Writing Prompt: Denial #amwriting

via Daily Prompt: Denial

[Not feeling too creative this morning, so this is one of my weakest blurbs, but I did it! As usual, I just sit and write for 30 min. straight, no edits/read-backs.]

Sweat drips into my eyes, stinging and blinding me momentarily.

“Again,” the gruff voice demands.

I groan and raise the bar with twenty-five pounds on each end up and above my chest, breathing out and then in as I lower it. My heart thunders in my ears, my muscles tighten and burn.

My spotter leans over the bar, forest green irises catching my silver ones. “You think you’re done?”

His smirk makes me want to whack him upside the head with a dumbbell. Instead, I grimace and shake my head.

His smile broadens. “Good, two more.”

I very slowly pump out two more before letting the bar fall heavily into its cradle and drop my arms to either side of me with a loud huff. I do not think I will ever be able to raise them again.

I close my eyes and release five long breaths, attempting to calm the nausea roiling around in my stomach, before opening my eyes and carefully sitting up.

Brad, my trainer, comes to stand beside me, hands on his hips, a pleased expression on his chiseled face. “Great job tonight, Anna. See you next week?”

Grabbing my towel off the bag nearby, I wipe the sweat off my face. I shoot him a strong eye roll and mutter, “I don’t know. Kind of like the ability to move and this session might leave me paralyzed.”

His laugh is infectious and I can’t stop myself from smiling.

“Hey, people want trainers because they know they can’t push themselves to get where they want to get. I’m here for you,” he winks and takes off toward the front of the gym, waving and greeting people he knows as he goes.

I try not to stare too hard at his ass but fail miserably.

“So, did you ask him?!” Kat’s perky voice startles me out of my stare-fest.

“Ask him what?” I mutter. Brushing past her to go grab paper towels to clean off my machine.

She follows on my heels, a literal bounce in her step. I mentally bah-humbug how the gym seems to make her even more energetic, which we really don’t need in this world, and only seems to drag me down.

I swipe a few sheets, squirt some cleaner and head back, still refusing to answer her.

As I am wiping the bench press down, she leans over the bar, trying to bore a hole into my head.

I snap upward, “What?” I demand.

She simply grins, used to my grumpiness after a workout. “Did you ask him out yet? Geez, Anna, you’re not getting any younger,” she teases.

At twenty-eight I have my whole life ahead of me, but I don’t say that. Instead, I sigh and roll my eyes again. Crumpling up the tissues I toss them into my bag and heft it up off the ground. It feels like it weighs a ton, my muscles are that sore.

“No, and I am not going to. I have zero interest in Brad,” I grind out.

She’s been harping on this for weeks now and it is beginning to gnaw on my patience. So he has a nice ass, doesn’t mean I want to date the guy.

She falls into step beside me as we head toward the front of the gym. “Stop denying it! I see the way you both look at each other. He’s totally into you too,” she confides.

I trust nothing that comes out of this woman’s mouth when it comes to guys. In fact, if I got a dollar for every bad date she has set me up on, I’d be semi-rich.

“Tell ya what,” I start as I lean against the front counter, twisting to face her. “Get me a shake, and I’ll think about it.” I shoot her a wicked grin.

She laughs and shakes her head, knowing fully well I will not think about it and will keep to my promise of never asking the guy out. Still, she leans against the counter, being sure to flash her most precious asset as Joe heads over to us and then orders us both a berry-belly-buster shake.

After a few seductive slurps for Joe’s benefit, she gives me a side-glance that is all amusement before giving me her fake pout. “You really do live in denial, my friend. My mission is to snap you out of it!”

A mission she will fail at and somehow we are both perfectly content with the game we play.

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#IntoTheBadlands S1E1 Review

Into the Badlands, S1E1 – “The Fort”

I have wanted to watch this show for many months now and finally, last night, I watched the very first episode. I am just upset I decided to watch it at 1am, and needed to be up at 8am for work, or I would have watched all of it in one sitting.

Yes, it was that good.

