Dream Diary #2 – A Remnant of Sith Hatred

In the lore of the dream, I’d been a member of the Rebellion.

Or, really, whatever faction stood in the Rebellion’s place; my dream took place far in the future of the Star Wars universe, and, although technology doesn’t seem to advance in a galaxy far, far away, there were drastic differences in tech in my future. Machines were more organic, which was strange, parts of them made of muscle, other parts — terminals for example — mapped to bioform towers that expanded and contracted as needed.

The Force, as we’ve seen it, also wasn’t a thing anymore. No one talked about Jedi or Sith. There were just . . . normal people and Force-users, everywhere, a distinction that was strangely lacking in gravity. I was a Force-user, for example, but no one cared, because it wasn’t super unique. I hadn’t been trained on a distant planet and didn’t wear fancy robes. I was just a guy who could mind-trick people into not seeing him — into looking past him or not noticing he was there, even when they looked right at him.

In that future universe, I was a former Rebel gone rogue–a strange way to think of it, but accurate. Because the Republic had maintained its victory at Endor for thousands of years, and now the “Empire” were the ones with old, broken down technology, trying to bring down the established government.

It was never specified in my dream, but I think I was part of a Republic infiltration group meant to stop an Imperial plot to capture a planet with a new weapon. However, at some point during that operation, I was left for dead, which fueled my hatred for my old friends.

It’s the emotion that centered the dream for me — the element that made it relatable (and writable) for me. I’ve felt something similar in my waking life — in varying degrees, of course. I don’t always hate the friends I lose contact with, but with some of them, my anger is unrepentant. In my dream, it still burned hot enough that I understood why I switched sides, even though the Empire was evil. I genuinely hated my former friends, although it was tinged with a Star Wars-appropriate amount of doubt, tempered with real-life reflection.

Anyway, I don’t know what the Empire’s new weapon was — what it looked like and what it did were totally glossed over. I knew it was a space craft (because doomsday weapons always are in the Star Wars universe), but that was all I knew about it.

Which, of course, means that this dream was terrible fanfiction because I wasn’t a Marty Sue; I wasn’t an important character in the space opera I was living — had no part in making, defending, or wielding that weapon.

Really, all I did for the majority of the dream was sneak around the weird, tech-flesh bases of the Republic, hacking terminals, avoiding patrols. There was one point when I let the mind-trick stealth powers fly and just walked through a Republic base, in full Imperial gear. Of course, it’s me though, so a character with power can never have absolute power, even in my dreams; guards with the express intent of spotting intruders could see me regardless, so the moment I got back outside, into a cavern full of Republic Stormtroopers, I was back to running between shadows.

At some point, I ran into another Force-wielding Imperial operative on the same mission, which triggered a remnant of Sith hatred. As if there could be only one apprentice, I made a spiteful competition out of getting to a key terminal first. I beat the other operative, but this weird moment added to what I learned from the dream, which I’ll get to in a second.

Let me just say that, at some point, I did get to stand inside of the Empire’s new weapon — on the bridge, with other Imperial agents. We’d captured an official of the Republic who didn’t know what the weapon was supposed to do, and I got to watch him go from rebellious to terrified as he had the base’s capabilities laid out for him.

“Wait . . . You’re not saying this weapon can,” swallow, “do this right now?”

No one answered him, and one of his worried, frantic glances fell on me. I held it and smiled at him. “Yes. It can . . . This planet is now under Imperial control.”

