Sunday, March 31, 2013

Extra! Extra!

Read all about it!

So goes the cry of the traditional newspaper boy. That seems to have drawn enough attention in its own time to get some readers; unfortunately this isn't much of a venue these days.

I'm still trying to figure out just how I should go about advertising myself. I've passed out the blog link to real-life friends. I already had some sort of presence on, and I've frequented some of the forums at NaNoWriMo and Forward Motion Writers. I know that some of the forums have gotten me attention here on Blogger (although my number one source of hits seems to be some site called vampirestats).

At the same time, few of those viewers turn into commenters, so I'm not sure how well it's really working. I also have a whopping number of official followers (zero), but it's obvious at least one person has kept up with everything.

The hits have been increasing, though, so I'm hopeful that's going to continue. At the same time, I feel like I should kick things up a notch, but how? I have no Facebook, and I feel like if I made one it would either be entirely ignored or under constant assault from university friends. I don't have a Twitter and, as a writer, I'm not too sure about the format and word restriction. Apparently everyone also goes to Pinterest now, but that seems to be a lot more image-oriented, which doesn't work well, especially when I have all of one cover design (and a debated one at that).

For now I guess I'll just keep updating posts and chatting in my forums (and I've also decided to comment on some DeviantArt works, with a link to the blog in my signature). If anyone knows a good networking site or anything else I could do to get some attention as I work towards publishing, I am definitely open to suggestions.

Friday, March 29, 2013

New Fan Fiction Idea #3 Revisited

A mini-excerpt of my Hetalia rock band AU dying to be written. I feel like it might make a good opening, even if the fiction is supposed to be the whole story of the band's life.

Note that, since I doubt I'm going to write this in the first place, this isn't exactly my finest writing. It was just one little part that had enough to it to flesh out.


Yao sneaked a peek into the burgeoning crowd before pulling his head backstage. To be honest, the stage was better-looking—or at least better-prepared—than the scene around him.

"Where is everyone?" he started, eyeing the two others with him.

Alfred leaned back against the wall, shrugging. "Well, Arthur's flying with the fairies." 

"Now?" Yao tried not to facepalm. "It's five minutes to the gig!"

"Eh." Alfred glanced in the direction of the dressing rooms. "He didn't snort that much. Just don't let him near a microphone and he should be okay."

Sighing, Yao crossed his arms, checking the backstage clock again. "And I'm going to assume Francis is spending some quality time with his fangirls."

"Ooh!" Ivan raised his hand, as if ready for the teacher to call on him. "I can go get rid of them if you want!"

"No way, dude!" Alfred took a great stride to  put himself between Ivan and the dressing room hallway. "The last time you tried to 'get rid of' fangirls, I had to call 911!"

Ivan pouted. "You didn't really have to. I was doing a good enough job on my own."

"I wasn't calling the cops, I was calling an ambulance!"

Ivan shrugged, while Yao sighed yet again.

"We'd better not be calling the cops, with everything that goes on with this band," the keyboardist muttered.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Manga Idea #5

This idea came to me somewhere between Man in the Blade and The Colony of Avlain. It's still quite old.

Working Title: Four Elements

Genre: Not entirely sure. Possibly seinen or something like it.

Protagonist: Lord Sand (real name Qin*), a thirty-year-old man with no eyebrows and who always wears a hood but is otherwise of average appearance. He's generally serious, although easily incensed, and he's a bit too used to the luxurious life of the leader of the Country of Earth.

Other Main Characters: Lady Wind, the ruler of the Country of Air, though she inherited it at the age of fourteen. She's rather immature still and carries on a rivalry with Lord Sand. She's proud to be a leader of the nation of thieves (not robbers). She's rather dainty, with swirls of light blue hair.
Master Fire, the twenty-something ruler of the Country of Fire. His hair is medium-length yellow, with occasional waves of red. He's the mischievous type and rather arrogant.
Mistress Water, the thirty-something leader of the Country of Water. She has a very soft voice and is compassionate to an excess.

Antagonist: One of the leaders, as well as a few odd stragglers in the land to which they're transported.

Setting: The four nations border each other and have been at war off and on for a while. While a lot of the central land is the same, the outskirts of each country corresponds somehow to the element. The Country of Water is known for its wizards. The main story takes place somewhere outside the borders, in a harsh desert setting with some nomads.

Plot: The four leaders meet to discuss possibilities of peace. Coming to no good conclusion, they leave the room find themselves in a new land, and no one knows just where (sound familiar?). Now they have to work together to survive and find their way back. It's by no means an easy quest, especially when they find out who sent them here—and who has a prophecy that spells doom for his or her country.

It seems like it could be interesting if I ever pick it up again.

*Qin of Man in the Blade was named after him.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Fan Fiction Idea #5

Working Title: The Loony Bin

Fandom: Hetalia: Axis Powers

Genre Tags: Drama/Angst

Length: Multichapter, at least one for each patient.

Protagonist: Alicia, a university freshman of average build with dark hair in a low ponytail. She's an introvert who enjoys solitude as much as hanging out with her friends, she takes schoolwork seriously, and she's very easily affected by "the evils of the world," as it were.

