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Quick confession: In addition to writing, reading, biking, weight loss blogging, I am also a bit of a game nerd. Well, OK, I’m a huge game nerd.

I played D&D in college and for several years thereafter. I’ve played Call of Cthulu and several other RPGs, (that’s role-playing games for the non gamers among you). I even gamed pretty heavily in World of Warcraft for several years. I have tried many other MMORPGs, (massively, multiplayer online role playing games…aka many men online role playing girls), as well, but WoW was pretty much my mainstay.

I have not really gamed in a long, long time. I have many gamer friends who have tried to get me back into gaming, but with all else I do, I have not really been that interested, nor do I have a lot of time to devote to gaming.

One of the things I like best about role-playing games is that at the end of the day, they are just one big interactive story-telling/creating event. I love that. Yes, we use dice, and math, and stats, and fight about rules, (OMG do we ever fight about rules!), but my favorite part of the game is the story we create together, even if that story is all about our interactions with each other and the crazy ideas we come up with.

This past weekend, I did one thing all game nerds eventually do, I went to a gaming convention. This one is PrinceCon. It is run by Princeton alumni & students, of course, but certainly not limited to them.

A friend of mine from high school went to Princeton and was a member of their student gaming group. He is now one of the organizers and leads some of the games, (DM or GM in game-speak). He invited me to attend. My first instinct was to say no, but I went. And I’m glad I did.

Because this was the 42nd year of the Princecon event, and being huge uber-nerds, of course they named their event PrinceCon42: Life, The Multiverse, & Everything. (Please see Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

Their game is run differently than any game I’ve played in the past. They have their own con rules, which is not unusual. Their DMs run individual games, but they are all nominally connected by one overarching plot. So, as you are resolving plot lines in your individual game, you are also collecting clues to the “meta-game.” The last day of the con was basically spent resolving the meta-game plot lines to save the Multiverse.

Basically, they drew together several of the worlds they ran games for in previous years and created the “multiverse.” DMs ran players through games in each world. We resolved plot lines within each of those worlds, collected clues that led us to believe someone was trying to destroy the multiverse, and then used those clues to stop him. The clues we collected created the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” and gave us code words to make travel to/from each world easier so we could go collect the items we needed to stop the top bad guy.

I think the organizers are going to write a summation of all of the events on their website soon…and by soon I mean sometime between now and next year’s con. I do not have all of the details of all of the games, mainly the ones I was involved in and what other players told me happened in theirs. So, for me to do a complete write-up here would not do the event justice.

It was a lot of fun. Probably the most fun I’ve had gaming in a long time. I really enjoyed the layered nature of their game. I’ve never experienced another game like it. I had a really good gaming group for many years and we definitely had a lot of great games and storylines, but nothing as complex as the PrinceCon event.

I want to try to go next year. I may not get into gaming too much in between now and then. Or I could. Who knows. But it was nice to explore the gaming world again, even if for just one weekend.

Thanks, PrinceCon for a great weekend and Thanks for all the Fish!

 


Want to support a woman-owned business on #internationalwomensday? Can’t take the day off to participate in the #womensstrike? Don’t have anything #red to wear? Support this indiegogo campaign started by my friend Sushmita! She owns an art studio in Arlington, Va and is my dearest friend. I also wrote a poem for this project, which is called “Thou Art: The Beauty of Identity.”

Make a donation, and let me know. I will email the horrible unedited version of my badly written poem! If my embarrassing myself is not incentive enough, I don’t know what is!


 

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Today Borderline Insanity, the second installment of the Dagny Gray FBI thrillers by Jeffrey Miler  drops on Amazon.com.

If you’ve never heard of the Dagny Gray FBI thrillers, The Bubble Gum Thief, or Jeffrey Miller, I am so sorry. Stop what you are doing and buy one of his novels now…I’ll wait. Done? Good, let us continue, shall we?

I have been fortunate enough to have been friends with Jeff through our Writer’s Group for several years. I have read quite a few of his works, from early chapters of his first book, to short stories, poems, and screenplays. He is a superlative writer, and offers thoughtful and thorough critiques. You can bet that anything Jeff writes is thoroughly researched and impeccably written. He immerses himself in the subject so completely, that what comes out on the page feels very real. He doesn’t overwhelm you with detail, but allows his knowledge of the subject to flow naturally through the characters and story. You really feel as if you are in one of his novels while you are reading it.

I am a huge fan of his main character, a female FBI agent, Dagny Gray. She is as flawed as she brilliant. And I just love her. I don’t think FBI thrillers are supposed to leave the reading practically in tears by the end of a book, but I was at the end of his first book. It was exciting, and heartbreaking, and bittersweet all at the same time. It was so satisfying, that I could not wait for the second book to come out. And now, here it is!