Dreams aren’t always in first person for me, but that moment was. And man was delivering that line awesome.

~~~

Now, I’m a writer who loves legacy stories. The idea of a universe advancing in time and changing significantly is really interesting to me. Because, no matter what a legacy story is trying to achieve, it will fail if it’s too different . . . but it’ll be boring if it’s not different enough.

Batman: Beyond is an example of a legacy story that’s different, but not different enough. I’d put it somewhere on the low end of the Legacy Spectrum of Success because, while good, it’s very reluctant to abandon Bruce Wayne. And, as I see it, the golden question for any legacy story will always be “What do we do with the old cast?”

The Alloy of Law is a better example, because it leaves behind the Mistborn trilogy’s cast, making them a rare, sometimes vague, often playful reference in that world’s history. However, the world is a little too different for me — because it goes in hard with a Wild West aesthetic . . . which feels different in a bad way. The original trilogy’s setting was hyper-unique, with a world covered in black ash, and terrifying Inquisitors, giant metal spikes in place of their eyes. I still absolutely love Brandon Sanderson, but I never thought cowboys would be the future of the Mistborn world, and that change still feels strange to me.

The Legend of Korra is a much better example of a successful legacy story because it shovels almost everything out the window . . .  while still feeling the same. The protagonists are all different, the world has changed a bunch, even the tone is more mature. Some members of the original cast make appearances, but most of them have passed, off camera, which is only natural. Even so, the fine details are still the same; people still Bend the elements, and the world outside of the new, advanced Republic City is still very much as it was.

Those examples have always made me wonder how far a legacy story can be pushed before it stops being a legacy story. Prometheus is a kind of legacy-prequel that tests those waters by having almost no bearing on the Alien series.

With this dream, I think I tested those same waters, even though I didn’t realize it.

The used future feel of Star Wars is still there, only now its the classically clean and sterile Imperial ships that are old and dirty.

The sense of rebellion is still there, only now strangely backwards, with the evil Empire struggling to gain ground that the Republic only barely notices is there.

Force-users are still around, but they’re less remarkable, which balances somewhere between Darth Vader being real . . . and Darth Vader being looked down on as a practitioner of bullshit space magic by the one Imperial officer in A New Hope.

Particularly interesting to me, the old Sith ways are still there — but only because of perspective. The fact that my protagonist hated other Force-users who worked with the Empire was possibly only relevant to my character; the other operatives might be buddies, for all I know. But I hated them regardless, and the audience was locked onto that perspective, which made that hate an oddly effective throwback for the Sith, even though I wasn’t Sith — I was just a Force-user on the Empire’s side. It felt like a great way to hearken to a bit of series lore without actually using it.

Overall though, the question is . . . do I think this dream would make a good Star Wars legacy story?

The answer: Oh God, no. Are you kidding? Look, I enjoyed this dream, but it’s way, way too different. And weird. Freaking flesh-tech? Are you kidding me? That would never work in the Star Wars universe. That idea alone took the dream into Bad Legacy Story Town. Star Wars is all about fun (at least, at the moment, it’s still mostly about enjoying yourself [man did I hate Rogue One, btw]), not about hating everyone. And definitely not about following the story of a man fully invested in helping take down a peaceful galactic government. I mean, to a degree, it’s off-putting for me that I even had that dream.

But still, it taught me something about writing.

And delivering that “Imperial control” line was pretty sweet.

~~~

Thanks for reading, guys. It feels like I haven’t written in ages. I have been able to sleep on a normal schedule again though, so I can’t really complain. I hope everyone’s April has been going well though — that the words have come easily.

For anyone new to the site, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was published last year in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out, which means posting here every week, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting updates by email – a new post from me delivered right to your inbox – then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Regardless though, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.

Dialing it Back

Earlier today, after an orientation at work . . .

Coworker: “Louis, you coming to Chipotle?”

Me: “I . . .” o_o

Coworker: “Yes, you are. Okay.”

Me: He thinks about the post he needs to write tonight. And he realizes he desperately doesn’t want to tell his coworkers–again–that no, he can’t hang out because he has to write a thing. And that’s when he realizes that the post he has to write tonight . . . is about how he has to write fewer posts so he can have a life. The irony sits heavily in his gut, like a Chipotle burrito. “Yes,” he finally decides. “Yes, I’ll go to Chipotle.”

~~~

So, I’m a little sad to write this one.

I have absolutely loved writing posts every single day for the last month and a half. The original plan was to write every day until October, at which point I’d wrap up a “season” and take a break until next February. I’ve actually been thinking about writing every day for an entire year since NaNoWriMo 2014, and finally just starting to do it felt amazing.

But then . . . I got a promotion at work. Something I totally wasn’t counting on. Professionally, my plan for this year was to get a new job at a museum, hoping for a little bump in pay and steadier hours.

What I got was a significant bump in pay and a ton of extra hours. Which is awesome.

Until it came to this blog.

If I’m completely honest, I was already struggling to post on a normal schedule. Posting late at night meant sitting on my bed and dozing off while writing each post, which I’ve been doing . . . for weeks. And, to be clear, that’s weeks of actually falling asleep mid-sentence, then jumping awake, angrily trying to finish a thought from who-knows-how-many-minutes-ago. Eventually, I got frustrated enough to shout, “Goddammit! Just let me do this!” to an empty bedroom.

At the very end, I started taking naps the moment I got home from work, hoping that would refresh me (and stave off the dips in quality that I know rode in on the exhaustion). It barely worked.

And, regardless . . . the price was always to sacrifice time with The Hand and the Tempest.

For a while, that was okay, because I could still write in my notebook at work.

But, somewhere around a week or two ago, that stopped being possible. And I was so busy–with training, preparing for a presentation, stepping up to the new title–that I didn’t notice.

That is, until last Friday, when, for reasons that I don’t remember, I listened to the theme for Stranger Things.

Stranger Things . . . A show that I loved more than I can say.

Its theme is what I call “righteous,” which, for me, means “a song, image, or any design that I want to write for. I want to write a story that fits the theme for Stranger Things for reasons I don’t really understand; maybe it’s just a reflex of young Louis, copying things he loves.

But, at any rate, hearing that song made me remember how I had to avoid making H&T like Stranger Things.

Which in turn made me realize that I hadn’t written in over a week. That, even before that, I’d just broken down to writing loose notes that I’d never gotten around to typing up.

All of this is to say . . . I have to cut back on the daily posts, even though I really, really don’t want to. The site has grown so much since I started and I don’t want it to slow down.

But it has to. Because I have to finish H&T soon, and I need to get a new short published; the “Aixa” banner is killing me at this point.

So, I’m going to dial the posts back to one a week. Still better than once a month, but much more forgiving than my daily jam.

However, there’s also an addendum on the life goals now:

  1. Get more short stories published.
  2. Get my novels published.
  3. Become a successful writer.
  4. Get back to a point where I can post here every day. Because I love it.

