You know what this means, right? Sure you do…
And me at Harrisburg Pride with my teammate, Ms. Smackman.
30 May, 2017, was the day I went and did something crazy. That was the day I decided to show up at a roller rink and attend the Harrisburg Area Roller Derby Recruitment Night. At the time I didn’t know what would happen: in fact, I contacted a friend who was already a member of the team and told them I was worried I’d show up and make a complete fool of myself, and the likelihood was great I’d never be able to keep up with the rest of the team. My friend’s comment was, “Come on out anyway. If you don’t like it, don’t come back.”
That was three and a half months ago. And I’m still there, though I shouldn’t be. I mean, look at this crazy bitch in hand-me-down gear:
Who expected me to last this long?
That was then, this is now–or I should say, last night. Because 12 September we held our third, and likely last, Recruitment Night of 2017. We’ve been advertising this one for about a month, so the word was out we were looking for people. And I was looking forward to the evening as well, because…
Well, this would be my first Recruitment Night where I could greet the new freshies.
I won’t say I wasn’t a big worried. The fear was there that only a couple of people would come out and make our team’s endeavors seem wasted. But that faded quickly once I saw there were four women waiting for Ariel to show up and begin her presentation and more filtered in soon after she arrived. In all either thirteen or fourteen women showed, with one of them bringing her two children along as she couldn’t get a sitter for them.
With gear ready to go and seven of us–myself included–ready to help out the freshest of the Fresh Meat, the new recruits were let out ready to gear up and get to skating. I was given the task of helping one woman get skates, get her gear on, and help out where I could.
We did simple things like skating around the rink, something I could barely do my first night. The woman with me was a good skater because she’d had a lot of experience on roller blades, so she picked up on quads fast. I had to remind her a few times not to drag her foot to come to a stop because it was a good way to twist your foot and break your ankle–which is exactly how Arial broke hers. We did plows and meatballs–or knee drops as I know them. We even did T stops, and while I was explaining to my freshie why she shouldn’t drag the inner wheels of her back skate to stop, I spun around and skated backwards for about thirty feet while talking. It wasn’t until later that I realized what I’d done…
We finally got a pace line together and nineteen of us skated around weaving in and out between the other skaters. We had a few people fall, but that’s to be expected. We stopped, let them get up, and got them back into line. It took a while and one new recruit needed help from Ida getting through the pack, but all skaters made it through the line once.
After that we sat for some stretches–
And then we got everyone together for a group photo. (If you’re looking for me, I’m on the outside left in the back.)
Oh yeah, and after we finished we went out and had a couple of beers to celebrate the newest members of the HARD family. It’s likely they won’t all stay: of the ten or so women who showed up for my Recruitment Night, Jackie and I are the only ones who remain, so the possibility exists we could lose seventy-five to eighty percent of this group in the next few months. But for those who remain and push to make themselves derby certified, they’ll realize how hard, difficult, and mind-bending this sport can be. They’ll also realize just how much fun it as well and they’ll find when the next Recruitment Night rolls around, they’ll be the ones ready to help the newest of our Fresh Meat, just as I did–
Though I doubt they’ll break out the green wig as I did.
This has been an interesting week at the rink as my team, HARD, aka The Girls in Green, get ready for a home bout this Sunday on the 6th of August. Though I’ve attended two bouts, this will be my first at home and freshie attendance is expected. Needless to say I’m a bit excited because, well, home is where the team’s at, right?
It also means the team has been practicing extra hard this week. Part of the reason is we are playing at home, another is that we want to win. We’re also working with members from the York City Derby Dames, the team in York, PA, that has become a sister team, allowing their people to play with us and us to play with them. (One reason for this is to allow for a deeper roster, which comes in handy when you’re playing against teams that have like 15 active players.)
And our teams are working out hard ’cause during Monday night’s practice we lost our resident mermaid, Ariel Wildfire, to a broken ankle that happened when she went down wrong after a hit. Yes, kids: you can get seriously hurt even during practice. She was back using a kneeling scooter on Wednesday night and will be at the game as an observer.
As for my injury… after sitting out through nearly all of last week my foot is better. Maybe not one hundred percent, but close enough that I’m back to skating and walking to work. Now I know that if I’m hurt like that, don’t try to come back on it right away: take a week off and let it heal.
Since I could practice I managed to get plenty of video with my Go Pro, so you can see some of this stuff happening up close. Let’s me start off with Monday night…
Scalloping is when you use one foot to alter your trajectory quick, usually to the right or left while you’re going forward. Normally it’s used to get in front of someone fast, which is what we were working on in this first video. Needless to say I didn’t do it right, so Ida shows me what I did wrong so I can do it right.
I’m getting much better at weaving now that I’m fairly used to my skates. I’m not quite whipping down the markers, but I’m a lot better than I was when I was back on rentals.
A 180 Transition Block is a simple thing: when someone comes up from behind, you spin around one hundred and eighty degrees and put a shoulder into them to slow them up. Jackie and I worked together, trading blocker and jammer positions in the next two videos:
And lastly–I Finally got the chance to do some pyramid blocking. You have two people shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, forming a wall, and a third person holding on to you both, letting you know which way to move because the jammer is trying to get around you. As you can see we’re both doing well:
And just like that it’s Wednesday night! Ida was working that night so Gracehopper, the latest freshie to move up to the “adult’s table”, as I call scrimmaging with the vets and playing in bouts, was asked to work with us. She had us doing a little weaving and plowing and stuff like that, but we really worked hard on blocking. And first up was single jammer block, which is a bit like scallop blocking, only we didn’t have to get in front, we only had to make contact with the jammer and push her out of bounds–which is why we’re working on a short stretch of made-up track. Grace was moving fast when I was working with her, which meant I had to keep up with her. And I did.
