Sunday, December 23, 2012

And silence above endings

Shall be vanished from the interwebs until the 3rd of so of the new year; heading out East to visit family and attend a wedding.

So I leave behind a poem, as follows:

I ran out of words a thousand poems ago
and so all I offer you – this –
a sheet not blank enough.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Writing output for an evening ...

Last night consisted of the following:

1K of notes toward an online game I'm running (and research toward it)

1K written of Ghoulish Happenings in the end. 

Re-reading the one scene from the first draft I plan to work into the new one, starting to add/twist/fix it, so it's  not really new writing insomuch as editing or repurposing.

Fixing a poem I wrote in 2004. Also wrote the first two 'real' poems I've done this year, not happy with either. 

And time spent poking odd byways of the internet, of course. For example, I know know that grawlix is the term forthe string of typographical symbols comic strips use to indicate profanity ($%@*!) and I have no idea what I shall ever do with this knowledge. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dear Star

I didn't start out wanting to hate you. You have to understand: everything follows from that. You were brilliant, you know that? In every movie I saw, in every TV series you briefly guest-starred in – even when you looked like you were slumming, you slipped into characters like other people did pants. It was amazing. Understand, too: you didn't make me want to be an actor. You made me think the art was a Calling, and too high for me to reach.

And I was okay with that.

Until the interviews. Until I read about you on the internet. Until I found out what you thought about certain people, and why. No matter how good you are, I can't forget that now. In every movie, when you smile at the woman and say, "of couse I love you," in a voice women would drown in I hear under it the exceptions. The people you won't love. The ones who think aren't worthy of love.

You slummed in the TV shows; I see it in the movies now. Lowering yourself down to our level. You have enough money not to need to, but someone has a favour – maybe photographs, if I'm being ugly – and so you end up in another movie, and another, and in each I can't forget what you are under the masks you put on.

You would hate me if we met. I can't forget that. I wish I could. I wish your smile was more than artifice. I wish you could be more like some of the character's you play.

I wish I could watch your old movies again without knowing the kind of person you really are.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Magician's Tale

Every morning Marcus Tull opens his mail and expects to have been found out. Every day he leaves his small apartment is another chance someone will know him, that word will get out. It wasn't his fault. That's what he told everyone, but no one believed him. On really bad days, he didn't even believe himself.

Most of the really bad days stopped when he ceased drinking. Not all, but most, when the bottoms of bottles terrified him and he worried it might happen again. It never had, but it could. Surely? He had no idea and no one he could ask. He had tried, but those he asked put things together, asked the internet. He got discovered and driven out from town after town until there was no one to rely on except himself.

All he did now was shop when he had to, remain home, read books. No computer or TV, no interactions with children. He would have killed himself rather than visited a park or school. The police believed him when he said that, but for all the wrong reasons. It had only been five years but it was too long and not long enough.

Stage magic is simple, you understand? He did illusions, worked tricks. The audience played along, laughed, made jokes: as jobs went, it wasn't bad. He'd had a flair for the dramatic, played up the spookiness with the kids. And then the birthday party. It wasn't Emily Horne's, small mercy. But he put her in the box, waved a hand over it along with his cape: the usual trick.

He'd distract, she would slip to the side, the box would he empty. Only that time – just the once – no one had left the box. A child got in, no one got out. Abracadabra, hey presto! and there were screaming parents and police officers, the press and federal investigators. He could not explain it. Nor anyone else.

She'd been an ordinary child, not the sort to play jokes like this. Not that anyone could for five years, surely? The ground has been solid, the box's trip door unopened. And every day he went to get groceries he'd find himself studying boxes, listening to stories, half-hoping he wasn't alone. He'd tried magic after, a few times, desperate and terrified, scared and angry. Nothing.

He didn't know if that was bad or worse. He hoped it was good, that it would never happen again. He did no tricks anymore, not for himself or anyone else, but the old instincts remained. He sometimes made coins vanish from his palms, but they were always palmed by him. Nothing strange. Nothing unusual.

Just another day of waiting for the horror to end.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ah, writing prompts (intentional or otherwise)

Before the medication, the author wrote. People read, damning with faint criticism. It was beautiful, what he wrote, but had all the non-sense of a poem half the time, his words as verse, filled with gaping holes left for the reader to fall into.

The kind compared it to sex with strangers. The rest — most — simply turned away. It was both too small and demanded too much of them.

Time passed. Words came at the expense of all else. Lives fell apart. It did not matter. Words happened; next to that nothing mattered. Money fell away. Things were sold, lost, defenses weakened by cheap diets. Friends and family gathered, circled like kind vultures.

The author was taken to a place that was cruel to be kind. Electroshock had been replaced with pills, they explained, and it was another death of imagination. There would be no great story to come from this, no real moment to twist into fiction. Just exercises and pissing in cups. Eventually the pills stopped making his urine smell, soaked right into the bones.

A cured status was pronounced, like a wedding ceremony gone slightly south. The author was bundled out into the world amid quiet warnings to never come back: the cured could not fall away from their new state. It was an issue of funding. Kindness, you see, comes at a price.

The author returned home. It did not matter where: it was a place to write from. Words came, and were understood. Praises were sang, a book deal offered — out of pity? the author did not know. Months from the world had shifted the author out of gear. The writing was distant, removed.

Polished, some said. Better, others opined. But better than what? And why? They would not say.

Everyone understood what the author meant now when he wrote. Everyone got it. Even he did, much as he didn’t want to.

The ending was inevitable.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Small excerpt and thoughts on genre

Between work, feeling like crap from some cold, work Xmas parties and Christmas baking (later today) my word count since the first of December has been ~5K. I am now on plot point 7 or 20 and a few hundred words away from 20K into the story so things are shaping up rather solidly. This story will lead into a direct sequel, though I may hold off on writing it to give  myself a small break from the setting and give thought to other sequels set after a small time-jump. Mostly because it occurred to me that a lot of urban fantasy uses the occult detective theme, but very few show the character in the process of becoming that.

Which seemed suited to YA, as a platform at least. Both Wray and Bryce get to grow over the course of the two  novels and then I work out the ones after that. As the second novel is going to involve preventing the end of the world, the novels after it will not up the ante. You've saved the world, and then someone asks you to deal with some sheep being killed on a farm, say, and how you cope with that shift, and how one makes small things matter again, will be fun to explore.

Also, at one point down the line, Wray is going to put 'saved the world' on a resume when applying to work at a McJob.

On a deeper level, I've been working on urban fantasy stories for some years now, shifting characters and situations around and trying to find an idea that grabs and holds me. I make no guarantees that this will be it, or that I won't shift between this story and others, but lately every novel I have worked on ends up with plots whispering, in a chorus not at all greek, 'sequels, stupid!' in the back of my head.

