Category Archives: Real Life

Divination and Your World

How many fantasy books start with a Prophecy? I capitalized prophecy, because it is always the prophecy. It’s something about the future that has been divined and set in motion, and will happen. Sure others have been made, but there’s one that is central to the fate of the world. That seems to be the kind we are most familiar with at any rate, unless you played something like D&D or in my case the many D&D based games such as Neverwinter Nights and Icewind Dale, etc… In those games, divination allows us to see some aspect of the near future, or some sort of method to locate things and people based on some connection. These great prophets are usually killed or maybe they survived, but no one took them seriously, or whatever. So what’s my point?

To be honest, I suppose I just wanted to talk about divination to some extent. It’s an interesting plot device to be sure, but in what ways can it be used?

I guess I’ll start by pointing out the Alex Verus novels. (Book 4 is coming out in August and I can’t wait!) In the series, the main character is a magic user, but his only power is over divination. He can see into the future indefinitely, but the problem is that there is no guaranteed future. Thus he has to work everything out based on probability, and which are the more likely futures, and even those can be wrong. Has it been done before? Maybe. I couldn’t say for certain, but I can say that it is a refreshing look at Divination.

Divination – late 14c., from Old French divination (13c.), from Latin divinationem (nominative divinatio) “the power of foreseeing, prediction,” noun of action from past participle stem of divinare, literally “to be inspired by a god” – The Online Etymology Dictonary

In the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, and I would assume the sister series Novels of the Malazan Empire (by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont respectively), there is an interesting form of Tarot in the Dragon Decks. It’s a set of cards, and there’s a specific way to reading the cards. Only a few people are gifted enough to actually read them, and in the first book there are a couple of characters who can. When the Dragon Decks come out, it effectively predicts a chunk of the upcoming story, but it’s always vague, and you have to guess which characters correspond to which cards to figure it all out. Even if you have some idea, it doesn’t mean it’ll go the way you think. Card reading has always been a skill of interpretation after all, as I’ve learned first hand with actual Tarot decks.

The funny thing about divination and especially Tarot decks is how much you have to interpret, especially if you don’t know the person(s) you are reading very well. See, someone close to me is into the witchy crowd (not an I can throw fire at you kind, but a pagan, choose your gods and worship them kind) and has been doing Tarot and getting readings for some time. I’m not a part of that crowd. I used to do Tarot for fun with regular playing cards as a kid, and they convinced me to get a real deck once. Now, as a warning, I’m only as insane as a fantasy writer should be. Personal feelings aside, whatever I type after this, take it as you will.

As a personal experience, it’s interesting when you get into these witchcraft shops. Not because of the odd things for sale, but because there is a different energy there. I ended up sitting there for more than 20 minutes after deciding to buy a deck. You’re supposed to look at them, and choose one that’s right for you, based on the feeling you get from it. It turns out the deck I chose says something about me, because I ended up with a deck that brings a positive outlook to even the worst situations, much like myself. My second deck came as a purchase after three trips back to this store with friends, and picking it up each time before putting it down. I was encouraged to consider the deck, because I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It wasn’t a replacement to the first one, because it had a different feel, as odd as it sounds. Turns out this deck reflects a different part of me. Unlike a traditional deck which has meanings with the cards, and the image often says much, this one was much more the opposite. The meanings behind each card are small phrases, and I’ve found the deck to be a bit of a wise-ass on the occasions I have used it, going so far as having it talk back to me in the cards I pull. Another interesting fact is that neither deck had a reverse meaning, so there’s only one vague light to look at the cards in.

Why would I bring this up? Well, because it’s a step in a good direction. Yeah sure, there are any number of stories with talking implements, or skulls and swords with personalities, however, how many people can say the universe actually has a good sense of humor with inanimate objects? I suppose there isn’t a lesson in here as much as an inspirational takeaway: The universe is weird.

Keep Writing!

~ Underdog


Brushing off the Dust

I’m not dead or anything, just busy. At least that’s what I want to say. Well, I’m not dead, so I suppose there’s that much that I can say. So, dust, brushing, cleaning up, and starting fresh and other such words. Does that mean I’m back? Yes, I do believe it does.

I can’t promise a solid schedule, but I hope to be much more active in the near future. With summer coming close, and one of my jobs taking a 10+ week hiatus, I should have more time to devote to everything, I hope, unless that dream job falls on top of me. Then we’ll see what happens.

