The Never-Ending Halloween

I went to work yesterday, and they were playing Christmas songs. Christmas decorations were everywhere, and I had to assemble a cardboard replica of Santa’s mailbox to hang gift cards on. And yet just a few days ago, I posted this on Instagram. Halloween hasn’t been over for a full week, and already Christmas is dancing on it’s dessicated corpse.

Of the two holidays, I have to say that I’m more of a fan of Halloween these days. Oh sure, I don’t go trick-or-treating, and I spend more time with friends and family on Christmas than I do on Halloween. But I feel closer to the spirit of Halloween than Christmas. Maybe it’s because Christmas has been commercialized out the wazzu (not that there isn’t a huge commercial element to Halloween as well), or maybe it’s because I’m sick of hearing about the War on Christmas from the more conservative side of the family. But honestly, I think it has more to do with Halloween being steeped in fantasy and horror, my two favorite genres both to write and to read.

Anyone who reads my blog should know I’m a fan of the macabre. I think I’ve posted more horror stories on this blog than any other genre. The same goes for the stories I post on my Patreon. I could make up some pretentious artistic explanation for why that is, such as horror being able to expose our underlying primal anxieties or whatever, but the truth is that I just find it fun to read scary stories and to write my own. I have ever since I was a kid. Seriously, you have no idea how many Goosebumps books I checked out of the school library.

A lot of my current projects revolve around horror, as well. Wednesday marked the premiere of the podcast TerrorTop, a Dungeons and Dragons Actual Play with Gothic and Lovecraftian elements. I’ve been working real hard on DMing the game and working together with my players to create a believable and terrifying world. We plan on releasing a new episode every other week, alternating with out sister podcast Quips and Crits.

TerrorTop
The thumbnail art for TerrorTop, as drawn by Evan La Medica

In addition, I have been working on an urban fantasy/ horror themed indie tabletop RPG, which I hope to eventually be able to publish. Working on developing the rules has been really fun, especially since I decided to work on my own system instead of piggy back off of someone else’s work. Unfortunately, that means I could very well screw up and create something unbalanced and not at all fun to play. But that’s the basic risk that comes with making any game.

Finally, I’m continuing to write horror stories. I’ll be posting a short flash fic later today, and I’m spending time that I’m not working on the RPG writing a longer story that I eventually hope to have published. if I can’t publish it, I’ll throw it on the Patreon and work on the next one. Eventually, I’ll get good enough to be a published horror author. Halloween may be over, but I will never stop celebrating the spirit of the macabre.

Asexuality: My Story

I guess you would call this a coming out post. Doesn’t really feel like coming out. A lot of other people already know about my sexuality. For instance, I list myself as asexual on Twitter and Mastodon. But I’ve not really talked about my sexuality much here on the blog. Well, this week is Asexual Awareness Week, so it seems like a good idea to talk about what being asexual means to me. And the best way I can do that is by telling a story.

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I’ve always known there was something different about me when it comes to sex. Every dude I’ve ever known has been obsessed with sex and romance since middle school. I wasn’t. I had the occasional crush, but I never fantasized about anyone sexually. Still, I felt tremendous pressure to lose my virginity. But this never happened. I never really asked anyone out, and the one time I tried to have a relationship, it was really awkward. Sex and romance just seemed so complicated and terrifying to me. I remained a virgin all through high school and into college.

At this time, I had no idea what asexuality was or that it was even an option. I knew gay straight, and bi were options, and I had had a couple crushes on girls, so I thought I was straight. I thought romance and sex went hand in hand. I had no idea there were people who didn’t feel sexually attracted to anyone. I didn’t really understand asexuality until I read Girls With Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto. One of the Characters, Erin, was asexual. The comic explored her romantic relationship with Jamie, a woman who was sexually attracted to men. The two of them ended up entering into an open relationship so that Jamie could continue to have sex without Erin having to be a part of something she didn’t want to be in.

Girls With Slingshots did a great job of introducing th subject of asexuality to me, but unfortunately also left me with the assumption that asexual people don’t like sexual contact of any kind, something that actually isn’t true. This in turn led me to believe that asexual people don’t masturbate, and that because I had masturbated before, I was disqualified.

Then, in Senior year, I had a bad episode of depression that lasted for several months and almost took me out of school completely. While i recovered from this, I decided that I definitely wasn’t ready for any kind of sexual or romantic encounter. I started referring to myself as “happily single.” Not long after, I got a job and was able to donate to artists via Patreon for the first time. I discovered the webcomic Beefpaper, which is drawn by Shane Sheenan, who is asexual. Not long after, I discovered Hoi Butt a comic by Shane’s then-partner-now-spouse Tasha Dancy, who is on the Asexual spectrum as well. More importantly, I began donating to shane on Patreon and, as a result, I got to hang out with him and Tasha online. Reading their comics and talking with them helped me to understand that Asexuality is a spectrum, and that there was room for me on it. They helped to dispel some myths, including the myth that asexuals don’t masturbate.

Discovering my asexuality helped me to understand myself better. It freed me from the trap of believing that sexuality is compulsory and put a name on the feelings I had been having all my life. And in the process, I had met people like myself, who I could relate to. I no longer feel strange or alone. I feel valid and real.

