I started with the best of intentions and a kind of need to prove I could do it again. That I still had it in me. Probably the biggest obstacle I was facing was that I had only the roughest of ideas for a story and not even a sketch of an outline.

The road clung to them like a jealous lover in an unfamiliar tavern. Dirt and sweat and stink along with three nights of sleeping rough and the accompanying bug bites to prove it. The horses were gone, along with their saddles, bags, and harness. Lost somewhere in the Cairn Wood. Brael had a handful of coins left in his money bag, his kit, and about three bites of hardtack remaining when they finally walked back out of the wood.

“Well, you’d think a damn big stack of rocks would be easier to find. That’s all I’m saying,” Glauston said as they stood within the shadow of the forest gazing out over the meadow.

“Forest is a bit, more, than I was expecting,” Brael said with a shrug and a grin. “Besides, that horse was shit. And we found half a dozen stacks of rocks, it’s gotta be out there. Somewheres. But we made it back out and the timber lane can’t be more than two miles off. We’ll be back to civilization within half a day.”

“Somewheres, indeed. The horses might have been shit, but my gear wasn’t,” Glauston said. “I’m inclined to think you owe me a saddle.”

Brael slapped the big man on the back and stepped out of the shadows. “Let’s go. And I’m not buying you shit.”

They found the Timber Lane right where they expected and after brief exchange of opinions decided that they were probably north of Lara and should probably keep heading away from the village.

“It’s entirely possible that the whole Cairn of Tharham story was just to get us to leave,” Brael said as they stopped to share their remaining bread and tack.

“Bah,” Glauston dismissed the idea. “We hadn’t even been there a week. We were good for another three or four days, I tell you.”

“You did punch that guy’s cow.”

“It was a bull. I wouldn’t punch a cow. Standards, Brael, you’ve got to have standards.”

“Oh, I’ve got standards, big guy. You didn’t see me punching anyone’s livestock. Besides, even had you knocked it out, instead of pissing it off, what was the point?”

Glauston spit a bit of gristle over his shoulder and grinned. “No point. Just a bet.”

“You’re an idiot.” They both laughed. Glauston at the look on the farmers face when he walked over and punched his bull. Brael at the sight of his friend running back across the field and hopping the fence to get away from the angry animal.

I just started writing, with hardly any idea where I was going. I tried to keep things on the rails and write toward some amorphous cohesive theme. Basically, I needed to build toward a group of five characters doing a thing successfully. But get there through a series of partial successes and outright failures. My lack of planning made the whole thing feel like an uphill climb.

“I’ll let you a bed, but you’re not sleeping on my blankets until you’ve had a wash. The two of you stink like you been sprayed by a trollskunk.”

The two exchanged a look of shared revelation. “Trollskunk,” they said in unison.

“I’m not going to say that we weren’t,” Brael said to the innkeep. “But I am just curious, are trollskunk’s good eating?”

The innkeeper laughed and shook good naturedly. “They’re better eating than possum, a bit bony, but they’re a little tricky to catch. Seems you boys figured that bit out, though. Next time, look for a rabbit. They’ve got more meat and less stink. Now, about that bath.”

“You’ll not get an argument from either of us on that point,” Brael said laying out three of his remaining coin.

The bath was brought to their room and their clothing was taken away to be laundered.

“You were a farmer, Brael, how did you not know about these trollskunks?”

Brael looked up from his scrubbing and got an eyeful of Glaustons nakedness. “Dude. Maybe sit in the chair and not on the table.”

“What? I just washed. You worried about tasting my ass? Maybe, don’t put your food right on the table. See, I’m a problem solver. No worries.” Glauston grinned and continued to clean his kit.

“Yeah. Thanks.” Brael said. “The only skunks I ever saw were the black and white variety, but then, like you said, I was a farmer. There is not a lot of farming that goes on in the forest. Mostly, we do the farming out in the cleared pasture and meadow lands.”

“Maybe next time, we don’t try to hit those,” said Glauston setting aside his sword and taking up his mail coat.

“We?” Brael questioned. “If I’m taking the blame for losing the horses, which was so not my fault, for the record, then you can own up to trying to smash the skunk with a log.”

“It was dragging off my pack,” Glauston said, “what would you have me do? Wave it goodbye and do nothing? Like you did with horses. A normal animal would run away when you throw a log at it. How should I know. I wasn’t a farmer.”

