dejadrew: (Default)
Hello, folks! I'm Dani Atkinson. I'm a writer, sometimes artist, and general nerd. It was about time for me to have an "author blog" where I could send people that had links to all my stories all in the same place.

Story and Art links below the cut )
dejadrew: (Default)

I think. Hopefully. Maybe. Give it an hour to cool and I'll find out for sure. 
There's something weirdly primally satisfying about making bread. I took various powders and water and I turned it into FOOD. 
There's also something oddly personal about cooking with live organisms. I wonder how vegans square themselves with bread? Because bread is unquestionably a living thing when it's being made. You have to feed it, take care of it. And then you take a colony of live breeding animals that you've been nurturing for hours and SACRIFICE IT UPON AN ALTAR OF FLAME. 
Sourdough has gotta be even moreso, I mean, from what I can tell jars of sourdough starter are basically pets. People name them and take care of them for years.
This recipe used active dry yeast, not sourdough starter, so it was a shorter term commitment, around 18 hours all together, I think. Still though. I was feeding this thing and checking on it and keeping it warm. I was far more aware of the fact that I'm raising and consuming life than I ever have been while cooking meat. It was odd and interesting. 
Well, in another hour I suppose I'll find out if my colony of several thousand very tiny very temporary pets died in vain. Fingers crossed.
dejadrew: (Default)
 I am increasingly weirded out by the fact that there does not appear to be any fanfic for 4theWords. Like, does that seem bizarre to anyone else?

For those unaware, 4theWords is a game for writers. It's built around word count. The basic mechanic is, you face various monsters, and the monsters have a health bar measured out in word count. The more words you type, the lower the monster's health gets, and if you type enough words within the time limit, you win, beat the monster, and get loot. There are quests, there's a storyline, you get cool cosmetic items to dress up your avatar, it's a pretty standard RPG except that you fight with typing instead of with spells and combat abilities. 

And it's really helpful, honestly? It has helped my productivity a LOT. It's really useful and motivating to have clear concrete goals and rewards in my writing. Big abstract goals like "write a story" are hard to grasp and manifest, but "write 444 words to beat up a Wignow and get enough leaves to turn in this quest" is clear and solid. And once you get started, before you know it you've beaten up a dozen other monsters and written thousands of words and huh, I think a first draft happened. 


A game for writers, in which EVERY SINGLE PLAYER IS A WRITER, and this game has not one fic, as of this moment, on Ao3. None on fanfiction dot nest of voles! And that... how? 

Honestly it's... kind of damning, really, with regards to the game's writing and lore. All these creative types using it, and not one of us is actually inspired to create anything ABOUT it? I admit, I barely understand anything about the plot or remember the name of any of the characters. It's pretty generic RPG fantasy, I think, albeit with a reasonably cute art style. 

Maybe it's that gameplay and plot are so divorced. Like, within the game world, I think our characters are supposedly just fighting with swords and spears like in a regular RPG game, and the words we're writing are this completely separate thing that has nothing to do with what happens in the world. Like how pushing a button on my keyboard in WoW makes my rogue stab a mob, pushing ALL the buttons on my keyboard makes my character beat up leaf creatures in 4theWords. If they'd actually tied in creativity and making words to the core concept of the story, would we actually be paying attention to it? 

I have no idea. I just know it's WEIRD. 

For what it's worth, I absolutely do recommend 4theWords as a way to set goals, stay motivated, and feel accomplished while writing. I just... wish I could recommend it as a world and an inspiration for that writing?

Crit Tips

Feb. 19th, 2019 01:15 pm
dejadrew: (Default)
 A follow up to the previous rant that felt like a separate post. Tips for accepting critique. This is how I approach the process, anyway, and I feel like it helps. Note, this is only for dealing with feedback and critique that you specifically asked for. If somebody is showing up and picking your work apart without an invitation, to heck with them. 


1. Only submit a story for fixing if you actually think it might be broken, and you can't fix it yourself.

This ties directly into the previous rant. If you already believe this story is complete and perfected to your satisfaction, then skip critiquing. And if there's a problem you already spotted and already know how to fix, ideally fix that first so your critiquer doesn't waste time pointing out issues that are already gone in the next draft. 

