I have realized that I might need to add a new section to this website, one that has absolutely nothing to do with books. After all, there are plenty of other things in my life, though most of them just as geeky. Like gaming for example, and no, I don't mean video gaming; I get enough of that second hand from my partner. Tonight we spontaneously purchased a new table top game that neither of us had ever heard of, which is rare for us because usually we put some research or playtesting into a game before buying. This one caught our eye just from the title: "Miskatonic? Why, that reminds me of Arkham Horror (our most beloved house game of all time). Oh, look! It says that it's set in the Lovecraft world! It is Arkham's Miskatonic! But why in the hell is there a Hogwarts looking girl's school in Arkham?!?!?!" Upon reading the back discription, "While H.P. Lovecraft wrote his stories with a sinister tone, this game is lighthearted and cheery, because we're twisted like that," we were sold on it. We were practically skipping up to the till and eagerly we tore open the box when we got home. The rulebook is a little thin but there was a video guide online that was very helpful for getting started. I was in charge of the rules so we were a little slow to start as I was getting Matt caught up, and then we ran into some trouble with Locker cards and the random values they had (and no help in the rulebook about that), but thankfully for online forums the mystery was solved and we played a re-match game. I lost both games. The first I fell deep into insanity very early on while Matt was barely even half way. The second game I drove him down one point away from Cthulhu brain possession and then was overwhelmed by 4 demon teachers that two useless girl-powerless school girls didn't have a hope of even putting a dent in so I dropped down 11 points into the loser's circle of mental breakdown. It was cute, entertaining, and made for being made fun of - you lose sanity as your teachers use paddles on you, what's there not to take in the gutter? Best of all, even after two games of decent length, we both still feel rather up-beat as opposed to being mentally drained as some of our more intense games can do to us. A new favourite? Well, it won't replace Arkham Horror for us anytime soon, but it was more entertaining as a two player game than Red Dragon Inn for example. I am very interested to see how it will play with 3 or 4 (it's a max 4 player game). Oh, and no, you don't have to know anything about Lovecraft to play or enjoy the game, but I think it's better if you do simply because it makes it all the more ridiculous ( ie. the Lunch Lady is Lulu, can you guess what she looks like? Hint, very iconically squidy). All in all, fun game, worth the buy in our house!
Silly me for forgetting that I had an important job to do. Not only did I have the wonderful opportunity to support a great friend and fellow writer in purchasing her newly released novel, but it was my duty to give it a serious review. And then I forgot to post it on the most important site - her digital store on Amazon. Thankfully a gentle reminder has remedied the situation. The Walker in the Dark (which can be found on my website here) has now been successfully reviewed on the store website here. Mischief managed!
It is that sacred and joyous of times, Boxing Day, and as such I am home alone with a pile of unwashed Christmas dinner dishes with no real motivation to do anything about it. Christmas was wonderful even if it was a quiet day with just the two of us. Now the boy is back at work, dealing with the madhouse that is Boxing Day sales, and I am on the sofa adding a few more things to this website. Specifically I just added a list of every major project I have ever written - the ones I can remember at least. I have to admit that I was surprised to see the list actually take shape the way that it did. I have this idea that I have only recently really become a writer of any sort, yet I can see just from writing out dates of works that I used to write far more when I was younger. I suppose the difference now is a question of quality. It pains me to even think about some of those earily pieces let alone read them. As simplistic as I may accuse Galen of being, it is no where near the horrible cliche writing of 13 year old me. That being said, I was pretty darn ambitious in writing at a very young age. Not many people know this but I struggled with reading and writing English for a great deal longer than most people my age, even the ones who did the same French program with me. Yet once I figured out the basics I was determined to write just about anything. I remember the first big work that I was determined to write. It was called Joanna and it was supposed to be a huge drama, mystery/courtroom sort of genre, and I had it all planned out. Then I reached the actual courtroom stuff, realized that I didn't know anything about law and didn't think a 12 year old (or however old I was at the time) had any business even trying to figure it all out. So I not only stopped writing but I completely trashed the 100+ pages of Word document.
Pre-teen me was not a great long-term thinker. And somehow I went from an actually pretty interesting and complex adult drama novel to a whimsical and cliche fantasy that was Legendary. Oh, I was so proud of that one. I made everyone read it. And I suppose for 13 it was a pretty good try at noveling, but the memory I have of its underdevelopment is haunting. That being said, I also haven't read it in a long long time. I still have it, somewhere it is all saved digitally and I have a full print-out of it on my bookshelf right now. I am my own worst reviewer, and I often latch onto the worst features of any of my works. I did the same thing with Galen when it was only half written. I thought that it would have to be completely redone and I was ready to do that, until I began actually reading it again and I surprised myself. It's been a year since I've read Galen and my attitude towards it is rather lukewarm now. I can only imagine what I will think of Freakhouse a year after it becomes published. At the moment I think that it is the greatest thing I've ever written, but I'm sure some part of me will turn to the darker side of things and remember only flaws.
There is some value in that, though. I would rather always be looking for new ways to grow than to have myself believe that I've mastered my art. I think that the mastery comes in the changing. I've mentioned it before, how I felt myself grow with my works, and since I do believe that my works choose me rather than me them, I suppose that seeing past works as below par from where I am now is a sign of my growth. Those works represent a time and a place that I was in during the writing of them, but even a day later I can be a completely new place, heading in a completely new direction. If I made every idea that popped into my head each day into a finished product, you can bet that I would have a much larger list of stories-that-shall-not-be-named.
More than a year ago, just as Galen was getting published, I began a wordpress blog. While I used it for most of the summer months when I was taking a work break from school, it fell into disuse. I realized that what I needed wasn't a blog. I needed a place to keep information about my books stationary. This past year I have been required to make a number of websites for a variety of school-related projects, so now that I've become comfortable with the idea, I decided that launching a new site was appropriate as a new novel approaches. I hopefully won't feel so dismayed if the blog isn't updated regularly and I can rest at ease knowing that important information won't be buried. All-round this marks a new adventure! I hope to have fun with it!
Ashley Newell, stupendous noveling sensation whom you've probably never heard of...