“I was up the tree. You were in the cave. I don’t know what happened to the horses. One moment they were there, along with all our stuff, the next minute they were gone. Something either chased them off or they wandered back to the farm we bought them from. Neither is good and neither is my fault.” Brael said as he stood to rinse off the soap.

“We should keep our ears open. Maybe we’ll hear of someone finding our horses and things in one of these villages along the forest. I mean, nobody will admit that they showed up with our stuff, but maybe we can get lucky.” Glauston handed across a towel and glanced up at the sound of a knock at the door.

The maid came through the door and bought them a bottle along with a platter of bread, meat, and cheese. Brael recognized her, but couldn’t remember her name—Dorrie or Kaerice or maybe something starting with a Th sound. He couldn’t remember, but he was certain they’d stayed at this inn in the past.

“Your clothes will be a bit longer, yet, as I’ve hung them out to dry,” She said, looking over each of the naked men before her appreciatively. She closed the door with her foot and set the tray down on the edge of the table. “Is there anything else I can do for you?” she said handing Brael the bottle and squealing as Glauston wrapped a hand around her waist and pulled her toward him.

It kinda keeps wandering along like that for 5,000 words or so. Then I hit a spot where I didn’t know where to go and I just stopped writing. This is my official announcement, I’m not even trying to get to 50k at this point. Consider me a NaNoWriMo washout.

I think I like the idea enough to keep going… but I need to outline this thing to do so. And that means I need to make time to sit down and do that. We’ll see where it goes.

November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is the shorthand version of that. What it amounts to is an annual Internet-based creative writing challenge wherein participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30. We’re almost 19-hours in and I haven’t started yet. Probably, I should post this on the blog and get going on the writing.

Here’s the inspirational book cover one more time…

Everyone wants the latest gossip and news of the province or the next town over. The local kids all think they can join up and be part of the band. The local law thinks you’re just trouble waiting to happen. Everyone is friendly, right up until you’ve done whatever they ask or rid the mill of gricks. They they want to know when you’ll be leaving, how long you’re staying, and why you haven’t left yet. Being a traveling adventurer is great. Being a trouble making scavenger isn’t. The problem is that they’re the same thing and the trick is to get out before the villagers turn on you. This is a story about that life.

The Five towns province as a populated region is 300 years old and occupies a 4,050 square mile area with an ample population density of 60 people per square mile. The area is roughly 33% arable land and has a population of 240,000.


  • 1,333 arable/settled sq. mi. (853,120 acres)
  • 2667 wilderness sq. mi. (1,706,880 acres)
  • Total Population: 240,000
    • Isolated Population: 4,800
    • Population living in villages (475): 213,600
    • Population living in towns (5): 21,600
  • Towns: (5) distance between each 28 miles
    • Northup (pop. 7,350)
    • Easton (pop. 5,880)
    • Middlemost (pop. 3,675)
    • Ottercove (pop. 3,175)
    • South Downs (pop.1,520)
  • Villages: (475) average distance between each is 3 miles, average population of 450
    • Bettle (pop. 800)
    • Brige (pop. 750)
    • Cela (pop. 600)
    • Del (pop. 525)
    • Glorian (pop. 575)
    • Lara (pop. 725)
    • Mildre (pop. 550)
    • Shirl (pop. 650)
    • Thelmat (pop. 575)
    • Tiller Fane (pop. 500)
    • And 465 others (average pop. 450)
Five Towns Province map

Natural Features:

North Cairn Wood

This large dense forest is the primary source of lumber for the Five Towns region. The wood is home to woodcutters, foresters, huntsmen, and a wide variety of wildlife, both dangerous and mundane. Several villages of faern exist within the wood and there are said to be both fairy circles and ancient monoliths located within its depths. The forest stretches north from the Bristol Rock River for 40-miles and extends west beyond the valley and into the Bristol Foothills.

South Cairn Wood

While part of the same great forest as the North Cairn Wood, the area south of the Bristol Rock River has become a far more sinister and dangerous place since the coming of the darkness. The curse is said to have originated in the forest but has since spread far out into the surrounding lands and created a blight the likes of which have not been seen in the province for hundreds of years. The creatures of the southern Cairn are less timid and more dangerous than in any other area of the Five Towns. Travelers have been avoiding the roads and trails of the wood for a dozen years and have avoided the forest itself for twice that long.

