Friday, January 19, 2018

Episode VII: The Cringe Awakens /// Humble Beginnings, Part 7

It's the most wonderful time of the month! Yes, it is time for another dose of Humble Beginnings humor. You know the drill by now, I'm sure, so let's dive right into the thick of it. Lemme just put my sarcastic cap on, and brace yourself for the cringe, because I'm sure we're in for a doozy today.

source

The rookie trio, besides training, had done many different chores, such as mucking stalls, polishing weapons, and the like.

Best sentence ever. Give it up for the guy who came up with this stunning prose! (If it's this bad already . . . we are in for a doozy.)

"Why were you spying on me at the archery grounds the other day?"
Xander reddened. "Well, I was--"
"Seeing if Michelle and I had something going?"
Now Xander's face was radiating. "Um, maybe," he replied.

How juvenile. Is Xander an adult solider, or is he a teen trapped in a man's body, like every other character in this story? Well, not every character, but you know what I mean. There was literally no reason for him and Nathan to snoop on Marchelle, except for comedic purposes.

The three soldiers started to chortle. "You look like a tomato," Warren joked. 
"Hi, Bob," David added.

Uh, why is David referencing VeggieTales, especially in a story where people's hearts are stepped on and grown-ups act like children and girls giggle and daintily pick flowers? EXPLAIN ALL THAT, PLEASE.

"What made you such an expert on love?" Mark retorted. 
"I'm just a chick magnet, that's all," Warren said. "Check out these muscular arms and the dashing face."
"More like the flabby limbs and a face that could give a female nightmares for years," commented David.
"Really? You wanna go, punk? You wanna see these flabby arms in action?" Warren snarled.
There was a brief moment of stillness. Then all four howled crazily with laughter. Mark slipped off his seat, adding to the mirth.

Oh, we're back to this, are we? Rarely, and I do mean rarely, does everyone laugh at the same joke in real life. This isn't just cringey; it's also illogical!

"Hey," a voice called. Nathan set foot in the room. "This is supposed to be a classroom, not a circus. You're acting like a bunch of giddy schoolgirls."

Yeah, you guys didn't know this because I didn't include it, but they are sitting in a classroom because they're supposed to learn stuff, but instead they're just joking around. Nathan does indeed have some good points.

"Then being a schoolgirl sure is fun," Mark barely managed to say.

Aaaaand Mark officially took it into the Weird Zone.

They started with history. Apparently, since the Flood, people have randomly went through the portal to end up in Adiryulle. They developed homes and were saved by Revier. Some abandoned the faith and were called rebels.

Eesh. This faith stuff is cringey even for me, a Christian. That's definitely not a good sign.

Then there was science. As the world modernized, the "Eradorians" found ways to also have some of these comforts. They had a group of people, who were blessed by the ability to see the portal, bring supplies such as lightbulbs to this world. Also, special plants from a continent called Nirackels had interesting properties that were put to use.

Blessed "with," not blessed "by." English, man, English! I'm also incredibly bored by these classes thus far. It's just an excuse to info dump instead of weaving the necessary facts in naturally.

Geography was next. They learned about the six Erador continents: Kalansif, the mountainous region; Nirackels, a lush jungle; Ghrumet, a scorching desert; Zracs, the icy land; Darava, a volcanic area; and Adiryulle, the forest vicinity.

Nintendo world, much?

Finally, language was up at bat. Xander showed them Toreth and how to read it. That took some time, but with practice, they would be able to interpret it with ease.

These were amazing classes and all, but--actually, scratch that. They weren't amazing in the slightest. How long were they sitting there? I would've forgotten all the history stuff by the time I got to the languages. I suppose it's an info dump for them too. And I guess they'll learn Toreth just as easily as they learned swordplay, huh?

Ghrumet: a place that spoke of nothing but despair. Ferocious tornadoes of sand swept over the dunes that stretched for miles. Moaning and screaming of wild beasts sounded shrilly across the land. Dry skeletons lay half buried under the weight of many grains.

Not a half-bad description, if I say so myself. Except for the "many grains" part. That feels a little clunky, and unnecessarily so.

In a darkened room, a massive being dozed, drinking the shadows with delight. He sensed an approaching presence and opened eyes that were completely flooded with orange. The only exception was his pupils that resembled narrow black ovals standing upright. He was the spirit. He was Leviathan.

So far, this new chapter has had the weirdest POV ever. Actually, this whole story has done a lot of head-jumping, so this random floating POV isn't really all that new. And even if we are now in Leviathan's head, why would he acknowledge both his eyes and the fact that he's the spirit? I don't know about you guys, but I don't randomly think to myself, I am a male human. I am Josiah.

A knock sounded on the doors. "Sir," a voice said. It was one of the sentries, who seemed to store some desert sand in his lungs. "He has arrived."

Again, a pretty decent description, rather than outright saying that the sentry's voice is scratchy or rough or raspy or whatever.

A moment late, the traitor walked in, boots squeaking on the tile floor. He wore grim armor and a hooded cloak. His face was skinny with a slight moustache and hair pulled back into a low ponytail.
"Ah, Alex," greeted Leviathan. "What news do you bring?"

Of course. What an amazing plot twist. You remember Alex from way back at the beginning of the story, right? The crazy "secular" character? It makes sense for him to be the traitor, doesn't it? Because logic, right? Well, I think that train of thought should've been derailed a long time ago. There isn't even any build-up to this, aside from a brief mention of there being a traitor! This reveal feels very ill-planned.

Also, if Leviathan has met Alex before, there is no need to go over his physical description again, not unless something's changed since the last time they met. So this is an unnatural insertion of Alex's appearance.

"I have found out who they are," Alex affirmed.
Leviathan furrowed his brow. "Don't speak in riddles, human. Who who are?"
"The Chosen Ones."

I'm starting to think Leviathan is actually a bit of a dumb villain. Would he not have assigned Alex to the task of discovering the identity of the Chosen Ones? Is he really that forgetful? Maybe I should've made him an elephant instead of a dragon, because an elephant never forgets. And they can be pretty ferocious. And there's no way this story could get any more cringey than it already is . . . right?

"And they are?"
Alex checked the room and leaned a respectful distance toward the general, who tilted an ear toward him. He whispered the answer.

How convenient that we are now out anyone's POV so that we don't hear the answer. It's probably--no, it is extremely obvious that Mark, David, and Warren are the Chosen Ones. But are these names really going to mean anything to Leviathan? If he's smart, he'll put two and two together and figure out that they're the three soldiers who went through the portal, according to Tarquin's earlier report. But honestly, at this point, they'll just be three random names to Leviathan, which I don't think I like.

"Hmmm," Leviathan said. "You found this out yourself?"
"No, I have an informant." 
"Can they be trusted to keep this secret?"
Alex scoffed. "Ian wouldn't dare think of it, lest he wants to die."