Other Main Characters: Alfred, the bulimic patient. Sophomore-age university student who's quite cheerful unless the situation has anything to do with food or he thinks someone is calling him fat. This would be an absurd thing for someone to call him, of course, although I'm still debating whether he should be a "classic" bulimic or one that "purges" through obsessive exercise. Either way, he had a great American football scholarship before his situation got bad.
Ludwig, the obsessive-compulsive patient. Mid-twenties, he usually refuses to leave his room, nor does he often let others in. He is friends with Feliciano, when he's Feliciano. He has a good heart, but his situation makes it difficult for him to do much for others.
Feliciano/Romano, the dissociative identity patient. Feliciano is very cheerful and a bit passive, while Romano is intolerably uncooperative and hateful. Generally, he switches his hair part when transitioning between identities. He would probably be able to function decently in society if he didn't have such terrible memory issues.
Arthur, the major depressive patient. The officials at the asylum have gone to... rather extreme measures to prevent him from killing himself. He rarely interacts with others; on those occasions, he does so acrimoniously. He very rarely shows a glimpse of any positive emotion.
Raivis, the paranoid schizophrenic patient. He will interact with others if they're nice enough, though not without harbouring suspicions. He will, however, push all others away when he has hallucinations of his torturer, and, if he thinks they are his torturer, he may do so violently. He's normally very quiet but can be cheerful.
Ivan, the antisocial patient. He's very excited to interact with others but rarely has the opportunity as he always tries to maim them somehow. He is not allowed anywhere near Raivis no matter his mood.
Francis, the narcissistic patient. As he manages to hit on Alicia enough within a few seconds for her to flee, he doesn't get much screen time. He's really quite pleasant normally, but if he decides someone is attractive enough and they don't reciprocate, he gets violent. He also doesn't take affronts to his appearance or cooking, but rarely do those crop up.
Kiku, the schizophrenic patient. He doesn't talk much, nor does he express emotion. In his world, he is vanquishing evil spirits. He does so with an authentic katana that somehow has not been taken from him.
Eduard, the manager of the asylum. He's very calm and a bit numb to the chaos. He just does his best to help the patients in what little ways he's able.

Antagonist: Sometimes the patients, sometimes Eduard when he doesn't have quite the right idea as to what is most helpful for a patient. Otherwise, lack of funding is a huge setback.

Setting: A typical university city, though I'm not entirely sure where. The main factor is that this particular asylum is a private one, poorly-funded, and the only one in a convenient radius.

Plot: For a psychology project with few guidelines, Alicia decides to interview the staff of the little asylum/institute she stumbled across one day. She ends up trying to communicate with the patients as well and forming some bonds. But there are some things seriously wrong with this place, and she has to decide if she can handle taking it upon herself to change them.

Point of View: Third-person, omniscient.

I got this idea some time ago, but I doubt I would be willing to do the research involved. All of my knowledge is from my one term of general psychology, which doesn't bode well for a dark disorder-oriented fiction. Although I could always look up things on Wikipedia. [is killed by every teacher ever]

Also, I like the discord between the title and the actual fiction, but I'm not sure if it would really work that well.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Core Curriculum Syndrome

Or: A Big Reason Writing Is So Great.

Something that makes writing—or, most likely, most types of art—a unique field is that you always get to avoid what I call Core Curriculum Syndrome. You're probably familiar with it. It's not wrong to assume you've experienced it yourself, at least to some extent, and you've known others who've had it, too.

The key symptom of this condition is the cry: "When am I ever gonna use this?"

The Chemistry major whines about having to take English classes. The English major whines about having to take Mathematics classes. No matter what specialty someone has, it's, well, a specialty, and there are some things every school requires that really doesn't contribute to it by virtue of content. Certainly any situation, classroom or otherwise, can contribute to general growth as a person, but that's a lot different than a future medical examiner wondering why she has to rotely memorise the key painters of post-Impressionism (no grudges here, no, sir).

Yet as gripping as Core Curriculum Syndrome can be, there's a way out:

Anything could make it into a novel.

Let's suppose (quite reasonably) that knowing the key characteristics of Mannerist art won't help me in any post-mortem investigations. But maybe a character needs some spicing-up, and they may have an inclination towards painting. Maybe the next leg of the journey is in a museum, and I need to set the scene with a tour guide describing an art style in droning tones. Maybe a history-loving character needs some curious euphemisms related to the era he loves.

And so the dreaded syndrome vanishes. I'm not going to say that I eagerly await all experiences in life because I'm not quite that cured, but once I'm out of the worst of it, I can appreciate anything. I still sort of want to throttle whoever decided I still need to take general chemistry after getting a 5 on the AP test, but there are people to meet in that class and corny jokes to hear. Actually, this extra class of chemistry might be my best example of dealing a crushing blow to Core Curriculum Syndrome—somehow it led to me writing (and enjoying) an inane fan fiction that gives chemistry lessons.

This phenomenon isn't even restricted to academic experiences. Even something as simple as riding somewhere (whether I wanted to go there or not) in a car and catching a glance of a truck with vampire teeth on the grill can turn into a story; in fact, my thought that that truck must have been its driver's baby was what got Macbay Transportation Services started.

So, what do you think about Core Curriculum Syndrome?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Further Remnants of My Reading List

A (still incomplete) continuation of my reading list.

  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Now, I had the misfortune to have to read A Tale of Two Cities too young and sort of decided not to approach Dickens again. Then I read a selection of this for class recently, and I couldn't figure out what I had hated so much about him. 
  • Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott. I've heard of it before, and then it was recommended in my Bible, Science, & Human Values class when we were discussing the probability of more than three space dimensions. One of the professors admitted that finding out it was a political satire sort of ruined it for him, though, ha.
  • Gutters by glassamilk (on I've heard good things about it and browsed the prologue without disliking the writing style. I'm a bit worried about its rating, though hopefully it's just for violence.
  • From Fearful to Fearsome by be-nice-to-nerds (on I'm not sure how far I got, but I added the story to my favourites without actually finishing it. I should really get to actually reading it through. It's certainly been good enough to warrant it.
  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The movie was my favourite thing ever as a kid, and I've seen it multiple times, onstage, and I've even played in one onstage (as a munchkin extra, albeit). I've also seen Wicked, Return to Oz, and Oz, the Great and Powerful, but I still haven't read the originals. Doesn't seem quite right.
  • Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. I've been reading the two before it, and once I finish this prequel series, I'll go ahead and try the original series. There are some questionable parts, granted, but the writing style is great and with so many beautiful sarcastic comebacks I'd hate to miss any.
  • Unwholly by Neal Shusterman. Because it's Neal Shusterman. End of story. Or not—I can't say how much I freaked out when I first saw this book. Unwind is going to be a trilogy! Huzzah! I feel as if I can at last comprehend the reception of Miserable among my readers.
  • Railsea by China Mieville. Un Lun Dun was awesome, but when I looked for other books by this author, they were all too, eh, adult-oriented. This one said it wasn't, so I bought it. I probably should have sampled the writing first, because it doesn't seem to have the same flow to it. Ah, well. I'm sure it's still worth reading.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. One of those "uber-classic, must read" types. Also considering The Three Musketeers.
  • Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. My dad actually made me read some of it for punishment, so it doesn't exactly hold the best memories for me. At the same time, I feel like it would be fun to read if I can get past that.
(Also, we've now hit 1000 pageviews! Thanks!)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Fiction Idea #17

Got the spark to do some version of The Wizard of Oz, and then suddenly things started hitting me. I'm pretty excited for this.

