Get Your Copy of UNITY

It’s happening! My book is coming out on October 31, 2020. While 2020 hasn’t been the best of years, what with all the calamity going on, it has given me the time I needed to complete a number of projects. In March, I released a book called the Book of Lore. And now, I’m releasing my original scifi thriller: UNITY.

WHAT IS UNITY?

UNITY is a story of the dangers of isolationist ideals. Two star nations hold a tenous treaty established eons ago, marking them as independent and uniquely different in their behaviors. The nation of Unity became totally utilitarian, stripping all forms of individual freedoms and focusing only on the needs of the whole. Outworld turned their sights toward complete freedom and anarchy, leaving only the individual to govern themselves. While both nations had the interests of their citizens at heart, neither has been able to truly deliver a better existence. And now, frictions between the two nations are coming to a head.

The story follows Di Monet, a young and down on her luck aspiring Boss, meets a Unity refugee she thinks will make for an easy payday. But as Monet begins her song and dance, she quickly realizes that this Unity woman isn’t quite the fool she took her for; she calls herself Freya, and she captains a ship of her own, taking Monet and a few of her friends on an adventure across Outworld, in search of wealth, purpose, and freedom.

The book came to me in a dream, as I’ve mentioned in another of my blog posts on this site. When I dreamed it, it only went through the first act of the book; after committing to writing the story for NaNoWriMo in 2018, the last two acts came together as well. Now, after 2 years of working with editors, and getting a cover desgined by professional artists Carol Jane, I’m finally ready to release book one of what will become a series dedicated to exploring the vastness of space, the mind, and reality.

WHERE TO GET UNITY

The official release date is October 31 2020. It will be available on Amazon.com. Look for “A.C. Moore, UNITY,” And you’ll find it right away!

This book has been a major component of my life for the last 2 years. Writing it gave me purpose and direction, and helped contribute to overcoming depression, thoughts of suicide, and my overall self worth. Things haven’t always been easy for me; I have struggled with severe depression since I was 10 years old. Writing was one of my only escapes from the trauma of my youth, granting me a chance to enter into another world, one of my own design, and find stories that could give me respite from childhood difficulties that were common for me.

I hope you find UNITY a thrilling experience. Get your copy October 31st!

Onsie: Rent Past Due

With this short, a new angle using an above shot was tried. I found it an interesting and different approach. We’ve all had those roommates or friends whose honesty might not have been up to snuff. When this comes to financial situations, it can be pretty upsetting; when you’re watching it happen to someone else in hyperbole, it makes for good humor.

My idea with these onsie’s was to explore what could be a single scene from a film. Each short dives into a moment of exploration into what it might look like to write a comedy film in a single take.

Onsie: I Got a Package

With this series, my goal was to create something that was quick and entertaining. One of the best ways I could concieve to do that at the time was drawing on my own experiences that had happened to me; especially ones that were humorous ones.

While I was living with my first roommates in college, a few of the people I lived with were unusual characters. One of them was a person who always had an innordinate number of knives in their possession. Once, when I was opening a package I had recieved, I asked this roommate if they had something I could open the package with. They proceeded to produce blade after blade.

We all have those little weird experiences that make great stories. Drawing on these moments can allow us to tell better stories in the future, and merge them together into fun and creative narratives.

Onesie: Roomate Advice

So a few years back, a friend and I started an idea to shoot single shot short films. We called them onesie’s, since they were done with one angle, in one shot, with no reshoots.

Each little thing we ended up doing was a ton of fun, and brought me a load of laughs. I had planned on doing more, but time ran out for the project and both of us had to move on to new and better things. But the Onsies remain, for all to see and find some laughs in. I hope you enjoy them too!

Fostering Creativity

Writing is an involved process.

How do you keep that creative fire burning in the amphitheater we call our skull? When the spark is burning bright, it’s easy to build up whatever it is you’re writing, and do it well.

What do we do then, when creativity flees from the mind? That happens frequently in the realm of writing, and it can take some writers a while to ‘get it back’ as it were. But the truth is creativity never leaves you, it just gets tired. Like a muscle, you must pace its use, stretch it when it gets sore, and work to improve its longevity in the craft. Here are five tips to help anyone strengthen their creative muscles.

ONE: Read a lot.

Reading is one of the best means of blustering your creativity, whether you are in a slump or feeling at your peak. I find fiction to be the most beneficial form of reading in this regard, but if you are more into the technical side, books about writing can also be immensely helpful. Stephen Kings On Writing is a fantastic place to start for you technical lovers. Kings philosophies held in that volume are great additions to any author’s repertoire, regardless of previous experience. Reading is like the protein shake in your mental work out; while it will help you bulk up on creativity, you should really couple it with the next steps to fully realize it’s potential.

