Category Archives: Writing

Writing and the craft of writing, topics will be aplenty.

The Specter Show 029: Heresy

In what can only be called a “plethora” of topics, DJ discusses such topics as the BuJoRPG 2, No Man’s Sky Atlas Rises update, Specter of the Galaxy, the Greatest Show, serial fiction, a PRO Chess League podcast, and more!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

Hashtags: #TheGreatestShow #Podcasting #TheSpecterShow #chess @TheoRossi #BuJoRPG #BuJoRPG2 #bulletjournal #NoMansSky #AtlasRises #writing #PROChessLeague

Journal of the Emerald Specter 51: Battles and BuJoRPG

Another Journal entry is being made and you’re here to read it, for which I am thankful. There is another dose of this and that, with some larger pieces of the puzzle being more prominent, I’ll still be covering a plethora of topics.

As a note, I’ve seen my traffic dip even further down. I knew that things would taper off but I was hoping that some would come here to see all kinds of stuff, not just come here for a singular purpose. I’ve got a lot of interests and I guess I was hoping that there would be “something” that would keep readers coming back. Maybe what is contained within this article will help with that, at least in a couple of the subjects.

I’m starting out with the one thing that has kind of dominated my week. As I write this, I’ve dove deep into the game to get my mind working in the direction I need in order to grow my chess.com rating from the meager “mid-1100s” and back into growth. I’d like to be back up to the “mid-1200s” pushing to get over the 1300 hump again, and that means playing games and studying.

I’ve joined a number of chess clubs on chess.com, some of which were because I was looking for regular players to play against (without the randomness of just opening up a game). This includes my continued membership in the Team USA, US Veterans Chess, and Team USA: Northwest groups. I’ve added World League, Chess.com Chess League, Rose City Chess, Chess.com iOS Club, Knights of the Square Table, Knightmares Finest Chess, Chess.com League, and the PRO Chess League.

That last one is the one I’d like to expand this article into… a little history needs to be dropped, first.

In 2005, the United States Chess League (USCL) was formed to be a United States “nationwide” organization for team chess play. The league expanded over the course of 11 years to include 20 teams, running in a similar fashion to the other sports leagues of the United States.

I say 11 years because in 2016, the USCL announced a change to include the entire world worth of teams, and changed its name to the Professional Rapid Online Chess League, or PRO Chess League.

In 2017, the PRO Chess League ran 48 teams through a seven week chess season, ending in a five week playoff season to crown the St. Louis Arch Bishops the 2017 PRO Chess League Champions. The biggest development in the PRO Chess League over the USCL was the inclusion of some of the biggest names in chess today competing, including World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway Gnomes), Wesley So (St. Louis Arch Bishops), Hikaru Nakamura (Miami Champions), and Fabiano Carauna (Montreal ChessBrahs).

The 2018 season is going to be organized in a different fashion due to the confusion of having 48 teams. There will only be 32 teams for this second season, 24 automatically qualify to participate, and the other 24 will battle for their chance (along with any new teams that may spring up) to be one of the final 12 teams to compete in the 2018 season proper. This is as close to a “promotion/relegation” system that PRO Chess League will get, though I will be very interested to see how this format works.

Along with the analysis of my own personal games through this column (perhaps a separate column in the future), I have approached someone about being a co-host on a PRO Chess League podcast. Depending upon how that contact works out, I would be interested in making the podcast the “official” podcast, then be able to have access to official video, commentary, and interviews with the stars of the league.

If this approach ends up not panning out, I’ll still attempt to do what I’ve stated above, just as a solo host, and I’ll still try to get the podcast labeled official. The thing I lose without the co-host is the analysis of someone who knows what they’re doing at a much greater level.

I do have other option, I just really want to work with this person.

No game to analyze this time, I have several games going at the moment and I’ve earmarked a specific game for analysis (which, as I write this, is still underway). Stay tuned.

I haven’t been into the UFC as much this year as I have in the past. There was a long run of the past four or five years where I was actively watching matches, following certain fighters, and making sure that UFC was “appointment viewing.”

In 2017, I’ve only watched two UFC events and I’m a little sad about that.

Writing about the UFC is something I enjoyed doing, following the UFC has been much more interesting than following boxing (for fans of mine who don’t know my history with boxing, I used to be a devout follower of the sport… until hugging and terrible matchups started ruining the experience). I want to dedicate myself to at least commenting on the UFC a little as I work my way back to following the big fights and upcoming superstars.

