Tag: Senior Honors Project

That time of year again

That time of year again

Hope everyone enjoyed their Mother’s Day!

We Rochlin children celebrated by getting my Mom breakfast donuts (as requested), went out for lunch and then had fancy home-cooked pasta for dinner. A very food-focused affair.

Spending the morning and afternoon with her (as well as the night with my friends losing hours to Minecraft) left me with no time to write a blog post. Though it was all a nice stress relief…

Because as you can see from my baggy-eyed Featured Image, finals and graduation anxiety are undoubtedly taking their toll.

When I wasn’t with Mom yesterday, I was working on my last few college assignments. Ever.

For instance, the Final cheatsheet for Comm Law:

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It’s technically not a requirement, but the cheatsheet for my midterm was extremely helpful. So making this one seemed sensible.

… Especially considering I get extra credit for the selfie.

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Eating the pain away.

Taken at lunch, with a cameo by Mom’s arm. Because taking a break in the middle of eating to do homework is the perfect encapsulation of my life.

Comm Law is arguably the biggest stressor, as it turns out that is going to be a cumulative exam. Even though it’s online and we have cheatsheets, it will undoubtedly be a nightmare.

More than Cognitive Psychology, anyway. I should theoretically be studying for that now, but the first two exams were so easy that I don’t feel compelled to kill myself here.

If anything, the more stressful parts of tomorrow are around that exam. Like the Kappa Tau Alpha Communications Honors Society induction ceremony around noon.

Which I’ll have to leave early to take my Psych exam.

That event will get me the last pieces of hardware for my graduation attire, which means I’ll have to finally have to figure out who should do my professional Grad photos.

Because that’s a thing everyone does.

However, I’m currently more concerned about parking for graduation. As I found out, the tickets I secured for my family  do not cover their parking at the event. I needed to get a separate parking pass for that — and that deadline was at the end of April.

Had to make some calls while I was waiting to hand off that sweet Gladeo computer so it could go to a better home. Editing videos, as it was meant to be.

Throw in my semester textbook return, getting a legal document notarized (like a real adult) and going to the gym, and you’ve got my scatterbrained mentality for the day.

At least once Psych and Comm Law are out of the way, life should slow down.

As far as my assignments go, I’ll still need to put together my Honors Project — which I’m working as I write:

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Then I need to finish my Gaming in American Culture paper. An endeavor made slightly more difficult by surrounding circumstances, but I’ll get to it eventually.

Oh, and let’s not forget that my Dad’s birthday is coming up.

So that’s the whirlwind I’m currently cycling through. I keep trying to remind myself that once I’m through this week I won’t have to worry about college ever again…

But frankly that seems to freak me out more.

Instead I’ve been trying to drown out the incessant thoughts with more Games Done Quick speedruns.

Because seeing someone beat a game like Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door in under four hours is enough to really melt the stress away.

Meeting expectations

If my life were a series of Sesame Street episodes, the word of the day would be: Meetings.

Pretty much as soon as I woke up, I joined Mom at a local Starbucks to have breakfast with Tatjana — the wife of Magic Moreno, who I spoke to for Gladeo not long ago.

Worth reading if you haven’t.

Breakfast was a nice, quiet opportunity to relax and sip down a little coffee. Both of which are very important the week before Finals and graduation.

Speaking of relaxing. I mentioned Tarantino movies the other day, but I’ve also been chilling out by watching some speedruns from various Games Done Quick events.

For those of you who don’t know, GDQ is a series of video game marathons where games are played for record times, under conditions ranging from basic 100 percent completion to multi-player races and even bizarre hacks like randomizers.

All to raise money for charity while showing off cool tricks. Definitely worth supporting.

My tastes are currently aligned with Super Metroid, A Link to the Past and Mario Sunshine.

However, I’m watching a neat Super Mario RPG run while writing this post, so that’s worth a shout out.

GDQ aside, after breakfast I made my way to Fullerton for the semester’s last CSUF Society of Professional Journalists meeting.

We ate pizza, discussed what did or did not work about our events and elected part of the board for next year. Most of the current group is graduating, so it’s a big old passing of the torch.

My girl Kristina, who is not graduating, will be taking over as President. And I know she’s going to kill it.

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From left to right: Jared Eprem, me, Harrison Faigen, Rick Piñon, Kristina Garcia and faculty advisor Frank Russell. Photo taken by Anita Ally.