Reed Marsh

The eastern shore of Lake Reedmace was always a swamp, but with the building of the great dam to the east fifty years back all the southern lands have become an enormous marsh. The rising water table swallowed villages, castles, and roads. Undercut small dams, drowned crops, and changed the landscape entirely. With the changes have come beasts and monsters which make the everchanging land their home and hunting grounds. Some of these have come in from the river, others have simply expanded from the lake, and still others have slunk in from the darkness that has infested the neighboring South Cairn Wood.

Inland Breakers

The stretch of rolling hills that flow from the cliffs along the Emeralt Bay west to Middlemost, north beyond Ottercove and south to the borderlands are home to many vineyards, farms, and mines. The region is well populated with thorps and villages and the town of Ottercove is located in the northern area of these hills.

Lake Reedmace

Lake Reedmace is the largest lake in the province, being 7-miles wide north to south and just over 10 miles wide at its widest point. There are several basins in the lake, reaching 25 feet, 30 feet, 45 feet, 85 feet, and the deepest being 125 feet, with all five basins having relatively steep side slopes. There are several shallow bays on the lake that are less than five-feet deep and two large islands.

Active Fortifications & Ruins:

There are six fortifications scattered about the province of Five Towns. The three active fortifications consist of two keeps and a tower. All of which are used to house the king’s troops or garrisons for the empire. The remaining three structures, a castle, a keep, and a tower, are all abandoned to the wilderness and to what use is unknown. Below you will find a closer look at each of these structures.

Fort Theel

Or as it is better known to the locals, Theel Keep. Built 100 years ago, this is an active military outpost of the Kingdom. The fortress is located just north-east of the town of Middlemost. It represents the power of the Empire and casts a protective shadow across the town below it.

Theel keep is a large stone fortress that forms the fortified center of the second largest defensive compound in the Five Towns province. The keep itself is 7-stories high and sits on 7-levels of subterranean storerooms and dungeons. In addition to the viscount, the viscount’s family, and their retainers, Theel keep has a regiment of 90 men-at-arms.

The fortress is built on top of a hill and surrounded by both a water-filled moat and stone walls. Integral towers fortify the keeps corners and are accessible from within; these provide enfilading fire and strengthen the keep’s structural integrity. The keep and towers are round to better deflect attacks by battering rams or catapult missiles. The rooftops include crenellations to protect defenders as they fire ranged weapons at attackers.

Green Lake Tower

This free-standing 6-story square, stone tower sits on the eastern shore of Green Lake, some 6-miles northwest of the town of South Downs. The tower is both a garrison of 12 men-at-arms for the Kingdom and home to the local Magus (5th level Mage), her family, and their retainers. While there is no wall, there are a half dozen buildings (stables, workshops, and storage buildings) surrounding the tower and making up the campus.

Sunrise Tower

Sitting high atop the cliffs of Elizabeth Island, the keep known as Sunrise Tower acts as a lighthouse, lookout, and lockup for Otter Cove; both the town and the body of water. The compound is built from and carved into the stone of the island. The keep itself is 4-stories tall and has 4 basement levels used for securing criminals and political prisoners alike. Sunrise tower is supported by a pair of round towers and a thick defensive wall which runs along the cliff face. There is a standing force of 64 men-at-arms but has the capacity for 3-5 times as many. In addition to the soldiers, the fortress is home to the baron, baron’s family, and their retainers.

The keeps location, sheer rock walls, and single road up from the dock make assaults against it near impossible. Perched high above and overhanging the cove, the crenelated towers of the keep are able to rain destruction down on any who seek to assault it. It is said that in its 250-year history, that none have been able to breach its walls through strength of arms.

Reed Marsh Ruins

The ruins of Castle Werthingham were once the ancestral home to Lord Crichton, Earl of the Vale. The fortress has been abandoned for the last 50-years and continues to sink ever deeper into the marsh. With the conquest of the Empire came the damning of the Bristol Rock River a hundred miles south of the Five Towns and with that damn came a rising of the water table around Lake Reedmace. That series of events flooded the fertile lake valley in which the castle was located, washing away the low hill the castle sat upon and dragging at its foundation. Eventually, pulling the fortress from its hilltop throne and dragging it into the cattails. Rumor speaks of strange reptilian creatures having taken up residence in the ruins.