I wouldn’t have found this, however, if it hadn’t been for my habit of reading obscure comics. I didn’t know asexuality existed before I read GWS, and i couldn’t be sure I was asexual until I had talked to Shane and Tasha. Asexuality is very unrepresented in media. Many people don’t know it exists, and even when it is represented, it often is stereotypical in certain fashions. That is why things like Asexual Awareness week are so important: they help let people know that the asexual spectrum exists and that asexuality is a valid identity.

Nikos
Nikos the Younger, Asexual Eladrin Warlock, as drawn by Tasha Dancy.

For my part, I’m doing what i can as an artist to change that.Nikos, the character I play on Quips n Crits, is Asexual. I made him that way specifically for the purpose of representation. He fulfills a few stereotypes, but he is based on myself in certain ways, so I feel he at least brings a bit of representation into the realm of D&D Actual Play. He won’t be the last character I make that’s asexual, either: I plan on putting quite a few asexual characters in my writing from now on. Expect to see a couple in some upcoming stories.

I hope sharing my story helps people to understand asexuality a bit more, as well as highlights the importance of representation in media. felling seen and valid is important to the human experience. Everyone deserves that feeling, no matter who they love – or who they don’t love, as the case may be.

World Mental Health Day 2018

I’ve talked on here before about my struggles with depression and anxiety. I’ve dealt with these diseases most of my adult life. I nearly had to drop out of college because of them. Luckily, I was able to find help for my condition and begin treatment. So far, especially recently, it’s been incredibly effective. I’m more positive than I have been for years. I’m able to deal with my anxieties in a more effective manner. I’m even able to work through my frustrations more. But I’m privileged in this regard.  not everyone has access to the kind of help that I have been able to get. So today, instead of doing a story or a poem, I want to share a few things you can do to fight the stigma against mental illnesses and help out those who suffer from them.

The first thing you can do, if you have the money, is donate to a charity or organization that helps people with mental illnesses find treatment and support. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is one such organization. They provide help and support to many people throughout the United States. If you are a gamer, a good organization to donate to is Take This, which works to fight the stigma in the gaming community and provide resources to help people with mental illnesses at gaming conventions.

The second thing you can do is listen and be there for people in your life who have mental illnesses. If you know someone who suffers from a mental illness, try and be there for them to talk to. Listen to their experiences and try not to judge them for what they’ve been through. Let them know that you are there for them and that you want to understand and help however you can.

The most important thing you can do, if you yourself suffer from a mental illness or think you might have one, is to take care of yourself. If you think you might have an illness talk to someone. If you are scared of talking to a professional, talk to a friend or family member. If you need time by yourself, take it. If you have a creative pursuit, work on it a bit. Do whatever you can do to try and keep yourself going, because you are valued and wonderful just for being alive.

I hope this post helps people to understand how they can do something productive to help a person with a mental illness. I’ll post something more creative soon. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other.

A Dance at the End of the World

Take up your lyre and strike up the band.
Dance all you want, for the end’s close at hand.

The world that we know will soon be no more.
Its refuse and debris shall wash up on the shore

of a darkly lit island at the end of all things,
where the Lord of the Void and the Judge of True Kings

will tally our faults, our sins and our crimes,
and weigh them against our more innocent times.

They will judge if we’re fit to dwell in the sky
or to be ground into dust and finally die.

So although we can’t know our ultimate fate,
let’s take pleasure from life before it’s too late!

 

A quick poem for national poetry day. If you liked it, you can support me on Patreon and get access to exclusive stories and previews of RPG content.

Projects, Projects, Projects

Has it really been July since I’ve updated this blog? Man, I really have been in my own head, haven’t I?

I’m still getting the hang of juggling my OfficeMax job with the other things I want to do, but the good news is that I’m more happy and motivated than I have been in a long time. Having a steady job gives me a bit of financial security, so I can focus on other things and not have to worry about paying my student loans. It of course helps that my parents have been letting me stay with them, so I am privileged int his regard. Still, it’s a load off my shoulders and has greatly reduced my anxiety.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on various projects, most of which are related to role playing games in some form. The first one I should mention is Quips n Crits, a Dungfeons and Dragons fifth edition actual play podcast with some homebrew rules. I play Nikos the Younger, an Eladrin Warlock who has become the firs of his kind to step onto the material plane in generations. He joins an eclectic cast of characters including Breeze the Tabaxi bard, Tribute the Tiefling Paladin, Cas the Half-Elf Eldritch Knight, Talos the Half-Orc Cleric, and  Adela the Water Genasi Druid. Their current quest: figure out how to stop a pirate captain from killing everyone while also tracking down Breeze’s long-lost family and there’s also this thing about a war between the elementals and the gods and…you know what? It will make more sense if you go listen to it.