Working Title: Sector-O, Galaxy-Z193-9

Genre: Sci-Fi

Protagonist: Tommy, a sixteen-year-old human boy with short, dark hair. He's on the short side, but he's fit enough without really being an athlete. He's easily frazzled, a bit reckless, and very loyal. His father Michael abandoned his family when he was six, and he's very teen-angsty about it.

Other Main Characters: Kaliause, an eighteen-year-old mostly-human woman of mixed Asian heritage (though she's never seen Asia—or Earth for that matter—in her life). Due to a crash accident, about half of her brain has been replaced digitally, but it's not reliable technology, and she often blanks out on information at bad times. She's very tough and reasonably caring but hates her condition.
Stannum, a Reclaimed human who died at about fifty but has been functioning for thirteen years since his infusion with cybertronics. He works in a graveyard when the technology is functioning enough for him to move. He's not in good shape and he knows it, but he carries on day by day wishing for the real life he once had.
Liutas, a former High Command military officer who's about thirty. He's a very large and well-built furry humanoid alien. A situation of torture has more or less broken him, and he fled the military afterwards despite the already-low soldier count. Rejected from society and wanted by the authorities, he leads a shamed and reclusive life.

Antagonist: Vonda, leader of the faction waging war against the High Command. She's determined to take down Michael, the last uncorrupted member of the High Command, and whoever stands with him. On her side are several minions, including the Nefret, a loyal (or, forced to be loyal through brain wiring) species of flying creatures with six long limbs and high intelligence, and the Subaltern, her private police/military force.
Many others involved in various facets of the war, or just being jerks, could also stir up trouble.

Setting: See title. While Tommy is from future Earth and knows nothing of the other worlds at the beginning of the story, the others (and where the story takes place) are from Valka, a war-torn planet of the above galaxy. Technology is advanced but usually not that enduring.

Plot: After doing angsty rebellious teen things in a restricted area, Tommy runs from the police and hides in what he doesn't realise is an experimental warp travel device. He inadvertently activates it and ends up crash-landing on Valka. First to help him is Hea, a blonde girl who tells him how to find his father before vanishing. Travel goes relatively well at first, but soon the news that Michael's son is in the area spreads, and Tommy finds himself banding together with Kaliause, Stannum, and Liutas as the three try to make it to Michael for their own ends.

Point of View: Third-person, limited to different characters but mostly Tommy.

I've always wanted to do something based on the music video for "Silent Running" by Mike & the Mechanics, and when I decided to try a sci-fi take on The Wizard of Oz, it came to mind. I really hope I get to write this, and figure out just what I can throw in to make it a trilogy, which would seem cool.

Better title suggestions are welcome.

Thanks to Sharon and the rest for helping me figure out how to make my Tin Man tick (or not tick, as the case may be).

(Also, going through Google Translate for names for my Lion, I ran into both "Aslan" and "Simba." See, I'm not the only one who does this!)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dream Journal #4

Notes on this one were just as sparse as the last one.

14 Mar—15 Mar

I was looking through a museum with a lot of girls I knew—no one specific, although I did know they were from Honors or the Asian Studies program—and enjoying it. Everything had sort of a golden colour scheme, with various spotlight-type lights enabling us to see the paintings. One was in a golden frame, featuring a normal-looking tree among a field of fall colours. Somewhere else in the museum, on the first floor, was an ongoing blood drive.

At some point, I took the elevator to the fifth floor, for an interview. Some others were sitting in chairs in the front waiting room, but behind the counter was Mrs. Spencer*, so I chatted with her. She informed me that the family dog had died, but she kept a smile on her face and motioned to a stack of standard yellow sticky notes. On the top note, she had written some note on how at least now "he" (the dog) could see his "bone father."

I eventually went in to have my interview and then proceeded to seed the fifth floor with bombs. I fled the area as the storey blew up. I think I was watching the fiery explosion from outside a cafe across the street. No one fled the building or anything, it was just a nice flaming boom. A bit later, I realised my friends were still inside the museum. Worried, I hurried back into the museum, where everything was still orderly.

After some searching, I came upon them. A few were standing outside an elevator, while a larger group had just stepped inside. A few of them acknowledged my presence. Although I never entered the elevator, I noted that the buttons now only covered floors one through four. One of the girls inside the elevator was trying fervently to guess the name of one of the girls outside, next to me. The girl outside was grinning, just barely dropping hints, when the inner elevator doors started to close. Freaking out a bit but not trying to stop the door from closing, the inside girl kept trying to guess until the black doors closed in front of her.

* Lady who goes to my church. We don't talk much, but she's the mother of one of my friends.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Fan Fiction Idea #4

One of those ideas I've had for a while but keep forgetting to put down.

Working Title: When Fangirls Attack

Fandom: Hetalia: Axis Powers

Genre Tags: Humour/Parody, or Romance/Parody

Length: Multichapter

Protagonist: England

Antagonist: Hordes of fangirls

Setting: Modern day, mostly in the vicinity of England's house.

Plot: England is feeling unloved one day and decides the best remedy is to summon his fangirls. Unfortunately, he slips up a bit in the spell, and hordes of fangirls for several nations (somehow also provided with shirts in the image of the flag of their preferred nations) appear. Now England has to stop them from mobbing their beloved ones, starting fan wars, and, most of all, ordering him to make out with nations he'd really rather not.

Point of View: Third person, limited to England.

It's basically a merciless satire of yaoi fangirls, with some prodding at us "normal" fangirls as well.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Macbay Transportation Services Excerpt

Here's a sample of a situation in Macbay Transportation Services I felt like writing. It's not at all the beginning of the story, but some version of this event will be part of the novel. As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.


