The Emerald Specter’s Day Off

I’ve talked about weeding the garden, I’ve talked about what I’ve got planned for the future, and now I haven’t really posted a bunch in the last week… and I can tell you that you might be waiting a little longer for a post after this one, too. But, at least I can do a little bit of talking about things because sometimes life intrudes on plans.

For me, the last 18 months have been really, really hard. Deaths and losing family members (which includes pets) has really taken a toll on me. The problems have mounted and I need to step away from things for a couple of weeks. I don’t want to dwell on what has happened or work through what I’m feeling at the moment. What I want to write about is what I’ll be working on and how often to expect things for the near future.

What? Again? This mo-fo doesn’t nothing BUT talk about what he’s going to do. Not true.

Mondays will see Storytelling Specter being released on a regular basis. Though I told you I’d be releasing one per day during NaNoWriMo, that isn’t going to happen. I want to participate in NaNoWriMo and if I’m posting daily I can’t participate correctly. Storytelling Specter is going to continue to be about writing in different forms, where to get ideas from, and what I’m writing about. If you want to see the columns get longer, start promoting the column when I release it because that ramps up the clicks and that’s how to see more of Storytelling Specter. Right now I write 500-ish words, if the hits rise by 50% I’ll do 1000-ish words per column.

Tuesdays will be left blank for the time being, mainly because Life Imitates Wrestling, Ingress Intel, Footie Specter, and Specter Fantasy Football aren’t in the mix anymore, this day will be left open for the time being.

Wednesdays used to be home to a couple of columns but now this is where we’re going to start releasing Game Specter. I’ve powered through a good chunk of Fate and I’m interested in finishing the learning process with this to actually get playing. Game Specter will also be spawning another little spinoff, an actual play podcast. My co-host Bob (from the Greatest Show and hopefully Kain’s Korner) and I are rounding up a group to start running something. Interested in learning more about the details, why not try watching the Greatest Show 43? We discuss things openly and with any luck, something more will come out of the details we discussed. Game Specter will talk about what you can do in role playing games and ideas for running them, too. Let’s get things moving!

Thursdays are also going to be open for the time being. If I can keep a couple of days open now and then, I can throw in some test columns now and then. Like what? Well, I’m glad I asked myself. When the World Chess Championship happens in November, you’ll be seeing Chess Specter leap onto the website. Chess Specter may also have a spinoff but I shouldn’t go letting all the secrets out right now, should I?

Fridays will continue to see the release of the single most popular column on Emerald Specter: Fitness Specter. This column continues to be a solid hit getter… this column continues to be a popular one, regardless of the exact topic. This column will also be changing a bit, too. Fitness Specter will continue to roll out about things to help you get motivated and in shape. What I’m going to start including, though, are personal updates about my own journey. Now that I’m back from vacation, writing this in my basement, I feel horrible about the fact that I haven’t done any fitness related things on my vacation. That has set me back quite a bit and I feel that if I am posting updates, including pictures and personal tips about my own progress, that I can be held accountable at a level that I haven’t been up to this point. Are you interested in this, too? Well, just like the suggestion for seeing more of Storytelling Specter, you have to share and promote for more clicks. I’ll even give the same promise for a 50% increase in hits, 1000-ish words per column! Let’s see this thing move forward and grow!

Saturdays will be left unused, as they have been. I plan on doing things on Saturdays in the future but let’s not get ahead of myself.

Then come Sundays… every Sunday (well, ok, nearly every Sunday) at 1pm Eastern/12pm Central/11am Mountain/10am Pacific time is the Greatest Show, which can normally be found in post on YouTube’s Emerald Specter Channel. I’ve been posting the “events page” link each week we do the show and that will soon be followed by a return to releasing the show in an audio and video format on a podcast feed.

Now comes the “he’s going to talk about what he’s going to do in the future” segment.

Mixlr provides a means for broadcast audio (vis a vis a radio show) and I plan on doing such a show. I’d like to put one on every day of the week but I’m a one man operation and that means I don’t bite off more than I can chew. I plan on doing a single show per week and building from there.

I meet with a writing group every Monday night and that’s where the bulk of my writing gets done. I am writing towards a novel which will also be turned into a serial audio production. I won’t have a full cast or anything, I don’t have the money to do anything like that right now, but I will be narrating and including sound effects (and the like). That means I need to write and write hard. With several plans on the horizon, I want to start putting this out so that I can mainstream this website to release my work.

