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January 14, 2018

Sketches of Eldakiah and Weather Stuff


 

 I drew a pile of sketches the other day, and these two seemed the best to share because WEATHER! Clouds and rain.  Plus there are dragons.  And Elda is doing something instead of just glaring at you.

But really it was just because of the sunbeams in the clouds and the raindrops.

I predict my backgrounds will improve while my faces will lag behind.  Tsk.

January 8, 2018

The First Tag

Kate created The First Tag, and tagged me.  Thanks Kate!

It is about a bunch of Firsts in story writing.  Let us plumb the depths of my selective memory and see what I remember about my early days of playing author...

1. Who was the first character you ever wrote?

Princess Lanuka of Lenorin.  (Phonetically, her name should be spelled Lanaka, but...I'm so used to it this way...)

2. What was the first story you ever finished?

Kitallia's Return

It's a pile of natural disasters, meteorological mayhem, and underdeveloped politics.  Not to mention, fed-up peasants who decide to build their own city away from the rule of the rulers who get mixed up in all those stupid natural disasters.
"Yeah, last time Kitallia and Naerosha fought, there were five tornadoes, an earthquake, and a mudslide.  We left town as soon as we saw that lunatic mage running up the road."

3. What was the first piece of writing advice you ever heard? Or what was the first bit of advice you used and it actually worked?

I have no idea...

4. Who was your first villain?

Some guy who controlled enchanted dragons.

5. What was the first storyworld you ever built?

Thren!

6. What did your first attempt at worldbuilding or mapmaking look like?

It looked like two kingdoms with about two cities each on a giant island with a few forests, and a random ruin, and an island far away with a sorceress living in the woods.

7. When was your first crush-on-your-own-character? I know it happened, don’t lie to me.

2011 maybe?

8. What was the first character death you ever had to write and how did you handle it?

Who did I kill off first?

Technically, it may have been a pack of bunnies that got killed by hunters or wolves, and the bunnies that survived were elsewhere because they heard music and were curious.  The whole point was to do the opposite of curiosity killed the cat.  Curiosity saved the bunnies.
I felt no emotion about it.

Otherwise, the earliest incident I can think of is that Kitallia killed some bandits and saved some random travelers and it was all good and boring.

9. When did you first decide that your book needed a full-blown series?

2005?   I think that was when I started on my second book, Secret of Silria, and anticipated more books connected to it.
None of them have been finished.

10. When was the first time you stepped out of your comfort zone to write a new genre?

Probably when I tried writing romance when I was 14.  Complete with evil cultists trying to kill the hero.  No light, fluffy stories since then.

11. What was it like using a prompt for the first time?

I think it was boring and annoying and I've never really enjoyed it.  Clearly I have suppressed the memory of the first time I used a prompt.

12. Opening line: share your first, your favorite, and your most recent.


First:
Onec upon a time, there lived a buetiful* pricess named Lanuka...
*I can't remember the precise misspelling.

Favorite:
Desmond stood before the large window, looking out to the starry nebula that glittered beautifully.

Most recent: 
“No, it can’t be! This is some trick!” the knight shrieked, holding his right wrist as though it were broken, a shining sun sigil glowing on the back of his hand.

13. What was your first ending like?

Nonexistent...
Okay, in Kitallia's Return it was rather sudden because a sorceress simply locked Kitallia and her arch-nemesis into The Stupid Stone Room where they were stuck for a bazillion years.  Pretty much it was sudden and not foreshadowed at all.

14. What was the first ship you ever wrote and, be honest, did you make them a ship name?

Technically it was in my first story because Lanuka meets a knight named Glanorin, who was turned into a dragon, and they fall in love and break the curse on him. No ship name, that was long before I heard of such concepts.

Bonus: I did come up with a ship name for Desmond and Astarta.  Destar.  (Desstar?)

Which always makes me think of the Deathstar.

Which is highly appropriate for them.

15. What year was your first NaNo?

2007

16. Which novel is memorable for being the first one you ever gave up on?

The first one... (All of them?  Pretty much all of my earlier stories have been given up on or turned obsolete.  Yet, they sit there nagging at the back of my mind anyway.)

17. When did you first share your work with someone else and how did they react?

It was a million years ago, I don't know.

Stop asking me to remember random trivia from my childhood. :P

The End!

Unless you want to comment random comments on this.