The Norei

Located on the western shore of Lake Reedmace but spared the fate of the far bank is the abandoned tower known as The Norei. Over the last 300-years, the squat 3-story tower has been a monastery, bandit haven, garrison, and home to the Witch of Huldra. Today, few people are willing to approach it for fear of ghosts, ghouls, and other restless spirits thought to dwell within its shadow. The tower itself is surrounded by the remains of both wooden and stone walls, an assortment of smaller structures, and a series of winding trails that seemingly go nowhere of note.

The Watch House

Before the darkness engulfed the South Cairn Wood and all communication with Chadrian ceased, this imposing fortress kept watch over traffic on the Bristol Rock River. Today, it is a looming, dark shadow on the southern bank from which erie sounds and foul odors emanate. The keep is a gathering of four square towers connected to a larger fifth by high stone walls. Each of the smaller towers is 3-stories tall and the keep itself is 2-stories taller than these. It is known that there are at least two layers dug out of the stone beneath the fortress. The portcullis has been closed since the darkness came and no one has dared approach closer than the far bank of the river.

Roads & Bridges

The province of Five Towns has been in existence for 300 years and is crisscrossed with footrails, dirt paths, and roads both stone-paved and bricked. The highroads in particular are paved, cambered for drainage, and flanked by footpaths and drainage ditches. Both the Empire and the Kingdom take seriously the need for well maintained highways. Here you will find a brief description of the most important roads and bridges of the province.

Angels Bridge — Nine miles north-east of Ottercove can be found a truly marvelous carved stone span. This high arching bridge soars high above the Lime River and is renown for its beauty. Many travelers take this route simply to see its majesty and wonder. It has been rebuilt 4-times in the past 300-years and each time it has become grander and more elaborate. It is wide enough for three wagons to cross abreast, 400-yards long, and is constructed of the palest granite so that it seems to glow even in the light of the moon.

Breakers Road — Between Easton and Ottercove, rolling over the hills of the Inland Breakers is this well-travelled and highly patrolled stretch of road. Most of this road is through arable land and many friendly villages, roadside taverns, and farmsteads are along this route.

Bridgeway Highroad — This is the road that travels between the Fiends Bridge at the southern end of the province and the Angels Bridge at the northern edge of the Five Towns region. This road passes through the towns of Ottercove, Middlemost, and South Downs. To the north, 20-miles beyond the bridge, lies the town of Clayton and beyond that the city of Staedholm. The name and nature of the Highroad changes at the Fiends Bridge, beyond which it is known as the Dark Road and the lands under the sway of the darkness.

Dark Road — This is the name given to the forest road that follows the southbank of the Bristol Rock River and plunges through the Southern Cairn Wood. Some say it is dangerous and others say it is haunted, whatever the case, it is avoided by those who live north of the river.

Earls Road — More commonly called “Muckmire Trail” by travelers. On good days, this road goes south 28-miles to Herons Crossing. On bad days it turns into an uncrossable morass 15-miles south of Easton. Once a commonly used mercantile path that has become a seasonal shortcut with the building of the damn on the Bristol Rock River.

Fiends Bridge — This is an impressive stone and wood structure which spans the Bristol Rock River at a point some 10-miles north and west of the Watch House and 6-miles south of the town of South Downs. Over the last few years it has begun to accumulate mold and rot, but it remains a sturdy bridge and is wide enough for two wagons to pass each other upon it. Due to its location, it has become a haunt for trolls, who like to nest beneath the bridge. These beasts have been driven out or slain many times, but they continue to recur.

Northton Road — Crossing the northern swath of the province between Ottercove and Northup, this stretch of road is well maintained, despite crossing a relatively unpopulated stretch of wildlands. Kings patrols are not uncommon, but the traveler should be aware that the further one goes from either end, the more dangerous it becomes.

Reedmace Road — The Reedmace splits off of the Bridgeway Highroad and crosses along the north shore of Lake Reedmace before connecting to the Tradesway Highroad northwest of Easton. This is a low traffic road that crosses through some wild territory, as a result it is not the best maintained or patrolled road for travelers. It is not unpopulated, but it is a very rural trek.

Skirtswood Road — This north-south stretch of road runs between the towns of Northup and South Downs. Along most of its length the road is populated with lumber villages due to the closeness of the North Cairn Wood just a few miles to the west.