Finally, I wanted to talk a little bit about what I’m doing for the rest of the year. As of writing this, I’ve put an offer in on a home in Portland, OR and I plan on moving there as soon as possible. I can start applying for transfers at my work on October 18 and I will be applying to literally everything to get me out there as soon as possible. If everything works out, ideally, I’ll be in Portland before 2015 starts. I don’t intend on spending another birthday in North Dakota. There’s a better life for me there, less memories and more changes to forget the pain this place has left me with… there’s a better life going there.

Until then, though, I’ll keep doing what I’ve told you that I’ll keep doing. I am going to take a week or two off before resuming the regular rotation, but I think I’ve released enough so far to keep you entertained while you wait.

Think on it.

Look at the Address

Hey there Specter fans… are you still using as the URL for this site? Are you aware this is now No?

I write this knowing that some people are still using the old address. Maybe that’s out of habit. Maybe that’s an old link you’re following from someone else’s site. Hell, maybe you just like the tastiest website on the planet and you can’t let that URL go. I just need to tell you that the URL may not be mine in the near future and if you want to continue coming here for the Emerald Specter goodness, you may want to start using the new URL.

Just a quick thought.

Weeding the Emerald Specter Garden

I have been writing columns for this site for quite a while now. They include Life Imitates Wrestling, Ingress Intel, Game Specter, Fitness Specter, Storytelling Specter, and more. I’m about to start going through these columns, though, and weeding out the ones that aren’t getting the hits. If you like something, you might want to start doing some clicking.

Far and away my most popular column is Fitness Specter. I get a consistent clicks on that every single time and I won’t be doing anything about that one but continuing that one into the future. I can actually see me doing ONLY Fitness Specter if the clicks increase to a certain level.

Now that I’ve “marketed” to the right crowd, Game Specter comes in a close second with my popular writing. I planned on doing all kinds of general gaming topics with this but I believe I’ll be doing more along the lines of GM specific evaluations of situations, scenarios, and maybe even some ideas. Column 2 was a big hit with me announcing that I’ll be teaching myself Fate (I have been capitalizing this and I’m not entirely sure why, so I’m going to stop that). Updates have been requested on this, so I’ll be keeping Game Specter around for a while, too.

What is a complete flop? Footie Specter, Specter Fantasy Football, and Ingress Intel are all pretty much getting removed. I figured that the soccer crowd would come here to check out some thoughts… I was wrong. Fantasy football updates? No one cares. Ingress, used as a linkable SEO material, has been nothing but an occasional click in interest (I’m guessing).

I have one that I’m not entirely sure about, too. Life Imitates Wrestling is one of those that started out with big interest and has waned, which actually tells me a little something about the readers. I announced that the column was initially going to be about my “life and times” at work and that is when things were getting hits like mad. As things have gone along, I’ve talked a lot less about what is going on at work, and what that says to me is that the high clicks were from coworkers expecting dirt. Not the dirt they were looking for, or less the type of identifiable dirt they were hoping for, and the interest is gone. Do I keep this one going or ditch the column? I’m going to know for sure by the time THIS little ditty comes out.

What about Specter Who? That one is my little Doctor Who review column and I’ll keep that one around. They aren’t numbered and I’m just going to keep that around to talk about the newest episodes. Hey, it’s my site.

Speaking of my site, there we come to Storytelling Specter. The column gets hits now and then, other times doesn’t get any. What I talk about is really just some general writing topics but is that enough to keep writing the column? Should I be doing something more with Storytelling Specter? Is there something I should be talking more about with that column? Well, funny thing about that… just like with the recent Fitness Specter sprint up to the 50th Mr. Olympia (a fitness Super Bowl, of sorts), I am about to be doing a Storytelling Specter sprint up to NaNoWriMo.

If you participate in NaNoWriMo, then I’m hoping to be your inspiration. The idea will be to release a Storytelling Specter EVERY DAY IN NOVEMBER. Not a lot of in depth analysis, just an inspirational bit or perhaps a spot of encouragement. Will those count as numbered columns? Maybe. We will see… but Storytelling Specter will be around at least through November.

That brings me to the place where I am about to start up some new columns. One that I’ve been waiting for, one that will debut later this year, is Chess Specter. I have a naming theme, why not keep that rolling? Chess Specter will be about chess, duh, and will probably be more about how to get better at chess than anything else. I do follow professional chess and I am actively working on a way to make chess marketable to a viewing audience (a la poker on TV) but I don’t know how much of that will be contained within the column. Since professional chess happens less often than, say, soccer, I think I can keep up with a regular column, ahead of schedule (since most of what I’ve been posting has been written at least 7 days prior, if not earlier), and keep things highly interesting. I love the game and I want to write about the game.

I love soccer and football, too, but I need to be less “ahead” and more analytical to make anyone else get interested in that. I would like to be but I tend to get distracted by shiny and new things often enough to… ooo, look at that… see?