TWO: Write a lot.

It may seem absurd to think that if you are having trouble being creative that you should simply increase your amount of creative activity; but would it feel absurd to think if you want to improve your lung capacity you should run or swim more? Hardly. The mind is not so different. When we were children, most of us, if not all, had great capacity for imagination and creativity. Why do we lose it as we age? Simple. We stop playing. We start thinking that since we’re adults we can’t do it anymore, for any number of fabricated reasons. The truth is you’re simply out of practice, and a good way to practice your creativity is to write a lot. It probably won’t be good at first. That’s fine. The more you do it, the better you will get at it.

THREE: Play a lot.

Not all creativity happens on the paper. In fact, most of it will happen in your surroundings as you do creative things. Playing doesn’t mean you have to go ask if Billy can come play on the see-saw with you before dinner. It simply means play. Play a game—computer or board. I happen to enjoy table top games like Dungeons and Dragons; that will really get your creative wheels turning. Playing games outside with others will help too. Go to a local improve comedy meeting. It may be hard at first to get into playing. Again, that’s normal. You wouldn’t expect to run a mile with ease if the farthest trip you’ve taken is to the kitchen. Stretch those creative muscles and play.

FOUR: Share ideas.

Once you’ve started working that creativity, you should share you creative ideas with others. Whether that’s with a group of writers, a friend, spouse, or your kids, sharing your ideas will help you get them out of your head and in the real world. When you say your ideas out loud, it helps solidify them, and can also help you see holes in the plot, or ways to improve your idea. Sharing ideas will often get you talking about new ideas as well. Keep in mind sharing ideas is something you more than likely do in every conversation. Even if that idea is little more than “hey, have you ever wondered what the heck Disney’s Goofy really is?” it will get you talking. And often, those silly experiences you have with friends around a game of Parcheesi are the ones that will sound great in a story. Remember, not all creative elements rest in the action of the story you’re trying to tell; if you want it to feel real, make it real with actual experiences. Or at least experiences that feel real.

FIVE: Get out of your head.

This is a combination of tips three and four, but it still bears important mentioning. The biggest block to creativity is the fear that others will judge you, or dislike your ideas. So you don’t allow yourself to have any. Getting out of your head by playing games, having fun, and freely sharing your ideas will ensure that you have more ideas more frequently, and better ones too. Letting your mind stew on how you aren’t creative or how your creativity isn’t at its peak ‘right now’ isn’t going to help. That is the path to the dark side. Get into a mood where you feel comfortable doing anything (within reason of course). Go dancing. Start a real conversation with a stranger—not about the weather. And make conversations meaningful. Doing these things will really get those creative juices flowing. Make a goal to have someone new say to you that you’re quick witted. It isn’t as hard as it may seem, as long as you are flexing that brain, and getting a lot of creativity from what you do daily.

Go ahead, give it a try.

I dare you. All you’ve got to lose is your writer’s block — which in essence is the same thing as those extra pounds you gain over the holidays. Who wants to hang on to that? Get that brain flexing, and you’ll be on the path to a more toned imagination and a more refined sense of creativity.

Writing: Creating New Ideas

For screen writers, it can become an overwhelming task to create a new, invigorating idea. Pressure is on all the time to make the next big thing. What’s more, often directors and producers tell you new isn’t what people want, but the same old story told another way. To be truly creative and still be competitive in the world of script writing can seem an insurmountable task.
There is a solution, however. There are three major steps that I rely on to form the solution to this issue:

Writing for you

At the end of the day, the work I make is my story. It draws from my experiences, my interests, my personal research. Yes, I may be writing for an employer, making scripts or text copy according to the parameters they provide, but I have come to accept and admit that my personal flavor of writing is why I am the only one qualified to tell it the way I do. Accepting the art as just that: my art. On my own writing journey, once I allowed myself to love my work, I found it easier to roll with the punches of writing.

With the script for the feature film, NAVIGATOR, this is exactly what I did. The team gave me a large amount of creative license on this project. I worked with Drew, the DP on shots, design, and overall style for the film, but after that I ran with it and made something I was proud of. Yes, there were edits. But that didn’t bother me at all because by that point, I had grown to love the work as it was, and accepted the fact that it was a group effort in the end. No writing project will ever be just you; if you want your work to make it to the screen, you need to know that others will have input too.