The second major project goes off of the first. On Halloween, a new  5e actual play podcast will premiere. With myself as the Dungeon Master, and a number of my friends as the players, the new podcast explores the Gothic city of Godsfall, a plce where monsters stalk the streets at night and strange conspiracies intertwine. Pray you are one of the lucky ones who can sleep at night in the city without worrying about what’s lurking down below. The podcast is called TerrorTop, and it brings Gothic/Lovecraftian horror to the realm of D&D actual play. It is legitimately the best campaign I have ever run and I am so excited that I get to share it with the world. Head on over to the facebook page, or follow Quips n Crits, as TerrorTop will be premiering on the same podbean channel.

Also, check out this amazing cover art by Evan La MedicaTerrorTop

The final project is still in development. I am talking with an artist friend about a collaboration. Specifically, a webcomic, one that I will write and they will draw. We are still working on character designs, so don’t expect anything soon. Suffice it to say there is still a lot of work to be done. But we are both very excited about the project and cannot wait until it goes live!

And that is what I’m up to. Hopefully I will get a chance to post something again relatively soon. And I definitely plan to post once TerrorTop goes live.

A Massive 5th of July Update

Ab out a year and a day ago, I made a post about not feeling too patriotic on the fourth. This year, however, I’m a bit tired of constantly being negative all the time, so I thought that I’d make a post about the good things that have happened in my life since the last time I posted, which was…three months ago?! I’m not good at this independent blogging thing.

Anyway, the first major good thing that happened is that I got a steady, part-time job at a local Office Max. It came with a slight pay raise over the bookstore and a guarantee of hours every week, so I’m making more money than I was. That’s all good. I’ll be honest, I kind of like the bookstore job, but they couldn’t give me enough hours, and I felt kind of underutilized an under-appreciated. I mostly work cashier at Office Max, which is not my favorite part of retail, but my managers have been praising my work and offering incentives, so it’s not that bad, really.

The second major thing that happened is that I accepted a position as a contributing writer to a RPG blog site called Nerdarchy.  Their focus is on fifth edition Dungeon and Dragons, which is perhaps my favorite edition of the game, so I feel very at home writing for it. In fact, my first article has already been posted. Go check it out!

All excitement aside, I broke an earlier rule of mine and I am basically writing for Nerdarchy for free. BUT. Nerdarchy has recently added a Patreon with a stretch goal that will allow them to pay all their writers for the work they do. So if you’re interested in helping out, go over give them a couple of bucks a month. In the meantime, if you want to support my work directly, you can always Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com.

The final thing I want to mention is really minor in the scheme of things. but it’s totally fun. I’ve recently started posting on an Instagram account. I put a link in the social links widget on the sidebar if you are interested in following. Mostly, I post pictures from my life. sometimes they are selfies, sometimes they are pictures of books I’m reading. And of course there are the obligatory cat pics. But the most interesting thing I’m doing is writing microfics to go along with pictures that I take.

These microfics are a ton of fun to write, and it’s especially fun to take pictures and use them as inspiration for writing. It’s a whole different experience from writing microfics on twitter, where all you have is the text. Here, I let the pictures tell me what I’m writing about. Thew picture and the text side-by-side create a much more powerful effect than either picture or text alone can.

 

I’m no photographer, but Instagram makes it easy to pretend that I am one. I know a few basic rules of composition, and combining that with a uick filter makes for some really cool pictures. For subjects, I use the buildings and signs around my hometown. Then I turn them into stories from another world. I love doing it, because ti feels liek I’m transforming my hometown into an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Anyway, I’m not on Facebook that much anymore, so if you want to stay up to date with what’s been going on in my life, Instagram is the way to go. And, occasionally, you’ll get a couple bits of fiction as well. If you want updates on my D&D writing, follow me on Twitter. I’ll be tweeting links to most of my articles. Anyway, hopefully it won’t take too long to post my next update. Fingers crossed!

Buy Me a Coffee, Get a Microfic!

Friends, followers, randos who stumbled on to my blog looking for something completely different, I come to you now with hat in hand. I’ll be honest, my financial situation hasn’t at all improved since the last time I posted about it. I’ve finally been confirmed as a seasonal employee at the bookstore, just in time for the hours to drop off and for me to no longer be necessary until next semester. I have no hours scheduled for this week, nor any for next week. I’m still looking for other jobs, but so far nothing has panned out.

To try and offset this, I have gone ahead an gotten myself a Ko-Fi page. Ko-Fi is a service that lets you leave tips to the artists and creators you love. It’s a way for you to show your appreciation without having to subscribe to a Patreon. You can make a one-time donation instead of committing to a monthly one, and the money goes directly to my PayPal account.

It’s incredibly easy to do. Just scroll over to that little button beneath my face on the sidebar and click it. That will take you to my Ko-Fi page, which will give you instructions on how to leave a tip. Don’t feel like going to the sidebar? Well, I can also put a button in my posts, like this!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

As a further incentive, every fifty dollars will magically turn into a piece of microfiction that I write and post exclusively to the Ko-Fi page. I thoroughly enjoy writing microfics, and I figure that this is a fun way to give back to the people who are giving to me. I’ve already posted a fic on the page to show you what they’d be like. Or you can check out this old blog post from back when I started posting microfiction to Twitter.

I hope you will consider supporting my writing. I genuinely love what I do, and I do genuinely need the money.