December 13, 2017

The Dare from NaNoWriMo 2017: My Biggest Mistake and Story Excerpt

By this point you should know I have ensnared myself in the NaNoWriMo Dare Squad and have a tiny, Doomful fate to fulfill...For while I accomplished my goal, and became a winner, Kenzie through in a twist (which many of us encouraged her to do), making it possible for the winners to participate in all the deathly fun.
(I'm also planning on writing the Blooper Reel dare, so stay tuned.  Or maybe a parody, because I already have a little idea for that.)

My dare came from Lillian of Inky Insanity.  It reads:
DOUBLE WHAMMY!  Share your biggest writing mistake from your current project, and how you're considering fixing it - AND share the first chapter/1k of your project. Mwahaha!
 So.  There were plenty of mistakes in this ginormous, messy draft of The Desolation of Kaldoa.  What comes to mind first is that my outline got snapped in half by the sudden appearance of Cool Villainess, which I extensively wailed about before.

But deeper than that, I think my real mistake was not having a timeline.  Not pinning down dates. Ages.  Birthdays.  Events.  How long the war lasted.

All those matters.
Worldbuilding matters set in precise, firm sequences of time.
Agh.

Those I never quite get comfortable with, so honestly I'm not sure how I'm going to fix it because when I try to approach it I feel like all my decisions will be arbitrary or for vague reasons and won't get down to what the story needs.

But the whole thing is such a mess, and unfinished, that I sense I need to keep writing more and more mismatched scenes, just whatever pops into my head from what's come up from this, and I'll be able to muddle together enough raw material to get to the REAL story and hew down the stones enough to start polishing them up and build a galactic story palace of shininess and dreadful doom.

And quite honestly I just want to share the excerpt already instead of ramble in circles about not liking dates set in stone.  So.  I have a problem.  It will get fixed eventually.  Who knows how.

Excerpt time!
I did not write in proper chapters, so I'm going by wordcount.  The first 1,151 words.  I did not write in chronological order, so enjoy the contextless scenes!  Unedited. Because, Nano.

The Desolation of Kaldoa


Scene 1

Prologue

Page opens up with a cityscape tinged in gray and morning pink/purple as a train rolls across a track headed through the heart of the city. Panel shows a close-up of the train with gleaming, reflective windows and wheels sparking against the rail (or maybe later if it brakes? Cuz that makes sense).

Inside, Sheyla looks out the window, her body mostly turned to the outside. Her face expressionless or slightly glum. View of rail lines and electric fences, which then blur into olive sight of the same. Sheyla sighs, or something.

“Why are you looking out there, it's just ugly.”
“It's Kaldoa,” Sheyla replied.
“ugh,” the other girl breathed.

Action 76 Sheyla saves them from spaceship fire

Sheyla climbed to the top of the turret, opening the back panel and searching for the wire connections, some of it was badly damaged, she doubted she had all of the component parts necessary. The main motherboard was damaged. She opened her kit and dug around for the right tools, glancing at the turret through olive sight. How was she supposed to repair that in time? The alien spaceship was bearing down on them once more, she struggled to twist off one of the damaged components and replace it. The AI was not working, how was it going to target the ship accurately? Huge plasma blasts were splattering the landscape. Soldiers were hunkered down in cover, but soon they would die. Sheyla had fixed one component but there were more. The fire mechanism was operable, but the command structure wasn't. Sheyla lifted up her finger and faint olive light surrounded it. The turret hummed to life, and laser blasts struck the alien ship forecefully. Other turrets fired too. Sheyla tried to fix more of the turret one handed and kept concentrating on keep the command line up, but it was difficult, whatever happened, she had to keep the turret firing on the spaceship accurately.

Plasma bolts and lasers were flying everywhere, as was purple fire charges, and the spaceship was broken through. But it also blasted the tower Sheyla was on.

“Get out of here!” a familiar voice yelled. The tower began to shake and crumble and Sheyla was thrown off balance. She began to fall, but someone caught her around the middle. It was Nice Soldier, umm... Cpl. Good. Or Green. Grant? Green rushed to safety with Sheyla. Unforutantely she didn't get all of her tools back, but maybe she still has her bag?

“Move out! The ships out, but more will come so we better get to the LZ!” the squad leader said. Or platoon?

“Good job,” Green said quietly to Sheyla. She was still shaking as they began running, so Green just carried her. They passed the old structures, robot escorts with them too.

“87% of the turrets are malfunctioning,” Robo Dragonface said. It had a “pointed” turret face and black coated body. Like in that airfield comic.
“Third platoon is coming from the east and first from the northwest. Base camp is destroyed. The fleet is in atmosphere,” the comm man reported to them. (Related to Action 78?)

