Name That Parrot!

Treasure hunting in Sims Medieval never held much of an appeal for me. I’d buy the My First Treasure map and shovel. That treasure wasn’t great, and digging in random spots was too dangerous. If the Pit Beast is lurking beneath where you dig — watch out!

Then a few months ago, I got lucky with a wizard. His parrot brought him all sorts of map fragments and he found really great treasure. But what really hooked me was the bones that were found with the treasure — enough to build a baby dragon skeleton that you can display in your Hero’s home.

In my current monarchy, I got my wizard, Paloma, a parrot right away. She’s found about half of the marked treasures and a few unmarked one. The Pit Beast must like her — she’s never been tentacled. I also knew that with patience and luck, she could build herself a skeletal parrot.

Skeletal parrots are supposedly the best parrots in the game, meaning they bring the best loot back when you send them treasure hunting. I gave him a perch so when he’s not out hunting, he can keep Paloma company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He needs a name. I’m leaning toward Cap’n Bones. Or Skelly McSkellington. Or Fluffy. Let me know in the comments what you think!

Guest Post from author Rosa Marchisella

Isa generously invited me to share this excerpt of my dark fantasy, The Greatest of Books with her awesome readers. You can purchase this novella from your favorite online retailer here: https://books2read.com/GreatestofBooks.

 

You can find Rosa Marchisellaon her blog at http://rosamarchisella.com/?fbclid=IwAR02HJXT9XYTZdpfVSmcD3M1JprhJLSu09vu90NwOMPPpOS8R7D1JIywYME

And on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

It’s all in my head

Last month I posted on the Our Write Side Patreon about self-care for writers. Well, this writer needs to heed that advice and then some. Two weeks ago, I fell and hit my head on a marble table. Recovery has been slow. I’ll know more after an MRI but for now, the prescription is rest. Not just physical rest, but mental rest.

This gets incredibly boring fast. Computer screens worsen my headaches after about 15 minutes. I can do slightly longer with watching TV. The good news is I’ve planned out a good section of book 2, but haven’t found a viable talk-to-text app for my phone.

Toss some good thoughts my way and in the meantime, here’s a couple of pictures of my cats being weird.

 

I’ve had Bernie for well over 2 years. First time I’ve seen him in a sink.
Dortmunder trying to open my liquor cabinet. I keep telling him he’s not old enough to drink.

Ink and Drink – An interview with author Stacy Overby

I sat down with author Stacy Overby to discuss her new release, Tattoos. 

 

Hey, baby, come here often?

Trying to pick me up already? But I haven’t even had my first drink yet!

 

Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” Do you have a drink of choice for when you sit down to write?

Generally it’s flavored water. Being the program director for an adolescent treatment program and married to a man who is in recovery from alcoholism, I tend to keep it pretty mild for the most part. I have been known to have a good sangria around, occasionally, though.

 

You visit a bar on the advice of a friend. The place has a good reputation for mixed drinks and you can see it’s well-stocked. What do you order and why?

Am I driving? If not, I’d probably order a Long Island. I haven’t had one in YEARS, and a good one is almost priceless.

If I am driving, I’d better stick with something tamer. A strawberry daiquiri perhaps? Or maybe see what the bartender comes up with.

 

If someone, me for example, were to craft a drink based on you, what elements would it have? How about one based on your main character?

For me? It’d have to be something sweet, sassy, and hold just a little element of “Oh man, what was that?” to it.

Sounds like you need one of my soon-to-be-famous Stanzi’s Kiss. Tastes like a cherry cordial candy. 

For Eli, it’d be one that’s broody, dark, but pretty straight forward as well.

One Dark & Stormy, coming up. 

 

Drinking, because no good story starts with a salad. Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories to share?

One time, when my son was about three years old, we went shopping after his Christmas Program practice at church. He asked me about setting up our nativity scene, since I have a plastic one and it’s been his job to set it up. I explained to him that it’s in storage and we have to get it out yet. So, he starts yelling at the top of his lungs through the store “Baby Jesus, we’re coming!”, “Where are you, Baby Jesus?”, and the like. For like fifteen minutes. Everyone we passed laughed. And, yes, I went and got that nativity scene out so he could set it up after that.

 

If you and your character had a drink, what would you talk about?

Empath rights and how to advance and protect those rights. Probably other stuff like flying and Norse history and such as well.

 

If you could invite your 4 favorite authors to a bar, who buy the appetizers?

Good question. Part of me would nominate Neil Gaiman to buy, but the British occasionally have some interesting notions of what an appetizer should be. However, he has been living in the US for quite a while now, so maybe it’s safe. I wonder what would happen if I threw Tolkien in with Gaiman?

Probably stale lembas. 

 

Are you a sipper or a shooter?

Sipper for sure. Shooting makes me sick quite quickly.

Count your shots, people. And hydrate. 

 

You’ve just been through all the events in your book. What do you drink and why?

Hmmm, what’s about one step down from a pan-galactic gargleblaster? I’m saving that one for a different book. Whatever is a step or so down, that’s what I’d be drinking.

