I Am A Wild Thing [1]

I don’t remember much from my early life, and what memories I do have are made up of blurred images and vivid smells. I don’t recall how I came to live in the forest any more than you may remember being born. I was merely a cub; one shaped very differently from the rest of my litter, pale and bare of skin where they were heavily furred; but still one of them, one of the pack.

Time as you know it was nonexistent, aside from night and day. Hunt, eat, sleep, play, run: those were our hours; and once in a while there were the hours of hide and sneak, when the pack brushed against the unnatural presence of creatures shaped similarly to myself. They smelled terrifying and alien, the air trailing after them a sharp cloying cloud that made my nose burn. They had peculiar furs and moved about on only two legs, or on the backs of tall beasts that stunk of fear and smelled like food, or in moving caves that swayed on their odd rolling feet as they made their way through our territory on clear-cut paths. The Alpha always did his best to keep us well away from them, but we occasionally crossed signs of their passage. We picked through the scraps of their leavings, sniffing cautiously for disguarded foodstuff, and sometimes I would find strange objects among the refuse: a collection of leaves covered with markings and stuck together; an object, hard, but clear like water, that fell open when I nudged it and spilled an eye-burning, poisonous-smelling liquid that reminded me of the female creatures, and which made the others skittish enough to retreat; and once, a stone in the shape of a wolf, small enough to fit in one of my hands. That one I kept, carrying it back to the cave where we slept that season and burying it in a corner. My packmates avoided it until the smell of the creatures had dissipated, and then were simply dissinterested.

I would dig it up occasionally and look at it while the others played or rested around me. It was smooth gray stone, and the wolf stood alert, head up and ears raised and foward, tail down. I would run my finger over the texture of its fur, hard gouges in the stone’s surface, as if tiny, tiny claws had been raked across it. That was the first time I remember ever being truly curious about the tall walkers, that they might create such a thing, and I wondered how it was done.

 
 
And that’s the beginning of this character history-run-rampant. This started as a concept for a table-top roleplaying character, and has evolved into an exercise in trying to create a sympathetic anti-hero. We’ll see how long she’ll manage to stay that way, anyway. Stay tuned for more as I work on it.

I Am A Wild Thing

 

I’m am a wild thing. I can save myself.

That’s what I kept telling them, but if they heard what I was saying, no one ever listened. I was just a lost soul, a creature to be rescued, to be redeemed and brought back to the bosom of civilization. No one ever asked what I wanted.

Not until him, at least.

 

The blurb inspired by some very cute girl-power art I found online, which in turn has inspired 1) a feral Gangrel Antitribu character for an upcoming Sabbat table-top game, and 2) the desire to write said character’s history (or a history based on the character) in long-form.

Watch for bits to be posted with the “Wild Thing” tag as I finish them. :)

Homework: TCW Short Story #1

In trying to continue working on last year’s NaNoWriMo project, I’m hitting a couple roadblocks. So I had a sit-down/brainstorm with a friend who basically ended up giving me a couple homework assignments:

  • Map out my characters and character groups, and their relationships to each other, and
  • Write a 500 word short featuring one character — it can be backstory, future scenes, whatever, but 500 words.

So I’ve been writing ideas down as they come to me, and have a sizeable list at this point. Now I just have to pick something, and you can help! :) Do any of the of the options in the following list catch your interest? What kind of short-form stories do you like to read?

The List:

  1. Backstory: A scene from Harolyn’s childhood — surviving on the streets or fighting her way into a children’s street-gang
  2. Backstory: A romantic scene with Harolyn (the main character) and [former love interest] (a character who shows up in the novel)
  3. Backstory: Harolyn and [rival smuggler] butt heads (pre-novel, but this is an ongoing and unfriendly rivalry)
  4. Behind the Scenes: Harolyn on a smuggling run — something sneaky? something completely mundane (or, “What does Harolyn do when she’s on a job that bores her senseless?”)
  5. Behind the Scenes: How Brezo (Harolyn’s broker — the guy who finds her work) fixes up a meeting with an untrusting contact — part of the TCW, but happens off-camera
  6. Future: Harolyn post TCW — Where does she go? What does she do? Interactions with other people (some who recognize her, some who don’t)
  7. Backstory: What’s the story with Harolyn & Ginna? (a young barmaid — minor love interest character in the story)
  8. Backstory: Ginna & Dinka/Adevich (The two proprietors of a sea-side inn — minor characters, basically Ginna’s guardians)
  9. Backstory: How Verity (the politico/gentlewoman) and Rhyme (her maidservant/bodyguard) became associates
  10. Backstory/History: How Verity became the mediator for the Speakers (a Veridian activist group trying its best to work with reluctant/distrusting lawmakers to enact change) — possibly tied to her meeting Rhyme?
  11. Backstory: School, political, or social scene with Verity and Traver (a fellow politico and colleague/on & off love interest)
  12. Backstory/History: Chymanic (a terrorist organization on the planet Veridia) R&D — developing their “bomb packs” (montage of sorts?)
  13. History: The negotiation and/or signing of the Yedri’in Stellar Trade Alliance

