We’re pleased to highlight Guadalupe Garcia McCall, who will be writing a Kaiju story for our Kickstarter anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II! Support the anthology here!
It always feels strange when someone asks me to write on command. “Write something with me,” someone will say, and I find myself having to decline. One, because I don’t know what “something” means for them and two, because I’m usually pretty busy writing my own kind of “something.” Then there was the guy who leaned over, made googly eyes at me, and said, “Write a poem for me.” That was just creepy, so I declined that one too.
Occasionally, though, there are requests that are intriguing enough to make me look up from my laptop and say, “Really?” Like when Alana Joli Abbott asked if I would write a Kaiju story. A Kaiju story—now that’s never been on my radar. But I like writing things that challenge me, things that take me completely out of my comfort zone.
So, I said yes and spent the next few months worried that I wouldn’t be able to deliver because I had no earthly idea where to begin. You see, I write about people who wear chanclas and eat chicharrones. I write about the love of mothers, the bond of hermanitas, and our past struggles in this country. I write about familia, not giant monsters stomping on things.
I perused the stories in Kaiju Rising and watched Pacific Rim. After that adrenaline rush, I came up with something I could write about. I sat at the computer the first week of Christmas break and started outlining a story about a giant-prehistoric-looking-baby-creature that somehow ends up in the clutches of an evil man (insert strange professor with an eye patch here). Yes. Yes. I was on a roll.
Then because I still had another week to write, I went to see a movie with The Man. As I was sucked into the gorgeousness of The Shape of Water, I thought, “That’s how I should be writing this. I just need to believe it could happen.”
After the movie, I was standing in the hallway waiting for The Man to refill our drinks when the Anti-muse popped into my head and grinned at me. “Yes, but is your story-line believable? Are your characters solid? I mean, who wears an eye patch anymore? A one-eyed professor walking around with a deep dark secret? Really?” my soul-crushing, overly-critical Anti-muse asked.
I was in the midst of complete and utter writerly despair when the doors of a nearby theater opened and a crowd of movie-goers walked out. And who should be leading the crowd but an older, professor-ish looking man with an eye patch. Yes! In your face, Anti-muse! The universe said yes, and I went home to write my short story.
Although I like it when the Anti-muse packs her bags and my zany, overzealous, dramatic, overachieving Real Muse shows up, the truth is my Real Muse is kind of a tyrant. She puts vats of Diet Coke on the counter, banishes my dear husband, and makes me write like the house is on fire and we have to finish and submit the story because we can’t take the laptop with us when we run outside.
Four days and forty-five pages into the project, I realized the Real Muse was out of control. “I can cut it back later,” I told myself. “I can still trim this down.”
Five days, several more characters’ points of view, and sixty-four pages later, and it was official—I was writing another young adult novel. However, as shiny and bright as the whole thing was (writing different points of view is new and thrilling for me), I was in deep trouble here. It was Friday of the second week of Christmas break and I only had two more days to write the Kaiju short story for Alana.
I messaged my buddy, David Bowles (the master of all things Sci-Fi) and he gave me some good writerly advice. “Write a short story in the same universe,” he said. That night, I went back to my laptop. “What if there were other creatures?” I asked the Real Muse. “Who would find them? And how would he/she get rid of them?”
In the end, I wrote a short story called, “Rancho Nido” for Kaiju Rising, Age of Monsters II and submitted it on time. “Rancho Nido” is a little morsel, a prequel to my bigger project, a young adult book which I am labelling my “Borderlands Kaiju Novel.”
“Rancho Nido” is different from anything else I’ve ever written before, but it’s coming from a fun place, a place where families sit around a fire pit and tell crazy historias de monstros. So, wait ’til dark, kick your feet up, and enjoy it with a taquito.
About Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Guadalupe Garcia McCall is the author of Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low Books), a novel in verse. Under the Mesquite received the prestigious Pura Belpre Author Award, was a William C. Morris Finalist, received the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Literacy Promising Poet Award, the Tomas Rivera Children’s Book Award, and was included in Kirkus Review’s Best Teen Books of 2011, among many other accolades. Her second novel, Summer of the Mariposas (Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books), won a Westchester Young Adult Fiction award, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, was included in the 2013 Amelia Bloomer Project List, the Texas Lone Star Reading List, and the 2012 School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year. Her poems for children have appeared in The Poetry Friday Anthology, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. Ms. Garcia McCall was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. She immigrated with her family to the United States when she was six years old and grew up in Eagle Pass, Texas (the setting of both her novels and most of her poems). She is currently a high school English teacher in San Antonio.
About Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II
A few years ago, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters smashed onto the book scene, collecting stories from some of the best writers of monsters in the business. Now, the age of monsters continues on with the follow up anthology, Kaiju Rising II, featuring stories from authors like Jeremy Robinson, Marie Brennan, Dan Wells, ML Brennan, Jonathan Green, Lee Murray, Cullen Bunn, and more! If you love movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong, you won’t want to miss it. Support this anthology from Outland Publications on Kickstarter now, keywords Kaiju Rising.