Unlike my review for the first episode of Iron Fist, the martial arts in this first episode blew me away. I was on the edge of my … bed. Since I was lying in bed and surfing Netflix. Daniel Wu is absolutely amazing.

The episode opens up with action and ends in mystery, and I find myself itching to get home to watch the second one.

We encounter Sunny (Daniel Wu), a total freaking NINJA, who comes across a band of what we assume are some bad, excuse my Trump reference here, hombres. I don’t really want to spoil this for anyone who hasn’t watch the episode, but fighting ensues and it is epic.

We are introduced to the mysterious M.K. (Aramis Knight) that Sunny saves (maybe), and then takes to the Fort, where his ‘Baron’ rules. Apparently the Badlands are zoned out areas of civilization that are ruled by dictators (or so we assume from this first episode). Not sure yet if this is some post-apocalyptic tale or a ‘new world’ where things were always ‘this way’. I am curious to find out though!

Anywho. Sunny demands from M.K. why the nomads spared his life (as they are apparently murdering savages), and finally M.K. admits that someone named The Widow wanted him tracked down and brought to her (we later find out she is another Baron from a different zone). M.K. is tossed into Sunny’s world and immediately placed on the radar of those in power (and those wanting to be in power), adding to the boy’s mysteriousness.

What is it about him that everyone seems drawn to? Even Sunny, who has been a loyal servant of his Baron, risks everything to help the boy? We get a sneak peek into what might make him special in this episode, and again … the fighting totally impresses me (no joke!).

So while this boy and Sunny appear to be the main arch of the episode, we also get a little insight into Sunny’s world. His background is a mystery itself. When he breaks up a fight in the ‘yard’ between M.K. and another boy, and takes a medallion that caused said fight that belongs to M.K., it rekindles his questions about his own past and draws him even closer to the boy. It forces Sunny to revisit his own origins (as he was found as a child with no memory of family or home and raised by the Baron). There is also a love interest in Sunny’s life and it looks like things might be taking a dangerous turn there, inciting even more interest in ME.

Other storylines:

The Baron, Quinn (Marton Csokas), is a man used to having his orders obeyed without question but now that his son Ryder (Oliver Stark) is coming of age and ready to rule, he is getting some unwanted feedback/pushback. This is causing strife between father and son. Especially considering that Quinn sees Sunny as more of a son than his own (which of course makes Ryder hate Sunny).

Quinn is taking on a second wife, and his first, Lydia, is planning the wedding. Lydia (Orla Brady) doesn’t seem to care about said second wife (but actually does) as long as she holds the true power over him/their son. She is clearly cooking up something though, and as per most shows like this, there are wheels spinning in her head. I have a feeling she is either going to help Sunny/be on his side or use his downfall for her own gain.

Something is also definitely up with the conniving ‘mistress’/second wife, Jade (Sarah Bolger). She is up to NO good.

These ‘other’ Barons. We meet The Widow (Emily Beecham) and she has me intrigued. She sends a group of skilled assassins after Sunny, and of course, he wipes the proverbial floor with them, making her cliché response “You really are as good as they say,” the only thing that made me snort (ha). She wants the boy and has offered Sunny sanctuary (and something more that she hints at but I have no idea WHAT), in return for giving her the boy. Which, he of course refuses … BUT it is curious that he didn’t kill her on the spot, something he SHOULD have done if he were truly loyal to his Baron … which only increases my curiosity!

The episode ends with M.K. being tossed into prison (I won’t say why!), and then being set free by Sunny (placing himself in great danger for the treasonous act—and WHY?!). Sunny lying in eying the medallion that raises millions of questions, and that hoe-bag Jade up to no freaking good. So yeah … I cannot WAIT to watch this second episode.

So quick wrap-up: awesome martial arts, superb acting, a lot of mystery/intrigue that makes me want to tune into the next episode, the landscape/world setting sucked me in and I need to learn more about it, and overall TRULY interesting characters (not people just there to be there to fill a scene).

Writing Prompt: Champion #amwriting

via Daily Prompt: Champion

(Below is my thirty minutes of writing for the day. Fictional. I simply sit and write for 30 minutes. No edits, no read-backs, so please ignore the ‘suck’).