I was lucky enough to be included on a Beta read of Borderline Insanity. Regrettably, though, I was not quite organized enough to get back to Jeff with my feedback. Still, he allowed me access to a review version of the book a few weeks ago, which I have now read in time for the actual book to be released.

In this second installment, Dagny Gray is back. In this book, she is up against another killer, a sheriff reminiscent of Joe Arpaio and his tent city in AZ, a disillusioned priest, illegal immigration, and her own eating disorder.

If I had to sum this book up in one word, I would have to say that word is powerlessness.

Father Diego Vega is fighting against is own inability to help his congregation and his lack of faith. The congregation he serves feels powerless over events in their community. And of course Dagny feels powerless over her eating disorder and dealing with her own grief. How each person in the book confronts and overcomes or not their own sense powerlessness is really the crux of this novel. It is what propels the story and causes the most conflict.

Jeff does an excellent job weaving through very difficult issues in this story. I love how he delves into the psyche of each of his characters. His ability to do this allows the reader to connect on an emotional level with this story.

I loved this book as much as I did his first novel. I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether you like thrillers or not!

 

So Many Changes


It’s been a while since I have blogged or written anything of substance. I did write a short story towards the end of last year, but I’ve been dragging my feet on the edits. And boy does it need editing.

I’ve also not written on my weight loss blog for a long time. When I went back to do so, I found that the domain expired. I’ve been trying to work with WordPress to get it back up and running, but it may take a few more days.

I’ve had a pretty rough year and a half. A lot of which centered around a terrible job that I had. I do not usually like to write about my full-time employment online. But that job consumed me. I was working pretty much nonstop in a thankless job with people who had no idea what I did or the work it took to do my job. Plus, my boss was a screamer. I spent much of my time simply trying to avoid confrontation with her. I retreated into myself in order to protect myself, and I was very unhappy. I worked all of the time, pretty much around the clock, for no additional pay.

This took a huge toll on my mental well being and my health overall. I did manage, after searching for about a year and a half, to find a new job. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, but there is a lot of potential there. And it is so much better than my other job. I still work a lot, but the atmosphere is a complete 180.

Nonetheless, it has taken me a while to mentally pick up the pieces and try to reassemble my life. It is amazing how one negative situation can affect every area of your life. I knew that I was stressed and unhappy, but I didn’t realize how much I had let it affect me until I let it go.

So, new things with me…

I have a new cat. Her name is Naomi. I’ve been tweeting about her. I bought a new flat screen tv and she is completely enamored with it. She must think it is a new window, or the people are somehow real, but it’s hilarious to watch her swat at the tv.

Obviously, I have a new job. I really do enjoy it quite a bit. The office is 24/7, so my work schedule can be kind of weird, but for now, its OK.

Nothing too new on the relationship front. I ended a relationship back in November/December with a guy I had been seeing for a little over a year. That relationship had run its course and there was no hope it was every going to turn into anything more, so I broke it off. It was a friendly break-up. We still talk, but there’s no chance I’ll restart that relationship.

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And spring has sprung here in DC. It’s almost 80 today and I took a walk in my neighborhood to get a late lunch. I went to a new restaurant, which was just wonderful. It’s called Palette22. They serve what they call “world street food” on small plates. Kind of like tapas, but better. This is kind of perfect for me. I had gastric by-pass surgery 3 years ago, and going to a normal restaurant where everything is so huge is very stressful for me. I often overeat and end up not feeling well after. Or I take home a ton of food that I never end up eating.

I had the vegan ceviche, which was OMG wonderful. And I had some kind of beef tacos. They were also delicious.

 

They also serve these plantain chips. I’m not a big fan of plantains. And I only tolerate bananas a little. But the plantain chips were fantastic and were a nice side with the vegan ceviche.

Tonight is writer’s group. My attendance over the last year has not been anything even close to regular. I’m trying to resolve that. Because my current work schedule is somewhat erratic, I will not be able to go every week, but I’m definitely going to make more of an effort when I can.


Hello Blogosphere!  It sure has been a while since I’ve written on this blog.  A couple of quick updates…

  • I have been doing a ton of writing this year.  Several essays, a couple of short stories, and of course, my middle grade novel.  I may not reach my yearly goal of 12 personal essays, but I’m not too far off.
  • I am finish up my children’s novel for Nanowrimothis year and I am almost done!  I will finish Nano successfully for the first time this year.
  • My weight loss blog is doing very well.  I have lost 127 pounds with only 46 more to go.
  • My overall health is great.

Now, onto what I really wanted to write about today…

catching fire

I saw the new Hunger Games movie last night.  I am a huge fan of the books, which I re-read in preparation to see this movie.  Anyone who has read my blog in the past knows that I am definitely an advocate of reading the book before seeing the movie.

That said, let me start my review.