Guess I’ll have to update all my social media descriptions pretty soon to reflect all this graduating/moving on from things.

That’s certainly what I started doing last night.

Job applications. Gotta love them.

I’ll get back to that eventually. In the meantime, from SPJ I went to my next meeting in the Honors Center to try and complete a few more graduation requirements. Namely getting my Honors Project title page signed off on.

Which I did:

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Now all I have to do is compile the stuff I’ve done so I can officially turn the damn thing in and move on.

While in the Center I had a lovely chat with Dr. Simoes as well. We spoke briefly at my presentation, but today he was more than happy to congratulate me for getting the project through this next step.

He even told me he’ll be buying a copy of my book once it’s published — so long as I sign a first edition for him.

It was very sweet.

After all of that I came back to Redondo and set up a meeting with Michelle to give back that lovely computer I’ve been holding onto. Too bad I never got it to full working condition on account of internet issue, but it’ll be much happier with a video editor where it belongs.

Once that was done, I went to probably my most important meeting of the day:

A meeting with the treadmill.

Because with all of this graduation stress on my shoulders it honestly feels great to go burn some calories and let off some steam.

Highly recommended stress relief, folks. Especially if you can watch some dope GDQ runs while you’re running!

You know I’ve got those great set-up/pay-offs.

The penultimate week

The penultimate week

My apologies for the absence this last weekend, oh loyal viewers — wherever the five of you may be.

I took a little time for myself following the Honors Conference (both my panel and a few friend’s panels I attended on Saturday) to focus on the last few assignments I have to complete before the semester is over. Next week.

I’ve also spent a good chunk of the weekend letting the existential dread of realizing that “this week is my last full week of college” drape over me like a heavy blanket.

Seriously, what? That’s not real. Who allowed this?

To be fair, I may go back to school one day and get a Masters or teaching credential so I can be a teacher in my later years. Seems like that would be a cool way to give back after I make a name for myself.

But that’s not really a matter for here and now. I’m mostly just nervous about the incoming inevitability of having no excuses to not go after that name.

Because that is terrifying.

So I’ve been relishing my last few college-oriented assignments. Turning in my Internship hours, pulling my novel’s prep work together for the physical Honors project and watching old Stephen Colbert videos for Comm Law.

For my Gaming in American Culture class, my last assignment (other than the final paper) is to read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One for our discussion on virtual reality this Thursday.

Or… In my case, to re-read Ready Player One. Much like Ender’s Game, I read this book a few years ago. Well before the Spielberg adaptation was even announced.

Thus, similar to Ender’s Game, I’ve decided to take my re-consumption of the story in a different form: Listening to the audio book.

Cue YouTube-style Audible shill.

But not really, because Amazon isn’t paying me. If anything, I’m paying them — or at least my family is.

I will say the re-listen has been pretty worth it. Not only does the audio book make it easier to reacquaint myself with differences between the written and cinematic versions while doing other work, the act of listening is that much more fun because Wil Wheaton is reading it.

Wheaton’s reading leads to some beautifully meta moments, because he is personally mentioned in the story.

For instance, Wade Watts (the story’s protagonist) talks about Wheaton as a great representative of user interests on an elected council in the virtual reality world of the OASIS.

He says those lines without a shred of irony or winking to the audience, and it’s great.

But yeah… That has basically been my life. Everything y’all missed over the last couple days, other than helping a few friends through their own stressful life situations and watching Kill Bill with my family. Alyson had never seen it, and we needed to rectify that.

I know it’s a hot take for me to say it, but that movie is genuinely still incredible. A visual splendor.

If you need a little stress relief, like I have with all this impending graduation fatigue, go watch yourself some Tarantino. Or play a little Don’t Starve.

That’s my advice.

My Senior Honors Project debrief

My Senior Honors Project debrief

These graduation milestones are really starting to gear up.

Today’s adventure took me out to Fullerton with my parents so I could officially give my Senior Honors Project presentation.

It has been literal years in the making. After I spent some time reflecting on my novel and compiling the work behind it into a PowerPoint, I was finally ready to cap off my time in the Honors Program by speaking on a panel about creative writing projects.

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Here’s me with Valerie on the right and Stephanie on the left.

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When I attended Welcome to CSUF day four years ago, I was intimidated by the project during the Honors Program introduction. The idea of a year-long, self-driven (for all intents and purposes) undergraduate thesis that had no guidelines was terrifying.