Remember Ian? The guy who had one brief scene not long ago? The guard who's stationed by the room where the translators are working on the tablet? Yeah, that dude. Also no build-up, so no real surprise. *shakes my head* How was my writing this terrible?!

A claw whipped across the traitor's face. He let out a yelp and jumped back, holding a hand over the wound. Leviathan snarled, "Do not ever talk like that to me again, fool. I am not one to be toyed with."
"Of course not, general," Alex whimpered. "Forgive me of my stupidity."
Leviathan's throat rumbled. "Do you think I am the merciful type, one that easily forgives and forgets? Do you think my heart is soft, willing to pardon? Do you think I'm still HUMAN?!" roared Leviathan. "I could burn you where you stand if I desired to."
"No, no, I didn't say I fancied that. Please, let me make it up to you," Alex pleaded desperately.

What can we learn from this wonderful *cough cough* exchange? Leviathan has anger management issues, because I don't think what Alex said should really have ticked him off so bad, and Alex is a sniveling coward, which I think is contrary to what a soldier should be.

"You had better," the dragon said, nostrils flaring. "Now, can this Ian translate Toreth expertly?"
"Yes, very well indeed."
"Wonderful. I will amass an army, and they shall sail to the rebel side of Adiryulle. Your people better let them in." Leviathan barred his teeth. "Or else."

You're putting your trust in one man to convince all of the rebels that they should let the enemy in their side of the continent? This seems very unlikely. Yes, the rebels turned Revier over to Lurkum way-back-when, but that doesn't they're all evil now. Also, you're believing that a guy you've never met can translate Toreth well enough to merit you sending an army right into the homeland of your foes? My opinion of Leviathan as a villain is dropping dramatically. Plus, he used the ambiguous "or else" threat, so he loses credit just because of that.

 "Your wish is my command, general." Alex bowed and turned to leave.
"One more thing. Is my castle ready?"
"It is, sir. Construction finished yesterday, and those faithful to, uh, Him," Alex made sure he didn't say His name, "do not suspect a thing."

Right, because randomly building a castle (probably a second one that has a menacing appearance to boot) isn't suspicious at all. Who's making it, anyway? The rebels? Is there a faction of rebels of serve Lurkum, and the rest are just not interested in either side? WHY IS THIS SO CONFUSING? WHERE IS THE LOGIC? DID THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD ME REPLACE IT WITH CRINGE? WHY AM I STILL USING CAPS LOCK?

Leviathan nodded. "Dismissed."
Alex swiftly abandoned the dark lair and touched his new scar. Someday, when that old idiot dragon wasn't expecting it, Alex would kill him. 
And he would show who is boss.

Oh, so now Alex wants to dispose of his general? I hear that doesn't always work too well, especially when said general breathes fire. Alex also has some magical healing abilities, because what should still be a fresh wound is now a scar. And that last sentence feels awkward, due to some odd wording. What a splendid way to end off the chapter!

Now, I know this isn't as long as some of my other Humble Beginnings posts, but the next chapter has a proper battle scene in it, so I feel there's going to be a lot to make fun of in there. I hope that's okay!

Thank you all for reading! What're your thoughts on my oh-so-great plot twists and these villains who definitely aren't one-dimensional in the slightest bit? What would you do if your classes were likes the one the heroes attended? And also, should I make one of these posts as a vlog, where I read a whole chapter or two (depending how long they are) and insert my commentary along the way? 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Music Monday #15

I don't know about you, but I think it's time for some more music!


And what fits the weather better than a wintery song?

"Snowball Park" from Super Mario 3D World
Composed by Nintendo


Up here where I live, the bitter cold has sunk its teeth in again. Things were starting to warm up for a little bit, then we got another cold snap. But while the weather may sometimes be frightful, festive music is always delightful!

Should you happen to have a Wii U, and you haven't played this game yet, I suggest that you go ahead and buy it. It's like the spiritual successor to the Super Mario Galaxy games while paying homage to the Super Mario Bros. series. So it's a pretty perfect combo.

I love snowy levels in Nintendo games, and Snowball Park was no exception. There was falling snow, northern lights . . . I mean, you can even skate around on an ice rink with Goombas! Who doesn't want to do that?

source

Honestly, if we could stand in one giant skate in real life, I think I would enjoy skating a whole lot more.

And what's there not to love about this level's tunes? The music is just so cheerful and carefree! I love the strings and the bells and everything else. Doesn't it make you want to go on a romp outside in the snow like you did when you were a kid? Well, it does that for me, anyway. There's something about its whimsical nature that really appeals to me. Even though there are enemies and dangerous cliffs in the level, the music just puts you at ease and creates a fantastic atmosphere. I love it!

I hope you guys enjoyed the track! What do you think of the length of these posts? Should they be longer, or stay the same? Remember, you have one week left to vote in the first round of the Music Monday 2017 Awards!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

#KnowJoe Q&A, Part 1

It's time. Back in the beginning of December, I decided you guys should get to know me better. So I challenged you to ask me whatever you wanted.

Well, 54 questions later, I've been asked random (as well as not-so-random) things about me. If you paid attention to the title, you noticed this was part 1. Because of the huge number of questions and me wanting to answer them all, I decided to divide it up into two parts. But enough chitchat! I suggest we stop wasting time and get this show on the road!

Yes, believe it or not, that's me under that mask.

1. How many years did it take for you to love writing?

I only started liking it when I was about 12 or so--you know, when I began that awful story I'm mocking in my Humble Beginnings post. Even though I poke fun at my old writing, it's important because it helped me on my journey in becoming a writer.

Before that? You couldn't pay me to enjoy writing. Okay, it wasn't that bad, but my mom would probably tell you I grumbled whenever I had a writing project in school. At least, that's how I started off. Now that I think about it, there was an in-between stage where I kinda liked it, but I only started loving it when I wrote the first Portal Chronicles story.

2. When did you first start playing video games?

Dang . . . it feels like a long time ago! I can't remember the exact date, but one of my first real games was Webkinz World. Anyone remember that?

How creative! A frog named Hopper! 8-year-old me was clearly already on the path to becoming a successful writer.

I eventually played other games, such as Club Penguin.

This was one of my favorite MMOGs ever!

I also played some PS2 games at my friend's place, until his neighbors gave another one to him and he passed it on to me. He also gave me his Game Boy Advance SP, which sparked my love for Nintendo games with this nostalgic title:

source; I can hear the overworld theme already . . .

3. If you could have any writing-related superpower (real or imagined), what would it be? (Or, if you had a superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it to help your writing?)

I'd want to have the power of speed. Wanna know why?

source; I try to quote this, but my Irish accent isn't on point.