Now back to the pyramid blocking. It was a little different than when we did it on Monday night because rather than just block and be done if the jammer was either forced off the track or managed to get around you, Grace made the rule that once we engaged, it was up to the jammer to push the blockers to the end of the track. You got that right: one person had to push three people about thirty feet down a laid out straightaway and not stop until we were at the end. And if the jammer went out of bounds? They came back on where they went out and got back to pushing.
So these first two are with me being in the wall:
And here I’m the jammer coming up on the blockers, which means it’s pushing time!
And lastly I’m the brace in the pyramid, so I’m calling the directions for which way the jammer is going.
Here I am doing something I haven’t done before: I’m skating backwards. It’s only taken about forty years, and I’m only going about twenty feet, but I’m getting there. It’s all about putting the moves together.
Lastly we were working on crossovers and while I don’t have that move down pat, I decided to see if I could turn on a bit of speed and see how it felt. While I didn’t go as fast as the vets, I was skating outside the track and close to the wall at a good clip, doing a lap maybe every twenty-five seconds. When I realized I hadn’t filmed this, I went back out for a couple of laps, only stopping after a couple of laps due to a cramp in my back. But while I was out there doing this I finally felt as if I was getting into some kind of grove. Now to work on the form and build up the endurance and see how this looks when I’m inside the track.
Eighteen practices in, but the reality is I was not doing much in two due to injury and I’ve missed three others for the same reason, as well as missing three others when I saw my daughter graduate. Still, in sixteen practices, thirty-two hours of work, I’ve gotten this far, and in the next thirty-two hours of practice I expect to be much better than this. Which means when I get to the end of September I had better look back at this video and think, “Yeah, I was really starting to get better then–”
Let’s hope I exceed my expectations.
Nothing about writing today, because I didn’t work on anything writing related last night. It was a time to relax and recharge, and I’ll get into things a little tonight after I return from getting my nails done and grabbing something to eat. No, I needed a nap and the need to sit and watch some TV last night, all the while thinking about something that’s been on my mind for a while.
It has to do with geekdom. If you’ve followed the blog for a while you’ve seen some of my posts about my various steps into things geeky. I’ve been into a lot of different things over the years, and I suppose I could say that I’ve tempered that love with a sense of reality, turning my love of various fandoms into a thing that I nurtured and cherished.
However . . . this year I’ve stepped into a “geeky gift exchange” that was limited to a small number of people, and since joining I’ve been going nuts. No, really: I’ve been really beating myself up the last couple of weeks over being in this group. I should point out that I get like this with any gift exchange, because I’m fairly particular about giving gifts. It’s not the value that I want someone to remember, but rather, I want them to have something that comes from my heart and speaks to them.
And then I begin reading what people in the group already own, what they’ve collected–and I began feeling bad. Not for them, but rather, for me.
To paraphrase Karen Blixen, I had a collection in geeky things in my library in my home. It wasn’t big, but it was growing, and it covered a lot of different things.
My first love had always been book–science fiction to be exact. I was a space travel junkie, but there were a few other stories that I loved just as well, and in the 1960s and 70s I spent hours reading and trying to find stories relating to my favorite authors. I collected Omni and Twilight Zone magazines, both sadly gone these days, and both of which offered fantastic stories and information while they were out. I had nearly every issues of the first and all the issues produced during the Twilight Zone‘s short, two year run. Twilight Zone was famous for first-run printings of Harlan Ellison’s Grail and Paladin of the Last Hour, among his best writing and my favorite stories, as well as Steven King’s The Jaunt and his now-famous review of The Evil Dead where Steven pretty much lost his shit and gushed out his love for the picture.
Then it was Doctor Who, which I started watching in PBS in Chicago about 1980. Yes, twenty-five years before all the fans who today talk about how they’ve seen ALL THE EPISODES of the show, starting with Rose in 2005. Uh, huh, sure you have. I was fortunate to be able to watch the show on one of only two networks in North America that ran it at that time. (The other network was a station in Toronto, Canada.) After a while I began taping the show so I could go back and watch episodes when the mood struck, and when our local station finally managed to get access to the then full catalog of existing episodes (just under a hundred are missing, having been destroyed during various BBC vault purges), I was kept busy buying VHS tapes in bulk.
Then I asked for a scarf.
The Forth Doctor was my first Doctor, and he was known for, among other things, his long scarves. My first wife, pregnant with our son, felt like she needed something to do, so she found a pattern for the multi-colored, eighteen foot scarf, and made it for me. It was big and heavy, but it was also glorious. I would actually wear it out and to work, and I didn’t mind the stares shot my way by people who wondered what in the hell I had wrapped around my body.
I few years later I wore that scarf to a huge convention where I met several of the actors, watched the first North American viewing of the Doctor Who episodes The War Games and The Caves of Androzani, and eventually had my picture taken standing alongside a full-sized Dalek that two guys had made in their auto body shop in high school.
I went to several DW cons over the next few years, cosplayed a few more times (we just called it “dressing up in costume” because we didn’t know what I was going to get labeled in the future), and met more actors. At one con I managed to spend nearly forty minutes chatting with Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, and we just talked about things–not always about the show, but stuff about what it was like to act, what it was like to be in other shows, what it was like to live in England and have to hop a flight to Chicago where he’d find himself talking to people like me. We did get to talking about his not being allowed to have a Regeneration Episode, and he had a . . . few . . . choice . . . words on that matter. Still and all, Colin was an extremely nice guy and a lot of fun.