Letting your imagination run wild

When I set my imagination free from the popular concept of “adulthood,” my writing became free as well. It seems too frequently we allow ourselves to think we’ve outgrown the need for imagination. We think that being imaginative is childish or foolish. People will tell you you’re not living in the real world if you imagine. This is not true. Imagination is the life blood of existence. It is key to success in every part of life, including a well-written story. This means, as well, that, when the story starts moving forward, I have to allow it to go the direction the work wants me to go. Once I’ve conceptualized the story in its infant form, it begins to take on life of its own. If I allow my expectation of the stories outcome to control my writing, I have learned that it won’t feel authentic when the work is done.

This happens all the time in writing novels and scripts. If you plan out every aspect of the story beforehand, I often paint myself into a corner. It’s better for me to have the general idea of where to begin, and where it’s going, then the story will take on its own life as it goes and become what it’s meant to be.

Allowing yourself to make mistakes

Mistakes are how we learn. Ever heard the old adage: “Edison didn’t find one way to make a light bulb, he found a thousand ways not to?” Well, Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb anyway (#TeslaRules) but you get the point. Our mistakes show us what worked and what didn’t and provide us with the steps we need to create our best output. I have learned to allow myself to take the idea I have, run with it, and if in the end it isn’t what I or my employer was looking for, I take their advice and guidance, adjust, and make it work.

Ridley Scott’s Alien went through several reworks in the script, costumes, and art direction before it was settled. Every great story takes lots of love, imagination, and change from everyone involved. As I mentioned before, NAVIGATOR had to go through many edits and changes of direction before the final product was decided on. It helps to be patient with yourself through the process.

 
I struggled with getting myself into a place where I feel comfortable with my work. The real secret to making a great story for me has been to start doing it for me, letting my imagination free, and being willing to make mistakes. As I have done this, I have found myself prepared for anything the writing world has thrown at me, and you can too.

Cooking as an Art Form

I’ve loved cooking for a long time. When I was a young man, my mother taught me how to cook. She taught me the skills she’d learned from her mother, and grandmother, going back generations. They’ve always been good cooks, and I have been blessed to receive their knowledge. It’s one of my fondest skills, as it grants me good food to eat, and a nice way to relax after a stressful day. Yep, I find cooking relaxing. And my hope is that after reading this, you can too if you don’t already.

There are a few major keys to cooking that I was taught that may seem counter-intuitive. Growing up, my family really didn’t use recipes that often. Only in baking, which I classify differently mainly for this reason. With cooking, I was encouraged to experiment. Flavor was like a color palette, and by combining complimentary tastes I could create new and unique experiences in each meal.

Seasonings are the main component of the chefs paint palette. Salt and pepper are little more than base white and black: great to have, but you can only get so much out of monochromatic cooking. Cumin, garlic, oregano, ginger, cilantro, all of these are colors to include in your store of seasonings. They can allow you to change the experience of your meal immensely.

This may seem unimportant, but bear with me. As a grown man now, I do use recipes to get ideas of what I’d like to have for a meal. But I don’t stop at what is written there. They make for a useful guideline, but frequently lack the vision of what you could be tasting. For instance, take a recipe I used just the other day. It was a chicken pad thai with mixed vegetables. The recipe called only for salt and pepper on the chicken. No other seasonings. If I had stopped there, I would have missed out on a chance to really taste the meal. Instead, I added on: ginger powder, garlic, roasted red pepper flakes, and tamari sauce. After mixing it all together on the chicken, and slow roasting it instead of baking it as the recipe suggested, I found myself with a meal that was rich and satisfying, dispute the recipe being built around the concept of clean eating and low calories. By adding these flavors, it made it feel like I was having so much more than I really was, and left me satisfied, too!

Adding more seasonings to your cupboard is one thing, but actually using them is another. That’s where experimentation comes in. Knowing what flavors will work well together will require some research on your part. By studying the cooking habits of other cultures than your own you can find new combinations or flavors that you haven’t tried, or even heard of. Relying on English sensibilities for your cuisine will leave you with very little to work with; surprising when you consider that the English Empire conquered the world in search of spices. If you’re more used to such English flavors, looking into other European cooking styles could be a good place to start. When you want to branch out more, try looking to Asia, and South America. Both continents have a robust collection of cultural ideals and spices available to create things you may not have ever considered as options for your own cooking.

