The Washington Capitals WON the Stanley Cup

I know, I know, this is a writing blog and I’m not a huge sports fan. But I’ve been casually following hockey, especially the ‘Caps’ since 2002.

How I Got Into Hockey

That was the year my boyfriend at the time played through 3 seasons of video game hockey. I napped some, I read some, and I watched some.

I liked the game. They played a lot of games, but not like 5 days a week, so you could keep up with it (looking at you, baseball). It was fast-paced, stoppage of play was rare (looking at you, football), low-scoring (looking at you, basketball), but scores did happen (looking at you, soccer), and physical! where FIGHTS were allowed (so long as they didn’t get out of hand).

I mean, a sport where you’ve got to hold the other guy’s jersey, or their skates will slide them out of reach when you go for a punch? The absurdity of it appealed to me. Plus, if the fight didn’t get too out of hand, it was just a 5 minute time-out penalty.

Plus? The game didn’t work without real teamwork. At least not at that level.

Although, after video game hockey? When I actually saw the REAL Caps play, I was confused that all the best players WEREN’T on their team. And where was the cross-checking champion, Hrothgar?

But as time went on, I haven’t lived in a place with cable since 2008, so I just hadn’t watched a lot of games.

For years, I considered myself the biggest Caps fan that never watched a game.

In the last couple years, I’ve started to watch their games.

Last year? My old job gave us the last-minute opportunity to watch a game live, from a box. It was an awesome experience and completely solidified my love of the sport and the team.

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Washington Capitals vs the Vegas Knights

Last night, for the FIRST TIME IN FRANCHISE HISTORY (i.e. since the team was created), the Caps won The Stanley Cup, making them, (at least until next year), the top team in the world.

In hockey, for the play-offs, it’s a series of ‘best out of 7’ games. And their last series was against the Vegas Knights, a brand new ‘expansion’ team, made from taking players from other teams.

Shout out to the Knights – The fact that a brand new team, especially in a sport that is all about teamwork, made it not only to the playoffs, but to the finals was INCREDIBLE. According to announcers, it’s basically unheard of in any sport.

One more thing. The Knight’s goal tender? Their goalie is Marc-André Fleury, formerly of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a major reason the Caps hadn’t made it to the Stanley Cup finals, especially in 2016 and 2017.

We started off with a loss against the Knights. But then, we came back. And entered in game 5, with a 3-1 lead. One more game and we would win the championship.

We’re DC fans, we know our teams are incredible at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. We were scared to believe, fearful that our hope would doom us.

Then last night, around 11:30 pm, during game 5 of the series, we won the Stanley Cup! Watching the players take a lap with the cup, watching their joy, their tears, and the way they came together as a family was heartwarming and endearing.

Congratulations to the Washington Capitals on a hard won victory!

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Remembering Ursula Le Guin

Remembering Ursula Le Guin

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In 7th grade, my English teacher wanted to pick a book in a different genre and see if she could get some of the boys more engaged. (Plus, she knew it was right up my alley.) Thus, Ms Hardt gave me my first introduction to Ursula Le Guin, having our class read A Wizard of Earthsea.

I was already a huge fantasy fan and devoured it in a day. But, because it was a class assignment, I had to reread it, section by section. Studying it and discussing each scene. That’s when I truly recognized how deep the world building was, how integral the central themes were, and how skilled of a writer Le Guin was.

I already knew I wanted to be a writer, I already loved the genre, but “A Wizard of Earthsea” gave words and truth power–literally.

If you knew the ‘true name’ of a person, or object, or creature? You could control it.


When I write, whether it be fiction or not, I strive to use the right word. The one with not just the right definition, but the one with the proper connotations.

When I talk (or message) someone, I strive to use the right words. The ones that will open their ears and make my voice ring true to their ears. The sweet music of “yes, that makes sense. Of course it is that way.”

When I write, I have the idea and the direction of the story in my head,  but I’m looking for the right words, for the right details. The words that ring out in truth and make it such that, “yes, that makes sense. Of course it is that way. The character would have always done that.”

Like tuning an instrument, when the words ring out true, that’s music to my ears.


Thank you Ms Hardt for having us read A Wizard of Earthsea.

Ursula Le Guin, you will be missed.
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Ursula Le Guin, sitting in a chair, smiling at the camera

 

A Dream You Can Hold

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King

I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember. My parents always read to me. My mother used to be in charge of story time at the public library, in Philadelphia, back around the time I was born, so her reading voice is what all children’s stories should be read in. I remember Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Sarah’s Unicorn, and A Dark, Dark Tale. Mom claims the first time I saw horses, I shouted, “Uni! Uni!” I knew about unicorns before I knew there were horses.
 
My grandmother was my babysitter and she worked with my sister and me, teaching us to read. I remember her reading us old copies of The Cat In The Hat, with my mother’s name scribbled in crayon in the front.  I remember flashcards and three nights a week, copying out all my vocabulary words 4 times each, in ADDITION to my homework, working on my spelling and my handwriting.
 