Tradesway Highroad — Running from the heartlands through Northup, Middlemost, and Easton to the border of the Empire and into Hesepe. The border town of Frowen is 30 miles east of Easton at the Treaty Bridge and the city of Galestmore is beyond that. Much interstate commerce travels the Tradesway and it is well patrolled by the Kings soldiers.

It’s all handshakes and free drinks when you arrive. Everyone is all, “what’s the news” and “tell us where you’ve been.” Everything is great. You’re a herald, a hero, a breath of fresh air. Then you screw the mayor’s daughter or beat the shit out of some oversized farmboy maybe take too much advantage and suddenly you’re the villain. See here. Let me tell you something that maybe seems like common sense, but apparently ain’t. The trick is to leave before you lose the crowd. That’s the real life of adventure, let me tell you!

…and don’t come back

Inspired by the first two books in the Witcher series, I’m imagining this as a collection of shorter pieces. How many, I’m not sure. Could be as few as four or as many as eight or ten. At one point I was thinking as many as 30, but that seemed to be both too many and stories that would be too short. So, how many? I’m still working that part out. I’m also still working on exactly how they will be intertwined. What I do know is that these stories will take place in the Five Towns setting that I showed you a few posts back and that they will center around a group of five characters. Each tale will tell one part of how these five people have come together, become a team, and the final tale will be one showcasing them doing what they do and being successful at it. Mostly what they do is get into and stir-up trouble.

The characters in question are going to be, and these are still just very rough outlines at this point:

Alarik Hearne – Magician, wander, scavenger, and cock-sure son-of-a-bitch. Alarik is a journeyman wizard; classically trained by the former Head Magus of the College of Astral and Ethereal Studies. Alerik is charming and charismatic to those who meet him in passing, a braggart and know-it-all to those who have spent any considerable time with him, and to those who consider him a friend, he is lacking in most of the admirable traits of the common man and a damn fine manipulator. But he is loyal to his friends, in an overly assumptive way and always ready to exploit a situation. Alarik has a romantic history with Juliet and a companionable friendship with Brael. He likes to think of himself as the leader of this scruffy band of scavengers, but in truth he is more the instigating force behind most of their adventures. It is his constant search for the spellbooks and lost libraries of the wizards of the previous age that pushes the group forward and drives most of their adventures.

Brael Kavan – Affable and polite. He is a bastion of common good sense, a positive soul, and a cold emotionless fighter. Starting life as a farmer who became caught up in the war, he quickly found the chaos of battle and conflict to be an environment in which he could thrive. Disillusioned by the rank and order of the empire’s military he became first a mercenary, then a pirate, brawler, a thief, and that path took him to scavenging. Being both tough and friendly, he caught the attention of Alarik, who was looking for just such a companion, and so formed the core of the band. Brael is a genuinely good person to be friends with. He is easy going and likeable. But there is a switch inside him, that he can throw in an instance, wherein he becomes an ice cold assassin and deadly opponent without mercy.

Channa Rosin – The accidental scavenger and a bad woman to boot. Never really sure what she wanted, always stumbling over society’s expectations of her, and pretty damn fed up with it all, that pretty well sums up the lovely and talented Crosstown Channa. While only 25, she’s been a wife, a mother, a tavern owner, a free trader, and a mercenary agent, none of which worked out quite the way she thought it should. Now she’s out to find herself a future and a fortune by slaying monsters, looting ruins, and fighting other peoples battles. She was the inspiration for Juliet and has been in on the plan since before there even was a plan. Channa is a friend of Juliets, but prior to joining the band had no connection to any of the others.

Glauston Mineola – Being a soldier is a stinky job, don’t matter if it’s at sea or on land. You get damn tired of the stink, but most men either don’t care or just get used to it. He didn’t get used to it and did care, enough to pack a bag and walk away. He doesn’t particularly like this job, but he’s had some success at it, and it’s far better than living in the woods and eating nothing but rabbit, squirrel, and venison. Which was what he and Brael had done for close to two years before they were separated by a clever sheriff and a dozen guardsmen. He’s happy to not be breaking legs and collecting coins, the smells are better, and things are never dull.

