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Monday, May 26, 2014

This Post is Totally About Writing

Haha, no it isn't. It's about video games. But I'll bring it around to storytelling, I promise.

So I'm taking my little writing break. I read some books I wanted to read, and I've finally embarked on playing Dragon Age: Origins. From what I've heard from friends and the internet in general is that Origins and Dragon Age 2 (which I loved) are different enough in style that whichever you play first, you'll like that one better.

Truth be told, I'm not finding them to be THAT different style-wise and gameplay-wise. Then again, I heard a lot of people complained about the changes in battle controls between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, and I found them virtually identical. As I don't consider myself a hardcore gamer, maybe there's just some nuance there that's above my head. Either way, I'm getting by, and after spending a year making my way through the ME series, returning to the DA universe was a pleasant change of pace. Also, in DA, the screenshot function exists!

This is what my butt looks like when I stab an ogre in the eye.
I'm not done with the game yet (my rough estimate has me around halfway to two thirds through, not including the extra content), so I reserve the right to change my mind, of course. Right now, I think it's a great game, highly entertaining and difficult to put down. That said, I don't totally love it yet, and I've been trying to put my finger on why.

The universe is as detailed and complex as one would expect to find in a Bioware game, and I always have to marvel at the sheer amount of effort that went into worldbuilding. Also, there are a lot of innovative things going on with the plot that I really enjoyed. One section involves navigating through a dream-like world and having to shapeshift into different forms to complete the maze of puzzles, and while it was pretty trippy a la Alice in Wonderland, I thought that part was fantastic. Then there's a forest that has werewolves and sentient trees (most of which try to attack you). Currently, I'm exploring the dwarf kingdoms.

This tree asked a favor of me. Also, it only speaks in rhyme.
I've realized, though, that where the game is falling short for me is the characters, unfortunately. I'm not saying that they're bad or poorly-conceived. They're just not really doing anything for me. I LOVED the companions in DA2 (LOVED), some right off the bat and some with time. For example, I was kind of meh on Aveline for a while, but by the end of my first playthrough (and in subsequent playthroughs), I really grew to appreciate her. And while I spend 99% of the time wanting to slap Merrill across her stupid naive face, she's still got some great lines. (And wanting to slap someone is some form of emotional attachment, right?) The DAO cast isn't inspiring strong feelings in me either way. Most of them are just kind of...there.

And then there's the romance. When a friend of mine played the game a while ago, she told me that she wasn't really crazy about any of the romance options and she just went with the most obvious choice. I've wound up doing the same. It's cute and there are some sweet and funny dialogue exchanges, but again, I'm just not feeling the passion there (unlike with Anders my DA2 boyfriend ;) ).

You think I'm pretty? Eh, good enough.
In tying this into the writing process (aha! I told you I'd get there!), what it really boils down to is that characters can really make or break a story. You can have the most fantastic plot in a rich tapestry of a universe, but unless you have a fabulous cast to act it out, there's going to be a little something missing. Obviously this is subjective, and I know everyone has their own preferences in whatever media entertains them. But even as I think of my favorite books that are classified as more plot-driven than character-driven, they still have those complex characters to shape the story.

The number of times I used the word "character" in the above paragraph should indicate just how important they are. Crucial, even!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Promo - A Different Class, by Leigh Ellwood

I'm thrilled to host fellow Decadent author Leigh Ellwood today as she presents her first 1Night Stand Story. I don't know if going to your high school reunion counts as journeying to another world or traveling in time, but I know when I went to my *coughcoughmumble*th reunion a couple years ago, it was definitely an...interesting experience. Anyhoo, I'll turn things over to Leigh!

I am thrilled to be part of the Decadent family! The idea for A Different Class came about after an invitation arrived for an upcoming high school reunion. I asked myself what might happen if somebody felt reluctant to attend because of bad experiences and memories, and how one night arranged by Madame Eve changes everything.

Right now I am halfway into the follow-up to this story, another hot M/M. I hope you’ll pick up A Different Class, and if you enjoy it drop me a line on Twitter at @LeighEllwood.

FDR High Class of 2004 graduate, Glenn Carson contacts fellow alumni to get a list of who will be attending the upcoming festivities. One call to a disgruntled former student leaves him shaken—apparently, not everyone is looking forward to the reunion. Hoping to ease his frustration, he contacts the 1Night Stand service for a relaxing and passionate encounter.

Known as “Mumbles” to former classmates, Rod Maloney would prefer to focus on the present and his successful business. However, past tragedies continue to haunt him, so he requests Madame Eve find him a man to show him a hot time and help him forget his troubles.

Will their one night together lead to a reunion after all?

Buy Links:
Amazon  B&N  Decadent Goodreads

“Mr. Maloney? I hope I’m not disturbing you.”

“Who is calling?”

The voice—deep and rich, anything but a mumble—intimidated him. Maybe the guy had been a jock, a several-foot-wide football player who helped the school win the championship senior year. He hadn’t attended many games and had skipped homecoming. “Um….” Right, we’re planning a reunion here. “I’m representing the reunion committee of the Franklin D. Roosevelt High School Class of 2004. You can probably guess our big tenth is coming up—”

“You know what? I’m going to save you the sales pitch,” Mumbles Maloney said. “I don’t know who you are, and I don’t give a shit. It’s taken me a long time to get past all the crap I put up with in high school, and if you think I’m going to show up at some rented ballroom all smiles as though the hell you assholes you put me through never happened, forget it.”

What? The man’s anger surged through him and sped up his heartbeat. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”

“F*** you, f*** FDR High, and f*** every last piece-of-shit homophobe in that backwater town. I hope you all get cancer.”


Beth burst back into the room, waving a thick tome with a scaly blue cover. “Found it,” she chirped.

“Never mind.” Glenn pushed away from his workspace. Mumbles Maloney’s palpable rage lingered in the quiet of the small office, invoking a sense of doom in an otherwise dull place. He doubted he’d forget the voice for a long while. The man had pent-up issues with his former schoolmates, no doubt, yet for all the vitriol burning through the airwaves and sizzling in the veins, Mumbles had sounded…well….


About the Author: I am Leigh Ellwood. I write smutty stories about people who like getting naked and having sex. Some have more sex than others, some have sex with people of the same gender, some have sex with more than one person, and still others have sex with toys and things that require the use of batteries. My stories range from a few thousand words to well past 70k. My books are available at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, and ARe. 

Author Links:

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Strange Feeling

I finished up and submitted my most recent project (more on that another time; regardless of how confident I feel, I'm always afraid of jinxing myself), meaning I have no WIPs going right now. As the post title says, it's a strange feeling: I always feel like I should be writing something, but at the same time, it's good to take a break every now and then to recharge the batteries.

I've owned Dragon Age: Origins ("owned" as in "paid money for") for almost a year and a half now, and I've only played a couple minutes of it. That has to change, especially since DA3 comes out this fall. The list of books I want to read never grows any shorter, so I have plans to tackle some of that as well. And, of course, there's always the day job, and we're getting started on remodeling our bathrooms in the House of Landen, and I have to squeeze knitting in there somewhere, etc.

On the flip side, my writer brain never ever ever ever ever ever ever stops running. It's a hamster on a wheel (especially when I'm trying to fall asleep). Just as the reading list never gets shorter, the list of stories I want to write is always expanding. I remember talking to one of my friends and fellow knitters in college, and the two of us agreed that there's no way we'll live long enough to knit everything we want to knit. The same goes for reading and writing.

I'll still be updating here (hopefully with good news!) while I take a little breather, but if you'll excuse me, there are some dragons that need my attention....