~~~

I want to take a quick moment to thank everyone who’s followed recently. There’s been a huge rush of new followers here on the site and it has made me feel . . . invincible.

Together with all of the likes and comments, I’m pretty sure the support from you guys is the reason I got that promotion in the first place. I’m not kidding; I went into that interview feeling like I deserved it because I knew that there were people out there who liked my work. People who kept coming back, reading, and commenting. You guys . . . changed me. Seriously, I sat with a group of people and made them all laugh tonight.

This from a man who was afraid to enter cafes by himself in 2013. That sounds like an exaggeration–it isn’t; low on cash and unwilling to meet anyone, I once went down to The Common Grounds and just stood outside for a moment . . . before walking away, afraid. It’s strange to think that’s true, but it’s liberating to know that part of my life is really, finally, over. So, seriously, thank you. I still feel like I can do anything, and I cannot thank you guys enough for helping me get here.

For anyone new to the site, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was published last year in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out, which means posting here every week, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting updates by email–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Regardless though, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.

Practice Poems #3 – 20 Feet Beneath You

Look down.

Imagine what’s 20 feet beneath you.

Someone else’s bedroom?

The underside of a bridge?

Maybe an animal den.

Probably all of those things.

A red panda’s hammock, hanging from bridge girders.

You’d have to wreck your schedule to find out for sure.

Beg the cops to let you clamber down there and take a look.

Or maybe just circle around, camera ready, frantically looking up.

It’s not worth it–I’m telling you.