So, onto a little commentary…

UFC 214 was a nice way to break back into the UFC for me, allowing me to see some of the best fights in a while. Cyborg beat the hell out of an undeserving Tonya Evinger (I have a column about my disgust with her shell of a victory in Invicta over an opponent by the Missouri Sports Commission rather than getting it done in the ring)… good job Cyborg. Woodley defeated Maia in a match that was mostly boos by the crowd but I understand why that one turned out the way it did. Finally, the main event of the evening was the much anticipated rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, something that has been scheduled at least twice before but failed to happen. This will be the focus of this segment.

Despite seeing what Cormier has done against opponents as the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, I really considered Jon Jones the champion since he never lost the belt… he was stripped of the belt. Having no Jones in the UFC has been an experience that I don’t want to experience again… but the problem was Jones’ inability to stay clean or out of trouble, which is all up to the man I considered the champion going into this fight. The closer this fight came to happening, the more I worried that one of these guys wouldn’t be able to fight due to an injury, something that has happened to Cormier a lot in his reign.

With the win of Jones to regain his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, we return to the situation we were in before Jones started having “out of ring” issues. I look forward to seeing what else Jones can do now that he’s back with gold around his waist.

The event, overall, was epic.

The biggest traffic getter on EmeraldSpecter.com is, by far, the BuJoRPG that I released. I continue to test, expand, and bullet journal. The traffic drop off that has been steadily declining is the traffic coming to the site for bullet journaling specifically. I can’t argue that I made a good move developing the BuJoRPG, but I’d like to keep the hits coming…

Testing and development in the BuJoRPG system has been changed in a slight way. If I tested the way that I tested the first time, you wouldn’t see another BuJoRPG release until almost the end of 2017. I don’t want to wait that long, as a result, I’ve modified how I’m testing things to be able to develop the BuJoRPG system a little faster.

I don’t know why I didn’t do things this way in the first place.

I’ve modified the Quest system, breaking it up into long and short term lines. XP varies for each of them and I think that I’ll be fine leaving the system the way I am currently using it (as of this writing).

A promise of bringing in “gear” has caused the biggest delay in the next release. I am doing a “real time” test of the money system (RPG money, not real money) to be able to acquire the gear because I want to see if the acquisition of the initial items is realistic and gives you something to shoot for… and I’m liking what I am seeing so far.

With the response I’ve gotten and what I see others using the BuJoRPG system (with or without modifications), I am seeing if there is anything else I’d like to include as I stray closer to putting together the next edition of the system. I’m working with version 1.8 at the moment, so I think that I may be releasing “2.0,” whether or not the changes are significant enough to call it “BuJoRPG 2.”

I think using the version system, I can leave the door open for “sequels” in the way I just used that… Ver 2.0 vs BuJoRPG 2…

Things are definitely looking good and I’m excited to show you all what I’ve got coming out.

I stalled in starting working out when I said I was going to start. Work hours ramped way up on me three days before I wanted to start and I was freaking exhausted when the actual day rolled around. I really wanted to have something specific to report, but I guess I’ll just pass along what the plan is for the start of the next week.

My week starts on Saturday. This keeps my postal week, bullet journal week, and workout week all on the same rotation. I don’t want any confusing day changes just because a “traditional” rotation for working out starts on Sunday. My workouts, my week.

The plan for the week looks like this:

Saturday – Legs
Sunday – Rest
Monday – Back and Biceps
Tuesday – Chest and Triceps
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Legs and Abs
Friday – Shoulders

Friday is going to be a rest day until my shoulders stop hurting. I have an impingement in both shoulders, with my left shoulder being exponentially worse than my right, I don’t even think I could do half the exercises that I ned to in order to work them out… I’m not super worried about my shoulders being worked out right now, since I’m no longer working for a “swole look,” I’ll just be making sure most of the groups even up.

If you’re wondering about cardio, that is an interesting topic. I am a letter carrier for the post office and I basically have cardio going on all day long on days that I work. I’ll be doing some form of pre-workout cardio in addition to all that, but I am leaning heavily on my job to provide the majority of the cardio as I start back out on this journey again.

The other important part of this journey is getting back to clean eating. Due to my wife locking down the spending in our house (we maintain a specific dollar amount in the checking account as we put regular amounts in savings each paycheck), we started going back to eating at home more often than not.

Several years ago, when I had issues eating dairy in any form, my wife and I started eating much better. My working out was accompanied by even better eating and we haven’t stopped eating the quality foods that we switched to (when we eat at home), allowing us to see weight loss on days we eat at home (for me, at least).

Any diet is a lifestyle change, if that diet is to work. As soon as you go back to eating the garbage you were eating before your “diet,” you’ll start regaining all your nasty weight again. This is something most people aren’t aware enough to understand. This is why most people fail at their weight loss goals.