Juliet Blyth – The pretty girl who is burning with fury at a world that insists on keeping her silent and usurping her power. She is the heart and soul of revolution. Rage and anger and rebellion against a world seeking to destroy her thoughtlessly by smothering her flame. If she were noble, she would be a queen, sought after as the power behind the throne. But she is a poor girl from a broken world who has given up on the roles assigned to her. She has set out to define herself and control her own destiny. It is she who pushed Alarik towards the unexplored ruins, dragged him if truth be told. And was herself inspired by her friendship with Channa.

who knows who

This is not stuff that I’ve done. Really. I still have no idea what I’ll be writing.

I found this years NaNoWriMo graphics on tumblr of all places. Since I couldn’t find them on the NaNo website, I figured I’d share them here. Because, you know, this is Grand Central Station for all the novelists out there. Not.

Take these and use them as you will. They are not mine. I’m just sharing them. I’m going to drop this first one on the front page somewhere. I’ll add a word counter there as well. I put the pixel dimensions under each of these. In case that matters to you.

555 x 555
1280 x 474
851 x 315

In other website news… I changed my gravatar image, fixed a couple of pages, changed some graphics, and downloaded new backups that seem strangely incomplete. I love having a website. It’s just so much fun all the time.

Lady Ronn is at school giving the premiere of her short documentary film. I’m looking forward to seeing it when she gets home. Later.

I’m out of school and I’m stuck in a rut. I am doing nothing. I’m not working on my projects around the house. I’m not working on any of my craft projects. I’m not doing much for the website. I’m not writing. I really don’t know what I do between 5 o’clock and 10:30. The time just seems to evaporate into YouTube videos, web surfing, and watching TV. This is not a place I want to be, especially not with winter coming on. I’ll end up being 400 pounds by the time spring gets here. Time to shake off the blahs.


Whatever could this be leading up to?

National Novel Writing Month is almost here. That would be November for those of you not in the loop. I haven’t had much luck with the writing, what with the being in school and what not, so I think this year I should have more success. Besides, I need to do this. To set a goal and accomplish a thing. My last win was 2014 and my last attempt was 2015. At this point my NaNoWriMo record is pretty miserable, 3 wins – 11 losses.

Let’s consider this me officially throwing my hat into the ring. I’m going to write a novel in November. I don’t know what that novel is going to be about quite yet, but I have some ideas. What I do know is that it’s going to be something new. I’m not going to rehash, refresh, or recycle any of my old novel ideas. That particular strategy has not worked out very well for me in the past. So, probably, I shouldn’t use that strategy again.

Time to start brainstorming some ideas, sketching an outline, and probably putting together an inspirational book cover.

I used to have a red coffee cup that I liked quite a bit. It was a gift. I don’t know what ever happened to that cup, but I got a bug in my bonnet the other day and bought a new one. I also bought a cup with my shield logo on it, but the cat knocked it off the counter about 20-minutes after I took it out of the box. It did not survive the impact with the floor. So, that was a thing.

Last night I started writing again. I have too much time without school and I feel like I need to work on something that works the mental muscles. So I’ve decided to get back on the horse and see if I can’t write a thousand words a night, five nights a week, and see what comes of it. I’m just pantsing right now to get back into the habit, but I started something fantasy-ish based on another story that I worked on a while back that was decidedly not fantasy. It’s just an exercise to see what parts of the story can survive change the genre so dramatically.

still working out the particulars

I put a couple more things on the office wall. The small sculpted map is based on the larger map above it and the framed dungeon is the map from the original Dungeon Master’s Guide over which I’ve done some texture work and had framed. It’s all just inspiration and reminisce. Still not sure what else is going to fill that space.

That’s it. I’m going to get a can of sparkling water and see if I can’t get my thousand words in before Lady Ronn gets home and wants us to dive back into The Boys on Amazon Prime. We’re two episodes in and it’s pretty cool. Later.

Both of my canvas prints arrived this week from CanvasOnSale.com.

Inner Sareth arrived on Thursday. It looks good. Colors are nice. Text is sharp. But… due to the way it’s stretched, the border is wavy and not even around the perimeter of the canvas. If I was going to give you advice about doing something like this yourself, I’d tell you to remove the border and avoid the disappointment. I’ve already gone in and created a borderless copy of the map in WonderDraft. It’s distracting and that would be my biggest complaint. I have one other complaint, and that is the corner folds. These are sloppy and stick out all around the print. I can pull the staples and refold them, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to do that.

Inner Sareth

This was not where I had intended to put it, but I think it looks better here. Mainly, because the unfinished statue projects distract from the sloppy border. Besides, I think the other two look pretty good together.