Admittedly, most of these don’t really fit the spirit of the assignment. 1, 4, 5, 6, and maaaybe 12 do. Ideally, I’d like to end up writing all of these. It would be a useful exercise to help me flesh out character backgrounds and personalities a little more concretely; and it would also be cool to have a bunch of shorts that I could compile into a collection as a companion to the full-length story.

I think I’m leaning toward 1 or 4. The first one is completely disconnected from the current storyline, and would highlight some of the foundations of the way her personality formed. #4 could show us how she functions in, alternately, a high-stress situation of her own devising (as opposed to being tossed into the fray against her will), or when she’s more or less at ease and on her own. Hmm.

What do you think? :)

Project Wishlist

This is a list of the writing projects that I would like to work on right now. It includes simple blurbs and/or more of an idea of what each one is about, since I realized most of the items in this list are vague or don’t actually tell you much of anything.

I’m still struggling with prioritizing because I’ve caught the writing bug again, and want to write ALL THE THINGS, and want to write them all RIGHT NOW. I’ve been poking at “Saddle Brother” a little, trying to nudge it into story-shape. Having worked on “The Current War” frantically for an entire month, my brain wants to do something else for a while. -.- I dunno, what from this list sounds interesting to you? Do you have any thoughts or questions?

LONG-FORM

These are intended to be novella length or longer, with fully-developed storylines, and will generally be long-term projects.
The Current War (Genre: Science-fantasy | tag: Greenpunk)
Originally conceived as an exploration of a fantastic world through the eyes of its people. The planet Veridia is populated by people uniquely adapted, and with a strong affinity to their highly electrified atmosphere, and the roots of sentient trees form a worldwide network through which civilization is powered. Intrigue and eco-/terrorism are large features in this story, with politics and a dash of romance to flavor, and a smart-mouthed heroine running away from (and inevitably straight toward) the secret of her past. Almost 33k words written as of the end of that November 2010. [For the record, I dislike this working title, but it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with so far :/]
Parthia Answered (Genre: Fantasy | tag: Parthia Answered)
A dark fantasy about a former priestess betrayed by her goddess and hellbent on vengeance. She learns from another immortal wronged by this goddess that not all gods are born; some are made, and a made-god could have their power taken from them if someone were clever enough to find their fetishes and claim them for themselves.
Hollow/Hollow World (Genre: Science-fantasy/Young Adult? | tag: Hollow)
Another world exploration, and again, one in which trees play a significant role in the lives of the planet’s inhabitants. An adventurous young nomad and his winged companion are exploring forbidden places when they stumble upon the remains of a prehistoric civilization. They unwittingly set in motion a chain of events that awakens the sleeping people of the ancient world, and threatens the way of life as it has come to exist on the planet.
Legend of the Mahuizoh (Genre: Fantasy | tag: Mahuizoh)
Mahuizoh is the man-given title of the world-emperor Centehua, who is the god of the earth, child of the Sun and Moon. When he was an infant, his parents created mankind to keep him company and be his playthings, but he came to love them as he grew. When he was old enough to take on the power of godhood, his parents wanted to destroy man, telling Centehua that he could not let himself become so attached to such finite beings. In order to protect them, he bound himself to the world, and to life in a mortal shell. But a god-spirit still, Centehua must rest for hundreds of years, or his power will destroy his mortal form, breaking his connection to the world, and leaving its people vulnerable to his celestial parents’ wrath. The story follows his awakening after a millennium of sleep to a world in which the Mahuizoh is merely a legend, almost forgotten.
Suicide Kings & Bedpost Queens (Genre: Fantasy | tag: Royal Flush)
Intrigue, romance, and possibly war will feature in this story of four allied kingdoms, based on the symbolism found in the face cards of a standard playing deck. The four kings form the Parliament of Kings, more often than not, bickering amongst themselves; the four queens, the Queens’ Cabinet with their own games of gossip and manipulation; and the jacks, unbeknownst to all, a secret society constantly vigilant for the security and wellbeing of the four kingdoms. This is still mostly in the conceptual phase, though I have a fair amount of notes on the figures in these three groups, and some on the world itself.

