Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fragments V

They just never end.
  • A good, old post-nuclear apoc
  • A city whose residents do not age as long as they don't leave the borders—but if they leave, they'll immediately progress to their actual age, which at this point would turn many of them to dust
  • "Beaned up" as a drug euphemism
  • Two cooks (minor characters) who exchange witty banter at a restaurant the MC frequents (inspired by the omelette bar cooks where I have breakfast)
  • Someone who plays the oboe d'amore
  • Birnan, the very choleric (and fire-controlling) character from my old NaNoWriMo novel and the only one of the lot that I really enjoyed writing
  • Garjen, a character of mine who is quite cheerful and a bit psychopathic, and her main mode of attack is through bubbles that explode, have poison, etc. (she never really got to have her fun outside of a few RPs)
  • "She was forced to support herself not only by the pen, but as a secret agent." (Mac dictionary entry: pen)
  • A plot based on alarming fantasy racism
  • Mountain ranges/landscapes based on specific infrared absorption spectra (might have to be something visual)
  • A nutty professor and his adorable, long-suffering lab assistant (based on my Organic Chemistry Lab)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dream Journal #16

There was actually a large chunk of dream time before these sequences, but I remember little aside from being distressed and working for someone who claimed to be my grandmother.

24 Sept—25 Sept

I was with an ambiguous female friend, going to eat dinner. At the restaurant, which was a pirate-themed bar and grille currently having a Halloween special, the lights hung over each table dimly, the booths were black, the tables were plain, lacquered wood, and the menus were made to look like treasure maps. I had made acquaintances with the bartender, a rather heavyset but muscular white man with a trimmed, black beard. When I passed by, he had just finished arguing with a pair of people who walked out. Complaining to me about the heathens with the nerve to insult his chosen major, he cleaned off the bar top with a rag.

On another level of the same area, I was sitting with others in some folding chairs outdoors. Just a bit in front of us was a small, bright stream, and on the other shore a choir was walking in in no particular order and sitting in its own chairs, which faced us. I was very surprised to see Weiss and Sara*, who was wearing very thick, red, cat-eye glasses, and I started freaking out about it to the ambiguous female friend sitting next to me.

Some time earlier, there had been church services in this same location, and I presently recalled how I had given pieces of jewellery (including the lower part of my golden prom earrings) when the donation dish had come around. Suddenly I realised that I wasn't going to get those back, and I wondered aloud quite unhappily how exactly they were making any money off fake gold. My friend said, "I know, right?"

We had to leave afterwards by a large, hexagonal elevator. It went to four floors (one of which was the concert area, and other of which was the bar and grille), but no one pressed any buttons because the lift was already going up, and everyone wanted to get to the fourth floor. As the third floor approached, I kept prompting to see if anyone wanted off, because I really wanted an excuse to get off there, but no one did. Finally the fourth floor approached, and we all prepared to exit. But since the button had never been pressed, the doors never opened, and the elevator suddenly went sailing back down. I had to grab a handicap-style arm rail to keep from slamming into the ceiling as the others screamed and we finally crashed to the ground. The impact irreparably damaged the lift, and the walls were in pieces enough to let us escape.

We needed to get to the higher floors, though, and a man at the bottom, wearing a large fur coat, offered to help us out. We went back into the seats and were given jerseys for the local basketball team that were folded neatly into fourths. I unfolded mine to look at it and then folded it back, although it had to go into three parts because its neck was now occupied with a hanger.

At some point, our mission to go up was revived, but we had no way to go aside from the elevator shaft, which was a skeletal wooden structure. The climbing was brutal, and one girl on her last bit of energy clung to a corner some distance up. Knowing she was going to fall to her death if she didn't keep ascending, she pulled out a picture with a hut and a sparkling river beside it. She tried to use her powers to teleport into the river in the picture, but she couldn't.

*Weiss and Sara were two school friends from some time ago. Together we called ourselves "S.O.D.D." (The Social Outcasts of Doom and Destruction), and our mascot was the S.O.P.O.D. (SquishyOraclePenguinof Doooooooom, said in that fashion). I made it to high school with Weiss, but Sara had moved away, so it oddly makes sense that I was more surprised to see her.

Friday, October 25, 2013

In Name Only

Names are quite important when it comes to writing.

Character names are probably the most obvious the of nomenclature. A lot of the time characters like to name themselves, but sometimes they'll make me do the work instead. While Behind the Name is undoubtedly my go-to for that, having a reference for meanings and origin isn't always what I need. For more exotic names, as in my sci-fi Wizard of Oz story, I might just translate something specific (like "scarecrow") into languages until I find one I like. I still had trouble deciding between Kaliause (Lithuanian) and Muqevva (altered Azerbajani) in that case, but I eventually chose what sound sort of felt more natural to the character. I feel like that's usually the biggest factor.

On that note, some characters refuse to play nicely when it comes to their names. I very carefully named Martin from Along the Winding Road both because the name started with an M, which matched his brother's name, and because it was derived from Mars—Martin is certainly a bloodlust-type character. Unfortunately he's now quite insistent on being called Milton, which may match the theme naming, but "mill town" isn't exactly the same meaning as before. I can't decide whether I should keep his current name or switch.

