36:57)
– Did ZR supply run (2.08mi in 33:35)
– Did ZR S2 E18 (3.03mi in 47:36)
– Did ZR S2 E19 (2.31mi in 35:53)
– Did ZR S2 E20 (2.01mi in 31:27)
– Had a doctor’s appointment

Other Media
– Listened to Sword & Scale, episodes 1, 3, 4, 109-110
– Listened to Real Crime Profile, episode 81, 83-84
– Watched The Keepers docuseries

Habitat
– Vacuumed upstairs
– Washed sheets
– Painted a test swatch of paint in the guest room

Weekly Update, 4/30/2018 to 5/6/2018

Brief Update

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening to podcasts this week, and less time with the writing. This is the week where I discovered that true crime podcasts are a Thing, and immediately started listening to some.

What do I have to say about the books I finished this week? Vellitt Boe ended on a somewhat dissatisfying note, I thought. The Lovecraft pastiche is strong, and the dreamy tone of HPL’s Dreamlands stories really comes through, but as a result the narrative feels kinda distant. Thus I was never as invested in Vellitt and her challenges as I might have. I left feeling like I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be a thoughtful psychological journey or an adventure story, and like it wasn’t quite either. Either way, it is beautifully written.

The Defiant Heir was a big winner for me. I was dragged through this one at breakneck speed by my love of Amalia (the main character), my investment in her courtship with our new friend Kathe, and the continual upping of the stakes. At the end I wanted to give Amalia a hug; she had to make some really tough choices. I love seeing how she’s changing and growing, while still being true to the person we met at the beginning of The Tethered Mage.

We also had the first session of the new D&D 5E game this week, it went very well; we worked together and killed some goblins, like ya do at level 2 in Faerun. As I wrote on FB, I’m liking 5E quite a lot; it feels like an improvement over 3.5. This led all my friends to opine, because of course I have the sorts of wonderful friends who have very definite opinions on D&D πŸ˜‰

Finally, I signed up this week to run the Metrowest Corporate 5K, the race I did last year. This year I’m fundraising for the sponsor, the United Way of Tri-County, which — among many great programs — supports a free mental health hotline called Call2Talk. If you feel inclined to donate to the benefit of the community in Middlesex, Norfolk, and Worcester counties, I’d be very grateful.

Links

How to be polite, by Paul Ford on Medium. Nothing in here is super groundbreaking, but it is a great example of how continual application of small social niceties can have a unexpectedly strong effect.

Accomplishments

Writing
– Wrote 272 words on the new Lioness beginning

Reading
– Read The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson
– Read “Makeisha in Time”, by Rachael K. Jones
– Read The Defiant Heir, by Melissa Caruso
– Read β€œFrom Their Paws We Shall Inherit,” by Gary Kloster (Clarkesworld Year Six)

Other Media
– Listened to Larpcast #107, “Fifth Gate Wrap Part 3”
– Listened to Writing Excuses, 11.41 and 13.7
– Listened to the Art of Charm #701
– Listened to By the Book, “Bonus Episode: Ask Us More of Anything!” This episode turned me on to the following podcast…
– Listened to Real Crime Profile, episodes “Profiling Dirty John,” “More with Dirty John Creator Christopher Goffard”, “Coercive Control in Dirty John”, “Male Sexual Victimization with Sword and Scale’s Mike Boudet”, which then led me to…
– Listened to Sword and Scale, episodes 99, 111-113
– Had the first session of the new D&D 5E game

Larp
– Wrote PEL for Mad3 spring 1 event

Social
– Went to see EB’s play in Meriden, CT

Health
– Had a therapy appointment
– Had a massage
– Took a ~30 minute walk
– Did boffer sparring with Matt
– Did Zombies Run Season 2 Episode 16 (2.19mi in 38:11 … not a great day for me πŸ™ )
– Did Zombies Run S2 E17 (2.32mi in 35:19)
– Did a ZR supply run (1.82mi in 29:00)
– Signed up for the Metrowest Corp 5K

Rejection Log

– 11 day form from Apex for “Mirrors”

Weekly Update, 4/23/2018 to 4/29/2018

Brief Update

It was a busy week for me, sandwiched between two larp events. Still I’m generally happy with the amount — one game to play and one game to NPC seems just right for me.

One of my writer pals, Coral, is starting up a remote D&D 5E campaign in the Forgotten Realms setting, so I spent some time this week rolling up a character (human variant rogue, named Tamarys) and getting used to the Roll20 platform. The last time I played D&D was a high level 3.5 campaign — also Forgotten Realms! –and I’m still learning just how much has changed. Our first game is on Friday.

This week was my friend Melissa Caruso’s book birthday for The Defiant Heir, the second book in her Swords and Fire series. My copy arrived as expected, and I started reading it at Mad3 this weekend. One of the staffers said to me at the end of the event that she was impressed that I was reading the book before game-on instead of any of the ginormous RP write-ups I had to memorize. What can I say? It was super compelling!

Incidentally, I did a ton of RP and a ton of fighting at Mad3. Coming into it immediately after another larp weekend seems to have helped tremendously with my motivation; instead of feeling (too much) of my usual anticipatory dread, I just was excited to get out there and do stuff.

Accomplishments

Writing
– Wrote… some? on the Lioness mini-mission. (Didn’t keep track of how many, but I’ve reached 10,905 words on this new beginning).
– Wrote blog post, “Big Paradigm Shifts in Editing Lioness”
– Submitted “Mirrors” to Apex
– Submitted “Granny Hubbard” to UFO7

Other Media
– Listened to The Art of Charm #683, #695-696, #700
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Jupiter’s Children”
– Listened to Larpcast #106, “Fifth Gate Wrap Part 2”
– Watched the RiffTrax of Junior Prom
– Made a character for a D&D 5E game

Larp
– Wrote my PEL for Shadowvale E3
– NPCed for Mad3

Health
– Did Zombies Run S2E15 (2.35mi in 39:07)
– Had a therapy appointment
– Had a hair appointment

Habitat
– Dropped a box of donations by the Savers

Rejection Log

– 1 day rejection from UFO7 for “Granny Hubbard vs. the Giant Slime”

Picture of the Week

This birb showed up on Sunday at Mad3, likely to feast on all the discarded millet. We weren’t sure what it was — a dove? A white pigeon? A vicious albino razorhawk? πŸ˜‰ It had a band on its leg, though, so it was probably some sort of domestic fowl.