There were other things that I wanted to do on this site, too.I am going to focus, though, on doing the things that are going to be the “bread and butter” of this website. There is writing that goes on every Monday to write a novel (which can be produced into an audio series for release on this website). There is an active video podcast that happens nearly every Sunday LIVE on Google Plus Hangouts (the Greatest Show), which is the only real hold over from the transition. I am working on audio technical stuff to do a regular audio show LIVE on (THE show for this site, which I have named but I don’t want to say anything about yet). I am getting ready to relaunch WAFFLE for the new year, but there is stuff that needs to be worked out before I make that announcement. There is a lot of things going on that I really want to do but I am someone who can’t do all of them by myself and maintain a full, working life.

That is where I start asking you to go to patreon and support the site. Bob and I need the money to be able to dedicate more time to podcast. We are also assembling a group to do actual play podcasting, allowing us to bring you stories and systems from a variety of GMs and perspectives. If you want entertainment, and I want to provide that entertainment, then I ask for some help through patreon. I donate to others, not a lot, and I’d hope that what I provide to all of you would be worth your donations.

Now that I’ve laid out a little bit of what I think is going to go on here, I’ll stop the yapping and get back to work.

Thanks for reading!

Fitness Specter 11 – Full On Fitness

I have talked a lot about this and a lot about that as part of Fitness Specter. I am absolutely lifting weights and I have been eating much better than I used to but in the last few weeks, I have fallen off of the “extreme dedication” wagon to languish in the “do what I say, not what I do” type of territory.

As of tonight (well, the night that I actually sat down to write this), I am climbing back on the wagon and I’m going full on fitness.

I had a serious discussion with my wife, who for all intents and purposes is my nutritionist, and I made the conscious and vocal decision to eat 100% clean. That means a very close examination of everything I put into my body. Every calorie. Every gram of fiber. Every milligram of protein. Every sugar. Every fat. I am going to be the picture of healthy eating… when I get back from my vacation.

For anyone in the dark, I am going on “vacation” to look for a new place to live. Yes, I’m house hunting, and while I’m away I can’t guarantee I’ll have access to the correct foods to eat clean.

Where I’m going I won’t have a Gold’s Gym, so I’m also starting to design my workout around the idea that I’ll be doing this from home. I might have access to a gym but I want to have a contingency plan.

The decision to go full on fitness was born out of the fact that I’ve been spinning my wheels for a while. I have a gut that I wanted to have gone by this time and that gut is still there. There were another 30 pounds that I wanted to have gone by now and I’ve actually GAINED 30 pounds since I reached my all time low (this millennium). So much is wrong with my situation and if I don’t jump all over that I’ll end up back in the 300 pound arena loathing life. Being fat sucks. I don’t want that and I’m going to do something about that.

I am limeflavored on BodySpace,’s social network. If you’d like to join me, request to be my friend. I plan on having all kinds of motivational quotes, motivational pictures, and I plan on making that THE place for fitness with your friend, the Emerald Specter.

Have you thought that this column was hardcore before? You haven’t seen anything yet. I am about to become “that guy” who is going to be going gung-ho and making as many others jump on this bandwagon that I can. I want to prove to myself and to the world that I have what it takes to change this sad, flabby body into a work of art.

I will share what Im doing. I will share what I’m eating. I will share my progress with you at every turn. I don’t know about sharing my fat photos on this website, open to the world, but I will be sharing them on BodySpace. In fact, that is the best place to see progress photos. I will make taking them a priority so you can see that progress is being made. I may even consider competing, if I’m happy with the direction.

Don’t wish me luck. I won’t need it. I will succeed.

Get fit with me.

Life Imitates Wrestling 8 – Assessing Your Situation

Let’s change things up a bit. Why should I go adding a second image to this thing when the main image pops up just fine? Why not pay attention to the actual content instead of worrying about the wrapper the whole thing comes in. Yeah, I’m getting meta in this edition of Life Imitates Wrestling.

Sometimes, when life seems to be passing you bye, you have to stop and smell the roses. Or, in our case, sometimes you have to stop and just smack someone on the back of the head with a folding chair.

The Radmiral stopped and looked around to see that he was getting somewhere but everyone else seemed to be just getting along without him. He gazed and noticed that all of his long time rivals (such as Puppetmaster, Nuisance Ned, Blubber Bee, and Doppelgänger Danny Danielson) were just going about their life and times, not really noticing their so-called greatest foe making waves in a big way. Others they’ve had as rivals have achieved a higher status: World Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and so on… the Radmiral, though, was about to achieve something none of them had and no one was really paying him any notice. Was his career over?