2. Prepare some questions in advance about issues that worry you, but don't ask them in advance. 

Sometimes there are problems you can see for yourself but you DON'T know how to fix them. Or you can't be sure if they're problems or not. What I do is, before I go to meet my critique buddies and hear what they have to say, I make a list of three questions I have about the draft. Things that are worrying me, like, is this character annoying? Does this story start in the right place? Is this line of dialogue cheesy? Whatever. 

Now, I do NOT give these questions to the critiquers until AFTER they've read it and AFTER they've given me their own thoughts and opinions. If I give them the questions before they read the story, or before they give their advice, then they'll be focused on answering those questions, consciously or unconsciously, and I won't be getting their genuine natural response to the work. They might miss a different problem, or be swayed by my neuroses to consider something a problem which actually wouldn't have bothered them if I hadn't pointed it out. 

But having those questions ready so I can spring them on them at the end is useful. I probably DO have specific concerns or fears, so getting specific advice is helpful to settle them. Looking for specific problems I'd like help addressing helps me look at my draft in a troubleshooting frame of mind. And the fact that I am looking for and seeing problems myself keeps me from getting defensive. "OH NO THERE ARE THINGS IN MY STORY WHICH THEY DO NOT LIKE" "Well yes anxiety brain there are things in this story which I also do not like that is why we are here what's your point"


3. Listen. 

You're here for a reason and that reason is to find out what impact your work has on a reader and what adjustments you might need to make based on that information. You can't do any of that if you don't pay attention. Take notes. Write down things that they said which sound particularly useful/interesting/surprising. Scribble, doodle, and underline things on a copy of the manuscript. Think of more questions based on what they tell you and add them to your list of questions to ask at the end.

4. Nod and Smile and don't argue.

I am not saying agree. I am not saying everything your critiquer says is right. I am not saying you should do everything they tell you. But arguing with them is counterproductive and rude. You wanted their feedback. You are getting their feedback. Even if you think they are completely wrong about what your story needs, they are giving you important data. They are telling you ways and places in which your story did not work for THEM. That tells you something. They may be wrong about how to fix it, but they are still telling you things about your story which you can use. Arguing cuts you off from that flow of information and it's rude to someone who is doing you a service which you specifically asked them to perform. 

5. Ask your questions

Again, wait until after the critiquer has had the chance to give their own opinions. You might be able to cross off a few questions that you prepared in advance if they address it without your input (that also tells you something. If you saw a problem but they didn't, it might not be as big a problem as you feared. Conversely, if you and the critiquer both saw the same issue, then your instincts were right and it definitely needs addressing.) Sometimes if they found a problem, I think of a couple ways I could fix it and sound them out as to whether those solutions sound like they might work. 


6. Say thank you. 

You asked for help and they tried to help you. Whether you found their specific advice useful or not, they stepped up for you. Thank them!

7. Let it sink in and do NOT touch the manuscript right away!

Give yourself a few days to ponder what you've learned. Did something they said ring true? Why? Did something they said seem completely wrong and off base? Why? That last one is still helpful. If you know they're completely wrong about something, then that means that you know on some level what the right answer is. Just process for a while, sifting through what was said and thinking about ways you can use what you've learned to make your story better. 

8. Apply SOME of their advice (probably not all, probably not none)

Once you've sorted through what they've told you, sit down and start making changes that make sense to you. Your critique partner almost certainly is not completely right about what you need to do. But they almost certainly told you SOMETHING about your story that you didn't already know, one way or another. And you can find a use for it.

9. No harm in trying

No draft has to be forever, you know. You can always go back to an earlier draft if a particular change doesn't work. Save the current draft under a new name (draft 2_03 the version with the home invasion) and then TRY things. Did your critiquer suggest something drastic and scary but you wonder if maybe they have a point? There's a way to find out! And it won't kill you OR your story. Save a separate draft, as if you were saving your game before a big nasty boss fight. Then try the strat. Cut a thousand words. Add a scene. Remove a character. Then if it didn't work, reload and try something else. Even something that doesn't work might teach you what you need to do instead. 

