December 2018 Updates: The Path to a Great 2019

Greetings everyone, and welcome back to Normal Happenings! We’re all rested up from our break after dropping the epic collab that is The Games That Define Us! The purpose of this post is to get you all reacquainted with normality after such a huge event, and to lead us into 2019 on a high note!

Clearly there is much to discuss, so much so that, yep, that’s a table of contents. Click to jump to the sections that most interest you, or start from the top! Enjoy!

Table of Contents

👁️ Visual Renovations
🎮 The Games That Define Us
🤔 The Next Collaboration (#3)
👩‍🚀 Project: Dysontopia
📣 Project: Normal Talks
✍️ Daily Inklings
🔮 Future Topics
💙 Guest Posts
🏆 2019 NH Blog Awards
🎁 Patreon & Support

👁️ Visual Renovations

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  • NEW FEATURE: Section and Post Highlights.
  • Accent font change: Cocogoose is out, Geo Sans is in.
  • Each new blog piece will now have a unique but cohesive design.

We have unleashed the power of the block editor in a big way! I know many people don’t like it, and I don’t blame you if you’re having trouble with it. It certainly takes some getting used to, but for a CSS nerd like me the block editor is a godsend!

With a little CSS know-how, the block editor allows me to do cool things like implement a Highlights Block into each post — or in this case, each section! It’s no secret I can be a little long-winded, and it’s also obvious more and more things compete for our attention. The highlights block is the best of both worlds, letting me be both pretentious and brooding while letting the time-strapped among you get on with life quicker. And while it will be a little disappointing that readers of just the summaries won’t catch the nuances of posts reflecting on human nature, hopefully they’ll carry something optimistic with them throughout the day.

Another change I am extremely happy with is that Normal Happenings is changing accent fonts! Yep, Cocogoose is out, and Geo Sans is in! I had been growing increasingly frustrated with Coco as time progressed and this blog blossomed from just another corner of the internet into something wonderful. Coco was so thick, bold, and angular that it was coming across as a tad aggressive, especially in the featured images that make the rounds across Twitter and Facebook. So I sat down with Megan from A Geeky Gal, and in five minutes flat she came up with Geo Sans, a sleek, thin new font perfect for accompanying the elaborate Abuget headlining Normal Happenings. Here’s a point of comparison involving the shiny new header calendar you may have noticed:

The original Cocogoose. Doesn’t look bad, but very bold and difficult to differentiate regarding text width. It kind of feels like it’s screaming at you.

The new Geo Sans typeface, allowing far more variety!

Whew, that feels so much better. The excellent thing about Geo Sans is that I can mess with the kerning — the spaces between letters — to make this typeface look epic, like a movie poster. Ahhh, having this new font to play around with make it feel like Christmas Day, but we must move on.

I fully intend to make each post of 2019 feel like an “event,” and as such it’s going to be very import for me to give each post a unique but cohesive look and feel. With CSS at my side, I know I can do that. It is so worth delivering these types of aesthetically pleasing experiences to our wonderful audience. Essentially, by the end of 2019, I want these pieces to look as good as any editorial feature from major publications.

Feature — you know, that’s actually a very interesting word I really like to describe works on Normal Happenings going forward. I’m going to replace “posts” in the top menu with the term “features.” Much better.

One consequence of an increased focus on design is that it essentially decouples the unity of design and writing found on most blogs, essentially making it double the work. Don’t be surprised, then, if you’re constantly seeing me on Twitter delaying the launch of features until I’m completely happy with them. After all, a rushed work is bad forever.

🎮 The Games That Define Us

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  • Woah, have you seen this epic collab?!
  • It went way better than I even dreamed!
  • Let’s give the writers another round of applause.

As I compose this, I’m sitting here scrolling through my home page. I see 36 unique, creative, and wonderfully written pieces, and I’m amazed at what has been accomplished. I’m also so humbled that 34 amazing people would come together and spend their time forging links to a chain of wonderful art. So, to the contributors, from Nikki and me, we would just like to say thank you for helping make something cooler that we ever thought possible.

There are some rumors of these pieces being involved in some future project, but that is all I am going to say at this time.

So, not only did I want to give one last “woohoo” to all involved, but I also wanted to once more share this miraculous cast of characters, their blogs, and their pieces for The Games That Define Us! You can start at the adventure map, or just dive right in anywhere — there’s no wrong way to enjoy this epic collab.

