Quick Round of Words check-in:

Been blogging daily, but unhappy with it in general, not putting enough effort into my content again. May be time to throttle back from daily and move back into three quality posts a week, which should be easy since I’m used to doing SOME work every day!

I have done no writing, and little reading, putting most of that effort into my school work, with projects coming due in the coming weeks, this is my normal time to drop a few balls.

Tonight, though, I got to hang out with the guys from Unpub and play a new game currently on kickstarter. It’s a lot of fun, and there will be a video up in the next day or two right here (And a lot of other places) where you can check it out. I managed third place by a single play, which had it gone my way, would have been first place for me!

The Wow Factor: What Video Games Taught Me About Writing

Today we have a post from a fellow WANA, Rabia Gale:

I was a late-comer to video games. I somehow made it to college without ever having heard of Zelda or Final Fantasy (crazy, huh?).

The Legend of Zelda LinkThen I met my now-husband, who introduced me to Hellfire, the Sierra extension of Diablo.

I was hooked. My first time playing was an eight-hour stretch. Since then I’ve put in many hours into video games, and even more time back-seat driving advising cheering on my husband as he played.

As a writer, my biggest takeaway from gaming is simple: Wow your readers.

How to do that? Read on…


My all-time favorite story-driven RPG is Skies of Arcadia. The continents and islands of this world float in the air. You can travel Arcadia vertically as well as horizontally, from orbital habitats down to the deep sky. And you get to do it all on airships—which, of course, can make anything cool.

Mirror's Edge Concept Art

Mirror’s Edge

A very different (and urban) world is that of Mirror’s Edge, where you take to the rooftops. You slide down ropes, climb ladders, and leap from building to building, often while dodging bullets.

Give readers an unusual, immersive setting. Let your characters loose all over it.


So, you have your world. Now to send your characters off on their adventures! But how to prod them onward into all the pain and misery you’ve planned for them?

Well, for one you can take them away from everyone they love and everywhere they know, which is what happens to Sora in Kingdom Hearts and Tidus in Final Fantasy X.

Kingdom Hearts Sora Key Blade Square Disney

Sora from Kingdom Hearts

Or you could set them up for betrayal and failure, as in the takeover of Dalmasca at the beginning of Final Fantasy XII or the unwinnable battle in Skies of Arcadia.

You do whatever it takes to beat them down, so that they can be stronger for it.


Old and new happily mix in many video games. Traditional culture blends with modern technology. Swordsmen fight alongside sharpshooters. You can ride a chocobo or pilot an airship. Spirituality melds with science fiction.

Games blew open the doors between traditional medieval-based fantasy and futuristic technology-driven science fiction for me. Now I combine the two in my writing.


Remember how much work you put into those repetitive side quests in order to get the awesome weapon or the super-cool move? But the time you spent was worth it, because the first time you saw all those damage points, you went, “Wow.”

Diablo II Amazon Archery Dungeon

Amazon from Diablo II

Too often, I’ve read books with great openings that fell flat into ‘meh’ by the end. You don’t want that to be your reader’s last impression of your book. Work for that spectacular payoff. Throw setback after setback at your protagonist. Raise the stakes. Twist your reader’s expectations. Dig deep into your characters’ souls and make them give you everything they’ve got.

And do all of that in such an awesome, mind-blowing way that getting the final summon in Final Fantasy or the Buriza-Do Kyanon for your Amazon in Diablo 2 pales in comparison.

About Rabia: I break fairy tales and fuse fantasy and science fiction. I love to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and now live in Northern Virginia. Check out my fantasy novella, Rainbird, or visit me online at


About Rainbird:

She’s a halfbreed in hiding.

Rainbird never belonged. To one race, she’s chattel. To the other, she’s an abomination that should never have existed.

She lives on the sunway.

High above the ground, Rainbird is safe, as long as she does her job, keeps her head down, and never ever draws attention to herself.

But one act of sabotage is about to change everything.

For Rainbird. And for her world.

Rainbird is a fantasy novella of about 31,000 words.

Now available at Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords


We Need Post Election Politics

There’s still people arguing about politics online. Lots of anger. Lots of ideas.

Politics Philosophy Authoritarian Libertarian Right Left Hitler Thatcher Gandhi Stalin Friedman

Taken From Political Compass. Click Image to check out their political stance analysis!