Of course, I’ve probably alienated my few followers, so I suppose I’ll need some more. Like the legendary hero who gets separated from his friends, and can only get back to them by making new ones and growing as a person, I will save the world!!! Or I’ll just write about stuff. Your call.

~Writing Underdog

The Boston Marathon Tragedy

I’m sorry to interrupt the sporadic posting with this. I’ve been working on another post off and on for a few days now, stealing time here and there to get to it, however I have to say this.

What happened in Boston yesterday was a tragedy. I’m not sure how I feel about it, it being so surreal. I followed live update threads for hours, watched a few videos, checked articles, and still at the end of the day, it didn’t feel real. I felt disconnected from it, and Boston is sort of my back yard. My girlfriend had a friend near the finish line until 2 hours before the bomb went off. Another friend of my mother’s was a massage therapist for the runners near the finish. Finally, another friend has an EMT in the family who was on the scene. All lived. All are fine.

I can’t say I didn’t have a reaction though. I was actually watching the news when the first reports went on the air, and my first thought was this. Don’t let it be someone from the Middle-East. Now, I’m white. I’ll admit it. Nerdy, awkward and everything that goes with it. My first thoughts weren’t how many people were hurt, what happened, or what’s going to happen. I wanted it to be the random act of a crazy person. I don’t think the United States knows how to handle terrorism, and maybe I’m in the minority on this thought process, but we don’t. We put systems in place like the TSA, and draft laws like the Patriot Act, or the one that lets the President use drones to assassinate people. It’s not a healthy response.

Of the responses I’ve seen so far though, I have to appreciate these the most.

The first is a quote from Mr. Rogers, who says, “In times of tragedy, look for the helpers.” Follow this up with a quote from Patton Oswalt. “When you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye. Think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.'”

So many people rushed to the scene to help out, that it’s comforting to know that the actions of a few are clearly outnumbered by the good, and those willing to help. Instead of hiding in terror, we should seek comfort in the actions of others, and know that we are stronger than anything these people can do to us.

The second reaction that impressed me was the Boston Comic Con, which was scheduled for April 20th and 21st at 900 Boylston St. in Boston. The explosives went off around 600 Boylston, so you can probably guess that it would incite caution. This was the response on their Facebook Page.

“Boston Comic Con is happy to announce that the convention will go on this weekend as scheduled! We hope to stand as an example of the resilience of Bostonians in the wake of this horrific tragedy. The many statements of solidarity we have received from fans and guests alike have been very encouraging. We will be donating a portion of the art auction proceeds to the Red Cross for the Boston Marathon victims relief effort. In light of the heightened security in the city we ask cosplayers to not bring prop weapons this weekend.”

Thirdly, Google got a person finder up within an hour or so, allowing people to give information about people they’ve seen, report in, or for loved ones to search for friends and family.

Finally, we had the good users of Reddit, where I watched the live threads, put up links to a pair of Google docs for displaced people to find places to stay, and one for people to offer places to stay. Some offered rides, and other support as well.

Other great acts was the IRS giving tax filing extensions to people in the Boston area, and many airlines were waiving cancellation and flight change fees in light of the events.

Be proud. American or not we should be proud that as human beings we can rally together so swiftly in the heart of chaos and tragedy, pick up some of the extra weight, and keep going. This was a healthy response, to find it within ourselves to offer support to anyone we can, because no matter our race, country of origin, gender, wealth, or beliefs, at the end of the day we’re all human, and that’s all that should really matter.

A little bit different than a normal Tuesday

So normally, on a Tuesday, I re-blog things that I’ve found interesting over the past week, and leave it at that. I avoid posting anything of my own so it  A) doesn’t get lost among the posts and/or B) take away from the fact that I found them interesting, inspiring, etc…

Instead, I’m doing something a bit different today. I’m linking to two posts, mostly because I stumbled across the connection between them, and found it an interesting, possibly unknowing to one side, exchange of ideas.

The first post was at Kristen Lamb’s Blog, on burning bridges to become a writer.

The responsive post came from on how it was poor advice.

While I tend to favor the response, it’s because I know that I have student loans to repay, no high paying job to build reserve savings, and come from a middle class family who can’t afford to take on my bills if I wanted to write full time. However, I cannot fault the core idea behind burning bridges, and that is to make time, and limit the ways for yourself to make excuses.