🤔 The Next Collaboration (#3)

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  • Spring 2019 collab will be revealed on New Year’s Day!
  • Four collaborations a year.
  • Mini ones in spring and fall; big ones in summer and winter.

We just wanted to remind everyone that the next collaboration will be announced on New Year’s Day — January 1, 2019. I’ll be lowering the stakes a bit on this one. It will be more akin to Hyrule: See the Sights, Hear the Sounds, and will consist of about 20 pieces weaved together into one giant post. I’ll be reserving at least five spots for newcomers, perhaps more depending on the interest of returning champions. However, returning champions get first priory in selecting their topic.

Here is my plan for collaborations on Normal Happenings going forward. I want to do a total of four collaborations per year.

Grand Collabs — large, multi-part epics like The Games That Define Us — are a lot of work, so they will happen in the summer and winter.

Mini-collabs like the upcoming unrevealed Spring 2019 collab will occur during the spring and fall, and will consist of 10-20 pieces combined into one awesome experience.

If they are anything like either of the two previous ones, you all are seriously in for some treats! Ahh, I can’t wait to reveal the next collab topic!

👩‍🚀 Project: Dysontopia

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  • Details on how I’m reworking the story.
  • No longer releasing sections of chapters.
  • Instead releasing complete chapters as they are completed.

Let’s talk about Dysontopia, my novel project. First of all, it’s not dead — not at all. That said, it has evolved, particularly to the point where a serial format no longer works to its advantage. When I first started writing Dysontopia, I was surprised people even cared about it at all. I was shocked that people were reacting positively to it, but of course I was glad they were. While it was on hiatus, however, I came to the realization that it was not telling the story in the best way possible.

You see, I had inadvertently done something. With Sydney Winters, I had created a character I had truly learned to like. She has a unique personality — one not often seen in fiction. I found myself telling her story, until I realized four chapters in I hadn’t even started on the entire premise of the novel.

Dysontopia has what I consider to be a particularly unique science fiction plot that I don’t want to spoil. However, if you’ve been keeping up, there has been exactly zero science fiction elements coming in so fer. It’s just about Sydney.

All of that is to say Dysontopia is being reformatted. The story is the same, but I want to start the novel in media res, splicing in the backstory elements as the are triggered by events in the present.

Consequently — and you’re not going to like this — I will be removing all Dysontopia chapters in the near future. I will also not be releasing them as sections of chapters in the future.

Instead, I’ll be releasing Dysontopia as complete chapters as they get finished. Additionally, I will have no set schedule for releasing them. They will be finished when I, as a writer, believe they meet the quality standards needed to write a great novel. Unfortunately, as great novel — especially a great first novel — cannot be rushed, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

📣 Project: Normal Talks

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  • Planning a new podcast: Normal Talks.
  • Will just be Nikki and Matt having everyday conversations.
  • In the organizing and designing process now.

Nikki and I are working on something truly special that we really think you’re going to adore. We’re code-naming it Normal Talks, though we’re pretty sure that name is final at this point.

The premise is simple. It’s going to be a podcast where we sit down and have everyday conversations! There is far too much insincerity going on in the world, and we want to combat that by just sitting down and having some fun, quirky, chats about life. When it comes to podcasts, we think that’s far more more interesting than all the spectacle in the world!

Who knows, you may even get our responses to all those Daily Inklings floating about. Speaking of which…

✍️ Daily Inklings

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  • Daily Inklings are working very well statistically.
  • Plan to make them seasonally themed.
  • Can now make suggestions on Twitter!

Daily Inklings are doing crazy well in the stats department. Like, as far as everyday view-to-like ration is concerned, these little conversation starters far exceed the big behemoth stand-alone posts. What was once an offshoot of my Super Specific Questions has turned into something wonderful, so let’s expand the concept going into 2019!

I’ll be doing more to make Daily Inklings seasonally themed! I already did that a bit with Halloween, and I’m blending in a few holiday prompts currently, but I’m going to go all in this upcoming year. Expect prompts to be related and connected, as opposed to the currently disparate grab bag of concepts.

More importantly, you can now make Daily Inkling suggestions via DM on Twitter and Instagram! Don’t be shy — you’ll get a link back to your blog and/or social media platform. There are 365 days in a year, so we’re always on the hunt for unique and creative writing sparks!