Yawning, Macbay watched the yellow-orange of Laurie's headlamps pass over the main street of Havil. There were few passersby at this hour, but there were plenty of buildings at either side of the pavement. Needless to say, there could still be some nasty damage if he let the truck drift off the road. He wasn't on a trip, anyway. No need to stay awake too awfully long.

Humming faintly, he led the truck past some number of buildings before a reasonably large parking space opened up to the right. After briefly checking for pedestrians, he pulled over, parked straight enough, and killed the engine. 

It's not worth it to put the lights out, he decided, briefly swishing some mouthwash and spitting it out the side window. Kicking off his heavy shoes, he locked the doors and climbed onto the thin mattress in the back of the cab.

He had been asleep for a short while when a heavy, repetitive clanking woke him. Checking his pocketwatch with a groan, he rubbed his eyes and sat up. The metallic clanking paused before resuming more loudly.

"I'm coming," hollered Macbay, sitting up. The racket finally stopped.

Now let's just hope it's not someone here to arrest me. I'm pretty sure there's still evidence for something or other hanging around somewhere.

With a grunt, he pulled himself back into the driving seat and stuck his head and shoulders out of the open window. It wasn't yet dawn, but there were enough flickering flames in streetlights for him to see the figure just outside, hovering near the advertising panel of the truck.

It was a lady—or maybe just "woman" would be appropriate, given the hour she was out and the general lack of clothing on her person. Although a short-sleeved sienna jacket covered most of her upper body, the front of her tight-fitting button-up shirt was visible. Aside from that, she was wearing short pants of all things, the hemmed edges more than halfway up her thigh. While her outfit was certainly less than modest, Macbay didn't mind much.

I think this'll be a fun drive.

"Looking for a ride?" Macbay started.

"Yes, and fast," she responded, voice cold. 

Macbay reached to tip his hat before realizing he wasn't wearing it. "I can manage that. Climb on in."

The woman gave a curt nod and hurried to the passenger door. Macbay unlocked it for her, and she stepped inside, slamming the panel shut behind her.

"Where are we headed?" Macbay started, slipping on his shoes as he got the engine cranking.

"Anywhere," the woman replied breathlessly, setting down a black bag and glancing out of the window.

"Careful what you say," Macbay replied with a grin, coaxing Laurie to start moving forwards. "Might have to travel pretty far with a nice-looking girl like you."

The woman's only reply was a "hmph" as she crossed her arms.

Around the truck echoed the clanking of the engine in full swing as Macbay pulled out of the parking space. Tossing on his hat, he glanced sideways at the woman, who continued to check the windows and mirrors.

"Might I inquire your name, miss?" he started.

She glanced at him before checking behind them again and finally pulling her head into the vehicle. "Loretta May."

"Sounds like a lovely name to me."

Crossing her legs, she didn't turn her head to look at him. "Shut up and drive, Macbay."

"All right, then." Turning off of the main street, Macbay pressed harder on the coal pedal, and the two went off into the night without another word.

Oh, well. She'll fall for my charms soon enough.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Length and Breadth of It

This week was full of writing fan fiction, a ten-page paper on Ambrose Bierce's use of the grotesque, and a four-page paper on the epigenetic effects of the Dutch Winter Hunger famine. Naturally, I came to wonder why I'm (if not particularly confident) comfortable with writing fan fiction, while these other writings felt more akin to having my teeth scraped at the dentist's.

One idea I targeted was that I don't like nonfiction. I don't have a tendency to read it, nor do I enjoy reading history books, no matter whether other students think a certain section was better than others. On the other hand, I like reading most types of fiction, particularly speculative, but not those that too closely try to mimic real life, like things based in high school (other than Seven Pieces of Chalk. If you are in a period of your life that is relatively stable emotionally, I demand that you read it, whether you're familiar with Hetalia or not). All of my fan fictions and original fictions are very much, well, fiction. Yet here I am, writing nonfiction in a blog, pretty much for enjoyment.

Next I thought it was the research. I definitely didn't like reading fancy literary journals, or most of my other sources (with the exception of an introduction written by someone named Italo). When I write stories, I really avoid all non-pathological research whenever possible. Yet I have found myself spending significant amounts of time browsing Google Earth satellite images of my setting in The Long and Winding Road. I've even done some very basic (read: rarely more than one paragraph of Wikipedia) research on historical topics for Hetalia fan fiction.

Maybe it's the formal tone of research papers? I prefer a more loose and snarky tone in my works, even if some characters' POV sections are more syntactically complex, etc. Yet I write entire formally-worded chemistry lessons in one of my fan fictions.

I guess it's some combination of the above that can't quite be generalised. I don't like nonfiction in general, but I make exceptions. It's also nice that, in my blog posts, it makes absolutely no difference how many words I use (although I do have word count requirements in almost all of my fan fictions). I don't like doing research unless it's either something that honestly interests me or for something that honestly interests me. I feel like formal writing is much too restrictive, but, utilised in small amounts for ultimately ironic purpose, it's all right.

Not that I'm absolutely sure about all of that. I'm terrible at judging my feelings in general.

Anyone else in a similar situation?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

New Fiction Idea #16

Ah, wordplay, what you inspire...

Working Title: A Murder of Crows

Genre: Mystery

Protagonist: Davey, a nightingale detective. He's fairly standard as far as the "hard-boiled detective" archetype goes, but he does have a fondness for food in general.

Other Main Characters: Benny, a raven with some sort of paranoid complex. He's the favoured suspect of the murders (killings, not the remaining crows) and hires Davey to make him a case.

Antagonist: It's... a mystery. But someone's certainly wanting to make Benny look guilty... And it's entirely possible they'll strike again.

Setting: A 1920s city and its outskirts, including a large meadow and some farms. All bird species can communicate with each other. The community of birds is ruled by a parliament of owls.

Plot: A murder of crows... has been murdered. While the local unkindness of ravens is the first to be blamed, a party of jays, a cast of hawks, a cauldron of raptors, a clamour of rooks, a deceit of lapwings (and so on) aren't safe from blame, either. It's up to Davey to find the perpetrator before he/she/it/they can strike again.

Point of View: First person (Davey).

Because puns.

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Fan Fiction Idea #3

I strangely really wanted to write this for a while, but now I've decided it's just too... down-and-dirty? for me. I might as well post the idea, though.