I'd love to be able to run fast and be super cool like the Flash, but I'd use to type my stories really quickly. Of course, there is the possibility of going through multiple keyboards, but in the end, my stories would get written a lot swifter . . . maybe.

4. In Legend of Zelda, who do you like like more the most: Zelda, Hilda, Malon, or Saria?

Your boy is good at making collages of attractive girls! Wait, does that sound weird?

Hmm . . . what a deep, thought-provoking question. I think I like like Zelda the most--particularly because she's cute and British in Breath of the Wild. Perfect combination, am I right? She's probably my video game bae or something.

My second choice would Saria, provided she left Kokiri Forest along enough for her to grow up and not be a child anymore because . . . well, because reasons. If that couldn't happen, I'd pick Malon. (That artwork of her is actually pretty ador--um, amazing. I was going to say amazing.)

Sorry, I'm just not into Hilda that much. She seems like a very, shall we say, focused person. Not that it's a bad thing, but I don't think she's happy a lot of the time. Then again, I've only seen her in dire circumstances, so I can't really blame the girl.

5. Name one lyrical and one instrumental song that describe your mood today.

"Motivated" by NF and "Jump!" by Two Steps From Hell.

6. Why are you writing? Like, what makes you keep writing even when you feel like quitting?

I'd say it boils down to a couple of things. One of my top reasons is that I believe God has gifted me with the ability to imagine and pen stories. It's a shame to waste what He's given, so I keep at it, even when I don't always feel like it.

There's also a joy to brainstorming and creating characters and struggling with the issues and themes of the stories. It's a joy that keeps me hooked to the craft.

Lastly, when I get feedback from other, be it encouragement or constructive criticism, it feels good. I never want to take for granted that people are willing to spend precious time reading what I've written. It makes me want to keep doing it, as thanks to them.

7. Best book title you ever saw?

One of the best I've seen is A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It's one of the most imaginative and original fantasies I've ever read, and I read a lot of fantasy.

8. Which character, out of all the ones you've created, is your favorite?

Do you also ask parents which child is their favorite? It is not a choice that can be made! I love ALL of my characters, from heroes to villains to everyone in the middle.

*sighs* But if I'm really forced to choose, it's a tie between Kayne from The Tournament of Convicts and Selah from Digital Pulse. Kayne is someone I very closely identify with. His struggles are mine, albeit exaggerated somewhat. I just get him. I also love his character arc in the story, even if it hurts my heart at times.

Selah--a personal assistant program--actually comes really close, though, and she only appeared when I did my Beautiful Books post back in November. So why do I like her so much? Because she's really different from anyone of my other brainchildren. She's very chipper and amusing much of the time; one of her quirks that I particularly enjoyed was her love of anime and references to it. But she's also very self-aware: she knows that she's programmed and that none of her emotions are real. It makes a very unique and interesting character to write.

9. What is your favorite video game of all time? (That was probably an evil question to ask. *cackles*)

Yes. Yes, it was. I'm very glad you realize this. BECAUSE HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO PICK JUST ONE?!

I'm going to list three of my top favorite games, because I cannot for the life of me narrow it down to one. I'll say The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. These are many others on the list, but because Christine tried to make me pick one (*glares*), I'm doing the best I can.

10. If you could live in any video game world, which one would you pick?

Hyrule, hands-down. It's a fantasy world, so it's the obvious choice, right?

source; yes, it's post-apocalyptic in Breath of the Wild, but who cares? It's gorgeous!

Second choices would be either the Underground from Undertale or Dream Land in the Kirby franchise. But nothing can top Hyrule for me.

11. What is your Meyers-Briggs personality? (HA! I FOUND A WAY TO MAKE YOU TAKE THE TEST!!!)

*blinks* . . . Yes, Tracey, you did. (Forget about learning stuff about me; we're learning about my oldest sister today!)

So I took the test, and it turns out my Myers-Briggs personality is . . . *dramatic drumroll*

ENFJ-A! For those of you who don't know what that means, it stands for Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging, and Assertive. That means I have what is called the Protagonist personality. While obviously not perfect, it describes me with great accuracy much of the time. Thanks, Tracey, for helping me understand myself just a little better today.

12. If you could describe your life in 5 words, what would they be?

Awesmazing. Satisfying. Fulfilling. Stretching. Epic. (I really had no idea what else to say.)

13. Have you seen HTTYD? If you have, who is your favorite character and dragon?

Obviously it's Hiccup and Toothless. Who else is there to pick? Besides Astrid, that is. But in my mind, the two main protagonists are the best.

14. What is your favorite color?

Green, like the outdoors after a nice rain!

source; take me to this place, please!

15. If you could have been cast as any character in any movie, who would you choose to be?

Well, I know you said movie, but I would love to be a villain in the LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu TV show. And I wouldn't want to be one from a previous season, because they've all been cast perfectly. I would want to be in a future season. It'd be so much fun to voice act a bad guy!

Or if a Legend of Zelda film was ever made, I'd so be on board for that.

16. What one object would you want to take into the Maze (from The Maze Runner)?

Jetpack, hands-down. Then all I gotta do is fly up out of that sucker and be free. Or maybe a particle accelerator, so that we can all become metahumans! Unless people would use their powers for evil purposes. That probably wouldn't end well. Or perhaps a portal gun from the Portal games . . . provided it could help me escape. One of those three will do quite nicely!

17. Top three movie fandoms?

Marvel, The Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. BOOM! *drops mic*

18. What's your favorite season?

You know, it used to be winter. And while I still like winter--particularly things like Christmas and my birthday and sledding and taking walks during a snowfall--I actually have decided recently it's not my favorite. It'd be a toss-up between spring and fall, because I prefer weather that's not too hot and not too cold. It's the perfect time to go for walks, especially when it's raining. All in all, they're pretty good seasons!

19. How many full-length books have you written?

Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha! HA HA HA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

ONE.

The Attack on Gotham, a superhero fanfiction that throws Marvel and DC characters together. I've been working on a novel-sized project since 2013, and I have a few novel projects in the works at various stages. But most of my stories are either novellas or unfinished. Tee hee . . . what a great author I am.

20. What is your least favorite color?

I just looked up "disgusting colors" on Google Images, and . . . I cannot unsee what I've seen. Y'know that pukey shade of green? Yeah, I hate that. Moving on!

21. What's your ultimate dream job?

In case you haven't guessed already, being a full-time author would be fabulous. I'd love to have that as my job, because . . . well, because I love writing! When a job can be something that you enjoy doing and that you're good at it, it's a dream job. It'd also be fun to work with kids or voice act on the side.

22. Which character of The Flash do you relate to the most?

I've never thought about this before. I'd have to say either Barry, Wally, or Cisco, but I'm not sure exactly who is my top choice. Probably Barry, but maybe that's because he's the main character. *shrugs* And if you haven't seen this show, you haven't lived yet. Seriously. I can't recommend it enough. I went into it fairly blindly and do not regret it.