SHORT-FORM

Generally speaking, short-form projects can be worked on at the same time as longer projects, and are often simply a way for me to get ideas out of my head.
Saddle Brother (Genre: Fiction)
A vignette-turned-short-story about an unconventional war hero. Inspired by some Wikipedia reading I was doing recently. Told from an unusual point of view.
Tochtli’s Gamble With Teoxihuatl of the Moon (Genre: Fantasy)
A folktale from the world of the Mahuizoh, telling how the moon got it’s rabbit-shaped mark. A cunning young rabbit dares to wager against a goddess to win the heart of his beloved. [Another story from Mahuizoh’s world is “The Star That Followed,” telling of the star who loved Centehua and followed him into the mortal world. I may write that one eventually as well, or it may get worked into Legend of the Mahuizoh.]

2010 NaNoWriMo Wrap-up

Better late than never :) Overall, I’d say NaNoWriMo this year was a success, even if I didn’t get the winner’s badge. My wordcount was a far cry better than last year, and it’s encouraging to know that I do actually have the ability to wrap my brain around writing in long from. So my conclusions from this year:

2010 Final Wordcount: 32,853 (2009 was less than 8k.)

Crappy Working Title: The Current War
Genre: Science-fantasy
Blurb: (in case you missed it here)
Harolyn Flynn’s life is not an easy one, but it is rarely complex, and she likes to keep it that way. From street urchin, to petty thief, to accomplished smuggler elbowing her way into the ranks of the big boys, she has survived by her wits and the strength of her will. And if she happens to be running from a past she would rather forget, nobody yet has been the wiser…

Until the day a rival intent on revenge inadvertently lands her in the middle of political intrigue, and a manhunt that will threaten to expose everything she’s hidden, and then some, and throw her carefully constructed life into chaos.

What I Learned This Year

  • The level of story planning I did this year gave me a huge advantage. There was a noticable difference in my motivation this year compared to last (for which I did virtually no planning).
  • Having a friend along for the ride was a nice bit of motivation.
  • No internet (as was the case for the majority of the month :/) = significantly less distraction, but my brain is still perfectly capable of coming up with alternate means of distraction. -.-
  • “Write after work or during the day after waking; proceed until braindead or too sleep-depped to continue” is not a writing schedule conducive to avoiding burnout, or to having any sort of life whatsoever.
  • The Thanksgiving holiday and female-body-induced downtime murderize my writing momentum when they are not properly accounted/prepared for.
  • Simple forms of mental stimulation help me focus. (In this case, a couple games of Freecell before I start writing; puzzle solving gets the gears turning, but is uncomplicated enough that I don’t get sucked into it for hours.)
  • I have lots of words in me! O.O I haven’t written so much in many many years, if ever. I think I’m still much more comfortable with short stories than novelling, but most likely it’s because I’ve attempted it so rarely, and have only ever finished a fraction of what I started. :p

Some Goals for Next Year’s NaNoWriMo

  • Set down a concrete schedule for writing and stick to it. Maybe 2-3 hours/night on work nights, and 1-2 on weekends, or something like that. Hopefully this will make my time writing more productive and help avoid burnout.
  • Conversely, make sure there’s downtime. Take time to read actual literary material (as opposed to internet stuff), watch some tv, play video games, whatever. Maybe alot a certain amount/block of time, or a set number of chapters/episodes/levers/etc.
  • Minimize distractions as much as possible during scheduled writing sessions: put the phone away or turn it off, no tv, have music ready beforehand so I’m not tempted to mess with it when I should be writing, etc.
  • Maybe start planning a little earlier (six weeks instead of four?), so there’s more time for getting to know the characters and setting through vignettes and flash fiction.
  • Make it to at least one or two of the official “NaNolanta” write-ins, and arrange my own if I have friends taking part again.