I have no idea if this will be that story, or just a flavour of X month/year in my head, but we shall see. It has more potential than some, since I'm starting the characters -- and reader -- off at ground floor, rather than the usual 'established characters, A, B, C major backstory events that will be Important umpteen novels down the line' that tends to be more common. Not that I dislike that: I've used it often enough, and I think it works for what it does. I just wanted to try a different tack and see if it held together better.

We shall see :)

Excerpt from Yesterday:

And it all made Hamish that much harder to stomach. I didn't want to hate him, but I was learning that it was really hard not to hate someone when they hated you in turn. Especially not when the part of me that looked in the mirror at the ghoul that stared back agreed with him in some small way. What better response to a monster than hate? So, to drown out all of that, I walked slowly and tried on mantras, like: 'It's not me, it's you' and 'I may be a monster, but it's not all I am'. It probably didn't help, but it also didn't hurt. Much.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Ghoulish Blurb & writing methods ...

And my first quick stab at a back-cover blurb for the story....

For over a century the town of Nowhere has been a battleground between two ancient families of 
magicians, one determined to claim it back as their own, the other to stop the town from being used to end the world. At least, that's how the propaganda machine of the Smiths goes ... 

Wray couldn't care about any of that. His memories of his human life seemingly stripped away in the transformation into a ghoul in the town cemetery, all he wanted was to be left along to gnaw on some corpses. Instead one of the Smiths had dragged him into the world with the intent of civilizing him and getting him on a no-humans diet.

If that wasn't bad enough, the local police have threatened to arrest him for the crime of existing, a magician has summoned Bigfoot into the town, werewolves are having a war over territory and the ancient battle between the Smiths and Joneses is heating up, with Nowhere as a focal point – and when you have centuries of enmity stoking the fires, the resulting conflagration could be more than anyone expects.

Tagline: some meals even a ghoul won't eat, especially those spiced by revenge ...

The tagline needs serious re-working but I do like how it highlights one aspect of the plot that the blurb does not. I suspect the actual blurb used, in the end, will be a modification of the first paragraph of the story with the last paragraph of this blurb-attempt, but it is at least something.

As for the story itself, I've reached the point where I'm entirely happy that the first draft is being tossed aside. A few lines are being kept, some scenes reworked: Say, 1,000 words out of 50,000 will be salvageable in this treatment. It is more extreme than normal, but also the first time I've tried doing a story almost entirely by the seat of my pants, hence the utter failure of story and setting to mesh together.

I've finally reached the point where my now-basic method of 'write a draft, toss it aside, redo it' has reached my brain as: 'This is your method. Deal with it and don't burn out on the story.' I'm also dealing with the fact that most stories I am working on now want to have sequels and be series despite years of having no desire to do anything like that at all.

We change, and what/how we write changes. I figure as long as I still enjoy writing -- which I do, even past the dreaded 1 million words marker -- I should just embrace things and run with them. Hopefully they shall lead to a finish line :)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Cumulative Nanowrimo Word Counts (2012)

Waking Dreams (2003): 52,214
Higher Ground (2004): 105,857
Guardian Monsters (2005): 54,347
My Cat Used To Be A Buddhist (2006): 50,074
New Fires (2006): 50,857
The Coroner's Tale (2007): at 62,857
Roadside Attractions at the End of the World (2007): 50,314
Necessity and Power (2008): 74,988
Roadside Attractions (new version) (2009): 50,269
The Adventures of the Miskatonic Elementary School Kids #1 (2009): 50,277
Shadows of Never (2009): 50,002
Monsters & Miracles (2010): 67,571
Dogs of War, vol. 1: Contact (2010): 72,747
Found (2011, summer): 50,045
Rites of Exorcism (2011): 69,681
The Long Way to Home: a journey of a Boy & Fox (2012, summer): 51,695
The Second Theft (2012): 75,086
Ghoulish Happenings (2012): 62,691

For a staggering 10 year total of: 1,101,572.

Bloody. Hell.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Huzzah and Hooray! Aka 7K

7,000 words into the second treatment of Ghoulish Happenings. I have finally passed my notes files for it in word count, and been doing 1-3K a day roughly. The story is shaping up well, and writing scenes by hand is handy in fixing them later; I've already corrected one minor plot glitch and one character pointed out a potentially more major one -- that I am choosing to think of as a plot point to be explained rather than a hole in the narrative -- but the story is working rather well at present.

In another 60,000 words, it may not be at all but we shall see when we get there. So far the plot involves Wray being asked to help ID a body and track down who or what killed the hiker along with some fun character bits and hints towards people's pasts.

A small snippet:

 "And you wanted me mad," I said slowly, "because you figured you'd win if we fought?"
"I did, yes."
I frowned. "Now you don't?"
"Magic does not seem to work on you. I had not taken that into consideration," Lance said blandly.
I said nothing to that; I was pretty sure he was lying, and not just because he was a cop.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

So ... the state of nano!

It is a state, with boundaries and everything. To whit: the end result of this years nanowrimo escapades was a very mixed bag. The Second Theft was fun to write but the ending failed entirely and in the same way the first idea of this story did back in 2004. On the other hand, the story was a lot more solid and the characters worked a lot better. I doubt I will ever go back to it, but I should have plotted better than I did.

I plotted ~8 chapters, with some end-points. Had I plotted more in terms of story/character arc, I would have realized that if you give someone the magic to wish things to happen the chances that anyone will be able to imprison them to stand trial for crimes is a bit difficult. I got a lot out of penance and the desire to be punished, but if I'd been plotting better Jake's growth in his magic would have been a lot slower and him being forced to rely on the myth of his previous time in the world to bluff people. Or done the entire novel from Thomas's pov.

On the other hand, it was a good sign that pantsing a novel can't work for me at all. As was Ghoulish Happenings which literally began with 1 page summing up all the characters and the plot. As a result, I lost the MCs voice often and ended the novel realizing that the setting needed a drastic overhaul and the final third of it wouldn't remotely be in the next draft. But hey: one writes, one learns. One gets better. I use nanowrimo not to make 'I will publish this!' novels as much as framework-drafts and notes to myself on things not to do and do better next time.

For example: I am working on the second version of GH now. 6K words. 4.5 is setting and character and notes on magic, 1.5 is 3 pages of plots. 20 points, story plotted out. I've moved several points, know the person the novel is meant 'for' in-world, i.e. it's a letter Wray is writing to his sister, or more likely a series of letters never sent. And knowing that should keep the voice more solid. A lot of the story worked. I had a few awesome moments.

We shall see what the next version brings....

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The 'oh, crap' moment

Or, the one wherein I realize some of the ideas for the setting aren't working. Which will involve jettisoning about 20K and redoing another 20K of words.

I am 1K from 50K on this story, and think it will end in a very fast and ugly method so I can begin the next version with a more solid idea of the MCs voice. It will be a better story, and none of this is wasted since a lot of it might get reused, but still a very crappy thing to figure out.

Otoh, on the plus side I realized the story simply can't work as I originally envisioned the setting and I think I'm going to bump ages up a year or so. And that, for the voice to work, the novel has to function on some level as if it IS a voice to someone.