I was able to stave off the fear by remembering the long college career I’d have before it would be a concern, and by latching onto people like Dr. Sexton — who I met that day and would later take his class. Which led to much more.

But the fear of the Senior Honors Project never fully went away.

Even when I decided what I wanted to do for my project, there was a period where I fell behind on my Honors courses because I couldn’t find a mentor. Then Dr. Rizzo came along and helped change my trajectory.

Yet the prep for a creative writing piece didn’t click as easily as journalism, which the recent Comm Awards showed I’m decent with.

However, being at the end of the road has given me hope that perhaps I haven’t been bad at the Honors Project thing either.

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Technically the certificate was from the COMM college, but still.

As I’ve transitioned from figuring out the scope of my project to actually preparing and writing, my fears also refocused from uncertainty and lack of guidance to figuring out how to share my work in a way that really conveys how special it is to me.

I practiced my presentation after the Honors Gala last night and it felt a bit shaky.

But in front of a crowd of my peers and mentors, things went exceptionally well. Mom even got some pictures of me doing my thing:

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She caught some good moments. Me with my characters and my little yellow book.

The presentation went off without a hitch, and I was more than ready to answer a questions from the audience. So it was great.

But once everything was said and done, the post-panel interactions went even better.

I got to introduce both of my parents to Dr. Rizzo (though she met my Dad at the COMM Awards) and had a blast watching them interact.

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It was even more fun to give her the gift I’ve been preparing.

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Surprise, this piece was for her all along!

I had to thank her for all of her help thus far, after all.

She cried. Which was an unexpected, but sweet little surprise.

Dr. Simoes was at the event, which was a great surprise considering a section of my presentation was dedicated to his help finding resources for my imagined civilizations.

So was Tyler Siedentopp — though that makes sense considering he’s the program’s Co-Curricular Coordinator. Turned out to be a nice way to wrap up our time together.

The most surprising attendee was College of Communications Dean Ed Fink. Everyone on my panel was a COMM student, but I was not expecting someone like him to come.

Apparently he had some very nice things to say to my parents after my presentation. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that conversation, since it seems like I’ve made a good impression all around campus.

If I have any negatives about the cathartic day of presenting, it’s that I have even more hardware to put on during graduation.

I swear I’ll pass out from heat stroke in the mid-May sun.

But you know what, it’ll all have been worth it considering the kinds of personal enlightenment I’ve felt getting there!

Fun and stoles at the Honors Gala

Fun and stoles at the Honors Gala

I had a lovely afternoon with fellow members of the University Honors Program at the 2019 Honors Gala in the Fullerton Arboretum.

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This Gala was essentially a big send-off for graduating seniors in the program. It was one part a chance to sit down and eat Italian food provided by the Monkey Business Cafe (and dessert pastries from Porto’s) with our fellow Honors students, one part a venue to receive our graduation stoles, and one part time for us to cry about the Honors Project Conference this weekend.

Though on top of a stole, I also received these niceties from the Honors Program:

The certificate is a lovely recognition from my mentor Dr. Rizzo, which makes me feel terrible because I may or may not have missed the window to sign her up for an outstanding mentor award in return.

Curse you, exams…

On the right is a glass to say thanks for my work as an Honors Ambassador, alongside a touching note from the Co-Curricular Coordinator Tyler.

It’s all great — even though my friend Mimi caught me with sudden-onset dinosaur arm syndrome while accepting the certificate from Honors Program Director Sandra Perez.

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Seriously, why did I do that?

I like my watch, but not enough to be showing it off like a punk.

Ah well. At least I got some other pictures with a few different people in attendance, including Mimi (with one goofy snark-filled photo), Chris Trinh and Dr. Perez.

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There were a few other people I could have, and probably should have, taken photos with. But at least one notable example left the event early for class stuff, and now owes me fancy dress photos.

Maybe I’ll even up my game a little bit more for that next time. Because I think I underestimated the bar of “cocktail attire preferred” given how I compared to everyone else.

Though to be fair, my dress was probably less awkward than my attempt to talk about myself when they suddenly dragged all the graduates on-stage to speak for the crowd. Guess who got to be the first guinea pig?

That’s about all I’ve got for this glorified photo album. I’m actually off to prepare for my presentation tomorrow morning, so that should take up the rest of my night.

