Update on the Marathon, Getting Back to Work, Fallout Cat

Hey all, had a decent weekend, managed 18 hours for the marathon (really getting too old for much more). Had some regular viewers and fun conversations on the chat and overall felt good about my participation. Will definitely do again next year, assuming the opportunity is still there. Want to thank all of the awesome people who contributed and made this a success. The money will help a lot of children.

In other news, feeling much, much better today and ready to get back to the work of writing. The illness will obviously affect timelines, but I’m not certain how much as of this writing. Hoping to get some time back over the Thanksgiving holiday, but we’ll see how that goes.

With the release of Fallout 4 just around the corner, enjoy Fallout cat.

FalloutCat

Extra Life Marathon 2015: Live Blog

8:03 AM – Finishing the initial set-up of the stream and getting settled in. I’d like to thank the Motion Picture Association of America for the delay; having some problems with their copyright encoding. First up will be Destiny, a 2014 massively online shooter that saw a major update in September that made it more user-friendly, with more story and proper quest lines. I’d given up on this game earlier this year, but am enjoying it a lot these days. Expect an hour of strikes and grinding. You can watch at http://www.twitch.tv/workingdogv1 and I’m still accepting donations at http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=175107. Thanks!

destiny

9:12 – Sorting some Internet problems and technical software issues. I expect this to solve the ongoing streaming problems…hopefully. Never trust beta software. Soon up is The Witcher 3, an open world Action RPG from 2015. Coffee in hand, ready to go now.

Witcher310:02 – Okay I do believe the issues are hammered out. Leave it to Cox to decide to crap the bed today, of all days. Next up is Life is Strange, a decidedly less actiony game about a girl who can rewind time who’s trying to deal with high school and prevent the apocalypse. More of a story-driven game, this one is a real sleeper hit that I’ve come to love. I’ll be picking up in the middle of Episode 4.

Strange

11:05 – Things are finally going smoothly. Going back to the Witcher 3 since the last time was such a disaster. Diablo 3 was always a fall-back plan anyway.

witcher-3-1

12:37 – Just finished up lunch and back to Destiny until 1:30. So far, so good, aside from this morning’s technical hurdles. Some folks have joined in to watch, which is always fun.

destiny2

2:39 – Just went back-to-back with Destiny and Rock Band 4, now about to delve back into Life is Strange before the 3:30 afternoon break. Tiring a bit, time for more coffee.

life-is-strange-02_1920.0

4:03 – Well that was quite the ending to that stream. Back from the afternoon break and ready to boogey. Time for more Rock Band!

Rock band

5:07 PM – Really feeling the length of the marathon now. I’m up to nine hours now, and it’s starting to feel it. Was doing well on Rock Band right up until the last song and hit a wall. Now it’s time for coffee and more Witcher 3. At least that’ll be slower paced.

6:07 PM – Destiny time again. I think dinner will be around 7, and past that I’m not sure what to play, since my Rock Band session with friends fell through. Maybe finish episode 4 of Life is Strange? We’ll see. Weird having coffee this late in the day.

7:42 PM – Just finished dinner and now it’s unscheduled time. I think I’m going to start by finishing Life is Strange Episode 4 and then maybe dig into Until Dawn? We’ll see how things go.

Life

8:33 PM – Explosive ending for Episode 4 of Life is Strange. Having some fun in the chat as well. Debating whether to go on to four or end at two in the morning…leaning toward the former. Still, feeling all right so far. Now to play Until Dawn.

untilDawn

10:44 PM – Starting up again shortly with Life is Strange, going to try to finish up Episode 5 and the game. In other news, just saw this about a strange light in the western sky. Apparently a Trident missile launch? Crazy stuff: https://instagram.com/p/9zpu4eEmIA/

1:40 AM – Finishing up the fifth and final episode of Life is Strange right now, and then off to bed. Thanks to everyone who donated this year! Hopefully we’ll be back here next year. Until then, later!

Extra Life 2015: Raising Money and Playing Games for Kids (With Tentative Schedule)

Hey everybody! Still on the road to recovery with my ear infection but feeling much, much better. Almost well enough to get back to full-time writing again; I may dip my toes back into the book today, with an eye toward full-scale re-engagement on Monday. In the meantime, I think I may feel well enough to take part in the Extra Life 2015 marathon that’s going on tomorrow.

extra-life-splash

So what is Extra Life and why should you care? Good question. Extra Life is a gaming-centric charity that raises funds throughout the year to support the Childrens’ Miracle Network in providing clinical treatment, pediatric medical equipment, and other related items. Every year the network hosts a 24-hour marathon designed to help raise funds, and this is my second year participating.

I’m currently $15 short of my $200 goal and could use your help. All proceeds go to the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. Any amount is more than appreciated. You can donate here: http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=175107

Last year I met met my goal (and then some) while also playing 18 hours of games to raise awareness and raise funds. This year I’m hoping to do the same, while upping my commitment to 20 hours, which might be a tad much in my current state, but I’ll give it a go. I also plan to stream most of these efforts throughout the day, starting at 8AM tomorrow, the morning of November 7th. Here is the tentative schedule, which may change in the evening as I have some friends who might want to join in on some Rock Band 3; all should be viewable at http://www.twitch.tv/workingdogv1.