And that's roughly it. A critique is an information gathering process to get the data you need to help you make a weak story stronger. Go into it with that mindset firmly in place. Absorb as much of that information as you can so that you can use it as you deem fit. 
dejadrew: (Default)
Captain Awkward's latest post got me thinking about a particular phenomenon I see in writing groups and critiques, and I felt like putting a rant down in words. 

Writers, artists, fellow creative types? 

If you think a work is already perfect, DO NOT SUBMIT IT FOR CRITIQUE. 

If you think the work is already everything it needs to be? If you think it's saying exactly what you need to say, in the way you need to say it, and is ready to be published and presented to the world as a complete finished work? Then you should not be submitting it for critique. You should be submitting it to a publisher.

I've done that! I've skipped the critique process and gone straight to publisher submissions before on a couple of occasions, and on some of those occasions I turned out to be right and the story sold! 

Other stories, I have held off and sought out the feedback and critique. And the difference is, in those cases, I knew that the story was NOT perfect. That it COULD be better. But I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it on my own, beyond a vague sense of "not there yet", and I needed another set of eyes/ears/neurons. I didn't always take the advice I was given. I didn't always agree with the advice I was given. But if I'm seeking advice, I know I need it, and I never argue with the person giving it, because whether or not I think they're right about the solution, they are helping me figure out the problem, and that is exactly what I was asking them for. 

Critiquing is troubleshooting! It is problem solving! If you are refusing to even accept that your work has any problems, why are you wasting yours and the critiquer's time? What are you even hoping to get out of the process? Be honest with yourself. Do you want someone to just stroke your ego and confirm your own opinion? Why? If that's something you need, then you need to get your ego out of the weird halfway place that it's in. If you are a brilliant perfect genius creating masterpieces that need no improvement, then you need to be able to tell YOURSELF that. Don't hope other people will say it for you and get mad if they don't. Get a mirror or a nice motivational poster to tell you how awesome you are. 

If you are a flawed human creating flawed works, and can acknowledge that, that is when you can reach out to other humans for help. 
dejadrew: (Default)
 My gaming laptop is broken and after two trips to the shop to be worked on by very expensive and frustrated technicians, it is not only still broken, but it is also now turning blood red and flickering scratchy white sigils as it artifacts and crashes. So at this point we cannot conclusively rule out demonic possession. 

I wonder if they can get a young tech and an old tech to work on it together. What would be the laptop equivalent of bell, book and candle? Holy water is probably ill advised but maybe someone can bless a compressed air canister. 

I joke because it's the best I can do to keep from weeping. It's embarrassing how... emotionally dependent on that thing I apparently am. I still have this old desktop, and a smartphone, so it's not like I'm cut off from the wider world yet. But I miss being able to take my writing with me. I miss being able to take WoW to a nice cafe with a better internet connection. I miss simply being able to take whatever I'm doing to a different room when my ADHD ass brain decides that it doesn't like working in these walls and wants different walls. I miss taking my games to my friend's house and bullying her into playing weird visual novels with me. 

And dammit I am apparently emotionally attached simply to the device itself, Toy Story style. That beastie went with me to Japan and back. I MISS it. I really, really cannot afford to replace it but even if I could I probably would still be sad. 

It's like my entire life is suddenly the wrong SHAPE, like someone moved all the furniture just a few inches away from where it's all supposed to be and I keep bumping into corners. 

It's melodramatic and I feel guilty and annoyed with myself at how dependent I am on a Thing. But... it's MY thing and I like my thing. 

*sigh* I'll try one last trip to the techs and find out how much heroic measures would cost. 
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 Wrestling with a few themed anthologies coming up. I can't seem to find any ideas for the themes that grab me. Which is frustrating and oddly embarrassing. I always say ideas are the easy part, dangit, and they are. And I normally love writing within challenges and prompts. But these prompts aren't sparking anything. 