Very glad we got one final as a program before I possibly lose all credibility with them.

A pre-preparation of rites

A pre-preparation of rites

Like I mentioned in my post showing off the character sketches from my novel-in-progress, this Friday I will be presenting my Senior Honors Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

We got the official email with the final schedule brochure and everything. It’s happening.

Not only is it happening, it’s coming up at full speed.

So most of my day has been spent preparing the Powerpoint I’ll be using. A few weeks back the Honors Program Director Sandra Perez asked me to help another student who wanted to do a creative writing project, as she said the pre-preparation I’d done was impressive.

That experience wound up being my lightbulb of inspiration. I realized that my project was better grounded in a Pre-Preparation of Rites than “I wrote part of a book.”

By the end, I’ve come to find that a whole lot of preparation was involved in my novel.

Most of it is stuff I’ve discussed on the blog before. The character sketches, map-making, research into Dungeons and Dragons and plotting out the story among them.

But then there are more exotic elements to the process as an overarching narrative — Such as my inspirational material, John Scalzi’s Redshirts and the prep work on earlier creative writing pieces.

And let’s not forget the elements I have yet to talk about.

Notably backend research into creating believable cultures for my fantasy world. I asked my old professor Paulo Simoes for some advice because a lot of his background involves researching ancient societies, figuring out how they tick.

He recommended trying to model my fictional cultures and the events that characterize my world off of real-world societies.

After all, he says it’s a successful strategy for shows like Game of Thrones, which modeled its famous Red Wedding scene after massacres in Scotland.

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Image courtesy of Game of Thrones Memes and Quotes Blogspot

Game of Thrones is in vogue to reference right now, yeah?

I’d hope so. Because I’m more than happy to capitalize on that, even though I haven’t personally watched the show.

For my project, however, I am not utilizing Game of Thrones in any capacity. Rather, I’m using “The Story of Civilization” collection of historical novels to base parts of my book on periods of history. As suggested by Dr. Simoes.

Along the way, I’ve been trying to craft the oral part of the presentation:

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I have 15 minutes to present, and then I’ll have to be ready for five minutes of audience questions. I’m hoping I’ll be all put together and confident by then.

While getting prepared, I took some time off with my Mom to go out and put something sweet together with the drawings from Elizabeth:

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Just a little something to help remember the project by. Doesn’t it look nice?

I think it looks really nice, personally.

My children come to life

My children come to life

Next week I will be presenting my Senior Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

Literally, next week. Friday, May 3 at 11:10 a.m. in room 1307 of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.  Just in case any of you are interested in going!

It’s a whole panel on creative writing that includes my novel, a children’s book about a character with Down Syndrome and a collection of essays about learning English.

I’ll talk about that more, but it’s worth a plug now.

Mostly because it gives me an excuse to talk about one of my most exciting pieces of presentation preparation:

The character sketches.

For the last couple months I’ve been working with the wonderful Elizabeth Person to draw my four main characters. Having tangible ways to see them was a perfect way to spice up the PowerPoint.

It just so happened that my Mom knew Elizabeth from her work with Edward Branley (whom she does book edits for), and her art style meshed well with the fantasy aesthetic.

As you can see in my Featured Image, the drawings came out really well!

But of course… You didn’t think I would show off my babies and not talk about them, did you?

Nah. We talking all about these good folks!

I need to practice for my presentation, after all.


Warrior

Eliott Aviknard

Eli is a human knight who leads the adventuring party into raids, looking for treasure and glory so they can leave their small trading town in the Western Badlands and see the Bresegon Empire’s capital.

He proudly uses his father’s white armor and blade, both staples of the paladins who serve as royal guards. For the most part he is stoic and cool-headed in combat.

However, that cool facade often gives way to a defeatist, lamenting rant into a mug of ale as he blames himself for the party’s frequent inability to secure the treasure they need. Which, as a result imposes upon Romeri for funding, keeps Julianna from going abroad and impedes Sovann’s desire to prove himself as a thief.

He is also deathly afraid of horses, which comes up often as he tries to overcome that roadblock preventing him from truly becoming the paladin he claims to be (to the jest of his friends).


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Julianna Rhuiviel

Julianna is a quiet, well-studied elven mage, an up-and-coming expert in both tome- and scroll-based magics. She carries around enough encyclopedias to be a jack-of-all-trades in lore around the continent.