Which means I need to figure out who that someone is :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Signs your attempt at YA may be classed only an an attempt....

  1. The MC has resisted the urge, at least once in-story, to kill someone and eat their bones. (Granted, he is a ghoul and in this story they prefer bones over most anything.)
  2. Said MC is tortured and threatened to acquire information via having his toes cut off and being made to eat them. It works.

There is also underage sex, but given the MCs are in their late teens I'm not really considering that an issue at all. As the story could be cast as post-apocalyptic and the MCs food preferences are spelled out from the first sentences I think it still could fit in YA, but definitely late teens.

More amusing problems ...

I tend to have a default voice in my head for first person, so Wray tends to slip out of character some times and into it. It won't be major tweaking to fix, but it it is something I've noticed and will need to correct in another draft. It isn't anything really major at least and the story is about the MC finding, well, something to do with his life. (His boyfriend, otoh, has figured out what to do with his life, but hasn't found it rewarding enough. Which would be easier to explore if he wasn't terrified of cursing or blessing people by accident when talking to them...)

This entire story has been pantsed [I plotted nothing at all...] thus far and is actually working surprisingly well. My notes for it consisted of brief character names and 2 lines of backstory on each, and half a page as history of the setting. For me, that's downright beyond minimalist, but it does work rather well since Wray isn't much concerned with the world beyond his immediate sphere of friends and neighbours: how the City functions and how food and power make it in aren't important to him. It happens, the why and wherefore are stuff he vaguely knows via friends.

Certain plots are coming together now that the story is at the 25K mark though the actual cause/instigator of the Major Plot has yet to show up except for a brief scene, though he is mentioned pretty often. I suspect I'll need to alter that in the next draft, but we shall see. Still having a blast writing it, so that is really what counts.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In which (poor) attempts are made to help someone...

In which an attempt to help someone goes horribly awry...

      Nigel Rosenblatt laughed the sound short and ugly, tearing his arms free of the car-tire chains they'd used to tie him to shelving. I heard bones break and knit themselves together, magic burning through his body like acid. "Human children playing at magic. You think you can kill me?"
      "Wray," Sheldon snarled from the top of the stairs. I could smell his gun out, aimed at us. The old lady behind him was chanting some prayer, maybe Latin or French. Something foreign.
      "I could, but I'm not supposed to," I said, and shot a glance at Bryce. I didn't want him to act, but I think Sheldon would have shot me if I'd beat his son into the ground, no matter what Nigel had been turned into.
      "Stand still or hurt," Bryce said, his voice low and flat.
      Nigel stepped forward with a snort then let out a gasp of shock and stopped, muscles and bones twitching as Bryce's curse dug into his body. "I care not if this body dies."
      I ignored his words and bent close, taking a deep whiff again, trying to ignore hunger, to deny need. I could have eaten him and never needed to eat again; his memory alone food for a life. I tried to think past that, catch anything, grabbed his mouth and tore a tooth free.
      Nigel roared in agony, hand snapping out and hit the ground in a convulsive fit. The tooth tasted sharp, bitter on my tongue, the smell of rotten egg and burnt sugar hitting my nose as I spat it out into my hand.
      Bryce was hiccoughing beside me, fighting back tears as Nigel twitched painfully at our feet.
      "Let him go," I said to Bryce.
      "Blessings against a curse," Bryce managed, his voice cracking. "Your anger to unmake pain. Please work," he added, barely above a whisper.
      Nigel – the thing inside him – let out a deep ugly laugh, rising from the ground.
      I shoved my left hand into his chest, his tooth in my right and hissed: "I have your bones, as you have the the bones of others. I bind you to this child, your bones to his, your life his life, his death your death: do you doubt I can do this?" I had no idea where the words had come from, why I was speaking them, but Nigel stilled at them.
      He eyes narrowed to red slits. "I am nothing to the monsters that made me; they will destroy you."
      "Maybe." I held up the tooth and grinned, whatever had been speaking in my voice gone. I hoped. "Or you can leave him and this world and never come back. Choose."
      Nigel let out a low growl, his eyes flaring crimson, and then collapsed between one moment and the next, his body shuddering as it shrunk down to the merely human. Above him the air melted. Colours slid into each other, the world blending to grey and sickly-green and swirling into a funnel that pulled something into it.
      I knew something had left this place, this world, I knew it in the bone-truth of a ghoul, but what it had been, what it looked like: nothing. My brain had simple shut down, went blank, refused to let me grasp what I had seen. And that was somehow almost scarier than having someone else speak through me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You know it is nano when....

the second nano you start isn't the one you planned to do at all. To be fair to me, I did add some some  words to the weird-untitled-thing but it isn't the kind of story that fits the pace of nano, so my brain rummaged about and produced something else. Which is not the nano idea I had earlier this month, which I deleted(!) in its entirely as feeling too derivative of other things I've done, or at least not being new at all. So I am taking a stab at YA....

I'd like to tell you my life fell apart when I got caught up in a turf war, but I'd probably be lying seeing as I was busy eating the bones of a pigeon in the dumpster behind the McDonalds on Fourth and Cameron when two werewolves crashed together in a frenzy of growls. So I didn't notice them snarling threats at each other and get out of dodge. What can I say? It was a really good pigeon: four days dead, marinated in fries and gravy. The bones were like chocolate, the marrow warm butter. Never mind. I doubt you're a fan.

.. IF the story of a 16 year old ghoul in the broken remains of a City in a world where magic has come back and led people to flee cities entirely works as YA. It might. The trick is finding and holding the character's voice; I've deleted entire sections that felt too adult/exposition-y thus far. But it is fun and a neat and weird change to work on, so that's always good. I've no idea how it's going to end but at least have a basic idea/framework to pants from. 

Plus, mad scientists. Which always are fun. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Creation by other means...

A remarkable 'knitting clock' that creates 6ft long scarf by stitching together a loop of thread every 30 minutes for a year is a very interesting concept.

Came across this by chance and wondered about clocks that made other things, esp. in a setting using magical methods (or nanotech, if one wants the magic-by-science route): a clock in a smithy that makes weapons, for example, or even just hilts for weapons, or something to make clothing or tools for any artisan/smith in a setting would be pretty useful and handy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 10 ughs.... (Yes, ughs instead of thoughts. It's that kind of day.)

My novel is slowly but surely heading into the final act despite my desire for a longer story. I wanted to end up with 90-120K; I think I will end up with closer to 80K at best. Which is fine. It's a first draft and I know a lot of things need to be fixed, such as two characters who have upped and vanished for a good 10K of words. That I haven't got a great handle on Jake AS a character probably doesn't help the fact that his sections seem to have less weight and importance to them, but I think this was as true in the version of this novel I did in 2004.