Feh. Quitter talk, dangit. Maybe I'll try adding MORE rules somehow and treat it as an exercise. Maybe give myself a pool of words I have to use or a strict word limit and then I'll be more worried about the mechanics and less worried about a brilliant expression of the theme. 

My Spidey

Jan. 6th, 2019 12:28 pm
dejadrew: (Default)
 Something that belatedly clicked for me after seeing Into the Spiderverse and immediately throwing myself into Peter B. Parker and Mary Jane fanfic was a realization: one of the reasons I loved this movie so much was that it was the first time in years that I had seen MY Spider-man. 

See, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson got married when I was a toddler. Growing up, Spider-Man had been an adult married man pretty much my entire life. And when I actually started regularly buying and reading comics for myself in University and began reading Spider-Man on a monthly basis? Spider-Man was in a rough patch in his life. One of several that he's hit in a fairly rough and patchy life. He and MJ were separated, he'd lost his job, his life had fallen apart a little bit and he was starting the long slow process of trying to put it together again. But he could, and he did. I saw him working his way through it, rebuilding his marriage, finding a new path. 

And that is exactly Peter B. Goddamn Parker in this movie. 

It... just... it was MY Spidey. The one I lost in One More Day. The grown up who loved his wife desperately and loved his aunt and loved his city and couldn't help parenting any scared teenager he tripped over even though he barely knew how to parent himself and THERE HE WAS. It had been so long I'd almost forgotten, almost didn't recognize him, almost forgot that this WAS my Spidey. Every single reboot and retcon and bizarre deal with the devil plotline for years to keep Peter Parker in a state of permanent perpetual adolescence and make him more "relevant" had made him less and less relevant to my life. I knew they'd never let all these baby teen Spideys grow up into my Spidey. I'd given up on ever seeing him again.


And at a time in my life where, well, frankly, I'M the thirty something mess trying to figure out how to put my life back together. When he's even more My Spidey than he ever was. 

I know he's not everybody's Spidey. Some kids grew up and are growing up with various generations and iterations of Teen Spidey. And that's fine, that's wonderful, and that's something this movie gave all of us too. 

We all get to have our own Spideys. 

And that one's mine. 

Loser Uncle Hobo Spidey wibbling over seahorse documentaries. 

God I've missed him. 
dejadrew: (Default)
 I saw Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse yesterday and IMMEDIATELY came home and started writing fanfic for it? Which is... New. I've never actually finished or published fanfic. For some reason I find it scarier than original fiction. A lot of people find original fiction more intimidating because you have to do everything, you don't have any pre-made toys or tools to play with. Which, I can sort of see that. But for me, I think fanfic has always been scarier because since it's not mine, that means I could get it WRONG. It's impossible to get canon WRONG when it's your own canon. 

... But I really REALLY wanted a particular epilogue scene that is not in this movie and there's one version of it on Ao3 already thank goodness but I had already been thinking about what I wanted to happen all night and it wasn't QUITE right and WAIT WHERE THE HELL DID THIS FIFTEEN HUNDRED WORDS WORTH OF SPIDER-FICTION IN MY WORD PROCESSOR COME FROM oh shit now I have to do something with it don't I...

Also it's a really REALLY good movie and you should go see it even if there's apparently a heightened risk that fanfic might happen. 
dejadrew: (Default)
 Happy Self Medicating Seasonal Depression With Food Day!
Happy Hogswatch!
Happy Candlenights!
Happy Winter Veil!
Happy Winter Wonderland Festival! 
For each of the holidays this season, fictional or factual, religious or secular, may you find merriment and solace, whatever that looks like for you. 
dejadrew: (Default)
Good goddamn, I made a game. Well, a game-like interactive object.

MIND FULL NESS, a game about cryptids and meditation apps.

Created for the 2018 Extra Credits Holiday Game Jam. I've wanted to try to make something interactive for years, and now I finally have, such as it is. It's little and weird and makes very little sense but things happen when you click it and it does not appear to set any computers on fire!
dejadrew: (Default)
 Currently coveting the heck out of Danganronpa 3 but not at a place in my life where I can justify an eighty dollar video game purchase. Miiiight have to wait a few years and a few sales. 

