So… any kids games?

Someone asked me what I’d like to do in life. There are a few things, but I’m the kind of person who’d be mostly content with doing nothing, playing some games, and other dull stuff. I have a mild affinity for writing, so I’ve tried picking that as a hobby-to-be-profession. Other than the massive time investment required (I’m still a person who doesn’t have much patience), that’s something I’ve reasonably liked.

My mother mentioned that when I was a child I said I’d like to review video games. Yes, I recall saying that. Boy, I would love to. Game reviewers have it made, right? Yahtzee is the man! Unless, of course, you listen to his reviews, most of which are spittingly funny in their sarcasm and dripping hatred of every bad game he has to review. But there’s a couple points to this. First off, reviewing games is not all unicorns and rainbows. It may also not pay the rent. The other thing, I mentioned to the person who asked, was that although it’d be good, the problem is the games are riddled with violence, rending the majority of them non-reviewable.

And she mentions “So what about reviewing games for kids?”

I was a little struck. Kids games? Kids games? Of course, kids games! Playing games + reviewing them + not having constant shooting/violence = kids games… right?

It was just a thought, but something interesting to think of. So for kicks I looked into kids games.

There are no kids games. Period. There are educational games, there are rather pointless games, and then there are teen and up games.

I don’t mean educational games. I don’t mean drawing games where you color pictures (pointless).

I mean a game with a reasonable level of thought required, yet still aimed at a younger audience. I don’t mean cartoony, I don’t mean nonsensical silliness… just games that an adult (or even self-conscious teen) wouldn’t be embarrassed to play, yet was aimed at kids.

Commander Keen, one of my old favorites, was more or less a kids game.

Nowadays, it looks like there is no category on Amazon for kids. I refuse to click on educational, because, again, that’s not what I mean by kids games.

I guess I’ll just have to search harder.

I just don’t want to delve into flash games. I want something standalone, that costs money, that isn’t educational, yet is for children, let’s say 6-12. The kind of stuff I played as a kid were kids games, aimed at a younger audience, yet non-embarrassing.

This does, in some way, only show it’s a good idea. A site that concentrates on finding and reviewing those kind of games would be pretty nifty, dont’cha think?

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Errors of past work

Yes, I know it exists. And then, when little sister number two, re-reading my book that she just so happens to love, comes bounding through the hall pointing out that I had an instance of “parent’s” instead of the correct parents’ or simply parents, there is that slight groan of knowing another error exists.

Letting go of the need to correct everything every time is a big deal. I know Dangerous Rainbows is riddled with them. I don’t particularly care – I never intended for that to be a great work – which, by the way, is why it’s about free everywhere. But to find out that TLP still has two misused parent’s is an arrow to the knee. And I’ll never forget that my first edition, of which I still have 12 printed copies or so to hand out, says retractable claws like those of a wolf, instead of the correct retractable claws unlike those of a wolf. Yes, my characters have traits but aren’t bound by the exact physiology of the creatures those traits are influenced by. It’s not as fun, and it’s also not in line with the back story.

But yes, I know errors do exist. I’ve even corrected some of them in a 2012 edition of TLP (most notably wolf claws). However further revisions would require much more work. Suddenly my kindle previews are adding “CHAPTER TITLE” – those exact words – in some odd places, and I don’t know why. I’d have to remake my entire kindle version. And getting a new pdf to createspace requires some updates to software that isn’t behaving right now.

But the hard part is leaving a past work alone. My next book will be painstakingly edited. I use a slightly different rule of grammar and consistency. It’s a much more evolved work in several ways. Though my basic writing style (in terms of story) has only slightly changed, the way I use grammar is better, probably. Certain words and phrases are used in certain ways. I have a better sense of keeping things consistent the entire way though.

It’ll be better for The Lupine Chevalier. It does, however, come at the expense of time. It also means that when the errors do appear in the final version days/weeks/months/years after publication, there will be another groaning.

One of the things that people online tend to dislike about self-published works is errors. Bestsellers also have errors. Professional editors miss things. But knowing someone has self published means you may not mention it if a bestseller has three errors, but two errors in a self-published book will make those same people put it down and say it’s riddled with problems.

See, I know there are errors. I’ve fixed thousands of them. I’ve gotten my error rate down very, very low. I know that even with three pairs of editor’s eyes and several revisions on my own there are things that are still out there.

But I know they exist. They are valueless though. In the future I’ll have to make an errata page, assuming my readership ever jumps above ten people (it’s not hyperbole if I don’t know the number to begin with!) and brings in any significant amount of money.