Dark clouds threaten to unleash Poseidon himself as I rush across the field, cloak clenched tightly in my right hand, basket full of fruit in my left. Slippers seep into the already softened soil from the previous night’s downpour, and if I don’t hurry, I’ll get caught in today’s.

I pick up the pace as a thunderclap echoes across the miles from behind, sending a shiver up my spine.

It is unwise to be caught outdoors when the gods fight, and lately they’ve been having an all-out war, with humanity in the center. Crops are failing, animals are dying and humans are struggling to keep themselves hidden in their rickety domiciles.

Mine is just up the hill, another quarter of a mile to go.

I feel the first drop of moisture as I reach the crescent of the hill, my relief quick in my lungs as I exhale. The small shack that is my home is nestled at the bottom of a cliff, protecting it from harsh winds off the coast, and wild animals from the forest a few miles west.

I immediately pick up the pace at the sight of my home, shoes kicking up mud in the process, basket bumping against my thighs.

Yet as I get closer, the dim light in the only window of the building pauses me. As I live alone, the sight worries me.

I glance every which way before deeming no one is watching and wonder if perhaps I simply left a candle lit in my rush to gather fruit between tempests of rain.

Licking my suddenly parched lips, I grip the basket more firmly, ready to use it as a weapon if the need arises and approach the window tentatively.

Peering inside to the three-room home, I do not see anything or anyone, out of place. Chewing on my lip I gently push in my door and croak out, “Hello?” My voice catching on the dryness of the air.

Silence greets me and with it, a lessening of tension in my shoulders.

I move quietly toward the tiny kitchen, dropping the basket on the counter. As I am removing the berries I spent all morning picking, I keep my ears tuned into the sounds of my home, now very familiar with each one.

By the time the basket is empty, I’ve convinced myself I neglected to blow out the candle, and ignore the niggling feeling that it is at the same height as when I left.

I carefully prune and wash the berries, placing a handful in a plate and moving toward the small table in the corner to enjoy my lunch and dinner.

The loud boom in the sky, followed by a light so bright it illuminates my entire home, startles me. Within moments, the rain is pitter-pattering on the roof, and just as quickly, it becomes torrential. The sound lulls me into a state of exhaustion as the hike to where the berries reside is over five miles each way. That, and last night’s battle kept me awake for most of the night, letting me doze off for only a mere hour or so.

A rumble shakes the small home, causing glassware to tinkle, and forcing me to grip my table. An explosion is fast on the heels, rocking the foundation and sending the other chair toppling over. Another bright light flashes in through the window, blinding me for a whole minute before it is gone.

“Quick,” a voice whispers harshly from my right, startling a yelp past my lips. “You must leave your home.”

I jolt upright so quickly, causing the chair to fall back and land with a barely audible thunk.

“Who… what …are you?” I stutter. The creature before me is clearly not human.

“We do not have time. The cliff above is crumbling and soon your home will be buried beneath it,” the non-human pleads. Pitch black eyes are wide with what appears to be fear, but the clawed hands keep me frozen in place, a blueberry still clenched in my hand.

“Hurry,” it says with more urgency, taking a step toward me as if to pull me from my home itself.

I curl back, fear lodging a scream in my throat. I eye the only weapon I have near me, the plate on which my fruit rested. I wonder if it will render this being motionless.

It must read my decision because in seconds it is beside me, claw hands resting gently on my shoulders. “I will not harm you. I am here to save you. Please,” it begs now.

Another explosion knocks me into this being, my face planting into the scales that is its chest, and I curl back in horror. A scent of day old fish assaults me and I find my face scrunching up in displeasure.

“I am not leaving my home with… with… whatever you are, until you tell me what is going on!” I demand, shocked my voice is steady when all I feel is panic and fear.

The beast visibly sighs and that is when I notice the gills in its neck, expanding and then closing. A shudder grips me and I take another involuntary step back.

“I am here on the behest of the god Poseidon. I am to save you, but I will fail if we do not leave NOW!” The being yells.