Honestly, I thought I finally might be able to drop Idiot Murder Teens: The Series from my consumption after the end of game two went... very weird. Like, more weird than usual for the series about Agatha Christie meets Reality Television as overseen by an evil robot teddy bear. But god help me, game three appears to have SOMEONE OTHER THAN AN EVERYMAN(tm) AS A PROTAGONIST! Games one and two both starred The Ultimate Bland Boy. Like, that is not an exaggeration, that is pretty much literally how protagonist one introduced himself. Protagonist two was basically the same guy but very slightly crankier and with a very slightly different haircut. Not even a different hair COLOUR, actually, just very slightly shorter spikes (of course it was spikes). 

Game three appears to feature a GIRL! A girl with ACTUAL INTERESTS AND ABILITIES! As opposed to "I am so boring my entire arc is literally about how inadequate and/or awed I feel in the company of all these actually interesting people." 

Though let's face it, what I really want is to be playing Kyoko. Why am I not playing Kyoko. Being stuck playing Blandimoto Blandy-kun when Kyoko was right there was like if I was playing an Agatha Christie game as Hastings instead of Poirot. 

dejadrew: (Default)
 I started reading different tabletop RP games for a variety of reasons. Partly because of the recent news that the Nebula awards are adding a game writing category. Partly because my MMO guild started incorporating roll 20 into some RP events and it was driving me a little nuts and I wanted to see if there were other systems that would work better. 

Now I'm FASCINATED. There are games that look like nothing I expected tabletop RPGs to look like. In particular I've gotten myself obsessed and hyperfixated on Bluebeard's Bride. It's a horror game based on the Bluebeard's Bride fairy tale, and all the players, instead of playing separate individuals, are all playing one character, the Bride, with each player acting as one aspect of the bride's personality. 

The writing is... it's hard to explain this, and I've been mulling over how to articulate it properly, because what the game does is very strange and kind of amazing. 

A lot of games, and other media, are accidentally misogynist. They make unconscious assumptions about what women are, what they can and can't do. 

This is a FEMINIST horror game that is misogynist ON PURPOSE because it is a game about the horrors of misogyny. 

The rules, the descriptions, the playable character types, the way they are written all deliberately echoes sexist messages society sends about the role of women. You cannot simply leave your husband's manor house because the Bride "knows that a wife's place is in the home." The Animus player character has an ability she can use that is literally victim blaming: she can tell another player that the bad things that happened to her are her own fault, and if the other player agrees and accepts the blame that player will be healed, but if she does not then the Animus will take damage because she blames herself for not setting a good enough example. Trying to fight back physically is called "Dirtying Yourself with Violence," and such unladylike activities always come with a cost. 

And ultimately? You can't WIN Bluebeard's Bride. You can't BEAT the game. It's not about that. This is a horror game about being trapped and helpless. The players are, ultimately, ALSO trapped and helpless. The Bride will be punished no matter what she tries to do. The game is about exploring the story and finding out WHICH bad ending you're going to get. 

I imagine this could potentially be an intensely frustrating experience for some players who are used to trying to win, to fight, to beat the dragon and get loot and rewards. The Bride is never going to get gold or a cool sword. She's either going to be a good wife to a bad man or a bad wife to a bad man and both options come with terrible consequences and it sucks. 

I would LOVE to DM this dangit but I don't know nearly enough people who actually play games period, let alone creepy indie horror games with no victory conditions. 

Anybody know any other cool weird games I should be reading up on?
dejadrew: (Default)
 I successfully completed 50,000 words in the month of November! A winner is me! As someone who normally writes short stories, this is at least ten times more words than I have ever written together in a row before, and I am slightly dazed. 