When we got older, we still played around with flash cards. My grandmother had a “Better Reading Kit” for “learning to speed read” from the 60’s. It was a plastic rectangle with a small window with a button release. The button would release the spring and a shutter would flash past the window, showing the text in the window for milliseconds. You could start with small, single syllable words and work your way up to common phrases with 3-5 words. By the time I finished playing with that, my reading speed averaged 100 pages an hour. Faster if it’s mostly dialogue, a bit slower if it’s heavily detailed with minute battle maneuvers.
 
My family has always been readers. My grandmother told us about her Grandmother Hazelwood(1), who had helped raise her. Born during the Civil War, Grandmother Hazelwood, had been taught to read by her mother (who, story goes, saved the sanctuary Bible from burning during the war). While living on a farm in Eastern Virginia, she believed that daughters needed to know how to read, just as much as sons. Literacy is important to my family.
 
When I was halfway through high school, a kindergartener started catching the bus at the end of her road, right in front of my grandmother’s house. The girl’s father would wait in his truck until the bus turned around at the boat ramp and came back to pick her up. My grandmother offered to let them wait on her porch. And then offered to watch her long enough for the bus to pick her up. And then found out the girl couldn’t read. So, out came the flashcards and the old copy of The Cat In The Hat. The girl was past her reading-level before the year was out.
 
Now, I’m all grown up and I don’t have as much time to read. I’ve found that cardio and my kindle app are a great combo, though. I need to decide what to read next so I can queue that up.
 
I don’t have any children, but I’m an aunt to a little girl who turns 5 this week. For her birthday, I put together a photo album. It’s got pictures of Christmases. She’s the only little one in the family and we have a wide circle of friends, so her pile of gifts was large. When she was 3, she opened about 5 gifts before she was done. She crawled into her mommy’s lap with her new books and was ready for story time. This year, she’d mastered Christmas, but she still likes her books.
 
Last year, when I was babysitting, I made a mistake. I let her take the chapter book, My First Book of Space, from National Geographic upstairs and select it for bedtime reading. I made it through three chapters before I called it quits. When a 4-year-old tells you that the Juno Orbiter must be going to Jupiter to help fix the broken Galileo orbiter, not just do its own study, you say “maybe”.
 
These days, I read a lot of webcomics, urban fantasy, fantasy, and a bit of science-fiction and romance. Occasionally a mystery or popular non-genre fiction will find its way into my reading pile. Plus, of course, I’ve got some books on writing and world building. Last thing I read? Digger by Ursula Vernon- a webcomic omnibus about a wombat who gets sucked into magical nonsense against her will. Before that, Seanan McGuire‘s latest Chaos Choreography, about Verity Price, who likes the family business (cryptozoologist) of helping non-human races thrive in the shadows without harming humans, but would rather be a professional ballroom dancer. Next up? Either the latest few Ilona Andrew‘s Kate Daniels books or Lois Bujold‘s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Oh… and I’ve been meaning to read the Iron Druid series for about 3 years…
What are you reading?
0 – Title comes from : “A book is a dream you can hold.” – Neil Gaiman
1 – Where the last name in my pen name comes from.

I Am Become Death

I have a confession to make. I try to be good, I try to do the right thing, I make the hard decisions when the going gets tough, but sometimes? You can’t avoid consequences.

My consequences? I am become DEATH, destroyer WORLDS.(1)

Sometimes a story comes from within, it’s just you and the page. Sometimes, though, it’s collaborative. You build a world and a mythos with friends.

You know what I’m talking about.

I’m a gamer. A table-toper for Role Playing Games (RPGs). I roll play and role play.

I started in college, because the High School boys didn’t want to admit to a girl that they played long enough to invite her. I started with 3rd Edition D&D and have played a full campaign in every version since (4e was a fine game, just not D&D). I’ve explored other worlds and other systems: Darksun, Pendragon, White Wolf (mostly Vampire:Dark Ages), Shadowrun, Forgotten Realms (okay, more of a setting), Ravenloft (another setting), Call of Cthulu, Conan, Exalted, Little Fears, Realm, Changeling, 13th Age, Amber, GURPs. I’ve even flirted a little with Live Action Role Playing (LARPing).

Some games are made to be played in one game session- a one-shot. Some take months, or years – a campaign.

A lot of gamers want to create characters that are orphans. No family, not ties, and a sworn duty! Some just don’t bother to do more than get their stats. I say, FORGET THAT.

I want to care.

I’m all about the characters. I know what sort of person my character is, so their decisions seem reasonable… for them. I go along for the ride, so I can discover their world, with them. My first Game Master (GM) made it his mission to create a setting, an event every gaming session that would make ME scream. I still remember sneaking through a tiny set of tunnels and my hand touching the skeleton of a rat. *shudders*

I’ve given myself cousins and a family business. In one game, I gave myself 2 brothers, 5 half-siblings, and an abundance of family drama, nieces, and nephews. I want my characters to in the world AND of it. (2) If the GM uses them as plot hooks, good! I’m greedy, I like it when the plot revolves around me. Even if I have to garrote my boyfriend/unveiled enemy agent in a burning warehouse.