My heart dives into my stomach. The last thing any human ever wants is to catch the eye of a god. While some might think it a glorious thing, it only ends in misery and often death.

“I think I would rather die with my home,” I mutter.

The beast’s eyes flash red and its skin goes luminescent before returning to a very pale white. “I do not have time for insolence,” it says before his claws are gripping my waist and flinging me over its scaly shoulders as if I weigh nothing and dragging me out the door, just seconds before a boulder the size of a moon lands atop my home, completely decimating it before my eyes.

The being is carrying me away too quickly and soon the only home I have ever known is both literally and figuratively gone. Moisture pools in my eyes, but I refuse to cry. Instead I allow anger to control my next actions. I begin to beat on the beasts back, my hands hitting solid scale and probably hurting me more than it.

“Put me down you disgusting piece of filth!” I scream, which gets devoured by the battle raging above us in the skies.

Reds and oranges flicker in the sky between the pitch black clouds, giving the world below small glimpses of frightening power. Lightning strikes in our path, but my kidnapper easily evades it and picks up his pace to a mind-numbing speed. My body convulses with the erratic pitching, ribs knocking harshly against the scaly flesh beneath me.

“We are almost there,” the being yells over the violence and my body recoils at the thought of where there is.

Before I can royally freak out, I am tossed unceremoniously onto my feet, stumbling at the sudden motion and almost losing my berries in the process. My hands grip my ribs and I groan before I even realize the other odd thing. The complete and utter silence.

I finally take in my surroundings. We are down on the shore, hundreds of miles from my home. No wonder I feel like upchucking a week’s worth of food, which in all honesty isn’t that much.

Still.

There are more like the thing that brought me here. They all stand at attention along the shore, three long rows of perhaps fifty in each. I stare wide-eyed, never having seen such creatures.

Then my vision lands on the mammoth half-man and half-serpent leaning over a table in the distance. His entire scale-frame is tense as he barks out orders. It is my staring that eventually turns him to face me, as if sensing my gaze.

A smile crosses his horribly handsome face. A face that is both rugged and beautiful, should not be on that body. Queasiness quickly overtakes the anger, and I find myself taking small steps backward as the god Poseidon slithers toward me.

Long black hair reaches to his waist and irises made of ocean blue capture my retreating figure.

“Well done, Mekhail. You managed to save my champion,” he practically purrs. Another oddity considering the image before me.

I shiver at his voice, those thick lashes of his brushing his cheeks as he blinks, taking me all in. “She is quite the vision, is she not?” He seems to ask of no one.

I take another step back, which only makes his smile broaden.

“Cham… cham…pion?” I manage to stammer.

“Why yes. You will help me defeat Zeus,” he says with a nonchalance as if discussing the weather.

Incredulousness pauses me in my retreat. I am a mere human, who at most has wielded a rock to break up the rare meats I can catch. Is this god insane? Oh right. They all are.

I must have a look of utter disbelief because it seems to amuse him.

His laughter dances along my flesh, like a keyed-in song to my body, and I gag in repulsion but nothing comes up.

“Just … send me home please,” I beg futilely.

“You have no home, Ariella. We are your home now,” he adds with an imperious wave of his colossal arm.

The words repeat over and over in my dulled mind and when the darkness comes, I accept it with open arms.

(Okay, I wrote more like 40 minutes, but still…. :D)

#Warcraft Legion Burnout

I think World of Warcraft Legion was great in concept, but when it comes down to it, awful for people who love alts.

As someone who is an alt-whore, I am burned out beyond belief. After leveling up the artifact for ONE (and not my main—I always do an alt first to get a feel for things, then plow through on my main) … I am exhausted and I haven’t even fully completed that first toon’s ‘everything’.

I have been working on my actual main now. I finally hit 110 the other day, and in less than a week I feel pretty worn out between the two… and that IS with the boost for artifact power that they have given us with the latest patch.

That, and while many have already gotten 2 and even 3 legendary items, as someone who has ZERO luck when it comes to drops, I have gotten nada on my characters (and I have played my first consistently since October). I play quite a bit. Most nights for six to nine hours and every three weekends.

