My First Quarter 2020 Update

Captain WhinypantsA few months ago, I had planned on sharing a quarterly update with you to highlight news on the proverbial home front. I had no idea I’d be writing this update from quarantine in my office next to a snoring cat. (Not Captain Whinypants. The other one. The orange ball of floofy one.) I don’t want to dwell on COVID-19 related issues other than to say “Yes, I’m affected.” Luckily, no one is sick in my household. Cross all appendages hoping that holds true! At the same time, I know several people who either do have it or lost someone recently. It’s a little surreal summing up the past three months, because I don’t know how the next three will fare. All I can focus on is one day at a time.

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of my year so far. Late December, I started by taking inventory of my 2019 list of publications. I used that exercise to revisit my goals, take stock of what I had, and put together a wish list. I wound up trunking everything I had so I could start fresh. (Zsa Zsa Gabor: “I just hated everything.”) In January, I was also prepping for the Hunter: Vigil Second Edition Kickstarter and had attended Midwinter Gaming Convention for a business meeting. I knew February was going to be busy, because I’d managed and promoted Kickstarters in the past, but I had no idea how swamped I’d be. Most of that month was swallowed up with a lot of news, Kickstarter cheerleading, and new releases. I was thrilled to release Underwater Memories accompanied by a themed soundtrack through Sub-Q Magazine, attend RadCon in Pasco, Washington as a guest of honor, and prepare for the SXSW release of my contributions for Wonder Stories, an app to help kids read.

Following this, I flew to Florida for a Make Art Not War writer’s retreat hosted by Alethea Kontis at the beginning of March. The first week and a half was lovely; we used the time to reset and reconnect. In that first week, I had so much news showing signs of growth and some wonderful experiences–including a SpaceX launch and a writer’s meet-up. Then, COVID-19 hit just a few days later. The launch at SXSW for Wonder Stories was cancelled along with several conferences I’d planned to attend. A spooky anthology I contributed to, called Haunting Shadows, also debuted. On top of this, I fell seriously ill. (Yes, we did check into testing but none was available.) We’re not sure if I had COVID-19 or adenovirus, but we took precautions in any case. During my recovery, I taught an Intro to Game Writing class through the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. I also mentioned I’m running for SFWA Director-At-Large as a write-in candidate. My class was lovely and everyone was enthusiastic and talented! (I still feel awful about my voice going in and out, but we made it work!) I didn’t write much, other than morning pages that last stretch of time. I wanted to be well enough to fly home at the beginning of April; there was a solid week or so I don’t remember.

I am now kicking off the second quarter in quarantine at home. Our state’s quarantine is through Friday, April 26th; the national recommendation is April 30th. However, my office quarantine is scheduled until Saturday, April 18th to ensure I’m not presenting any symptoms, especially after flying out of Orlando. I’m also dealing with a few other behind-the-scenes related issues, too, that have popped up because of this crisis. Additionally, I decided to pen a 30-day journal in quarantine for our local historical society. I feel this kind of documentation really matters–especially right now. I’m writing these entries in lieu of morning pages, but also to pay attention to how I’m feeling. I have a few deadlines this month and a lot of spec opportunities to follow up on, both of which should keep me busy.

I wish I could end this quarterly update with a comment about where my career will be by the end of June–but it’s impossible to predict anything. Change and uncertainty are the new “normal”. I jokingly called this era “The Chaos Timeline” before COVID-19 hit. Unfortunately, that description is very apropos of 2020 thus far. I’m still writing, but I’m also proceeding with extra caution–especially since many people I know and love are immunocompromised. To what end? Only time will tell.

Wishing you and yours health, stability, and a lot of luck in this tumultuous time.

In the Category of Fun Time-Wasters…

Big Giant Sword Fighting Avatar

Thunderstorms and lightning were very, very frightening last night, so I hopped on our Kindle and allowed the very addicting Samurai vs. Zombies 2 to take over.

Samurai vs Zombies 2

Swipe games are a lot of fun to play for me, because each level provides something new. I finally beat the game last night, not without help mind, and have been taking advantage of some of the enhancements to get more coin. There are three separate levels: a daily challenge, the main quest, and multiplayer aspect that pits your main character against the zombie horde. There is a large variety of zombies, oni, and what-have-you; some that are definitely nastier than others. The mechanic is pretty straightforward, and it’s very easy to learn. You have a leadership bar at four tiers that fills up. The more leadership you have, the more allies you can summon, and each has various abilities and specialties. Your main character has two special abilities they can access to impact what’s on the screen. They are also varied and unlocked through play, like the Divine Wind and the Flash Bomb. Outside of these aspects, you level up your character and your defenses as you earn coins during gameplay.

What I like about this version of the game, is that there are multiple ways to play it. The Daily Challenge locks in your strategy, and you win for a nice reward. Multiplayers are nice, but wow…I did burn through a few Revives just to spite the other player for the non-stop barrage. (An aspect I don’t like about playing with stranger, but is mildly reduced here given you don’t have chat and it’s not a free-for-all; multiplayer options do try to match up to your power and expertise.

Once you beat the game at Level 50, you do get the opportunity to replay any level — and earn more coins. The challenge levels post-50 are fairly tough, and I despise certain monsters with a passion as you have to get behind them in order to take them down, but strategy? Well, that’s part of the fun!

It’s not a “deep” game, and the art strays into manga-territory, but that’s okay for me. Sometimes, brain turn-y, off-y swipe swipe and tappity, tap, tapp games are exactly what’s needed when the to-do list overwhelms. The game can be found on iTunes, Facebook, Amazon, Google Play — pretty much everywhere you can find mobile games. Support, like through the Samurai vs. Zombies Defense 2 forums, is available too.

Yep, time-waster. Ah well! After defeating this game, it’s back to late nights of Skyrim for me! Using that one as a reward, because flower collection is time-consuming. Heh.

    Mood: Late start. Super hot yesterday; perfectly cool today!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Two LARGE cups so far. Switched to tea. Yes, it’s Aveda. And your point is?
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Up down left right up up down down.
    In My Ears: I Love Paris by Frank Sinatra
    Game Last Played: Samurai vs. Zombies and Samurai vs. Zombies 2
    Book Last Read: *eyebrow raise* There was something…
    Movie Last Viewed: The Matrix
    Latest Artistic Project: CLASSES! But… Shoot. Need pictures.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Mortal Remains
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, short stories, and novels.

Monica Valentinelli >

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