Working Title: This, That, and Rock 'n' Roll

Fandom: Hetalia: Axis Powers, human alternate-universe

Genre Tags: Drama, possibly also Friendship or Angst

Length: Definitely multichapter; maybe even a two- or three-part series.

Protagonists: "The Allies," a rock band consisting (predictably) of the Allies. Francis is the frontman/vocalist, Arthur is the lead guitarist, Alfred is the drummer, Ivan is the bassist, and Yao is keyboard/rhythm guitar. Of the "this, that, and rock 'n' roll," all qualify for the third category, but Francis is particularly caught up in the "this" and Arthur in the "that." Ivan is widely known to be an unconvicted murderer of sorts. Everyone but certain fangirls and the hardcore fans thinks Yao is a girl.  Alfred is Alfred.

Antagonists: Most conflict arises within the group. There are also plenty of band-related people that can be manipulative, as well as the possibility of a battle with some new band called "The Axis"...

Setting: Modern day-ish America.

Plot: It's basically a biography of the band, from formation through changes (the drummer is replaced by someone with an uncannily similar appearance, for example) until the complete breakup.

Point of View: Third person, limited to various members at various times.

I could try to clean it up and write it, but it doesn't seem like that would do the story justice.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Writing Tools

What do you use to write?

I've never really been one for writing on paper. I do exchange letters with a friend--who gave me a fancy pen and ink!--but my handwriting is too junky and slow for writing my stories that way to appeal to me. Also, marking out ink annoys me. I have done some writing with pencil in journal, though only out of necessity. I jotted down sections of my NaNo novel whenever I could, which usually wasn't near a computer. I've also written pieces of What If in a drawing journal because I was at church camp with no computer access. Basically, I don't like writing in hand in general, but if I need to write enough, I'll do it.

On the other hand, I've never tried any fancy writing software. There were all of these discounts offered to NaNoWriMo winners, and I've heard people singing the praises of Scrivener and some other things in the NaNo forums. I've never tried any, because they all tend to cost money, but I don't know it would be worth it. I've made it this far on Microsoft Word and the Document Editor. Then again, I'm not quite published, am I? I may look more into these things, though I seriously doubt I would ever spend money on it, because I'm just terribly cheap.

Does anyone have experience with writing software, or detailed recommendations? Coupons? Tips on improving handwriting?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New Fiction Idea #15

This seems to be one of my more light-hearted novel ideas. It stemmed from my mother calling someone with a deflated-looking chef's hat "an exiled chef" and my father saying we should eat our ice cream while watching people in the gym through the front window of the building like a zoo exhibit.

Working Title: Revolution

Genre: ...Humour?

Protagonist: Lorenzo Emmerich, a twenty-something man with thin, auburn hair. He's overweight, quite annoying, and not very handsome. He does, however, have a passion and a talent for cooking.

Other Main Characters: Deirdre, an inhabitant of Sterven Island who is overweight from a glandular issue. She's not very self-confident, but she's kind and more likely to be amused than annoyed by antics.
Jonah, an inhabitant of Sterven Island who is as fit as the rest but is also an exile. He works at the port and is thus able to do some smuggling. He's a bit too much of a ladies' man, but he's not self-centered.

Antagonist: The other inhabitants of Sterven Island, who mock the exiles and cling stubbornly to their ways of life.

Setting: Sterven Island, a place where everyone is raised from birth to be a health nut and is appalled by anything remotely unhealthy and its possible effects. It is modern-day, although no one's willing to sit in front of a screen for long. Print newspapers are still popular. The island is very much secluded but is under the jurisdiction of the more normal continental landmass of Himins.

Plot: Lorenzo manages to annoy most of the officials of Himins to death (not literally), and, as punishment, they exile him to Sterven Island. Completely rejected and without a job, he wanders destitute through the streets before befriending Dierdre and Jonah, and together they decide to erase the health-freak inhibitions of the islanders, but it won't be easy. Much weirdness, "Fat Pride" parades, and artery-clogging ensues.

Point of View: Third-person, omniscient.

Certainly it would be something silly. We'll see if I ever decide to play with it more.

(Also, 50th post! Hooray! I think.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dream Journal #3

Took very sparse notes on this one, but I'll try to put it all together.

4 March5 March

Near the beginning, I was with a large group, probably a lot of school fellows, walking somewhere. At some point we began to walk along inclined train tracks over gravel. This was completely fine with me, and I think they were based off some tracks on a concrete bridge I often see but always from a distance in the car. At one point in the walk, three of us got sort of separated (or at least stopped noticing everyone else), and the tracks split. One path continued straight and uphill, while the other slowly curved off. We tried to ask someone which path we were supposed to take, but no one would answer in time, so I led us up the straight path. Then we realised the crowd was going to the curved path, so we crossed the gravel and went in line with them.

At some point after this, the three of us were definitely alone. I'm not sure who the girl in the group was yet, but the other member was 80s-era Steve Perry. We made it to a certain point on the tracks where, less than a foot from the metal, the ground dropped off in a cliff. Not too far below, though, was the ground. It was flat, with concrete flooring, and several black-tablecloth-covered dinner tables. They were obviously part of some restaurant, and there were chairs around them as at a normal table, but no other people were around.

Now, Steve decided we had to jump down from where we stood on the tracks. I sort of knew this was the next step of the way to wherever we were going, but it looked like a really long way down, and I didn't want to risk it. To show me it was safe, Steve climbed down a little, gripping the rail as he swung himself over the edge. He informed me the tables would break our fall before he dropped and landed on one of them. It didn't break, and he landed fairly unperturbed, but I still wouldn't go. The girl friend had at some point made it down there as well, and they finally convinced me to come down. They sort of caught me, but I landed on my rear and lower back on the table, and I just knew the pain/injury was going to be a nuisance as we went on.

Later I had entered an auditorium. It was really a lot like a movie theatre, but huge, and with a small stage rather than a screen. Certain sections of the audience were sort of colour-coded by the group that was supposed to sit there; I remember one where everyone was wearing lime green hoodies. I was carrying something—not sure what—and desperately looking for my group of three. Then the girl, who was now clearly Laura*, managed to wave me down. I noticed the empty seat between her, and Steve, who had somewhat ambiguously become David Tennant, notified me they had saved me a seat. I thanked them and sat down.