23. Top three book fandoms?

Brandon Mull's Beyonders Trilogy, John Flanagan's books (like Ranger's Apprentice and Brotherband Chronicles), and all of Andrew Klavan's teen series. BOOM! *picks up mic, then drops it again*

24. If you had to live in a made-up world, which one would it be and why?

I'd choose the Message Boards Island from my story An Old Face, a New Game. It's an island with a friendly community, with lots of nature to explore and a quaint city to live in. It'd be one of those places you create that you wish actually existed so you could live there for the rest of your days. Please, someone make this happen!

25. If you could time travel and change one historical event for good, what would you do?

I would save Abraham Lincoln from being assassinated. I feel like the Reconstruction would've gone a lot better if he had still been president at the time. The butterfly effects on that would probably be huge, but I'd be curious to see where the US would be now.

source; in my opinion, this man was one of the best presidents in history.

26. Do people ever mispronounce any part of your name?

Yes, and quite frequently. I've been called Joshua multiple times, because people probably just read the first three letters and make an assumption. One of my college teachers pronounced my name as Jeziah for the whole year, and I didn't have the heart to correct him. I feel like someone has even called me Jehoshaphat or Jonathan or something. It's pretty crazy. But at least I'm named after a good, young king in the Bible! That's a plus, right?

27. What's your favorite instrument?

Hmm . . . I can't decide between piano or cello. But one of the two! I'm a huge sucker for strings and keys in music. You can tell that if you've listened to any of my playlists or a lot of songs that I love.


And that concludes part 1 of the #KnowJoe Q&A. Part 2 will come in a couple of weeks. Thanks for all the interesting questions; I hope you've enjoyed my answers! (And I hope I don't regret any of them in the future . . .)

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Music Monday 2017 Awards - Round 1

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first ever Music Monday 2017 Awards!


The Awards shall be taking place over the next several weeks, in which the top song of 2017 shall be decided through a few rounds of voting. Each round will be open for two weeks at a time. Any vote after said weeks shall be considered null and void.

In the first round, we will be voting to see which song is the best of each month. You may compare the tracks and vote on what you enjoy the most. Without further ado, let's begin!

July

"Imagine the Fire" from The Dark Knight Rises


versus "Ice of Phoenix" by Audiomachine


versus "First Steps Into Sunken Glades" from Ori and the Blind Forest


August

"If You Love These People" from Man of Steel


versus "Hanzo vs Genji" by J.T. Machinima


September

"In the Beginning" from The Bible


versus "Impossible (feat. Merethe Soltvedt)" by Two Steps From Hell


October

"So Far Away" by Gabriel Brown and Michelle Creber


versus "Eclipse (Extended Mix)" by MDK


November

"Cradle" from Spiral Knights


versus "A Closer Understanding of the Past" from Ori and the Blind Forest


December

"The Avengers" from The Avengers


versus "Carol of the Bells" remixed by The Living Tombstone


Now it is your turn! Choose a favorite for each month and vote in a comment! . . . Or multiple comments, if you so desire. Remember, the last day of voting is Sunday, January 21st. Once it is the 22nd, the votes will be counted.

Please, if you find it in you to do so, share this with your friends so that we can get as many votes as possible. And in case you're wondering, I will also be voting. If you have any objections to this, feel free to express them.

I look forward to seeing how this turns out. Enjoy all 13 of these great songs!

Friday, January 05, 2018

The Journey of Digital Pulse + My 2018 Writing Goals

So it's been a week since I submitted Digital Pulse, and now we have to wait three months before we see the results of the contest. While we twiddle our thumbs until April arrives, I've decided to share my writing journey for this particular story. It's been a rollercoaster, for sure, and it ended up being a lot better than I originally thought. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning . . .

source

It started way back--and by that, I mean a few years ago. It was around the time when I was writing, or had just finished writing, Darkened Slumber, my Sleeping Beauty retelling. I had decided that for the next two Rooglewood contests, I wanted a modern spy story and a sci-fi superhero mystery(ish) story. I had ideas for both of them: who their main characters would be, some of the tracks I would include in the playlist, a number of scenes that would take place, et cetera.

A year passed with no contest. That was fine by me, because I had others to do, from getting my first job to working on other projects. Then 2017 rolled around, and I found out that this contest would be the last. I had to choose between my two ideas. It wasn't too hard, though, because I wanted my spy story to be a retelling of either Rapunzel or The Little Mermaid. The unfortunate thing was I had fewer ideas for the superhero story.

I was confident that it wouldn't be too hard. I had determined to power through it and get it done in the summer. The first day I wrote was July 25th. I wouldn't write again until September 10th, and then until October 9th and 29th. Each time I wrote, I never did more than a couple hundred words.

My issue? A lack of inspiration. Every time I tried to get into the story, I didn't feel it. To be honest, I disliked it. My writing felt ugly and far too simplistic. This wasn't a tale worth entering.

The deadline loomed ever closer. I felt it peering over my shoulder, and I debated throwing in the towel. Digital Pulse was going nowhere fast. Perhaps it just wasn't meant to be. I didn't know what to do, or how to continue. I'd heard the advice that you need to write even when you don't feel like it, but trust me when I say that it's hard. I would sit there and despise every word I typed--or at least, I felt like it could be ten times better.

In a last-ditch attempt to get inspired, I did a Beautiful Books post on November 18th. Looking back now, I'm not sure what gave me the idea to do it. Perhaps it was the fact that Tracey had done a similar post earlier that week. Turns out it was the right thing to do. I left that post feeling ready to tackle my story and put a little skip in its step. I got ideas for new characters, including the "mirror", a personal assistant by the name of Selah. Honestly, she's up there in my list of favorite characters. Her upbeat nature, random comments, and witty remarks earn her a special place in my heart.

I also got some encouraging comments on that post, with people saying they liked the concept of the story. With that gust of wind in my sails, I returned to Digital Pulse on the 20th. While my word counts weren't spectacular for the most part, I was still writing on a consistent. Things were shaping up quite nicely. I had even come up with the majority of the story's events during one work shift.

Then December 9th happened.

I know I've mentioned a couple of times already how one of my friends left me, and I'm not going to go into great lengths about it again here. While it may be becoming a tired subject for you, I believe this event had a profound effect on my story. Before this had all happened, I had decided that the theme of my story could be summed up in two words: moving on. I talked of being strengthened by storms; now I had to take my own advice. I had to deal with this hurt and hardship, and find a way to regain my stride.

I refuse to spoil stuff that happens in Digital Pulse. But now that I look back at it, I see my struggle in those words. Is it exaggerated at times? Sure it is. That's what writers do on occasion--well, at least this writer. I want my readers to identify with my characters and their difficulties, so I exaggerate it to make it relatable to more people. (Does that make sense?)