I know they were trying to give people a lot to do, so no one would complain a year in about having nothing to do (as with WOD), but I feel like they missed the mark yet again by going too far in the opposite direction (balance is key). I feel so overwhelmed that just the thought of logging in and working on my second (but main) character, has me slightly anxious.

That, and add the fact that I would LIKE to level my other alts … I can’t even fathom doing that right now… which makes this expansion very unfriendly to alt-lovers (in my opinion). This might have been something they were aiming to do, I don’t know.

I do know that my one friend who typically has 2-3 max-geared alts for raiding (he gets on whichever character might be needed for that night to raid), has found this very burdensome and their guild has had to find many replacements/add-on raiders that might not raid each time they do, but ‘cover’ when their class/spec is needed.

Not everyone enjoys raiding like that, especially guilds that are already small. I have read of a few big guilds giving up on raiding this expansion (and perhaps for good), because their core members are just finding it too difficult to be the best of the best with all that is required to get there per character.

If I were someone who focused solely on a single one and that was it, this expansion might be a dream for me. So this is just one side of the coin as to why I am not really feeling this expansion. It just doesn’t make me want to rush online and play my six toons all at once (which other expansions have).

And don’t even get me started on professions. As someone who both enjoys them and enjoys making gold from them, I have felt so very frustrated/angry with how professions are done in Legion. My engineering is stuck at 780 and mining at 785 (which I plan to slowly get to 800 with Darkmoon Faire, because I feel stuck and have no idea how to have it hit max)… the same is true of my main character’s herbalism and Inscription (which has pretty much become the most pointless profession—I actually miss glyphs and deciding which boost is best, etc!). It makes me very blasé about trying to even bother with maxing professions on alts (which I kind of don’t even want to lvl at this point because of reasons above).

Also, I think the community as a whole is dying. Before, guilds were VERY important. It built community and friendships and while games always have their trolls/dicks … I think now it’s like a virus and has just spread.

Most people don’t care why you are looking for a group. They just want their gear or their achievement and have no problems being a dick about it. If your group doesn’t work out? No biggie, we’ll just randomly find another group, abandoning the first, and so continues the mission until you spend three full nights on a raid boss or mythic because people keep coming/going and no one sticks it out OR you have to have an ilvl of 950, and every achievement in the book, to get into a DECENT raid/Dungeon group … and it’s just elitist ridiculousness.

I miss when guilds were integral to the game and people joined to be HELPFUL, to LEARN and to GROW friendships/community. I honestly feel like this has been the biggest killer of WoW … the people that play are just so toxic that one can’t help but WANT to play alone.

Anyway! In a nutshell, what I am saying, is that as a huge ALT-lover … this expansion is just not very fun for me. I feel very anxious just thinking about getting on my TWO characters, never mind the other four, and doing the grind on each and every single one of them. The ‘core’ of what made this game is dying, and it really is sad to see; the people, the community, and playing multiple classes in a single expansion (experiencing each of their timelines, stories, etc.).

Muse vs. Reality

I find the constant battle between my muse and reality painful. Today is one of those days where I really want to write. My muse is sitting in this dark corner in the back of my mind wanting out, but the reality is I can’t seem to put two words together that make any sense at the moment, even with all of these ideas floating around.

I have begun about four different types of books over the last three months, and I just cannot stick to one. I cannot focus. I am gung-ho one second for this YA book, but then my mind drifts and I decide to go a totally different route and begin something new, only to drop that one a few weeks/chapters in.

My brain just cannot FOCUS. I don’t know how to weigh it down and bring out the muse, have her stay in control and see something through to the end.

What’s sad is that I have a total of about twenty unfinished books sitting around on different computers, and between all of them it could probably be enough for three whole books … sigh.

It’s not that I do not love my characters. I love them. There are many that really stick to my mind, even now, and it’s been months that I’ve visited them in my works. I just … I don’t know. This is one of the biggest reasons I could never be a professional author. I am way too flippy-floppy and my mind is all over the place with ideas and it’s like I have imagination/writer’s ADD. Ugh.

How do you stay focused? What keeps you on track and moving forward on a single project?