For a long time, RPG was a foreign word to me. I knew it from my so called geek friends, from the newest CGI games, and from hearing references of classics like Dungeons & Dragons. But I didn’t really know what it meant.
This summer, I was introduced to Hearthstone. It had something to do with the universe of World of Warcraft. Ok: a familiar name. I had never played it myself, but had seen people addicted to it and talking about how awesome it was.
My first reaction: cool graphics, but… so many cards with… numbers… and what do they all mean? There’s the little diamond shape thingy and then the other two on the bottom… And the ones with a skull have “Deathrattle”? My inner monologues ended pretty much with “Wait. Why did that monster die? No! Wh-why am I dead?!?”
Yup. Not the easiest game ever, I give you that. Especially if you have no experience with card games or RPGs in general. But I was hooked. I continued to try. I had help building my first decks and got used to playing with the same character: Mage (c’mon, you’ve got to love a good Flamestrike!).
Flamestrike: Deal 4 damage to all enemy minions
But besides the everyday ranked games, daily challenges and solo adventures, there’s something that, sometimes, is incredible: the Tavern Brawls!
These consist of a weekly challenge that changes its rules every time and is only available for three days. You get games that go from cooperating with the other player in order to destroy a common enemy to using only one type of card to destroy your enemy—or even to using chess pieces.
Something that captured my attention was the cooperation game. In a question of seconds—and without the use of chat—strategies were made and put into action. Just by playing a certain card and maybe highlighting your partner’s hero power, you gave each other signals and you were in fact working towards a common goal from across the world. It seems something ridiculous, right? What’s so important about destroying an imaginary monster in a fantasy game?
Well, picture this: it’s not a random monster, it’s a problem that two people who have never met are joining forces to solve. Within seconds, tactics are created and acted upon.
This shows how we are more than capable of solving problems and collaborating. We just have to be on the same side—and that’s the tricky part of any conflict.
See how this quickly went from mere game to world cooperation? Ok, ok, I’m not preaching RPGs as a solution to World Peace—everyone knows that the answer to that is tickling; we are just afraid because it’s so obvious, as comedian T.J. Miller pointed out.
Anyway, back to Hearthstone!
I am now proud to say that I have conquered my good share of victories, currently trying to push myself beyond my comfort zone by playing with other characters. I know the difference between a Battlecry and a Deathrattle and more or less how to prioritize my mana spending and energy losses.
Deathrattles and Battlecries: let’s mix it up!
I love that it is a game that needs more than sheer luck, that you have to actually think when playing if you want to create certain combos and get cool cards.
But there was another thing that helped me get addicted: the possibility of playing with friends from around the world! It’s fine to chat on a regular basis to keep tabs on how everyone’s doing, but it’s much cooler when you’re able to share these funny moments in an RPG. Challenging your friends for battles, arguing about what characters have the best powers and cards, giving tips and advice on how to improve your decks or what web pages to visit for extra news—it’s all part of a shareable experience. It’s something that takes the game to a new level and makes it less impersonal.
It’s almost like having that cosy boardgame night where you just goof around and have fun, using the game as an excuse.
The funny characters, the subtle humor on the card descriptions, and the whole sound and graphic landscape make Hearthstone an enjoyable experience for anyone wanting to give the digital RPG world a try. It’s free, so why not take a chance?
Are you an avid player of online RPGs? Which ones would you recommend?
Let us know! I’ll be playing the ones you suggest and writing my impressions here. Yes, I’m a complete newbie but that’s why it’s going to be fun for you to hear the struggles and nonsenses of a rookie in worlds you’ve traveled so many times.
You may think it’s heartless. Someone turning on the TV just a day after losing a loved one. Don’t judge so easily. Take a moment.
You lose someone and everyone has some advice, a kind word, a gesture. After the initial shock you might be able to be at home, maybe with people suffering along with you. And if you see one of them turning the TV on for a slapstick sitcom, what is your reaction? Shout at the absurdity of that? Think they’re heartless? Don’t be so hard on them.
Each person grieves in their own intrinsic way and fiction universes are often the exact company they crave on that moment:
– Background noise: people talking about something else than the huge lump in their hearts;
– Evasion/Escapism: obviously, seeing what some random character is facing distracts you.
But there is a more important effect:
It might help you process your grief.
By watching the characters face similar problems or even mundane ones you relive certain moments. It may hurt. It is not a fail proof help, but while watching the characters walking around moving on with their lives, suffering, avenging, simply mourning or even if they’re far from any problem of that sort you manage to have let yourself ease a bit.
While you care for their silly fictional problems, your brain will be back processing your own emotions so you’re dealing with them but in a more…indirect way.
This may not work for you. And sometimes crying for a character will surely not be enough to bring you peace. But for some, those minutes of passive consuming a narrative are the only ones that allow them to slowly gather the strength to move forward.
Just cut some slack and let the TV be on.
P.S.: For more (cheerful) articles check out our extensive archive.