There were several other things I got into over the year. Role Playing Games, of which I have dozens, and some of the games I ran during the 1990s were, in a way, legendary. I collected Battletech miniatures, some of which are impossible to find. I’d have people paint them and put them on display around the home. During the period I was between my first and second marriages I began collecting anime: some movies, some OVAs, a few wall scrolls, more than a couple of figurines that could only be bought in Japan–which, thanks to the Internet, was doable. I also began collecting animation cells from various productions. Of these I don’t have many: maybe a dozen. The majority are from the original Sailor Moon and Urusei Yatsura, with a couple coming from Song of Escaflowne and Silent Mobius.
All old school stuff, but as they are the original, hand-painted cells, they were and are worth a big of cash. I know a couple ran about $200 in late 1990s money, and I believe the head shot I have of Lum set me back about $300. The one I really wanted, the one I got into a bidding war with two other collectors, was for a full-body portrait of Sailor Saturn and her Silence Glaive, which was about as rare a cell as they came. I stopped when my $850 bid was passed, and I later learned from the seller that the winning bid was $1,100. Yeah, the things we did twenty years ago when we had money.
So what happened to all this stuff? Well . . .
You see, while I was happy in my geekdom, and wanted to continue adding to the collection, others close to me–otherwise known as First and Second Wives–had other ideas. My first wife grew bored with my geekness–as she did with just about everything else pertaining to me–and began getting pissy with my collections and my interest. When I got to where everything I did turned into a big argument, I stopped the pursuit of all things geek, though I didn’t actually curtail my gaming on the weekends. It was during the time just after I moved out that I lost my Omni and Twilight Zone magazine collections: my ex told me she sold them at a garage sale, but I’m more of a mind that she tossed them in the bin. I later lost my Doctor Who VHS collection to my stepson, who my second wife allowed to make off with my boxes of tapes. I was also “convinced” by my second wife to give him my scarf, because there wasn’t any need to keep it, right?
Some of the other things that happened during my current marriage has been the boxing of my figurines and the removal of my wall posters. Some of them went to my daughter, but most of them have gone into garage storage. I was told having them around the house looked–well, not good, right? My Battletech miniatures are boxed up as well, since I was informed that it wouldn’t be a good thing to put them on display. I never managed to frame my animation cells, either, and right now they’re sitting in my closet back in Indiana, still in their shipping sleeves. I’m heading Back to Indiana in a week, and I promise to get a few photos of these and put them up for you to see. One day my daughter will get them if she really wants them; if not, I’ll probably give them away to someone who’d love a pissed-off looking Sailor Mars about to fireball someone’s ass.
I really have no one to blame for my current geeky apathy other than myself. Yes, I received little to no support in my pursuits, and in so many instances I felt as if I was working in a vacuum with my fandom, because the only one who felt an interest in these things was me. Just like with my gaming–which I eventually stopped because I was told by someone that they didn’t understand why I gamed, and kept wanting me to scale back my weekend endeavors in that area–I agreed to curtail these activities, and ultimately I lost interest in the act of surrounding myself with things that reminded me of those interests I loved.
These days I keep my geekness to the area of intellectual endeavor, because I can always look something up and memorize facts and use that knowledge to kinda keep me warm a cozy. It’s not always comforting, however: it’s like the difference between having a sweater that keeps the chill away, and curling up under a comforter with someone you love who’s going to whisper in your ear, “I’d blow up a star to be able to speak to you one last time.” No, not nearly the same.
Which is why I see what others I know have and love, and brings on the tears because it reminds me of what I once had–
And what, over the decades, I’ve lost because I didn’t want to upset people who didn’t support me.
Hey, it’s never too late to turn that around, is it?
Finally, a pretty good night of wirting, even if there were more than a few distractions happening. But I’m used to that these days; it seems to be the way of a writer’s life. You work your way through them, adjust, and keep moving. As it was I managed about eight hundred words last night, but more importantly, I inched closer to the end of Chapter Twenty-Two.
This is the penultimate scene, and if you can’t tell by the title of the post, Emma and Annie meet. How do they meet? Like this:
(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
18:32 to 1838
The warning alarm wasn’t loud, but the beep-beep-beepbeep-beeeeeeep was easily designed so as not to be mistaken as something other than an incoming teleport. The moment it started Coraline turned to the location about two-thirds of the way towards the center of the Rotunda and made her announcement. “We have incoming, people. Time to do our jobs.”
Annie got into position. Her instructions were simple: if anyone permitted to teleport through The Pentagram screen wasn’t who they were supposed to be, the Annie was to launch death spells on them without hesitation. She did so with the understanding that if any Deconstructors made it through the minute opening in the screens the Security Center allowed for emergency teleportation of the wounded, and they saw her standing off to one side watching everyone coming into the building, they might decide to launch a death spell her way first.
It was a calculated risk, and one she accepted ever since letting Coraline know that she could do the killing for them were it necessary. If you’re going to be a sorceress, you have to accept the life they lead. And it’s not always a safe one—
An eerie silence filled the Rotunda right before the pop that came with the arrival of someone teleporting. Annie wasn’t certain who the person was, but Coraline rushed up to her, so she obviously knew the person. Addressing them by name helped as well . . .
