Happy Father’s Day!

Another busy week in the books! Tuesday, my sister and I took our dad to the Sounders game against the Whitecaps. The odd weeknight game was a rescheduled game from when The Sounders were battling for the CCL championship. We had some BBQ sandwiches before the game and watched our team win 4-0 while missing many of our usual starting XI due to international play.

I had some trouble hitting the button to take the picture, and ended up dropping it as my finger found its mark. I considered this pic “close enough” to not bother trying again. I’m very bad at selfies.

Yesterday, I headed up to Seattle for another two soccer games. The Sounders played again at noon, with The OL Reign playing later in the evening at seven. I went to this extended double-header with a friend of mine. His wife said that his getting to go for thirteen hours of soccer and fun was his father’s day gift.

Between the two games, we had five hours to kill. The two teams put on a pretty cool little event outside the stadium with local vendors and games. We hung out until the crowds died down a bit, then grabbed some of the food and a picture with the CCL trophy. I did not snap a picture of the BBQ Pork bun that I had, but I did find the website for the company serving them: Umami Kushi. I would describe it as an Asian/Cajun culinary fusion. My friend and I both enjoyed them.

Picture with the CCL trophy!

I had already changed into my OL Reign gear for the next game. (Friend only cropped out for privacy!)

This morning we went for an early Father’s Day lunch with my family to celebrate. All of the activity is why I’m late getting my post out this week, but sometimes life gets in the way. My manuscript is also back from the editor, so I still have to look at all those edits and get the book into KDP to order a proof copy! I really need another long weekend…How long until Independence Day?

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Being Unhappy

It has been a rough week emotionally. No, nothing really bad happened. Yes, some good things also happened. Yes, I’m fine. Sometimes, the bad worms deeper, and this is where my head is right now.

Work

I am not naturally confident about myself, but I have always stood by my work. Unfortunately, because I am more comfortable with my professional work, I also tend to place a great deal of my self-worth into that area of my life. When work is not coming up roses, it tends to shake the foundation of my confidence.

Lately, the day job has been a bit meh. There are some improvements in work I’m pretty excited about, and I get energized thinking about the opportunities. However, I also feel like a storm is hovering at the edges. We are not aligned, I do not feel heard, and the threat of “return to the office” remains. (Many of my fellow introverts can sympathize with the last sentiment.)

I’m trying. The leaders are trying. The puzzle pieces are not yet clicking into place. There have been a lot of organizational upheavals recently, and finding how everyone fits takes time. Part of me wonders if I will fit in the box they want for me. After seventeen years, I’m no longer interested in pretending to be something I’m not to fit someone else’s box.

I know my lines. I need to stop worrying about other people, but that is easier said than done.

Home

Again, no big event happened here to drive me into a lather, but my stability came crashing down this morning. All of those little things that seem inconsequential one at a time reached a tipping point when combined with the work uncertainty.

Bottom line? I’m feeling unappreciated. It feels stupid to write it, but there you go. I take care of all these little things that need to happen but are nothing groundbreaking. Day in and day out, and it is expected, receiving little to no thanks or acknowledgment. Usually, it doesn’t matter, I even enjoy doing the little things. Then, a threshold trips, and it matters a great deal.

I’m a big proponent of counselors and mental health check-ups, so maybe it is time for another chat. Being unhappy is nothing to be ashamed of, but it can be a symptom of something deeper. For today, I’m going to do some thought exercises that have helped me in the past and find my happy place.

Take care of yourselves!

Coulda Been a TPK

First, I would be remiss if I did not start this post by saying, “The Seattle Sounders are CONCACAF Champions League Champions.” Wednesday night, I joined nearly 70k others at Lumen Field for the game.

It was amazing! Suspenseful until the very end. Full of heartache and drama. Filled with career performances. The opposing fans were energetic and awesome as well. Great food, great friends, and a great game!

Go Sounders!

Back to Undermountain

The day after the Sounders game was my monthly D&D session. We busted out the tacos, margaritas, and dice bags for a rousing game of role-playing!

Not Everyone Makes It

In a prior session, the group snuck past a Xanathar’s Guild (XG) outpost to do more exploring of level 2. They ended up finding barrels of dwarven ale and rescuing a young man. Those two events kicked off another round of creative strategizing.

XG knows the groups’ faces and will attack them on sight, but they—hopefully—did not also have a kill-order out on the stranger the party saved. If they dressed him like an XG member, he might be able to, safely, get in for a delivery and get out again.

While some of the party patched up a few cuts and bruises, Ashe snuck back to a potential ally they affectionately gave the code name “Invisidrow.” At the same time, Hudson went to retrieve the keg of beer they opened earlier in the day and doctored it with some poison they had on hand.

The plan was to deliver the ale, referencing the other XG captain on the level, whose name Invisidrow previously gave them. This time, he also agreed to lend them five of his wererat minions for the fight. After enough time passed for those in the XG camp to drink the ale, they would bypass the two beholder zombie watchdogs, charge forward, and open up on them.