No. Not even a little bit. The Radmiral had become something that none of the “usual suspects” wanted anything to do with. They had their low level machinations to compete with while the Radmiral Seaman Beaumont was about to transcend the sport of professional wrestling. He was about to become the World Champion AND be the biggest name in a brand new place.

I have to slow down and look around, too, seeing that all the drama and whatnot that has occupied so much of my time and life over the last couple of years, just stop. If I think about the scenario, the change happened almost all of a sudden. Just BOOM and it was over. There was not really a transition that I could detect, things just changed overnight.

Everyone deals with office politics. Some people deal with that without any hope of avoiding that. I’ve worked in places where if you weren’t playing the office politics everyone else would basically cooperate in an effort to get rid of you. Really? You hate each other but you hate outsiders more? Wow.

Trying to keep out of the politics has always been a struggle for me, personally. I’m someone who understands that information is power and if you don’t have that information then you don’t have that power. I don’t like to be powerless.

I don’t like gossip more, though.

If you haven’t figured this out by this point, I’m going to be leaving the place where I was born and grew up for a state that sucks a whole lot less. Yes, I can say that this place sucks. Hell, look at yesterday’s post on this very site and see that I don’t really like this place.

When I get to where I’m going, things will be very different. I won’t engage in the gossip, I won’t trying to scrape in as much information I can to use as needed, and I certainly won’t be competing with anyone else in my new office. The reasons are numerous but the most important one is that I won’t have to because I’ll be the new guy.

Stopping and looking around, I see how terrible things really were. There was a serious competitive situation and most of that situation was due to nothing more than one or two people liking to stir up drama. Stirring up the drama for the sake of stirring up the drama, I might add.

Is your life so boring that you need to create drama for the sake of creating drama?

I don’t and I’m hoping that I don’t have to deal with that where I’m going.

Think on it.

Moving and Why People Don’t Seem to Get It

Do you know me?  Well, then you know I’m leaving North Dakota as soon as I possibly can.  I have my destination in mind and when I can actually leave, I’m gone.  There are several reasons for this and I would like to talk a little about those here.  First, though, let’s start with a little “Q&A” that I normally end up answering… and yes, people ask some of these stupid ass questions expecting to convince me to stay.

What if you don’t like it there?  Well, I know for a fact I don’t like it here, so why would that matter.  If I don’t like it there, I’ll move.  Simple as that.

You know it rains there (in the Pacific North West), right?  Well, I don’t have to shovel rain, so it can rain all it wants.  I don’t like snow.  I don’t like the cold here.  I don’t want to suffer to live someplace just because I’ve always lived here (except for three glorious years).  Why would I punish myself to stay in North Da-toilet?

What does (the Pacific North West) have that we don’t?  Well, YOU for starters.  The people are nicer, the driving is less idiotic, the state isn’t solidly a “red” one, and I don’t have to constantly run into people I know.  I don’t like North Da-toilet, I hate this place and I want to leave.  Nothing short of a guaranteed 7 figure salary will get me to stay here.  NOTHING.

What is better about there than here?  That’s a long ass list, but let me get that started for you.  The people aren’t self important and entitled.  There is a focus on creativity and the whole city encourages people to be unique.  Big box stores aren’t allowed because they promote a corporate atmosphere and that isn’t what they’re about.  The area is far more pet friendly.  There is a professional soccer team that I will more than enjoy going to often.  Driving isn’t a competitive sport like it seems to be in ND, whereas I mean that if you hop in your car you need to get where you’re going faster than anyone else on the road and you’ll cut anyone off you can in order to “win.”  There’s more to do.  Things aren’t closed until noon on Sunday because of some old, white men who are heavily religious deciding that needs to be the case.  The number of days which that particular area goes below zero is zero.  And still, best of all, YOU aren’t there.

What are you going to do for work?  The ONLY reason I am still here is because I need to get to a particular status at work to transfer out to where I want to go.  I’m not quitting, I’m not hoping to find something when I get there, and I’m not looking for work when I get out there.  I’m a postal employee, there ARE options.

I don’t like North Dakota.  I’ve never liked North Dakota.  I lived in Mississippi for 3 hers (actually stationed there, so not the entire 3 years) and those were the 3 best years.  Mississippi sucks and that is better than ND.  I don’t want to raise a family, the cost of living is cheaper where I’m going, I can be more creative, I am in a population center without being suffocated, exercise is a way of life and not a complex daily decision, I am near a professional sports team that will enjoy going to see on a regular basis, and most of all: it’s NOT A SNOWY FUCKING WASTELAND.  There is nothing in North Dakota for me.  NOTHING.  ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING.  Why would I stay?

