Writing: Thoughts on magic systems

This is still pretty true for how I tackle magic/systems. I have other characters and other systems. Some of them incredibly detailed. Some of them pretty simple. Overall, I love creating them….

2nd example for today – this year I’ve been building a magic system which is “seeded” by magical creatures (yes, I’m using the trope “when dragons are born they bring magic into the world”) with the twist of specific creatures have 2 attributes.  One side is the magic they add to the world, the other attribute is what they unlock in a mage.

So when dragons are born, they add earth-based magic into the world. When someone with mage-talent touches them they “unlock” a talent for water.  When a mage who already has healing touches a dragon their healing talent is expanded to maximum potential.  If the person’s natural talent is earth, they will now have potential for either healing or water.  But to “unlock” healing they will need to find a phoenix. To access the full-water potential they will need to find a griffon.

Dream by Day

As a fantasy and sci-fi writer and fan, I spend more time thinking about different magic systems than I probably should. In every system I design for my worlds, I like to answer several questions to myself:

  1. Are people equally equipped to access or utilize magic? (example: if the system is based on alchemy than the limiting factor would be the character’s ability to get raw materials)
  2. If there is inequality (mage A is stronger than mage B) what determines their relative strength? Genetics? Luck? Dieties? I get it, my protagonist might be the strongest mage, but why?
  3. Where does magic come from? Is it a limited resource, and how does it reproduce?
  4. Are all mages/magic users good at all types of magic or do they need to specialize in something?
  5. Does magic have rules for how it impacts the natural world? (ie: how does the presence of a…

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Review: Simon Sinek

A friend posted this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MC2X-LRbkE) and I ranted on his Facebook.

I’ve written about Millennials before.  I AM a Millennial.  I struggle with the term because I hate fighting the negative stereotypes.  I HAVE known people who are entitled shits.  But you know who else is an entitled narcissictic shit? Donald. J. Trump.  And he is a baby boomer.

You know who has a history of being selfish? Baby Boomers.  Look at how many bust-boom cycles the economy has been in from ~1980 (the “young” end of Boomers is 1964 which made them 16, so a large majority were at least voting).  Look at the boom-bust cycle since 2000.  Look at Enron.  Look at the recession of 2008.  And the economists say we’re probably about to have another one.  So AT LEAST one per decade!

I know awesome Baby Boomers.  Unlike many of the critics of millennials who love to use sweeping statements about “most” and “all” – I actually recognize that voting in this country has been getting more progressive.  the New York Times has a cool interactive map of electoral college runs. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/23/upshot/50-years-of-electoral-college-maps-how-the-us-turned-red-and-blue.html)  George W. Bush only got 47.87% of the vote and Donald J. Trump only got 46.09% of the popular vote.  That’s a different issue.

To respond to Simon Sinek – here is exactly what I put on my friends’ wall:

I disagree with him. And it started with his FIRST statement. It isn’t “1980 on,” It’s ~1980 to ~1996.(Gallop says 1980, Pew says 1984, Neilsen says 1977 – almost all of them mention 1996 for the range)

1) the only true part was that the person who just got the “participation ribbon” WAS embarrassed. And the students whose parents fought for them to be in honors classes without earning it – they knew that too. There is a diffference for asking for a cost of living raise and “entitled” – the MAJORITY of people I have ever worked with were asking for the former. In almost 10 years I’ve only ever known one person who had their mother call to quit their job.

2) Baby boomers are seeking the same dopamine addiction – they just use alcohol instead of Instagram
“Researchers see a steady rise in alcohol use and binge drinking […] in the 65-plus demographic” (took out a bit about clinical definition) (https://www.chicagotribune.com/…/ct-baby-boomers…) Boomers use a different addiction to deal with stress -but ALSO don’t have the tools.

3) he might be right about SOME of the issues with instant gratification, but it isn’t as simple as the marshmellow test (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/…/new-research…/) – the research is showing inter-sectional issues like race, socioeconomic status growing up, security, etc. has a huge effect. AS WELL – the millennials even given this test did better than the generation before and WORSE than the kids in the early 2000s (https://www.inverse.com/…/48642-personality-traits-that…)

I do agree there is a leadership problem. People who were promoted to initial management in the ’90s and ’00s were promoted because they were good at their tasks – and never taught how to MANAGE others. Now they are moving into senior leadership and they don’t understand why the people under them are frustrated because they were never taught (or told they needed to) connect to their subordinates.

4) He talks about depression like there aren’t a myriad of factors that can increase that risk. During the Great Depression suicide rates jumped from 12.1 out of 100,000 to 15.4 out of 100,000 (the actual year of the crash it was over 18/100,000 but then it went “back down.” There is a STRONG correlation between economic insecurity and increase of suicide “CONCLUSION: Economic recession periods appear to increase overall suicide rates, although further research is warranted in this area, particularly in low income countries.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4473496/) but no, no, no – it can’t possibly be that people who can’t afford to buy houses or get married or AFFORD THEIR OWN CHILDREN get depressed. They just need to be told to BE PATIENT.