🔮 Future Topics

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  • Plan to keep video game content limited to collabs for now.
  • Pieces will be even more focused on matters of the human experience.
  • Will bring in more defined topics of futurism, optimistic media, and personal memories.

Just for kicks, let’s take a peak at some titles in our drafts folder. Keep in mind these are just that: draft titles — the end result is rarely the same.

  • Awkward Turtles, Really Awkward Turtles, and Awkward Tents
  • The Shade
  • Let’s Eat Grandma — The Band, Not the Meme
  • Adding to the Substance of the Universe
  • I Believe In Coincidences, But I Don’t Trust Coincidences
  • 2069: Running Out of Numbers

If you’ll notice, there seems to be a topic missing. Video games. Before you panic, don’t worry. I’m not betraying the topic. Video games are such an important topic, I can’t help but write about them. At the same time, though, they aren’t all-consuming to me, and there are so many other things I’d like to write about. I feel like if I constantly talked about video games, it would provide an incomplete picture of a life that so heavily relies on balance.

Therefore, I plan to limit my video game talk to collaborations, where they can be enjoyed conveniently by all involved. I can’t rule out the possibility of video game topics coming up occasionally, but they will be few and far between compared to last year. Besides, if I ever get the urge to talk about deep solo tactics in Shining Force, I know a guy. A very red, very magely guy.

As mentioned earlier, this year will be far more focused on feature-writing. I want to prove to people that blogging can be a wonderful medium for art through both prose and design. And I really want to do my part in making the world a better place through optimism. I have big dreams for Normal Happenings, as I do for the entire human race.

💙 Guest Posts

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  • Opening the floor for guest posts, especially pertaining to life experiences.
  • Links to your blog included, of course.
  • Let me know over Twitter or Instagram.

Last year I was unnecessarily picky about who I let guest post on Normal Happenings outside of collaborations. Let’s be honest, it was mostly just the occasional Geeky Gal stopping by to drop some wisdom on us. I think I’m ready to relax those restrictions.

I know a lot of video game bloggers, so if you wish to write about something other than gaming for a day — perhaps something more along the lines of memories and optimism of the future, you know where to find me. But just in case you don’t, you can message me on Twitter or Instagram.

We’ll talk it over, and if I like your idea, we’ll totally make that guest post happen! Normal Happenings has a fantastic community who would love to hear what you have to say!

🏆 2019 Normal Happenings Blog Awards

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  • Taking place on February 26, 2019 — that’s NH’s birthday!
  • Five categories.
  • We need your help with nominations on Twitter and Instagram!

We would like to announce the 2019 Normal Happenings Blog Awards! We’ll be making a post specifically about this in early January, but we wanted to go head and tell you about it.

Every year on Normal Happenings’s birthday, I want to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of the people in our little corner of the blogosphere! Therefore on February 26, 2019, we’ll be doing the first annual Normal Happenings Blog Awards!

Here are the categories:

  • Best blogger in 2018!
  • Best individual blog post in 2018!
  • Best collaboration in 2018!
  • Most creative/original blog post in 2018!
  • Kindest blogger in 2018!

We’ll be designing some big, fancy badges to commemorate the winners.

Here’s the thing, though: I have no business deciding the winners, so I’m going to need your help. You can nominate winners for each at any time by sending a DM on Twitter or Instagram! You are free to go ahead and start sending nominations. The only person you can’t nominate is yourself, as it needs to be all-star bloggers that you enjoyed in your community.

Twitter will be the arena of choice this year. I’ll be making the rounds using polls on January until there is at least something of a consensus on the winners of each category. Then the winners will be announced on the date of the Blog Awards post!

🎁 Patreon & Support

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  • Current Patreon formula no longer works for NH.
  • Not going to lock any content behind a paywall.
  • Simplified giving options.

They always say save the worst news for last. Here goes.

Megan | A Geeky Gal
Luna | GamersUnitedGG
AshRose | The Shameful Narcissist
Alyssa | Nerd Side of Life
LightningEllen | Livid Lightning

I need to sincerely and publicly apologize to you five amazing people. I have dropped the ball on this Patreon thing. I’m really sorry. When I made the Patreon, I didn’t realize how many changes would come to Normal Happenings over the following months.