Probably a Long Island Ice Tea.

 

You’re celebrating your book release. Do you

  1. Buy a round for the house – I’d do this if I could afford it!
  2. Open a bottle of bubbly
  3. Plan a private celebration – This is probably more what I will do since most of the people I’d celebrate with live scattered across the country. I will be celebrating with the rest here.
  4. Grab a funnel and a hose
  5. Drink until the pants come off and table dancing starts?

 

Do you take your pants off before, or after you’re on the table dancing?

Wouldn’t you like to know!

 

If you’re buying me a drink, what are we celebrating?

Life of course! Isn’t that the best celebration of all? Good friends, great times, and a life well lived.

To Life! 

 

You get drunk and go on a crime spree. What books do you steal?

I’d have to go after some first editions of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien for sure. I’d also need to hunt down first editions of H.G. Wells’ books, Jules Verne’s books, and Mary Shelly’s books. But, because I’m drunk doing this, who knows what I’d end up with.

 

Now that you’re drunk, tell me about your latest book.

Eli is a Black Ops specialist–a blend of military, police, covert spy–who discovers all is not as it seems. He’s been struggling with feeling rather lost and soul-weary when this happens, which makes it even more challenging to figure out what to do about all the lies and deception tearing his life and the worlds of the United Earth Government apart. With the help of his best friend, Shawn, his commanding officer, Major Wade, and an empath he meets named Alexandra, he takes on the task of righting what is wrong.

 

Are there plans for another? If so, will it be a sequel, or something new?

Absolutely! Book 2 is already drafted. It’s the next part of the story, only from Shawn’s point of view. There’s also a third book that’s almost drafted and is from Major Wade’s point of view that picks up from where Shawn’s book leaves off. I’m not entirely sure where this will go from here.

 

 

Where can readers find you on the internet?

The easiest place to find me is at my website – www.thisisnothitchhikersguide.com. I’m also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thisisnothitchhikersguide, Twitter at www.twitter.com/dontpanic2011, Instagram at www.instagram.com/mamawisper78, Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Stacy-Overby/e/B01M15GWGI/, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15863642.Stacy_Overby, and Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/dontpanic2011.

 

Stacy Overby’s release Tattoos is available for pre-order, on sale now for $1.99. 

Gettin’ Medieval!

I’ve enjoyed many video games over the years. In high school, it was the arcade game, Dragon’s Lair. I worked in a mall and spent my breaks and tips trying to get Dirk the Daring around that damned whirlpool. In the 80s-90s, it was the King’s Quest series. I particularly loved that one because it was designed by a woman, Roberta Williams. I played MMOs for years, including Aion, Rift, The Secret World and of course, World of Warcraft. I even had a podcast and a blog about my adventures in Azeroth.

The longest-lived and most fun, however, is Sims Medieval. A spin-off of the Sims franchise, it’s really not much like the others. Like a TV show that tries to give a minor character their own series. But unlike those shows, Sims Medieval is brilliant! You get your own monarchy where you control one or more of the 10 Hero characters at a time. Each Hero lives in their own predefined home, which you can decorate to your heart’s content. A style editor lets you tailor the look of furniture and clothing.

Choose a quest, then select the appropriate Hero to work on it. In addition, you have daily responsibilities to fulfill. Some of these are really fun, like pickpocketing with the Spy, while others are somewhat tedious. Skipping daily chores gives your Hero a debuff, and skipping too many will land them in the stocks!

I’ve been playing this game for about six years now, maybe longer. I’m still finding new content. Even if you’ve completed one quest, the next time around, you can do it with a different Hero, with a different approach. Once you’ve completed your Ambition (a series of quests with a goal), you can start a new monarchy, or play indefinitely with the current one.

The graphics are amazing. Mirrors reflect, grass rustles. The facial expressions the characters make is hilarious.

If I had to pick something to complain about, it would be clothing options. Yeah, I get that it’s based on medieval times, but come on. I see fashions on some of the NPCs that none of the Heros get to wear. This makes me sad.

A few months ago, during Hurricane Florence, I was nearing the end of writing A Kiss For Luck. I took a break and loaded up a new game. Since a big part of the book is set in Florence, Italy, or Firenze, that became the name of the monarchy. I populated with characters from the book, recreating their appearance as closely as I could within the confines of a video game with a medieval setting.

 

Meet Jules Brand

Jules Brand is a con artist and jewel thief, under the guise of being an art dealer, religious icons a specialty. In Kiss, he targets a Mark, an American tourist spending money like it was going out of style. He’s charming and charismatic, and just perfect for a vacation fling. When his past catches up to him, it all hinges on Luck.

 

Send him back a thousand years, and he’s a Peteran priest, one of the two religions in the world. Convince people there’s a deity who needs monetary donations? No problem!

The traditional garments for priests are robes, but those lack a certain sartorial flair. I put him in his favorite colors and tried not to think of what passed for hair product back then.