Just believe instead.

~~~

So, that was a ton of fun to write.

But, serious time now, here’s a heads up: I’ve talked before about needing to figure out something with this blog. The intention was to find a way to reliably post earlier in the day.

The promotion at my day job . . . has made that incredibly difficult.

I was already struggling to post, fighting sleep to write here after working on the MS. The struggle has only gotten worse; the job title comes with a significant bump in hours and a ton of responsibility, which are both great, but terrible for my writing schedule (i.e. I can’t sneak in a few hundred words at work anymore).

So, just a heads up, I’m going to take the weekend to figure it out, but I might have to cut my schedule down. I love posting every day, but it might be a luxury I can’t afford anymore. More on that this Monday.

For now, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that has meant posting here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting updates by email–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Regardless though, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.

Rain and Jurassic Park

Welcome back. Thanks for coming by for this first in another week of posts.

So, I realized . . . I do a lot of series. In fact, since I started posting every week day . . . I think every single post has been part of a series.

It’s getting a little exhausting.

So I thought I’d kick it old school and just talk about something random.

And, since it was showering earlier today, I thought that random thing would be . . . rain.

Because it’s a really intense trigger for me.

To be clear, I don’t mean that rain is my muse; I don’t get ideas from walking out in the rain. Inspiration doesn’t come to me from the unique roar of a storm.

No, rain just–very regularly–motivates me. And we’re talkin’ stop-what-you’re-doing-and-go-write motivation. Literally; a bunch of times during my life, I’ve stopped the moment a first drop hit my window sill. I’ve blinked, gotten up, walked to the window–or, other times, I’ve just sat and stared.

Either way, the clean scent of billowing atmosphere would roll in through the window.

And I’d breathe it in. Let it out with a sigh.

Then turn off whatever game or movie I’m distracting myself with, and immediately get back to my manuscripts.

I almost want to suggest a totally fun name for it–something like Writer’s Guilt–but a name like that wouldn’t be 100% correct.

Because, when it starts raining, I’m not hearing a voice pressuring me. I’m not remembering something someone told me or some promise I made.

I’m remembering . . . the feeling of watching Jurassic Park for the first time.

I know–that’s weird. But it’s true. Jurassic Park came out when I was 11 and I saw it in theaters. Naturally, the part that had the biggest impact on me was the scene at the T-Rex enclosure.

If you haven’t scene Jurassic Park, I’ll just explain that, at one point, the majority of the cast is stranded at the T-Rex paddock when the park’s power grid is turned off. The loss of power means that their automatic vehicles stop moving.

Right beside the T-Rex paddock’s electrified fence . . . which has also lost power.

When the T-Rex arrives, it turns into a scene with a ton of suspense.

In part because there’s no music.

Just the constant sound of rainfall.

At that point, I’d already played Final Fantasy III on my Super Nintendo. I’d already realized that stories were really awesome because they had the power to make you feel things–experience stuff that was cool . . . and important.

But Jurassic Park was the moment when I first thought, “I want to make something like this.”

And that something was, of course, a ridiculous short story about my cats becoming giant-sized and chasing me and my cousins around our apartment (I was so 11).

But, decades later, with significantly less cat-heavy stories under my belt, the sound of rainfall is enough to remind me of why I write in the first place. The feeling that I want to give to other people.

The feeling of being 11 years old and in complete, wordless awe.

~~~

Thanks for reading. This week is going to be a little crazy for me with the promotion, but I’m still going to try to get these posts on a better schedule (getting them out during the day instead of around midnight). I’ve been prioritizing other things over writing on here, which means sometimes, I’m get started on these posts really, really late. The result: I’ve been fighting sleep to finish some of these. We’re talkin’ writing a sentence, passing out, jumping up a minute later, determinedly writing another sentence, passing out again . . . It’s obviously not good for quality, so I’m going to try to figure something out.

But, anyway, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way, thank you just for dropping by. And, as always, write well.

Monday, AM #4 – ON / OFF

So, this is probably the last Monday, AM.

The series just isn’t doing well, which is fine–I’ll take another day to post whatever I want (currently just Friday), but this weekday posting gig requires me to make new series all the time, so I’ll have a few Monday standards figured out before long.

In the meantime, let’s get to it.

On

For the first time in forever, the future actually seems pleasant.

It’s a strange feeling.

I usually tamp down on my neurosis here, but whatever; I’m used to the future always being bleak. That’s possibly because I have a hard time imagining it. At few years ago, when I was in much worse shape emotionally, a friend who I absolutely love suggested I start with the small things. I did, but I never went beyond that; my modus operandi in life had become taking care of the countless small problems without ever looking ahead. Maybe it’s bleaker than that–maybe I just hate my day-to-day so much that I prefer to not imagine the future, where I’ll see more of it.

Whatever the case, I usually convince myself something will go wrong.

So, it’s strange to be in a position where . . . everything’s just going right. Writing is working, I had a vacation that was amazing, my debts are in order.

And with all of these things, there are completely normal switches that are being flipped on again–parts of my brain that I’d shut off without realizing at some point.

Making friends–ON.

Having faith in my abilities as a professional–ON.

Actually accepting the idea that I might be a smart, funny dude after all–ON.

Just countless switches for completely normal things that the average person takes for granted.

I realize that I need to start planning for the future. Because the idea that I might actually have one has suddenly been turned on.

Maybe that sounds incredibly strange coming from a man who’s been writing short stories and novels. But, among all of those switches, there’s the realization that I’ve been writing for other people the entire time (and that those people like what I’m writing the same way I like it).

I don’t know if this will ever get to someone who’s been in a similar place. But, just in case it does, I understand why you turned all of these things off. I’m not going to say “Try and be happy,” or, “Stop being sad,” because I know how incredibly frustrating all of that shit is.

But I will say . . . find the thing that will turn everything back on.

I can’t tell you what it is, but I know that it isn’t a person. Not a friend, not a lover. It also isn’t a physical possession. It’s something about who you are . . . that you need to work on.