There are also place names. I usually break out the good old Google Translate to name my fantasy/sci-fi worlds: for example, "Salynas" is Lithuanian for "archipelago." On the other hand, stories set in real places don't have as much leeway. Still, I love how some of the places for The Long and Winding Road turned out. Hunt was first, as I browsed some Texas summer camps and thought that the one in Hunt sounded like something workable for the background plot. Then I looked for some cities/towns a reasonable distance from Austin (using a used car resale website) until I stumbled upon Killeen. Hunt, kill. Haha. Then a friend noted that the camp I had chosen—Camp Lonehollow—had quite a nice name for a post-apocalyptic story, and I was slightly amazed at how that had turned out.

How do you do your naming? What do you think is the most important factor of a name in fiction?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mayflies (NFI#2) Intro

Since I've finished writing the first chapter of Mayflies, I thought I might as well provide a preview of it here.


"Can you see anyone over there?" my brother starts, voice even more hushed than usual.
Taking a step up onto the white path, I cringe as gravel scratches the blisters on my feet. As if standing on a sign of civilization wasn’t bad enough in itself. I do get a better view of the field from here, though. Maize in neat rows, dipping in the breeze, beckoning poor, starving souls towards them.
Does it even matter if anyone’s there? We need this. We’re already too far gone to fly, and we’re probably not even going to be able to stand in another week. I don’t care if all the farmers in the city are here; we have to risk this.
“I can’t see anyone,” I say truthfully, pulling back into the trees.
Matthew frowns—Did you really check?—and I sigh.
“I promise it’s clear, Matthew.” I step back on the gravel harder than I should, but the crunch sounds decisive. “Come on.”
He exhales, running a hand back through his hair. Since it’s longer than mine, it’s one of the few ways we can be told apart. It also means this nervous habit of his takes longer than it ought to.
My stomach snarls, and I give my brother a pointed look before he finally steps after me. Giving him a nod, I take a quick look around and start hurrying for the farm.
The farmer’s house—a typical lower-class hut of wood, mud, and grasses—is perched at the far edge of the maize rows. A ragged patch on the roof is in need of repair, but none of the family is out fixing it. None of the family seems to be out at all, which works for me. I’d ask them nicely for a little food, but, judging from past experience, they’d try to chase me off before I even finished voicing my request.
Even if Matthew and I weren’t cursed, we’d probably get turned away. Our feet are so cut and blistered they could bring disease to the most faithful family, our hair is greasy and windblown despite our slow pace, and we’re so worn down everywhere else it would probably take white magic to get us back in good condition. Of course, our feathers are dirty and tangled with a few leaves and twigs, but no matter their condition they’d chase away any prospective aid. Maybe seven-year-olds with wings are cute, but once you’re twelve years past the age the curse should have struck you dead, you get nothing but suspicion and fear. That means nobody wants to put up with us in an honest relationship, so we rob, which in turn makes others even less friendly towards us. Wonderful cycle of justice, isn’t it?
All of it because our mother screwed up badly enough, just one time. Or, that’s all it took to curse us in the first place. How we survived this long is another story altogether, one I’ve yet to figure out.
Of course, if we don’t get food here, we’re not going to survive much longer.
The rows of maize approach far too slowly, and I’m already struggling for breath by the time I get to the nearest row of the crop. Matthew comes up beside me as I start browsing the husks. From the silks alone I start paring down what’s good to eat, but  I still have to knife open a few husks and kernels to check ripeness. If I’m going to steal from these people, I’m not going to take anything that I won’t be able to eat. The extra weight wouldn’t do me much good, either.
As I keep browsing the maize, I slowly come upon the conclusion that the first ones planted were those right next to the house, and the ones I’m seeing may have been sown some time after. Maybe there wasn’t enough seed, or the soil was bad for a while, or news of a couple of farm-edge marauders has spread over the years and this is a precaution. I can’t help but be suspicious, although that’s probably thinking too highly of my brother and myself. We may be a bit infamous, but I doubt we’ve done enough, good or bad, to be known that far and wide.
Finally the kernels start to give cloudy residue when I stab them, and I pluck the promising ear off its stem. 
Is there really any reason to soak this first? I’m starving enough for my breath to carry a sharp tang, and the maize is strangely heavy in my arms. Will I be able to hurry off with much more than this? It might be the only one here that’s ready to eat. It would actually be pretty strange if the family planted half of their crop later than the other. There’s no reason to assume any of the rest is ready to eat. If I’m not caught, I could always come back later, anyway.
Jumping, I manage to stumble onto my knees, but I keep my grip on my ear of maize. 
“Sorry,” my brother whispers, stepping back a few stalks so I can see him. Shuffling three ears of maize onto one arm, he offers a hand to help me up. Light pounds at my eyes when I stand, and I nearly fall back down before the clenching pain in my head subsides.
“It’s no problem,” I say back quietly, letting go of his hand. “I was the one zoning out.”
“I was beginning to suspect.” Evening out the load in his arms, he takes a few steps backwards. “Don’t take more than you can carry, okay?”
“Yeah.” Thumbing my single full husk and wondering if I was really so sure it was unique, I go back to investigating the food. Three more stalks pass before another good ear crops up, but soon I make it into a thicker patch of promising silks, and the real gathering begins. It’s not long before I’ve accrued such a stash it’s difficult task readying my knife to check out more. Wishing my wool bag hadn’t torn itself to shreds, I just keep clutching the sweet-smelling maize to my bare chest as I search for one last ear.
By now Matthew has slipped out of my sight, but the stalks shiver violently a few man-lengths away, near the side of the square of crops. Although neither of us is particularly tall, we ought to at least see the top of each other’s wings in here. After a glance over my shoulder, I head towards the disturbed maize to make sure my brother didn’t just trip and fall. 
“Hey!” The throaty roar, which most certainly doesn’t belong to my brother, masks the thumps of my maize hitting the ground when I flinch back.