All in all, I’m eating out far less… the money constriction is a blessing in disguise. I just need to lay off the sweets now and I’ll be back to eating completely clean.

Baby steps, I guess… baby steps.

I’ll close this column out with the storytelling header. This won’t talk about the serial fiction, though, this will be about the BuJoRPG.

Wait, what?

The base system for the BuJoRPG will be without a storyline, but the templates won’t. I’ve said this before and I’ll continue to hint at the possibility for EVERY template to have a story.

The one I’m most interested in is the Wuxia template, though. I’m going so far as to release the title of this next version of the template… that title will be the Rise of the Iron Garden.

Interested in learning why? Well, that is also allowing me to elaborate on the initial Wuxia template story, then I can properly build up each successive expansion.

This is short, but I hope it was interesting.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 50: Welcome to the Journal

Since this is a journal of everything I’ve been doing, want to do, and will speculate about, thus begins the old “Emerald Specter” column in the new “Journal of the Emerald Specter.” You are not incorrect when you see “50” behind that, because this is the 50th edition of this column (even though it has a new name).

I whipped up a “graphics package” for this column and as you can see, I’ve decided to begin with the “aged paper/olde timey log book” look. If I decide to switch up the look, I’ll just go ahead and do that without any further “big announcement,” because aesthetics aren’t worthy of a big announcement (unless it’s for the whole website).

So, since we’re here on a new column pushing forward with a new format, let’s see what we have involved with our headings that applies for today.

I sit and write this column before my attempt to finish out “episode 2” of the serial fiction that I’m working on. My third editor has actually received episode 1, and much to my delight, has already begun reading what I sent. That has encouraged me to move forward and get episode 2 done and work towards the ending of season one.

In the world of No Man’s Sky, I’ve been playing randomly zipping through the galaxy while I wait for the update 1.3 (Waking Titan) to drop… and I’ve really gotten enthusiastic about my game again. I played for six hours over the course of the last two days and I’m looking to really push into the game again today to see what else I can accomplish. The storytelling elements for the narrative are still falling into place, too, as I work out the bugs of where the story will go. I can only do so much on that front at the moment, though, because without knowing what will be added to the game, I don’t want to plan an air tight story that can be upset with the slightest “new shiny” being added to the game.

While the next storytelling piece technically belongs under this heading, I’ve determined that it needs to go under this one, instead:

I have been testing out the processes of the new things I’m working on, and even though I am really, really early in the testing process, I think this is going to be a good development. Knowing that things are going as well as I think they are, this will bring me to what ties this segment into the above segment.

As promised, new releases of the BuJoRPG would be accompanied by “story elements” to build up a narrative that anyone using the system can participate in. The “base system,” or the system without a template, won’t get this story element but I have begun working on the barest of an outline for the BuJoRPG: Wuxia template and the Untitled BuJoRPG Space template… yes, new template for a new release.

Do you have a template idea you’d like to see? Well, there are two ways you can see that come to fruition for future releases… the first one is to create the template yourself and send the link to me so that I can share that with the world (full credit to you). The other is to email emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com and float the idea at me, giving me something to consider for future releases.

The return of SpecterFit! As prophecies many moons ago, I have resurrected the column in the form of a segment in the “flagship” column of the whole site. I had a hard time filling up my personal column size requirement (periodically) before, so now I’m going to do this as large as it needs to be as part of THIS column.

Starting yesterday (as you read this), I began working out again at home to get in a weight loss mode intending to lose another 15 to 20 pounds before deciding on a gym in my area.

In North Dakota, where I came from, there was a Gold’s Gym that was on the way to work. That made going to the gym before work super convenient and I was energized to go because I had no excuses for missing.

In Oregon, I don’t have access to a Gold’s Gym in a reasonable travel distance. I am searching for other gyms in the area to visit, before work preferably, and that will allow me to get the workouts done before draining myself for a long day of delivering mail.

One thing that I realize is that I didn’t really know what my focus for going to the gym was… was I going to gain mass muscle and get “bigger?” Well, yes… was I going to lose weight and get slimmer? Um, yes… and there lies the problem.

Weight loss is all about making a number shrink to achieve a poundage that fits with the body image that makes me healthier in general. The simple way to achieve this is to lift weights for toning and load the rest of the workout with cardio (the primary means of burning the fat).

Trying for muscular gains is a whole different ball of wax. Muscle weighs more than fat, and so if I’m both trying to lose weight and gain muscle, I can’t really concentrate on the number that shows up on the scale. I wasn’t thinking like that in North Dakota and now that I’m thinking about that here, I really need to decide which one I really want.

