Real Neat Blogger Award

Thank you to Solarayo from Ace Asunder for nominating me for the Real Neat Blogger Award. I’m going to answer the questions, but I’m not going to nominate again. Otherwise, the whole Blapril community will only be doing tags and awards for the rest of the month.

Do you ever listen to video game soundtracks outside of gaming sessions? If so, which ones?

I used to listen a lot to Final Fantasy and Halo 3 music. At the moment, I don’t anymore. I listen to music I can sing along with, soundtracks from anime or movies.

What’s a game that you loved growing up, but find it harder to enjoy now whether due to a change in tastes or now outdated mechanics and graphics?

Diablo 2. There’s a lot of clicking involved and for some reason, I strain my hands doing it while I have no problem playing Diablo 3 or another ARPG.

Which game console do you feel has the greatest library of titles to choose from?

I’d say PS3, but lately I have a feeling the Switch will overtake it soon. A post on that is coming this week (already planned).

Name a video game character that has made a positive impact in your life?

Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins probably. If he was real and I’d met him, I’d probably fall in love with him. He’s shy and not afraid to be vulnerable. Instead of having all these ‘love interests’ that are tough, having a more caring, kinder one made me realise how much I wanted that in a partner.

If you could sit down to a conversation with any fictional character(book, movie, or game) who would it be and where would this conversation occur?

This is a tough one. Mostly because I still can’t think properly about deep questions like this. There are so many good and interesting characters. But sometimes it might be more interesting to have a conversation with the antagonist. It’s easy to relate to the protagonist, but sometimes it’s the antagonist who has a more interesting story which we don’t always get to see. How did they come to be that way?

If you could travel to any video game location for a hard-earned vacation, where would you go?

Destiny Island from Kingdom Hearts. I’d love to go to a tropical island again and without many people around. The warmth is good for my joints and I could really do with some better days right now.

Quarantine Question: What’s your go-to movie or tv show?

To be honest, the pandemic hasn’t impacted my normal lifestyle a lot. I’m chronically in pain so I rarely go out anyway. Most of my social life happens online. So picking a show specifically for this situation feels strange.

Another thing is that I’ve struggled the majority of March with a headache bad enough I couldn’t watch tv. So I didn’t. Right now I feel slightly better and I’m binging Community because it’s new, and Terrace House, also because they added new episodes.

If I had to recommend one, I’d say Gilmore Girls. Lots of episodes and small-town drama but with a lot of humour (sarcasm) too. In the same trend, The Good Witch is another one, but cheesier.

Which Personality Match?

This quiz was going around on Twitter so of course I had to check it out:

It matches your personality to that of fictional characters. The answers I gave are my own but here is the top 70% matches. I wanted to list the top 50 matches, but Dumbledore was 51, so I had to include more.

I’m not familiar with all of the shows included in the list but the ones I do know, I’m glad I’m similar to those, like Luna Lovegood and Georgiana Darcy. I understand why Raj Koothrappali is so high. And even Jane Bennet gets 76%. I love all of these characters and there are definitely moments when I can relate to them.

Does this give you an idea of what my personality is? Any surprises or totally not surprised? What’s your highest match?