In the world of Isenvid and the Four Orbs (my novel’s current title), the elvish people have a tragic backstory. Their village in the Gnarled Forest was invaded by Bresegon soldiers and razed, with most of the children being taken away to reeducation schools.

Julianna was one such child, and to this day retains both a desire to find acceptance (only used to racist rejection), a drive to learn her people’s history and a fear of fire.

An element that tends to being important for a mage.

Her personal feelings of being unaccepted leave the girl self-conscious about her 7′ height, glowing porcelain skin and somewhat gangly figure. She covers herself up (under the guise of avoiding sunburns) and prefers to go by “Julie.”

Though Sovann and Romeri will frequently get on her nerves with the affectionate “Ju-Ju.”


Archer

Romeri Russev

Romeri is a human archer and the oldest member of the party. She is business-savvy and worldly, having traveled before settling down to run a tavern, and she’s matriarchal; offering all of her friends an ear.

She tends to be the most fashion-forward when not in battle-ready armor — but even then tends to go for style over substance. Her desire to look good is matched only by her desire for wealth and fiscal security.

In combat Romeri is indispensable, though she has a tendency to arrive late to the party. Her long-ranged attacks almost never miss, as she has a long history of training with some of the best soldiers on the continent.

In fact, her ex was a royal soldier who now runs her own traveling mercenary troupe. A connection that may or may not become relevant in the story. Wink wink, plug plug.

She terrifies the elf who tends bar while she is away, and her hair is dyed by flowers.


Cleric

Sovann Krei

Sovann is a human thief with a skin condition called vitiligo.

From an early age he was trained to be a cleric in the Furbism tradition, a religion that was nearly wiped out as its capital was sacked to leave the Bresegon Empire in control.

He’s an effective healer, but got bored of that mundane life and decided to become a thief. There he could find action and fight with his preferred weapon: Daggers. That transformation is symbolized by his old priest’s vestment, which has been modified to serve as a cloak.

However… He’s a klutz, and more often than not people will defeat enemies before he has the chance, which leaves Sovann relegated to healing duty.

He bemoans the job but eagerly helps his friends, and carries his old staff tied to his back with the unused sleeves of his cloak.

Sovann is also known to be a tease (especially fond of poking fun at the budding romance between Eli and Julianna that only they do not realize is happening), and will hit on just about anything that moves.


They’re wonderful, aren’t they?

I’m planning on finishing my novel over the summer once I have the stress of finals and graduation out of the way, which means hopefully you’ll all be able to read their story sometime soon!

In the meantime, I definitely recommend checking out Elizabeth’s work. It was hard to give away my babies and let someone else try to visualize how I’ve imagined them, but she did a wonderful job and was really communicative throughout the process.

Even traded rough sketches here and there for my feedback:

It’s been awesome, something I’m absolutely considering doing again.

I can’t wait to show these guys off alongside the preplanning of my plot and map next week!

The last Comm Awards

The last Comm Awards

It has been a long 12-hour day, so let’s keep this brief.

Tonight was the Department of Communications Awards Ceremony for the year of our lord 2019.

Last year I attended the ceremony with Mom and had a great time. Won a few scholarships while I was at it.

Only my Mom was able to make it, however. Turns out the Department of Communications likes to schedule their fancy award dinner at the same time as my sister’s Pops Concert at Redondo Union High School, so Dad went with her to split our representation appropriately.

This year we swapped. Which means I got to bring the old man out to Fullerton:

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Apparently I don’t know where the camera is?

Now… I hate to say it. But I think Dad got the better end of the bargain. Sorry Mom.

For my senior year, I stepped things up from just a few scholarships to winning all of these accolades:

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I can’t hold all these awards!
  1. The Journalism Program’s “Outstanding Student” Award
  2. The J. William Maxwell Outstanding Communications Student Award (one of three Department-wide recognitions)
  3. Recognition of my graduation with a University Honors distinction
  4. Graduation with a Summa Cum Laude Honor (in other words, I kept my GPA above 3.90)

In other words — I not only received top marks for my concentration, but also for the department as a whole. While also graduating with Honors. And somehow keeping my grades very high.

What the hell did I do to myself these last four years?

Frankly, the only person who stepped on that stage more than I did was Harrison Faigen, who got a whole host of awards AND scholarships.