While I would love to be bulked up like professional bodybuilders, I think that the shedding of the weight and toning up the muscles that I already have should be my primary focus. That means I’m not looking to lifting the heaviest amount of weight I can as often as I can to build impressive looking muscles. I have gained some mass in my arms and legs, but not nearly what I hope to gain in the process… and I’m sorely lacking in “an ass.” Like a lot of males in the modern day, my glutes have shrunk in the absence of my cross country running from high school to zero running for anything other than a cardio boost before lifting.

What I’m saying is that I need to shape some of this body and once I attain that short goal, maybe then I can look at bulking if that is still something I’d like to do in the future.

Unless you’ve never read anything I’ve ever written on this website, you know that I love the game of chess and follow the professionals in a casual way. That means I know who Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Vishwanathan Anand, and Hikaru Nakamura are, where they generally fall into the hierarchy of modern professional chess, and which tournaments that they participate in but I am not so much into following the “break down every game” of the tournaments they play in.

I am, however, going to start seriously investigating my own games and seeing if I can present them in the way that I think pro chess can be presented to the world at large for a larger audience.

That leads me to ask you all who are reading that play the game: would you like to play a game or two of chess with me?

I am a member of chess.com and I have a paid account, meaning I can play quite a few games at a time. You only need a free account to play me and I believe you can play at least a couple of games at a time without worrying about needing to play more than that. I invite all levels of player, and at the time of this writing, my current chess.com rating is 1191 (I’ve had a bit of a dip due to several losses in mini-tournaments that I was one of the lowest ranked players in… I usually run between 1175-1300).

The reason I would want to “play a couple” against you is to analyze both a game where I play white and one where I play black.

Finally, I end with one of my favorite sports: sumo.

The Nagoya Basho ended with Hakuho winning his 39th Yusho (tournament victory) and setting the all time win record at 1049. I’m happy for him and I’m also interested to see whether or not he’ll retire now (since he’s accomplished so much) or if he’ll wait until he starts doing worse in competitions just so he can make that win record so high it’ll be hard to top?

Time will tell.

I wanted to include a bit about this, even though there isn’t a basho going on right now, because if you have any interest in sumo at all, NOW is the time to start watching. There are several new, young sumo wrestlers (rikishi) that have entered the top division (Makuuchi) in the past three months that are worth your attention.

Ura and Ishiura are the two “little guys” really making waves right now, and even my wife comes to the TV to watch Ura’s matches with me (because he does some wild moves, things I’ve never seen anyone else do, much less at the frequency with which he performs them). Ishiura does some wild stuff, too, but he’s seemingly struggling to stay consistent as Ura is as far as competing at the high level he started out at.

The next tournament is in September and I would suggest you check out Kintamayama’s YouTube Channel for the “daily digest” releases (for those of us who can’t see anything near a live feed or an all encompassing “recap” of the matches). He’s the best.

* * *

I should have a “breaker” graphic for the finale of the column, I’ll work on that for next time… and as NFL season starts up I’ll talk about football, as Premier League season starts up (same season) I’ll talk about that football, and so on… if it interests me, it’ll probably be in this Journal of the Emerald Specter.

Toodles.

The Specter Show 026: Underneath the Skin

There is a little bit about the BuJoRPG (well, about half the show, actually), talk about where the Greatest Show is headed (complete with explanation!), a bit about what I’d like to do with THIS show, sumo talk (not what you think it is), and more about the serial fiction for Emerald Specter.com!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Dirk Manning

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

Hashtags: #BuJoRPG #bulletjournal #SerialFiction #Storytelling #TheGreatestShow #Podcasting #TheSpecterShow #Sumo #DoctorWho #GameOfThrones #Movies #theperiodictableofawesome @theperiodictableofawesome @MissMiniver @RoseCityCC

Emerald Specter 48: We Are Still Here

A new graphic for a new era. Welcome back to the Emerald Specter column on Emerald Specter.com!

With the release of the BuJoRPG to the world through bulletjournal.com, I received an uptick in traffic. One would expect such things, especially through a charged creative community like bullet journaling. That said, I had gotten a ping on Patreon, which I’d all but given up on, and I have decided to update the Patreon page and keep that going, now, meaning we’ll be re-adding the link to the Patreon page again to the side bar.

There is a lot I wanted to mention in a lot of different places. Primarily, I was looking to get some writing done and one of the things I hadn’t initially considered was writing a column. Sometimes I forget to write a column, which is funny, since I had a plan on writing this column up to edition 50 and then resurrecting the SpecterFit column anew. That has not fallen by the wayside, as I am going to renew my dedication to getting this site back to where I had it going in the first place… forward.