Full match list

  1. Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): 86%
  2. Georgiana Darcy (Pride and Prejudice): 83%
  3. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter): 81%
  4. Pam Beesly (The Office): 81%
  5. Samwell Tarly (Game of Thrones): 80%
  6. Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender): 80%
  7. Raj Koothrappali (The Big Bang Theory): 79%
  8. Donna Moss (The West Wing): 78%
  9. Hugo ‘Hurley’ Reyes (LOST): 78%
  10. Abed Nadir (Community): 78%
  11. The Oracle (The Matrix): 78%
  12. Brandon Stark (Game of Thrones): 77%
  13. Milhouse Van Houten (The Simpsons): 77%
  14. Jared Dunn (Silicon Valley): 77%
  15. Jane Bennet (Pride and Prejudice): 76%
  16. Waylon Smithers (The Simpsons): 76%
  17. Flynn White (Breaking Bad): 76%
  18. Rita Bennett (Dexter): 76%
  19. Molly Hooper (Sherlock): 76%
  20. Phyllis Lapin (The Office): 75%
  21. Kelly Erin Hannon (The Office): 75%
  22. George O’Malley (Grey’s Anatomy): 75%
  23. Leonard Hofstadter (The Big Bang Theory): 75%
  24. Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks): 75%
  25. Nick Carraway (The Great Gatsby): 75%
  26. Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender): 74%
  27. Ned Flanders (The Simpsons): 74%
  28. Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings): 74%
  29. Kaylee Frye (Firefly + Serenity): 74%
  30. Arthur Weasley (Harry Potter): 73%
  31. Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender): 73%
  32. Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons): 73%
  33. Lady Edith Crawley (Downton Abbey): 73%
  34. Stuart Bloom (The Big Bang Theory): 73%
  35. Inara Serra (Firefly + Serenity): 73%
  36. Roland ‘Prez’ Pryzbylewski (The Wire): 73%
  37. Lucy Moran (Twin Peaks): 73%
  38. Claire Littleton (LOST): 72%
  39. Sun-Hwa Kwon (LOST): 72%
  40. Billy Keikeya (Battlestar Galactica): 72%
  41. Salvatore Romano (Mad Men): 72%
  42. Mrs. Hudson (Sherlock): 72%
  43. Friar Laurence (Romeo and Juliet): 72%
  44. Rom (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine): 71%
  45. Jake Sisko (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine): 71%
  46. Marge Simpson (The Simpsons): 71%
  47. Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham (Downton Abbey): 71%
  48. Charlotte York (Sex and the City): 71%
  49. Lester Freamon (The Wire): 71%
  50. Nelson Bighetti (Silicon Valley): 71%
  51. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter): 70%
  52. Eric Forman (That 70’s Show): 70%
  53. C-3PO (Star Wars): 70%
  54. Lady Sybil Crawley (Downton Abbey): 70%
  55. Ann Perkins (Park and Recreation): 70%
  56. Hoban Washburne (Firefly + Serenity): 70%
  57. Astrid Leong-Teo (Crazy Rich Asians): 70%
  58. Richard Hendricks (Silicon Valley): 70%

Light In The Dark: The Gratitude Journal

In these seemingly ‘dark times’, we need a little bit of light in our days. And sometimes that’s hard to find. The news is mostly covering one topic and related issues. Other news (especially the good news) is buried under ‘breaking news’, newfound facts, and other anxiety-inducing articles.

I try to stay away from it and even muted words on my social media so I won’t be confronted with it all the time. But sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes you have to actively seek out the good, news or otherwise.

Keeping a gratitude journal is one way of redirecting your brain from all the doom and gloom to happier thoughts.

The Gratitude Journal

This works best if you keep a dedicated journal or notebook just for this purpose. Write three (or more) things that you’re grateful for that day. It can be anything. A well-brewed cup of coffee, the sunshine through the windows, or your cat curling up on your lap. They can also be big things, like finding out your pregnant, or your sister’s engagement. Maybe seeing the pollution clear up in the absence of the usual traffic.

Those are all things to be grateful for. It’s okay to repeat certain things too, but it’s an exercise to see the beauty in small things too. Flowers blooming, a bee humming along, or your favourite song on the radio.

Keeping all of this together makes it easy to refer back to when you need it. The whole journal is filled with positivity and you’ll eventually feel better when you open it up. You might scan the pages of the days or months before and you’re reminded of the good things in the past instead of the bad things that seem to take over our minds when we least want them.

A Positive Effect

When you’re feeling down you can look back through your journal and see the things that made you happy. See if you can find those moments now. Maybe it’ll make your day a little less dark. Maybe it’ll even put a smile on your face.