The Skorr & Baenrahl

The Skorr is the first one I ordered and I’ve already talked about it. The Regentia (Baenrahl) map arrived today. It’s dark, but I knew it would be. It’s a dark world and I intentionally designed the map to be dark. The one thing I’m disappointed with, and it’s my fault and a small thing, is that my radial lines coming off the compass are very faint. This is due to the width of the lines. I should up them from 3 pixels to 5 or 6 pixels, but it’s a nice print. It has one small scratch and the frame is not quite flat, but the corners are much nicer than on the Sareth canvas.

I have plans for those two empty spaces. I know it looks odd right now, but I just have to put a couple things together to finish up the layout on the wall.

In other news: I was talking to Lady Ronn about her photography and getting a website set-up. One thing led to another and I had her a domain name and a basic wordpress site for her. Now don’t go rushing over there. The only thing to see right now is the generic Bluehost “Coming Soon” page, but HeidiMcCarrick.com will be a thing at some point in the near future. If I had to guess when, I’d guess after we’re both done with the Summer semester at the end of June.

I’ve put in orders for two more canvas maps, because I want to put them up in my office as inspiration for writing and gaming. And also because I get very into new projects and this one seems pretty easy to finish. Just click to order.

Inner Sareth
original map of Inner Sareth

The first is the map that began as an unnamed world map with a big blacksword as the compass, and so I called it the black sword map. It’s been renamed Inner Sareth, which represents the idea that it is part of a much larger continent.

The original was drawn on a large 22×30 sheet of preprinted hex paper (Chessex, I think) and colored with Berol Prismacolor pencils. You can see it there, all taped up, because I cut it up to scan it many years ago. I never used it for gaming or writing in any substantial way. The new version is a WonderDraft creation.

The second map is the one I used for the Baenrahl campaign and was also created in WonderDraft.

original map of Regentia

This isn’t actually the original, but is instead the first digital original. The actual original was made on a series of 8 1/2 x 11 papers and lived in a three hole binder. I have pictures of some of the pages, but not one of the map as a whole. And in fact, I don’t think I even have all of the pages. The original inspiration for this map, believe it or not, was a vector image of the moon. Those island continents were all one of the shadow layers of the vector.

I’ll post pictures when I get the new maps and have everything installed on the wall. Until then, tomorrow is the 1st episode of arohenRADIO. I hope you like it. We’re not going to talk about the progress on the promised arohenTV video. Later.

I just took my Philosophy exam and I managed 100%. I also managed 100% on both of the tests during the semester. And i did pretty well on the quizzes,  something like 94 out of 99. Which is all very good.

And most likely very important.

Why? I mean, besides the obvious point of passing the class. For one very significant reason, I didn’t write my final paper!

me not writing a philosophy paper

Oh, I spent the better part of this weekend sitting at the desk worrying about writing my final paper. I had scads of references for my final paper. Hell, the paper only needed to be 5-pages long. I started it. I put together a bunch of information. But I didn’t write a paper.

First, let me say that this is a calculated gamble on my part. If the grading system plays out the way it’s described in the syllabus. If the paper is actually worth 14% of my grade. If my participation points are as high as I expect them to be. And if I’m right about all of these things, my grade should still be a middle B. Possibly a low B. If I’m wrong… well, shit.

So, I’m not interested in writing this paper on Sir Francis Bacon. Sure, I chose him. But I had to choose someone. I don’t want to figure out APA, I don’t want to find and document sources, and I don’t think I need this to pass. Sure it hurts my grade and will probably keep me off the Deans list this semester, but as a 50-year-old man, i can live with that.

The truth is that I waited too long to decide who to do this paper on, I didn’t read anything about this guy, I didn’t do the research, and most importantly, I didn’t realize how much there was to the life of Francis Bacon. This guy was a mover and shaker. I don’t think he slept. He makes me feel very unproductive in my life. And the paper I had put together was just a bunch of “cut and paste” from a half dozen websites. Even with my massaging of the text, that is the definition of plagerism.

I’d rather not do the paper and take the hit on my grade than lose credit for the whole course because I got tore-up by the plagerism checker.

Like I said, it’s a calculated gamble. I don’t feel good about myself or the effort I expended. This is not why I went back to school; to cut corners and barely get by. That’s how I went through High School. I’d like to think I’m not that guy anymore. Oh well, fingers crossed. I really hope it works out the way I expect. Later.