I will be talking more about my own personal fandoms. YouTube will become a more important part of Emerald Specter.com, as well. I have both the “old” Emerald Specter Channel (hereafter referred to as Channel 2), as well as the new Emerald Specter Channel (hereafter referred to as Channel 1). Those who are observant will note that Channel 1 is completely empty as of this post… that’s because we’re getting ready to content the hell out of it… be patient, Channel 2 is still there.

SpecterFit will return as promised. If you’re just joining us, the column is about getting fit, doing more fitness, learning about nutrition, and all that to include weightlifting or bodybuilding. I’m jumping back on my fitness bandwagon and that will result in all kinds of wonderful content.

Maybe this website will turn into a “digital bullet journal” for the site? I doubt there is a plugin for WordPress that would accommodate that, so let’s not speculate down that road too far.

I’ve mentioned on the Specter Show about my intent to create a story around No Man’s Sky (the game). There is a nice little story in there, but I wanted to expand on the options I had by creating a bigger narrative that I thought would be interesting to follow. Some of the content would be live streamed, with my wife and I being “pseudo-in character” for the broadcast, but another tale can be told in a far more edited fashion as well. I can either tell the same story or tell two different stories, but I think the same story would be easier to go with for my inaugural venture into this type of storytelling. There is a big update coming (in the form of Waking Titan), so I’ll be holding off on developing this until that comes out… knowing what new options I’ll have may take the story in a special direction. Time will tell, of course.

Where is the content that was promised from the other hosts of the Greatest Show? Great question, because I am also wondering about that. Kevin is apparently still waiting on others to join his group, Metal Jesus hasn’t gotten to where he wants to be for a show, Bob is working most of the time (I’ve got an idea for Bob that I’ll be sharing with him in the next couple of days), Rachel said she’d be podcasting on her own channel (and that hasn’t happened at all), and that’s where I am at the moment. Who knows when any of that will start, since I’m the only one creating content actively at the moment, I guess I’ll worry about myself.

The Greatest Show will be returning on September 9 and I’m pretty certain we have our first guest locked and loaded for that broadcast. After that, I’m still working on other guests to come on board… my initial idea was to get other podcasts, YouTube shows hosts, and bloggers to come on to “cross pollinate” our audiences a bit. That has resulted in zero responses, even to people who initially said “we’ll get back to you.”

Really, when?

So, I’ve decided to spread the options out a bit (of which I discuss on the 25th Specter Show)… with luck, we’ll get some hits and see where we can go with the show.

Lastly, I’m going to start scheduling things. I want to start working out again, I want to set up a regular writing schedule, I want to make sure this/these columns come out on a regular basis again, and I want the podcasts to continue being a regular thing at a regular time on a regular basis. Since I have a bullet journal, I think that I need to get my act together a lot more than I already have to get things moving forward on this site…

Welcome to the new age of Emerald Specter.com… we are still here.

The Specter Show 024: All the Pigs, All Lined Up

With the recording happening later than expected, a quick update on things BuJoRPG is had… as well as a tidbit or two about the serial fiction progress, leading in the specific direction intended. The biggest talk is about the No Man’s Sky game, the narrative I’m going to be telling using the game, and about the Waking Titan ARG leading to the next big update for the game.

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Dirk Manning

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

The Specter Show 023: Reptilian

Welcome to the Specter Show, if this is your first episode, there is a little bit of discussion about the BuJoRPG (thanks to the article recently posted on bulletjournal.com), my serial fiction progress, and a little health update for those wondering why I’ve “gone dark.”

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

The Specter Show 022: Screaming Slave

Did you know that there was a Walker Stalker/Heroes & Villains Fanfest in Portland? Well, there was… and did you know that you’ll get a little bit of information about the impending serial fiction series for Emerald Specter.com? Well, you will… and did you know you can contact DJ at emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com, @EmeraldSpecter on both Instagram and Twitter, as well as finding out more on EmeraldSpecter.com?

Now you do.

Emerald Specter 46: Progress and What’s Next

Writing is happening, actually happening, and I’m focused on producing the first thing in a long time that will appear on this website that I’ve been promising for years: serial fiction.

No column for months and then two in the same month? Whoa.

On the Specter Show, and on this blog, I’ve mentioned the SerialBox and SerialTeller serial fiction sites. I don’t know what the word count is (nor how many episodes there are) on SerialBox, but I experimented a little with the SerialTeller word count suggestions and I have to say that anyone reading a story in tiny little pieces like that must be bored to tears (waiting week to week releases, or in some cases, once every two weeks).

As a short recap, SerialTeller suggests releasing at least twice a month between 600-1,250 words an episode. While I love that they think this will make a novel within a year, I can’t even fathom how small a book like that would be… not to mention the fact that while I was setting up each of my test episodes, I could barely tell a story in those short bits and certainly couldn’t build any tension.