At this point Laura decided to show off the new hoodie she was wearing. It was sort of greenish, but when she drew the strings of the hood shut, it looked like the face of some famous video game character girl similar to the lady in Wreck-It Ralph. Laura informed me said character was from Transformers before going in-character for her and yelling, "Snake!" I was fully aware this was another character in the video game. She kept yelling it in a hoarse man voice, very much to the amusement of those sitting around us and Steve/David. Then she pulled a second set of drawstrings, which cut off her mouth so the entire character face showed. I couldn't hear anything from her now, so I made a sarcastic comment about how I liked this function of the hoodie better.

* Girl in my class. She's a little wacky and sarcastic, and we took/are taking some of our classes together and live in the same dorm.

Friday, March 8, 2013

New Fiction Idea #14

This was somehow inspired by having to read and discuss part of The Communist Manifesto in class. (Also, I'm totally imagining Russia lingering over "In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end" with a sort of (*0*) face and interpreting it to mean it would make everyone friends with him... Anyway.)

Title: Backbone (could be changed)

Genre: U/Dystopian Fiction

Protagonist: Hannah Sherman, a seventeen-year-old blonde who's a bit underfed but very strong from the harsh work she endures. She's a bit of a tired cynic who very much wishes she could just create guitar music but knows she has no chance and thus buckles down for her farm work.

Other Main Characters: Ian Cariaga, a twenty-something man with dark hair and a pale complexion. He is tall with an unimpressively average build, acts a bit feverish in general, and will avoid work whenever possible.
Corey Fisher, a nineteen-year-old male with hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He's the same height as Hannah and rather bony. He's a whiz at composing music, and he's usually quite light-hearted, but he holds a grudge against the government.

Antagonist: The government? (Yay, dystopia.)
Everyone Hannah meets in her journey could potentially be a threat if they bring her up too often, even if they give her a lot of help and aren't themselves suspicious of her.

Setting: Hannah has grown up working in the intolerably difficult fields of Gherrum, around no known family and few good friends. The heat can get extreme, there is almost no health service, there are no excuses not to work, and an air of hopelessness hangs over the place. Completely unknown to the field workers, factory workers miners, etc. is a great state to the north, Fyllan. With those below supporting them materially, they are free to do anything. There are no families, only communities; whatever one's passion is is what that person does, where in the state they live, and who they are. People draw inspiration from others in their group and are free to move from group to group as they please (although if they can't find one they like enough... things can get bad for them). It's overall an extremely pleasant place full of fulfilled dreams and all that good stuff.

Plot: Ian, one of the lucky chosen from birth to be raised in Fyllan, is a bit mentally off and, more importantly, wholly undedicated to work. After many missed opportunities, he suddenly disappears from his latest community and is transported to Gherrum. In the much stricter environment, it is impossible for him to continue to be unproductive, but he still complains like nothing else—this and his instability combined allow few to listen to him. Hannah, however, does—and one day Ian manages to tell her about Fyllan. Hannah is inspired to escape there and live out her dream. She manages it somehow, joining with the community of musicians (which has subdivisions, of course, but we need not get into that yet) and very much befriending Corey. Still, the shadow of her birth determination to Gherrum hangs over her, and she must face several issues before she can enjoy her guitar work in peace.

Point of View: Third person, limited to Hannah.

This actually seems to have combined with an idea written for a Scribes meeting. I don't mind that.

I'm not sure exactly which way the plot goes once Hannah gets to Fyllan, aside from her being in hiding somewhat, but this is in its earliest stages. Any comments or suggestions are welcome, as always.

My Current Incomplete Reading List

One can't be a writer without being a reader as well. In fact, I really only consider myself I reader—I'm just too impatient to wait for someone else to write some of my ideas.

And so I came to decide to post some of my reading list. I'll always forget a work or two on these, and I'm always hearing about new books, so I may have a sequel at some point if enough readers (likely meaning one, given the average number of readers on any given post) are interested.

In no particular order, we have:

  • Dirk Gently series by Douglas Adams. It's by Douglas Adams. That's my entire rationale behind wanting to read it, and, in my opinion, not a bad one at all. It was also recommended to me by Dr. Patton.
  • Monsters by Ilsa J. Bick. Those of you who stalk my fan fiction profile know I've been reading Ashes and Shadows, and this seems to be the last book of the series. (I'm not sure if it's out yet, but that's fine since I'm still in the middle of Shadows.) The whole thing is sort-of-sort-of-not a zombie apocalypse, but it's well-written and engaging. There's a bit too much swearing, but it's generally spaced out enough among the 500 pages not to get too bad.
  • Satires by Juvenal. We read a bit for class, and satire is just fun.
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. See above. We actually read A Modest Proposal for class, and his satire is so overwhelmingly crossing-the-line-too-much-to-count that I'm interested in more. I also feel like this is a typical novel people read.
  • Whatever the title is going to be by Simon Batt. Although a lot of the my fellows at 2YN have some awesome ideas, I really need to read what he's doing once he publishes. He already has something out called Books and Stripes, so I may check that out first.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I've only heard good things about it, and it also feels like one of those novels that everyone is supposed to read.
  • A million (or at least a few dozen) things by Shakespeare. See reasoning for Douglas Adams.
  • Don Quixote by Cervantes. I also read a selection of this for class, and it was beautiful. I hear the entire thing is painfully long, but I feel like I could stand it.
  • Encarceron by Catherine Fisher. I thought it sounded interesting, so I bought it. I hadn't heard anything about it before I randomly saw it in a bookstore, though.
  • Various things by C.S. Lewis. I've already read Chronicles of Narnia (although perhaps I was pretty late in doing that just a few years ago), but I hear he writes some very popular Christian material. Normally I don't do nonfiction, but it could be worth a shot.
  • Works of Edgar Allan Poe. Hopefully he's one of those writers(/poets) who sort of speaks for himself. It sounds like he writes my kind of stuff.
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I've only read some of his short stories (loved "Rappaccini's Daughter"), but I like his style. This also seems like a sort of classic novel.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Another classic thing that seems to be in my genre.
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker. See above. I may also have a free version on my nook?
  • Witch & Wizard series by James Patterson. I liked Maximum Ride (some more than others, for certain), and my mother has recommended this series. I think I'll read it on the plane rides to Asia this summer.
  • "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket. I love his style. For some reason, I never finished The End of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but I might as well jump into this. It's listed as children's fiction, but who cares? I'm reading enough "adult" stuff to cover it, I think.
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I'm honestly not sure if I'll make it through this one, but Dr. McBride (English professor) recommends it, and it seems like something with which I should at least be familiar.
  • Works of Jules Verne. I've already read Journey to the Center of the Earth (which was apparently two for a dollar at Wal-Mart), and, if I'm really going to get into the whole steampunk deal, he seems to be a necessity.
  • The Iliad by Homer. Another one of those things it seems everyone should read/know.
That's all I have at the moment, but it's probably enough for a while. What do you think? Any recommendations? Anything you want to read now that I've mentioned it?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