Cooking is my relaxation. It’s how I drift off from the stress of my work as an author. Diving into a new world of my own creation on paper is fantastic, and exhilarating. But using the materials of a stocked spice cabinet gives me a way to return to this earth, let go of what I’ve been working on, and focus on the one thing that unites us all: eating.

Making Unity Outworld

I’ve been working on a book since November 2018 that has gone by many names. It’s a science fiction epic following the actions of a group of outcasts living in a transhumanist duopoly far off at the edge of the galaxy. It’s gone through many revisions, and name changes over the last 2 years. First it was Unity/Outworld, then Outworld, and now, finally, I believe I’ve settled on calling the series Unity. The first book, the one I’ve been working on since 2018, will be called Unity: The Lost Conduit.

The story is about Di Monet, a young, aspiring gang boss looking for her next con in hopes of landing enough money to pay off a long standing bounty. But when she met a Unity runaway called Freya, she got more than she bargained for. The people of this world have long lived under a code called the Transhumanist Treaty, an act that quite literally changed the way humanity interacted with each other. The treaty is part legal doctrine, part genetic augmentation, and was inacted many thousands of years ago by a group referred to in legend only as the Founders. It split humanity into two halves: Unity, centered around total equality and governmental authority, and Outworld, built around total freedom and lawlessness. Outworld has thrived, with generations of power struggles ending in war, bloodshed, and countless coups. Unity has maintained an equilibrium, but with Outworld encroaching on their boarders, fear is starting to set in of an unavoidable conflict.

The story came to me in a dream, October of 2018. The dream went through the first act of the story, and then ended. When I awoke, I knew it was something I wanted to discover more about. I began to theorize on the directions the story could go, expanding on characters, locations, and history.

Then, when November came along, I began writing the story. I participate in Nanowrimo every year. It’s the national novel writing month challenge, where writers try to write a 50,000 word novel before the end of the month. Unity was the first story I successfully wrote in a single month. It was exhilarating.

The thing I found most interesting about the process was that there were days when I would absolutely hate what I was writing. Nothing went how I wanted it to, and the prose fell flat on my screen. But when I’d come back to it the next day, and read through what I’d written, I could see how it all fit together. As I continued where I’d left off, I found that what I hated the day before was now the foundation of the next chapters of my book!

That really stuck with me. Sometimes we feel like what we’re working on is just not good enough. But give it time, and you may find it is foundational to your next success. Unity is going to be a multibook series. And it all started with a half baked dream, and so many pages of words that I found failing in the moment I was writing them. Now it’s something I consider my best work so far, a foundational piece to my future work and my hopes of creating inspiring stories for readers around the world.

For me, world building comes like second nature. When I was a child, I spent much of my time either creating world maps for places I’d imagine, or just go into my imagination all together, spinning tales and creating places in my mind palace where fantastical events could occur. It was my escape from the trials of being an introverted youngster with a number of hidden traumas that led to social anxiety and general awkwardness. But I learned a lot from those sessions I spent alone creating fantasy worlds.

Some may think such an act is bizarre, or even insane, but it is nothing of the sort. I used what I created then to make and tell stories. I wrote many of them down, and acted out others in play either alone or with my small group of like minded friends. We would do live action role play, where we became the characters we created, and lived out their adventures in the worlds we designed. And those memories are some of my happiest memories of my childhood.

The act of creation is fundamentally human. We all possess it in some form. For me it manifests in telling stories. And knowing that about myself has given me hope in my abilities to move forward with this as a career. Storytellers are extremely important to human society. Every film, every wives tale, or book, or game are all from the minds of storytellers. They create the first lessons many of us learn as children, carrying the morals and messages that teach us what it means to be human. That’s what I feel Unity points to, in its summation. The tale is about the essence of what it means to be human, and the danger of losing touch with that truth.

Unity should be out this year, before December 31st. I’m hoping to get it out as soon as possible. It’s going to be a bumpy ride for me; I’ve got a lot of anxiety tied up in this story. My hope is that you will read it and find some value in the tale. But even if no one does, it has been of great value to me, and an educational experience in becoming a better writer.

Windbound Review: A Game on the High Seas

If there’s one thing I love doing on my free time, it’s playing video games. Especially exploration and survival based games. They bring me a sense of peace of mind, and satisfy my wanderlust in these times when I can’t really get out of the house as much as I’d like. My most recent gaming experience was with the sea faring explorer, Windbound.

Windbound realeased August 22, 2020. The game design smacks of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Windwaker all rolled into one, and in most part it delivers on the experience you’d expect from such a combination. I’ll try to keep this review spoiler free, but bare in mind I’m going to cover a number of points considering how the game works, what it does right, and what it could do better.