Action 20 Dale leads mage record wipeout

He clicked the safety off. Or clicked the magazine in. Whatever, a gun clicky noise, holding his rifle down, gray armor/uniform and gauntlets thingies.

Dale Gray broke through the door and into the office. Several desks and filing cabinets were in the room. Everything had to be destroyed.
“Set up the incinerator,” he siad. That was probably known already. Or bombs
They began searching for the files, a couple panicked staff pitched in to help? One man came out and shouted at them, he held up a pistol and began shooting.
“They deserve to die after what happened!” he yelled. “All emps, this travesty should never have happened!”
He was shot and staggered back, his entire being off kilter. “Those children will kill everyone and the Union must know who they are!”
He clutched a stack of papers.
I guess he would run out of there. But Dale and the others chased him down and shot him, retrieving the list of names. I bet the guy was already trying to upload the names online, but I'll bet there's at least one refractor on the team who froze it and they stopped it just in time.

The crazed principal lay on the floor, dead. (I keep imagining everyone there in white lab coats, so I don't know what that's about.) Blood pooling around his head.
Dale picked up the stack of papers.
Names of children and past students were there.
They would destroy many of the records, but first they would memorize what information they could and find these kids. Or they would surely emp in fright and be killed. Or fight back and lose. They needed help.

Sheyla Klark, age 11. britanny Howell, age 12, Ryan Kaln, age 11... They would all need to be protected. Alissa Sanders, age 7...Dale carefully tucked the concise list into his pack. They regrouped, the explosives were set off and the whole school was engulfed in flames. The helo hovered and they ran onto it.

“Five more schools to go...”

Headquarters was dealing with the national mage registry.

Action 42 Dale splits the team

They gathered in the hanger. Or maybe they're on a helo. They just heard about Andra and the capitol being conquered. Dale looked out over the land he loved. The once green hills covered in smoke and clouds, patches of ashes and burned buildings. Space cruisers hanging from the clouds on the horizon. He felt like he had been punched in the stomach. His normal sense of resolve felt weakened. He couldn't believe this happened, he couldn't believe the governemtn had surrendered, and that their allies had turned on them.
The Void Lord was willing to give asylum though...But maybe that hasn't clicked yet.
Aleins destroyed the south central region of Provst. Some incursions into Kaldoa, but no one cared about that. The government was fleeing, not surrendering.

Dale turned to his team.

“We lost this round. The other alliances are against us. People are going to get hit hard. We're going to need to go undercover however long this lasts, and some of us need to get our families out. Some of us have to regroup in the fringe so we can keep training and get back up. I'm staying. Other Leader, you take your guys and get everyone out of here, the eight of us will stay back and make Provst regret what they did.”
Shout of assent. Hooah or equivalent.

They split up. The other men taking various shuttles to double check that families had been evacuated and sneak away anyone else who needed it.

Dale turned to his team of sabotuers.

“Let's get started.”

And they melded into the shadows of their land.


December 3, 2017

End of NaNoWriMo 2017

I won Nano.  And my story is still unfinished.

Let's see if I have any deeper thoughts than that.

As you can see, I wrote 75k words, which was my secret, higher goal. 57,000 words just isn't enough in comparison.  I even maintained my Triforce of Lower Word Count.  The Triforce of Procrastination, Wailing, and Confusion.  It probably does not grant wishes.

Ahem.

Really wants to play a certain open world game that I presently cannot afford.
Might make up my own open world game some other way.

Well, my plot/outline collapses on itself in the middle of things thanks to the sudden introduction of Cool Villainess who couldn't simply postpone her appearance.  And part of me feels very done with writing for now, and another part of me is imagining up scenes for TDoK.  But I for sure want to work on more visual stuff for a bit.

Storywise, my brain seems to have shut things down.  My story got so muddled, it doesn't make sense to try writing again until I have time to plan stuff.

This year's Nano has been much better than previous.  I got to 50k on day 17, which is great.  There are three reasons why I managed to do it: 1) I had a large story I'm really invested in. 2) I started hanging out on the Over Achiever forum on the Nano site, which is full of contagious enthusiasm and high word counts (half a million, even!), and... 3) The Nano Dare Squad!

I mentioned the Nano Dare Squad in my last post, which my friend Kenzie started up this year, you can read the current results of it here.

Basically, a bunch of writers stated word/project goals and gave each other dares that would be determined by rolling dice.

It's going to be a lot of fun.