For now, slowly going through it again, and again, and again, correcting all the while. As for the past stuff… I’ll correct the most offensive ones if they make a real difference. Otherwise… well, whatever, it’s in the past.

We’re all about growing, after all.

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A proof is superior

One of Nero Wolfe’s statements is really quite profound. And it’s one I’ve heard for years, long before I heard of Mr. Wolfe. It was just in a different form.

When a police official is talking with Wolfe about how certain people couldn’t have done a certain crime, and the problems of eliminating suspects, Wolfe corrects him.

Wolfe doesn’t eliminate suspects. He proves guilt. He’s not looking for who didn’t do it. He’s only looking to find who did it. If it’s needed, he may also find some proof they did it.

But chew on that for a bit: he’s there to only prove who did the crime. He’s not checking alibis to eliminate suspects. Why bother eliminating suspects when all you need to do is find out who did the crime and prove it?

On some level it sounds the same. After all, if a certain person or persons did it, then the other suspects are eliminated anyways. But the methodology is quite different. Instead of looking at each person and figuring out if they did or didn’t do it, you’re looking at each possibility and finding the correct one that establishes the truth of the matter.

How to make this simple? There’s an analogy I’ve heard before that fits this perfectly. And you know what, there’s a Mythbusters segment that also gives weight to this.

First the analogy. Teaching cashiers to spot fake dollars. Instead of showing them counterfeits and how to find them, the thought is to teach them how to confirm a real dollar is real. Voila, you’re no longer proving it’s not a counterfeit, you’re having them prove the dollar is real. Much less to remember. No elimination of various routes required. Prove guilt (prove real dollar), and it eliminates the innocent (counterfeit).

And here Rex Stout was having Nero Wolfe prove that point repeatedly in the 30s.

The Mythbusters segment? It was testing whether people really knew the back of their hands, like the expression goes. I know it like the back of my hand!

Turns out that yes, people know the back of their hands quite well. But here’s the part of the segment that exemplified the superiority of proving truths. The people were shown several hands on a wall, and were asked to pick their own out. These false hands were chosen to look similar to the original. First, the result was that people did find their own hand.

But the second part is the important part: most people found their hand quickly. Very, very quickly. In fact, it looks like once they found their hand, they didn’t bother checking the other photos to make sure. They saw it, knew it was theirs, and picked it out. Yes, they were wearing gloves to make sure they couldn’t check. Also interesting point of note: they didn’t know palms as well!.

It looks like they were doing the same thing as the prior examples. Find their hand (real dollar / true criminal), and then they don’t need to eliminate the other hands (various counterfeits / non-guilty suspects).

There are times that proving the truth is difficult given certain evidence (take the court systems for example, where a lot of the time all that the court can do is eliminate as many falsities as possible), but it doesn’t change that a superior method to elimination of non-truths is a proof of the real truth.

That’s quite an interesting way of looking at various problems.

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EC 8

They arrived at Peterson’s; only Peterson was home. The rest of his family was staying at a hotel. He was too, but he made an effort to show up at his place to help Chance and Turner out.

He looked haggard, as one could expect from a man that’d just lost a child. He looked defeated, as one could expect from a man whose child had been targeted by a killer. He looked ashamed, as one could expect of a man whose work was possibly the direct cause of his child’s murder. Poor guy, all who knew him or who’d hear of him would think. And when he does find out the real reason, what reassurance could it be, to think his child had died for such a reason? Until then, he helps Chance and Turner.

He invited them in and showed them around, asking if they needed something to drink before going to the scene of the incident.

“No thanks, Peterson. Really, you don’t have to,” Chance said.

“No, it’s my job. This guy killed my kid. I’d like to string him up myself. But I’ve got the rest to look out for. I’m sorry, Chance, Turner,” Peterson said. He sounded humbler than he had ever been in the past. Chance had to look at the guy, the detective that was rather haughty and always laughing prior to now. He’d been defeated, but there was still a burning, a fire of desire to get the guy he’d been chasing for months.

“Don’t overwork yourself, and don’t worry about us,” Turner said. “We’ll find him.”

“Thanks Turner. I don’t know how I could relax now, but knowing you’re on it gives me hope. We’ve been on this guy for a while. I know if it’s you, you’ll pick up where we left off without a hitch,” Peterson said. He breathed a sigh of relief. He was still shaky, but he was regaining some of his color. He looked down for a moment, and then looked up at the two of them with a stoic expression. The cop was back.