The events that happened in December influenced the story, and I think that's why it was quite poignant for me sometimes. I recall very few times that my writing--or any story in general--that's brought me close to tears. But Digital Pulse did that twice. Chapter 14 is, in my mind, honestly one of the best scenes I've ever written, for reasons I can't disclose. Perhaps it's because I almost cried while writing/reading it.

December, while painful at times, turned out to be my best month for writing in the entire year. On the 28th, I wrote just over 3k, something I don't think I've ever done. The next day, I finished up the story, took a little break, then went back for editing. Well, it was more like a read-through, but it still helped. I found a few inconsistencies, fixed those, tweaked some wording (although I missed an unneeded word in one sentence), and before I knew it, I was finished. So I sent it off and could breath again.

But I left the story differently than I thought I would. I wasn't tired of writing. Far from it, actually. My mentality when I finished was, "I gotta work on another project!" While I haven't yet, you can bet I will, which is why I'm sharing my writing goals for the year.

Before I do that, I want to quickly mention I did something very different for Digital Pulse. I normally find tracks that inspire scenes in my story, and I compile them in a playlist. This time, I initially didn't have a clear vision of the story as a whole. I'd found tracks beforehand, and while I kept some in the end, others didn't fit with the end product. So it was only once the story was over that I actually sat down and worked on the playlist. This is something I do when making playlists for other people's stories, but never for my own. I'm not sure if I prefer this method for my own writing . . . but I think I still ended up with a solid playlist.

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Let's talk writing goals now. In college, I learned a good deal about SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Goals have to be these five things if you really want a chance to succeed. For example, if you say, "I'm going to lose weight this year," good for you! But I can tell you right away this resolution isn't lasting long. This isn't specific enough; you have to know how much weight you're planning on losing. You also need to make sure that number is a realistic one, and give yourself a proper timeline for achieving it. Otherwise you'll wait until the last minute (like I did with Digital Pulse), or you'll never do it.

So for 2018, I'm making goals for my writing, and I'm sharing them on here so I've got some accountability. My first goal is to reread A Totally Epic Pirate Story this month and decide if I want to finish it for closure's sake or if I want to leave it.

Once that's done, I will return to The Tournament of Convicts and keep writing that. I have pretty much the whole plot--most of it, anyway--in my head, so all I have to do is write. The deadline for completing it is the end of May.

After those two, I have to choose between continuing Maelstrom or beginning to novelize Darkened Slumber. I won't make that decision now, and I'm also not really putting a time on that right now. It may sound hypocritical, I know, but I want to focus more on the aspect of writing constantly rather than completion for the project this year. When 2019 rolls around, I can see where I'm at and go from there.

I'd also like to write more for An Old Face, a New Game by the end of the year. I'm saying at this point to write at least ten chapters. I'm working on a project with a friend of mine as well, called The Darkest Dawn. Again, no set deadlines on this because she's in school, and that would be unfair to her.

Every three months, I'm going to assess my goals on here and check on how things are going. That way, I can see my progress and tweak things if I have to. In January of 2019, I will examine the year as a whole and make new goals depending on how things went.

To wrap up this post, what did I learn from my writing this year, which mostly consisted of Digital Pulse?

  1. Inspiration may fall out of the sky and hit you on the head . . . or it may not. When it doesn't, go out and find it. Make it, if you have to.
  2. Writing frequently is the best way to get a project done, even if it's only a few hundred words at time.
  3. Challenge yourself to go farther than you have before. Stretch yourself. Always reach for something higher.
  4. Tragedy and pain in your life sucks. But you can still use it to strengthen your story, and through that, yourself.
  5. Don't wait until the last minute. It'll be more enjoyable if you have more time.
  6. Do more Beautiful People/Books posts! They help you picture your story and characters better, as well as get you out of a creative rut.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this in-depth look at the journey that I took. Did you enter the Rooglewood contest? What're your thoughts on fairy tale retellings? Do you have writing goals--or any goals--for 2018?

Monday, January 01, 2018

Another Double Feature /// Monthly HapPENings: December + Music Monday #14

Well, folks . . . we lived through another year. Another 12 months. Another 52 weeks. Another 365 days. Another 8,760 hours. Another--well, you get the point by now. So happy New Year! 2018 is going to be a great year.

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I decided to combine the two posts today because . . . why not? Gotta start off the year right! You guys don't mind long posts, do you? I thought not!

December was a mixed bag of emotions for me. I celebrated my birthday on the 1st, which was a lot of fun. Then the following week, I lost one of my closest online friends. It was really hard, and even writing about it now isn't easy. But God, in His good timing, reconnected me with two of my other close friends. I've had so much fun chatting with them, and it's helped get me back on my feet, emotionally speaking.

As always, the Christmas season was an enjoyable time for me. I love being able to hang out with my family and have some solid time with them. I got some great Christmas presents, such as a pair of headphones, The Temple of the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon (a set from The LEGO Ninjago Movie theme), NF's Mansion album, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, and other stuff. I also loved seeing my sisters react to the gifts I had given them.

Boxing Day is generally a day where I sit down and start building my LEGO, but that wasn't the case this year as I was working in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, my car battery died due to the extreme plummet in temperature, but fortunately, my dad was able to get me out of the fix. I was so thankful it happened on a shift that ended at 4, rather than one of my closing shifts where I leave after 9.

I hope you guys all had an amazing Christmas! Tell me what presents you got in the comments. I'd love to hear!

Bookish HapPENings

Guess what? I didn't finish any books this month. Shocking, isn't it? I did get some good writing in, so I'll blame it on that. But I hope to read at least a couple of books by the time I do a Monthly HapPENings post for January. I think that's easily doable.

HapPENings on the Screen


I definitely have to say that Season 3 of Once is my favorite so far. It's taken a serious turn, almost as if they put two mini-seasons into one . . . but I don't mind. I'm looking forward to seeing where this all goes, and I loving adding my own commentary to the episodes. Though I don't know if my sisters love it or are annoyed by it.


Why, oh why, do I only have eight episodes left? What am I supposed to do to tie me over until Season 4 is released on DVD?! (I'll probably rewatch the first three seasons.) Things are heating up, situations are looking EXTREMELY bad for the characters, and at this point, the villain seems unbeatable. It's hard to contain myself to one episode a week . . .

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The first three Pirates movies all required me to watch them a second viewing in order for me to fully grasp the plot and the characters' motivations. The fourth movie felt a lot more straightforward. I had seen the majority of it before, but I hadn't been able to finish it at the time. I don't remember my comprehension of the story at the time, but whatever the case, I had no difficulty following along this time around. While it wasn't my favorite installment in the series (At World's End still holds that place for me), it was very enjoyable. The mermaids could've been worse, but I still would have appreciated a bit more clothing, especially when Syrena lost her tail. I still highly recommend not only this movie, but the franchise as a whole! Just make sure you watch them at least twice.