GAMEPLAY

The game mechanic centers on building your own boats to sail from island to island discovering ancient mystery and keeping yourself fed. And it does this very well. Exploring the islands feels new and different on every landfall. There are unique biomes, each with special resources you need to build better gear and boats. Collecting these materials is fun, and is kept fresh with the constant threat of starvation or becoming something else’s next meal. Even on the seas you are not safe from these fauna threats, and with each level of advancement the threats increase in difficulty.

There are two games modes on the title screen for you to take on the challenge of the seas: storyteller, aka easy mode, and survivalist, aka hard mode. In easy mode, dying only resets the level you are on, leaving you with your learned recipes and what you had in your backpack. Hard mode takes you all the way back to level on, with only what you could carry and what you had learned along the way. One mode that is surprisingly missing from the game, and would vastly improve the replay value of it, is an infinite mode. The game only has five levels, and once they are done, the game is over, with no more options for continued sailing and accumulating of materials.

Combat is a bit clunky. You craft your own weapons, ranging from slings to bows, your knife to a spear. You can dodge, jump, and even lock on to your targets, but the attacks with melee weapons are slow and have a lengthy recovery time before you can use them again. Ranged weapons are better designed for combat and even have a reasonable drop off of your projectiles, adding in the element of learning to use them at a distance.

DESIGN

The art style is beautiful. Cel shaded environments give you a connection to the world and its inhabitants that would be missing with other conventional kinds of graphic design. The water moves in currents and swells, and changes with the weather; giant waves that threaten to capsize your boat in the storms, calm and smooth when the wind is low.

The music is adaptive, and changes depending on the weather or your encounters with wildlife. However the interest of this design quickly fades as their is only one scored track for when sailing, and one for when in combat. The only other music comes at the end of each level, and it is exciting, but again you soon lose interest as it is repeated again and again as you progress through the game.

Wind is a key component of the game as sails are your main means of traveling quickly between land masses. However, there are times when the wind will simply not fill your sails, a fatal flaw in the mechanic that will hopefully be patched out at some point. It can be quite annoying to be rolling along on the open seas only to suddenly have your sails go limp for no reason, the wind still obviously blowing in your desired direction, just giving no power to your craft.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER

Overall I enjoyed the game. It’s a fun, if short romp through an interesting world filled with history and magic. But there are some things that seem to be missing from the game. For one, there is no fishing mechanic. The only way to obtain fish is to shoot or spear them from the shore. You never see fish in the open water, and it would be nice to be able to obtain meals from the ocean over just the islands.

As mentioned before, there is no infinite mode where you can sail on forever, and I feel that would be a great addition to the game. The shortness of the story leaves me wanting more, and I did play through the game twice. But after going through it from the beginning twice I lost desire to keep on trucking. Playing through on hard mode lets you start from the beginning with all your previous knowledge and some materials, so you can get a quasi infinite play in that manner, but you can only bring so much back with you. Making the proper preparations to create every item in a second go through is difficult, as the resources are so scarce in each level, and some resources are only available after level three.

Adding more interesting weather conditions and having them pose threats more often could also add a level of excitement to the game. The seas are only dangerous when going past reefs or dealing with large fauna. Other than that, the seas are no trouble. Having storms that force you to seek shelter on land would make for more daring adventures on the waves.

And perhaps I’m asking to much with this one, but I think a second act would be a great addition. After the game ends, you are left with a heart warming closing scene. But what happens next? This game already has you managing large amounts of inventory, more than you could use yourself in many spots by the end of level five. So if there was a village management segment I think that would be an exciting addition. You return to your village, empowered by your experiences on the sea alone, and start to hunt down new resources for your villagers so they can improve their lives and build new boats. You could increase the population, fight off illness and famine, create new festivals, and even send new colonies out to build new villages.

WHAT’S THE SCORE

I give Windbound a 7/10. The game has a lot of great elements. All the pieces are there to create and have an excellent gaming experience. But it just falls short of reaching its full potential. If the developers patched a few issues, added in more music options, and included an infinite play mode for those who desired to sail on into eternity.

I recommend this game. It is available on every platform and PC. Although the story is only three to four hours long, its a fun experience along the way. Maybe wait for it to go on sail, so you can get the most out of your money, but do check it out. It’s worth it.