“What do you have, Suhaila?” Coraline checked the person that Annie now saw this Suhaila cradled effortlessly in her arms. The Chief Medical Officer for the school motioned for the other woman to follow her to the triage area.
“Flier trying to get back in.” Suhaila didn’t have an issues with the person in their arms, which led Annie to believe she was an AP like all of Coraline’s staff. “Found her outside The Diamond; her wingmate and her reported in as soon as the comms were back on-line, and it was thought best to bring them in through there.” She laid the girl in on of the reclining chairs instead of on a stretcher. “She’s in shock: I think she was attacked by an Abomination.”
It was only when Coraline pulled the flier’s helmet off that Annie saw the cascading red hair that had been hidden there moments before she heard the question. “She got a name?”
Suhaila nodded. “Emma Neilson.”
Now we know who was supposed to go pick up the kids, and if there hadn’t been some Anime Wannabe hanging out and spoiling the night, Annie would be back with her Kerry. Instead she gets the wingmate and some bad news . . .
Annie froze in mid-step as she listened to the conversation—
Coraline conjured the orange glow in her hand while looked at the monitor over the head of the chair. “Yeah, she’s in deep shock.” She nodded at Gretchen. “Okay, let’s bring her out.”
“Yes, Coraline.” She pulled a slap patch from her jacket and gently applied it to the right side of Emma’s neck. “That should do it.”
Coraline checked the monitor. “And three, two, one . . .” She placed her hands upon Emma’s shoulders as the near-catatonic girl gasped for air as she convulsed. The head nurse leaned in close to the girl’s head. “It’s okay, Emma; it’s okay. You’re in the hospital; you’re safe now.” As Emma stopped shaking and started to calm down Coraline turned to Suhaila. “You said you were out there to pick up two?”
“Yes.” She nodded slowly. “The other flier wasn’t there.”
“What’s their name?”
Annie shook her head slowly; she didn’t want to hear the name of Emma’s wingmate. Don’t say it; don’t say it. Please don’t say—
No, not what Annie wants to hear. Also, she didn’t want to hear an Abomination was there, so things aren’t looking up for her. Even Coraline is a little worried–
Coraline shot a look in Annie’s direction, then quickly turned back to Suhaila. “Okay, we can take it from here. You need anything from us?”
“Good, then.” She patted the security woman on the shoulder; as soon as she teleported out, Coraline turned back to the now fairly serene student in the examination chair. “Emma, I’m Nurse Coraline. You know me?”
Emma nodded slowly. “Yes.”
“Were you attacked outside The Diamond?”
Her eyes opened wide and she shook slightly. “I was. I—”
“It’s okay; you’re safe.” Coraline looked up at Gretchen. “There’s no injuries other than bruises and contusions.” She stepped away from the examination chair and led Gretchen away for consultation. “We can get her up to the ward—”
Annie wasn’t listening to their conversation: she had instead moved next to the examination chair and was now standing over Emma. She calmly looked over the girl before speaking. “Emma.”
Emma slowly looked up. “Oh, hi, Annie.”
I look at that last line and so want to write, “Oh hai!”–it’s so hard not to put that in. Who’s the last person you expect to see after being attacked by a monster? The girlfriend of your wingmate–I’m sorry, I mean, Soul Mate. And, from the looks of it, a not so happy one . . .
She wasn’t in the mood for an “Oh, hi,” however. She wanted answers. “Where’s Kerry?”
Emma managed a weak smile. “He saved me.”
“What were you doing out in the open?” Annie moved so she was standing next to Emma’s raised torso. “Why weren’t you somewhere safe?”
“We couldn’t; we almost crashed.” Emma slowly licked her dry lips. “We were in the woods and Kerry got me to find a place to hide.” Her eyes rolled for a second. “It was nice, too.”
“What were you doing at The Diamond, then?” Annie’s voice remained steady and level, but a dangerous tone began creeping into her words. “Why weren’t you hiding?”
“I wanted to get underground.” Emma’s voice was growing distant as the medication she was given was removing all the effects of her shock. “I thought we’d be safer. Even Kerry thought the plan wasn’t bad.” She chuckled. “We were almost all the way there when Nightwitch told us to go there and we’d get picked up.” She nodded. “See? It was good.”
Annie leaned over Emma, the distance between their faces closing. “Emma, what happened to Kerry?”
Her voice was weak and far off. “He saved me.”
She grabbed Emma by the front of her flight jacket. “How did he save you?”
“He attacked the monster.”
Annie’s eyes turned cold as she calmly pulled Emma towards her. “He attacked an Abomination?”
Emma chuckled once more. “I heard him screaming at it, and then it screamed at him, and there was more screaming . . .” She gulped as her breathing turned ragged. “There was a lot of screaming.”
As her hands slipped up to the collar of Emma’s flight jacket, Annie fought to keep her anger under control. She was loath to show her feelings to others, but this very moment she felt as if she were about to go off on this stupid girl. “Mozhete glupavo malka kuchka . . .” She pulled the jacket tight around Emma’s neck. “What happened to Kerry? Where is he?”
“He flew off.” Emma continued speaking calmly, as though nothing out of the ordinary were happening. “He flew off and the monster went after him.”
“Kerry’s out there with an Abomination after him—” Annie pulled Emma to within a few centimeters of her face.
Emma stared back at Annie as if dumbfounded. “He saved me—” She slowly blinked twice before chuckling. “You’re so lucky.”