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I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie. I loved Cars, a heartwarming story of a guy who learned to actually care about other people. Cars 2 was an action-packed flick about one of my favorite characters, Mater. Planes felt a little too similar to Cars, but in the end, I still really enjoyed it. Planes: Fire and Rescue was disappointing, and I started to wonder if the franchise was dragging on too long. But Cars 3 proved me wrong. It paid just enough homage to the first film while throwing in some twists and great new characters. If you haven't seen it yet because you too are unsure of it, I suggest giving it a try. It just might surprise you.

Gaming HapPENings

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I played a lot New Leaf - Welcome amiibo this month. It's such a relaxing game; it's really easy to blow an hour on it and not even realize it. If you've never played an Animal Crossing game before, you should really pick one up.

The highlight for me this month was Toy Day (our Christmas Eve). As mayor of my town, which I have named Kakariko, I have the honor of figuring out what everyone wants from Jingle the black-nosed reindeer. If I give everyone the right presents, I get a special prize! I couldn't pass that up, so I began making a list on my phone. I was serious about this . . . but not serious enough, it seems.

A very important detail I forgot was that I have to dress up as Santa. The clothes shop sold this costume, with one piece a day (from my understanding). But I didn't remember this until the day before Toy Day. And when I went on the next day in hopes of being able to buy the outfit, the clothing store was already closed. So my list was all for nothing.

Good thing there's always next year!

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In case you haven't heard, Spiral Knights is a free-to-play MMOG on Steam. Trust me when I say I would happily pay for this game. In the same vein as one of my all-time favorite games, LEGO Universe, this game offers everything from an appealing design to cool electronic/retro-ish music to a variety of monsters to an ever-changing battlefield.

I rediscovered this game when I suggested it to one of my abovementioned friends. We've played it together a few times, and I've had a blast each time. If you have a Steam account, you have no reason to not download this. If you don't have an account, make one and then get the game! It's a lot of fun, and I will happily play with you if you so desire.

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So my youngest two sisters and I bought The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for our Wii U. I have played six hours of it over the past five days, and I do not regret the $90 we paid for it. THIS GAME IS SO BRICKING UNBELIEVABLE! Not only have I never played a game like this before, but it's such a unique Zelda game. I have to contain myself, or we'll be here all day with me just blabbering about this game. Instead, let me share with you an experience I had yesterday . . . a battle with a giant rock monster known as a Stone Talus.

There I was, wandering through the ruins of a town, which was submerged in a low layer of water. I see a big ol' rock, and I was like, "Ooh, look, a big ol' rock!" Naturally, I gravitate toward these types of things. But as I approach it, the rock suddenly starts lifting off the ground. I beat a hasty retreat, because this bad boy was equipped with limbs! It threw one of its arms and killed me instantly.

"Well, now it won't catch me off-guard!" It had a weak point on its back: a giant lump of ore. I used all five of my bomb arrows and dealt quite a bit of damage to Rocky McMuffin. But now I had to finish it off, and regular arrows are no good. So I start chucking bombs at it. I'm slowly dwindling its health down while (mostly) avoiding its attacks and eating food to heal up.

But then, it got me with a blow that almost killed me. My logic dictated that, since I had just saved, I should run into the guy and let it finish me off so I could start afresh. Before my sisters could protest, I died. And what happened next? Wanna guess?

The battle reset, with the Stone Talus having full health and me having less food and no bomb arrows. I swore to exact my revenge on the monster in the future and ran off. Good thing I didn't kill it, because soon after there was a Blood Moon, which revives all enemies that you've defeated.

But all that time, I never realized that in this game, Link can climb anything. I was fighting a rock monster. I could've climbed it when it was down and dealt more damage! Guess I'll just do better next time I encounter another Rocky McMuffin.

Writerly HapPENings

Yes, it happened. By some miracle, it happened. On Friday, December 30th, at 1:34 in the afternoon, I submitted Digital Pulse to Rooglewood. Hallelujah! My word count for the month totalled . . .

12,998 words! In one month! I can't recall the last time I did so good. The story ended up being 81 pages, or 18,129 words long. I'm actually proud of the way it turned out. But I won't talk about it too much now. You can expect a post in the future chronicling my writing journey with this retelling.


Today's song is . . .

"Snowy Fields" from Kirby's Epic Yarn
Composed by Tomoya Tomita


Not only is this game one of my favorite Kirby installments of all time because of its quaint atmosphere and uniqueness, but it also has got some great tunes! This track is one of my favorites from the game.

It sounds very festive and wintery, and evokes images of snowy walks, hot chocolate, and family time. The cheerful tone of it all puts a smile on your face--well, at least it put one on mine. And honestly, when I have a girlfriend one day, I want to take a walk with her while this song plays in the background.

. . . I have no idea why I just said that, but I'll keep it in here.

Well, we've rung in the New Year fantastically on my blog, methinks. I hope you all enjoy the rest of the day and the rest of the year. I've got some great stuff planned this month, including the Music Monday 2017 Awards, which kicks off next Monday. You won't want to miss it.

Once again, happy New Year! What'd you get for Christmas? How was your December? Did you stay up until midnight? Did you enjoy today's track? Would you listen to it while walking with your significant other? (Don't pretend that you wouldn't! I'll know that you're lying.)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Oh, Overtired Shenanigans, How I Love Thee! /// Humble Beginnings, Part 6

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the final post of 2017! I don't know about you, but I think a Humble Beginnings post is the perfect send-off for the year. After all, we need to end December with a bang, right?

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I'm glad you agree. Now, before we get to the meat of this post, there's something I'd like to mention. Your time to submit questions for the Q&A is very limited, with Sunday being the last day. As soon as January 1st hits, no more questions will be accepted! So please, if you wish to partake in this fun post, use #KnowJoe in any comment on any post and ask away! I'm hope to (almost) any question you may have. With that out of the way, commence the cringe!

Warren didn't feel like reading the rest of the story, so he just scanned what remained. Detrius' Son was born and named Revier. When He grew up, the rebels, the people who lost hope of the Son, captured Him and in turn handed Him to Lurkum. The evil being killed Him, but a few days later He disappeared. He reappeared before the people of Adiryulle, giving them a book of all prophecies before going back to His Father. However, Lurkum thought it was the humans' fault for the disappearance and waged war. That was how the six thousand year battle began.

Ouch. Starting off a new chapter with a long summary like this is never a good sign. Brace yourselves!

"We have our suspicions. We have reason to believe Lurkum called [the raiders] from a place named simply, 'The Lost World,'" Samuel stated.
"Where is that?" Warren demanded.
"We're not sure," Smits said. "That's why it's lost."