Through a convoluted system of being a winner, I rolled a 3 and got to roll on the regular dare table, and was allowed to swap that dare with someone else.  So, expect some madness about me telling my biggest writing mistake from this project and how I intend to finish it.  PLUS, I must offer the first 1k of my writing.  Which will be  total mess because it's out-of-order snippets. :)
(But I'm not to do it until the 10th, so...maybe I should write about my outlining system that only half worked?)

The community aspects of Nano have been much better this year.  Even though I never went to one of my local write-ins...

I think my biggest writing mistake in this project was not having a clear timeline.  I need start and end dates to for things, people's birthdays, all that sort of thing.  And I haven't done that yet.  Not in a set-in-stone fashion.  Blargh.

And then I had characters show up out of the blue, and then I had the second main character never show up.  Oops.  But I better save that for the later post.

For now, I should give some little snippet from my story, shouldn't I?

Behold, Dystopia!
Until eventually Mrs. Malverran came charging around the hall screeching her head off about why was Sheyla in this out-of-bounds place?! Or does she call her first and screech out of the speaker phone?

“Not my problem,” the guard says.

Sheyla was very grumpy in that moment. She hadn't finished her clean-up detail and Mrs. Malverran was verily threatening to murder her.

“The guards ordered me to clean up a mess, and one is supervising it right now.”

“I DON'T CARE WHAT SOME NITWIT GUARDS THINK, YOU ARE NOT TO LEAVE THE ROOM WITHOUT ME AND RARRGH RRRRGH RAWR!!!! IF YOU DO THAT EVER AGAIN YOU'LL BE SORRY!!!”

Sheyla glanced at the guard. He had certainly heard that insult too.

“So, do you want the guard to shoot me since one's right here?” Sheyla said flatly. Practically.

“Ew, then I'll have to clean your brain matter out of the carpet.”

“RRRR RRRRGHGH RARRGH” Mrs. Malverran screeches in the background.

“Why is there so much carpeting if we can be killed at any time?”

“Beats me,” the guard said.

But maybe it is tile on the floor, I don't know.

You can tell I always take my dialogue writing super seriously and it's 100% polished.  As is the rest of my manuscript.  *Proceeds to insert a completely random medieval fantasy story idea near the end of the month because writing juices were so depleted*

Lemme add a snippet from that...
“WHAT NEWS DO YOU BRING OF THE LIVING WORLD?! IS EVERYONE DYING OR AM I STILL FIXING THE PROBLEM??!!”

November 23, 2017

NaNo Report for Week 3

57,555 words as of November 22cd.

The week has been tired, and messy, and with a couple of gold square days.
As you can see, I have a little Triforce from it.  At least that's something.  If I absolutely must have another yellow day, I guess it should be next monday, and then it can be flower.  But otherwise, no.
Besides, the Triforce is way better.

Anyway, proper news now.

For the NaNo Dare Squad goal, I decided to up my word count a bit ago and try to write 75,000 words (I feel like I said this already?  But it might have just been in other comments?).

Right now I have a one day buffer for that goal.  I need to write 2,500 words each day to keep up with it.  But I wrote 2k words today (yesterday by the time I post this, it's just after midnight), so I should be able to do it.

Because I've been forcing myself through the sloggiest parts of the story, and in the very least, I am allowing myself to write random fun scenes with side characters when Sheyla gets to tough to write.  One paragraph of her, one scene of somebody else.  Just gotta do what it takes to get through.  But I think while Sheyla's scenes will be hard right now (spoiler, she is surrounded by enemies and recently witnessed deaths of her countrymen), I'm getting back to my original outline just a bit, so YAY!
And then all the new stuff will come and bust it up again, but thematically it might work better?  Except how in the world does Sheyla meet Rob now?  It just isn't happening.  Rob is a main character, but he hasn't shown up since the prologue.  Whoops.  (I really need to figure out his timeline of events, he got sidelined by a lot of other heroes doing stuff while he was stuck in high school, doing nothing but grumping at society and trying to become a pilot. :P)

So, it's messy, but it's feeling like productive mess right now.

My only consolation for feeling like I'm still in the beginning of the story, is that this is now more like writing a whole series all at once.
Except I really need to make the final battles of the first war their very own story/book, because Sheyla isn't quite the center focus.
I have a lot of main characters now.  Ugh.  (This should be obvious given my list of POV side characters from my last post.)

At some point I've got to draw some concept art for them all, but...that and Nano sounds like a problem.