Think about that before you open your pie hole and try to convince me to stay.

Game Specter 3 – Three Pieces of the Same Game

I have always wanted to create my own gaming system.  Though I wanted to write this time about FATE and what I’m learning, I’ve come across some stuff that I really wanted to comment on and since that’s game related, I’ll do a Game Specter on it here, instead.  You get to go on a magical journey into the world of my own personal “home brew.”

GameSpecter300Way back in 1995, I started working on my own little gaming system.  Because I was in love with the White Wolf mechanics, I based a lot of what I was doing off of that… initially.  There had been vast and sweeping changes since then and now that I’ve gotten to know FATE a little more intimately, I am going to integrate that into the system as well… pieces or ideas from it, at least.  But that isn’t what I wanted to talk about.

Why I bring this up is that I am in the process of preparing to move out of where I live and move someplace else.  Part of doing that means I need to clean out where I live (i.e. my house) and that has revealed some interesting things I didn’t realize I even still had.  Enter my game system, discovered in a box at the bottom of a pile behind tons of stuff that was uncovered in the emptying of the house.  Yeah, I have a renewed interest in getting that thing moving forward.

I was a fan of White Wolf’s meta-plot, and though I tried to come up with one on my own, the idea of my system would give that as an option but be able to be used on many things like FATE is.  I found the meta plot three days ago and boy did I put some detail into the descriptiveness, meaning I could have a group running exactly what I envisioned because the notes tell me what I need to know to do that…

My system has some quirks.  I wanted to use different dice for different levels of skills.  For instance, and just as an example, you start out by using a 1d4 to roll for a particular skill… you have a 50-50 chance at success.  You roll a 1 or 2 and you fail, you roll a 3 or 4 and you succeed.  When you “level up,” you start using a 1d6 to roll that skill… and the 1 and 2 are still the only fail options, meaning you got better at that skill.  A 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, and 1d20 later and you’re rocking the hell out of that skill, though with the bigger dice the fail does grow (8 has 1, 2, & 3… for example).  And failure isn’t all bad!  You advance either with 10 successes at that skill or 3 successes and 3 failures! Yes, we ALL learn from failing, why wouldn’t you in a game?

There are other complicated things I could tell you about this thing but that would have me droning on about my home brew for pages… and I don’t want to do that, at least not here and now.  I do plan on finishing this thing and maybe I’ll do a kickstarter to release it… or something.  We’ll see.

Until then, roll on.

Storytelling Specter 5 – Plotters and Pantsers

There are two types of people, I’m told, that typically do “big” writing (i.e. novels, series of novels, etc).  I’ve decided to do a little personal analysis as I talk about plotters and pantsers.

StorytellingSpecter300First and foremost, let me tell you what the hell a pantser is: that is the type of person who doesn’t plan out anything before hand and just writes by the seat of their pants.  Yes, that is directly opposite of the plotter… so, column over, right?


When I started writing many moons ago (I say that because of a funny thing I like to say: when someone says “back in the day” I say they’re talking about a Wednesday) I was a pantser and I knew it.  There was very little that I knew before hand (other than a general direction) and in the case of the mysteries I wanted to write, I wanted to be as surprised as the reader.

Wait… what?

Yes, I wanted to write a mystery without knowing who did it and how they did it.  How in the hell am I supposed to write something like that without knowing where I’m going?  Well, that’s when I started writing a whole lot better.

I wrote by the seat of my pants, letting every action scene just sort of happen and having several of my really good ideas be completely controlled by where my characters wanted to go rather than where I wanted them to go.  Have you ever had your characters run your story?  It happens and I understand when people complain about things like that.

Since I’ve grown in my writing endeavors, I’ve turned (with some excitement I might add) to plotting.  Rather than writing on the edge of my seat, not entirely certain where I was going with my stories, I now plot out things a lot more so I have not only a general direction but key points to get to at each stage.  How detailed to I get?  Well, that varies on the story.

I have gotten as deep as detailing the contents of entire scenes, making sure certain beats were hit in order to set things up for the next scene or series of scenes.  I’ve also been dialed back enough to work with just scene titles, that way I can write the scene, then start writing up to the next scene and still give my characters some free reign.

Sometimes the characters are that interesting.

In the end, the method you use really depends on how you work best.  If you work well with pantsing your way through your stories, keep doing it!  Why would you stop doing something that works for you?  If you are getting the results you want, don’t change.

Do you like the idea of plotting things out?  Try it.  Maybe you’ll discover that you write BETTER doing things those of us on that side of the fence already do.  Maybe you’ll even get a lot better and sell that first novel in the process.

Who knows?

Write it.