The current Patreon model is no longer symmetrical to Normal Happenings. A lot of my Patreon tiers depended on Dysontopia being delivered in its weekly, serial form — something that is clearly no longer the case. Additionally, Nikki and I want to proceed with the podcast plan regardless of funding. Finally, we think we’re actually quite happy with the WordPress Premium Plan for at least another year — this fancy block-editor as gone a long way towards quelling our hunger for customization.

Over the course of January, I will be simplifying my Patreon tiers. I do not believe in locking content behind a paywall, as art should be enjoyed by all. I want to make Patreon as voluntary and low-pressure as humanly possible.

All five of my current patrons are awesome for continuing to support us despite these growing pains. Thank you. That said, if you choose to contribute between now and January, just know those tiers are going to be changing. If you have any concerns, please feel free to message me on, you guessed it, Twitter or Instagram!

Oh. my. gosh. According to the word count, this update post is north of 3,000 words. This is a mountain of information, and if you managed to read all of it, I am seriously impressed. Anyway, I hope you enjoy all the changes around here. Here’s to a great 2019 — may all your blogging dreams come true. Let us know in the comments what you’re most looking forward to in 2019! And I hope what is sure to be a wonderful year for Normal Happenings will help you view life with more positivity than you would otherwise.

Help us make amazing designs, better collaborations, and even achieve our dreams of podcast and video content. Consider becoming one of the amazing patrons of Normal Happenings. We would be forever grateful!


A Leaf Storm of Autumnal Updates

It looks like we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. We’re doing some fun and interesting things at Normal Happenings, and I’m excited to give you the guided tour!

The Smallest Redesign Ever

We’d like you to take a moment to just look around. We’ve made some very subtle tweaks around the site that we feel compliments the site design in meaningful ways. Here are just a handful: Continue reading “A Leaf Storm of Autumnal Updates”

Dysontopia | 4/4 4:44 | 4.1

<< Metal Conducts Electricity 3.4 | Patch Log | 4/4 4:44 4.2 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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Chapter 4

“4/4 4:44”

Opening my eyes, my vision is doubled and I feel nauseous, like I’m spinning. I immediately think something is wrong, so in a panic I try to jerk myself awake. The feeling reminds of the time I randomly woke up with vertigo five years ago. I spent two hours spinning, then it just stopped as I sat in the waiting room of the doctor. I never want to go through that again. Luckily this time the sensation passes after a moment.

The glow of the lights outside filters a dark shade of blue through my curtains, reminding me of the lights mounted above the kitchen window of my grandparents’ old house. Funny, the lights outside are usually a lot more yellow. And that shadow is not supposed to be there. I barely make out the silhouette of a person in the corner. Long hair. Glasses. I scramble around madly for a weapon of some type.

I knew it before I turn on the lamp on the bedside table, which illuminates that distinctive face and hair (and those nails). She’s back. Continue reading “Dysontopia | 4/4 4:44 | 4.1”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.4

<< Metal Conducts Electricity 3.3 | Patch Log | 4/4 4:44 4.1 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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A lot can happen between the months of January and May. That final semester at Azure Coast did not live up to the seven that had come before it. I got falsely accused of plagiarism on a paper in a required class I didn’t even want to take, knocking my GPA down from a perfect 4.0. That meant I graduated magna cum laude, not the summa cum laude title I had my heart set on. No gold and silver honor cord. No graduation speech. I just walked up to the stage and grabbed a fake piece of paper with the alma mater lyrics and an alumni association ad in it, just like everybody else.

While that was going on, one of my best friends since childhood, Mae Albritton, and I got into a falling out over this guy I was dating, and as so often happens with sororities, they turn on you when the drama starts. Considering Mae had just as much involvement in Pi Beta Eta as me, basically a she-said, she-said civil war broke out. It didn’t take me long to just give up and let her spread her gossip about me. It didn’t matter, I was leaving anyway and she was just a junior. No hard feelings. I’ll just got out and let her do her thing. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.4”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.3

<< Metal Conducts Electricity 3.2 | Patch Log | Metal Conducts Electricity 3.4 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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“What,” I resisted. “I just told you what happened to my mom. She’s dead and that’s that.”