Getting to Know A.C. Moore

To quote a great Mandalorian from a mediocre film, “I’m just a simple man trying to make his way in the Universe.” But Jango Fett aside, that’s really what I think. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling stories. Not like what you’d expect from a young child, what with the spinning lies to cover mistakes or percieved grievances from his parents, but real stories; stories of far away places, people and events, fictions of sapient canines at war with reptilian hominids in space, of super heroes, of fantasy warlords and spellbound swordsmen. Taels of wonder, of fear, of the hardships of those who rise above their station and change the world for the better. It came as second nature to me. And for a long time I didn’t really know why. I just yearned to create new stories and ideas, as if I needed them like air in my lungs. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

My family moved a lot when I was younger. My father was a United States Marine. That carried with it a number of issues; constant moving meant new schools, and since I had an undiagnosed learning disability until I was arond 12 years old, that meant it remained hidden when otherwise a teacher or concerned person may have been able to put the pieces together faster. This disability left me illiterate for those years. It was embarassing, and left me with shame and guilt that I still struggle with to this day. On top of this, I was, and still am, an introverted personality. This left me with a difficulty in making new friends, or even keeping old ones. With these struggles all combining against little A.C., I spent the majority of my time diving into worlds I created myself, places where I could be whoever I wanted and not feel so lonely.

My literacy seemed impossible to achieve, and that fact was told to me over and over by my teachers and peers. No matter what I did, the letters on the page would move, slide, even fall off the paper. I knew the alphabet. I could recite the letters, and even write them by themselves, but as soon as those letters were brought together into words, something changed. P’s looked like d’s, or q’s, or both at the same time. vowels would blend together, and entire sentences became single words on the worksheets I was given. “You’re just not smart enough,” was the most common phrase I heard in those days from my teachers. It hurt.

In the fifth grade I was lucky enough to be in a class with a teacher who specialized in learning issues. Her name was Mrs. Papke. She recognized my issue almost immediately as I explained my difficulty with the assignments. Consigned to my defeat and suffering from depression, I told her what I had heard from so many people. That I was stupid.

“You’re not stupid,” She replied with such genuine concern. “You’re dyslexic.” I had never heard the term before. She explained that it was a different way of my mind working, where I interepreted information in ways that other neurotypical people didn’t. She began to teach me techniques to control my dyslexia, and over the course of that school year, my reading level went from below first grade to college level. I could finally grasp the magnitude of written language, and I was so hungry for those words. I began reading everything I could find, especially fiction, becasue I wanted to know what worlds others had created and how they did it. It filled me with joy, but more than that, it filled me with hope.

Because of Mrs. Papke, I have been able to harness my mind and share it with others. Writing is more than entertainment. It is the deepest, most impactful way to transmit raw, pure thought to another being. It is telepathy in paper. Whatever I put on in these words as you read them, you hear them, feel them, see them in your mind; and you understand them. Without my voice ringing against your ear drum, you hear me. Across time and space, you hear me. And even when I am gone and burried, what I have written will remain. That is the power she gave me. And I am eternally grateful.

We moved yet again after I learned so much from Mrs. Papke. As I progressed through high school, I was constantly approached by english teachers asking me to participate in writing tournaments within my school district. They complimented my writing, and told me how great they thought it was. It was terrifying. All those years I had known only that teachers would tear me down and tell me how dumb I was, and then suddenly I was seen as a prodigy, it felt. I didn’t know how to handle it. But I’ve always had a sense of pride within myself to try new things and give them my all. So I did the tournaments. I always made the qualifiying rounds, but the finals had to be hand written; this was my bane, as a computer can help me catch when my dyslexia is leaving a word mispelled, or crushed into another word to make a new frankienword. But pen and paper hold no such mechanism. So I usually got third in those events.

It took a lot of time and effort to escape the programming of my youth. I still struggle with these issues to this day. I am not stupid. I am dyslexic.

I am a writer. I am one because every day I choose to be one. There is no point of success or wealth that determines whether I am a writer or not. Only that I decide it myself. People too often focus on what cannot be done. I hear it all the time. Sure, making it in any profession isn’t easy. But that shouldn’t stop you from chasing your dreams. You can get laid off or fired from a job you don’t even like just because the market changed around you, so it’s not like there’s any less risk in doing something you like, or even love. Take the chances you want to take, instead of the ones you feel obligated to do. All of life is a gamble. So put your chips on the one you really want to win. Les Brown once said, I’d rather aim high and miss than aim low and hit.” I couldn’t agree more. So keep going. I won’t quit. My work isn’t in an office or a store, it’s to create worlds and transmit them to others with paper telepathy.