Figure out how to work on it. Not for anyone else–fuck everyone else. Figure out how to work on it . . . to make you happy.

For me, it meant keeping away from people who wanted to help without understanding what I was going through (a formula for bad times). It also meant forcing myself to be social, starting with posting on here more often, ending with pushing myself to spend time with new people–finding those I could trust to help me as much, or as little, as they wanted.

But that’s just me. You’re different. I wish I knew how, but I don’t. I can’t tell you how to work things out, but I hope that you find a way to make your life better.

Because I know how terribly easy it can be to just leave everything OFF.

The Hand and the Tempest Progress

I took such a break for PAX.

Still on chapter 5, but I’ll be done with it by tomorrow. Unfortunately, that chapter suffered from a little scene shuffling, where I lifted a few pages to use later in the novel, but the chapter itself is still fine. I have to gussy it up a little, for sure . . .

But that’s what tomorrow will be, since I have the day off for what’s supposed to be a really insane blizzard.

Do not let me down, Accuweather. I am not kidding.

~~~

For the record, this post did not go how I expected. I guess if I had to use this last Monday, AM to send any message, though, it was that one.

If you’re a regular, thanks for stopping by. This week, I’ll be posting a new Let’s Make, a series I’ve been eager to return to since Let’s Make: A Fantasy Beast did so well.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way, thank you just for dropping by, and, as always, write well.

PAX East 2017 – A Brief Summary of The Last Night on Earth

I’m closing out the week with another brief story from PAX.

Only, this time, actually a story.

One of the things I love about board games is the way they sometimes yield cohesive plots. Reading between the die rolls, you can find narratives that are accidentally perfect.

And, because I love those stories, here’s a rendering of my run in The Last Night on Earth, during lunch at PAX today. I made small adjustments only to increase humor (or because I couldn’t remember exact details–it was 12 hours ago, which is an incredibly long time in PAX hours). Enjoy!

~~~

When the zombies clawed their way out of the ground, Sheriff Anderson was in the barn, with Jenny, the farmer’s daughter.

Hearing them just outside, the sheriff spun. “Jenny, you any good with a gun?”

“Uh . . . Yeah.”

The sheriff, without another word, handed her his revolver, certain he could find another one in the barn. He knew the farmer well enough–had feared a gun the man kept somewhere in this barn.

But only a moment into his search, Jenny pulled at the front door. “It’s locked!”

A sentence punctuated by a window shattering. Before the sheriff could blink, a zombie was on her, biting first, going down second, the revolver roaring in Jenny’s hand.

“I’m bit,” she winced. “Here, sheriff, take this . . . pitchfork.”

The sheriff blinked. “I . . . What?” he asked, finding it impossible not to eye the revolver he’d just given her.

“Here,” she said, pushing the pitchfork at him, eyes so earnest it hurt.

Sheriff Anderson took the pitchfork, began to run outside.

But Jenny called after him, wistful. “Sheriff . . . If I can heal this disease . . . If I survive . . . I’ll want that pitchfork back.”

Sheriff Anderson stared. “Uh . . .”

And Jenny looked out the window. “I gotta get to the high school.”

Anderson grumbled. “I’m gonna just . . . keep lookin’ for that gun.”

#

Moments later, Sheriff Anderson was outside, sparing Jenny only a glance. She was running into the cornfields. Of course she was.

It didn’t matter; the mansion in the middle of town was being overrun, and the sheriff knew that if they could keep enough zombies out, he and the other survivors could fortify–survive.

The sheriff, spitting, sweating, ran up to the side of the mansion and fired in through a window, taking down one of the zombies attacking the pastor inside.

Missing the zombie that came up from behind, clawing at his neck.

The pastor called for him to come inside, but maybe it was the pain. The fever. Maybe it was the zombie, still ambling toward him. The fact that the lights had gone out in the mansion.

Maybe it was Jenny, still headed toward the cornfields.

“Can’t trust ’em!” he shouted over the moaning and screaming. “Can’t trust no one!”

Grabbing a fire extinguisher and running into a pile of zombies felt like the best idea.

For a moment, it was. He managed to fend off five of them, pushing them away from the mansion.

But then, a moment later, all five were on him. He went down brawling, shouting like the maniac he’d immediately become.

And, not a second later, I was allowed to pick a new character from two possibilities . . . one of whom was Billy, Sheriff Anderson’s son. I had to pick him.