“This guy is professional,” Peterson started. He was out of his father mode, managing to briefly push that part of himself away while he gave the facts.

“The files say as much,” Chance said. He gave a brief look at Turner, as if to say “look, I read them,” but Turner didn’t look at him. He just stared at Peterson without much of an expression.

“We tried to be thorough, but there was only so much to report. Various killing methods makes him different than most other serial killers. In fact, he does a lot of things different. He doesn’t have much of a pattern. Until, until my boy, there wasn’t a pattern or reason to his madness. Only two things, until now, were consistent. First, that there wasn’t a struggle prior to the attempt on each victim’s life. We never figured that part out. Second, a note was left that apologized for the killing. Everybody knows that much, it’s why he’s called The Apologist,” Peterson said.

“No struggles and a note. The first implies familiarity, but the file didn’t find any connections between the victims, until now, right? But what about the notes?” Chance asked.

“Hand-written, all capitals, on a standard sheet of paper, all with black ink,” Turner said.

“That wasn’t in the news, right?” Chance asked. Turner sighed a bit; Chance hadn’t fully read the files.

“Right,” Peterson said, “since we don’t want copycats. Analysis on the paper was useless, it was too common, purchasable everywhere. Handwriting in capitals is neat but there aren’t any habits or flaws in it. If anything, it’s too neat, but we just assume that means the killer was trying extra hard to obscure he standard writing style,” Peterson said.

“What about the ink?” Chance said.

Turner grunted once, and then reached into his coat and pulled out a pen.

“One of these,” Turner said. He handed it over to Chance.

“You’re kidding,” Chance said.

“Nope. It was written with one of those,” Turner said. He took his pen back from Chance. “Even I have one.”

“I got a package of those at home too,” Chance said. “So it was written on standard paper with quite possibly the most common pen in the city, that pretty much every house has a pack of ten of in a drawer somewhere. Just great. Anything else?”

“You’re getting the idea,” Peterson said, looking grim. “But there is something of note. A couple of them, the way they were done, and this latest one seem to indicate a few things about our guy. A couple traits.”

“They are?” Chance asked.

“Nunez came up with it, and looking at the cases I had to agree. We already know a killer’s gotta have something wrong with him, I mean, who else could do such terrible things? But looking at it, we think he’s a narcissist.”

“How can you tell?” Chance asked.

“The timing and some of the victims. You’ll notice that killings take place soon after a major news event. And then he’s at the top of the news again. Sure enough, when enough time passes and no major news of him comes along he strikes again. This time was no different. I have to believe that. I have to, to keep going on. Think about it, what’s taking up the news recently?” Peterson asked.

“Celebrity murder. That, this is disturbing,” Chance said. He had to shake his head.

“Indeed. Narcissist? Crazy,” Turner said.

“We’ve got a few other ideas about him, but you can get them from the file,” Peterson said. Chance could tell he was getting shaken up again.

“All right Peterson, I think we’ve heard enough for now. Mind if we go check things out for now?” Chance asked.

“Yeah. Down the hall. I’m gonna head to the hotel and beg for forgiveness from God and my wife,” Peterson said with a forced fake smile. He headed out, and Chance and Turner got up to go investigate the rest of the premises.

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EC NaNo Hiatus, EC non-hiatus

I fought the NaNo, and didn’t win. Because I’ve quickly grown to hate the idea of having to write a full story in a month, and I’ve modified my life so that if I hate something I stop doing it instead of thinking I must continue it anyways, NaNoWriMo this year is a failure. I could continue, but that’d do the story a disservice, and would likely end up with it going on a shelf, never to see commercialization, for I’d detest the process too much.

So for the sake of possibly continuing it in the future, especially considering I have an ending all thought out, I’m ending the NaNoWriMo portion. And if it does get done, it’ll be much, much shorter than 50,000 words, the NaNo requirement. It may end up a single short story that rushes through the plot at a bullet’s pace. Which it already was doing. In fact. I may just continue that way after all. Forget NaNoWriMo, forget 50,000 words. Forget even writing it as a narrated book.

You see, I have something I’m already doing. But that’s not important. I know that for most of my projects, when I sit in front of the keyboard I can come up with some words. For Evergreen Cherry, it’s different. I knew that if I’d continue NaNo’s requirements, I’d stop too short. Better to not do at all, right? Well, better to just write it out, now that I think of it. I wonder what the format will be.

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