New Fan Fiction Idea #2

Had this idea a while ago, but a Western Thought study session just brought it back to mind.

Title: [something incredibly stupid translated into Italian] (could be changed)

Fandom: Hetalia: Axis Powers

Genre Tags: Humour, possibly Parody or Friendship

Length: Multichapter, though with shorter individual chapters

Protagonist: Germany

Antagonist: ...Italy, I guess.

Setting: Either modern-day or WWII-ish. That vague setting where all of the training things take place.

Plot: Italy slacks off hopelessly in training. Italy will cheerfully run himself ragged to successfully act out an opera. Solution? Compose an opera that will put Italy through all sorts of training exercises without him realizing it. At least, Germany thinks it's worth a shot.

Point of View: Third person, limited to Germany.

I feel like this could be incredibly fun. I'm not sure about trying to put an entire opera into just novel format, but I could be swayed. I've always wanted to compose some sort of silly opera.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dream Journal #2

I remember that I woke up from a dream about various Hetalia characters dealing with the same theme of sorts, but I proceeded to go back to sleep and forget about most of it. I did manage to have another dream (or two?) afterwards, though.

28 Feb01 March

Sealand somehow had come to have jurisdiction over two small islands of many islands close to the east coast of Australia. Sealand successfully convinced the micronations representing said islands to call him "senpai" and was very happy about that.

Next the scene changed (at no point do I remember being involved personally in the plot) to what I knew to be a corporate office. In reality, the lighting was dim, there were no desks or cubicles, and it gave much more of a skating rink feel than that of an office building. The first outstanding character was a standard jerk corporate leader, whom I shall refer to as Don. He was in a typical crisp suit, with dark hair, and looked somewhat like "Mayhem" from the insurance commercials.

Also entering the scene was a Mexican worker, whom I shall refer to as Juan. He wore a black hat (the popular kind, with a brim sort of obscured by a lump of fabric bulging out from the top section) and a dark blue uniform with his name (whatever it really was) written on the back in an arch of cursive, yellow letters.

Juan messed up some operation, likely involving a phone. Don picked up a corded phone, holding it upright so that the ear and mouth pieces faced in the same direction as him, and continued to hold it up as he explained his distaste for what Juan did. Don slammed the phone back in its holder.

All of the other workers were sure Juan was going to get fired, and they watched him go to the locker room area of the office. Here there were full-length lockers arranged in rows that alternated with wooden benches, simple ones with no back on which one could sit from either side. Opening his locker, Juan put up his hat as Don walked up behind him.

With a sneer, Don looked around at the other workers and asked some rhetorical question involving what Juan needed to put on his greasy hair. After an arrogant pause, Don answers himself with, "Oil." This sudden sign of approval (based on anointment or something?) shocked the other workers as Don slapped Juan on the back with a grin. Don had somehow figured out a way to make this into something that would look bad for a rival company.

At some point during this sequence, I was observing a plastic box full of fingernail-sized, white, sparkly, fluffy things. They looked like those little felt balls (pom-poms? I forget) and had googly eyes as well. For some reason we were snacking on them.

After Don's proclamation of success, there was a typical rubbish movie ending with a band singing. They were on a black stage, black curtains behind them, that was also a part of the office. The main singer was a fat woman with curly hair that was either red or auburn.

There was also a scene where I was on an escalator behind Grandma Shirley*, the both of us going down in an escalator area painted white. I explained to her the cities of origin of the characters from Macbay Transportation Services.

* My maternal grandmother, who's a rather typical grandmother and can be silly. Her birthday was recent.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pitchapalooza 3

Pitchapalooza startled and awed audiences with its possibilities.

Pitchapalooza 2 pushed audiences further, with Journey-acclaimed critics calling it awesome and exciting.

And now the release of Pitchapalooza 3 is ready to stun the viewers further...

...until it completely bombs at the box office and turns out to be worthless to pretty much everyone involved.

And so it seems that my novel pitch is not among those the Book Doctors selected. Ah, well. It wasn't as if I thought winning it—let alone being chosen randomly—was that realistic.

That was still the best odds I could possibly have of getting an agent, but oh, well. Self-publishing digitally it is!

Once I actually finish the story. And maybe after redoing the cover, although I need practice drawing people holding hands for my current idea...

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Thing About Fan Fiction… that it has no hope of being published. Aside from my usual phases of panic that everything I write is rubbish and would never sell, the writing that consumes almost all of my time is absolutely unsellable due to copyright.

If my goal is to get published, then it seems logical that I should spend more time on publishable writing than fan fiction. Certainly I'm not about to stop updating Break Out or The Long and Winding Road, but updating as quickly as I feel the need to takes up time I could be using more productively towards getting published. I do feel like any writing is a good way to get experience, but just look at my other posts—I have tons of original fiction ideas to toy with. Still, fan fiction has the benefit of attracting attention while in-progress, so I don't have to wait until I'm done to get feedback on my writing.

Fan fiction is a different beast than original fiction, as I've very much come to consider in the process of converting The Long and Winding Road from one to the other. Even if they do share a lot of elements, there are also quite a few differences, so the experience I get from fan fiction isn't 100% going towards what I could use in original fiction.