He was randomly given an item, which happened to be a shotgun (we immediately decided it was his father’s). Ready for vengeance, Billy entered the field, screaming a super typical, overdramatic, “Paw! No-o-o-o!”

Unfortunately, the game ended there, but I loved finding that story in a bunch of random die rolls.

And Sheriff Anderson, fist fighting zombies in a cloud of fire extinguisher smoke, already having gone totally insane after about ten in-game seconds, got the biggest laugh of the game.

~~~

Well, I hope you enjoyed this one.

Technically, the spree is over–I didn’t even start this post until Saturday. But, eh, it’s still my fifth post for the week, so I’ll take it.

If you’re a regular, thank you for the support. I’m gonna go enjoy the rest of my vacation, but I’ll be back bright and early Monday morning.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way though, thank you for passing by! I hope that you have an awesome weekend, wherever you are!

And, of course, as always, write well.

 

PAX East 2017 – The Road to Betrayal

So . . . posting from PAX . . . is a nightmare.

It’s not impossible though, so I thought I’d drop an easy post, at least.

The easiest thing to write about? PAX.

So, for tonight, I thought I’d share the best moments from my journey to PAX East 2017. A little bloggier than I like to make my posts.

But I felt like sharing today.

~~~

It was only a few hours between waking up and reaching Boston. A quick road trip with friends–Final Fantasy XV in real time.

PAX started in a lounge on the 20th floor of our hotel though.

First when a stranger, Sarah, walked up in the middle of our game of Star Wars: Rebellion.

She was doing a Pokemon themed bar crawl later that night, she explained. She also sat with us, shared a few drinks, and laughed as my friend Josh and I lost to the rebels. We blew up Bothawui (many Bothans died), but the game came to a canonical end when their Han Solo showed up at the last second to save Luke Skywalker from Darth Vader. Somehow, we genuinely didn’t see it coming.

After that, I jumped in on a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill, a game where you and your friends explore a haunted mansion that inevitably drives one of your friends insane, making them the Traitor. Our Traitor found a box that took away everyone’s voice . . . which meant that we, as players, couldn’t speak.

Betrayal turned into all of us flailing, trying to help each other, largely failing.

“Wait–I’ll send my dog in there!” became a pantomime with a beer cap.

At one point, a friend who wasn’t playing asked us how the game was going. We awkwardly gave thumbs up–at the same time, in complete silence.

I laughed hysterically. Repeatedly.

At one point, I realized, Holy shit . . . We haven’t even gone to PAX yet. The convention hasn’t actually started.

And, after working a ton of overtime, struggling through a rough start with H&T, and interviewing for a promotion at work . . . man did I need this breather.

~~~

Forgive me for the short salutations, but I have a game of Risk: Legacy to jump in on.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another short post about the floor itself.

Until then, thank you everyone for reading.

And, as always, write well.

Monday, AM #3 – The PAX Rush

Welcome back, everyone. Another brief Monday, AM–made particularly short by the fact that my entire weekend was devoured by Breath of the Wild.

I mean, I wrote and did a few other things, but when it came to going outside–catching Logan or Get Out, I passed. In my defense, I’ve always been a huge Zelda fan, so whatever. Sacrifices were made.

Anyway, getting into my biz . . .

PAX East Is This Weekend

My first Pax East was in 2014. I went with an old friend and his buddies, and it was one of the best experiences of my recent life. Got to go to a few panels, be incredibly awkward while grabbing drinks with some of my favorite streamers, try out a bunch of awesome indies (Titan Souls and Enter the Gungeon were there that year), and–most importantly–I got to hang out and game with a bunch of friends for a few days.

Unfortunately, money issues didn’t let me go last year.

But this year, I made absolutely sure to have enough saved up for another PAX trip.

If you’ve never been, I’d like to convey the experience with a summary of one moment:

Partway through the convention, one of my friends mentioned a “retro room,” a single room at the convention where anyone could come in, request a game from a list of titles, and play that game on of many ancient consoles (from the NES to the Sega CD).

Immediately intrigued, I checked it out on my own. There were a bunch of tables arranged at the front of the room, a check-in counter at the back, where they kept the aforementioned list of games.

A list that I perused for maybe 20 seconds before realizing . . .

“Holy shit . . . They have Lunar: The Silver Star.”

Timid, as if the opportunity would somehow disappear, I went to the attendant at the check in desk. Mumbled, “Lunar for the Sega CD, please,” like I was a nervous little kid. They found it for me, told me I had 30 minutes with it.

And, in a strange moment for a grown man, I found a Sega CD, popped Lunar in . . .

. . . and then got teary eyed when the intro started.

Maybe it was because I’d loved Lunar when I was a kid.

But I think that it was actually because I’d forgotten Lunar. The intro, the music. No, that isn’t true; the moment the game started, I remembered all of it: the incredibly anime intro music, the dialogue, the characters.

But I had forgotten something. And, although this is going to sound cheesy . . . I think that what I forgot was how it felt to be happy.

The kind of happy that only a kid can experience when they get to do, watch, or play their favorite thing in the world. And Lunar, out of all the things I loved as a kid, is the only thing that I got to have completely to myself; no one else I knew played that game. No one in my family cared about it, so no one beat it and spoiled the ending for me, for example. I never got a chance to play the sequels either, so my love for the first in the series was never even challenged by its successors.

So sitting there, at PAX East, I realized that Lunar was a time capsule for me; one of pure love, planted in 1992, delivered 22 years later.

There’s so much else about PAX that my story doesn’t convey–the love of games in all of their media, the spirit of camaraderie–but that moment with Lunar is what it means to me.

Fingers crossed for Flashback in the retro room this year.

The Hand and the Tempest Progress

Last week, I said I had to bring it and finish chapter 4. Well, I didn’t finish it last Monday . . .

But I did finish it Tuesday.

And, somewhere in between, holy shit, did the muse come back.

I might want to write about the idea of the creative switch–the quest to find out what turns it on–because it feels like that’s what happened. One moment sparked a really fun scene with exciting world building . . .

And now, suddenly, I know what the next three chapters are going to be like. After months of slogging, I know how a character’s entire arc is going to work out, how many chapters it’ll take to get there. I’m almost done with chapter 5, and ready to roll into chapter 6.

Most importantly though, I’m finally excited. Just . . . insanely excited to write more of this novel–this YA story that I finally love.