Simon Sinek isn’t an idiot – but I wish people wouldn’t listen to him on the psychology of Millennials. He never cites any actual references, just is damn OPINIONS on what he “FEEELS” and he can take those feelings and shove them where the sun don’t shine – ’cause when you shine light on his FEEELINGS they are pretty full of shit.

Miss Manners: Holding Doors in the 21st century

This actually came up recently – a friend was ranting about “chivarly” (in a good way to a feminist) – but clearly this needs to be said many, many more times. It isn’t hard…. I promise.

Dream by Day

Anyone who knows me, knows I have strong opinions about holding doors. A lot of my guy friends complain that the rules are “always changing” on them and I have to say, I don’t entirely agree. There IS a problem that there are people playing by different rules. But within those people – the rules are consistent.  I propose a simplification of “holding the door” and the first thing to be aware of: gender doesn’t matter.

Let me say that again – stop looking at gender as the reason you should (or should not!) hold a door. I think part of the problem has long been that there are too many rules to decide who and when a door should be held. I live by a simple set of rules:

  1. Am I in the way if I hold the door for them?
  2. Am I improving their day by holding the…

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Politics:Ga Amendment 3, Forest Land Conservation and Timberland Properties Amendment (2018)

I had no clue how to vote until I looked up what politicians were saying about this particular amendment.  It was so confusingly written (and honestly, that includes the original language they were editing.  UGH).

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to revise provisions related to the subclassification for tax purposes of and the prescribed methodology for establishing the value of forest land conservation use property and related assistance grants, to provide that assistance grants related to forest land conservation use property may be increased by general law for a five-year period and that up to 5 percent of assistance grants may be deducted and retained by the state revenue commissioner to provide for certain state administrative costs, and to provide for the subclassification of qualified timberland property for ad valorem taxation purposes?

Who Do What???

Then I read what Governor Nathan Deal said, “Georgia’s working forests generate significant economic investment in our local communities due to the contributions of those who replenish and protect our natural resources. This legislation supports our timber growers and lessens the economic burden of producing quality products that sustain numerous industries, from construction to manufacturing.”[4]

I added the underline.  In my experience this is coded language for “helping my rich buddies.”   See when I looked at the actual text – this applies to timer land 200 acres or more.  200 acres.  That’s a LOT of land.  The cheapest plot I could find listed in GA was 1/4 of a million dollars ($225,000) for just over 200 acres.  (ok, there was one listed for $190k but it wasn’t contiguous.  It was broken up across several plots.  ONLY $190k you guys….)

I also read this write-up by UGA (PDF) and it sounds like it’s making it easier for people with timber on their 200+ acres of land to get tax breaks.  Specifically, “They introduce more options for forest landowners in Georgia when it is time to choose which tax incentive program to use and grant more flexibility to landowners to keep their land in forests.”

What really convinced me how I’m going to vote is this analysis in the Calhoun Times, “f it is not necessary for some compelling purpose to give this tax break, it is questionable whether this one type of property should receive a reduced tax valuation as opposed to other types of real property: homes, factories, stores or farm land.”

Thank God for a lawyer making it make sense.  I agree.  I don’t see a compelling reason (or the law makers have done a terrible job of presenting it) for timber owners of 200+ acres get a tax break no one else gets.  IF this is “conservation” they did NOT explain that AT ALL.

In other words, if I don’t understand an amendment my reaction of “fine, i’ll vote AGAINST” was justified (lol).  This is why I try really hard to find information on these things.  I don’t know about y’all but it’s confusing and frustrating, but finding some other sources…. that helps a lot.

Writing: Novel in Progress Part 4

Captain Chou looked at the report.  Out of respect they had annonymized the transmissions in all the ambassadorial suites, but he did notice a significant spike of activity after Talia’s arrival.  It wasn’t surprising, certainly each ambassador was furiously scrambling to write home and ask for instructions.  Probably video and conference calls across the stars.  That would be expensive on the power grid if it continued too long.  He sighed, running a hand through his hair.  He put out a quick message to the crew to minimize unnecessary power usage.  He then followed with a quick ping to the three shift engineer leads to give them a code to let him know if they ever hit 70% usage.  It was still well within safety range and would give them a chance to ration the power more carefully.

Rubbing his eyes, the captain set down the pad and leaned back in his chair.  He felt he could fall asleep sitting up, but also knew that would give him a terrible crink in his neck.  Slowly, he stood and rolled his head reflexively.  Tomorrow was going to be a long day no matter how he considered it.  He just hoped the existence of the Orgalla’s ambassador didn’t spark something dangerous back home.  What would the news be spouting?  Fortunately, only four reporters had been permitted – one for each racial delegate and a military reporter that was always assigned to the Sunburst.  And their videos were NOT allowed to be sent directly to any news media – each race had been instant that all communication from the media crews should be first vetted by governments to maintain any state secrets which needed to be maintained.  Talia was almost certainly a state secret in most if not all governments tonight.