“I know you better than that, Sydney Winters. You were the star of Azure Coast University 15 years after your mom died. You loved your life, and you really loved the nightlife. Losing your mom when you were three years old did not turn you into…” she motioned at me with her hands, fumbling for the right words to describe the mess of me. I’d thought I’d help out a bit.

“What? A jerk? A smartass? An insensitive prick who thinks everyone around her is a –?

She retaliates, “A person who absolutely is dealing with depression, a mental illness which affects literally a billion people.”

“What the hell are you saying?” I feel this powerful surge of anger. I can acknowledge that I’m an asshole. I can get behind the fact that I’m mean to people and deserve to be treated likewise. But depression, that’s the thing that put my mom in the ground, and I wasn’t about to let that girl start flinging around words like depression and mental illness. I am not weak. I am better than that. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.3”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.2

<< Metal Conducts Electricity 3.1 | Patch Log | Metal Conducts Electricity 3.3 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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I remember one time, when I was sixteen-years-old and finishing up another lazy spring day in the life of high school sophomore, Dad got off of work from the lab early. He pulled up blaring some deep cut from Soundgarden or something – I’m not sure, I wasn’t really into that kind of music at the time – and said he wanted to take me to a baseball game. I think I had plans that night with one of the hundred jerks I dated in high school, but something about hanging out with my dad just felt like the right thing to do. I didn’t much care who the Jacksonville Suns were even playing or how they were doing in the standings, I just remember eating this really big hot dog and cheering when the crowd did. I was also a fan of pulling for the underdog during those stupid half-inning mascot race games. That night, it was The Great Office Supply Race, featuring Nicky the Sticky Note, Armstrong the Rubber Band, and fan-favorite Jim the Paperclip.

One thing I had always found odd was that it was just my dad and I living in such a big house. The residence at 1228 Halcyon Drive, with four bedrooms and this awesome loft, was clearly big enough for a family much larger than our little dynamic duo. That loft, which I eventually named the Sky Roost, was my sanctuary and favorite room in the house. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.2”

Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.1

<< A Study in Bad Acronyms 2.3 | Patch Log | Metal Conducts Electricity 3.2 >>

Related: About Dysontopia (Start Here) | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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Chapter 3

“Metal Conducts Electricity”

“You know you’ve got a bed, right?” Millie says, closing the apartment door behind her. Knowing my dearest roommate, she was out until 11:00 p.m. with her friends. And by “with her friends,” I mean quizzing each other on possible drug interactions using flashcards. You have to think that on long nights things devolve into something a little dirtier, like competitive ganglia nerve cluster diagramming.

I must have turned the heat in the apartment up to like 75 degrees, drawing a short complaint from Millie as she walks by, but I still feel cold. I’m sprawled out on the couch in my purple tank top and a pair of mismatched running shorts I changed into when I got back. Honestly though, I’m wide awake thinking about everything that’s happened today and how much I miss the people I love.

“There’s, um, some pizza in the refrigerator if you want it,” I mutter, unsure if I was speaking loud enough for her to hear me. Gosh, I must have been just staring up at the ceiling for hours now. It has become so incredibly hard not to cry. It’s like you can build that long-term toughness where you don’t cry at anything anymore. With practice you can sustain that stability for a little while, but then the dam breaks and you find yourself depressed even deeper underwater. I must have cycled through that process three or four times over the past two years. Millie is heading to her room, study materials in tow, without any intention of saying another word to me. The way I treated her this morning, I don’t blame her. Continue reading “Dysontopia | Metal Conducts Electricity | 3.1”

Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.3

<< A Study in Bad Acronyms 2.2 | Patch Log | Metal Conducts Electricity 3.1 >>

Related: About Dysontopia | Writing the Unreliable Perception of Time

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Dude comes back to take our food order, but of course I don’t have to say anything because Val’s already got it covered with my favorite. Large thin crust. Bacon, bell pepper, mushrooms, and that oh so scrumptious pineapple. Pure pizza bliss.

“Sector… Zero?” I’m trying to comprehend what that has to do with society or history or really anything of the sorts. I understand the words, of course. Land is often divided into sectors forming a grid. So are areas of three-dimensional space. And they’re often numbered 1-100 based on a predetermined position and established area size. Meh, who knows, maybe the office just got together and voted on a cool name.

“And you’re saying that’s somehow less ominous than CHASR?” I quip. Continue reading “Dysontopia | A Study in Bad Acronyms | 2.3”