Well, someone's got a little sass today! You know, I think this "Lost World" should really be called "The Lost Ark." That way, you could say that they're raiders of "The Lost Ark." Pretty clever, right?

David looked at the teenager nearing adulthood. "So you're the guy who claims to be immune to fire?" 
"Yep, that's me. The way I became immune was that I ate a fire blossom. It caused my nerves to not react under heat. My skin now doesn't burn when I touch something hot."
"Mark's face was burning when he saw a certain hot someone," Warren piped up.

So there are a few things wrong with this section. First off, saying that a teen is "nearing adulthood" feels a little redundant. Or is that just me?

Secondly . . . why did Justin eat a fire blossom?! What possessed him to think that was a smart idea? "Oh hey, this plant bursts into flames if you put weight on it. I think I should eat it!" Was it, like, a stupid dare between a bunch of his guy friends? I just . . . I dunno.

Thirdly, his explanation of his powers is really dumb. It's not scientific or logical in any way, shape, or form. If his nerves don't react under heat, that just means he won't feel it when he gets burned. It does not make him immune to fire; it just means he'll have a miserable life when he keeps jumping into fire and burning himself to death without realizing it.

And I just had to include Warren's follow-up, because that's totally something I would say to rib a buddy. Therein lies the problem, though. These adults are not supposed to act like twelve- or thirteen-year-old me. *wonders why in the world I chose adult main characters for a teen book*

Smits thought for a moment. "The marked man." He turned to the three guests. "Apparently, [Tarquin] came to our world and met Leviathan. He received a mark that allowed Leviathan to talk to him."
"Why would he listen to a talking dragon and take this mark?" David asked.

David would be good at my job.

Smits had snuck to the barracks with Samuel and peeked inside. "They're sleeping," he confirmed. 
"Excellent." Samuel glanced at them. "They look like true warriors."

In their sleep? I wonder what people think I look like in my sleep. A writer? A superhero? A ninja? You never know!

"Sirs!" a voice hissed. It was Nathan. He stepped out, holding something behind his back. "I had dropped my comb under their bed," he said, nodding to the new arrivals' three-story bunk bed. "I was feeling around for it when I discovered a secret compartment. And I pulled out this." Nathan produced a stone tablet.
Samuel took it gently, Smits peering over his shoulder. It was covered in messy Toreth. Only the title was legible. It read, "The Chosen Ones' Description."

Dude, why are you combing your hair in the night? You'll probably mess it up in your sleep anyway. Also, how and why do they have a three-story bunk bed? That's super tall! I think I meant it had three layers, not three stories. There's a big difference! Also also, how convenient that a tablet describing the Chosen Ones is right under the bed of the three main characters.

And for your info, I skipped a lot of this chapter because it was a random hodgepodge of exposition and a boring tour and a bomb and puzzling about the Portal Guardians. It was largely uninteresting, so let's hope this next chapter is better.

Mark felt himself being shaken. He looked up. "Justin! I thought you were Michelle for a moment."

I know it's the morning, but why would he think this? He met the girl once, and it'd be highly inappropriate if she went into the men's barracks.

Mark sat and looked around at the wooden room with white walls. "How many people eat here?" he asked Justin.
"About one quarter of our army in the castle. That would be approximately one thousand two hundred fifty. Some eat inside, while others dine in the great outdoors."

You have an army of only five thousand? Is it just me, or does that seem kinda small?

"Xander!" Nathan called.
A brainy-looking man with glasses and coarse light brown hair jerked up from behind a desk, knocking his head on an overhanging lamp. "Yeah?" he asked, rubbing his head.
"Fetch three suits of chainmail for the trainees, please."
"On the double," Xander said, wheeling around and nearly tripping over his feet. He ran off, slightly embarrassed.

*slaps forehead* And the clichés continue. The nerdy guy also has to be the clumsy one.

At the end of the day, sweat poured from their bodies, and their muscles ached. After a hot shower and supper, they went to bed. 
A week passed. They learned the art swordplay skillfully. Mark quickly learned from his mistakes. Warren slowly but steadily mastered it. When David got the hang of it, he was great.

This is literally the only stuff I wrote with them training, because I didn't feel like having more. I thought it would be too complicated to write, and thus, this is the sorry excuse I have for sword training. Not to mention I forgot the word "of" in the second sentence of the second paragraph.

"Yeah, over here," Xander said. He led Smits to the weapons. Nathan was watching the three fiddling with some. Mark was pretending to shoot foes with a bow, Warren was examining a war hammer, and David was fingering throwing knives.

I think I expertly hinted at this beforehand. Remember how David randomly could throw a tack really precisely? And how Mark randomly knew how to fire a slingshot? And how Warren is, uh, clearly the strongest one of the bunch? Yeah, all that is going to come into play now.

Mark leaned close to Smits. "Uh, why does Michelle have to train me?" he asked quietly.
Smits whispered back, "She's one of our best archers. It is a privilege to have her as your trainer. Why do you ask?"

Now, either Smits is being clueless, or he's being sly. Because Warren mentioned Michelle's name at the dinner last night and got a reaction out of Mark (in case you're confused, I didn't include that portion). So honestly, I have no idea why Smits even asked that question.

Smits wheeled around, startling Xander, who was standing behind him. "I didn't do anything!" Xander cried. 
"It's okay, Xan," Smits reassured. "What were you doing standing around?"
"I was wondering if those two had something going on between them."
"Don't think so." Smits actually doubted his statement.

Yep, Smits is entirely clueless. Or he zoned out during supper.

Reuben shook his head. "Well, the forge's blacksmiths must be losing their touch. I'll have to post a complaint. You know how bad these are? They're liked the terraxs' pickaxes."
"Really?" 
"Yep. If this sort of incident happened on a Kalansif power rock mine, I'd send these pickaxes back to the forge with a note that would read, 'To the smithy who made these: you's 'bout as smart as the rock that broke 'em.'"
Warren laughed. Reuben gave a look. "Well, it be true."
Now Warren was on the ground laughing. Reuben joined in, his chortles catching the attention of passing knights.

Uh, ha ha, so funny. You guys can stop laughing now. No, seriously, stop. Stop. Just stop! I was only mildly amused; I'm not rolling around my room laughing until I cry and my stomach hurts. (These guys are clearly overtired. What's say we give them an early bedtime?)

Reuben's jaw went slack. "Well, bless me beard!" he whooped. "Now that's something! That rock was as solid as me mum's bread without yeast. Lost a few teeth that day. 
"So now you's goin' to make some rock powder with that there hammer."
Warren gave a German World War II salute and set to work.