Yeah, that little bit of Bulgarian there . . . Annie’s not happy. And the “You’re so lucky” line . . . Full disclosure here: as I’ve stated a few times before, Annie and Kerry came out of a role play that me and another person did for most of a year. This actual scene was more or less played out, with my friend playing Annie, and me playing Emma. Some of what happened in this scene is as presented–I’ve had to change a few things, and our role playing scene was shorter–but what Annie does to Emma here is what my friend did with Annie.
And when I laid the “You’re so lucky” line on her, she lost it. Annie literally went all murder time on the girl. I was actually a bit shocked at how she went at Emma, but now I understand her motivation. I understand that you don’t mess with her soul mate, and if you did something stupid that might have gotten him killed . . .
You’re gonna suffer, honey.
A couple of days ago I saw my friend who played Annie on-line, and I told her I was getting ready to write this scene, and after I said, “You’re so lucky”, she tells me–and here is the exact quote: “And the lucky thing . . . honestly . . . If I could have gotten away with it, I would have pulled her lungs out of her body and squeezed them.”
No, she wasn’t bothered at all by what Emma did.
What does Annie do?
Well . . . I’ll write that up tonight. Considering Annie’s the Dark Witch–what do you think?
When I was first designing my Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning–under a different name, mind you–I had maps drawn and things labeled. I had a location in the middle of Maine for the school, towns that the students could visit, and interesting things that could be done in and around the area–which, to be honest, was pretty much all wilderness.
During the process of transplanting my Salem school into another world, I started thinking, “Having it in Maine makes no sense. But where can I put it so it’s close to Salem?” Fortunately for me Goggle Maps exist, and I found the perfect place: the middle of Cape Ann, a small island where the town of Gloucester is located. I could come up with all sorts of interesting ways to keep the school hidden–after all, what’s the point of writing about a huge, world-encompassing organization if they can’t hide a large group of buildings in plain sight?–and, if I set my mind to it, I could make the school bigger. Much bigger.
That’s where I got into Blender and began doing a little three dimensional modeling. I came up with a whole new layout for the school, while keeping the central area–The Pentagram, the Coven Towers, and the Great Hall–all right where they belonged. So I started thinking big–really big. And a whole new school was created out of the old.
Constructing a model of the school and the tunnels that run under the school took weeks. In actuality, I probably tweaked this model for a few months–in fact, the labels you see in the picture above were put there last month, and this included labels I put on one of the cross-country race tracks–the Green Line–so when people say, “He lost it in the Northwest Passage”, I know where it’s at.
How big is the school The Great Hall is 175 meters from the north end of the library to the main entrance at the south. That’s 574 feet if you don’t do the whole metric thing. That means The Pentagram is much larger–each of the walls between the towers are between 220 meters (722 feet) to 240 meters (787 feet). And yet when you look at this structure, it fits nicely inside the walls. From the north Polar Tower to the southern wall next the Gloucester Entrance it’s about 5.5 kilometers (or 3.4 miles), and a good part of the school is about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) across. Like I said, it’s a big place with room to move.
Now that I had a place, I was almost ready to start writing the pre-novel, The Scouring. I just needed to do a little modifying of some of the characters . . .
All of the characters were developed around a starting 2011 time frame, but a lot of them were teaching back in the year 2000, the time of The Scouring. Not only there, but a few of the current teachers in the work in progress were students. So you know what was needed? Time lines.
As you can see, I know that Erywin, Jessica, Madeline, and Ramona were teaching in 2000, and that Isis, Deanna, and Wednesday–who work at the school in the current novel–were students then. I also see that Coraline came in as the school doctor on 30 April, 2000–the day after the time of the Scouring. This is where a time line comes in handy: it lets you know what people did went, particularly if you’re working on multiple story arcs. And you also see just about when all the main characters–and a few side characters–were students. The nice thing here is that Aeon Timeline allows you to export part or all of a time line as an image, and then you can insert that image into a Scrivener file. So if you don’t want to have two programs up at the same time, just bring in your time line and view it when you feel it’s needed.
Now, one last thing, and it’s about my characters. I’m an old role playing gamer and GM, or Game Master. I love making characters, and I like to make them as real as I can. When I started putting the characters for these stories together, I not only did a little bit of history on each, but I assigned a “face” to them, something that, when I’m first starting out with the character development, I get an idea of how they looked. Sometimes–like I did for Her Demonic Majesty–the faces are of people whose pictures I just find. And then there are times, like with the character in The Foundation Chronicles, that they sort of become celebrities in their own right.
Here are the people I picked for each of my characters for The Scouring, and I’ll show you were I altered them.
Jessica Kishna, Mistress of Transformation. She came from a picture I found of an African-American runway model, with a big helping of the wonderful Angela Basset.
Ramona Chai, Self Defense and Weapons. Ziyi Zhang.
Matthias Ellison, Music and Arts Director. Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Madeline Palmescoff, History. Mary-Louise Parker.
Erywin Sladen, Formulistic Magic. Joanna Lumley.
Isis Mossman. Chloë Sevigny, but with changes. Since it was stated in The Scouring that her mother was Egyptian, that meant altering her features and complexion slightly.
Deanna Arrakis. Deanna was difficult because she’s Iraqi, and it took some time to find good pictures of women from Iraq. Eventually I settled on a combination so that she has a slightly large nose, a strong chin, large brown eyes, black hair, and a slightly tanned complexion.
Wednesday Douglas. Here I went totally meta, because I literally came up with the actress first. That actress is . . . Christina Ricci. And who is Christina known for playing?
There you have it: Wednesday Douglas, who will have a daughter named Tuesday and a granddaughter named Friday. And who is one of the best little witches to come out of Salem in a long time. She doesn’t have pigtails, though. She hates them. Now you know why.