 

 

 

And if his silver tongue isn’t enough, there’s always booze to fall back on.

 

 

 

 

The charming scoundrel isn’t above cheating at cards, much to my surprise and delight when this netted me an Achievement!

One of the fun aspects of the game is that while you are questing with one of your Heroes, the others go about their day all by themselves. Some have strange hobbies, like my Knight who would try out different chairs. Another likes to sit in his torture chair while his assistant tortures him. (Yes, torturing people is one of the daily chores the Spy or the Jacoban priest have to do.)

I’m not sure what Jules had been up to, but whatever it was, it landed him in the stocks. He swears he’s innocent, but he’s always guilty of something.

 

 

 

 

While the characters from A Kiss For Luck enjoy their time in Medieval Firenze, there are a few surprises planned for them. And here’s one for you:

Sneak peek at a major character from book two in the series, Keep The Mark Happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven buses on the highway

As a writer, I’m always being asked where I get my ideas. Mostly at parties. People always manage to come up with this polite, bland question just before their eyes glaze over. “Oh, you’re a writer?” At least it’s better than “Have I read anything you’ve written?” No idea, dudebro. Tell me everything you’ve ever read.

“Where do you get your ideas?” Professional writers get access to a website with idea topics. You have to be vigilant, though, and keep checking it because the best ones get snatched up quickly. “Really?” No, but I do have a nice bridge in Brooklyn if you’re in the market.

Like most writers, I keep a file of interesting things I run across. Articles, Pinterest posts, places I want to visit, any of these can spark a story idea. As I’m writing this, I’m traveling from NC to IN for my niece’s wedding. (Don’t worry: I’m passenging, not driving.) We saw a convoy of seven charter buses. As we passed each one, we noticed they were empty. No passengers.

Why? Where did these buses come from and what happened to all the people? We discussed several possibilities, most of which were logical and boring. But the idea is going in the file. The stories I’m currently writing don’t lend themselves to an appearance of tour buses, so it will just live in the file with the missing notary stamp idea, the £45,000 worth of stolen sex toys, and the mechanical caterpillar. Well, that one might find a home soon.

I also carry around a notebook. If I see an interesting person, overhear some juicy gossip, or bear the brunt of some mutton-dressed-as-lamb’s rudeness, it goes in the notebook. These might not generate story ideas, but they’re great for fleshing out characters.  Next time I need a bitch, I know just what she’ll look like.

My upcoming book, A Kiss for Luck, started with an idea that simmered on the back burner for two years. (More on the book soon.) I knew I wanted to tell the story of a woman who goes to Italy for the first time, to fulfill a life-long dream. I approached it from several different angles, but nothing clicked. In the meantime, I wrote other things, including two short stories starring a charming jewel thief and con artist named Jules Brand. There was no light bulb that went on over my head. No dash from the bathtub shouting “Eureka!” No drama that I could relate to people at parties when the question comes up.

The idea was just… there. A woman goes to Italy to fulfill a life-long dream, only to find herself the target of a con artist and hunted by another of the con man’s victims. Boom. Done.

 

An idea folder is like a recycling bin. Things go in, get added to or torn apart, and reused. Sites like Pinterest or Dribbble and apps like Pocket or Evernote are great for storing ideas. Spend some time collecting ideas, ready to be pulled out whenever needed. It’s well worth it. Unless, of course, you have access to that exclusive site for professional writers.

Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker

 

 

I love to invent new drinks. They’re not usually made up of whole cloth, though. I find a recipe that catches my eye and automatically think “what if?” These are the recipes I’m willing to share.

 

 

 

 

Several years ago, I found one called Expense Account that used several types of rum, most compellingly, blackstrap rum. Molasses is an amazing flavor, as many bakers know. Rich, spicy, sweet, it conjures thoughts of ginger cookies and secret family recipes.

Tinkering with it came later, when a friend gifted me with a bottle of blackstrap rum. As I usually do, I made the recipe exactly as written and gave it a taste. It was a potent potable, given the three kinds of liquor in it. It struck me as a masculine drink, an alpha-male braggart sort of drink. Naturally, I thought of those types of men and images of riches came to mind. And the best way to exploit those is through their egos.

Now, I’ve been writing about my con artist jewel thief Jules Brand for some time. I tend to look at the world through his celadon eyes. What he needed to lubricate a mark was a good, strong drink. A manly drink. A manly man’s drink. A drink that would go straight to the head and befuddle the senses. To further emphasize the richness of it, this drink needed gold and champagne.

And thus, the Millionaire Mark was born. Enjoy, but keep one hand on your wallet.

Millionaire Mark (serves 1)

1/2 oz Aged Rum                                                  Cherry Bitters

1/2 oz Blackstrap Rum                                          Goldschlager

1/2 oz Spiced Rum                                                Champagne or sparkling wine

1/2 oz Kirsch

Rinse a coupe glass with Goldschlager. Combine rums, Kirsch and bitters and stir with ice. Strain into glass and top with champagne. Garnish cherry.