“What pests are—” The swish of stalks bowing out of the way is all I can hear when he cuts off. Nearly kicking one of the dropped ears in his rampage, he freezes upon locking eyes with me. His irises are just shy of black, but the broken blood vessels of his eyes soften the contrast. More scars than a few farming accidents would explain cross his shoulders and upper arms. Whether he’s ever been a soldier or not is up for debate, but he’s still sturdier than me, and I think he’s capable of using that club for more than busting up dirt clods.
He hovers with a stunned look in his eyes as he stares at my wings, but the spell is broken once I reach for the ear of maize nearest my foot. I barely get my fingers around the husk before the farmer seizes my wrist with a grip that could pulp manioc. In a flash, my left wing snaps open, launching a few loose feathers into his face. It distracts him enough for me to jerk my bruised wrist away, but he instantly realizes his mistake and raises the clod-buster. 
With an airy grunt, I jump back, tilting my wings so I don’t lose my balance. The huge knot at the end of the club sweeps through open air, and the farmer stops it with his other hand before taking another step forward between the rows of maize. Dropping into a squat, I snap up one good ear while I’m next to it. As if I’m going to face down this fellow, even in a retreat, without getting what I came for.
“Jonathan!” Before he shouts my name, I can already feel that Matthew’s behind me. “Just leave them!”
Sweat dripping down his bronze forehead, my brother pushes stalks out of the way and squeezes his way onto our strip of dirt. 
“Sir,” he pants, clasping his hands in front of his face and bowing a bit to the farmer, “we mean no harm. We’re only hungry. Please allow us a few ears of your maize if you can afford it. If not, we will walk away with nothing but apologies.”
“Is that right?” The farmer responds, squinting at us with his thick brows lowered. “Am I to believe that assisting the likes of you isn’t going to bring a curse upon my family?”
“Why would it?” I respond, trembling and fingering the husk in my hand. “We have wings, not a disease. It’s not going to spread.”
The farmer looks quite pointedly at my loot, while my brother looks quite pointedly at my mouth. I understand why the farmer’s not so happy with me, but what does Matthew think I’ve done wrong? Why is he trying to show respect, anyway? This man just attacked us, he’s hardly nobility, and we’re not here to make friends and drop in for a bite later. Voluntarily or not, we’re robbers. We’re inherently antagonizing him. We only need to get the maize and go, and I don’t think using pretty words is going to help with that.
“I’m not sure exactly what you are,” the farmer says, tightening his grip on the clod-buster, “but if your parents were as horrible as other Mayflies’, I want nothing to do with you. Get away from my crop before you contaminate my entire farm.”
Matthew takes a step back, but I slowly push myself back to my feet and stand, meeting the farmer’s gaze.
“We’ve already contaminated all of these,” I say, gesturing towards my spilt armful of maize. “How about you let us get them off your farm first, and then we’ll leave without touching anything else.”
Baring his teeth, the farmer raises the club to rest its gnarly tip on his muscle-bound shoulder. “Leave right now.”
I step forward to grab another ear, but the clod-buster is coming down before Matthew can holler for me to stop. The small of my back crunches as the rough wood collides with it, and jolts of pain shoot to my heels and crown alike. Suddenly giving out, my knees thump to the ground hard, and my left one lands square on a small, round rock.
“Gaah!” I reflexively grab my wounded knee with my free hand, but I suck in a breath and snatch the other ear of maize. Fingers wrap around my upper wings, and Matthew jerks me back. Some of my weight shifts onto my feet, but my knee refuses to straighten without giving out on me. The farmer eyes us with no less ill will than before, and he still has his club poised to strike.
“We’re leaving!” Matthew cries, pulling me back farther so he can stand between the farmer and me. “We’re leaving as quickly as we can!”
The farmer steps nose-to-nose with my brother.
“I hear your kind can fly faster than a man can run.”
Quivering, Matthew takes a step back, forcing me to scuttle a little farther backwards.
“Not in this condition,” he murmurs, giving his wings a feeble flutter.
The farmer seems to be of the conviction Mayflies that rob are perfectly apt to lie as well. Without the slightest hint of consideration crossing his face, he lunges at Matthew. Dodging backwards, my brother would have stumbled over me if I hadn’t scooted farther back myself. Struggling to my feet, I try to put weight on my left foot, but all I accomplish is sending flames of pain shooting up and down my leg. I still manage to stagger back a bit as Matthew turns around. He sees my knee, winces, and looks me in the eye. I hear him before he can ask out loud.
“What choice do I have?” I grunt, pivoting to face a straight line of soil ready to send me off. Putting all the weight I can onto my good leg, I crouch and spring into the air as high as I can before my wings start to flap. I sink back to the ground, but after one more push-off, I’m finally ascending. An ache is already starting to gather in my shoulders, and the air feels much thinner than it must be at this height, but I’m flying.
Matthew runs a bit longer before he joins me above the field. In less pain, he catches up to me in no time, but the farmer’s heavy footfalls still chase us. Can’t he see we’re already pushing as hard as we can? What more could he expect from us?
The rage urges my wings to flap a bit faster, but I’m still struggling for air as we approach the end of the field. The tips of silks tickle my toes, and it’s all I can do to keep pace with Matthew, to keep going, keep going.
The farmer comes to a stop at the edge of his maize rows, but it’s not enough to send a cool wave of victory over me. He can still go back to his family, back to the rest of the city, and spread the word. We’ll be lucky to snatch much of anything around here, and that’s only if they don’t form a mob to chase us away on threat of death. I don’t need to wait for that to get me away from here. It’s a lot nicer if we just leave on our own. If we can, at least.
We’ve crossed back over the white path, and the waving leaves of trees hang just below us. Still not far enough. Tilting our wings so we’re not just doubling back, we continue along the forest. Not far enough. Invisible stones crush in on my head, and dots fill my vision as gasps fill my ears. Not far enough. My feathers are flames, the bone and muscle beneath burning up beneath them. Yet not far enough!
I surge ahead, and my foot tangles in a branch. The bark rips at my skin, nearly taking my ankle off before it decides to swallow the whole of me. Pivoting down, I feel the leaves and twigs ripping into my wings before my forearms smash into a strong branch. Although I somehow managed to protect my face, my arms crush back against my cheekbones, and a great surge of black drowns my vision.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Fiction Idea #37