Des has a fun story arc.  I mean sure, he nearly died right there, but that's fun cuz it's dramatic. (Except the timeline is potentially inconsistent and won't work...?  *Other side of brain shushes self*)

I need to post some random line from the last week.  Hmmm....
“But Name of Guy In Charge of Things Here, has kaldoans,” he said.
Bravo.
Action 111 Stuff and who cares
My thoughts about this right now. Like, what happens to the train and meeting Malverran?
That was the earlier part of the week. The Action # was part of my outlining/scripting process which I used consistently at the start until everything derailed (I was supposed to write about it at some point...), and then I saw that line in my outline, and yup, that's what I felt. I knew the apathy would turn on.

Oh drat! Young Soldier thought. We're another contrived couple!

This is what I do when I can't write Sheyla. Because this is what her scenes are like:

Mz. Murdervulture rose up, crossed around her desk [and] thrashed Sheyla with her cane. 
“I suggest you swallow your words, or I will make you regret them for the rest of your short, pathetic life,” she snarled in her face. 
Sheyla backed away from her, but she was too distraught to do anything.

Like, apt filler name, Mz. Murdervulture. Now for a proper line:

You...You have magic. Real magic, not this barren world, but a different world, filled with true magic!

This galaxy is full of magic snobs, apparently.

Shall I keep rambling, or is this enough of a report?
And it is Thanksgiving now, so Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!



November 17, 2017

50,000 Words

I have hit 50K on Day 17 of NaNo.  I just wanted to post that the day of.

Tiny excerpt of the winning sentence:

She began to cry, subtly, her tears just barely coming out as someone took her hand and steered her into the car.

I actually have no clue what is happening in the story, I just wrote random imagery that popped into my head.  The bolded "her" is my 50,000th word.  Yay.

And the font is really weird... Whatever. I tried to fix it and it's almost midnight.  Later.

November 16, 2017

NaNo Report for Week 2

What has happened this week?

Messiness.

Broken outlines.

And 21,567 more words.  Which is pretty good, though a little slower than the first week.  I'm almost to 50k and maybe I will manage to hit it before midnight and have 25k weeks each time (except I'm a day or two late for that already...whoops!).
Except.

It has been messy.  I got the beginning out of my outline well enough, but the middle was in some ways too vague.  And then the Cool Villainess came in and wrecked the whole thing.  Or at least wrecked in such a major way that I'm going to have to carefully think through the next stages of this story, the story that already felt kinda vague to me, and...I feel Doom closing in on me.
I also had a yellow day, not a green day.  I only wrote 1,280 words on the 13th.  Sadness, sorrow, despair, it's not a green square on my nano calendar widget!  (Though Kenzie told me I must not disparage its uniqueness nor crush its dreams, so I shall leave it be now.)
But.  My outline.

It's just a little bit dead and I'm slowing myself down by sometimes rewriting scenes (not deleting old scenes, just adding more bits to them), and now my story feels like a slog and it's terribly inefficient.  And dang it I need this story written in a way I can work with in the future!
But trying to clean it up sounds just about impossible at the moment.  My mind keeps screaming for more wordcount (at least I've written 1,111 words so far today!), so it's hard to pause and slow down and go off to a notebook or other document for story notes.
I feel like I keep flinging my story's theme and focus to too many different places and it's getting all confused, especially because of the villain and side-characters-with-POV count.

Protagonists: 2, Sheyla and Robert (who hasn't been truly introduced yet).

Major Antagonists: Alien leaders, Cool Villainess, Void Lord, at least 3 national/galactic leaders, Evil Villainess, a few more antagonists over there I am not at liberty to discuss...So, like 10?  Oh, wait, maybe 12 ultimately.

Minor Antagonists: Mz. Murdervulture, Mz. Malverran, all their associated staff members Sheyla must deal with (this is where the confusion happens, probably two major ones for each), two bullies...Okay, that's only 8.

Side Characters with POV: Dale, Des, Astarta, Naomi, Andra, Ryan...Potentially a ginormously wide assortment of other soldiers with bit parts here and there.

See, I have too many characters and I always view my story cinematically, so hopping around everyone's view doesn't seem that strange, and yet...it's getting busy.  Way too busy.
Also, the Void Lord and his voiders seem far too nice to Sheyla and they need to step up their villain game.

I just can't tell what the problem is with the story's focus, so it's nerve-wracking to head into the second half of Nano without this sorted out.
Help.

I want to feel like I'm making progress on this story, but now I feel like my road map has been stolen from me.  Now wherever I go it might mean I'm moving forward, or it might mean I'm driving in circles and getting lost in a rainy, misty day and I'm doomed.

TALK TO ME, THEMATIC ELEMENTS OF THE STORY!  THIS STORY IS TOO BIG TO RISK STALLING EVEN IF I'M AT 47K ALREADY!