Keeping a gratitude journal has an overall positive effect on you and I know therapists are using this to help clients as well. Knowing how to brighten up your day or just feeling grateful for what you have will make a difference in your life. Maybe not short term, and if you’re having trouble with finding three things, that’s okay. Just keep going. Skip a day if you have to. But do try to think about it. It’s just like any other muscle you have.

What about you? Do you keep a gratitude journal? How has it helped you?

The Versatile Blogger Award

What is the Versatile Blogger Award?

A big thank you to Michael Neale ( for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m really not used to these kinds of tags, memes, blog awards, so if I’m doing it wrong, I’m sorry.

I don’t remember if Michael mentioned what the award was, but I’d like to think it’s meant for people who blog not just about one topic, but like to cover many (versatile). That’s definitely me. It could also mean bloggers who also use other outlets, like Youtube, streaming, or a perfect Instagram template.

Rules of the Versatile Blogger Award

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

7 Things About Me

  1. I’m dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis.
  2. I quit my day job to be a writer. No, wait there’s more to that story. This ties together with the first point. Having an office job that had a three-hour commute a day was too much for me and the stress made my symptoms worse. I was close to a burn out even though I didn’t know it at the time. My husband told me to quit before our wedding, which I did. The day after I said goodbye, we picked up our puppy Shiro.
  3. My husband and white shepherd Shiro are my world.
  4. I often love game lore more than the game itself.
  5. ‘Tsundoku’ is so relevant to me. I have a lot of books that I haven’t read yet, but I still want more. It doesn’t help that so many writers release new books at an increasing rate. I find more indie authors that are amazing and release books at an even higher rate.
  6. Fountain pens are a big hobby of mine.
  7. I have two books out and aim to release two more this year.

The Nominees

All of the nominees are participants for #blapril. Consider this a writing prompt to fill in another day. If you don’t want to do it, no worries.

If you’ve been nominated and posted your reaction, don’t forget to leave a link in the comments!

Using A Content Calendar

Chestnut asked me to share some more info about the content calendar I use. I’ve used it for years and actually got the idea when I was doing more marketing related tasks for my old workplace.

The plugin I use is for self-hosted WordPress blogs only. You can still create your own content calendar on paper, in a planner, or a digital app like Trello or Asana. I don’t know if they have native integration with WordPress but another app like IFTTT could possibly help you out.

But for now, I’ll only cover the plugin I’m using.

The Editorial Calendar plugin

This is the plugin I use. It’s straightforward in looks and what it does. I’m sure there are others out there, but this one is good enough for what I need it to do.

The Editorial Calendar shows you an overview of however many weeks you want with all the scheduled posts and the already published posts. You can select the option to have a list of your unscheduled drafts on the right side.

It’s an easy drag-and-drop system for the drafts you already have, and adding a new post is only three clicks away. Customise your view to what works best for you.

And a sneak preview of the posts that I’ve already scheduled

How to use a content calendar?

Ok, so now you have the plugin and you want to use the calendar. Well, how it works isn’t that hard to figure out. When you click on the [new draft] label in a day, you can enter a title, a quick write up, and the time you want the post to go live. You can see the hours written before the title in the screenshots above. This is especially handy if you post at multiple times a day.

I started my Blapril prep with opening the calendar from the post menu in the left sidebar. Hover over ‘Posts’ and you’ll see ‘Calendar’ at the bottom. I wanted to see all the weeks for Blapril so I changed the ‘shown weeks’ to five instead of four in the screen options (found in the top right corner).

Then I just wrote down quick blog ideas. Create a draft, enter a title and a time. Next. That’s how I quickly filled up two weeks worth of ideas. Whenever I get a brainfart for a new blog I can schedule it immediately or create a new draft in the unscheduled section. If you have recurring series, or have evergreen content that you can use to fill up gaps, the unscheduled section is your friend. On my Narratess blog I have drafts for posts that won’t go up until winter time hits again. I can schedule them already, but I’d rather have them within my view, so keep them there until I’m ready to schedule.