And so it seems that more things have been salvaged from the Fragments pile.

Working Title: Storm Clouds Rise

Genre: Fantasy

Protagonist: Thunder, a woman in her twenties appearance-wise, with deep blue, cat-like eyes and straight, platinum blonde hair that reaches to the middle of her thighs. Like the other Clouds, her skin is white to an albinic level. She's very tall and large enough to fill out her frame, but she's not particularly busty. Rather mischievous, she'll happily abuse her powers for amusement, but others can keep her in line with a little convincing.

Other Main Characters: Lightning, Thunder's older sister. She's even taller than Thunder, although her hair is shoulder-length and rather staticky. Her eyes are a pale green, and she's very slender. Quite competitive and somewhat of a braggart, she enjoys any and all things that boost her self-esteem, although she's not strictly narcissistic and can take some criticism without blowing [anything else] up.
Rain, a younger-looking Cloud with dark hair kept in a low ponytail. Her eyes are a very bright blue, and she's usually rather expressionless. She's softhearted but rather weak unless provoked.

Antagonist: Onyekachi, a young man furiously dedicated to protecting his clan. He cares little for those who threaten his kin or could be outright used to protect them.

Setting: Something akin to 1600s Africa.

Plot: Onyekachi and others have grown tired of playing to the Clouds' whims to get the rainfall they need to survive. While a few overwhelming losses of battles have been fought before, Onyekachi decides that the recent import of guns may tip the tides in his favour. With their help, he seeks to enslave the Clouds and help his homeland stay quenched and fed.

Point of View: Third-person, limited to Thunder.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Prioritising a Lower Priority

Since I've reached 20 New Fan Fiction Ideas, I thought I might as well try another one of these specials ordering those ideas.