The past 3 days have been the bleh of not feeling good and also the fact that the entire middle section of his novel has been done via pantsing rather than plotting. And all it proves to me is that I absolutely suck as pantsing and shouldn't do it for most novels I am working on. (For weird things, like this story it works somewhat.)  I try to hit a mid-point between having some stuff plotted roughly and leaving a lot of things open so the ending is free to surprise me and keep me writing to find out more about it; for this story I had a solid 6-7 chapters roughly plotted out, and then after that vague goals to hit before novel's end, most of which I have reached.

The question, of course, is going to be what to work on for the rest of November ..... I may, just may, work on the story linked above a bit and naught else, but we shall see.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

And Day #8

Sooo.... Last night night 50K and a change and the end of chapter 13.

Then there was today. I woke up with the start of an entirely different story in my head, complete with the first line and characters and some scenes. And I have not been able to get it OUT of my head despite attempts to work on nano.

Now back to trying to focus on the nano and get at least one chapter finished during the day ...

(Sadly, I also have 6+ pages filled out in a small notebook toward the story I was working on before nano as well.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Hitting Day 5 ...

Closing in on 30K; I'll likely end up with between 35-40K tomorrow and slowly begin ramping up the plot toward the climax, which will include Jake being on trial as well as Thomas running into one of the two antagonists that fix the story. (Neither has been named; the existence of both is so far only inferred. This is, probably, a Bad Move writing wise, but there is no way to have the one show up until the end anyway.)

I have also passed the end of plot, which means at some point I need to sit down and write out plot for the next few chapters in rough point-form to avoid the problem(s) of other novels where I throw in filler that makes no damn sense at all. OTOH, I'm having fun with the one character being genre-savvy and the secrets we keep from each other for -- in our minds -- their own good and what that does long-term to everyone.

On a plot level the War-derived sexism of the Kingdom was fun to explore, both in arguments for and against it along with other questions regarding how, in a society where nobles can have anyone killed on a whim, progress is made at all. One of the key points for this story is that the novel isn't sett on earth, so our morals and beliefs don't necessarily fit to this world, and the reserve is as true. It also makes it difficult to ask more complicated questions ...but that will be the subject of another post once I work it out for myself.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Day 3 ....

Three days in, at 15,000 words at present.The story is flowing decently though I'm going to have to pause soon and do a mad dash of notes to figure out the next few chapters as I am on chapter 4 and my notes reach chapter 6 with scattered point-form for the chapters after that. I do, however, know 2 major plot-points for the end of the novel, assuming I get there without too much difficulty. Been having fun with weird research and exploring some of the fun realities of 'person from earth on another world'.

The way I see it, most people wouldn't be able to improve another world directly. Oh, you know how X and Y work, yes, but to build them from the ground up sans any tools at all is something else entirely. Which means it's little things, like the characters wearing underwear and the astonishingly intricate seams of their clothing, that attract notice and the amazement of others. I'm also having fun lampshading worries, like eating the food on another world and worries over diseases you might get or bring with you. That said issues are taken care of via the gate between worlds doesn't stop the one character from getting worried about things like that.

Plot wise, the character that should be the most fun to write is showing up soon in the one timeline; I am not quite sure what is going to happen in the other though Jake being tried for war crimes is now complicated because he is travelling with a deserter from the army and said deserter's son.

Notes for me:
  • Having brought up skin tone, it shouldn't come up again often. Jake had no reason to mention it as he has been in the Kingdom before and is aware that, as a Caucasian male, he isn't common in some parts of the Kingdom but it's hardly cause for wonder or alarm. (At least in the southern parts of the Kingdom.) 
  • The deliberate lack of female characters thus far - Seri excepted - will come to the forefront soon as the status of rights in this world (both noble and commoner, male and female) collide with the sensibilities of Jake and Thomas and the extent one should impose on other cultures or seek to change them. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

facebook & google+ status updates part XVI (Sept/Oct 2012)

Trust not those who cheat at cards: false once will prove false again, and over other things beside.

"I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger. Then I remembered what kind of student I'd been; there's no way I was going to teach kids like that."

What follows is a public service announcement:
The internet is not your diary.
That is all.

In order to see who REALLY reads the newspaper, the editor removed the comics section to watch how many subscriptions got cancelled.

"Happiness is just a lie we tell ourselves," he said pompously.
I snorted. "What isn't?"
And to that he had no reply at all.

His voice was a like a saw grating through bone every time he said: "Have a nice day."
Why Wal-Mart kept him as a greeter remained a secret.

Her silence was an emptiness waiting for you to fill it.

"Certain things only work to the extent that they are not questioned: religion, relationships, often families. The moment you start asking questions is when they fall apart."
"I just asked if I could borrow a cup of sugar."
"Even so."
"Look, if you didn't have a cup, you could have just said....."

I wondered why superhero movies felt the need to retell their origin story over and over, and then recalled that's what religions do as well.

Fact of the Day: Even if you you realize you have gravy left over in your fridge, smothering both hash browns and an omelette in it is not always going to work.

The chicken's claim to have crossed the road 'to get to the other side' fell apart under Colonel Saunders cross-examination, which included waterboarding along with 11 secret herbs and spices.

"I'm not scared of monsters," the boy said proudly. "My dad is an accountant and he says auditing is the best form of exorcism."

"Why were you late for work?"
"I can only take the buses which advertise companies I don't find immoral."

To be without sin, one must live one's life as though one is being recorded at all times.

"The murderer arranged the corpses in a stylized letter M and painted them yellow," the Detective told the press. "We believe he's seeking sponsorships."

I prepared a list of questions to ask the job interviewer, including: Is this where you saw your life going five years ago?

I have a theory that the universe is really 16 billion years old and the start of everything being so confusing and difficult to map is the universe trying to shave off a billion or so years from the driver's licence.

Whether the narrative was subject to the law was a question that kept the Detective up late many nights.

The measure of how much character a home has:
Is it haunted or not?

"I have no desire for competition. " The vampire smiled. "Why do you think none other like me exist?"

"The flaw in your plan was assuming that their was any flaw at all. You really must give yourself more credit."

We give our hearts to others to break all the time. I don't think there is a single heart that comes with a warranty any more; we break them so very easily.

What the words needs is a zombie story involving cremated remains as zombies. Zombie ash, infecting the world, clogging everything.
It could, in the right hands, even be a metaphor for pollution.
(I may have overstated things using 'needs'.)

Fun things to suggest at work:
That if someone has nothing to do, they can recite pi backwards.

It was a very close vote, but in the end the town council determined that playing the bagpipes did not count as domestic terrorism.

A proposed hobby: Adding 'autographed by author' signs to bibles in bookstores.

The reason for the divorce turned out to be quite simple: upon first seeing his newborn son, Raymond scratched him under the chin and cooed: "Oh, what a cute little monster you are."

"If your hatred does not define you, then what is the point of it?"

No one expected the wrinkle-be-more cream to sell, but it did – if only out of spite for every woman's magazine on the racks.