Thus, I ask my readers, what your opinions are on these two things? Do you take one side more than the other in your beliefs? Maybe favor one, but need to take the other? I’d like to keep the discussion going.

Ends and Beginnings

Happy new year everyone!

I haven’t forgotten this place, it’s just been a very busy time. I hope to be rejoining the active community soon. 2013 is a new chance to begin again, so let’s not waste it.

This is what I said at the end of December. I’m still a bit busy in my life, dedicating time to trying to find a new job, and write of course, while maintaining the blog is tough work, and so my activity here suffers. Of course in a freak accident, this short post ended up in the drafts, and I hadn’t had time to check in on it. Thanks for your patience everyone!

~ Underdog

On Dreams?

Recently, Musings of a Steampunk wrote a post about getting a Dream Journal. Usually, things like that fly low on my radar of interest. I do dream from time to time, but I never remember them. Even when I do, I tend to pass it off as either weird and just a dream, or as something vague (vague is being polite in this case) that I should just forget. Unfortunately, I have my senses opened up pretty widely these days. A lot of things are requiring my attention, and I’m actively looking for information and ideas for NaNoWriMo.

Thus, it should be no surprise, that for the first time in a while, I’ve had a dream I want to explore. Forget that I already had my NaNo stuff mostly together. Nope. This dream, I can only remember one piece of it, and yet, I want to explore the story some more. Maybe add to it. Resolve it even? But I’m not sure how, or when, or where. If I just take notes, will the image be so clear in a few months when I can get to it? Or should I toss things aside and use NaNo to charge blindly into this?

Odds are it’ll be set aside, but one can wish they had a few clones to do these things.

Starting Fresh and Planning Ahead

For NaNoWriMo, it’s better to start fresh. I’m more than happy to take up the challenge, though I’ve noticed a few inherent flaws with my plan, and that is that they include life. Between work, and a social life, I can’t exactly hermit up. Thanksgiving falls in here as well as a few birthdays and the beginnings of Christmas shopping.

That said, I’ve taken most weekends out of my writing plans. Given life, I can expect there will be some days that I won’t write either. Usually I make it to 7-10k words when I attempt this. Ambition drops off quickly, and forcing this novel becomes a chore. So, with that, I estimate at least 2000-2500 words per day will be needed to finish anything. Do I dare try?

I think I do dare, though I’m off to a bad start with 2 birthdays in the first week. I’d better make sure the plans are solid before charging in head first.

What I need…

So, I’ve been thinking. I’m a bit lazy when it comes to getting things done, especially writing. I like to put it off at times, but that doesn’t help. I’ve thought about using Alpha readers, but I’m always so skeptical about the idea after the last time I had one. (It went really well until we broke up.) So instead, I’ve decided I need an arch-nemesis.

I’m only a little competitive, so a rival won’t do me any good. No, what I need is someone to kick and mock me the entire way so I can get my act together! Then I’ll do something about it and take them down! Then, as they lie broken and defeated, I will laugh at them and walk away dramatically without looking back. We’ll meet again, I’ll tell myself, and next time, I’ll be ready…

At least that’s what I want to believe today…

I should probably get more sleep, and sound proof my walls and door so I can get some work done.

I am not the brightest blogger…

So it’s come to my attention that trackback links have been getting caught in the spam filter and cleared out… As the title states,  I am not the brightest blogger…
I apologize if your re-blogs/trackbacks were deleted. I had no intention of that, and again, I’m sorry.

I am not the brightest blogger…
~ Underdog

Monday Madness: Self Doubt

There was a time when I thought I could post every week day. Now, I’m not so sure. 5 posts a week, time 4.3 weeks in a month? That’s 21.5 posts per month. I don’t even know if I have that much to write about. I feel like I’m stretching for articles, and probably not even entertaining my followers at this point. I will say this. I made it for 1 month. Last Friday, the 24th, I successfully completed one month of posting, but at what cost? Should I just blog when I have an idea? I feel like I’ll let the blog slip away if I do that. Should I spend more time on it? My time’s limited enough as is.

How do you people manage to keep focused on this?

I thought Fiction Highlights might be a good start, but I’m a slow reader with my busy schedule. Re-Blog Tuesdays helped a lot, but that still leaves me with 4 days of posting. I’m very sensitive about my writing (mostly because I think it’s terrible), hence why I haven’t put any up yet.

Any advice for a determined yet mentally exhausted blogger?

Still Writing,

~ Underdog