And lastly, Supporting Characters:
Helena Lovecraft. She’s a Kiwi, so I wanted a Kiwi as her “face”, which means I picked Lucy Lawless. she’s gone through a lot of changes, however: I kept the body and her intense look, made her half-Māori, darkened her hair and complexion, and gave her “black shark’s eyes”. All and all, I have always loved Helana, and I have her back story with Erywin, her partner and companion, thought out and down pat. One day Erywin will even tell Kerry about how she met her “pretty girl”.
Coraline Gallagher, the new School “Nurse”. Coraline is modeled after Christina Hendricks, thought the young character that Wednesday meets is more like Yo-Saf-Bridge from Firefly (with red hair, naturally) and not Joan Holloway from Mad Men, the person Annie and Kerry meet. This is also why when “Red” meets Coraline–as she likes to call him–for the first time he doesn’t know how to describe her except as “curvy”, which is his way of being polite. Coraline is a huge romantic and a hell of a fighter–I still have to publish that except of her and Madam Chai going at it–and Kerry doesn’t know it yet, but he and Nurse Coraline share a birthday. There is a reason for that . . .
Now that we have all that out of the way, tomorrow I can get into outlining a small novel.
The big one comes after that.
There has been a lot of playing around the last couple of days, and some yelling on the phone as well. Why would one be yelling on the phone? Because there’s someone on the other end who isn’t listening, that’s why. That’s all short-term nonsense, however, and I expect things to go back to some semblance of normal by the end of the week.
Or a black hole will open and suck me into another dimension. Anything’s possible at this point.
There’s been a lot of thinking going on between writing. Most of said thinking isn’t about the new story, because I know what’s happening with that, and since I’ve mind mapped the story and I know the ending, all that is required is getting the middle parts written. I’m into the sexy bits now, and while I’m only doing a thousand words a night, it’s fun getting into that stuff. Right now I don’t feel like doing more than a thousand a day, but the end is already in my head, and I’m guessing that the totally erotic stuff happening now is going to be good for another three, four thousand words.
There’s the nagging feeling that I want to get into another story, a different story, soon. I know I want to edit Replacements so I can get it ready for publishing, because the writing’s complete, it only needs a cover and some polishing and then it’s off to be self-published for fame and glory. Sure, that’s why I’m a starving artist, don’t you know?
Beyond that–well, I’m thinking of getting Couples Dance out and starting the work on that as well. Despite my emails I’ve heard nothing from the publisher that wanted a look at the manuscript, and I have to guess they’re either not interested, or they’ve went belly up. Now that story, it’s a strange one. If I can get that published alongside Replacements and Her Demonic Majesty, that’s three out of the four titles I set as a goal for this year, and it means there is still the possibility I can make Number Four happen before the end of the year.
There is the feeling, though–I want to do something science fictiony again. Yes, I have science fiction stories that I could either write or edit for publishing, but I want to get back out into space. I want to do something that is adventurous. I don’t know why I’ve had this feeling kicking me about the back of my mind of late, but when I’m looking at the desktop of my computer I see my 3D rendering programs, and I want to get into one and start playing about with ship designs and the such.
I want to jump back into the sci fi game. I want to do something that’s fun–maybe a bit of space opera wrapped up in some seriousness. I want to do it and keep it “short” and see if it touches my mind. I even have a character that would be perfect for this sort of story–
Maybe it’s time to pull her out and give her a run at the readers.
With the latest novel out of the way, it was time to get into another book and getting some information together for someone to design a cover for said story. There wasn’t a lot to do–well, maybe I’m being modest, because there was a lot of hunting for information, and a bit of cutting and pasting, to get the final document in order. As it was, I passed off about two thousand words of useful information–I hope.
So that’s off to the printer, so to speak. Probably going to get into another edit tonight: I want to shape up Replacements, and there’s a chapter I need to write to have the story make a little more sense–I’m putting in some dumb character building, I know, why do I need that shit? Because I do, that’s why. The story will get edited, then I’ll put in another requests for a cover . . .
April will see a lot of work towards publishing. But I’ve got other things going as well.
In the last week I’ve had two role playing games reviews published. These aren’t new reviews, and they aren’t new games; I originally published them on another site a few years back, and sort of let them sit. Since they weren’t doing much in the way of traffic, I offered them to someone to post on their site after I gave them a bit of a polish, ’cause lets face it, I see mistakes much better these days. If you are interested in reading the reviews, the are for the games Diaspora and Eclipse Phase. Enjoy.
I don’t game much these days. Actually, I don’t game at all; it’s been a couple of years since I’ve done any serious gaming, and while I’m always ready to jump into something, I’ve encountered the problem of either not finding a game I like, or not finding a group I like. Both can be a problem, because if you are in a game that’s not your style, or you’re gaming with assholes, the urge to play goes right down the toilet in short order.
Yet I still pick up games now and then. Why? Simple answer: they can be fodder for ideas.
There was a time when the games I ran were my stories. Trust me: run a role playing game every other weekend for two years, and you’ll develop a sense for story, for metaplots, and for characters. You play in their world, but you make it your own: you build most everything off the structure, then make your cast of characters, direct the action so your players have something interesting to do.
I did this for a couple of decades, and it helped me understand what sort of work it takes to be a storytelling. I prided myself on my games, and I pride myself on the tales I write these days.
As for these games I still buy . . .