Showed me, I should have gone for some extra money.

Oh, and his awards were also well-deserved. That guy runs like a truck, and it has been an honor working with him in a number of capacities at Cal State Fullerton. The newspaper and SPJ, primarily. Definitely helped me learn a lot.

Speaking of learning a lot, the event was chock full of professors I’ve had over the last four years. And I tried to take a picture with a bunch of them for posterity!

I only got to Comm Department Chair Jason Shepard and current Daily Titan Advisor Walt Baranger, since people like my Honors Project Mentor Holly Rizzo left like a hurry once the show was over.

But they’re just three of many people I can thank for everything leading up to these esteemed accolades.

Frank Russell, Penchan Phoborisut, Amber Chitty, Emily Erickson… And of course Bonnie Stewart, probably most of all.

But there are so many more who have taught me so many things. Things that I’ll be taking on this adventure we call life as I finally get out of academia next month.

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Get it?

Because the banquet was adventure-themed?

Alright, that’s enough. You crazy kids get outta here.

My little yellow book

This Zombie Jesus Day, I spent most of my time down in the cave.

… Is that an insensitive comparison to make?

I suppose it might be. But I think it’s funny, and really all I mean to say is that I spent the day cleaning my room and the downstairs bathroom. Not only has dust built up since the last time, but we have family coming out to California for my graduation in May.

Puts the brunt of making things look nice on my shoulders, since I’m the reason why people will inevitably be here stressing my Mom out.

All that toilet scrubbing and floor sweeping and Amiibo dusting has me worn out, so I don’t want to linger on writing too long. But I want to get something out considering I skipped yesterday in favor of playing Pokémon with Aly and watching The Lego Movie 2.

Not that I regret either of those choices.

Between my bouts of cleaning, I spent some time starting to pull together a PowerPoint for my Senior Honors Project presentation.

Doing so has been a trip down memory lane, as I’m essentially summing up everything I’ve done for the last year.

Except it goes much further than that.

Part of my project involves the context of my experiences with creative writing prior to this novel. I have many single-chapter story drafts lingering around different folders on my computer that came about from dreams or fantasies and unfortunately never went anywhere because all I had were those singular ideas.

But then I have the one project that made it further than any other prior. All because, I’d argue, I pre-planned everything in this sweet yellow notebook:

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The summer before I started at Cal State Fullerton, this book and I were inseparable.

I distinctly remember sitting out by the pool at my Dad’s friend Sylvan’s house writing things out. Everything from character descriptions—

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To bits of lore about the world and magic system—

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To a lengthy run-down of the plot—

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Beat-by-beat.

Because of the amount of effort I put into this thing, it’s one of my favorite stories conceptually. Even though I moved away from it because of school, it’s a piece I feel like I can return to one day.

Especially since I took such meticulous notes on where I wanted the story to go and when.

That’s the main takeaway for my current Senior Honors Project. Pre-planning is very important to coming up with a solid idea one can move forward with.

Though if I did go back to this yellow book story, I’d have to rework a number of the really cliché bits. Like more tastefully handling my “amnesiac protagonist,” if I keep that at all.

I’d also have to completely rework the ending. At the time I came up with a vague encounter against a large mechanical wolf because something, something, bad guys invented technology using magic.

Basically the arc of Avatar: The Last Airbender, in hindsight.

So yeah. Work would be needed.

But I still have a soft spot for Anya, Maribel and their band of misfits and fantasy tropes.

In fact, the yellow notebook has been in the front pocket of my backpack for all these years. Just in case I ever do go back to it.

Who knows, maybe after I finish with Isenvid and the Four Orbs, I will go back and put it together.

Fantasy-adventure novels seem to be my thing, apparently.

Might even be fun to take the genre in a less deconstructive direction.

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

After a week of unbridled anticipation, today was finally Dungeons and Dragons day.

Since the beginning of the semester, we were promised a three-hour class period of just playing the fantasy tabletop role-playing game in my Gaming in American Culture class.

Finally the day has arrived, and it was glorious.

Though it did begin with a bit of a time crunch.

I gathered with my friend Mimi in the Honors Center before class, as she is far more of an expert than I. Was looking to get her opinion on which pre-made character I should play for our campaign.

Instead we wound up making a brand new character in the hour. An experience I’m fairly new at, which combined wonderfully with computer troubles.