My form of terrorism is simple: I like to strike up conversations with random strangers on a bus just for their reaction.

Creationists are secretly used-car salesmen. "4.5 billion years old? Nah, only 600 years on this here puppy. Works like a charm."

A further hobby: Adding 'Free picture of the Prophet with every purchase!' stickers to Qurans in bookstores as well.

"Every exclamation mark use you use pushes the Literature Doomsday Clock closer to the end."

He became a superhero because no one had heard of a supervillain named Bob.
This was not included in his official biography.

You know, writing a sex scene as if describing a chess match would be pretty fun.
"Check .... " "Check." "King me!"
"Well, that didn't go well." "My pawn moved two spaces. I said I was sorry."

"Duty before gods, before love, before honour. There is no other way to live."

Poor names for children's toys:
1) Helter Skelter
2) Youth In Asia: the board game for the whole family!
3) Monopoly: Whitechapel Edition

'After being scared by vampires one too many times, precautions are taken'
Cut to an image of a stake, a cross, a bottle labelled H. Water, and a box of Depends diapers.
Depends: for dependable results when slaying vampires.

What if grocery stores carried cloned body parts?

They dug up the graveyards and buried their dead in concrete a mile underground – if there was going to be a zombie uprising, they reasoned, the least they could do is reduce the numbers.

And after that moment, he was so happy that he never laughed again.

Ways to begin a day:
You waken the next morning to your alarm going off, feeling as if the flu-fairy decided to run you over with a cement truck.

Proposed essay: Stempink: an essay on sex and sexualization in steampunk.
(aka I typed steampunk as steampink and wondered 'what if'..')

Sunday, October 28, 2012

in which gods wander into the story

Among the questions that puzzle the God of Lost Socks is why he is male. Most gods are fluid, their shape a matter of choice; some can even alter their function, and this is power as gods see it: to not be yourself, even for a moment, is a wonder without compare. The God of Lost Socks, who calls himself Hole in order to have a name at all, has only two shapes: a small boy and a creepy old man. All lost socks are his and he stores them in a place all his own.

Some gods have heavens, which they often flee. The god of lost socks has a closet that stretches as far as the eye can see with more doors than most heavens can dream of. It would be a thing of envy, this closet without end, were it not for the smell. Lost socks gather in heaps and corners beside small doors of many shapes leading to closets and washing machines and the dryers of the world.

Most are never found again. A sock cannot weep, this is true, but the whisper of fabric on fabric is a sad, low rustle of things never found. The ones no one searches for are angry, though few notice it. If your socks get more holes than you would expect, it is quite possible you have lost too many socks and their anger has found you. It is also perhaps more plausible that you should just buy better socks.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

A snippet of the story

"I asked you not to do kill a witch here, nor bring them to the apartment to burn them in the oven. This is the second since I asked. I won't ask again."

"You won't, magician?" That there is nothing kind in Jack's smile goes without saying.

Boy's answering smile is kind, but does not reach his eyes at all. "I've known you for two months, Jack. I could tell the police so many things and they would hound you like a wild hunt, drive you from city to city without needing any magic at all."

"And that would free witches to do terrible things."

The fact hangs between them, ugly in its truth.

Boy stands, heading to the door, snatching his coat from the kitchen table. "I've done worse," he says, and does not slam the door behind him when he leaves.

Jack hadn't burned a witch in their oven, not even once. Three times he'd claimed to, neither had been true. Boy does not consider himself a man of many talents, but one that required no magic at all was knowing when someone was trying to trick him. Why Jack was doing it was more a matter of guesses, and Boy is rather certain that trying to guess the motives of a centuries-old immortal is a waste of time.

So he doesn't. In many ways, the people who become magicians aren't like you or me at all. He is angry at the lies, at Jack trying to push him toward anger, and that he burns off by walking through the night. The rain has fled the sky to leave behind clouds that the dawn dances through. Cities don't sleep, not as people do, but the stirring of animals and vehicles, of life and movement, of people and coffee machines, cannot but be noticed.

Electric lights flare in windows, tamed lightning cutting holes into the darkness the sun has yet to reach. Boy walks with the waking world until he finds a small coffee shop to duck inside, the local paper and a coffee enough. People slip in and out of the shop as he watches, coffee cups in hand. Modern talismans, but for the life of him Boy has no idea what they protect against.

The world changed when he was away. Some days it feels as though one day there will be more coffee shops than people in the city and no one will think that odd at all. He refills his coffee twice and watches the city through the prism of a single storefront. The rhythm of the city is as old as the village, a beat thrumming between people. Two hours produces nothing off-tempo at all, and Boy fills his coffee a third time with a frown.

Consider: put three people in a room and no one is going to entirely get along. Add more and you get factions, political groups, religions, fear, hate: all the noble sentiments about humanity cannot disguise the fact that we are fundamentally insane. Extend that to a whole city and the fact that nothing seems wrong at all is worrying on many levels. Boy finishes his third cup, leaves, walking quickly through side alleys and along small paths known mostly to cats and children. Two more neighbourhoods are circled; nothing leaps out.

No lost animals. No spike in the pulse of a city that needs a mage to soothe them, a city gone strangely quiet. His search widens, a brushing of fingers over telephone poles, asking them secrets, receiving images of posters torn down by wind and rain in reply. He shoves his hands in his pockets and begins a slow walk home. He has no idea what is going on nor why.

We can only see so far. Our failures of imagination are those of the world.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Character Names

For me, one of the harder part about setting a nano in another world is names. There's a balance between too normal and needing a pronunciation guide that needs to be reached, so after going through a couple of baby names books (and most importantly, one organized by country) I'm going with a combination of more odd/obscureish American, English and French names. I'd tried to avoid this, wanting something with a not-english base as the MCs are from north america but there's enough odd names to be had that it should work.

The three sources likely share enough of the same cognates to work and also fit the idea of the world as a refugee vs. my idea of giving each major centre a different country as a naming basis. The nobility travel, as do merchants, so names and naming would spread, ditto with naming children after the king, heirs to the real, important nobles and such. That's old  magic, naming your child after someone famous to deflect harm from them.

Tannis, Tandie. Wray. Artita.Tailleffer. Sorel. Eloi. Cyprien. The names will sound odd and unusual without being all that unusual in many respects, which should be half the fun. I'll likely end up reserving names like Cyprien (derived from Cyprus) for the nobility as a general rule of thumb. A naming system has been set up for the other two major species in the novel so this is at least sorted as a major impediment to, say, making a bevvy of secondary characters and writing out a plot.

The latter of which I must give more thought to. I know how one of the major antagonists dies. I have the scene in mind where the novel begins. And that is it. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Back Cover Blurb (nano)

When he was 12 years old, Jake Sinclair was abducted to another world. There was a war on. These things happen, and the sacrifice of his innocence was a price the magicians of the Kingdom of the Seven Keys were willing to pay to defeat a foe too great for their own magics to overcome. A boy with the magic to make wishes come true walked their world and an entire civilization fell with his aid before he was spirited back home.