Would it stay that way?  Should it stay that way?  The very thought passing through his mind made the Captain jolt slightly and run his fingers over his beard.  He was clearly too tired to think straight anymore.  He made himself go and lay down on his bed, trying to turn off his brain and let sleep come.

In the morning, when the Captain arrived in the conference room Yewoul  was already there.  The kikatal wore the general sashes tied to its furry form, designed to link together in intricate knots.  The ceremonial garb was extravagent, and despite the human belief that kikatal preferred their “natural” look, the Captain had long ago learned that they had learned to prefer clothing and tended to go “natural” when they were concerned about a potential battle.  Their hair could harden at will into sharp spikes, so it was actually a sign of trust and comfort to wear cloth.

“Good morning,” Captain Chou said.

“Captain,” the ambassador nodded its head.  Chou was fairly certain Yeoul was female, but he wasn’t completely sure.

“Have you had anything to eat yet?” the captain asked politely.

“Yes, I consumed nutrition tablets in my cabin so I could remain focused today on this negotiation.” Yewoul replied.  “I am wondering Captain, what are your thoughts on this Talia Lost?”

Captain Chou considered carefully and then said, “I honestly am not sure ambassador.  We don’t know how the orgalla communicate, we don’t know where they found or made her…”

“So you agree it is possible she was constructed?”

“But then why human?” the captain retorted, “we aren’t even the most populous species, I know the dewallo outnumber humans at least 2 to 1.  If she was constructed, why human?”

“So you believe they found her and stole her?”

“How?  And why her of all humans?”

“You speak truly Captain,” the ambassador settled into its chair with a heavy human-like sigh.  “We just don’t know.  My government wants me to ask the humans to press this issue – could you as a representative of the military demand some kind of answer?”

“I have been given orders to remain as neutral as possible.  It would have to come from Ambassador Westmire,” Captain Chou kept his voice neutral as he said it, but he saw that Yewoul understood – Paul Westmire was the worse choice for such a demand.  He would bluster and make more of a mess than now.  Ambassador Irvine was a better choice, but Captain Chou couldn’t say that outright.

Ambassadors Risyk of the dewallo and Irvine of non-earth Alliance arrived together, followed by the dewallo Deneph and the kikatal Etcorm.  Talia Lost and her silent guardian arrived shortly afterwards.  She looked around the room silently and hesitated.  Captain Chou quickly approached and said, “Welcome Ambassador Lost.  Is that how you wish to be addressed?”

“Princess Talia actually,” she replied.  “My adopted mother is heir to the… throne is the closest human equivalent.”

There were exchanged glances and Captain Chou said, “Forgive me Princess Talia.  Have you had breakfast?  We have some refreshments over here and the seats for you and your companion are right here.”

Captain Chou showed her the assortment of breakfast finger-foods, coffee, and the seats for the orgalla ambassadorial team.  She selected two morsels and moved to her chair.  She still wore the military-style outfit and her hair in a braid.  Paul Westmire arrived with the press, talking to the reports from the Sunburst and Earth alliance.  When he saw everyone already there he made a production of getting coffee and talking to Talia Lost before he finally moved to his seat, ignoring the frowns from the other ambassadors.

Review: The 10th Kingdom

I was JUST talking about this with someone…. telling them they should watch/read/either this one!

Dream by Day

Mini Series poster

This is one of my favorite books and mini-series. The show isn’t exactly like the book, but it does a very close job of it. I probably watch this once a year (maybe every 10 months) and I’ve read the book an average of every 16 months since the first time I read it. If you haven’t read this book – you need to. Not you should. You need to. You’ll never see fairy tales the same way, and it is beautiful for it.

Synopsis: I’m not going to take anything from anywhere, so I hope I do it justice: Virginia is your average young waitress living with her father and struggling to keep it all together. Until the day that Prince Wendell, the grandson of Sleeping Beauty and cursed by his wicked stepmother into the body of a dog, crashes in Virginia on her way to work…

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Writing: The Beginning

I’m trying to decide if I should do Camp NaNoWriMo in July…. I don’t know but I kinda want to face that blank page right now. It sounds kind of wonderful.

Dream by Day

As November and NaNoWriMo creeps closer I am excited and terrified. There is nothing like the beginning of a novel. Or a short story. Or a poem. Or a relationship. To me, often writing a novel is like a relationship. Sometimes I get into it knowing where I want to end up. Sometimes I think it’s just going to be a fun romp and we’ll see if it goes someplace real or fizzles out. Sometimes I go in thinking I know where it’s going and it ends up fizzling out. Sometimes I end up taking an unexpected left-turn or three and before I know it I’m looking at something entirely different and something so much better than I ever expected.

That is why the beginning might be my favorite part of a novel. That first one-thousand words which set everything else up. Many of my novels get written and re-written…

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