You know what: That’s great!

Yeah, the anger is still there, but it’s going to be there for a while. This was an emotionally charged election season, and we’re still knee deep in a recession. Which is exactly why people need to stay engaged.

We should pull politics out of the closet and make open and frank discussion the norm, instead of the exception. Especially now, where we have a lot of work to do as a global community, and only a handful of voices with enough clout to shift things. (I’m looking at you, Wall Street, Germany, and Sweden.)

Let’s get as many voices spreading as much quality information as we can. Those who have been through college remember sourcing papers: start sourcing your online discussions. Support real research. Let’s make tomorrow a little bit better than today through simple education.

I’ve said it a few times this week, but the nerdfighter motto and goal both apply very well here:

Don't Forget To Be Awesome Nerdfighter FlagDecrease worldsuck. Don’t forget to be awesome.

Car Trouble and ROW80

I’m having a swell couple of weeks, I’m telling you! Today, my radiator gave up the ghost. Car still runs, but the radiator is still leaking, so that needs to be solved this weekend!

All these little emergencies are really cutting into my creative time.

In college, I’m up to date, group project in System Analysis and Design is started, I have four quizzes due in Linux next Wednesday, and another lab/test for MySQL.

Writing, I’ve done nothing! Dead computer and catching up on school work took priority. I own that failure.

Blogging, I missed Sunday because I was tired of trying to produce on my iPad. Personal preference, and I could have delivered, but it would have likely been boring.

Reading, I’ve started Infinite Jest. Not sure what I think so far.


Voting Day

Sorry non-US readers, but this has been the focus of my day.

So, I voted, yay, did my duty, but I want to talk about an unfortunate reality I face.

I’m an independent voter. Seriously, my ballots have the dots all across the board. (Delaware uses these cool light up boards. It’s neat.)

In this election, though, my preferred candidate was a third party. I really would like my preferred candidate to win, but unfortunately I know the history of third party voting in my local electorate. So I voted for the major party I preferred.

My response, of course, was to vote third party for both Congressional seats. Here’s hoping one of them wins. (Even if it’s a pretty low shot!)

And if you’re American, you’re reading this, and you haven’t voted: Do so. Write in Darth Vader if you don’t want to vote for someone on the ballot. Just vote for someone!

DFTBA, and on this one special occasion: DFTVA!

RIP Laptop Keyboard

The good news: the laptop works.

The bad news: the laptop keyboard is shot.

What does that mean? For the next few days, I’m blogging from the iPad. I’m still not sure how to make it do all the things I need it to do, so my posts will be mostly text only. It also means I can’t do any school work except read. Which reminds me, I need to email or talk to my database instructor.

At least I can still read!

Don’t forget to be awesome, folks!

Review: Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother

I read Little Brother because a friend of mine suggested Doctorow time and again. I picked it up off of his website, since he has it released under Creative Commons.

In it, Marcus Yallow is a tech geek who plays an ARG with his friends. One day, while hunting down a clue in the ARG with his friends, his world is changed by terrorist attack in his home town. His friend end up arrested and imprisoned by the Department of Homeland security for days. When he finally gets out, Marcus decides to take his city back.

I have mixed thoughts in this, Marcus is a guy a lot like me, so I identified with a lot of what he wanted done. He’s a very interesting character with a very wide knowledge base. The plot is tight, and has a lot of interesting little conflicts around the concepts of freedom and responsibility. Don’t want to spoil too much, but there are a number of arguments between people who have the same outlook on the ethics of the situation, but very different feelings about how to handle them.

One thing Doctorow did in this book that didn’t bother me in this case, but is something I call out in others, is really showing off his research. There are multiple paragraph explanations of the technology at use, which is cool to someone like me who finds gadgets interesting inherently, but if that isn’t you, I can see it boring you.

Other than that, this novel was pretty timely when it was written, and still has a lot to say about our culture right now. I liked it, but it had its faults. Definitely worth reading, though!

Have you read Little Brother? Tell us your thoughts below!

Quick Update

My computer is currently in an H20 detox (spilled a glass on it, it’s covered in rice, and getting some time to dry.) I may or may not be able to blog in the next few days. I’ll probably be on Twitter via my iPad, but I’m not great at assembling full articles on the system.

See everyone when I have a computer again!