The calendar is great for working on content way in advance. It’s easy to what’s coming up or where you need more content. It also helps you to stick to your schedule if you decide on one after Blapril. I don’t use one on this blog, but Narratess only has posts on Friday’s and Tuesday’s.

A conten calendar is and always will be an organisational tool. It works if you work. If you don’t, it’s just sitting there being fancy. Install the plugin, check it out, use it, and see if you can fit it in your routine. If you’re just starting out, it might be worth it to add this part to your blogging routine if you’re in it for the long haul.

Good luck and happy writing!

On Escapism

There was a time in my life when all I wanted to do was play Diablo 2 or Neverwinter Nights. Both worlds seemed so familiar and comforting to me while the real world was hostile. I could anticipate the dangers coming in both games and I was equipped to deal with those who attacked me. But in the real world, none of this was true. Things were thrown at me from all sides–school, work, friends, family. I had no idea how to deal with all of it. That’s why I longed for those worlds. I wanted to escape my own.

Now more than ever, escapism is needed. Our world today feels hostile. A virus is spreading and it has the potential to kill, or leave you permanently scarred. Our governments tell us to stay inside, our hospital staff tells us it’s war.

For a person who’s not in a medical profession, not an essential work, nor has a position to make decisions that would impact our daily lives, all I can do is sit at home and wait. This isn’t much different from what I normally do because of my chronic pain, but there are many who aren’t used to it. Especially my extrovert friends and my outdoorsy friends feel the extra mental stress from staying inside and keeping social interactions (at least face to face) to a minimum.

This is where escapism comes in. We get a brief relief from what’s going on in the world when we enter another. It’s either a game, movie, or book. We can make up a world of our own, or day dream about it while staring at a painting. Art can do that for you. Don’t feel bad to play that game longer, or read more books. If it brings you comfort you should indulge in those pleasures. Because we can all use a little bit more of that these days.

Guild Wars 2: Old And New

A new patch hit this week with something new. Now that the Living World has turned into a Saga, they’re no longer bound by linear storytelling. The new patch with the title Steel and Fire has a different kind of story, namely, that of Ryland.

The New

For those that haven’t played the new saga yet, Ryland is a new character who’s not on your side. So playing as him is definitely interesting. You get a view you didn’t have before as the story followed the commander and never strayed.

I really like this side story, not for what it is (yes, it’s still amazing), but for what it represents. The storytelling is no longer written from one point of view. We can jump into any perspective now and see what’s happening at places where we’re not present. Also, the scrying pool isn’t time-bound. We can go back in time and relive those stories. What if the key to overcoming this is a story in the past instead of the future?

The patch also comes with new skins, two new legendary trinkets, and a ton more stuff. The new currencies can be used to unlock a new armor set, runic armor. It looks pretty good and seems not to be out of my league, which I’m especially happy with.

The Old

Eye of the North is returning with a new map. The 2012 version is still available as an option in the scrying pool. But it’s the new map where it’s all happening. Aurene’s presence is clearly visibly with the new crystals forming all around the map. The Crystal Bloom is standing around, talking to no one in particular. And there’s this weird writer with his collection. I have no idea why he’s there but maybe we’ll find out later.

With the return of Eye of the North, a few missions from the Living World Season one returned as well. You need to pick up a memento for each of the missions located near the old missions before you can do them.

I’ve yet to try one of the missions but I really do want to experience them again. The first season was enjoyable even with the amount of dead people by the end. I’m just sad we’ll never get to do the battle for Lion’s Arch again. Or the destruction. Or the final battle of Scarlet Briar. I remember the fight and how impressive if it was with everyone working together to bring down these huge structures. I loved it and I hope we’ll get it back someday.


The other thing I’m really excited about is the other announcement: The third expansion. They sneakily announced it in the last paragraph of their update post. A place you’d normally skip if you already found the information you’re looking for. The image at the end also spoiled it a little as it features distinct Canthan architecture. We’re going back to Cantha with the third expansion and I’m excited. It’s definitely motivation to finish the Saga content and maybe finally finish a legendary. So I can look pretty going back there. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally finish Factions too.