Top of the List:
These are stories that I want to write (or at least plot out) once I find enough time left over from my original fictions.
  1. The Bard Games (I promise I will do this once I've established a solid character list, although I'm going to need to do more reading for that)
  2. Eat Your Heart Out (it has already kept me up nights plotting; as long as I can find the original fan fiction and get permission to use the premise, this will happen eventually)
  3. Never-Ending Girls' Alliance (short, sweet, and to the point, and a break from all the Hetalia fan fiction)
  4. "England Ruins America's Life Forever" (short enough not to worry much about, but hilarious; why haven't I written this one yet?)
  5. The Loony Bin (tentative due to my lack of psychological knowledge, but this has certainly kept me up nights)
Almost Top of the List:
These are stories that interest me but aren't yet demanding to be written.
  1. Weird New World (still not sure where it's heading, but I would like to play with it eventually; it also seems like one of the more popular fan fiction ideas)
  2. My Cup of Tea (I'm not sure how it's going to go, but a main role for pirate!England definitely boosts it up the list)
  3. Send Me an Angel (while it's more of a shipping and humour fic, I really do feel like I could have some fun with it)
  4. Disaster (could be fun for establishing headcanons and writing all the gory details, but it works with some pretty sensitive material)
  5. When Fangirls Attack (it seems like it would be hilarious, but I'm not sure how many would be laughing with me)
In the Middle:
These are stories I may or may not write, depending on whether some discovery about the story suddenly makes it more appealing.
  1. What Would You Do (while I love the idea and have already hacked out a beginning, I just can't figure out how most of it works)
  2. "My Name is Aragon" (I might have to do actual research, but I at least know the general story)
  3. "Chibi Rental Services" (it's just a bunch of cutesy stuff, so I'm really not sure yet)
  4. Past and Future (don't know where it's going nor where it's been)
  5. "The Drinking Contest" (so short it doesn't draw me much, but it would be easy to write)
Just Meh:
These are stories that really don't particularly appeal to me. I may not plan on writing these at all, or I would really rather just read it.
  1. Operatics (it sounds funny, but it might be a lot of trouble to put together for a cheap, comedic payoff)
  2. This, That, and Rock and Roll (it really does interest me, but it's just not the type of story I would write)
  3. +Anima (haven't done a retelling before, and I'm afraid it would bore me even when I love both of the series in the crossover)
  4. Skates (I really don't plan on doing this, but it's still more attractive than the last on the list)
  5. The Runaways (has a strange premise and nothing particularly interesting going on)
What do you think? Disappointed or encouraged? Had a different list of what you wanted to see first?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chapter Lengths

(What? An uncreative title for a rambling-about-writing post? I suppose it had to happen sometime.)

I've seen a lot about novel lengths—how many words are acceptable for a certain genre, the debate on whether 50,000 words can ever be enough, and so on. Yet I haven't seen much on chapter lengths aside from actually reading novels.

I like to keep my chapter lengths consistent, firstly. I've yet to try to count pages or words in any published books, but I feel like it's not rare to do this. Really short chapters can come up for emphasis; otherwise, everything seems more or less the same. Of course, this is just a rough estimate; it may be more of a matter of seeming the same length in accordance with pace. That sounds like a much tougher algorithm than word count, though.

My chapters are typically rather short. For some fictions, I'll do 1,500 words; some, 2,000; some lighter ones even 1,000. Compared to the 4,000, 6,000, or 8,000 I see elsewhere in the fan fiction world, mine have quite the pallor in comparison. Sometimes I will go up to 3,000 or so if the story doesn't have a good splitting point, and sometimes I just can't stuff the chapter enough to get to the typical amount.

Which do you consider more important, length or consistency? Does it even matter as long as the story has divisions where it should be, chapter break, section break, or otherwise?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New Fan Fiction Idea #20

This was an older idea that got a few scenes put together in my head, but I never had any idea where it was going or from whence it had come.

Working Title: Past and Future

Fandom: Hetalia: Axis Powers

Length: Multichapter

Genre Tags: Adventure/Sci-Fi, maybe

Protagonists: The story follows both the Axis and Allies groups, with Italy being the main character in his section and someone else being the main in the other (I don't think I ever decided, I planned so little of that part. Probably England for symmetry).

Other Main Characters: The rest of the modern-day Axis (including Romano) and Allies, as well as Italy in the future and medieval-era England.

Antagonist: No clue whatsoever.

Plot: Something happens (quite possibly the generic plot device of England's magic exploding on everything), and suddenly the Axis finds themselves in the past, and the Allies in the future. Both groups carve out a bit of a living as they try to find their way back.

Setting: The Axis go to some sort of town in medieval England, wherever England himself would likely be at the time.
The Allies end up in the future at an undetermined location on Earth. Probably somewhere in Italy, since he shows up, quite frightened to see them as, in the new unified Earth, nation-tans aren't allowed to see each other  in order to reduce conflict. Some of the nations have altogether disappeared due to the homogenisation of the place.

Point of View: Third-person, limited to Italy and other protagonist in alternating chapters.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Prompt Writing #3

I figured it was about time to give another one of these a shot.

Prompt: [Forward Motion Writers generator]

"For days, the dull gray skies have opened up, the rain a steady, drenching downpour. Every creek, every river, every pond laps at their banks, ready to spill over.

Another hour, two at the most, and the real floods will begin. Does your character dig in, or run for the high ground? Can they run even if they want to?"

Randomly Selected Story and Character: Roughhouse, Terry


It had been raining since the orphanage released him. At first, Terry hadn't minded the downpour; the shushing and splashing were wonderful, the water dripping down his arms tickled, and he didn't have to worry about getting sunburnt. But as the rainfall continued and his food money depleted, his cheer started to drain.

By the time he was beginning to suspect it would flood, he was already out of town, chewing on wild berries and trying to find more. A little creek at the far end of the stretch of bushes fizzed and pounded at its banks, and brackish puddles in the grass reached out to each other and snapped into bigger puddles. His cheap, leathery boots were nearly black from wetness, and water and particles sloshed around his feet as he abandoned what little remained on a blackberry bush.