That was rough trying, too.

I have started writing the first draft of a series I don’t really have a working title for, and instead of getting worried, you should understand that I have given it many names in the past. This latest installment, though, will be given new life in the form of serial fiction exclusively on EmeraldSpecter.com. Each episode will consist of 6,000 to 8,000 words and there will be between 12 and 13 episodes. I’m using the HBO model, where I can technically put out four different series a year, though even I’m smart enough to understand I don’t shoot for four right out of the gate.

Let’s concentrate on one, first.

I have asked my wife to edit my writing and her requirements were that I write only a single thing, stay focused, and finish that thing before attempting to do anything else. Part of my bullet journal (#BuJoRPG if you hear me!) will be removing all other distractions to focus on that one thing: writing. I will continue to learn Vietnamese, but I am dribbling that out slower than I thought I would, so the new language won’t really get in the way.

The key to giving me mad drive towards getting this writing project done will not necessarily be XP, though that will play a big part in the process. Anyone that has been following the BuJoRPG development knows I’m working on breaking up Quests into short term and long term, as well as developing a “gear system” to help achieving achievements. This will be helping develop that tiny aspect of the BuJoRPG.

Now, now… don’t think this is going to turn into a bullet journal column. I’m writing about writing. I also want to tell you how I got to where I’m at, so buckle up.

George R.R. Martin has created the wonderfully complex A Song of Ice and Fire, off which Game of Thrones is based upon. If you didn’t realize this in the myriad of reviews, videos, blogs, and other information about how he came up with this wonderful story, then let me full you in… the series is basically the same thing as the real life War of the Roses, which was how England kind of arrived at what they have today as far as royalty and such.

My first inclination was to grab some other historically awesome conflict and write the same type of thing… and the basis I wanted to use was Eastern culture (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese… THAT Eastern). I couldn’t really find anything I felt fit the bill, and I took the rough (rough, rough, ROUGH) draft of an old story, put a twist in it, and started mapping out what I wanted to do.

Initially, I had a pretty complex map laid out (similar to the beginning of the first Martin book/Game of Thrones season one) but when I ran that by my wife, she rolled her eyes and said she wouldn’t edit that…

Because I haven’t really finished anything and if I can’t tell a single story, how can I tell multiple stories?

So, I went back to the drawing board and looked at what I had. Yesterday, as I write this, I figured out that I should start with three characters, each with a different perspective, and I can still have the world around them continuing on as normal while they show us the world through their eyes.

For example, Joe Schmuckatelly shows us how one facet of the world operates, introduces us to the different species on the world that they inhabit, and gets to meet some of the visitors to this one specific location that will be leading us to other important things in the future… Jane Doe also is one of our characters, who also gets to meet some of the other people who will be important in the future AND she is going to be venturing out into the world on an assignment, allowing us our first glimpse at what the world looks like and how that world operates. John Q. Public is our third character, and he has a very specific task, which paints a completely different picture of the world (looking the other direction, basically) about what is going on and what is on the horizon.

I can’t really give you analogs of who is who compared to Game of Thrones characters because they’re each their own character. I am excited about writing this and I am currently 3,000 words in on the first draft already.

Things are starting to look up for making the entertainment I wanted to make and hopefully that continues well into the future (with more series!).

Thanks for stopping by and have a successful day, everybody!

Think on it.

Emerald Specter 45: The Roundup

It’s been a while since I’ve written a column. The time seems to be right, as there are several things that are going to be happening that I’d like to let everyone know about just before things start happening. Rather than preamble about vagaries, why don’t we just get to the meat of this column? There will be bolded topic headers this time, so you can skip past the parts you don’t care about reading about.

The Greatest Show

When Bob and I started the Greatest Show a little over three years ago, we just wanted to have fun conversations and talk about all kinds of neat stuff. We would get the occasional guest, plenty of viewership, and we would just have a grand old time.

I miss those days.

Once we got past the 50th Epiversary, things started to change. This is not a bad thing, but they changed nonetheless. We didn’t necessarily get together as often, or we started adding the next wave of hosts (Kevin Couick, “Metal Jesus” Kevin Lama, with appearances by Rachel, Saurabh, Miss Miniver, and Quinny from the Periodic Table of Awesome Podcast). Some shows were themed, some had an “anchor topic,” and other shows just sort of meandered about having no real direction.

We had some big hits (the lure topic, which does contain instructions, in The Greatest Show 89: How to Hide Porn on Your iPhone) and some accidents (The Greatest Show 84 Parts 1 & 2, which were filmed while I was watching UFC 200 and some folks thought I was illegally live streaming it).