Building Cities

Last week, a new DLC for Cities: Skylines came out, Sunset Harbor. When I saw it I knew I had to get it. These past months I’ve been getting back into the game and the new hubs and the fishing industry looked great. I wasn’t feeling that great this weekend so I splurged and bought Sunset Harbor, Campus, and Industries since I didn’t have them either. Now it’s time for a new city.

New maps, new cities

I’ll be honest. I liked the new Simcity when it came out, even if it did have its problems like tiny maps. I understand why they did it and I genuinely enjoyed working on several maps at the same time to work on the big shared project.

I liked how I could make resources from recycling trash. Alloy was my money maker. And the school system was amazing. I loved how the buildings changed when you build futuristic stuff around them.

When Cities: Skyline first launched, it had none of that, and I hope that I’ll have now some of the things I liked in Simcity. Campus and Industries have added some new things like raw resources and more university programs. I haven’t progressed far enough to unlock some of the buildings yet, so it’s still very new to me.

The DLC also came with new maps so I picked one with more water, hoping to get more out of the fishing industries that came with Sunset Harbor. I never did much with water. No ferries or harbors. So this is a good time to explore more options.

My inspiration to play again

I started playing again after watching Biffa’s Fix Your Cities-series. It’s a relaxing format that taught me a lot about how the game actually works. Looking at his playthrough of Teaville also inspired me to work on layout instead of just trying to get as much zoning and building in there as possible.

One thing that held me back in my previous cities was my reluctance to delete buildings or rearrange things so I could upgrade roads or insert roundabouts. I should forget about that and do what helps to improve logistics and make me more money.

I really hope I can build a city I’m satisfied with this time around. I’ll take my time and see if I can use the added features to make it more like a real city. In my last city I had four million spare. Now I spend my money ASAP on new buildings to help me progress. It’s nice to feel like I’m still discovering new things instead of just try to get more zoning in. Soon enough I have to make a new quarter in my city and maybe I’ll go for something curvy instead of all straight lines. Who knows.

March Wrap-up

Ah, March. You’re so much like your brother February. My productivity was shit this month. March 14th, I woke up with a terrible headache I’d rate 9 out of 10 on the scale of doesn’t hurt, to feel like dying. I’ve had it before and barely slept back then. I couldn’t read, watch a screen, or do anything basically. I went to the doctor, practically begging him to give me something to help me sleep because I was exhausted, and not just because of the major headache.

And now it’s back. It’s the same headache and the same cause. I don’t need an MRI to tell me there’s nothing wrong with my brain even though it feels like it’s set on fire. Every day. The joints in my neck are unstable (just like the joints everywhere else in my body) and my muscles have a hard time correcting it. Now they’ve had enough and tensed up so much they’re causing a major headache. I skipped going to the doctor (they’re busy enough as it is) and talked directly with my physiotherapist. He was busy, but still managed to find me a spot. Someone had cancelled due to concerns about the virus.

That’s been my luck because I could still see him for a few times before everything was shut down. One and a half week later, I still had a headache but he assured me it would get better now as my muscles loosened up and I do my exercises. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Working my health issues which are very different from the health issues many, many other people are dealing with at the moment. I can’t even imagine what it would do to me if I caught the virus with my neck injury acting up.

What I did do

I managed to play some more Stardew Valley, finally doing some of the new patch stuff. On PC I made a new farm while I continue with my old for on my Switch. I don’t think I’ll do a weekly Stardew update as I considered before. It’ll take up too much time and turns playing the game into a chore, which I definitely do not want. Maybe I’ll do more small updates as something significant happens.

So far I’ve edited six chapters of my WIP while planning out book 3. My head didn’t want to do creative work, but rearranging scenes was okay. So now my whiteboard is covered in post-its with half an outline. I’ll try to finish it soon so I can focus on my first draft while editing the rest of book 2.