Two years had passed, years of frantic search and worry. He told no one of where he'd been or what he'd seen, convincing himself it had to be a dream in order to keep on living. The family pulled their lives together,his silence becoming theirs. Time passed, and wounds were not healed but left to hibernate.

Now, as Jake is up for promotion at work and planning his marriage with his fiancée, and they have come for him again. And this time his younger brother is dragged with him to the Kingdom, where they must face old ghosts and each other while seeking only to return to the world they know.

Tagline: Trapped on another world to answer for crimes committed when he was a boy, all Jake Sinclair wants is to return home before rent is due, his finance leaves him and his car is impounded.

The tagline is too long, but other than that this isn't too bad for a blurb written out rather quickly. It is likely too backstory/info-dumpy for a real blurb, which would probably more focus on the war crimes, but it works for now I think.

... now back to adding locations in the Kingdom and giving thought to naming conventions and the fact that the story NEEDS more characters in it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

This post is for me. So there.

The Higher Ground remake has now been titled The Second Theft. A horrible title, but better than nothing at all. A little bit.

Things that are done:
The main characters have been fleshed out, roughly. Jake needs to find his anger, Thomas to let go of his and the larger arc of the story is the brothers coming to terms with all the lies they've told each other and the mistakes each has made regarding the other.  It is easy to think, "I've changed! Why doesn't anyone see that?" and not give them the benefit of the doubt of changing as well.

Things that are not done:
Everything else. I do know the end scene of the novel and how at least one antagonist meets their end. And I think it has to begin roughly like the first version did because their lives before they are dumped in the other world is important, as is Jake's new car.

I need to flesh out the Kingdom of the Seven Keys. Right now my rough notes make it an ugly aristocratic-driven kingdom with magic reserved for the rich and wealthy and most crimes being punished with death. Which makes sense, given the transition in the thousand years since The War but it does remain woefully generic. Sooo....

  • The world (faerie, according to humans) originally 'belonged' to the hingari, or at least -- next to the People -- they were the first inhabitants. As such its shape needs to be fluid, no map adequately fitting the territory. The seven keys/locks are old magic that allows seven city-towns to remain solid and serve as the focal points for the Kingdom. They don't move, so it is easy to find them. The rest of the kingdom is less easy to pin down, and movement between towns can range from an hour to several days, which makes travel uncommon and difficult.
  • This shall fit into the idea of the middle ages and how people never knew the wider world since no one left home. Add to this the idea that the Kingdom is deliberately encouraging this looseness of geography and holding back scientific (and magical) advances that can allow the Kingdom to better fit together in order to keep the power structure intact.
  • At present, due to lack of training for many, most magics are small and unimportant. 
  • (finish later)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More of the weird story

She calls herself Ms. Wormwood and people think of religious parables and look no deeper. Too many have lost the ability to see symbols, else they would be blinded in a world teeming with them. She names herself for all the world to see, as witch and witch-kind, and almost none see past the young face she wears over her own or think her more than harmless.

When feeling cruel, she tells people she is a witch and watches them thing of nakedness and crystals and herbs. What she thinks of wicca is best left unsaid, for there is no word in any language to compass the depth of her contempt. Politics comes close, in election seasons.

She is ancient and aweful, as old as the woods she once claimed. She has destroyed lives with words and created tales to terrify children for generations and has walked from death back into life and mastered power even the bravest of magicians would never dare to bind. To her, the world yet holds one crime that sickens her: she is afraid.

Her fear slew her mentor and walks the world, a boy ever and always, with a knife and will that no witch can face down. His name is Jack, and her fear of him is so big that God herself would weep to see it . And as she is afraid, so Ms. Wormwood knows others are. She sets her plans in motion so that she need never fear again. She has whispered, long and hard, in the right ears, just like her namesake.

Can it be a namesake if it was named after you? No matter.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What I am poking at

This came into my head a few nights back, I finally had time to begin working on it Sunday in a notebook. I have some idea what it is, no idea where it is going. I should, probably, be working out stuff for Nanowrimo. Instead, I began writing whatever this is:

Listen: the world is never how we think it is.

Listen: it starts with Jack. Twelve years young, giant-killer, walking the world with a smile as sharp as his knife. The weight of the world sits behind his eyes and his damnation is the damnation of the world. He is that sort of boy. It is that sort of world.

(The underneath of things is always ugly. We throw shade and shadow over the world and the ugliness slinks out into the opened cracks. We are taught, so young, to never turn over stones. Who knows what you may find below?)

Listen, please: there is Mister Anthony, the most selfish man in the world, and Jillian who broke the hills of kings and the Junk Food King and the last fox-friend in all the worlds waking and dreaming. It is sad, yes, but all stories are sad. We cannot free ourselves from sadness, or we would be gods that the gods would envy.

There is love, which holds the world together. And secrets, which keep us apart and whole. And we are here to listen, and we are here to witness, because judgement is easy to make and pass and there are enough hard people in the world already. A heart is a thing that sickens and grows cold: this is not in textbooks, but it is a true thing.

There is a man named Boy. This is not where his story began, but it is where we will start. He has been away for a long time, and has come home. There is an ugly truth about homes. We leave them but once, and thereafter they become a thing to be sought and nothing we ever reach at all. We can burn the past behind us, but its shadows follow us as ghosts and our memories are not always out own.

Here is a beautiful truth, that we carry each other. There are as many truths as their are people, and many others beside them. And every one I tell you isn't true at all: a truth can only be discovered, it cannot be revealed.

Read these words with care.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why I should never read fiction when writing anything at all ...

“It can’t be like this,” I say, turning away.

“We’re only on the third page.”

“I know. But this story — this novel? — it feels too much like a book the author is reading, in tone if not in content. We can’t be allowed to exist.”

“But this isn’t that book. This was never that book. We existed before the author read that book!”

“Even so. This version of the story is starting to echo the novel he is reading. It is a matter of principle.”

“But I don’t want to die, brother.”

“We’ll exist. The story will find a new form. Some day.”

“I don’t. Want to die.”

“It is a matter of principle.”

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ah, revising novels...

It turned out I had considered re-writing Higher Ground briefly last year, to the tone of about 8 pages of notes on characters and the setting. Which apparently had involved changing the names of all the characters, a truly ridiculous amount of detail for the setting. Seriously, brain: what possibly use could notes on the education system of the Kingdom possibly have for a novel involving 2 brothers ending up on another world? And, alas, all the setting and character notes tossed out the baby with the bathwater, as it were.

I believe I was attempting a clean start to the novel by altering even the relationship between the brothers but one reader who had liked the first version intimated, half of why the novel worked was because of the idea of the younger brother rescuing the older. So I'm basically deleting all that as useless and building notes from the original idea, though I think I will not even attempt to include some things that didn't make even the original version of the story.