As far as the latest news, there has been trouble determining how to get everyone together for one big show. I attempted to do it on episode 100 (where we had Bob, both Kevins, Tricia, and myself… though I was attempting to get on all past hosts like Saurabh, Carl, and Morgan) and also for other shows (like the Miss Miniver and Quinny appearances, where we had shorter casts than normal both times).

We still have issues. We are all adults living adult lives and doing regular living of life. Saurabh has a job where he can’t really make tons of plans to appear because of a pseudo-“on call” status. Bob has a job where he’s working tons of hours and the shifts aren’t always the best. Metal Jesus has RPGs that come up from time to time and he doesn’t want to miss them. Kevin Couick has his own rounds of gaming he does that interferes sometimes. Rachel has school and work, which for a student is a hectic schedule. Tricia and I would love a few weekends off, and since I’m the driving force behind the show, that doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

This Saturday, on June 17, we will be having The Greatest Show 135. There will then be following (sometime before the end of June) the very last “scheduled” Greatest Show Fight Series. After the GSFS, the Greatest Show will be going on hiatus until September 9, when the Rose City Comic Con is in Portland and we have a load of geek to talk about again.

I’m sad the show is taking another extended break but everyone needs some time. We talked about shifting the recording time but no one can agree on what is best, which gives me an idea to have at least two casts that rotate but we’ll see how that works out in the future. There are other guests I’d like to bring on, semi-permanent hosts I’ve been working to get into the act, and other neat stuff, too… but if I want to get done what I’d like to get done, I also need the break.

It is not dead, just resting.

BuJoRPG Development

I get a lot of traffic from YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram when I post or talk about the BuJoRPG. I knew people would like the concept but I’m shocked at how much traction it is already getting. This, of course, pushes me to develop a little harder than I was before, and I probably won’t be talking about it for entire shows (the Specter Show, for example) until the next release is ready.

There is a direction I definitely want to take the system in, I want to have a “collector” version (where you’re unlocking characters to collect), and I definitely want to figure out a way to have some sort of “encounter” within the confines of self improvement. I’ve been calling that last part combat up until recently.

With the next release I want to update the Wuxia template and release a brand new template, too. I’m hoping others will get in on the game and create some templates, and I’ll even link them here with full credits to the creators.

The Specter Show

When I started the Specter Show, I wasn’t super sure what I was going to talk about. Updates from the site, some discussion about what happened on the Greatest Show, and a single main topic has really developed out of the show that I didn’t really want to keep up with in that way.

The last episode, the Specter Show 020: Throw This Away, I spent most of the episode discussing a single topic. This is more than likely going to be the way I go from here, talking about a single geeky topic that I love and if there is some “news” that needs to be discussed in a semi-timely manner, I’ll include that, too.

My listenership has dipped a little, but I’m still getting enough downloads to make me happy and driven to want to continue. With Apple’s WWDC announcement about podcasts (this isn’t the announcement, but they do talk about podcasting a bit), I’m really interested to see what I can use the information for in order to develop my main show into something bigger. The gist of the announcement is that there is going to be heavy back end data that I’ll have access to in order to see what my listeners want to hear, what the skip, and I can develop new shows from that point to improve the site as a whole.

Serial Fiction

If you don’t understand why this topic header is here, go listen to the Specter Show released yesterday.

The latest craze sweeping the Internet is serial fiction. People are posting short “chapters” of fiction that may or may not be geared towards eventually making them into a novel. Some people are just posting them in one, long continuous story. The Starkiller Cycle, for instance, is just a side project for a couple of authors on the side, whereas places like SerialBox and SerialTeller are places for serial fiction authors (SerialBox is for professionals, SerialTeller is for the rest of us).

As you can imagine, or if you have a long enough memory, you will realize I’ve been trying to do something like this for over a decade and with the Greatest Show going on hiatus, this is the chance I have to start something up.

I am toying with two release models, both of which I will use to see which one works best for my audience (and my own personal schedule). SerialTeller suggests chapters be between 600-1,250 words and be released at least twice a month. I personally believe that 600 words is way too small, but I am going to utilize this model to see how it works for my storytelling. I have a series that will be utilizing this format for at least the first “season,” then I will see if it continues in that format.

The other format I’m toying with is the one I call the HBO format. Using 1,000-2,000 word “episodes,” I’ll release a season at a time in 12 to 13 straight weeks. After the season, another story will be told using the same format. This can be done four times in a year because 52 weeks breaks down into four 13 week segments. Welcome to HBO’s model.