One can find inspiration from anywhere. One of my first completed long stories took place in a game universe, one that I knew intimately It could be argued that I was writing fan fiction even though the character throughout the story were entirely mine, but I won’t argue the point. It was a good exercise for me, and my only regret is that this particular story is lost to me, vanished on a hard drive failure. Doesn’t me I couldn’t rewrite the story from scratch today, because you always remember your first novella . . .
I hear you out there, however: so you’re still buying game to steal ideas, is that it? Inspiration can come from anywhere, as my muse Erin would tell you. If you find something in a paragraph of a supplement that gets the mental gears cranking, then good for you, because working your imagination is a great thing–maybe one of the greatest things a person can achieve.
Besides, Quentin Tarantino has found inspiration this way for a couple of decades, and some call him a genius.
I already am one, so the calling should come easy . . .
Oh, such is the aftermath of sleeping with the Luna Moth. I make it through the night without waking at some ridiculous time of the morning, but the next day forces you to deal with the hangover for many, many hours. It’s never fun; in fact, it can be a dangerous thing when you’re out on the highway surrounded by idiots–as I’ll be this afternoon.
At the moment I’m trying to analyze business intelligence software–always a fun thing–and write this. I’m sort of failing at both ends, because my body is revolting against me, saying, “No, you can’t make your fingers move that way, because it feels funny to us.” Also, these companies don’t want to give me a quote on their software: the want me to try it first. I don’t want to try it, I just want to know how much of my money you’re going to take. There is no “try”, there is only, “How much, Bunky?”
Since I didn’t write anything last night–I was on Skype with my therapist, and by the time that was through I was inching into ten PM territory–I did polish up an old game review and sent it off to the guy who’d asked me about them the other night. Yes, I found some errors; yes, I did rewrite part of it because it felt very clumsy in some areas. Mostly I rewrote things because I know how now to tell the same tell better, and I want to see things looking nice and shiny before I send them out into the Interwebs again.
One of the things I’ve seen over the years is how good some of the stuff I wrote three, four, five years back is today. It’s not perfect, but it’s readable in a good way. I still get ideas across; I still manage to make the right points; I still manage to let what passes for “my humor” present itself upon the page.
What I’m saying it the writing was good, and it was something of which I am proud.
In fact, I was just looking over another review I did in 2011, and while there are a few issues here and there, I have no problems with it. Sure, a clean up is in order, and I might have to correct something were I to republish it because a few things have changed since the original publication, but it’s not as if I need to perform massive triage to get it presentable. It is . . . good.
If the two reviews I sent in are deemed worthy, them I’m probably going to send a few of these other things that I penned. I’m also looking and publishing some–wait for it–new articles, because I’d once made the promise to do so, and I should follow through, should I not? I was even looking at some research material because that’s what I do, even if I don’t want to write. But since I likely will, the reading came in handy.
The plan is to finish Suggestive Amusements this weekend or early next week–but that doesn’t mean I won’t write something else in the meantime.
After, every little bit helps.
The end is approaching. Not that we should be sad about that, because the end I mention is the end of my current work in progress. The penultimate chapter has started, and people are talking about what had happened up to this point.
This is the chapter I’ve been thinking about for a while, so it came easy to setting up the meeting between Erin and–lets call her one of her bosses, a member of the upper Goddess echelon that has come to sit with Erin and find out just what in the hell is going on. I’ve imagined the conversation for some times, and when I was writing last night the idea was coming out on to the page well.
We’ll see where it goes tonight when I continue Goddess Chat.
There was something else going on while I was writing, however, because if nothing else, I multitask like mad. I was chatting with someone I know, someone who I’ve written things for in the past, and whom has enjoyed my writing. As I was working through my chapter I was also working through a discussion of some articles I’d written some time back, and the comments that came my way were sort of like, “Hey, you ever going to write any more of these?”
There was a time when I was writing a lot of different things. For a while I was doing game reviews on another website, and writing a few articles for another site, all of which occurred while I was blogging and working on my first completed novel. It was a lot of fun, and it helped me develop my talent as a writing, and even more as a researcher and editor.
But all good things come to an end, as it is said. I was doing all this writing when I was “between jobs”, as the saying goes, and I had a lot of time to put pen to computer. Then I found a job, I had to move, I had to find time to write while I had spare time, and with spare time at a premium, I found that if I wanted to work on my stuff, I had to cut other things out of my life.
Ergo, no more articles.
But there is another saying: nothing that dies ever stays dead. True, they might only say that in the Marvel Universes, but there is some precedence for that in the real world as well. When I started thinking about the stuff I’d written once, it made me realize that, hey, that stuff was pretty good, and it was a lot of fun to write. And I was reminded that, at one time, I did tell this person that I’d write them another article . . .
Today I pulled out something I’d written nearly two years ago, a game review that I’d put up and sort of left. I read it, edited it, and sent it off to the person I was speaking with last night, ’cause I told him that reviewing Science Fiction type role playing games is a good thing to do–and there are probably people out there who’ll want to read them.
Does this mean I’m back into doing articles and reviews for other people? Hard to say. After all, Jean Grey hasn’t popped up from the dead again–
I was out last night. It was another in a long line of visits where I go out, have pizza, chat, and watch shows that either invite snarky commentary about plot holes (Prisoner of Azkaban, why walk back to Hogwatts when someone could have apparated Peter back? Why not have someone go back and get Dumbledore? Why not just take Peter to Hogsmeade, which was right next door? Why did Lupin conveniently forget there was a full moon that night? Why was the story plot hammered like it was being run by a bad GM?) or something more interesting (like two episodes of Season Two of Sherlock).