Well, Reuben is quite the character . . . *notices what Warren just did, and my eyes bulge* DUDE! What the actual BRICK are you DOING?! You're an American soldier; you shouldn't be doing any Hitler salutes. Wow . . . I'm disappointed in you and in myself. I was clearly not right in the head when I wrote that.

 Xander tried to walk as inconspicuously as possible, Nathan following his lead. "What are we--" he began.
Xander whipped around and gave an exaggerated "SHHHHH."
"Sorry," Nathan whispered. "What are we doing?"
Xander thought, then hissed, "That's classified." He continued on his way.
Nathan shrugged and followed.

What a classic--albeit cliché--comedy duo. They're bound to get involved in some shenanigans, that's for sure.

[Mark] tried again. But then a wind blew through, pushing the arrow to the right of the target. "When the wind blows in a certain direction, fire in the opposite one," Michelle said softly.
Mark nodded and pointed the bow to the left, not noticing the wind had stopped. "Uh, Mark," began Michelle.
It was too late. The arrow was already rushing into open air. All of a sudden, a tall black man clad in regal armor appeared on the dirt path, the projectile coming close to hitting him. A group of archers behind him halted, shocked at the scenario that could've occurred.

So I guess Mark was never good at shooting guns in the army, then. Maybe he wasn't even good with his slingshot to begin with. And that path seems awfully close to the archery range. Someone didn't set this up well.

The black man took of his helm that covered his head. His face was set in a fierce expression. Mark shivered as the man's icy pale blue eyes penetrated him.

He took of his helm, not off his helm? Fair enough. Is he, by chance, related to Heimdall?

"Um . . . uh . . . sss . . . sorry sir," Mark said, his knees practically knocking. He gulped. "I . . . I didn't mean to--"
The man started laughing, Michelle doing the same. The knights smiled, some in relief.
Mark was confused. "Could you, maybe, like, fill me in on what's so hilarious?"

I'd like to know that too, buddy. I think everybody has a severe case of hyperness today.

The man howled louder, which set the fuses of the other men. Their face muscles twitched as they made a futile attempt to hold back the laughter, but that didn't last long. Their merriment might've been heard a mile away.
As they wiped away tears after they had laughed a full minute, Mark, still in the dark, said, "Congratulations. You have just completed ten minutes of aerobic exercise."
That set the laughing bomb again. The leader was doubled over, while the others were rolling on the ground. Michelle leaned against a rock, giggling.

Get your act together, guys! You're supposed to be professional. Oh, and Michelle's back to giggling again. Is she going to start daintily picking flowers now?

"What's wrong? Do you need to see a physician?" Mark cried frantically. "Did you get enough sleep?"

Ah-ha! Mark sees the real problem here. I now declare Mark the sanest person of this chapter so far.

"I . . . I'm," the man gasped. He clutched his stomach. "I'm fine . . . mostly."
He straightened, gave a wide smile, and extended his hand. "Hi, Mark is it?"
"Yeah," confirmed Mark.
"I'm Harvey, high general," he said, still grinning. "Man, you should've seen the look on your face. It was so funny."

Lemme get this straight: the man in charge of an entire army of 5,000 lost it . . . because of a funny face? This story officially doesn't make sense.

Michelle and Harvey applauded. "Good job, kid. You got real potential." The general winked at Mark, whose mouth lifted broadly. Mark glanced at Michelle, who was smiling, and a glimmer of an emotion called love flashed over his face.

*jaw drops* What the heck is this? Are we reading an adventure story or a sappy romance? What does it look like for "a glimmer of an emotion called love" to flash over someone's face? Huh? Someone explain that to me, please. Better yet, send me a video of what this looks like, because I'm utterly confused.

"Ah-ha!" a voice called from over to the side. The trio turned to see Xander doing a little dance in a bush near the targets, causing an archer to nearly misfire. "I knew it, I just knew it!"
"Knew what, Xander?" Harvey questioned.
"Yeah, and what are you doing hiding in shrubs? You know better than that, mate," Brook scolded.
 Xander stopped, his face slightly flushed. Beside him, Nathan slowly got up, raising his hands in surrender and proclaiming, "I'm innocent."
He caught sight of Mark and Michelle and his brain finally made the connection. "Woah, partner. I don't mess myself into this business. Whatever you're doing, you're doing by yourself. The ship's sinking, and if you're smart, you'll abandon it." Nathan walked away, leaving his friend behind.

I remember this being my favorite--or one of my favorite--comical scenes from this story. But what does Nathan mean by messing himself into that business? Can you mess yourself into anything?

*bursts out laughing* You know, I wrote this scene before I knew anything about shipping characters, so with that knowledge, his comment is ten times funnier. Talk about being a pessimist. I believe in Marchelle! *laughs again*

"So what were you hoping to accomplish over there, concealing yourself like a . . . a . . . uh, any suggestions?" Harvey called.
"A chicken." 
"A coward."
"A girl. No offense, Michelle."
"None taken."

Aren't they a creative, wordy bunch?

Xander spluttered unintelligibly before managing to say, "I gotta go." he ran in the same direction that Nathan had gone.
There was a moment of silence broken by Harvey scratching his hair in confusion. "That was odd," he said. He looked up, clapped his hands, and vociferated, "Alright, back to your training."

Harvey must scratched his hair really loudly. And in case you haven't been able to tell already, I was constantly referring to the thesaurus when writing this story. I thought it'd be boring to keep using speaker tags like "said" or "shouted" or whatever, so I used words like "vociferated." Which I've never heard used in my entire life.

"Try to focus on the body with your mind and eyes," instructed Lance.
"Like they do with the Force in Star Wars?" David asked.
Perplexion contorted Lance's face. "Huh?"
"Sorry. Bad joke," David informed.

Even though Blogger is telling me "perplexion" isn't a word, it actually is. Then again, it also thinks Xander isn't a real name. *pats David on the back* More like a bad pop culture reference.

"How is the progress on translating the tablet?" [Smits] inquired.
The guard, named Ian, shook his head. "Not the best, sir." 
Smits glanced at Harvey, who stood at his side. "And what does that mean?"
"Well, sir, the translators figured out that you're supposed to look at the tablet by means of a reflective surface. While they were copying the message onto a paper, the new guy knocked over and broke the tablet. Now they have to fix it, and that's taking awhile," Ian explained.

I'm all for hands-on training for newbies, but if this project is so important, why would they let the new guy in on this? Shouldn't it just be the experts doing the work right now? It makes the most sense to me.

Harvey and Smits walked away, knowing very well that God would provide.
What they did not know was that there was a traitor walking amidst them. 
A traitor that knew much.
Including the tablet's translation.

Cue the menacing music!

That wraps up this Humble Beginnings post. Cringey as always, am I right? But I hope it was a good wrap-up for the year. I also hope you all have an amazing rest of 2017! We will see each other again soon . . . as in, January 1st soon!