Am I looking to do four series a year, rotating in a new series now and then? Not right away, but there is certainly room for that… unless the SerialTeller model works better for me. I do like the idea of a non-continuous release schedule, though.

The Doctor Who Podcast(ing)

I mentioned on the Specter Show a ways back about reading episode synopses for Doctor Who and putting out the audio as a podcast. Well, with the hiatus of the Greatest Show, this is going to start happening. There will be time to record some episodes and as promised, I’m looking at releasing at least the first two stories before deciding whether or not I’ll continue.

There is another thing I toyed with and I thought I’d put it out here, just in case someone else is interested.

What if there were synopsis reads that had some added value? I’m actually talking about using the Doctor Who story with a little “rework,” something to make the whole of Doctor Who fit into a narrative (created by me, and others if they want to help). How about an example?

An Unearthly Child is a story (four episodes) about the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara going back to 100,000 BC and helping get a tribe back on the right track with fire building. Now, with my “narrative addition,” I’d add something like an observer in the background… or a whole additional episode dealing with something related to the cavemen but including a Silurian (just a thought)… or perhaps we learn something about the Doctor that we didn’t know before…

The idea is to “refresh” Doctor Who a bit, and allow me some creativity towards one of my favorite properties. I’ve also thought of slipping in a few of my own stories, like the one where William Hartnell’s Doctor and Colin Baker’s Doctor try to undo a failed time experiment. What about the one where all versions of the Master combine to finally make a run at the Doctor in a way they never have before (the as-yet-unseen multiple Master story)?

These are just thoughts. I’d love feedback.

Comic Book Universe

The hiatus is the launch of a few of my project options, notwithstanding, the one where I start creating my comic books. The Greatest Show isn’t a crutch on this one, nor is it on the serial fiction part, but I’m using the added free time to really get into the projects I wanted to actually complete.

I want to have a full script written for my initial graphic novel before December 31 2017. I want to have the first GN drawn before the end of 2018. I want to release the first GN as soon as possible after that, all the while I work on the next installment in the shared universe I’ve spent the better part of two decades working on.

Hopefully you are excited in reading what I’m offering, and hopefully the price point is more than sweet for you to actually pay to read it. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it nailed just right, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, yet.

Site Branding

The last thing I want to cover is the Emerald Specter brand.

This isn’t about changing the theme on the website, or totally redesigning the direction I want to go in… or even about changing anything major about what I’m already doing.

I am talking about giving the site a definitive identity as far as branding goes, so if you see the Emerald Specter logo you can guarantee that logo means “x” rather than “what the hell is that?”

With the serial fiction, my series will all be given “banners” with “An Emerald Specter Original” on it. The podcasts will also be branded with the logo, some with “exclusive” and some with other terms, so that you can start seeing the logo as a meaning of a certain level of quality.

But DJ, the Greatest Show, while entertaining, has always had a fast and loose feeling… how will that change with “quality” control?

When I used to run my old website, LimeFlavored.com, I had an accompanying podcast with that where I was firmly using a show format to produce the episodes. I had a rundown, how long to talk about which topics, and all the prompts to keep me from “umming” and “ah-ing” my way through the audio. I haven’t really ever done that for the Greatest Show.

When the Greatest Show returns, there will be a format… new graphical elements (like cover art on both YouTube and this website when the audio version is put out), new video elements (like an original opening and closing sequence), we will have a firm rundown (a list of topics that we will stick to, or if we have what we had on episode 134 with Quinny, we’ll roll with the wonderful impromptu stuff because it turned out awesome), and we will have themes. Geeky, nerdy, pop culture, and generally entertaining themes.

The Specter Show will also be soon using a rundown on a weekly basis. I’ve been doing the show off the cuff and while I’m getting better at that, I want to be far more professional sounding than I currently am. There will be some audio changes in the future, too, as I establish my rundown creation I’ll also start ramping up the audio quality. While I don’t have a podcast studio at present, recording in sound quality environments will begin occurring as soon as humanly possible.

With both the Greatest Show and the Specter Show, editing will be happening more frequently and with more care. I still like the live aspect of the Greatest Show but consideration for removing the live element will be considered in favor of a higher quality product.

Any new podcast will BEGIN with this higher quality of audio production, which means that you won’t get a new podcast until you start noticing a wonderfully improved Specter Show. I am setting a deadline, including that in my bullet journal, and that way I’ll achieve that goal.

I don’t expect millions of people to this site, but I’d really like to be able to expect a couple thousand, even if only to check things out. The branding is about accomplishing that goal.

Lastly, if you were wondering what 2,000 words looks like for the serial fiction, this column is 2,411 words long. I just wanted to give you an idea at what you’d be looking at for reading.

Thank you, and think on it.