Where was he supposed to go? Higher ground, right? The city was too far away to go back, so he would have to press forward. That looked like a little hill ahead. Maybe it would be enough. It couldn't keep raining forever.

Slipping a bit with every step, he crept up the trailless slope. By the time he finally reached the top, he was sure it was high enough, but a look down proved that that was an illusion. Thin currents were already twisting the grass below, though, and he would have to see a better hill immediately if he was going to get to it in time.

He looked about quickly, but the only thing he noticed was the large lean-to straight ahead, in the flatter area. While every branch in the shelter was soaked through, the two pairs of soles visible through the opening weren't moving. He wondered for a moment if they were just abandoned shoes facing the same way, but those would have started to drift in the flood by now.

Still the rain fell, and still neither of the occupants had moved. Surely they weren't dead?

"H-hey! Is anyone..." the twelve-year-old started, cupping his hands around his mouth, but the whoosh of rain pounded the sound down into the water. Shivering hard, he looked down at the sheet of flowing water for a minute before deciding it still wasn't very deep.

His first step sent him sliding and staggering all the way down the hill. Falling onto his hands with a tremendous splash, he hurried to get his fingers out of the mud before he wiped them on his pants and walked ahead. The current was surprisingly strong, but if he just went step by step, he wouldn't get in any trouble.

He was panting with the effort, the water past his ankles, when he finally got close to the lean-to.

"Hey!" he called again, seizing one of the branches, half for support and half to draw attention. "You guys—you guys need to get out!"

Finally one of the boys in the shelter stirred, although he really had to force himself to get into a seated position. Squinting past his sopping wet, dirty-brown bangs, he sat there and groaned for a minute.

"Sorry," Terry started, taking a step back, "but, I mean, you should probably get up..."

It took another minute for the older boy's eyes to open fully. After a pause, he twisted to prod at the half-Asian boy next to him. "John," he mumbled. "Wake up. It's raining too hard."

John didn't move, and Terry let go of the shelter, walking a bit further back. The water was over the tops of his boots now, and his feet dragged in the water stubbornly.

"There's a hill," the twelve-year-old started, pointing, "over that way. It's not very tall, but it's at least better than here, right?" The current tried desperately to sweep him under, so he started back towards the hill after one more look at the bleary-eyed teen.

A high-pitched yawn startled Terry, but the grassy mud was sucking at his soles too much to let him jump. Rubbing his jacketed arms in an attempt to stop shivering, he plodded on a few more steps.

By then the others had caught up. They were taller than Terry had anticipated—at least, they were tall compared to him—and they seemed to be having a bit less trouble pulling their bare feet out of the ground. Despite that, one look at them made Terry wonder how on earth they had made it out of the shelter, let alone hurried along this far. Through a thicker sheet of rain, he hadn't been able to see the swellings and bruises across the white teen's jaw and John's cheekbones. The teens' shabby clothes revealed more damage than that, and John struggled ahead with a steady limp that the other tried to match. Both let their arms hang limply at their sides as they hurried ahead.

What had happened to them? Had they been mugged? Had they fallen down a long stretch of rocks? How did—

With a yelp, Terry went under. One boot remained stuck in the mud, and his ankle twisted painfully as the current wrenched him around. He groped blindly beneath him until he got to the ground, but he couldn't get his chin above the water before his trapped boot slipped off his foot. Grass uprooted in his hands as he tried to at least keep from being whisked away, and his head pounded and tingled as he refused to breathe in any water.

Suddenly the ground was gone. Gasping, Terry groped wildly at the rain for a while before realizing he was no longer underwater. Coughing and spluttering, he wiped some of the dirty water from his eyes and tried to figure out where he had ended up.

He was seated, bouncing slowly, and his feet didn't touch the floodwater. In fact, his calves were resting against fabric—the other boys' shirts. Shared between their shoulders, Terry was borne like a prince over the water. The two beneath him let the mud from his feet soak into their shirts as they forged ahead in unison.

Beyond the rain, Terry couldn't quite tell how far the hill was, or how high the water had come. But John and his friend plowed ahead steadily, and Terry clung to them, sure that they'd make it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Fiction Idea #36

I actually had two other ideas before this, but this grew more quickly since it came from a plot rather than a world or characters.

Working Title: The Piper

Genre: Suspense/Mystery, perhaps

Protagonist: Monica, a woman in her twenties with light, brown hair she ties up and a serious face. She's rather small in stature and has an official occupation of seamstress, but she moonlights as a detective for those who hear of her. She's quite kind and susceptible to crying over terrible things that happen, but she can put on a more stoic bearing and usually does when it comes to her detective work. She was adopted by her parents, of whom only her father survives.

Other Main Characters: Natalie, Monica's coworker and sometime assistant. She has dark, curly hair and green eyes. She's easily startled but can handle quite a bit of pressure.