Books read has been minimal since my head didn’t want to do words at all. I think I finished 1,5 book. So not much. I hope to finish a few more next month though. Not watching Netflix after dinner had helped me improve my reading time but it was so slooooow. My average pages read an hour is fifty. Now it was half of that. And it’s not like I’m reading the most complex novels either. So it’s all in the processing speed of my brain.

Looking toward April

What is happening in April is the community event Blapril (Blay-pril), hosted by Belghast. It’s basically the same as Blaugust but in April. Since the world is in a weird spot we wanted to do something for the community. Coming together when we’re all forced to stay apart is the best thing you can do. So we invite you to join us in this blogging event. Share your stories, your passions, your distractions, with others who might need it.

This year, I finally had the courage to sign up as a mentor. I’ve had the role on the discord for a while now, but never participated as one. But here it is. I’m a blogging mentor. Most of my advice will be given through discord so poke me there if you need help.

For advice on writing I suggest checking out my other blog Narratess, the NaNoWriMo tag specifically. Or my post on writer’s block. And maybe my post on productivity and how to maintain it during more taxing times.

There’s no minimum requirement except for a (blogging) platform of your choice. Others have done daily vlogs, or micro content on Tumblr or Twitter. Do a Blapril challenge on Instagram. Share a piece of your world with the rest of the Blapril community. Check out Belghast’s post on how to enter and where to find the community. I hope to see you in the Discord!

Game Merch Haul – Japan Edition

You thought I’d go to Japan and not come back without some game merch? No way! Games a re big in Japan. I saw ads for games everywhere, even mobile games. Many people spent their commute playing games on their phones.

They opened the Nintendo store the day after we left so we just missed it. But the lines were way too long anyway. Lining up at 6 in the morning only to be let in after noon is too long. Even with 13 days in Japan we didn’t have time enough to do (and eat) everything on my list.


We visited three Pokemon Centers: the one in Ikebukuro, the one in the Skytree complex, and the one next to the Pokemon Cafe where we ate later. I picked up the plushie you can see in the picture below, together with some stationery you can see here.

If you love games, Akihabara is the place to be. We found some shops with blind bags, one of them Pokemon themed. Now, these bags usually contain a lot of dead merchandise. Things that didn’t sell, are broken, or bad quality. Well, for 3000 yen (about 28 euro), I think I lucked out. The major prize isn’t in the picture, but it’s a 30 cm Dragonite plushie. That one alone was definitely worth it. And aside from the little Eevee figurines, all Pokemon stuff was in the bag. The Manaphie and Jiggly Puff are just too cute.

I bought the Japanese version of Pokemon Blue to play on my old Gameboy. I still haven’t given up on learning Japanese and this will motivate me even more.


I really wanted a Kirby figurine for underneath my PC screen, but no matter how many capsules I pulled, no Kirby… Not even in the bath bomb with Kirby toy inside (highly recommend the bath bomb though). So I still have no Kirby, but a ton of other tiny monsters. One day, I swear, I will have my Kirby!


Ok, technically not game merch, but this seems the perfect place for some Ghibli. I really love the Ghibli movies. The art and the stories are mesmerizing. I bought a blind box for Totoro. It was more expensive than a regular capsule toy, but the quality it much higher too. The plushie I bought at the airport with leftover money from our pasmo cards. It’s so soft and cute.

I could’ve bought a ton more, but my budget was spread out over several hobbies of mine, and fountain pens aren’t cheap. Maybe the next time things will be different. Maybe I’ll have a bigger budget or loose interest in one of my hobbies. But for now, it’s hard to go to Japan and not buy any gaming merchandise.

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Guild Wars 2 Fiction

Miira Lightbringer:
Fried Moa Steak
Quiet Before the Storm

Young Miira:
Tail Tugging Part 1
A Promise Made Part 2
Night Falls Part 3
Grawling Preparations Part 4
Badazar Incarnated Part 5
Graduation Part 6 - Final

Savyrius Belain:
We Meet Again...

Naella Ysangwan:
Dogs and Ogres

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Diablo 3 Battle Tag: Endalia#1709
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