And Now?

Now I’m almost 33k words into a story that is much bigger than I had originally intended it to be. I’m going to keep plugging away at it, and hopefully be able to finish it sometime early next year. Of course, now I’ve got the writing bug again, and want to write ALL THE THINGS. I’m going to make a list of all the recent ideas/projects and work on prioritizing everything. Off the top of my head, I can think of four long/-ish projects (this year’s NaNo story and last years, “Parthia Answered,” as well as “Hollow/Hollow World” and “Legend of the Mahuizoh” from this list), and two short ones (“Saddle Brother” and “Tochtli’s Gamble with Teoxihuatl of the Moon”) that I would like to work on, and there are most definitely more, some partially developed and many lines of conceptual notes in various notebooks. My friend Serge (my NaNo writing partner) has already brought up the possibility of doing regular writing/brainstorming sessions too, which could be fun, and help keep motivation up until next November.

A Brief Interlude into Veridian History: Mediums and Mages

One of the interludes (read “info dump”) from my 2010 NaNoWriMo project, about Mediums and Mages, two special classes of people on the planet in the story. The formatting for this was edited/cleaned up. Content was not (or at least very little), and my NaNo draft is reeeally rough, so I’m sure this is full of holes and info that makes no sense, or needs to be tightened up or clarified. I’ve got one or two more of these little info dumps written already, and notes for much more, but they’re a little disjointed, so I’m prepared for people to be confused about stuff. Feel free to ask questions if something is confusing or just plain doesn’t make sense. It’s likely you’ll hit on something I forgot, or haven’t thought about at all!

Continue reading A Brief Interlude into Veridian History: Mediums and Mages

Amazon makes me a sad panda

I’ve had my Sony Reader since June (actually two of them, since the pocket reader, then the touch edition popped up on Woot.com within a couple weeks of each other), and have been loving it. Ebooks are so awesomely convenient that I’m even making plans to cull my physical book collection down to my favorites and the few loaners I like to keep on hand for sharing. The rest would all be hauled to any used bookstore that’d buy them so I could convert whatever proceeds I get to e-versions of the ones I’d just sold. Yeah, seriously.

But then buying shiny new ebooks is where I become frustrated.

Amazon.com is undoubtedly the largest online purveyor of books, and they began an enthusiastic ebook campaign when they put out the Kindle. Unfortunately, it seems to be more about the Kindle, and less about the actual books. You have to have one of their ereaders, or a supplemental app on your phone or computer to buy their ebooks. The fact that I would have to take extra steps between buying ebooks from Amazon and actually reading them means that they are no longer an impulse buy for me. Which means I will instead go somewhere I can get my literary instant gratification. Plus, as mentioned, I already have and very much enjoy an ereader, and don’t see the point in spending another $100-300 on another.

What this also means — and this is one of the more frustrating problems — is that my Amazon wishlist is mostly useless for gift-giving because, other than rare exceptions, I no longer want to own the physical books. Sure, I could add the Kindle versions of the books I want instead of the hard copies, but that would be like the digital-gift giving equivalent of a gift put in a box, inside another box, inside a larger box, and wrapped up with pretty paper and all the seams taped down. (If you’ve ever gotten a gift from me, you’ll know what I’m talking about. >.>) And as stated above, I like my instant gratification

Then there’s that whole DRM thing in general. Someone recently pointed out that at least in the case of independent publishing on Amazon, it’s up to the author whether or not their books have DRM. I think that’s awesome, but it still doesn’t mean an author I want to read won’t choose to use it. Now, as far as traditionally published stuff, I’m not sure exactly what the percentage is of Amazon ebooks that have DRM because I’ve never bought any of them because, well, see all of the above. But DRM and me? We’re not friends. If I’ve paid for a digital somethingorother, I would like to be able to easily access and organize it in any way I choose, on whatever device/s which might be in my posession that I choose to use, please and thank you. I can and will rip any existing DRM out of an ebook I have purchased (if I actually chose to purchase it in the first place, which is unlikely unless I can’t find it un-DRM’d through other legit sources). Not so I can do nefarious and piratey things with it, but so I can, yanno, enjoy the content I have purchased in a manner of my own choosing.

tl;dr, I think proprietary file types are dumb (in this case, and in general). They’re one of the main reasons I waited so long to get an ereader in the first place, because they make it harder to use awesome technology or take advantage of great systems that are already in place (to wit, Amazon). They only limit the reach the ebook market can have, paring it down into lesser markets based on device, and as long as I can help it, I will have little-to-nothing to do with those shenanigans.