~~~

And, in that spirit, I’m gonna call it quits here.

If you’re a regular, welcome back to Monday. I hope you guys are having a good one, light on distractions, heavy on the words.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way, thank you just for stopping by. Take care, and, as always, write well.

 

Gallery of Strangers – Tattoo Mom

People watching. It’s an unfortunate part of being a writer. Not too socially disruptive, but still weird. At least it makes me feel weird, what with my guilty conscience.

Still, it’s essential. As writers, we have to watch people, listen closely to how they speak, what they say. Not because we’re stalkers, but because we need reference–like any artist.

A painter might google a reference for white tree bark before working on a new piece.

Writers can’t just google “How someone acts on the bus early in the morning,” or, “A weird thing a person might wear in public that I couldn’t possibly imagine.”

For that reason, I pay a lot of attention to people who say, do, or wear unique, interesting things. Mannerisms, sayings–any personality traits that make them stand out. Anything that I can use to make a more realistic or endearing character.

And I thought, “Hey, why not share what I’ve seen on the blog?” Not in an attempt to describe it (I’m not going all Workshop Wednesday on this [although I acknowledge that yesterday’s post would’ve been a Gallery of Strangers if I’d thought about it]). The goal here is just to share.

With, of course, the disclaimer that I’m never going to name names; these posts will never be about dishing on someone’s fashion sense.

That said, here we go.

~~~Tattoo Mom~~~

On the bus, I once saw an older woman with graying hair.

Who also had a ton of tattoos.

It wasn’t the combo of grays and tats that was striking; it was the tattoos themselves. They went up one side of her neck, along one arm and down her hand. And they were all extremely similar, simple symbols. No flowers, flags, saints, or skulls. Just lines and circles. Zig zags and spirals arrayed in a way that had no clear meaning.

The only way to be sure where she’d gotten her ink was asking her. And I wasn’t going to do that.

So, instead–without ogling–I got a good look at those symbols, trying to find a pattern. Never succeeding.

But, in the end, whatever meaning they had didn’t matter. All that really mattered was, no matter how she got them, those tattoos made her the most intriguing character I saw that day.

~~~

Thanks for reading! If you’re a regular, I cannot put it into words how much I appreciate your support. As a struggling writer, it genuinely brightens my day when I see familiar names returning. So, thank you moteridgerider, Maxxesbooktopia, daily22792, Tetiana Aleksina, and abooknation. Also thank you to Lloyd S. R. and August Kyle for the Follows. You guys . . . Just, really, thank you.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I promise my next post won’t be about random people I saw in public–really it won’t.