But we persevered, and on the other end came up with my amazing boy: Thokk.

Thokk is a half-orc war cleric. He wears scale armor, carries a warhammer and a light crossbow, is generally uncharismatic and speaks four languages: Common, Orc and… Two I totally decided on.

He is chaotic good with an acolyte background and serves as a member of the Eye of Justice, a religious sect following a deity named Torm who were considered heretics.

So he’s adventuring to stop evil as his divine righteousness demands, but he ain’t above causing some havoc to get the job done.

Also he’s a very good boy and I love him. Might even drop him into my novel.

However, today he was played by the denizen of death and mayhem:

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Fear the cloth.

Yeah, I used Mimikyu as my character’s stand-in miniature.

He stood alongside the other six members of my party quite well:

There was Teflonto, a wood elf ranger; Celia, a wood elf monk; Jeff, a half-orc fighter; Phil, a gnome bard; Rein, a half-elf cleric; and Silver, a human paladin.

Our Dungeon Master was the Professor, wielding an unending spring of knowledge, a set of golden dice and a lot of monsters.

Thus the adventure began.

We started in a tavern, where Jeff nearly got beheaded trying to steal from the bartender and Phil spat Mario-style fireballs from a potent whiskey.

The quest kicked off when a sheep arrived. But he was not a sheep, he was a wizard transformed by a dastardly ex-assistant with a grudge.

Mr. Evil Wizard’s mercenaries arrived in search of the former mentor-turned-livestock, and our first battle began.

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An eight-foot bear in a robe mauled Jeff as the animal-loving Teflonto was horrified by Thokk nailing a wolf to a barrel using a crossbow bolt.

That is, until he learned the animals were humanoids turned beast.

After a handy beating, the mercenary leader gave in and conferred his great sword to Silver. He escaped with a lie that the remaining wolf was his unfortunate wife.

A night’s rest later, the party made their way to the hollowed-tree tower where Mr. Evil Wizard hid.

Celia was able to use a mass sneaking fog to get the party past a gang of dice game-playing wolves, then get inside by climbing the bark and hanging a rope out.

Suspicious at the sudden fog filling his tower, Mr. Evil Wizard used his transmogrifying wand to turn his bed into a bed dragon that absolutely exists.

While hiding in the fog, Phil cast blindness on the wizard before running out, climbing the dragon, stealing the wand, climbing down and THEN escaping out the rope-strung window.

You should have seen the DM’s face when he kept failing rolls to prevent all of that.

After getting back to the ground, Silver attempted to use the wand to turn our sheep companion back into a man. Yet, even Thokk’s guidance spell could not help his luck as the poor NPC turned into a Cronenberg monster before exploding.

That drew the attention of Mr. Evil Wizard, who approached riding his bed dragon with an army of wolves and a bear.

The final battle for our lives began:

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We were fucked.

But… We were fucked with 10 minutes left. Because three hours goes by fast when you have to account for seven players.

Rein and Thokk conjured magic, ethereal weapons to strike Mr. Evil Wizard as the rest of the party threw darts and shot crossbows.

Teflonto was mauled by a pack of wolves. Silver attempted to persuade the wolves to play a dice game with him, but to no avail. The wolves kept at it and Silver just watched.

Luckily, the almighty power of Deus Ex Machina was applied by the DM — who wanted the bell to end our one-shot campaign.

The wolves and bear turned against their master with the promise of being turned back to humanoid form. As Celia, Phil (now changed into a sheep) and Rein suffered splinters from the dragon’s breath, Teflonto stood up and shot an arrow into Mr. Evil Wizard’s face.

Once he and his dragon fell, we gained access to a convenient number of transmogrifying spells. Everyone was turned back to normal.

The end.

It may have been “cheap” that we were helped out of a bottomless hole by the DM because of time constraints, but it was justified by the journey.

All of our luck from the initial tavern fight and stealth mission came crashing down in the most spectacular of ways, and we undoubtedly would have all died without the handicap.

So in my personal headcanon, I like to imagine our party fell in the search for treasure and conquering evil.

However… In reality, none of our party fell.

Which means that Thokk lives to one day return, perhaps enlightened by his experience fighting the tyrannical Mr. Evil Wizard man.

All-and-all, I would say it was a very successful class.

Definitely worth a semester’s worth of anticipation, and definitely more than encouraging for me to go back and play more D&D in the future.