Twitch

  • 8-9 AM – Destiny
  • 9-10 AM – The Witcher 3
  • 10-11 AM- Life is Strange
  • 11-12 AM – Diablo 3
  • 12-12:30 PM Lunch Break
  • 12:30 – 1:30 PM Destiny
  • 1:30 – 2:30 PM Rock Band 4
  • 2:30 – 3:30 PM Life is Strange
  • 3:30 – 4 PM Afternoon Break
  • 4 – 5 PM Rock Band 4
  • 5 – 6 PM The Witcher 3
  • 6 – 7 Destiny (Tentative)
  • 7 – 7:30 Dinner Break (Tentative)
  • 7:30 – 9:30 PM Rock Band 3 (Tentative)
  • 9:30 -10:30 PM TBD
  • 10:30 – 11:00 – Night Time Break
  • 11 PM – 1 AM – Until Dawn
  • 1 – 2 AM – Destiny
  • 2 – 3 AM – ???
  • 3 – 4 AM – ???

Again, the schedule may change. I’ll try to live blog some here and interact on the channel as much as possible, but it may be tricky with having to, you know, play the games.

If you’d like to help out, the link again is http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=175107

Should be a lot of fun as well as a test of endurance. Hope to see you there.

Innocence Found: Purcell Park and Came to Believe

It’s no secret that Stephen King is one of my biggest influences, so I suppose it’s appropriate that he’s made me re-think things. I follow King on Twitter and have been enjoying his tweets about Molly, aka the Thing of Evil. They’ve been great as a fan and, more importantly as an author, in that they made me re-assess my interactions with current and potential readers.

Looking back, this site suffers from the lack of a personal touch. In those rare times where I’ve put the focus on something other than my fiction or the act of writing itself, it’s been to talk about myself in relation to the craft. This includes writing about influences, detailing personal development within the craft itself, and other writing-related topics. I’ve kept you at arms length. Now I’ve never been a “look at me” kind of person, owing to some negative early experiences, and I tend to think that stories should speak for themselves, but I also like to get glimpses into some of my favorite authors’ lives. So, I figured, why not open up a bit, share some things, especially when they intersect with my fiction?

You can expect a blend of slice-of-life and status posts, but I also want to talk about the sights and scenery of the Shenandoah Valley, especially as they relate to locations in Came to Believe and the other forthcoming books in the series. This is not so removed from my personal life as it first appears, as I grew up in the Valley and feel much of its history in my bones; I didn’t appreciate the place growing up, but these days it’s clear just how much it’s shaped and informed my worldview, for better or worse.

This week we’ll start with the very first scene of Came to Believe.

“I said, ‘where are we’?” Her voice had gotten a little higher this time, with a hint of panic at the edges.

 

Answer her, his weak side urged, but still he said nothing. He switched off the headlights and slowed to a crawl, studying the houses that lined the street. The neighborhood backed up to Purcell Park, with its towering oaks, baseball diamonds, and jungle gyms. The park was his destination, and while it might seem suspect to take a teenaged hooker there for business, he had few remaining options for such an encounter.

Here we meet Dean Rohrer, a dentist with a penchant for prostitutes who is taking what is to be his last “pleasure cruise” into Purcell Park, a sprawling blend of multi-purpose fields, picnic shelters, and playgrounds located near the heart of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The park opened in 1954 and is home to a “Kid’s Castle” that was installed sometime in the 80s and was likely part of the reason I went there so often, typically as part of group outings.

Purcell

My memories of these outings are somewhat hazy, though they often involved picnics, baseball, and, of course, said Kids Castle. There may also have been a girl involved, but that memory is hazy at best.

Kids_Castle

I can’t speak for other kids who used that Castle, but it sure put the fear of tight spaces into my heart. I was never a small kid, in weight or height, so it was always a snug fit at best, “age-appropriate clearance” or not. As a result, I didn’t spend a ton of time in the castle itself. My time was better spent roaming through the emptier back fields and trails, stopping for a softball game here or a baseball game there; mostly, however, I wanted to soak in the isolation of the place. What can I say? I was an only child and used to solitude. I loved to break away from the group and wander through the empty spaces.

This sense of solitude and peace, more than anything else, is what drove me to select Purcell for the book. Sure, I could have gone with Hillandale Park, where I was offered my first cigarettes and most definitely had an encounter or two with a girl, but therein lie the problem: I had imbued the place with such a sense of sleaze over the years that it felt too obvious, too dangerous. I preferred the idea of him “corrupting” a location, as it would also offer the opportunity to “redeem” it in the future.

Ultimately, this is all subjective and down to my personal experience. I’m sure a lot of people had quite different experiences with the park in question, but I needed to operate on this level to get the appropriate emotional tone.

As a footnote, I revisited the place during the early drafting stages. As always, everything looked smaller, especially that Castle, but the memories came flooding back. I was also dismayed to see that things had decayed quite a bit, but there’s a revival underway for the place, which warms my heart. So much of Harrisonburg’s history is vanishing in the name of progress that it’s good to see some preservation efforts. Let’s hope it’s enough.

kidscastle2

Oh, one more thing before I go. On November 7th, I’ll be participating in the Extra Life gaming marathon to raise money for the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, and your donations are greatly appreciated. I plan to stream at least some of the marathon, where applicable, at http://www.twitch.tv/workingdogv1. I’ll be posting a schedule in the coming days. In the meantime, I’d be ever so grateful if you’re able to donate to the cause. Even $1 will help. You can donate by going to my Extra Life page. If you’re interested in participating, I can also answer any questions you might have and point you in the right direction. Thanks in advance to everyone who helps to make this event a successful one.

Next week I’ll talk a little about Halloween in the Shenandoah Valley; specifically, what that was like when I was growing up. Hope to see you then.