Antagonist: "The Piper," a serial killer in his late thirties. While his hairstyle and clothing change often, he always has a generally freckled complexion and a winning smile. He's manically intelligent and either acts sweet or cunning (or occasionally both, in an odd way).

Setting: A chain of small towns and larger ones in a well-off country. The time period couldn't quite be classified as medieval, but it's certainly before the modern-day. I'm still undecided as to whether this should be an alternate universe or some period in our world's history. At any rate, adoption isn't heavily regulated.

Plot: Monica pursues The Piper and struggles to subdue him before he can adopt the next child he plans to kill.

Point of View: Likely third-person, limited to Monica, although first-person wouldn't be out of the question.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Time versus Distance

No, not the heading of a graph. This concerns goal-setting in writing.

I can't really say I'm consistent with which kind of goal I'll set (when I do set them). In general, I'll use a time goal because I like to update The Long and Winding Road at least every five days. In actual writing sessions, though, rarely is my goal based on time. On occasions where I just feel uninspired, I may break out my iTunes track of songs of alternating length—one about two minutes, the next longer—and write as much as I can during the shorter songs while resting on the longer ones. I've done something similar with commercial breaks, but I can only manage that when I'm actually interested in the show, which isn't often.

The other goal I'll set is distance, or word count. This is, of course, the way I go about NaNoWriMo, and it's also how I'll use Write or Die (although it is designed to go with either type of goal-setting). In general, I measure my progress by how many words I've churned out, since measuring the time doesn't make that much sense when I'm not being productive for every second of it. I'm necessarily productive for every word I get out (unless everything's ridiculously uninspired or it's too late at night for me to get out anything coherent). It's also easier to know exactly where I'm going on a broader scale, since I like to keep my chapter lengths more or less consistent.

How about you? Time or word count? Or page count? Or something else entirely?

P.S. The Action Girls has for some reason gotten over 100 views this month when the others around it have about 11. I have no idea what's going on with that, but thanks?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lee's Island, Part 2

More drudged-up fan fiction for those who weren't scared off by the first instalment.

In which most pieces of dialogue could be said by anyone and an authentically Japanese name is revealed:


    "Hey, guys, look who I found."
    "My gosh, everyone's here!"
    "Uh, what's going on? Ooh, cool! Food!" He grabbed the last fish and started eating.
    "Ugh. Yep, that's Naruto." Sakura sighed. "Great."
    "Oh! Hi Sakura!" Naruto said. "Hey, you got any more fish?"
    "Nope. Not unless you get it yourself." TenTen said.
    "Darn it!" Naruto said.
    "Well, I guess since you're here, you can help us build our shack." 
    "Um, okay. What do I need to do?"
    "Hmm, we could probably use a lot of help, so why don't you make some shadow clones?" 
    "Okay," Naruto said, making three hand signs. "Shadow Clone Jutsu!" and instantly, five more Narutos appeared. "You two can figure out a way to find out where we are or something. The Narutos and I will build the shack."
    "Sounds good to me." TenTen said.
    "Okay, Naruto, I have already started. Follow me." said Rock Lee. 
    "Okay." said a Naruto. Rock Lee walked towards the skeleton of the hut. 
    "Geez, is that all you have?" one Naruto said. 
    "Well, I just started a minute ago!"
    "Okay, whatever. What do we do?"
"I have the basic structure made, so all we need to do is cover it up. I have some leaves to do just that." He pointed to the giant leaves. 
    "Okay, how do we stick them to the branches?" said a Naruto. 
    "Oh, yeah. We need to find some kelp, too. Let us go to the shore." Lee said. Rock Lee and the gaggle of Narutos headed to the shore to find some kelp. They gathered some and ran back to the hut's skeleton. 
    "Okay, let's go." They strapped together the leaves and the branches to make the hut. When they had finished, they walked around looking for some cushiony leaves and such for everyone to sleep on. 
    "Hey, I think I found some! Believe it!" Naruto, whose clones were gone, yelled. 
    "One sec!" Lee shouted, starting to run towards the source of Naruto's voice. He got there and felt the big leaves that Naruto had found and said, "Yeah, these will be great! Let us get a few and head back to camp." 
    "Uh, camp?"
    "Where the shack is."
    "Oh, okay. Let's go, believe it!" They picked the softest leaves and ran back to the hut. When the boys got there, TenTen and Sakura weren't there.
    "I guess they are not back yet." They looked around for a little while. The fire was out and the moon was high in the sky. Then they heard a scream. Sakura's scream. "Sakura!" they yelled in unison. Both ninja ran towards the sound.
A little later, they finally found TenTen and Sakura. Sakura was lying motionless on the ground, blood everywhere. TenTen was also down, but with less wounds. 
    "Oh, no!" said Lee. "Sakura! Are you okay?" Lee knelt down and put two fingers on Sakura's neck. No pulse. 
    "Sakura! Naruto, she-she doesn't have a pulse. This is serious!" 
    "No! Sakura! Wha-what do we do?"
    "Do you know any healing justu?"
    "No. Do you think she'll be okay?"
    "Unless some miracle happens," Lee said, with a gulp, "she won't make it." Naruto gasped.
    "Well, l-I will go ahead an-and s-see if TenTen's okay." He walked over to TenTen and laid his fingers on her neck. "It looks like TenTen made it. I just wish Sakura-" He stopped, weeping hopelessly.
"I can help you," said a faint voice from nowhere.
    "Wha? Who's there?"
    "Oh, no one really, just someone who can heal anything." The mystery girl's words hung in the air for but an instant.
    "Please, heal Sakura!"
    "If you wish," said the girl. "But I will need a favor."
    "Anything, just heal Sakura!"
    "As you wish." Suddenly, the girl appeared. She was another ninja, but she wasn't from the Village Hidden in the Leaves, as the others were. She was from the Village Hidden in the Mountains, as her headband indicated. Her hair was brown with white streaks, and her eyes were bright orange. She had black shorts and a black shirt with netting at the ends. She walked up to Sakura and made several hand signs. "Spirit Heal Jutsu!" She said, putting her hand on Sakura's chest. She pushed down quickly, and a ring of chakra emnated from her hand onto Sakura. The girl stood up and said, "There you are. Now are you ready to do your favor?" Lee said, "But how do we know you healed Sakura?" 
    "Check her pulse, check her breathing, check whatever you like, and you will find that she is healed." And so Lee walked up to Sakura and put his fingers on her neck as before. "You did it!" He said with exitement. "You brought her back!" 
    "But may I remind you that everything comes with a price," said the girl. "You promised me a favor if I healed her."
    "Okay, okay, what do you want?" Naruto asked. "Nothing much," said the girl, "Just a little of each person's blood on this senbon."
    "Wha?" Naruto said. 
    "Don't worry, all I have to do is poke you with this." She walked up to Naruto and poked part of his arm with the senbon, just enough to make it bleed. She walked over and pricked Rock Lee with the senbon, exactly as before but in his left leg. Then she kneeled down and poked Sakura in the chest. She walked over to TenTen and stabbed her in the side. "My work here is done," she said. The girl made four hand signs, yelled,"Sprinting in the Mist Justu!" and disappeared.
"Huh, I wonder what that was about?" Naruto said.
    "Who knows? I am just glad Sakura is back!" Lee said. A second later, Sakura arose. "Ugh. I feel like I just got hit by a Demon Wind shuriken." 
    "What happened, anyway?" Lee asked.
    "I don't know. It all happened so fast. We were exploring when someone, or something, attacked us. I blacked out, and here I am. I think I almost died." 
    "Actually, you did. There was a girl that came by and brought you back. Then she pricked all of us and ran off, believe it." TenTen, who had also risen, gasped. 
    "What did she look like?" she asked, her voice hard and trembling. 
    "Um, let's see, she was from the Village Hidden in the Mountains, she was wearing black, and her hair was brown, but with white streaks." Naruto said. 
    "Oh, no." 
    "That girl is not a normal ninja. She's a descendant of the Undinasha clan."
    "So what?"
    "The Undinashas don't have their own chakra network. They take chakra from others."
    "If she causes a person to bleed, she gets full access to that person's chakra." she said, her voice harder than before. The other three gasped. 
    "So you mean that she can take all of our chakra if she wants to?!" Lee said, his eyes wide with fear. TenTen gulped. "Exactly." 
    Well, that sucks, Sakura thought. Cha
Suddenly, Lee fell to the ground, gripping his leg and shouting with anguish. 
    "Lee!" Sakura shouted. 
    "It's happening already. She will devour our chakra until we die," TenTen said, her voice tinged with fear. Lee screamed again, a bloodcurdling scream. 
    "Lee," Sakura said, her hands tensed. Rock Lee was now laying motionless on the sand. 
    "Get ready, everyone. We're next." Sakura was the next shinobi to lie motionless on the sand. Then Naruto. Then TenTen. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Fan Fiction Idea #19

This is another old idea I suddenly remembered. I don't think I'll ever actually write it, but it's worth recording. It's a rather iffy premise, anyway.

Working Title: The Runaways

Fandom: Hetalia: Axis Powers

Length: Multichapter

Genre Tags: Family/General

Protagonists: Both Alfred and Matthew (human!America and human!Canada), who start as their chibi selves but grow up during the course of the story. They're twin brothers.

Other Main Characters: Mr. Kelley, a 50-ish convenience store owner in a backwoods area. He's quite kind and has never had a wife or children.

Antagonist: Arthur (human!England), the older brother of Alfred and Matthew by a decent margin. It's unclear exactly what he did to upset the twins so much, but he's not an entirely pleasant character.

Plot: All three orphaned, the brothers try to get along in an orphanage with the twins under Arthur's authority. By seven, the twins have decided to run away, so they do so, struggling to stay undercover and alive in the streets until they cross paths with Mr. Kelley, who helps them get an education and eventually hires them in his shop.

Setting: Modern-day, probably America. Some takes place in a rather large city, while a later section is in more of a town.

Point of View: Third-person, omniscient.