Unfortunately, the actual STORY isn't finished yet, which flummoxes me somewhat. As a writer of short stories, this... isn't exactly the kind of writing problem I'm used to. When you write three thousand word stories or flash fiction, usually the end of the story is way back there somewhere. I assumed I'd have trouble with running OUT of story before I hit 50k, not that I would have a surplus. Just... It's not over? It was supposed to be over! That was the plan! I'd write for fifty thousand words and then I'd have a book! Not a GOOD book, but a book! And now I still don't have a book? When will it be a book? HOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO KEEP DOING THIS BEFORE IT BECOMES A BOOK?

It's like I was running a marathon and crossed the finish line, but someone yelled "Great! Time for SECOND finish line!" 

"Wait, SECOND finish line? No one warned me about second finish line!" 

"It's fine! Just keep going!" 

"Which way? Where's this second finish line? How far away is it?" 

"Eh, over there, someplace, probably. If you keep running you'll probably trip over it eventually." 


"You can do that once you get to second finish line!" 


"Soon! Maybe! Eventually! I dunno, just keep running! You like running!" 


I am confused and frightened at having somehow accidentally unlocked the writing marathon secret special bonus level. Send help. 
dejadrew: (Default)
dejadrew: (Default)
My father is coping with a small issue at his beloved bird feeder.


Dad: "They're eating a whole block of suet a day! Is something wrong? Are they starving?! They never used to eat that much suet!"

Me: "Dad. I'm pretty sure it's just the demographic shift."

Dad: "What do you mean?" 

Me: "Last year, what was the kind of bird you most commonly got?" 

Dad: "Mostly my little chickadee buddies." 

Me: "And what's out there now?"

Dad: "Three whiskey jacks, two magpies, a downy and a hairy woodpecker, and a flock of jays."

Me: "Dad. Every single one of those birds are meat eaters. They crave fleeeesh."

Dad: "... Ohh."


So yeah all the insectivores and meat inclined omnivores are eating dad out of house and home. He's having to cut them off at two blocks of suet a week for budget purposes.

They are exceedingly cranky about it. Some of them turn to the seeds instead, with greater or lesser success. I feel guilty for laughing, but woodpeckers were never made to eat seeds off a flat surface. Watching one "cling" sideways and try to hammer up some seeds as they keep sticking away from its beak. They look so exasperated. THIS TREE IS SIDEWAYS AND THIS FOOD IS MOVING. HORIZONTAL SURFACES ARE STUPID.

We'll see how long Dad holds out. He's a sucker for avian guilt trips.
dejadrew: (Default)
"Please not Atlas Shrugged, PLEASE not Atlas Shrugged, OH THANK GOD."
dejadrew: (Default)
 I am currently trying to figure out how to remember to Do Dishes on a regular basis without 

1. Doing EVERYONE'S dishes all the time every day every time there is a dirty dish and building up seething resentment and feeling of futility as no one seems to notice I am doing all their dishes. 

2. Never doing ANY dishes ever except for furtively smuggling a vast hoard of mugs out of my room a couple of times a month in the dead of night so that no one will know of my Mug Shame.

These are the two strategies which apparently come naturally to me and they are both sub optimal.

Any chance of a house hob or brownie being for hire? I'll happily leave dishes of cream out at the windows, all you can drink.
dejadrew: (Default)
 Ryan North: *makes a joke for the REMARKABLY small niche marke of "webcomics nerds of the emoji generation who are fans of 1970s maritime Canadian folk music"*
Me: *solidly in that remarkably small niche* 
WELP guess Stan Rogers is on permanent constant rotation on my skull's playlist for the next 48 hours minimum. 
dejadrew: (Default)
 We have grouse in the backyard! An entire covey! A mum and eight or so chicks. All dumb as potatoes. They spent a large chunk of Sunday afternoon playing avian Marco Polo after they scattered and couldn't find each other again. 

Mum: "Hoo?"


Mum: "Hoo?" 


These are... remarkably unstealthy birds. I am slightly astonished that nothing has eaten them so far. Still, it's good to have them. We felt much guilt and mourning when a grouse killed itself on a window last winter. 

... Not so much guilt that Dad didn't pluck and gut the recently deceased and bring it in for roasting. It was a very pragmatic funeral. Still, good to know we didn't eat the only one around. 


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