A (NaNoWriMo) Blurb – I has one!

All this time working on my notes and research for NaNoWriMo, I’ve been hard put to summarize my project — mostly, I think, because I’ve been trying to fill gaping holes in my plot outline. :p But I’ve finally got a blurb I think I can work with. Some of the details may end up changing a bit when I actually start working on it, but here it is:

Harolyn Flynn’s life is not an easy one, but it is rarely complex, and she likes to keep it that way. From street urchin, to petty thief, to accomplished smuggler elbowing her way into the ranks of the big boys, she has survived by her wits and the strength of her will. And if she happens to be running from a past she would rather forget, nobody yet has been the wiser…

Until the day a rival intent on revenge inadvertently lands her in the middle of political intrigue, and a manhunt that will threaten to expose everything she’s hidden, and then some, and throw her carefully constructed life into chaos.

And that’s the story! Sort of. This sounds so…mundane compared to what it actually is in its entirety. For starters, it’s not set on Earth. Also, the people on this planet aren’t human. Humanoid, but not human. Elves would be our closest equivalent — and don’t you give me that look. My elves are electric! >.> It actually started out as an exploration of the planet (Veridia), and it still is, but we’ll get to see it through the lense of its people.

Really? It’s a little silly how excited I am about playing in this [electrified, sentient tree- and elf-populated — yes, really >.>] world. Now if I could just come up with a working title that isn’t completely cheesy, or which makes it sound like something it’s not… :p

Review: Fire in the Void

Short, and to the point: I have a new favorite Jokka short! :D

The slightly longer version:
“Fire in the Void” is a newly-released Jokka story from M.C.A. Hogarth. In this world, females must reproduce to keep their people from dying out, but the fragility of the Jokka means they eventually lose their wits to childbirth. The social structure is based on survival of the race, and as such can be…rigid and dark at times. Inevitably, many of the stories focus on Jokka who want to escape the strictures of their society and its gender roles, to live and love as they wish, but Fire ends up being just a little different.

Keshul, the main character of “Fire in the Void,” seems perfectly happy with his life. He’s a charlatan, the equivalent of our world’s psychic advisors and palm readers, offering common sense advice to Jokka who come to him with questions and offering money. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work, until someone comes asking, and the Void gives answers Keshul thinks could be bad for business.

The archetype of the reluctant oracle is one of my favorites in storytelling, so this one really grabbed me, and of course I ended up wanting to know much more than these mere 5700 words can encompass.

Want to see for yourself? It’s a steal at $.99, and you can have your pick of ten digital formats on Smashwords, or get the Kindle version on Amazon. This ebook comes complete with striking cover illustration, also by M.C.A. Hogarth.

NaNoWriMo Prep Update: Switching It Up

Still doing NaNoWriMo prep, and last night, after a planning session with my partner-in-crime, I’ve decided to do something that seems a little crazy: I’m cutting out about a third of the original cast of characters from my NaNoWriMo project. Those characters will also take a large strand of story with them, which means it’ll change a good bit, but the fact that I can cut them out and still make the story work (and better, I think!) says something. Essentially, I’m cutting out the “Princess Space Pirate” aspect of it. So instead of the focus being the ship’s crew getting pulled into the planetside story, it will be the world itself, and the things going on in it. I think this might be what I wanted all along, but I’ve been trying so hard not to become too attached to the story, and the PSP concept was supposed to make that easier. But really, it just ended up kind of getting in the way.

So. PSP gets set aside again, but I’m actually pretty excited about what this project has turned into. My NaNoWriMo posts will henceforth be tagged “Greenpunk,” instead of Princess Space Pirate. We’re not quite back to square one, because I’ve got notes and things I can and will still use. But my focus has been elsewhere up to this point, so I’ve got some catching up to do. :/ Different and new characters to familiarize myself with; more details for the plot outline that I need to work out/fit in; world background that I need to figure out. Oy. And only three weeks and change left til we get this ball rolling.

Reading, writing, art, and the occasional mad ramble