It worked brilliantly!

A few of the humans stumbled around, a little drunk, and the wererats kept the bugbears occupied. Urg ran to the middle of the room and cast an area of effect, war cleric, damage spell. Rose and Valorik fought to keep everyone off Urg so his spell would remain up as long as possible.

Something alerted the zombies, and they started floating down to join the fight. Hudson called out a warning, and they doubled their efforts to eliminate the humanoid opponents.

Turn Undead sent one of the zombies fleeing, but the second shot a discintigration ray right at Valorik. He staggered against the blow but remained on his feet to keep fighting. Soon enough, only the zombies remained. They took them out, one at a time, dodging multiple rays.

As another blast came his way, Valorik said, “I am at peace with this.”

The ray hit, but instead of turning to dust, he ran in fear.

Finally, it was over.

They searched the room before continuing to explore to the south.

A little later, Ashe listened for movement beyond a closed door.

“Sounds like animals,” he said.

“Let’s find out what kind,” Urg said as he opened the door wide.

Three ravenous owlbears picked up their heads and charged.

The sight freezes the group in place, and Ashe barely got off a couple of arrows before the beasts barged through the doorway, biting and clawing.

Valork went down.

Ung went down.

Rose took another round before she, too, fell.

As they lay bleeding on the floor, Ashe and Anakis tried desperately to kill the creatures and keep their friends alive. Hudson flashed forward with a sword of shadow and flame even as one of the owlbears started to drag Urg off into the other room.

One down.

Another.

As the fallen gasped for breath upon the ground, the three combatants charged forward and eliminated the threat. They scattered, rushing to stabilize their comrades, only to find Urg had already breathed his last.

With tears in their eyes, they carried their fallen, dead and unconscious, to a secure location. All thoughts of exploring further faded; they are headed back to Waterdeep.

What a Week

Last weekend, I polished three more chapters of book three to send to my alpha readers. It kicked off a busy bunch of days for me, most of which subsequently had little to do with my writing. Work has been long hours packed with deliverables and meetings. 

If you don’t know much about working in finance, the first two weeks of the month are usually busy. In the first week, accounting is closing out the books with all the final transactions coming in. This week, week two, is when the data makes its way to us finance analysts for performance analysis.

I spent much of the week working through variances and presenting performance to various people in the organization. The rest of the week, and my long workdays, were driven by some capstone project presentations. These are fun because I get a chance to work with new company leaders kicking off a new role, but they are also draining.

Each one lasts one and a half to two hours, and I attended four this week. 

That all adds up to a lot of people. I am exhausted, and it is shaping up to be another busy weekend. Tonight is a Sounders game, and tomorrow a Reign game. I will be having fun watching soccer this Easter, and I will have to take my mom out later for missing lunch. 

The Sounders won their game on Wednesday evening, which means they are heading to the CONCACAF Champions League Final. The second of the two-game series will be played in Seattle, and I’m excited to attend with some friends in early May. It should be a great game. 

With all of this going on, I have two updates for you before I sign off for the weekend:  

  1. The book cover for Hidden Sanctuary is done! I will be sharing it with my newsletter first (probably tomorrow or Monday), so sign up on my homepage today if you don’t want to wait a month to see it on the rest of my accounts!
  2. The Hidden Sanctuary manuscript is with my beta readers, and my editor is lined up. If my current progress holds, I will release the paperback around the same time as the ebook. Fingers crossed!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday!

Encourage a Young Writer

Tomorrow, April 10, 2022, is National Encourage a Young Writer Day. To contribute to this day, I will share one of the creative inspirations from my childhood.

I am often asked, “where do your story ideas come from?” The truth is that it usually begins with one small spark of an idea and grows from there. This spark might be a world, a character, or even a character trait, and then I build it out by asking questions.

“That is a cool world idea. Who might live there?”

“I would love to have such a superpower. What might someone do with it?”

Early Storytelling

Blueberry was super shy.

Some of my earliest stories were told with my sister as we played with our pony town growing up. Though I struggle to remember all of them now, each pony had a name, personality, job, and family. They lived in a world of our creation and interacted with each other through a make-believe daily life.

The regal, royal family. I think the big ones were called Fashion Star Fillies.

We had a royal family and a dashing fireman. Strawberry loved to bake crumpets to go with Mrs. Pots’s tea. Tic Tac Toe was the bad boy of the children, while his father, Parrot, was the smooth talker with the adult ladies. Butterfly had an attitude, often butting heads with Boat, but all the children helped out with the babies.

All the kids. Heartstrings and Lollypop were the sweetest.

These are still some of my favorite memories, and I’m certain their lives have influenced my work. To all the writers out there, what is one of your childhood inspirations? For all the young writers out there, don’t be afraid to tell the story.

The “fuzzy-fliers” were our favorites. Rabbit could fly super fast.