With some games, the GM has a finale in mind, but other times the game just goes until it peters outs. Or, until the Morgan at your table DESTROYS not only the party, but the world the party inhabits.

The First World Ender
Back when I dreamt my characters would save the world, making any sacrifices necessary, I had an Exalted character named ‘Virtue of Still Waters’. It was a fantasy world, besieged by demons, surrounded by the chaos of the fae realms that tried to whittle away at reality. Ruled by dragons, the exalted are demigods. Virtue was a diplomat, which in combat, effectively meant that I waited until everyone else had 2 attacks and then I shot my bow. And missed 2/3 times.

We’d destroyed our main nemesis, were creating roads and helping rebuild our age, after overthrowing the oppression. Then, we traveled into the lands beyond reality- the fae realms. Out there, we found a perfectly run town, run by the now character that a friend had once played.

Until he tried to give his God form once more, a form that had been taken from his God. This was beyond the scope of mortals and heaven frowned upon him. (I think, it’s been nearly… er, let’s not say… a few years). So, our GM has us encounter this man, in a Stepford Wives(3) type of town. We investigate and find him casting a spell, immense rivers of power are flowing into a false-infant.

Wanting only to free the town from this spell apparently controlling them, things escalate to battle.

For once, I only had to wait 2 turns to attack. The others missed, but I burn my turn by targeting.

Next round: I let loose my quarrel. It strikes, with a critical hit! Bonus damage from targeting. The baby-form is destroyed!

Which, apparently was the actual embodiment of the concept of Occult.

So, all spells to hold the demons in check in all known worlds? Broken.
All spells to hold back the chaos of the fae realms? Devastated.
Spells that the world ran on, in lieu of technology? Kicked back to a stone age.

Magic still exists, but spells need to be re-crafted. Everyone starts magic over again at level 0.

The Second World Ender (well, impending)
This time, I knew the world was more harsh, and I had to deal with the complexities of it.

The game was 13th Age, another fantasy realm. In this world, those who rise to the level of adventurer all have 1 unique attribute. Mine? When I sang, the demons would stop to listen.

I was morally opposed to The Diabolist, but when creatures that threaten your very sanity just to view threatened the world, I made a bargain. A little training from her to use my natural talents and we would help her close the rift before more than just the scouts made it through.

She lied. We should have expected it. But, we thought that surely she would rather stop the forces than destroy the world.

We destroyed her. And in that moment, she possessed me. Then made her/our way to the mystic city, neutral ground. They held The Diabolist’s original body in stasis. She bargained for it back. And disappeared.

We rallied our allies and went for her gathering armies. We fought long, we fought hard, and we defeated them. And now we don’t know from where she will strike, nor what she looks like. And did we mention the the prophecy, delivered to us in person, that casts us as the enders of the 13th age…

What worlds have you shared? What worlds have you destroyed?

 

1 – Thank you, Robert Oppenheimer
2 – The Bible: John 17:14-16, Also, Buffy.
3 – If your wife misbehaves, have you considered a robot?, 1950’s style wives.

What Do You Do?

I always wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. I had teachers who encouraged it, parents who fed my love of books, and my mother even sprang for me to take some writing classes by mail when I was a teen.

Then college and full time job happened. Because I knew that writer was a ‘hobby’ and I needed something to pay the bills. I wanted a job I liked and writing to be what I did. But, I didn’t want it to feel like a chore.
I tried a little writing here and there–mostly when inspired for a couple days, a few half-inspired attempts at NaNoWriMo.
Then, I started volunteering at a convention. I’m a webcomic addict and was thrilled to help out with the webcomic guests. I was enjoying it and went to more cons so I could see my webcomic writer/artists friends. Just before the NaNoWriMo where I started the first novel I’ve finished writing, I attended Intervention. Internet+Convention, where real life meets the internet.
The convention is all about the internet creators, the webcomics, the bloggers, the podcasts. The people who create. It’s focused on helping them grow as creators, helping them connect, and working to build their brand.
I’m walking around that convention and checking out all the new comics and things I need to check out when I get home and the conversation keeps coming back to, “what do you do?”
In the suburbs of Washington D.C., where I live, ‘What do you do?” is the 2nd question that comes out of peoples mouths, right after they find out which quadrant of the beltway you leave nearest. Most people are government contractors of some sort, some teachers, many IT types.
At Intervention, the question was different.
All I could say is that I was a fan. That I was a consumer. My purpose at the convention was to find more stuff to buy. I could help support the artists and writers that I enjoyed financially. But, I didn’t do anything. It reminded me of my dream and my failed novel attempts.
It made me want to have a better answer.
What do YOU do?
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