Basically, it just comes down to how productive I want to be. More original fiction time = less fan fiction time. I do want to have fun, though it seems a little weird for fan fiction to be my inception-hobby with writing as my hobby and something else altogether as my occupation. It's a weird balancing act that I'm definitely going to have to shift if I want to make progress on publishable original fiction.

I'm not sure just how or how much I'm going to wean myself off of fan fiction. I hate to disappoint readers, so I don't expect to change any habits as far as already-published (on works go, but I feel like I might shift to a slower-updating existence once the second of my big series is over.

Does anyone else have experience with or tips for this?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Fiction Idea #13

Somehow came to me while doing the environmental unit in chemistry (which makes me happy for the sole reason I haven't already had those lessons).

Title: Mount (could be changed)

Genre: Steampunk

Protagonist: Theodore Florence, a twenty-something young man with dark hair, olive skin, and hazel eyes. He's tall but skinny and dresses very well. His family is filthy-rich, and he's grown up in a sheltered place that let him stay cheerfully naive. He has an extremely positive view of human progress. He is stubborn and may be prone to challenging others to a duel-to-the-death if he doesn't get what he wants.

Other Main Characters: Daphne, Theodore's 19-year-old sister. Her skin and hair are lighter than her brother's, but they certainly have a family resemblance. She keeps her very long hair in a fancy updo and has a weakness for elaborate dresses and hats. She's very sympathetic towards others. She's just as naive as her brother but handles affronts to her fantasy world a bit better.
Dobson and Crick, two high-class engineers in the Florences' service. They're both well-built geniuses (though Dobson is a bit on the short side) that have fallen on hard times. They'll happily work on foolish projects just for the money.

Antagonist: At this point, nature and the laws of physics. There could be other opposition as the story progresses.

Setting: Typical steampunk universe. The actual story takes place in a Himalaya-type area, specifically their world's largest mountain. It has enough areas of vegetation to support some wildlife and peoples but is mostly rock face. The incline generally increases as the mountain goes up, and there are no roads beyond a few simple foot trails.

Plot: Theodore wants to build a railroad straight up the side of the mountain, more or less just because he can. Given the track and train won't be serving any real jobs, Dobson and Crick  manage to work some steampunk engineering magic (depending of the advice of my engineer friends, it could involve actual magic if necessary) and start building the rails. The trip does not go smoothly, however, and Theodore's insistence on watching the entire process—and Daphne's tendency to follow him everywhere—starts to take a toll as the comforts available drop off. Still the Florences and their workers continue, challenging themselves to get past natural obstacles and the troublesome natives until they reach the summit.

Point of View: First person (Theodore).

Seems like pretty standard steampunk stuff. If the physics is a bit too much, I could make them try to get to the top to build a zeppelin airport, but that seems a little less fun.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dream Journal #1

Well, here's the first post of my most peculiar dreams. I was going to begin with an old dream, but I had a dream recently enough to star it now. It took longer than I thought to write this down this morningI had to rush through breakfastso we'll have to see if I can keep this up for other dreams.

Also, as much as I love formatting these things in a nice profile, it really doesn't work with dreams, so I will march onward with much disorganisation.

26 Feb27 Feb

It was some sort of prom, if not at my high school, then at least with many of my high school friends. The lighting was dim, but there was enough light to chat with people. Melody* just knew I was going to get prom queen, but I insisted that she (wearing a silky, royal blue dress a bit like the purple version I actually wore to a prom) was a lot prettier than me.

For the announcement, we were all gathered in this wide, smooth-beige-floored (either marble, granite, or some dreamy mishmash of them both) room bathed in sunlight. Between columns of the same material at the edges of the room were large windows, and where the wall met the floor was a uniform raised step wide enough for most of us to sit on. As they announced some of the other awards (I don't recall what exactly, though I don't think any were really prom-based, nor was there a prom king), I was gritting my teeth so hard my lower left canine loosened. Someone else got prom queen, and I left, self-consciously prodding at the tooth with my tongue.

The next thing I knew, that tooth and two more (one of which was tooth-coloured but shaped more like a small wood chip) fell out. Clutching them in my hand protectively, I hurried through the maze of offices in which I had somehow found myself. The carpet was a forest green, with a lot of hallway stretching between large offices with glass walls, at least each wall that contacted the hallway. Dr. Patton** and some other professor were chatting in the hallway, and I felt terrible about not saying anything to them, but I was panicking about the lost teeth and managed to hurry past them (neither paid any attention to me).

I ended up going through more hallways as I entered the healthcare section of the school. First there were a bunch of (normal-sized) offices for veterinarians, including one with Mrs. Webster***, but then I reached the back door to a medical waiting room with a few people waiting in chairs. I told the receptionist (she was umbre, which was a bit odd since none of my medical waiting room receptionists have been such) about my tooth problem, and she said she'd call me (not on the phone) when a doctor was ready.

I went off elsewhere, still freaking out, and my mother texted me to see if I wanted to go out to a certain restaurant (I don't think it was a real one) to eat with her. I looked up where the place was on Apple Maps and agreed. Thinking my lost teeth could really mess this up, I went back to the receptionist and asked if I had been called yet. I hadn't, and since no one else was in line to talk to her, I asked how expensive this treatment would be and how long it would take. She said they would get prints from my mouth and make new teeth (which I thought strange since I still had the old ones), and that it wouldn't take more than three hours. This was a relief since dinnertime was farther off than three hours. I was, however, upset about losing all of that time to study.

*Melody was the quiet girl of the school. She was pretty and I believe received an award for her dedication to physical fitness, but she would not talk. She did smile. I didn't know her well, nor did I have many non-gym classes with her.

**Dr. Patton is not from the same school. I found nothing wrong with this, of course.

***Mrs. Webster was from the high school, with an office similar to the others in that particular hallway. She wasn't actually a teacher, but she did have a dog in her office (Nick), whom I often visited. Probably why she was in the veterinarian section (I hope Nick was okay!).

It should probably be noted that I put in my lower retainer for the first time in a while that night. Didn't wake up with loose teeth, though.