The grades for Winter semester have all been posted, so let’s take a look at how I did in my second semester back in college.

Class Grades – 2017 Winter 
Official Grades
Class Description Units Grading Grade Grade Points
EN 102
English Composition-2
HVA 110
Basic Refrigeration
HVA 111
Refrigeration Applications
MN 116
Basic Welding

First, let me say that going from 2-nights a week + an online class, to a 4-night a week schedule was a big change and one that may have taken some of the shine off this whole college thing. My grades are not bad, but I have to admit being disappointed and I know why they took the hit. Reading. Or rather the lack of reading. I trusted in my ability to pick up everything I needed to know in class and mostly stopped doing the weekly reading before we’d even gotten to the halfway point in the semester. I think that shows in both my test scores and my final grades. Now let’s look at each class individually.

EN 102 – English Composition 2
I did not get much out of this class. I did the assignments, well, except for the note cards for the research paper. I didn’t do that. But otherwise I did it all. Mostly my grades seemed lower than I felt they should be, but there was no explanation as to why. I like writing. I like learning about writing. I didn’t get any of that in this class. I think I could have gotten more out of it had I taken this class online with a InstructorBotAI teaching the class. I’m not happy that I came away with an A- from this class. And I am inclined to call “bullshit” on the whole thing, except that had I done the stupid note cards those 40 pts would have given me an A.

HVA 110 Basic Refrigeration
I liked this class, but I found that I knew most of what was being taught already and that caused me to be a little lax. I missed one class, and sure as shit, that one covered a bunch of stuff I didn’t know and had a lab I couldn’t make up. Missing that class and not doing the required reading messed up my final exam score. All of it was my fault. Lesson learned. Also, weirdly, I didn’t realize until I was in this class that it was a shorty – seven weeks. Which is how I ended up with four classes.

HVA 111 Refrigeration Applications
The second half of the semester follow-up to HVA 110. This is the class that I did the cooler project for; this was a fun class. I missed one class and there was a lab, a take home test, and a discussion on parts of refrigeration I am unfamiliar with… don’t it just figure. I couldn’t make any of that up and between those lost points and a week final exam score (83%) I got stuck with an A-. I did however get a 96% on my final project/lab report. At a bare minimum, you gotta do the reading in the field you’re getting your degree in.

MN 116 Basic Welding
I enjoyed this class, but like most things of this sort, welding is harder than it looks. I was frustrated by the fact that I didn’t pick it up faster and my expectations were probably too high for my skill level. I learned some things. I bought some tools and equipment. I look forward to getting a welding set up and working on some projects. In class, I managed to get 25 out of 26 welds completed, my scores on the three tests were 100%, 80%, & 70% (not reading impact readily visible here), and ended up with a 91.4 in the class. I did the best I could with the welding, but I should have done better or those tests and I recognize that it’s because I didn’t do the reading or put in any study time for this class.

Some of the things that make me happy are . . .
Mail. It brings me joy that everyday, except Sunday, there is a little white truck that brings me letters and packages. So that each day, when I come home from work there is a surprise waiting for me in my mailbox. It may be bills, advertisements, or statements, but everyday there is something. This is a hold over from my childhood, when there were few occasions when mail would arrive for me. Now, almost all the mail is for me, and no matter what that mail might be, it is always a box of surprises. And that box of surprises always brings me joy.
Trash Collection. Surprised? Why wouldn’t you be? To my adult mind, trash collection is magical. It is the opposite of mail, in that it does not drop off mystery packages, but instead removes things from my life that I don’t want. Each week I gather things I don’t want and place them in my big green basket on wheels. Then on Monday morning, or Sunday night, I drag that basket to the curb. As I drive off to work it is sitting there full of junk, garbage, and other things I just don’t want. When I come home from work, the basket is still there, but all the stuff is gone. This happens every week and makes me happy. I know it does, because on the few occasions when I’ve come home and found the stuff still in the basket, I’ve been very unhappy.
My garage. I enjoy being in the garage. It is a place with so much raw potential for creativity. When I’m in the garage I feel like it is just waiting for me to be productive or creative. I turn on the music and I can putter around in the garage all day. Moving stuff around. Rearranging tools. Daydreaming about improvements. My garage is not a man cave, it is a raw, unfinished space full of possibilities. Just being out there makes me happy.