Any time a book is adapted for the screen, there will be changes in how the story is told.  Film is a completely different medium, after all.  Events that can take pages or chapters to describe in a book can be done more effectively with imagery and music in film.  Conversely, a character’s inner dialogue, which can be so revealing in a book, can often be lost in film. Some film makers often use voice-overs to fill that gap, but done poorly, voice-overs can ruin an otherwise good movie.  Francis Lawrence did not use voice-overs, thankfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I thought it was a good adaptation from book to screen.  There were changes, of course, but I thought they were very true to the source material.  I think anyone who is a fan of the books will love it.  Anyone who hasn’t read the books but liked the first movie, I think will like it as well.  But be prepared, this is not your typical feel-good, holiday movie.  This movie is very emotional and has a very mixed ending.  Some good, some bad, a lot of heart-break, and a cliffhanger. Overall, I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars.

*******SPOILER ALERT BELOW!!**********

Some things that I thought were lost in this retelling:

  • Katniss’s inner dialogue and the way she analyzes each situation or thinks through the problem at hand.  Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job, but it’s hard to translate that inner struggle sometimes.
  • A sense of time.  The film sometimes felt a little rushed.  There was no sense of the time that had passed between events.  In the book there were 6 months between the 74th Hunger Games and the victory tour, A couple more months between the tour and the announcement of 75th HG, the Quarter Quell.   Then a few more months until the actual games themselves.  In total, between the 74th HG and the 75th, there was a full year.
  •  We lost the wedding dress montage.  Thankfully.  In the book, a lot of prep goes into Katniss & Peeta’s engagement and wedding.  The citizens of Panem have the chance to vote on her wedding dress and there is an entire episode where she is filmed trying on dress after dress.  Thankfully, unlike the citizens of Panem, we were spared that spectacle.
  • We lost the preparation Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss did before the games.  We also lost learning more about the other tributes through the research Peeta & Katniss did ahead of time.

That said, I do not think any of this distracted from the quality of the movie, particularly if you have not read the books.

What I loved about the movie:

  • Nothing was sugar-coated. Katniss is clearly suffering from PTSD from the last games throughout the movie.
  • The emotional connection she feels towards her family, Gale, Peeta, the other tributes, Cinna, and other people she cares about is palatable.   This keeps the movie from being just an action film.
  • I love the inclusion of showing events from Snow’s p.o.v. and Heavensbee’s p.o.v.  I think that adds a real depth to the film and ratchets up the tension.
  • Conversations with her sister.  They are few and far between in the movie, but when they do happen, you can see the connection they share.  You also know that her sister is quite clearly becoming her own person and does not need Katniss to protect her any more.
  • The friendships she begins to form with the other tributes during the games.  They work together and save each other over and over.  At one point she turns to Peeta and asks, “How are we ever going to be able to kill these people.”
  • The scene in District 11 when Peeta & Katniss speak about Thresh & Rue.  Very emotional.

I really enjoyed the movie.  That said, I was not jazzed with the ending.  I know that it was pretty true to the book, and it was a hook to get you into the 4th movie, whenever that is released, but I still found it unsettling.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy had cliff hanger endings as well, but they always ended on a somewhat hopeful note.  Francis Lawrence could take a page out of Peter Jackson’s playbook and give us a little more to hold onto.  I’m not saying have a happy ending, but this is the start of the revolution.  Ending the Capitol’s stranglehold on the districts, while complicated emotionally, is a good thing.

Yes, the movie ends with Katniss, Finnick, and Beetee being rescued from the arena, while Peeta & Johanna are captured by the Capitol.  District 12 is in ashes.  Thousands are dead.  Everything is in disarray.  But the revolution has begun and there are hints that the citizens of Panem can really hope they are able turn the tide and take control of their own fates. That, at least, is something to hold onto.

Meet Grady


Meet Grady.

I am reposting my Meet Grady blog as this little bundle of furry joy has shuffled off this mortal coil.  He was old and sick and lived a good, long, happy life.  He was a pretty great kitty.  I know his owner misses him, as do I.  😦

Rest in peace my little furry, four-legged friend!  Much love!


So, the Oscars start in 20 minutes.  I saw all but one of the movies nominated.  I have not seen Beast of the Southern Dawn, which I am disappointed about.  I really wanted to see that.  So, real quick, here are my predictions for the top 6.

Best Movie: Silver Linings Playbook

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day Lewis

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role:  Anne Hathaway

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Robert Di Nero

Best Director: Ben Affleck David O Russell

I saw Les Mis today.  Spectacular movie, but way to freaking long.  It’s not their fault entirely.  Victor Hugo’s original work was over 1600 pages.  But Silver Linings Playbook has just stuck with me.

Anyway, enjoy the show!  Hopefully, I can get some tweets in!  🙂