Then came the drive back after midnight. For some reason there was almost no traffic, and my drive home was one of just letting the cruise control do its thing just point the car down the road. There wasn’t a need to touch the brakes, so I drove and thought . . .
I had a waxing gibbous moon on my left shoulder for most of the drive, and it struck me that this would be my last moonlit drive for 2012. And it was strange because on so many moonlit drives, I’ve been with characters who have made my stories shine, with ideas that drive me on to produce good stories, and plots that I hope work out once I put them to paper.
I had none of that last night. It was just me, and a few of my thoughts. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but as perfect as the night seemed, I really wanted to have someone alongside, sharing the experience.
This is has been a long year, with plenty of ups and downs, things to be remembered and forgotten. There has been exhilaration and doubt. Particularly the doubt, which has seemed to increase in the last few weeks. Don’t ask why, because I don’t know myself. It’s the way my mind works, and it’s not ways a good thing, that.
The thing about being a writer is there is always doubt. Is this story good? Are the characters believable? Does any of this make sense? Is the cover nice? Is this damn thing going to sell? It’s the nature of the beast, these doubts, because creative people are like that. Nothing is ever good enough for them; everything is “okay”. Or, if they are really down on themselves, “not so good”.
Quite honestly, we’re all seconds away from an Admiral Ackbar moment, and it will drive you crazy when all the thoughts of everything bad that could happen to you come knocking. I had a touch of that last night, then kicked them out of the car because I realize the more negativity you embrace, the longer it stays with you. That was the problem with my last job: it was a negative environment, and very little made me happy.
I don’t want negative: I want happy.
It seemed that once I pushed the bad stuff out of the car, a couple of characters who I hadn’t thought of in some time entered my mind, as if to put me at easy and tell me, “It’s okay, love. We all go thought this: you’re no different.” It was comforting that even someone fictional could bring a smile to my face . . .
Perhaps they needed someone to ride with as well.
Two chapters to go in Replacements, and it’s surprising how easy it’s been to reach this point. It’s helped a lot that the last couple of chapters have been very easy to edit, with only the need to change a few things, and adding a phrase here and there. It’s easy to see that when I wrote this on the first pass, I knew what I wanted to say in these later chapters than I did in the first.
But then I had a better idea of where I wanted the story to go by the time I’d finished the first couple of chapters. It only makes sense that when I reached then last three chapters, I didn’t have to think about what I was going to write–I only needed it written.
In working this last chapter tonight, I realize that I should do something to the story. There’s an event that happens at the end, and it takes place in something five paragraphs. Which makes me wonder: can a truly horrible event be summed up in under a hundred words?
The event that happens, while needed, is not that important that if you never saw it happen, the omission would ruin everything. If anything, the short scene–the whole chapter is about fourteen hundred words–shows how the person who’s become Olivia will do just about anything to get her way, and while she may feel sorry about what she did, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t do it again.
In a way, the character who is Olivia is something of a psycho. She’s kicking ass and burning bridges left and right, and what pisses her off is not the possibility that one may have picked up something strange about her–it’s that she’s enjoying her new role as department head and secret mistress, and woe be to anyone who steps on the toes of her Ferragamos.
I may have given it some thought in the past, but Olivia is probably one of the most screwed up characters I’ve ever done. She’s not crazy in a Hannibal Lecter way, but once she figures out that she can do pretty much as he pleases, she talks about screwed people up as calmly as she would discuss what sort of polish to use for her pedicure.
When I used to run my World of Darkness Vampire game, there was one character who used to put in an appearance in just about everyone’s game, because when it came to the World of the Undead in Chicago, she was right at the top of the heap of room-temperature bodies.
She was old, powerful, and sometimes referred to as the person who was the historical Helen of Troy. Since she was so old and powerful, people liked to play her in a very over the top manner, with a lot of histrionics, and beating of breasts. She was this Amazonian vampire Wonder Woman who no one in their mind would ever cross, because she would hold out your maybe-beating heart for you to see if she was of that mood.
Naturally, I had her show up for a few secessions. When the players meet her, what do they get? A very short woman, about five foot without heels, somewhat dark, olive tone skin, black hair, dark eyes, and a physique that might lead you to believe she could lift her body weight–if she were lucky.
This was the same character, the old vampire killer to end all killers. And she looked like you wouldn’t notice her twice if you ran into her at a local Micky-Ds.
I was questioned about why she looked the way she did. I was able to justify her appearance on that fact that if she really were from Greece, circa 1,000 BCE, then the whole idea of having a six foot tall plus woman running about the city was ludicrous. Skin tone, hair, eyes–pretty much the standard for the area. If she’d been a real lady before turning bloodsucker, then manual labor was totally out of the question, and she probably wouldn’t have had a lot of toning or muscular definition.
But when she–well, I, since I was playing here–spoke, she was calm, has great manners never once raised her voice or threw a tantrum. I was ready for that, too. “If you’re a poseur badass,” I explained, “you have to constantly show everyone so they don’t forever. If you’re a true badass, though . . . you never have to show anyone what you can do. They just know.”
And . . . they’re never bothered if they have to kill everyone in a room if they don’t get the first lesson. You should have known, you dumb shits, that you don’t mess with Death in High Heels . . .
That’s the way Olivia is shaping up. Killing people is just a thing, and if it’s gonna be done, then get it done. She’s turning into a sweet badass without having to tip her hand to everyone.
She’s pretty sweet. I should write more like her.