But, until then, thanks again for stopping by. And, as always, write well.

Monday, AM #2 – John Wick and Underworldbuilding

Welcome back to Monday. This is the part where I reflexively say, “It’s good to be back!” but it isn’t, cause it’s Monday.

I did actually get my days off this week, so I’ll get to spend the beginning of it comfortably doing posts and writing . . . although I also really want to slip in a matinee of Get Out, because I wanted to see it in the first place and it had such a good opening.

But whatever! Let’s talk about the weekend!

John Wick and the Discerning Gentleman’s Criminal Underworld

I saw John Wick: Chapter 2 on Saturday night. First of all, no spoilers here.

Second, it was . . . I mean.

Okay . . . So, I didn’t dislike the first John Wick, but I also didn’t love it.

I feel the same way about Chapter 2. No offense to anyone who does love the series. I just think I’m too deep in Fantasy town to fully appreciate an Earth-modern revenge story.

Among the other runny-shooty action movies I’ve seen in recent times, the John Wick series is the absolute best–and Chapter 2 had some moments I will absolutely always remember (while its predecessor didn’t).

But, I found myself way more intrigued by the worldbuilding in Chapter 2, which was my favorite part of the first John Wick. This sequel dives right into Wick’s gold-fueled criminal underworld, making it way more dense and fun to experience.

What that world winds up feeling like is . . . a criminal underworld for the discerning gentleman. Everyone is well dressed. Everyone is polite, and everyone is super rich. Baby’s first spoiler, John Wick starts the movie with a nice suit . . . and then gets an even nicer suit to wear while killing people.

And maybe that’s the part that really makes the John Wick series interesting for me; the elaborate background of the underworld is there to serve as a foundation for a movie that’s really just about a guy who punch-shoots a lot of people to death.

What a weird series.

But what a beautiful thing for its creators to know it wouldn’t be as interesting without its super-charming criminal underworld, where everything costs exactly one golden coin.

The Hand and the Tempest Project Progress

H&T is going well. I’m almost done with chapter 4–almost to the point where the novel becomes more comfortable for the main characters. And me.

The thing is, I had a moment the other day where I thought of the perfect opening line for Rainwater Archaic, the next big project on my schedule.

Now . . . I’ve already written the first chapter of Rainwater. It was among the group of unpolished stories I wrote last year. At first, I thought it would just be a short story–the first in a series, maybe–but I didn’t like how it turned out (the tone got way, way too heavy), so I took a break from it. During that break, I realized I wanted to take my time worldbuilding for it–figuring out that I wanted to make it a standalone novel instead.

Now, I’m just really, really ready to write that novel. And I want so badly to put H&T on hold to do it. But I’m also 100% certain that doing that will kill H&T, and, despite complications with the actual writing part, I do love H&T’s characters. I want to tell this story.

I also just want to be done with it by summer. If I stay on this schedule, that definitely won’t happen; I’d finish it until late this year or next year.

So, the next few weeks are going to be all about bumping up my average words per day.

And, if you were here for last week’s Dream Diary, I’m pretty sure that this is what that nightmare was about.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m already trying to get a lot of things done, but I’ve been trying to do it all . . . while staying comfortable. I’ll stop writing if a scene is giving me too much trouble, giving myself a day to casually figure out where I want a scene to go. At work, I’ll only volunteer for extra work if it’s convenient for me.

But I can’t keep operating like that–particularly with writing. If I want to get anywhere, my daily sessions have to be longer and produce more words. At work, I have to be more selfless if I expect to get any kind of promotion. Any more responsibility.

And, I’m not sure because that dream from last Friday was so goddamn weird, but I think that responsibility was the monster I was hunting. Not normal, get up, go to work, pay bills responsibility, but career writer responsibility. I’m hoping that one day, I’ll be writing with a schedule given to me by a publisher. I’m hunting for that opportunity . . . but I’m also afraid of the stress it’s going to bring with it–weary after 10 straight years of it.

But, I can’t learn how to write like a career writer . . . then, when the opportunity comes up.

I have to learn how to do it now.

~~~

I guess that means get ready for a way more stressed out me sometime soon. The tension’ll probably ramp up mid-March, when I get back from PAX East. Can’t wait!

But, for now, I have to have breakfast, and start building that tension with an attempt to finish chapter 4 today, action scene and all. I will absolutely try to not force anything, but wish me luck.

As always, thank you for dropping by. I really appreciate everyone who pops in, even if you just give a quick read.

Until next time, everyone.