Holiday Season is upon us. Stop trying to kid yourself by saying “It was just Thanksgiving, there’s nearly a whole month till Christmas. There’s plenty of time to get in the mood.”. December is here. You’ve already been engulfed by the holiday lights, carols, flyers with perfect gifts for your loved ones and yourself.
Maybe what’s missing is the actual “Holiday Spirit”.
You know? Hanging out with your family, whispering about what the kids are getting from Santa this year. Is [insert correct relative here] going to fall asleep before supper as usual?
Thanksgiving was your thermometer: maybe you got the chance to be with relatives who come from afar – they might be working or living away from you and these occasions are always a nice moment to catch up – or you just had a quite dinner with your immediate family, savoring the turkey and watching the game.
But then you had the List of all the things you absolutely needed to get on Black Friday and then, of course, Cyber Monday rolled in. So instead of still having that warm and fuzzy feeling inside from being with the ones you love, playing dull charades, watching cheesy movies, eating the last piece of pie with your kid sleeping on your lap (and your stomach bursting…), you are angry because you forgot the website that had that deal for that webinar and the toaster you wanted was grabbed by that stuffy old woman who stumped on your right foot.
So first holiday aftermath for many: headaches, sore feet, too many extra pounds to count and only half of the things you wanted to buy.
Not that “warm and fuzzy” after all, is it?
There are exceptions! And if you’re one of the lucky ones who didn’t get swayed by the “buy,buy,buy” urges of this past weekend, I salute you.
Yes, the perfect present is important (let’s not kid ourselves, your wife has been repeatedly saying the name of that perfume and pointing to it in every department store for a reason) BUT don’t forget that the memories from these days, being that uncle who always drinks a tad too much or the crazy baby cousin who just doesn’t stop crying, they will be your best gift. No, you can’t exchange them for another item or ask for a refund, but that’s the beauty of it!
So, turn on that radio, blast some “Jingle Bell Rock” and make sure that you don’t let the Holiday season go to waste.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on RPG, let alone live action role-playing or “LARPing”. However, even I can easily see why LARP is considered a descendant of games like Dungeons & Dragons. The catch? Here the players physically act out their characters’ actions. [ Awesome, right? ]
Fortunately, a few weeks ago I saw myself in the middle of a LARP for the first time.
I have to say I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the whole process from building the setting to fleshing out your own character.
There was so much to explore after you got the little paper with your character’s description! It didn’t just motivate me to pursue the tasks I was given, it made me want to explore the other characters involved in the game. And not only the ones I was directly connected to, but everyone that crossed my path.
For as little as an hour and a half I was someone else, living in a post-apocalyptic world – yes, you guessed it: there was a zombie threat. I wasn’t seeing my friends running around in extravagant outfits and saying the most weird things. No, on the contrary, I saw people starving, people looking for jobs that didn’t exist. I watched refugees seeking shelter afraid of being sent back to the outside where the zombies were waiting. I didn’t trust people easily. In a camp like this, inhabitants could be persuaded to work for the enemy, be it an outside emissary that says they have better military skills or even your brother who unfortunately has just brought the first zombie into the camp.
But setting all of this aside, it’s not just the story we built together during that period of time. What matters is the fact that we were putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. On that moment, we were living in a camp, there was little to no hope for a better future and what shaped our reactions were the problems of this post-apocalyptic existence.
I’m sure that if you have taken part in a LARP before, you will identify with at least one or two things I’ve mentioned. I believe that there is much more to it and that my experience was very limited compared to the five hours even the whole day LARPs that exist out there. But for me, as a newbie in this gaming world, I found it extremely interesting to say the least and it has made me look for other LARP experiences for sure.
None of this would have been possible without the people who wrote the setting and the characters and, of course, the awesome group who played it all out and made the game as crazy and funny as it was.
And how about you?
Have you ever taken part in a LARP? If so what was your favorite one? And how about the worst…hmmm…I mean your least favorite?
Tell us all about it in the comments and if you’ve got pictures don’t hesitate to share them on our Pinterest board or on any of our social media platforms!
We want to see YOU in character!
If you’re anything like me when reading a book you’ll slowly, but surely, start to feel – and show – the predominant emotions of the narrative.
Say the character is under a lot of stress and constantly antagonizing all around them. I wouldn’t go that far, BUT I would carry myself pretty angsty for no real reason for the whole reading period.
Crazy? Maybe. Maybe not.
Perhaps you’re not the emotional sponge I am [which is pretty good news], but you will always feel – even if just for the brief moment when your eyes are flying through the pages – that you are indeed a part of that world and as such you’ll share the emotions that live in it.
All of this serves as a warning: choose what to read on your vacations carefully.
You don’t exactly need to feel blue and stressed out, while soaking in the sun on a tropical beach or even just laying on your on couch. (You can if you want!)
Just another thing to bear in mind when choosing your Summer readings: the emotions that overpower the narrative.
Think about what you want to experience when you enter your reading pause and bear in mind that the effects might linger for awhile longer…
Check out the 1st Summer Readings post!