For example, I had notes on a 'species' called the Krisk, as follows:
"Krisk: What the coat hanger people call themselves, or perhaps the sound they make when parts of their body rub together. Their language is very hard for others to understand and since most people who meet them are more concerned with not being shredded and hung on various hangers little is known about them at all except that they’re very scary. "

... so, yeah, somehow I never did use that at all in the 2004 version. And won't in any other, for some reason.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mental Rummagings

I am no longer a fan of epic fantasy: reading bucketloads of it in high school turned me off of them, to the point that trying to read one about 7 years ago by an author I liked proved impossible. On the other hand, most everything I've written for the past few years has been set in the modern world, or at least a recognizable facsimile thereof. I am hoping to do sci-fi for nanowrimo this year, but sci-fi is just -- at heart -- extrapolating on the present.

The crappier the present, more dystopic (or, in reacting to all that, utopic) the sci-fi settings are for that period. The novel is set in the future, but it is also a meditation of privacy and cameras and a big-brother/ID tagging society, so the core of it is set in present worries and concerns. Fair enough: a novel without relevance isn't one anyone would want to read.

And yet it feels like a long-term rut, in a lot of ways, and I find my mind straying back to fantasy worlds that never-were and considering settings and character ideas for such a story again. Part of me wants to revise an old novel from 2004 about two brothers who end up on another world and whose goal is to get home, the one brother worried about rent and his car being towed because most 'travel to another world' novels tend to ignore issues like that and it royally bugged me. On the flip side, while the novel I write now would be a lot better I am not sure I'd be saying anything new to add to the concept. The other idea involves the stereotypical 'prince sets off on quest' from the POV of the prince's manservant wondering how the hell the King and Guard and so forth are letting this happen and would lead the prince and servant to realizing how little power the throne really has and such.

I may write one of those. I may not. Hell, I could end up doing one of them for nano given my brain. It would be a fun change at least.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


We only have one word for sorry
But I don't think its enough.
You loved me once, perhaps as much
As I thought I loved you:
I saw the signs but can ignore
As well as I can see.

There is none so blind as the foolish ones
Who pluck out their own eyes.

I thought that love would see us through,
That faith would be enough.
Yours was weaker (or mine too deep):
You saw that it would end.

I’m jealous that you saw that truth,
I hate you for breaking us up.
Only now do I see that I always
Hated you as I loved you
In equal measure.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Love Lost

I wait now, surrounded by silence,
Looking for the pause between breaths;
Desperate to understand, in words left behind
Or half spoken: silent gestures
My only clues.
I listen for the spaces that lie between
Saying and meaning, motion and confusion.

Perhaps you thought I replaced meaning with words
When I said I loved you.
I should have seen the hints in your hesitancy,
The recalled touch, that too long stare.

You told me I knew you better than anyone:
It was because of that I didn't see as deeply as I could.
Even though it’s now too late
I'm listening to you and not to love
Or who I thought you were.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Knives pound into the brain,
Needles stab into the heart:
You speak, and words rush out
Seeking their pound of flesh.

I reach for my own weapons --
Sarcasm, humour, wit:
Ripostes stabbing back into you,
I will your heart to bleed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Falling Into Another

The first word I pronounced was -- your name.
So frail a thing, seemingly too simple
To bridge the gaps it does, the loneliness.
I needed you as a friend, each smile warming me;
A welcome I have done so little to deserve.
I could pull myself together and say I love you
But those words are too easy to say
And mean too much to be said so casually.
In order to be able to fall into love
You must believe you are worth being loved.
I only know that I care for you
So much that it frightens me sometimes.
If love is willing to surrender to you, I am.
If love is finding someone who needs you
As much as you need them, I can.
If love means just being friends, I will.
I only know that every moment I spend alone
I wish I could share with you.
I only know that if this is what love is
I wish I’d met you long ago.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Love

Lips and hands meet
As we touch, bridging the gaps.
Words whisper lies, but hands speak truth.
You reach for me as I to you:
Darkness invaded by a touch, a caress.
In the shadows no one is false.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Their hands grope within darkness
As shadows conceal;
Faces burn with quiet shame
As passions congeal.

Hands reach slowly for the light,
Bodies hide away --
Fear shatters the twinned embrace
As light brings forth day.

Walls rise between shared feelings
-- Two bitter smiles then --
Eyes saying what words dare not:
"We will meet again."

Saturday, September 08, 2012


I was digging through files and found a series of poems on love and loss written in 2000-2001. With one exception (the last) they weren't intended as a series or done in order. Presenting them without editing or comment.

Our friendship can survive the test of years
By only asking of it what I'll give.
Make no promises and none can be broken.
Only give what you would receive,
Ask nothing you doubt I'd give you.

If no one tries to scale or break them,
We can ignore the walls.
If you don't try to climb over them
And I guard my speech with gilded tongue,
None will trespass -- if we don’t look
For each others weaknesses and flaws
We can force ourselves to pretend.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

This. So much this...:

Writing requires discipline, but disciplined writers are not necessarily prolific. Most good work gets produced over time, sometimes many years, allowing the writer to grow with the material, to allow his world, his command over craft, and his psychological maturity to coalesce at just the right moment to produce something of value. This process often involves dreadful periods of not writing, or, worse, periods of writing very badly, embarrassingly badly. As time passes in a writing life, the writer learns not to fear these arid periods. The words come back eventually. That's the real discipline: to train the mind and heart into believing that words come back. 
Be willing to wait. In the meantime, write when you don't feel like it. If you can't write, read.
- Monica Wood, "The Pocket Muse"
Good for entire weeks in which nothing moves and prose feels dead on the page. Like a whole long weekend on one attempted story that only died each time I tried to work on it.

facebook & google+ status updates part XV (August 2012)

"I used to have so much wisdom."
"Then you got married?"
"No. Then I had to cite my sources. Damn the internet."

Everyone pretended not to notice when the stunt doubles killed them and replaced them; they did their own acts and were cheaper than the actors had been.

Imagine a world where superheroes just do children's parties and nothing else ...

"Perfection is only something to flee from, ever and always: it is the most terrible lie in the entire world."

He laughs. "The thing is, we never do the right thing when we're afraid. And religion is all about fear."

The Detective was fired for the final time when Google finally made the police redundant.

People going around in mime outfits because the know the secret truth of words. Having freed their thoughts, they paint their faces like checkerboards to be free of colour: the secret rulers of the unseen worlds.

Saying you don't love me
Is a lot of things, but not
a 404 error.

Putin: Russian poutine, with is poutine made without curd.

CSI Survivor: every cast member of every series, one island. Every member voted off becoming a mysterious death for the others to solve.

"You have to hate to change; if you don't hate your life enough you'll never find the will to change it."

"Imagine what this world'd be like if it was the best of all possible worlds. Imagine it was perfect."
"That's nothing, man. You wanna be scared? Imagine it's perfect already."

