I Can’t Stop Playing Valheim

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. J dropped a link for Valheim into the group chat we share with our gaming buddies. I clicked and watched the trailer for a co-op survival game. It looked cool, but I was about a third of the way through Valhalla and a third of the way through my current WIP—the book I’m under contract for, the book that is due March 31. I figured maybe later. Next time. Whenever.

Then Mr. J told me about the axes.

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The Unpopular Ending

I started watching TV with lunch about three years ago after reading an article about time management and how so many of us are bad at it. I thought I was pretty good at it until I realized I spent six days out of seven at my desk. I ate lunch there, and more often than not, spent a good portion of Saturday or Sunday (or both there). And I wondered why I was always tired.

So, I started taking lunch away from the computer and my hour on the couch with a sandwich and a remote is sacred. I do not take kindly to interruptions—because I’m usually in the middle of an episode that occurs in the middle season of a completed TV series, and sh*t is happening.

I don’t always tackle completed series, but I prefer to. I don’t want to wait a year to find out what happens next. I want to know now. With lunch. Today.

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The Good Ending

Recently, I replayed Metro: 2033 with little doubt I’d get the good ending. I knew all about the hidden morality system and had confidence that I’d be able to work it to my advantage. I got the bad ending. Since, I’ve been wondering why—and what my ending says about me.

In the case of 2033, I didn’t accrue enough moral points to unlock the choice at the end. The bad ending comes without a choice; the good ending comes with a choice to take a chance or let the bad ending happen. I think it must have been close. Throughout my playthrough, I stunned where I could—rather than kill—and when given the option to do a good deed, I generally did it. I listened to conversations and tried to interact with NPCs. I found hidden items. But I didn’t do enough, and the question of why has a pretty easy answer.

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My Favourite Things: 2020

For the past few years, I have begun my annual favourite things post by talking about what a hard year it has been and how glad I am it’s over. You would not be wrong in expecting me to start this year’s post the same way. After all, it is 2020. But although it’s been a difficult year (perhaps the most difficult), I have found much for which I am grateful.

My small family has always been close. We’re separated from our relatives by continents and oceans, and so used to celebrating holidays alone. To being three of us against the world. We didn’t, therefore, find isolation all too hard. We had moments of friction, as all families do, but I’ve never been more grateful for my husband and daughter. We held each other up this year. We forgave more easily, learned to communicate more clearly, and have almost mastered the art of letting each other exist in their own space for a while. (Or I have. Sometimes.)

I’ve also been amazed and delighted by the joy others have found over the past year. The news has often been universally bad, and yet someone, somewhere, has always had something to share. The wonder of small things has never been more true. 

The other aspect of being home all year has been more time to devote to my hobbies. And what I read and watched and listened to is a reflection of that. 

As always, we’ll start with what I read.

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The Things They Don’t Tell You

As far as I know, there is no definitive manual on how to be an author. There are hundreds of books about the craft of writing and dozens of places to go for advice on how to write a good query letter and synopsis. You can take a course on everything from nailing that first line to marketing your backlist. But there are still surprises. There are aspects of being an author that you’ll only figure out after you’ve been doing it for a while.

It’s like raising a kid. You’ve heard a rumor you might be up at three in the morning cleaning pink vomit off the carpet on the stairs, but you didn’t think it’d happen until it does. There wasn’t really supposed to be pink vomit, was there? Not when no one had eaten anything pink.

This is my list of things I sort of (definitely) wish someone had told me.

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