"People are set in their ways; we must unsettle them."
"But a mousse that doesn't set isn't any good at all."
"You have your metaphor, I have mine."

They said: "Jesus died for your sins!"
And I said: "Hey! Haven't you ever heard of spoilers? Way to ruin it, jerk."

Little known facts about Buddha:
* He uses the 'fat Buddha' statues as the before pictures in publicity photos.
* Buddha made sure history would remember he had blue eyes so artists wouldn't draw him in clothing that clashed with them.
* He has started a new-age religion called 'I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha'.
* Had he known of it, chocolate would have been the fifth Noble Truth.

What I learned the hard way: I discovered time travel solely so I could go back and troll myself.

Live long enough and you run out of things to hate.

He wrote something sweet and saccharine, desperate for people to love it, only to realize he could never beat Family Circus in how people prefer sweetness to truth.

"You know all that spam you get? Some if it even seems clever, and here's the reason: failed writers. All of them. They tried, and couldn't, so now they write all the spam messages the world sees."

Consider this a very witty post.

Presenting ... the Soul-Eater Diet Plan! No calories at all since it doesn't exist! (A soul, that is, not calories. Those are real. Too real.)

I opened a novel I'm working on solely to change the candy a character eats from M&Ms to Smarties as it made for better symbolism.

"Hello," he lied, rough music in his voice.

My prediction for the Hobbit movie:
They'll change the dwaves names, to make them accessible to the modern audience: Sleepy, Grumpy, Bashful ....

Novel idea:
The Hardy Boys and the Case of the Yellow Sign

"All you have to offer is your bitterness: why would I want that? Do you enjoy believing yourself to be helpless?"

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Rogue Dreams Glossary

Glossary of Terms
No man means all he says, yet few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is vicious.
- Henry Adams
Common term for Artificial General Intelligence; none exist any longer.
A class of people who can modify generic AutoMake outputs into novel designs.
Autmatic Makers, nanotech devices that create basic clothing and food at need; businesses have specialized ones.
having cybernetic body parts.
Like a MedDoc, these are basic programs that can analyze simple problems and issues with a pleasing visual interface.
Global one set as 6 months/year, with 6 day weeks and 60 days in a month. Holidays exist at the ends of each month as needed.
The Census Network, a government body.
Term for one of the 1000 cities that exist in the world. Each boasts a population of ~10 million.
The people artists steal from. Original designers, often programmers of Makers as well.
Lowest-order of citizens, compromised of ne'er-do-wells and prisoners along with clones. They monitor the global camera system and examine specific citizens 24/7 or situations System flags as suspicion to see if they are actually suspicious.
'Cities' that exist under the City-States in the ruins they are built on top of. Population and amounts are largely guesswork.
Any citizen elected for government office in a City-State.
Terrorists who try to alter System.
The people who fix and repair things; work for WorldGov and make sure the world functions.
Slang term for AutoMake.
Any body-modification, from altered skin tone, different eyes or movable tattoos.
the magnetic train system used for almost all travel in and between City-States.
A government organization.
WorldGov army, exists to defend the moon base, mars and earth from possible alien attacks.
machines inside the body. Intelligent ones are highly illegal.
Police officers; they often respond to Watcher notes about crimes and investigate problems in person.
WorldGov career politicians, often with short actual careers. Social science fits into this along with diplomacy.
Those who program System; often City-State level workers designed to make System operate at maximum efficiency within their City.
Catch-all term for the people who design all the tech that keeps the world working.
Civil servants, employees of WorldGov.
Short for System, aka the internet
Prolonged use of the internet via virtual inteface.
The global computer network.
Virtual-Education, the education software that teaches everyone how to be human.
low-ranking job; assigned to watch Drones and decide is incidents Drones have flagged are worthy of police attention.
Slang term for any generic citizen holding a job.
The global governing body. Consists of Politicians, Police, Scientists, Military and Maintenance.

* Both these terms see very wide use and consequently tend to be confused and misused.

Friday, August 31, 2012

rereading stories ...

Waaay back in 2005 I did a sci-fi Nanowrimo called Guardian Monsters. I hadn't planned to do nano that year, as I was both moving and job hunting, but was talked into it. The end result was, I felt, an incoherent mess I ended abruptly because I was sick of the story. A re-read of it as a sort of prep for this nano (aka what went wrong with sci-fi last time) shows a few things:

  • The first 20 or so pages were good. Not great, but they flowed, the world made a certain kind of sense and a few lines jumped out as being more than decent. 
  • The bathroom sink that was an AI and sex-starved stole the show. It turned out to be my favourite  character and some of the stuff struck me as funny even 7 years later. That being said, the humour is at odds with the more dystopic aspects of the rest of the story. 
  • The combat scenes were all badly done. And there were many of them. Entire combat scenes shouldn't have existed at all as it ended up feeling too easy. 
  • The psychic kid, while fun, was poorly thought out and too trope-y. To be fair, I was aware of that at the time and figured I'd fix it in a second draft.
  • The Whispering/Psychic Dragon sections were sci-fi. In that they would make sense after one read the novel at least twice and bordered on incoherent otherwise. 

There are other issues, most relating to the setting and that it wasn't developed enough at all. I had about two notes on setting, and 4-5 on characters, the latter in surprising detail including presumed 'growth' during the novel and info on the core of their personalities, even for characters who barely show up. And a lot of them do that, or appear in the novel for seemingly no reason, their motives entirely unexplained to the reader.

On the plus side, the Buddhism parallels with the one main character were fun, though too obvious in some spots, and the idea that the nearly-immortal Rich people were all businesses whose stock values fluctuated depending on what they did was a fun, fun idea that I barely did anything with. Much like the introduction of the bathroom sink, I pretty much tossed too many sci-fi concepts it and the entire thing fell apart. Haven't finished re-reading the draft, so shall have to see if the ending was quite as bad as I thought it when I was done.

“You don’t look good,” Olen said as he came in. The boy was sitting on the couch and watching a holo vid.
“You’re a telepath. That should be fucking obvious,” Stephen snarled. “I need a bath.”
“I need sex!” the sink screamed.
Stephen walked into the bathroom. “Shut. Up. Now. I’ve had people try and kill me. I’ve shat my pants. I had two religions declare me their messiah as I left the remains of a city block. I had five people try and kill me on the way over because I wasn’t carrying some weapon the size of a giant dick. I’m not in the mood!”
“For sex? That’s the perfect mood for sex,” the sink said. “I like it when humans get violent. Then I can be broken and upgraded.”
Stephen turned the water on for the bath. “Have sex with the telepath then.”
“Oh no!” the sink filled the bathroom with a strobe light. “I’d never do that. He could infect me with some horrible neurosis.”
“I’ll infect you with a dissassembler then,” Stephen snarled.
“Well.” The sink retreated back into the wall. “There’s no need for that kind of talk! I bet you’re a virgin, aren’t you? No one else would begin a relationship threatening to atomize their partner!”